Rustic Cyberpunk

Coffee & Cabins

Cabin Process

3 min read

Over the course of looking into separating needs from wants, and distilling what's left to absolute necessities, I kept noticing that the specific problems I'm trying to solve are less about the technology and more about how it's packaged. Knowledge and experience are everywhere, if one spends the time to seek them out. Specific functions need to be separated to independent tasks which can be tackled with various methodologies and devices, if needed.

The things I need to get done are basic at the core level: To be fed, clothed, and sheltered. To be sheltered is what the cabin is for. The wood stove is an extension of this. Arguably, the library is as well as sheltering in comfort and safety is an extension of my needs, blending into wants. I haven't sorted out clothing yet, but feeding myself is not far down on the list.

Every action I'll take as part of cabin life will have a specific list of functions. The tasks and functions within these necessities need more attention. Every process needs an order of execution as well.

Before getting most of the work done, I'll need to charge the batteries for my tools, which means building the solar power shed and deploying the associated wiring first.

A rough breakdown of the cabin process, adapted from the previous list:

  • Build the solar power shed and deploy charging infrastructure
  • Build the main cabin relying on the power shed
  • Build the wood stove while sheltering in the main cabin
  • Build the library before the winter
  • Build the farm at first thaw in spring

The mechanism of the composting toilet will be for another day. I'll likely be staying in a tent or trailer until the main cabin is built.

The solar power shed can hopefully be built with a single charge of each tool so that once the wiring is complete, the shed can sustain itself and provide power to charge the tools used. I can then proceed to

build other structures as long as I can procure raw material. Von Neumann cabins with human intervention.

The power shed is also the single largest financial investment of the entire project. There's no escaping needing to buy a bank of batteries and solar panels. I'm not comfortable utilizing used panels, especially due to the large initial investment, and since I'll be running 120V cables underground to the main cabin. The reason for separating the power source from the main shelter, as mentioned in the "On Cabins" post is so I can place the main cabin in the shade and I won't need to worry about cooling in the summer. It's quite easy to heat a small shelter in winter. It's also to decouple "tech" from "non-tech" aspects of cabin life.

The power shed will also serve as storage for all my tools when not in use so I can better enjoy the main cabin unmolested by the ambiance of construction. The library will hopefully be built quickly with the leftovers from the main cabin build. Since I'm not running power to it, the structure will be the least complicated.

I've talked before about walking tractors and farming, but I haven't really looked that closely into the mechanisms of land movement. Eventually, I'll need some kind of farm to supplement what I can get at the store, and there will be a greater need to move earth in bulk at some point.

To build or to farm, I'll be moving earth. It would be nice if I can use just hand tools to accomplish this, and that is likely the first step in building the shelters, but it's impractical to rely on hand tools alone when there's no guarantee I'll retain my health as-is in the future. I'd like to try my hand at building an excavator once my welding skills are up to the task. This too will be another unit of functionality in the cabin life.

The Library Shall Have No Lights

3 min read

I had just started reading some of the older cabin related books in my collection due to the abundance of time lately. As part of my cabin plan, I've been allocating time and energy toward finding the least expenditure of resources that's practical while still giving me a comfortable living.

Although not quite a tiny "house" by some measures, the space in which I'm comfortable spending most of my time, besides the main living structure, will probably be the library. An 8ft x 8ft structure with one window and one door with a built-in window or two windows and a door without one built-in. And no other sources of light. This might seem counter-productive for a library, but not running any electricity to the structure was a carefully thought out decision.

I want to spend more time absorbing what I read.

The Internet has trained me to gorge and regurgitate without properly digesting information and I'd like to unlearn this behavior. Most of the time I spend reading isn't as enjoyable when processed through an electronic display. It's getting harder to read books because of my digital habit of scanning before context and nuance are properly steeped in the brew of my transient thoughts. Part of this is the faster pace of information and part is the environment. I feel having the information always available is making it rarely appreciated.

