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Fuquay Varina, North Carolina, United States
A guy finding out if life really does begin at 50.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Barred Owl Box

Barred Owl Box

We've had pretty good luck with the a Bluebird box in our yard.  We get two and sometimes three broods a year. We've also seen barred owls in the yard, so Maryann decided we should try to see if we can get the owls to nest by putting up a box.

She found box plans, so I got busy. You can click the image to see the album with the blow by blow.  I pretty much followed the web page instructions, and construction was straight forward. Only thing extra I did was use my biscuit joiner to join the sides and bottom.

Constructions took about 6 hours spread over 3 days. I cut the wood the 1st day, stained it the next day, then assembled it the following day. I had to wait for a day or two for nicer weather to install it in the tree, and the install took about 3 hours. I had the wood, but the stain, fasteners, wire rope, clamps, etc. cost about $45. You can skip the stain and use chain to hold the box to the tree if you want.  You can read Maryann's Hoots up There? Building a Barred Owl Box blog post on GeekMom.  She did a great job documenting, and there's even a video!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Mohu Leaf® 50 HDTV Antenna

Off the Air Antenna

I've been a Dish satellite customer for 10 years now.  Over the years, Dish has battled with the local station owners over rebroadcast fees (the fee cable and satellite companies have to pay station owners to rebroadcast or carry the local channels for customers of the cable or satellite company).  In September 2013, NBC and Dish had a dispute over the fees, and as a result, programming provided by NBC was not available on Dish for a month or so.  At that time, I purchased an OTA (Over the Air) adapter for my Dish Network 722 VIP DVR/Receiver.  I used a home made dipole antenna, and it worked well.  I was able to get NBC and several other local channels, but since the antenna was directional, I could not get both NBC and PBS at the same time.   In time Dish and the local station settled, and NBC programming was once again available on Dish Network.

Then this November, I was watching the the local news and saw a segment on a local Raleigh company named Mohu which makes antennas.  I ordered a Leaf® 50 HDTV Antenna, and it arrived in a few days. The packaged included the flat antenna, an amplifier with power module, and a 16ft coax.  The instructions suggested placing it near a window which in my case was not possible.  My equipment is in the middle of my house, so I decided to put the antenna in the attic, but the 16ft of coax included was not long enough.  I checked the Mohu web site, and they said the coax could be up to 25 ft long, so measured and cut a 25ft piece of coax.  The extra 9ft was just enough to reach the nearest outside wall in the attic.  I ran the coax inside of a partition wall from the attic to the equipment.  I had just enough cable to extend about 2 feet from the wall.  I hooked the coax from the antenna directly to the OTA adapter without the amplifier to see how well that would work.  I scanned the channels, and it picked up 13+ channels.  I was impressed with just how well the antenna alone worked.  I then put the coax from the antenna into the included amplifier, and powered the amplifier using an available USB port on the DVR.   I connected the output lead from the amplifier to the OTA adapter and scanned the channels again.  This time, it added 25 channels.  I believe that is all the channels in my area!

For the last two weeks, I've been using the OTA since Dish Network has removed FOX and CBS due to yet another dispute over rebroadcast fees. It has worked very well.  I can record FOX and CBS programming received OTA using my DVR, and watch it when I'm ready.  I see why people are cutting the cord.  Between what we can get over then internet and what I can get using an antenna it has me thinking about it.  I'm not in a position right now to 'cut the cord', but that could change.  I were to do it, my Leaf antenna working so well would be a big factor in that decision.