In preparation for next week's time off (when 'll be able to do more work on the SB Cruiser trike and hopefully "finish" my brother's trike (except for lights, which he hasn't gotten yet)), I've been spending most of my "weekend time" trying to finish up yard lighting and power outlets, so I can see well enough to work after dark (since the days are so short right now), given that it's been warm enough to keep working for hours after sunset the last few days, and might still be next week.
I didn't fall off any ladders today, but I did smash my left thumb with the hammer twice, and pinch various fingers with other tools several times, and burn a few (and the back of my hand somehow) with the soldering iron.
As noted last week, I added some floodlights above the back door to light the back porch itself. Today I moved the west one a bit further west so it can be pivoted to cover the area to the southwest of the porch (which is where it will point all the time except when being used to light the porch itself). Both of these lights are presently on a power strip with it's own switch and breaker, mounted on the doorframe just east of the door itself, so they can be switched off if not needed, even if other things on the outlets they're plugged into are still on.
I had used "floodlight" CFLs in these, 60w-equivalent, but found a six pack of generic LED floodlights, 600 lumens 60W equivalent, warm white, on deep clearance for a few dollars, and am now using those. They work much better, are much brighter and come on full immediately regardless of temperature (where the CFLs never brightened fully if it was below around 45F, and could take 20-30 minutes to get above half brightness below about 55F).
When the back room was torn down during the house rebuld after the fire, I'd saved the old lighting pole that used to be on the roof over the back door; it has two floodlight mounts on it and wiring already in it's conduit, etc. Yesterday I mounted this to the front of the shed just north of the barn shed taht's under the biggest mulberry tree, so it sticks up above the shed a few feet, and aims the floodlights to cover the work table just under the mulberry tree just northwest of the backdoor (which doesn't get enough light from the porch lights), and the ground parallel to that area north of the table.
The pics below were taken after sunset, nearly dark outside; the sky looks lighter than it was cuz of glare from the shed light. All of the light in the yard itself is from the shed light not the twilight.
The mounting/conduit box that was part of that pole is bolted to the face of the shed just above teh door, both with a bolt/nut/fenderwasher set, and with a threaded conduit tube with it's locknuts into the box (so I can also feed wiring into the shed for lights inside) and I've clamped the pole itself to both the face of the shed and the edge of it's roof between the roof panels. In teh box itself I installed a GFCI outlet that also breakers the lights themselves. The floodlights used are glass outdoor-rated Sylvania "85W equivalent" 650 lumen warm white LED bulbs, which I found on deep clearance this weekend, only a few dollars each (cheaper than comparable incandescent or CFL types). They are actually quite bright, more than I expected from their ratings.
I havne't gotten the 4-foot fluorescent fixture mounted to teh shed roof inside yet, but when I do it'll get wired to that outlet for GFCI protection as well, and will have it's own switch just inside and above the door. The fixture was saved from the driveway's carport roof when the back room was torn down; I've saved a few bulbs with a bit of life left in them from the alley bulk pickup in the last couple years, to use in it.
The wiring to the house is part of an old extension cord someone had tossed out becuse it was missing one end and the other was broken up. I cut the broken end off and replaced it with a cord I'd saved probably 30 years ago from a duct fan in a big rack mount cabinet (I had several of them, just two left now); it's soldered and heatshrink-covered on each splice, with the splices staggered so even if insulation fails there's no way to directly short them (I always do this with power supply wiring, having learned the hard way long ago).
I removed the "security" motion-activated light just to the east of the backdoor, since it's no longer needed there, and replaced it with an outlet/switch box, with another outlet box on the side of that. One of the outlets in the main box is switched by the switch in that box, the other three are unswitched. However, the power there is switched by teh wall switch just inside the door, so *all* of the outlets there are switched by that, so all of the yard lighting except the main greenish mercury-vapor lamp over the orange tree (with the camera over it) is turned on and off from that inside switch.
The over-door porch lighting is plugged into an unswitched outlet above, and the over-shed lighting is plugged into the switched outlet.
The security light mentioned above was moved to the driveway, southeast corner of the house just under the carport roof, where it can light the driveway and that corner of the front yard if needed. It uses "75w equivalent" CFLs in daylight blue-white; the same ones it's had in it for some time now. I've been wanting a light for the carport ever since the fluorescent fixture that was always there before was removed during the post-fire rebuild, but this is the first time I've gotten time and parts and energy all at the same time to do this.
Power is provided via two old vacuum-cleaner cords cut off of stuff from the alley bulk trash over the last couple years, spliced together like the other cords noted above (though in this case no need to cut off the last plug, as that two-prong polarized plug the cord came with is used to plug it into the powerstrip that plugs into the only outdoor GFCI outlet the house has, just to the east of the back door almost at ground level.
