2) Loudspeaker Design/Construction. The design is about 90 percent of the battle. A lot of tradeoffs must be made when coming up with a good design. It appeals to the mathmatical side of my mind. A great place to buy components is Madisound. Also, check out Waynes Speaker Building Page. A handy site for car audio is Crutchfield. I've also run across the Mother of all Audio Related Link Lists. Steve Ekblad maintains this list of literally thousands of Audio related links, as well as a list of downloadable audio software.
3) Astronomy. I recently purchased a Meade ETX (90mm) scope - very compact, all in all, an excellent instrument. While it has excellent optics, the portability of this scope is what truly makes it outstanding. A good reference site for the ETX is Jordan Blessing's ETX Reference Site. Another is Michael Weasner's "Mighty ETX Site". A great site for ETX accessories (and all things optical, for that matter) is Pocono Mountain Optics. Their prices are reasonable and they have given me excellent service.
APOD (Astronomy Picture Of the Day) is a super site for astronomical imagery. Every day, a new image is featured, along with a description by a professional astronomer. Also, check out their archive. Recommended. For a preview, jump to APOD's Greatest Hits.
A unique project that YOU can help out with is SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. "HOW," you ask ??? Simple. Just jump to the [email protected] website, download/install a copy of their screensaver, and then, you too, can be a part of the search. The screensaver processes radiotelescope data, looking for anomolies. All possible 'Hits' are forwarded to SETI for further analysis. And, it does this in the background, while you are NOT using the computer. Give it a try. Remember, if your computer finds the signal, you can be listed as a co-discoverer. Cool. You can even listen to signals from the radio telescope (move over, Jodie Foster.)
Leather Tooling. Also known as leather carving, which is a mis-nomer, as while cuts are made into the leather surface, no leather is actually removed. Areas are 'pressed' into the leather by repeated strokes of a mallet on various patterned tools in order to reveal figures in relief. Floral and oak leaf patterns are popular, as are animals and landscapes. Leather tooling is a craft that has been popular for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Advances in the tanning of leather in the past 20 to 30 years have enhanced the quality of the leather and consequently, the ease of tooling. The thumbnail to the left is one of my first attempts since high school to re-capture the methods and skills needed. (There's a long way to go...) Select it for a larger than life close-up view. One place to get started with leather working is at Tandy Leather. You'll be able to find tools, supplies, and leather, as well as kits and patterns. Another useful site is CLPW Leather Supplies. They carry much the same items as Tandy, some at lower prices. A third site is the Springfield Leather Company, who have some excellent leather prices, and who will even cut a hide for you. Generally, the best prices are, in order, Springfield, CLPW, and Tandy. However, Tandy seems to have the most items available, folowed by CLPW, and then Springfield. In any event, it pays to shop around for the best prices.
For those in the Phoenix area, Copper Saguaro in Tempe is a good local source (Tandy distributer) for leather, tools and supplies. Jim Auguston, the owner, is very helpful, and offers classes in leather craft. Jim is an excellent carver, and sells finished goods as well.
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