Limiting reading time to daylight hours will also, hopefully, re-calibrate my resting period. This isn't the same as putting the phone into airplane mode or putting time trackers or other such contrivances. I dislike setting alarms when waking up, despite having done so since high school. I don't feel very motivated to set similar alarms to stop reading. Understanding that consumption of information has a limited period of productive use need not come with locks, but with the gradual hint of a setting Sun.

The two sources of light, the window(s) and door, are to give ample illumination to read while giving me the best reading clock possible.

There will also be no clocks in the library.

I've been looking at the best approach to build such a structure, and ultimately settled on a modified ice fishing shanty. That website is a wonderful resource for many other ideas.

Ice fishing shanty

The original plans were for a 6x6 shanty, but the structure is simple enough that modifying it to 8x8 is rather simple. Most U.S. building materials, particularly sheet materials such as plywood, typically come in 2ft increments.

original floor sheets

Because of its size, I feel it's possible to build with mostly leftover material from the main structure and a few other scavenged parts. The windows in particular are simple enough, that I'm sure I'll find some removed from a previous demolition. Their sizes are flexible too. The door doesn't need the immaculate appearance of a mansion either and I'm confident that it too can be scavenged. If I can't secure two windows and if the door doesn't have one, it's a simple matter to install a window in the door with the tools I have.

My book collection isn't that large and I feel a single wall-to-wall bookshelf will give me years of reading. I hope to keep only the books I intend to read over-and-over and give away the rest as I finish them to the local library. I will also plan the location of my cabin near such a library for both convenience and to maintain my contact to the outside world. There really is a difference between solitude and loneliness.

Cabin Life: The Wood Stove

5 min read

Last year, I was taking time off in the afternoons and evenings to work on the wood stove design. I've finished the first iteration and uploaded it to Github as part of my ongoing Cabin Life project.

stove front view
Front profile view of the wood stove showing the door and interior fire grate

The overall stove size is 24" (~61cm) wide, 20" (~51cm) high to the cooktop, and about 14" (~36cm) deep including the stovepipe flue attachment, 4" (~10cm) in diameter, at the rear. This is the largest volume I'm comfortable utilizing for the stove alone in my cabin. Github now has 3D view rendering of .STL files so it should be easier to visualize the individual components. The final dimensions may change slighlty as I assemble the components.

I opted to design the entire main structure in 1/4" steel plate with the top cooking surface in 1/2" plate. I feel the thicker top plate should resist buclking under the heat and retain a more even temperature for consistent cooking.

I looked at a myriad of other stoves of similar size and came to the realization that they use a lot of valuable internal volume to enhance the fire display through the front glass. That's great for appearences, but I'm looking at this from a more utilitarian and practical standpoint. I may add a glass front at a future date for aesthetics and lighting, but this isn't a priority. It's also an additional expense that I can't afford in an experimental prototype.

side view
Side door view with the door hinge.
rear view
The top surface is as flat as possible to maximize cooking area without interfering with the rear flue pipe, when installed

The choices I've made best reflect the anticipated heating and cooking needs of my cabin life, once I've established a foothold. This stove is intended for the main living cabin where I'll spend most of my time. There are neccessary alterations, I'm sure, but this is reasonably close to the final iteration of my stove.

damper mechanism
This assembly controls both primary and secondary air flow on either side of the stove with a single lever each. The half-circle offset makes it more inclined to close than remain open, which adds to the stove's safety. The friction between the plates is what allows it to remain open.
damper installed
Damper mechanism installed
air inlet cutouts
Cutouts for the air on either side mirror each other

The design is intended to minimize the time spent with the door open when the fire is being started. Once the flue is warm and the dampers are lowered, the fire should last a good while. The embers should also be warm enough in the morning that adding a fresh log would start the fire again without adding more kindling.

door handle
A single piece of bent steel rod with a spiral wire handle to reduce heat transfer to the hand

A lot of stoves also use a series of pipes with drilled holes to heat and introduce air for secondary combustion, but I'm not sure if I'll follow something similar. I thought this can be done simpler with just a horizontal channel, but until I make the prototype and fire it up, there's no way to make sure this was a good call. For now, I'd like to try the "slot" arrangement in the prototype to see if the burn characteristics are acceptable as-is.

