Mark Miner

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since Mar 18, 2020
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Low desert AZ, big family, special needs kids, Orthodox Christian, thankful for lots, trying to keep learning and doing.
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Recent posts by Mark Miner

Hm. 10yrs old is a caution. I'd pick the best by charging and seeing which ones hold voltage best. After a charge, the voltage will decay back to some resting level that reflects the health of the battery, and it will supply some amount of charge (amp hours), and those two data points give a pretty good picture of the battery. The time it takes to charge or discharge is a good proxy for the capacity. The listed cranking amps will also serve as a more rough proxy, but ageing of the battery will affect this.

I caution that series strings (like 6each strung to get 36V) does not guarantee that each battery has the same voltage, but they all have to pass the same current. They do this best if they are all equally charged. However, if they are dissimilar, you can easily get to 36V total with, say 5ea at 6.5V and one at 3.5V. This string will not perform very well, as the weak link won't contribute much current. Battery balancers alleviate this, though I am not familiar with 6V flavors, but have used 12V balancers with good results. But you want comparable batteries in a series string, or the weak link will limit the chain.

Happy homesteading!
1 week ago
Hi Jerry,
I don't know your level of familiarity with batteries or what gear you have, so I will offer a couple levels of answer.

First, has range decreased? Any other observations on performance of the cart?

Most car stores are equipped to test batteries, though typically 12V. Taking them to an AutoZone would be the lowest level checkout.

If you have a decent multimeter, which is a super versatile tool, check the voltages on each battery after use and after charge. It's pretty important that each battery have the same voltage, and that they track together across charge and discharge. Be sure you have the meter in DC mode, some (Klein Tools, specifically) combine VDC and VAC on the same dial setting and you use the 2nd key to access DC.

Lastly, there are actual battery testers that measure current draw under load, voltage sag when loaded, and other parameters, but you probably don't need these.

A decent lead acid charging chart is here:

You typically want to stay above 50-70% charge, depending on whether the batteries are "deep cycle" lead acids.

Final note, don't swap for Lithium without rebuilding the charging and discharge system. Lithium chemistries overheat when asked to run at lead acid currents.

Best regards,
2 weeks ago
Slightly more detail: six sigma refers to a statistical process control toolkit (ie, get six standard deviations out from the mean of a bell curve, that very small number is sort of a target failure rate, 3.4 out of a million). It legitimately applies to a high-volume product (you need a lot of samples for 6sigma to be an integer number), and the process must furnish enough data to permit statistical analysis. This all began with Guinness brewing, believe it or not, which employed the first known professiinal statistician, "Student" of "Student's T-test". And yeah, way overhyped for applications where it made no sense, and a lot of consultants made money and a lot of engineers made jokes.

I would actually go to Lean as a better parallel to Permaculture. Yes, it is afflicted by many of the same overprescription/fat-consultant issues (like fake permaculture?) and has foreign jargon and acronyms (kanban, POLCA, kaizen, hugel, WOFATI...wait...) but at its root it is a philosophy of trying to make what you want more efficiently with less waste. Similarly, it arose because smart people tried hard to do things better (Toyota Production System...Sepp Holzer?) and the jargon was laid on afterwards when people wanted to both spread it and also capitalize on it.

Yep. Tech people in permaculutre are still tech people.
1 month ago
As usual, it depends. If the foot is light and the motor is heavy, probably a good idea to restrain. If vice versa, probably no biggie. It is hard to tell from the Harbor Freight ad image about the weight distribution.

I did wonder about your seismic zone, though. While rare in my neck of the woods, earthquakes tip things. I believe you are in MN, which is a sleepy seismic zone per the maps I find, but I have never done calcs there. Sandbags were a decent suggestion if concerned about general tipping/bumping, but in a seismic event, all the mass moves together, and hard mounts matter (and before natural building people flame me, I add an earthbag building caveat here: that structure has huge damping with almost no rigidity, and is seismically sound for that reason, a different problem entirely).

On the flip side, (and depending on your toolkit) you might not find it hard to anchor with two Simpson Titens or equivalent, 10min with a rotohammer and a driver should be about all it takes. Is it a rearrangement option that you want to keep? If so, there are flush anchors that bed the female thread in the floor, so you drop in a bolt. But it's your shop, your rules, your risks, your time and money. I would summarize anchoring as a good but not necessary step.

Tangent becauee it was suggested: I have a Milwaukee mag drill press myself, and while it is useful, it is nowhere near as rigid as a proper shop tool. I bought it to do steel on jobsites off generator power, and it did that well. Now, when I want to use it at home, I have to set it on a welded beam structure to have a magnetic grip, and I can still tip it against the magnet if I don't go easy on feed rates. Unless space is ultrapremium or you have to have a mobile shop, I think the floor press is a good choice. Plus, it is a heavy and tippy sonofagun, and there is a reason the manual talks at length about safety chains on the tool.

