Sunday, September 18, 2016

That's Edgy Man

One of Eli's friends has adopted as his personal catch phrase "That's Edgy Man".  He really came into ownership of it at a church camp this summer.  So, when Eli was invited to his birthday party he knew just the gift to make for him, an Edgy Button.

So, on a Friday night when the girls were off at a church lock-in, we put on our Maker hats and got to work.

The first thought was that a Staples Easy Button would be the perfect starting point.  Wonder if anyone's managed to change the message it says.  Off to we go.  Doesn't look like it but there are several people who have replaced the internal guts so we went that route.

First stop, Staples to get an Easy Button to see how much room we had to work with.  If anyone's curious, this is what the inside of your Easy Button looks like.

The black dot in the top left is the "brain" of the whole operation and looks fairly impenetrable and unmodifiable.

I found the voice module we needed on Amazon.  Prime shipping could have it to me by Sunday, but we didn't have that kind of time.  Time to check and see if Radio Shack happens to have what we need.

Surprise surprise, they do (no seriously, I was shocked when we walked in, they asked if they could help, I told them what I was looking for and they said, we used to, yup, right here)..  For those not in the know, Radio Shack used to be a tinker's goto spot.  Emphasis on used to be.  Now they mostly sell popular electronics, phone accessories, etc.  Not so much for us tinkerers.  Tinkerers in Little Rock are pretty much in a black hole as far as sourcing stuff.  Honestly that's probably a good thing for my wallet.

Now it's time to break out the Dremal and soldering iron and so some adjusting.

I didn't take too many "in progress" pictures unfortunately.  But we had to (desolder the existing circuit board, enlarge the battery "cage" since the new voice module runs off of a 9 volt, adjust the button to allow the bigger internal button to be pushed, adjust the button to fit around the battery, grind off the raised "Easy" from the button).

Use a paint pen to add EDGY to the top and voila, you've got an Edgy Button.

Reports are that he loved it!

Monday, September 05, 2016

4 days, 2.5 tanks of gas, 834 miles, 10 State Parks, and 10 caches

Another long weekend means another opportunity to visit State Parks and collect geocaches. We found a cabin available at Village Creek State Park, just outside of Wynn. One of the best parts? No wifi and spotty cell service (double win, though it makes planning the next day's journey a bit more challenging).

 Friday afternoon we loaded up and headed out towards Village Creek State Park, arriving at our cabin by 6. After unloading we jumped on our bikes to explore the park and fetch the cache as well as the requisite park sign picture. One interesting feature is a giant Arkansas Flag. The flag poles on each of the 4 central stars have the appropriate flags on them for Arkansas' "owners"; the United States, France, Spain, and the Confederacy. Lots to do in this park, miles of trails to bike and hike on, a couple of lakes to play in.

Saturday saw us heading out on a 230 mile circuit to retrieve 5 Caches. First stop, Jacksonport State Park. This town was the county seat for a short while until it was bypassed by the railroad in favor of Newport. The railroad offered to build a spur for $25,000. The town refused and died shortly thereafter.

Next up, Lake Charles State Park. On the western shore of the Arkansas Fish and Wildlife Management's Lake Charles the State Park is mostly a fishing park. The Mockernut trail takes you alongside the lake and is a nice walk.

Down the road a short 5 minutes is Powhatan State Park. Took a while to find this cache and had to get the magic numbers from the staff. Folks keep stealing their cache.

Moving on down the road we next stopped at Lake Poinsett State Park. This trail wasn't nearly as scenic as the one at Lake Charles but it was nice to stretch out legs.

Load'em up, move'em out, back on the road to Parkin Archaeological State Park. Former home of the Mississippians, watched a very interesting movie and had a great conversation with the interpreter. By the time we left it was obvious the kids were done. Fortunately, this was the last stop for the day.

Saturday's tally is 5 caches, 230 miles, 8 hours. We headed back into Wynn for dinner at a local Mexican place, then back to the cabin for showers and bed.

Sunday found us on the road again after sleeping in a bit, this time heading South. Our first stop was Mississippi River State Park. One of the newest parks it has a really neat visitor center. It is a joint venture between the State Park system and the US Forest Service since its in the St. Francis National Forest.

Next stop was just down the road to Delta Heritage Trail State Park. Union Pacific donated 73 miles of right away from the abandoned Delta Eagle route. The Park Service is turning into a biking and hiking trail. We road about 4 miles down and back. Right now about 27 miles are open. Eventually you'll be able to ride from Lexa to McGehee including crossing over the White and Arkansas rivers on the old trestles.

One last stop for the day, Arkansas Post Museum State Park. It was the territorial capital of Arkansas. From things I read later we probably should have gone around the bend to the National Monument where the post used to be but we didn't. That will have to wait until we're in the neighborhood again, which may be a while, it's not in our typical neck of the woods.

Then it was a long 2 hour drive back to Village Creek. The highlight of the trip back was probably the half-dozen dust devils we saw in the freshly harvested fields. We tried to go kayaking but the fellow who told us the lake was open until 7 was apparently mistaken.

Sunday's rally was only 3 caches, 220 miles, and another 8 hour day. Everyone was tired.

Monday meant time to head home, but why not pick up one more cache. Before heading out we managed to get an hour of kayaking in, the kids seemed to enjoy it. We headed home via Mt. View, home of the Ozark Folk Center (no, this is not the shortest route from Wynn to Little Rock, in fact it's several hours out of the way, but it was worth it.) We got to see an old printing press in operation, and the kids got to dip candles.

The final tally: 2.5 tanks of gas, 834 miles, 10 state parks, 10 caches and WAY too many hours in the car

#23: Village Creek
#24: Jacksonport
#25: Lake Charles
#26: Powhatan
#27: Lake Poinsett
#28: Parkin
#29: Mississippi River
#30: Delta Heritage
#31: Arkansas Post
#32: Ozark Folk Center