The stove promotes internal circulation where the primary air is aimed down from the top of the fire, and the secondary air is aimed upward from behind the main combustion. This should create a horizontal vortex which should aid in drawing out the gases out of the rear flue. It's a downdraft type with the exhaust products exiting lower than the combustion point. I haven't seen it being used as often, but I think it should work in this arrangement.

grate placement
Location of the fire grate within the stove in relation to the flue and front door
air baffle and secondary inlet
Location of the rear baffle and secondary air inlet in relation to the front door and flue
primary and secondary air
Primary and secondary air intake cutouts in relation to the front and rear baffles

I opted not to have a separate ash tray. In my experience with wood stoves, I've found these to be cumbersome and messy to operate, especially in smaller stoves, while introducing an additional point of failiure. The steel grate should provide adequate airflow underneath the fire, while allowing enough ash to accumulate and protect the bottom surface. Every day, I can scoop out some of the excess ash. This will be part of my morning routine. The grate is a tad overbuilt for its purpose, but this is a simple matter to rectify during actual construction. I may end up increasing its height to give additional clearence below for better airflow

Some of the design choices stem from reducing the cumbersome, tiny log sizes needed in other, similarly sized, wood stoves. I dislike the idea of waking up at 4AM just to stoke the fire because the stove couldn't handle typically larger logs which burn longer and fit just fine in bigger stoves. I also dislike having to further process wood once they're of manageable size to bring into the cabin. The stove is designed to handle full 16" logs. I feel this is a good compromise between a large-enough fire to cook and stay warm, and a long-burning one.

The side air inlets also allow me to reduce the distance to combustibles. A smaller cabin won't have the luxury of extra side space and the addition of extra heat shielding will also detract from the aesthetics of the interior. The inlets, in effect, add side heat-shielding. I want to make this space-efficient while remaining safe.

exploded parts view
All of the components of the stove in relation to each other in exploded view

My welding skills have improved somewhat, but I haven't tested them in practical use. That goal seems unrealistic in the midst of this panedmic, but I hope to get in some more stick time and collect resources for tests once the fog of war has lifted.

I'm considering whether I should build more of these if the design proves to be effective. Although I'm not nearly as familiar with welding as I am with carpentry, I'm sure I can practice enough to turn making stoves into an additional source of income. Even if that isn't viable, it's good to have a few spares in case I'll need to give them away during emergencies. Being able to cook and stay warm with availble natural materials is a good fallback option either way.

Winter is only a few months away.

Passage of Time

1 min read

I'm well set in my theory that I'm slowly turning into Andy Rooney. Not the worst fate, and I fully expected it several years ago. But it's midly reassuring that despite the state of the world, my path in life is progressing in relatively the same direction. I just hope I'm just as accomplished by the time I reach his age. Or reach half his age, if I'm fortunate.

The path in cabin life is progressing as well, and I hope to have something to share very soon. I've completed the wood stove design and I just need to post the updates.

This Too Shall Pass

2 min read

I've effectively been forced into early retirement.

While I have a bit of savings left, I haven't been working since March 18th and I no longer have a roommate. This does mean that I can no longer afford my mortgage. However, I'm hardly unique in this situation and I'm not sure how the building management will continue for the foreseeable future. There's still maintenance to be done and fuel needed for the water heaters, as well as electricity for the lobby and corridor lights, and the elevator too.

I don't know for how long this situation will last, but I'm confident I will live to see its end. I do have a compromised immune system, despite my forays into the woods. I get quite sick every flu season, even with the flu shots, and the seasons I've skipped the shots have left me in a zombie state for a few days. Full effects last at least a couple of weeks each season. I don't know if I have already contracted Coronavirus or have had a milder version of COVID-19, or whether it was yet another bout of the regular flu. I haven't been able to test myself. Most other people living in New York haven't been able to test themselves.