Happy hole-drilling!
1 month ago
Tereza has an excellent point, and it's a basic caution when recieving only one perspective: leave the door open to other evidence. Brody has made clear in the past that his asking for counsel here is not a secret from his wife, and the forum is public. As far as I can tell, that is adequate transparency, but all of us who are so far removed from the situation would do well to keep careful balance in our own assessments.

There's also a caution here about mapping our own experiences onto others. Of course we judge by our own experiences, they are our strongest evidence base and should inform our thinking. However, nobody's situation is 100% identical, and I can't say "my wife's depression is like your wife's depression" or even "my struggles and frustrations are like yours", all I can do is state my own experience and perhaps carefully make notes that likely apply to more people in more places than just me, but Brody has to weigh the application to his own life. From my perspective, he has done hard things so far, and hung on, and is able to appreciate and enjoy the good patches. That is great news! Perhaps a little crack in the gloom can widen, but all light is welcome.

Best to you, Brody, keep praying and working for the good.
1 month ago
Hi Nickie,
I just had a follow-up thought: see what high school age boys are available in the area for things like post pounding. Doing it yourself with the heavy work will likely mean hiring in, so look to see if there are nice strapping lads available in your area. And consider becoming familiar with your local equipment rental place, and there is no shame in delivery fees if they are the difference between getting a job done and not! Be creative, and don't ever think that managing a job well is somehow less honorable than doing the heavy labor yourself! Managing and planning take skill over strength, and you will build a network of people who can complement your skills and buttress your weaknesses - in that sense, nobody "does it themselves", we're all humans in communities, which are maybe the most powerful and challenging thing to grow!
1 month ago
Hi Nickie, welcome to Permies!

It all depends on what "it" is, I suppose. A healthy 50y.o. has a good deal of capability, no doubt, and you are certain to be able to do many healthy farmy things solo. Consider starting one thing at a time, follow the seasons, add low-maintenance items like trees with zeal, add high maintenance items like large stock more carefully.

Maybe my most heartfelt counsel would be: show your husband how much joy there is in this stuff, pull gently towards it, but don't push. It can sometimes play a lot like where one spouse gets religion and is all fired up and woe betide the unbeliver! Don't go that route! Keep it joyful! And if he will mow the lawn, great, but you can tease him that you're coming for his job with bunnies/sheep/whatever to do the work for him!

Enjoy your new plot of land, and enjoy Tennesse! What part are you in?

Happy homesteading,
1 month ago
Yep, remote-work aerospace startup guy here. I chuckle to myself about the vast dissimilarity between my workday world and the farm world a few steps from my desk. "How I got this way" would be a longer tale, but incrementally, lots of good books, in tandem with my wife (who is definitely more food-health-conscious than me, her reasons go more that path, mine more the liking building stuff path), and wanting my kids to be able to enjoy both the open spaces out of town and to enjoy the work of a mini-farm. So far it's working!

I will note that I am NOT an IT or super-coding guy. Maybe the best single term would be "systems engineer" (and I wince as I write that), but I do have a build bench/mini-lab, and might be the only solar-powered off-grid aerospace research conex... but I might be flattering myself, probably there are lots of people as weird as I am, right?  ...right?...
2 months ago
Hey PEP-folks,

In the course of installing a hydrant (here:, I trenched ~85ft at an 18in depth (local code is 12in min for water lines, we don't have frost depth). Thus, Fig.1 shows more or less where things will go, Fig.2 shows the length measurement with the other end of the tape hooked to the new hydrant, Fig.s3&4 show in-process shots, Fig.5 shows the depth measurement to the 1in PEX-A pipe with a shovel laid across the trench to mark the grade, and Fig.s6&7 show the backfilled state.

Happy homesteading!

[Punch list: To show you've completed this Badge Bit, provide proof of the following as pics or video (less than two minutes):
 - the area before you start (Fig1)
 - the project halfway through (Figs3-4)
 - tape measure showing depth (Fig5)
 - pipe in the trench (Fig5)
 - trench backfilled (Figs6-7)
There's no item for trench length, but I supply that in Fig2.]
2 months ago
Hey PEP-folks,
This BB was completed for a neighbor, whose mobile home I installed. The numbers are up high on a front column, and his porch was not built at the time I installed them, thus the ladder and perspective in the photos.
Happy house-labeling,

[Punch list:
To show you've completed this Badge Bit, you must provide proof of the following with pictures (or a video < 2 mins long):
  - before, during, and after of installing large enough house numbers for Emergency Responders to see - Figs 1-4
  - demonstrate it meets the above stated requirements - note the Milwaukee drill for scale, these pass code for size in my jurisdiction, and were approved by the inspector.
- Non-toxic materials - Ace's numbers, possibly identical to those James Rhodes used, are non-toxic to the best of my understanding. (This would perhaps exclude certain paints? Would it be possible to clarify what a toxic house number is?)]
2 months ago