Corbin's Treehouse - Corbin Dunn, Santa Cruz, CA
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Archive for the 'Other Stuff' Category

Hitch Install on Tesla Model S

I needed a rack for my Tesla Model S; shoving a mountain bike along with a few unicycles in the back just wasn’t cutting it. Plus, in the winter I want to take snowboards and skis to Tahoe, and needed a good solution. I figured I would get a roof rack, but quickly discovered that the solid top Model S can’t support a rack; you have to have the panoramic roof option! So, the only thing I could do was to install a hitch. Luckily, EcoHitch makes one for the Model S:

Here’s my geared 36 unicycle dangling on the edge to see if it will work:


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The install wasn’t too bad to do at home. I was a bit nervous about getting the bumper off..but the instructions worked fairly well. On newer cars with Autopilot you have to disconnect a  cable on the right side before pulling the bumper off; otherwise you will rip it out.  I broke two plastic snaps on the inside paneling.. but they were hardly doing anything, and I can probably get some new ones easily if I want. There was also one snap on the underneath of the car that was longer than all the others….and I wasn’t sure where it went! I marked all bolts, but the plastic snaps I thought were all the same. I unsnapped a bunch but couldn’t find a matching longer one. Strange…

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It isn’t too bad at a standard charging station; I have yet to try a supercharger with it:

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Downloading WordPress Content – “Maximum execution time of 30 seconds” error

I occasionally want to download all my blog posts from WordPress. This is easy to do in the web config – go to Tools -> Export and “Download Export File”.

Screen Shot 2015 05 09 at 6 41 16 AM

The download would max out at about 8 MB and just stop, probably because I have a relatively slow connection at home. I’d get a fatal error at the end of the file:

Fatal error:  Maximum execution time of 30 seconds exceeded in... on line ...

To fix this, I need to change the “max_execution_time=30″  to something higher (like 500), and then lower it back down to make sure the server doesn’t do something bad (timeouts are good for general blog work!).

I use dreamhost, and here is how to set the value in the PHP.ini:

Note that the best way to find what PHP you are running is to login and do a “ps aux” to see what PHP processes are actually running. My dream host page says I was running 5.4, but apparently I’m stuck on 5.3!

Repairing a “Stuck Brush” error on Neato XV-11 Vacuum

I have a Neato XV-11 Vacuum that I bought quite a few years ago when it first came out. The initial version had quite a few glitches and bugs, and I had it replaced a few times within the first few years. Neato is a great company in how they support their product, and they offered free shipping and returns of the vacuum. I really liked this kind of top notch support.

The XV-11 is now superseded by the Neato XV-12 and costs around $270 on Amazon (you can also find it on Ebay). Overall, I’ve been pretty happy with the vacuum as it does a great job. I’d probably buy it again, as it seems better than the competition (mainly Roomba).

However, it does have problems. The XV-11 needs its batteries to be replaced every one to two years; this isn’t difficult, but they are expensive. You can easily buy and replace the batteries: XV-11 batteries — about $30 to $50 each, but it adds up to the costs of owning the machine. It also tends to loose its set time every time the battery goes completely dead; this is annoying, and I stopped using the pre-programmed cleaning feature because of this. I hope the XV-12 fixes that problem.

Another bigger problem is a “stuck brush” error that may come up constantly, even with a good cleaning of hair and gunk from the vacuum bottom. The only sure way I found to fix this is to take the machine apart and clean the motor.

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It isn’t too hard to take it apart. Flip it upside down and first remove the springs on the wheels; otherwise, they pop off. Then take the front bumper screws off, and all the screws on the bottom. Flip it over (right side up) and take off the two screws by the suction intake hole and it should come up and off.  Don’t pull off the LCD wire! You can remove it from the circuit board by pulling up the circuit board insert and removing the wire (but be careful). The motor is held in by a few more screws (three if I recall right), and comes out. 

The motor gets a ton of hair stuck around it and inside the rotor. I just cut it out with a sharp exacto and pull the hair out with tweezers. Then re-assemble and it will work again. 

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Feel free to email me questions! corbin at corbinstreehouse. 

Homesteading: Easy apple coring

So I was manually coring some apples at my house to dry them using a knife and commenting to my friend Rosannah how much of a pain it was to do so. She suggested using a technique that her dad does; just sharpen a piece of copper pipe and use that to core the apple. So, a quick trip to my garage and a few minutes later I now have an easy apple coring setup. The sharpened copper pipe easily pushes out the core, and the wooden spoon handle is used to push the core out of the pipe.


Mmmm.. dried apples! Thanks to Ken and Gabrielle Adelman for giving them to me.


And I’m also trying dried tomatoes; since my garden is giving me a ton of them lately!