That powerstrip provides power to the security light, the camera, and the over-orange-tree yard light, and provides a place to plug in my powertool/etc extension cord that has 4-outlet box on the end of it.
All the cords to the lights are "plastic stapled" just under the eaves to keep them away from the wet, and then run from the corners of the house to the yard light in the east case, and the sheds in the west case, and just staying under hte eaves and carport roof to the security light.
At some point I'd like to use one of the various metal boxes I have to build an outlet / switchbox to contain all the outlets and switches for them, with breakers for each one or for sets of them, and mount it on the back wall next to the door, with good thick cords to run them to existing outlets inside the house (there's only one pair outside), so nothing is permanently wired in (since that technically requires permits and such), and is just "temporary" power extensions.
Ideally I'd rather just add permanent outlets at various points around the outside of the house, and add conduit-wiring from the house to the sheds, permanently wiring all of them with outlets and lights. But that's money I don't have for all the permits/inspections/etc., so "temporary" stuff is all I can install.
But I actually started out the day by changing out the mailbox.
The house has never had an "official" type of mailbox the whole time I lived here. Before the fire, this one
was mounted on the wall just to the right (east) of the front door, just below the ceramic tile address numbers. It's not very big, about a foot long, maybe 4" deep, and maybe 6" tall at the back (sloping lid down to the front). It's not even close to water resistant, but with it's original placement that didn't matter, being completely protected from rain by the porch roof.
However, after the fire, the rebuild moved it from the wall, to the outside of the porch support post nearest that point. That put it direclty under the edge of the porch roof, in the middle of the runoff from the roof. So even with the lid closed, mail would at least get damp, and if it was left open (which the mailman has often done for whatever reason, even with a big obvious "PLEASE CLOSE LID -- WET MAIL SUCKS" sign on the inside of the lid, though less often these days), any mail in there would just be paper soup in anything but a short sprinkle.
Plus, the lantana I've been growing to shade and screen the porch overgrows that area and covers the mailbox, unless I trim out a notch in it. WOuldn't happne if it was mounted on the wall still.
The obvious solution is to mount it back on the wall, but the landlord obviously doesn't want it there, or he'd've put it back when he did the rebuild. So...when Bill moved away, he left me the regular mailbox he'd found at goodwill a while back, that he'd been working on sanding down to repaint and replace his old one with, in case I could use it for something (like battery storage, etc.). So I mounted it on a board (piece of the internal wood saved from Tiny's broken-down feeding couch), then screwed that to a shelf-support-bracket (also saved from the backroom teardown) that's mounted to the porch-support-post where the old mailbox was. I also mounted the old ceramic numbers right above the mailbox (though I guess those won't be very visible once the lantana grows back)
So now the mailbox is larger, water-resistant, and sticks out far enough that even with lantana growing aroudn it it's easy to get into and out of, so now I can let the lantana screen regrow there. It also has an outgoing mail-flag (which the old one did not).
Before I could finish the mailbox (or any of hte other work), though, I had to come up with a new battery-powered drill/screwdriver. I got two pilot holes on the mailbox board drilled, then suddenly the smoke was let out, probably of the motor, based on the smell.
So my options were to open up the crappy harborfreight drill (that I got off Freecycle a few years ago) and try to troubleshoot it, with a probably unrepairable motor, or go ahead and make up a battery pack for the much older Makita unit I've had for a while, which has NiMH packs that won't hold a charge long enough to do anything with.
Since RC LiPo had worked fine for the old HF unit for quite a long time, I decided the simplest and shortest path forward was to just do the same thing for the Makita, and worry about the HF some other day. The only complicated part would be rewiring one of the 6s packs as a 3s, as the Makita is a 14v unit, unlike the HF that could run on 6s). So I cut off the base of one of the two Makita packs, leavng just the plate with latches on the side and the stem that goes up inside the drill, pulled out the dead cells, and added wires/connectors cut off a puffed/dead RC LiPo pack to the internal connection tabs of the pack base. I was saved from haivng to rewire because even though I don't remember it specifically, I'd done this before for my old Ryobi SLA string trimmer (that burned out from the RC LiPo lasting a lot longer than the SLA, so it overheated the motor), and it turned out after testing that the pack is still good, and still balanced, having been left at 3.8v/cell last time I used it before putting it into one of the metal boxes I keep this stuff in out in a shed. I wrapped the pack in an old mousepad so it doesn't get beat up in handling while I'm using the Makita (it has no shrinkwrap), and ziptied it to the base of the Makita pack.
So it only wasted a couple of hours gathering the parts and doing the work, rather than the 3-4 if I'd had to do the pack rewiring, too. The good news is the Makita is a much better unit than the HF, and even run under-voltage (12.3v full RC LiPo vs 14.4v full NiMH).
Of course, the dogs did their usual supervising....