Wednesday, February 3, 2016

More Chainsaw Carving

Winter time is slower, colder, and wetter than I'd like, so I try to keep projects and activities waiting for the dark months.  Besides, during the spring, summer, and fall there are so many things to do, no sense in wasting time on writing software, tinkering with electronics, or sewing blankets.

I've spent a few hours chainsaw carving again.  Of course, there is an app for that: It is helpful to review and goes step-by-step to remind me where to cut... and more importantly, where NOT to cut.

My friend the pro gave me some more Cedar logs, so I'm reloaded for the winter.

You can see the mouth here is way too big... better too much material than not enough.  So it was easy to adjust.

Turned out pretty good, but only whetted my appetite for sawdust and i moved on to another.

Here's the first one...

And here's the second one.  Focus this time was on the face proportions, and the front of the shoulders.

Some burning, some eyeballs (marbles), and some protection...

Chainsaw carving is really, really fun.  If you own a saw, it is worth trying.  And to watch a professional is always a good time.

Check him out -

Android App: WiFi Predator Caller

With the winter trapping and hunting, we've been using a hacked "weasel-ball" toy that we can control over Wi-Fi, and a cheap bluetooth speaker for playing predator calls.

There are a lot of calling apps on Google Play, but we wanted one that was simplified and could play ANY call we wanted.  Also wanted to control the weasel-ball (more about that one later).  Most important: NO advertisements and NO in-app purchases.  I think those two factors ruin most of my app usage.

So, here is the app and how to use it.  It will be on Google Play soon as we get the images done.  There is also a FaceTube video demonstrating it here:

The two buttons at the top send Wi-Fi messaging to the decoy, turning it on/off and also lighting a LED on/off for low-light conditions.

The main body of the app displays all the MP3 files in the specified folder, so I can upload all my own calls into the phone.  To play one (or multiple), simply select the filename.  To stop it at any time, touch it again.

The textbox at the bottom is simply the Wi-Fi message sent to the decoy.  Touching the "Send" button sends it, obviously.  We left this message exposed so a user can customize the message to use with ANY other hardware device out there.  There are more and more decoys available, and most do NOT have remote control capability.  It is pretty easy (and cheap) to make them remote control, so I expect we'll see more of them with remote options.  You are carrying your phone already, so why have extra hardware like remote controls?

Simple menu options - the first is "Random Action" which does just that - randomly turns the decoy and LED on/off.

The Settings menu option gives these items.

The command #1 is whatever message you want to send to the Target IP (also specified below).  When you connect to any Wi-Fi device (and that means ANY device), you put in its IP address and then what command you want to send it when you push the first (Snoopy) button.  The 2nd command, "Command #2" is the other message to send to the Wi-Fi when the Snoopy button is UNselected.  Pretty easy.

So in this case, when I push the Snoopy button, i send the Wi-Fi device at "" the message "GPION" to turn the decoy on.  Pushing the Snoopy button the 2nd time sends the command "GPIOFF" and turns off the decoy.  Easy Peasy.

Ignore the Target ID value - it is for our control of cameras and other hardware while we hunt.  Future app releases will make use of this.

The final textbox is where you specify the location of your MP3 files on the phone.  You can change this as you want.

Pretty simple and that is the way we like it.

NO advertisements!  These adds in all the apps now really are annoying and distracting, especially with fat fingers during a hunt.

NO in-app purchases!  Heaven forbid you accidentally click on an add during a hunt...

Regarding the hardware...

The bluetooth speaker we often use is an inexpensive, waterproof model you can find on eBay for ~$5USD.  They are fairly loud at ~80dB and easy to recharge with a phone's cable.  Keep 3 or 4 of them with you, and scatter them about the field to misdirect the quarry.  To connect and use the speaker, use the phone's Bluetooth settings to connect.  Then, any sound from the phone is directed to the speaker.  BE SURE TO PUT THE PHONE IN PLANE-MODE!!!  A phone ringtone will scuttle the hunt quick ;-)

Connecting to the Wi-Fi controller is similar - use the phone's Wi-Fi settings to scan for your device then attach to it.

Here the decoy is called "BaitTender" because I'm also using it as a decoy at trapping spots.  A cheap PIR detector senses a dog within a wide perimeter, and activates the decoy and call to bring them closer.

Camp Blanket for Winter Camp

We recently made a run to the east side of the state chasing coyotes and exploring in the snow.  Winter camping is my favorite - no bugs, few people, and the weather is already bad so you can't get too disappointed.  Besides, after the 1st day, you acclimate and don't notice it anyway.