I'm still finding it very easy to pass the time. I get regular excercise and eat well. I have also skipped the early morning walks outdoors and transitioned to walking inside the apartment. I have a bit more space to do so now that my roommate is gone.

I'm staying mentally active by reading some of the books I've been putting off due to lack of time. I've been using the internet only sparingly as content is saturated with data on the pandemic and little actual news. Advertising continues.

All of my side projects have been put on hold. While time is plenty, resources are not. And I want to be frugal now more than ever before, at levels I've been used to since late high school, since there is no guarantee any aid will actually come from the government, both at the state and federal level.

It would be quite a challenge for the few of us remaining here. I'm almost alone on my floor now as my next closest neighbors have also moved out to a less populous area of New York. I hope the building will still be viable when they come back after this is all over. This will be over.

A Moment

1 min read

I've reached the moment in time I was waiting for all these years, after seeing the "Wear Sunscreen" video as a kid who just came home from high school in the late 90s. The imagery was from an era long before I was born, but I felt them as if I've lived them. The advice felt incredibly prescient, even though I was decades away from truly grasping their depth. Just as the words said so.


2 min read

I'm alive.

I've been in my apartment since March 18th. My building now seems abandoned from the outside, with the exception of the occasional maintenance dutifully carried out by the building supervisor. I haven't seen him or his family in person for days, but it's comforting to see his influence. Aside from a few neighbors, my floor is empty.

I can't do any more woodworking since going out for lumber is out of the question and I want to save my tools and the few remaining supplies for when I'll really need them. My roommate has gone to stay with his family for a while.

When I first moved into my apartment, I was delighted at how quiet it was at night, especially since a city is hardly a serene environment. Over the years, a few drips of motorcycles at midnight turned into a collapsing roof on my serenity which, thankfully, subsided the last few years. I think increased constraints on noise pollution helped. The pandemic has turned that serenity into an eerie silence at night.

For the last few days, I'm rediscovering the sounds of a living structure. I can hear little creaks which didn't phase into perception before. Rumbles of vent fans on the roof. And even birds. I used to run away into the woods in winter to find this kind of ambiance, but I never imagined I'd find it at home. I've used the label countless times, but this is the first time I thought of my apartment as truly my "home".

I thought by now, I would have gone completely mad by staying home, but I'm oddly comfortable being alone with my own thoughts than ever before.

I'm learning how silence works again.

Archive Video

2 min read

I've been slowly enveloped by work yet again, desipite my efforts to reduce the load. These have been extenuating circumstances so I've given myself a small pass. Meanwhile, I've been making some changes to the way my blog software runs. I've been experimenting with embedding video from the Internet Archive.

Overall, I'd like to move away from YouTube as a repository for my video content for various reasons, although the primary reason is the capiriciousness in the way it treats takdowns. Someone I know has had their entire channel removed with no justification even though it's full of completely innocuous content. And it was just as arbitarily restored. I don't know how the Archive team handles takedowns, but I can't imagine it being any more silly.

I've toyed with uploading a time lapse I recorded in 2016, however it seems the Archive can only generate previews for .mkv and similar video. Not .mov from the camera. In light of this discovery, I've embedded a documentary I enjoyed from years ago. I hope to upload more as time allows.

Edit: I noticed the embedded video occasionally shows a Google Captcha. Archive seems to think some exit nodes are sources of abuse (possible), in which case I recommend simply renewing your identity instead of helping Google with their machine learning.

Edit2: It appears the embedding did work for my timelaps and I was mistaken that Archive couldn't generate video for .mov files. I believe the issue was that I didn't wait long enough for Archive to generate the video preview. This is great news since I can upload without making conversions.