Driveway Sign: Monkey Playground

I playfully call my house the “Monkey Playground”. Why? Why not!

Well, okay, I’m sort of monkey like since I like climbing around on lots of things. A little known fact about me: my 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STi had a sticker on the side that said “Monkey *” (that last symbol was a star, not an asterisk). I thought it was funny — sort of like an aviator call sign for the pilot.

The new sign, freshly painted:


This is my first stencil. Here’s how I made it:

* Find an image on the internet to make a stencil out of. Drop it into Adobe Illustrator.

* With my Wacom tablet (a mouse would work), trace it with the pencil tool. Fix it up so the path looks fairly smooth. Download my version here.

* Print the stencil — it may take several pages if it is large.

* Tape it down on top of some poster board (thin cardboard from an art supply store.)

* Put something underneath the cardboard so you don’t cut into your table (I used a balsa wood model airplane table).

* Cut it out with a sharp new exacto knife.



* Spray paint it!

I can hear myself telling people how to get to my place: “Yeah, pull into the driveway with a red monkey painted on a huge white saw blade out front.”




These things are awesome! They are basically plush lego toys that you can wear on your head as a hat. And, when you get tired of how it looks, change it up with some new accessories!

I met one of the creators, Jazz, and I was instantly interested in getting a few for myself. He is kick starting the company, and needs help. Please help them out by pledging something, and in return you can get one of the first batches of the fuzzy little friends.

old poetry (again)

Hey, this one even rhymed!


Words come so softly from her lips,
And fall upon my open ears,
Captivating my curiosity while tranquilizing my fears.

Sparkling blue eyes she uses to gaze,
And see no task to colossal or vast,
For a look into, makes me forget the past.

Her ams could define a million words,
While also creating the meaning of embrace,
As I will for them, to wrap me like a lace.

Her silky smooth skin is to ogle with desire,
One wants nothing more than I,
To kiss her neck, while shed peers into the night sky.

She has adventurous fire running through her veins,
And gorgeous curls flowing to an open heart,
With every breath, a sight that takes its mark.

Beneath all that my eyes can see,
Glows a free spirit who has dreams to be,
But also sees a means, with reality.

Kika the Bengal Kitten

We got a new kitten! This is Kika, a marble colored Bengal.





I miss Piper, our Siamese a lot. She has yet to come home. I told Louise I didn’t want a new kitten to replace Piper, but she said we could just have two cats if Piper comes home. So, we got Kika.

Weekend Fun and the Zip Line

What a fun weekend! It started out at 10 am with a mountain unicycle (muni) ride at Soquel Demo Forest. Jason, Aaron, Chris B and I rode up Highland to drop in at the top of Soquel demo and hit up Braille Trail. Kevin was a little late, and without cell reception we didn’t know he was going to arrive, but he fortunately caught up. Chris had to leave early to hit up a kid’s birthday party, and oh man, did he miss out!

Since we are all cell phone junkies we all captured some nice little video clips and uploaded them to You Tube.

Me on the log bride:

Aaron and me riding and falling on a log:

Jason on another log bridge:

Me doing a high speed launch:

Afterwards, we all went back to my house. We were going to drink some beer and then Jason was going to fix his handle while Aaron and Kevin helped me wrench on the car. Then, I had an idea: Zip Line! Let’s get it going again. The gang was on board, so we found a sweet spot and set it up. Long story short, it was a TON of fun! But, it still required you to brake a lot with gloves and you couldn’t just free fly down without hitting the ending tire/tree way too fast. My neighbor had a great suggestion of just putting it higher in the tree and having it sag in the middle. Then, you could drop off at the middle and pull the pulley back to the start. So, today I spent most of the day rearranging it higher in the tree, and it works even better! You can now zip down hands free. I still need to make a better launching platform, but it works (albeit a little scary your first time).


Original platform from yesterday below, and new one above.


I actually put it another third higher in the tree, but realized it was way to high and hard to launch from, and I had to move it down lower. Notice that I still need to build a bridge, and I want to extend the launching platform to make it easier to launch from (and safer).

Here’s rather crappy iPhone 3Gs video of the experience (warning: load!). You can tell when I hit the tire at the other end.

The iPhone records fairly good quality videos, but it does a poor job of uploading them to You Tube.

Overall, a very fun weekend. And Louise came home from her Aerial Silk trip to Colorado! Unfortunately she left again to go to tahoe with a friend (hence, I’m on the computer…)

Metalworking: cufflinks

One of my first metalworking projects was making cufflinks for my wedding. They are aluminum and I turned them on the lathe, and used the mill for some drilling and flattening (by eye). The back piece screws on and off.



(c) 2008-2017 Corbin Dunn

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