Usually we skip the tent and sleep on the ground.  If it is too wet or windy, we'll hit the truck canopy.  This last trip we did both.

Which leads into this latest project - the bedroll.  I've been wanting one of these for years - something light and simple enough to keep the snow and especially the wind out, while not being too big of a deal to setup quickly.

The basics: heavy canvas, with a liner of Tyvek (for waterproofing) and one of those cheap, foil "emergency" blankets that never work very well.

The canvas is folded like an envelop, and open on one side to slide in your bag.

The tyvek is laminated to the space blanket using strong, double-sided tape at the corners and a spray adhesive to the blanket.  Easy and works GREAT!

The canvas works awesome to keep the wind from biting through the sleeping bag, and the tyvek/blanket helps keep the heat loss through the ground pad down.

Of course we did some thermal testing too - and the tyvek/space blankie did noticeably well at heat loss redux through the canvas.

Can't wait to get out and use it in the field.

The whole bundle weighs about 6 lbs - too much for a backpack trip, but not bad for winter truck camping over a week.  Setup time is < 30 seconds, making it the clear winner over tent setup.

Our First Hydro-Dipping

So, we've gotten some film for our printer to print some patterns for hydro-dipping some projects... but we saw this technique on FaceTube, and had to try it.

Basically, with a small tub of water, we sprayed 3 or 4 different colors of paint onto the surface of the water, then dipped.  30 seconds or less, and done.  And it turned out GREAT!

With an extra 30 seconds more of care and coloring, you could really do a nice, professional-looking job.

But for a rough tomahawk or old set of antlers? No way - lets keep it rough-n-real!

I even double-dipped the 'hawk and skull.  I completely (and quickly) submerged the 'hawk, removed it from the water, then dipped it right back in.  Not bad.

Still some paint left, I took an older set of antlers from a few years back, and double-dipped it, too.

I will do the antlers better next time - more care and less rush.  But this set isn't too bad.

Fun and easy to try, with great results.


The knife-making is great fun, but the REAL fun project has been a set of tomahawks.

We have several trapping tools that work better than a hatchet we carry while trapping - they are great for digging, chopping, etc. and are the #1 tool to grab.

Here's my main chopper, and it is sharp.  After a day of abuse digging frozen ground all it takes is 30 seconds with a file or grinder and it is ready to go.

If you have the time, however, take along the tommy.  Here is the best design we have so far - a longer blade with an adze backside (rounded and sharp, too).  Simple steel, shaped on the anvil, and welded to a piece of 1.5" pipe.  Easy Peasy.

Yeah, the welding is rough but it really adds to the character.  It was a great learning experience, too - we busted both the welds 3x before we got it tough and strong enough for our needs.

You'll also notice the angled 'plates' welded to the sides of the 'hawk blade - to help with splitting wood.  The 'hawk is plenty sharp, and these plates start splitting the grain well before your each the handle.

The balance is nice - forward heavy.  Easy to make a replacement handles as needed.

The best part?  The Adze!  Seriously - I want this on ALL of my tools, and even by itself.  It is that handy!  It shaves a branch flat quickly, and digs like a dream.  And it is fantastic for scrapping / fleshing hides!  Win-win-win...

The only issue we've found so far is that it rusts quickly - especially after scrapping a salted hide.  So... we did a quick-n-dirty Hydro-dip.  The rough welds and the rough paint go hand in hand.

Now the rusting is minimal, and only on the working surfaces which are easily (and frequently) cleaned by use.

Way fun project that keeps giving every day on the trap line.

Moving Past the Forge

Ok, its been a while and we've been busy.  We'll try to start posting projects and activities more timely.

The coal forge has been busy and we've moved indoors during the wet winter months to improve the appearance and functionality of our knives.

Most everything is done with basic hand tools.  We did get a small drill press and sander, and that has made a huge difference.  With the sander, we've started doing more exotic handles of wood, bone, antler, and combinations of them.

One of the boys spent a day at a larger metal shop doing a job shadow.  Very informative and also helped assure him that he isn't too far off from what the 'pros' are doing.

our little forge also does great to give texture and different finishes on the blades.

My favorite are the two knives we made from old files we found in a remote trapping cabin in the Yukon Territories.  We cut birch wood for the handles, and a light oiling and finish made them very pretty.  And sharp!

Its a lot of fun with minimal tool requirements, and a GREAT way to keep young men busy in the winter months.