DIY Laser Cutter

5 min read

For the past several months, I've slowly been collecting parts for a device that can handle CNC functions. This includes X, Y, Z axis movement, with an action head capable of handling X/Y and a platform to raise and lower the work material in the Z-axis. Aside from a few setbacks, it's coming along nicely.

I want to try manufacturing components and small parts that I'll need around my place and eventually during cabin life. And I would like to thoroughly document all of the steps and my mistakes so everything is repeatable for anyone who reads the directions.

It's unlikely that I'll be able to run to the shops to get a part to repair something in a rush when I'm far from convenient transportation and, more than likely, the part in question many not even exist to be sold. So home manufacturing becomes more than mere convenience. I've wanted to do something like this for some time, but the Timegods were not in my favor. Since cutting back on my workload for the most part, I've had more thought space to pursue this. I'm hopeful that I'll have something functioning very soon.

The overall cutting size will be roughly 950x150mm because of the need to fit the rail gantry components. I'm recycling an OpenBuilds frame for this purpose, and adding the extra rails and attachment components. I was unhappy with the acrylic components in the OpenBuilds kit and will be switching to all aluminum plates. This will significantly add to the weight and cost, but will ensure a more sturdy build.

The list of parts and exact layout has changed quite a bit in the last week alone. I assembled a rudimentary frame to visualize any potential issues with the way I'm envisioning the layout. It was a tedious, yet fruitful excercise that helped me narrow down the final arrangement. I'll have a detailed parts list at a future date, but this is what I have so far (all rails are v-slot metric):

  • 2x 2080 @ 1000mm
  • 2x 2020 @ 1000mm
  • 1x 2040 @ 1000mm
  • 2x 2040 @ 700mm
  • 2x 2040 @ 500mm
  • 4x 2020 @ 550mm
  • 4x 2020 @ 500mm
  • 4x 3-axis corner connectors
  • many 90-degree angle brackets
  • many M5 t-slot nuts
  • several M5 hex nuts
  • many M5 flat profile screws in both 8mm and 10mm lengths
  • 3x NEMA 17 stepper motors
  • 1x NEMA 23 stepper motor (pending)
  • 4x TB6505 stepper motor controllers
  • 1x Arduino Uno (for testing)
  • 2x DIN rails
  • 1x Mean Well 5V DIN rail power supply
  • 1x Mean Well 12V DIN rail power supply
  • Lots of DIN rail terminal blocks
  • Lots of wire
  • GT2 6mm timing belts
  • Some additional leftover hardware from the OpenBuilds kit

I'll be adding some other electronic components like a couple of breadboards, prototype boards, a few optocouplers (to ensure I don't burn out the Arudino on the first try). I'll also need some gantry plates, some motor mounting plates (to ensure I don't get in the way of the grantries) and some other hardware depending on the final arrangement.

All the rails are v-slot types because I wanted to double the functionality whenever possible. I can attach any additional componets, wiring, brackets or anything else needed down the line without worrying too much about placement.

Rails laid out
The rails laid out in roughly the orientation they'll be used
90 degree angle brackets
These 90-degree corner angle brackets will be doing most of the hard work of keeping the frame square
3-axis brackets
These 3-axis brackets will help hold the corerners square. They also cap off the tops of the rails, which will double as the gantry stops.
Overall frame
Overall frame now standing thanks to the corner connectors and angle brackets. That 2080 rail laying across will be the second y-axis rail eventually. It will be located somewhere in the middle of the frame so the rest of the space will go toward the electronics and other components.
TB6505 stepper motor controller
A generic TB6505 stepper motor controller
Mean Well power supply
This is a 12V power supply which I may need to upgrade in the future or connect another one in series to get up to 24V. But it's all I could manage on short notice

I want to make all of the components and build steps easily downloadable so anyone with the resources can build their own. So this assembly is a dry run that I'm sure I'll need to disassemble and assemble again several times to get the kinks out.

The entire frame will end up being 1000x700mm, which would make it no longer fit through my bedroom door (my lab area). However, since the frame is easily disassembled, I'm not too worried about that. The critical components are the two y-axis rails at 2080. I selected the larger size width deliberately because I intend to move it a bit. I don't think I'll be fitting it through many door frames, but I needs to fit into the back of a typical 4-door family car or a small SUV.

I initially planned on getting a replacement CO2 laser tube since my last 60W burned out. But I may be starting with a diode laser first. That will significantly limit the types of materials I can cut, but I want to ensure the process is well honed before moving on to more expensive purchases.

There's a lot more to do here with regard to planning. Naturally, I'll be making quite a lot of mistakes so I wouldn't be surprised if I'll need to replace many of these components in the near future.

Overall, I'd like to start experimenting with what's possible with the fewest number of easily replacable components. In keeping with my frugal philosophy, I tried to scavange components whenever possible instead of buying new. Sometimes, that wasn't possible, but I'm hoping my Patreon can help with the heavy lifting. I don't want to rely on Patreon too much so I'll still be dipping into my savings at times.

All in all, this has been a very educational process for me.

Home for the Holidays

2 min read

I made it back to my apartment just in time for Thanksgiving this year. Of course, the holidays will be spent with my roommate and neighbors so it's a pretty standard affair. I look forward to my neighbor's delicious pies this year too. I have to learn how to make these myself sometime. I hope I can get the recipe.

I did manage to drop by the office before coming home and setup the webcam this time so I can catch the first snowfall from there before it gets to my place. There's a better view from the rear window than from my apartment so I'm hoping it will stay running for as long as possible. I uploaded the script I used to take the snapshots to Github.

I don't have enough resources on that machine to do live streaming, and I didn't want to abuse the bandwidth so it's only set to take a photo every 5 minutes. Some day, I do want to setup a live cam of cabin life, if that's feasible.

I've been meaning to get my reading list in order for a while, but didn't get a chance yet. I'd like to share which books I'll be taking to the cabin for the first night's read. I have plans for a separate structure for the library or reading room so it would be nice to take a few from the collection before the rest of the books arrive.

Potatoes, Onions, Eggs, and Pork

3 min read

Sustenance seems to be one of the most frequent topics to come up when discussing living off-grid. A stable source of food is only common sense, but I'd like to avoid going to the store as much as I could. Where I'm planning to build the cabin, there aren't that many grocery stores in the first place. There also seems to be fewer and fewer stores selling fresh produce in rural areas in general, even in New York. This is a problem on its own in addition to the dwindling hardware and convenience stores.

While my own dietary needs are modest, it's dangerous to ignore proper nutrition, especially when I'm living away from most conveniences.

I used to joke that potatoes are better than Bitcoin. They work in any century as a medium of exchange, they inherently show proof of work, and potatoes are delicious and nutritious. Best of all, potatoes are hacker-proof and are offline by default. It's quite possible to survive on just potatoes for months, and farm it multiple times in the same year, but to save my sanity and long-term health, I'd like to add other staples to my diet if I'm doing some farming anyway.

Farming in general is quite involved, and it's still unrealistic to expect most of my diet to come from my own work. At least initially. But I'd like to add onions to the mix. After potatoes, onions have the longest shelf-life of the types of produce I can farm fairly reasonably. Unlike potatoes, I can't harvest onions year-round so I'll need to make sure preservation is in order. If my solar setup can withstand refrigeration, I'd also like to try and keep a few other things long-term too.

I've been unintentionally excluding red meat from my diet for a long time. In the past, I used to take in pork quite regularly. A steak is good once in a while, but I haven't had one in years either. I used to love a nice New York Steak. I have never worked in an animal farm and I have no idea if I have the skills to start. I'd still like to learn if it's possible, although I'm sure I'll be at the apprentice level for quite some time if I start now. Not being a hunter, I don't know if I have what it takes to go through with it.

Farming pigs is the most involved and probably the most unrealistic thing to consider right now, but I don't want to exclude it entirely.

I dislike the idea of being a hypocrite although we all are to some degree. I think, subconsciously, that's probably another reason why I've avoided red meat for a while. Somehow, eating a hamburger without taking the animal's life myself is a bit like outsourcing murder. Likewise, eating bacon strips without doing the slicing myself is a bit of a cop-out. I don't have a problem collecting eggs or going fishing, which is probably why I'm OK with omelets and salmon.

We should probably be more reluctant to take lives, of any sort for any reason, without facing them in-person.

I don't expect to do a lot of fishing, but maybe keeping a few hens for the eggs is a viable option. I'll probably have some leftover material from building the cabin so a small chicken coup might be doable. There are some lovely chicken coup ideas out there which are simple and yet sturdy enough to last through harsh winters.

However things go, I'll need to be extra careful with my budget even before construction starts so that I'll have enough resources left over for several years.

Durable Technology

7 min read

It was still windy in New York as I was thinking of writing this. Last week, a storm passed though most of New England, including New York, and my area saw quite some damage. Since I live in an apartment some floors up, I was mostly spared, with the exception of a bit of lights flickering and Internet pauses.

My biggest concern was the windows blowing in during high winds or debris strikes. A worry that was more acute during Hurricane Sandy. Naturally, I wanted to experience the winds first hand because of my weird proclivities so I had one of the windows open the whole time. I didn't step outside this time since I'm not totally mad yet.

While the wind was raging, I was reviewing the technology that supports my lifestyle.

The largest power drain at my place is the fridge. In hot months, the AC is on par. Apartment life is largely impossible without AC, especially in upper floors when bombarded by the Sun, due to the way buildings are usually constructed here. Likewise, a cold fridge is hardly a luxury since most of the food we get is perishable and only economical when purchased in bulk.

While heating in winter isn't so much a concern for me due to concrete being a fairly consistent thermal mass and rising heat from lower floors, it's a huge concern to my neighbors close to the ground floor. There isn't much direct sunlight there to make use of the thermal mass. My fridge has a microcontroller that's a mystery to me since I don't want to take it apart. Likewise, there's one in the AC that keeps a timer and temperature sensors going.

A lot of the technology we rely on to stay connected and comfortable is also extremely fragile. Our quality of life depends on so much of it working flawlessly that I fear we're largely spoiled to some degree. I won't miss the era of struggling to find clean water and food or not being able to reach friends and family any time of day. But I'm sure there's a happy middle to self-sufficiency where we're less reliant on the infrastructure we take for granted.

It's ironic that I have a significantly smaller buffer to survive in civilization than when I'm out camping.

I enjoy mild discomfort in small doses while outdoors. I consider it an acceptable trade for peace of mind in solitude, but I also enjoy being comfortable most of the time. I'm used to a certain living standard that I don't really want to lose. I also don't want to pay a high price for it, moral nor fiat.

I also enjoy meeting and chatting with friends, much more than I used to back when I was younger. The Internet gifted and robbed the joy of detached communication, but I still want to keep that option.

While brainstorming all manner of connectivity and sustainability ideas can be fun, at some point, I really do need to put my foot down and decide what I actually need vs what's just nice to have. I do know at at least some of the structures I'm planning to build will have power, but maybe not all. At least one will have running water. All will have sensors to give me status on temperature and any potential damage during bad weather and such to ensure I can intervene in time.

I had already decided that I'd like to have some manner of mesh connectivity, but I realized that this is ripe for over-complexity and so I must be careful about the time I devote to this versus the rewards I'll actually reap.

I remembered the story of the ancient Commodore Amiga, first released in 1985, running a school AC and heating systems for more than 30 years.

While hardly perfect and prone to some failures owing to its age, I view this as a remarkable triumph in simplicity and durability. The weak parts have all been moving components, such as the mouse and hard drive. And the monitor, which is prone to EMF sensitivity and requires high voltage flyback transformer for the electron gun in the CRT. These components notwithstanding, the rest of the system is vastly more resilient than I would have expected. It's also a testament to the skill of the programmer who initially wrote all this software.

The systems and processes that enable my comfort should probably be left in the "low-tech" side in lieu of better features and speed. What I've noticed repeatedly is the benefit of engineering for loose tolerances, both in signals and user handling. And the benefit of designing for harsh environments. It's not unusual to see ancient computers running industrial control processes for decades. We seem to have sacrificed durability for features somewhere along the way and I'd like to get it back.

I've briefly toyed with the idea of a "smart cabin", but immediately dreaded the thought of coupling technology too tightly to my lifestyle again. I think the best kind of technology disappears into the background while performing its duties. There are also the privacy issues of smart-as-a-service and I distrust anything from a connected company. Not just because I don't know what information they collect and sell, but also what information will be walled off at a future date with built-in obsolescence.

An alternative, along the same lines as my DIY writing computer, is to make my own durable technology as best I can. While there are varying definitions of "durable", I'd like to start by reducing my reliance on things that are hard to repair with rudimentary tools, require some specialized technical knowledge

that is also hard to obtain. And I'd like to avoid things that need such high tolerances that conducting repairs in the middle of the woods in a cabin is out of the question.

So I'll need to practice welding some more and try to improve my carpentry skills. I'll also need to brush up on practical electronics. In terms of material, I'd like to limit plastics to the essentials that can't do without them while returning to wood and recycled metal whenever possible. I'd like to make all my constructs last as long as possible with minimal maintenance and replacement.

It's highly unlikely that I can make my own fridge, but I'm sure I can enable monitoring. Likewise, temperature control could probably be managed with off-the-shelf components, especially for the structure that has running water. The last thing I need is burst pipes due to freezing temperatures. If I go the wood heating route, manual intervention will be absolutely necessary, but I'd like to know when temperatures drop so I'll be ready to start a fire and keep it monitored so I don't burn the thing down. If I go the solar heating route, I'd like the vanes connected to thermal mass to open at the right time. These need not be mutually exclusive.

I'd also like to keep tabs on the composting toilet since I'm the forgetful type.

I think I would like to build my own durable technology going forward with simple electronics and replaceable, easily sourced, components. I absolutely do not foresee DIY semiconductor manufacturing in my immediate future, but I do see a path to some general purpose, simple computer that can be programmed for specific tasks and run on little power and oversight. On that subject, my favorite video series is by Ben Eater, in which he goes over each component of a simple 8-bit CPU built with discreet logic chips and hand wiring.

The series is quite long, but it's quite possibly the best visual explanation of any CPU on the Internet.

This is a custom architecture with its own instruction set that's specifically geared toward teaching computing and operations. It's a great starting point to build on, but I'd like to make something more capable which can be programmed to handle additional hardware. I've been looking at the RISC-V instruction set as a possible starting point for a durable, general purpose computer that can handle most automation tasks that I'm likely to need.

To that end, there's another video series I've been watching by Robert Baruch which specifically is a RISC-V computer with DIY registers made from RAM chips and such.

Although, he takes a different direction than I expected, this is a great introduction to RISC-V and how it may be implemented. The true value of the series to me is learning the intricacies of the instruction set, which I feel will be far more prominent in the future. I found the ALU design video showing the operation of the Arithmetic and Logic Unit very illuminating.

I think I'm confident that this is the path to a general purpose computer to handle my day-to-day tasks in limited automation that I don't feel needs much fiddling once programmed and can be left alone. Possibly for years on end.

I don't see myself abusing any technology I'll utilize for the heck of it or leaving it all at the mercy of the elements, but living in solitude is bound to let the things I make encounter some harsh conditions from time-to-time. I'd like to start down a path of reasonable comfort and maintain my lifestyle choices in the future as I withdraw into the woods. To me, this is the essence of "Rustic Cyberpunk".