2013 In the Studio Lab

December 31, 2013 · Posted in personal, projects, travel, work · Comment 

This year saw a lot of change for us.


Starting in April, I took on a full time gig over at Hewlett Packard, working on their HP Flow CM solution. We released a few iOS and Android apps for clients (more info on this later) and have started on a few more. I’ve invested in some small things with hopefully large ROI. And finally, I finished my first semester teaching over at Boise State University teaching mobile application development on the Android platform. Next semester will be taught using iOS, which I’m looking forward to.

Ana has continued her Water Engineering job with much success, working on plants all over Boise and the surrounding cities and Twin Falls.

As an engineering family, we got a lot done, a lot of projects completed and were rewarded for all that effort by being able to crush the final student loan debt I’ve been putting off paying, and investing in new opportunities.


This year we finished up a month-long trip to Florida and Colombia. We also made it to New Jersey, New York City, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. We’ve put hundreds of miles of hiking and walking under our belt, but not as many rock climbing routes as we would have liked. However, we put up a bouldering cave in our garage to help.


The bouldering cave that we built in our garage turned out better than we could have imagined. We still need to buy some more holds to set up different routes, but it’s been a blast setting up routes for ourselves and friends’ kids that visit.

We also bought a house that was only two years old, but we’ve still a lot of time into making it home.

I’ve done a lot of work on my bike with the help of my friend Nick who runs a motorcycle parts company, near Boise. I helped him put the site together and he’s helped keep my bike maintained.


Overall, teaching has been the best opportunity. While it paid a little bit in money, it paid a ton in satisfaction of knowing I’ve made a difference in the lives of the 28 students that I had for Fall Semester of 2013; some more so than others of course. I look forward to improving the teaching of mobile apps to students and can’t wait to see their apps popping up on the app store.

The rock climbing gym should allow us to stay better trained to continue climbing the 5.10b’s that we’re able to climb at places like Smith Rock and City of Rocks.

Now that Matyas is a bit older, we can hopefully travel more, like we use to before he was born, although traveling with him to South America when he was 1 month wasn’t a bad trip.

Rock Climbing Wall – Building a Climbing Wall in the Garage

October 28, 2013 · Posted in personal, projects, rock climbing · Comment 

My wife and I have been climbing for a few years and spending quite a bit of money for our monthly climbing gym membership. While we would usually go about 3-5 times a week, it was always a chore to get there in the first place.

In the past, I spent a few hundred dollars on some weights and since then, have never felt the need to sign up for a gym membership. Whenever I felt like it, I’d pick up some weights and do some reps. I’d do this fairly often and through out the day. So it started making sense to take that same idea and apply it to rock climbing. So we built a rock climbing wall, also known as a bouldering cave, in our garage.

Planning the Bouldering Cave


Measuring and planning out the bouldering cave

We have a 3 car garage but only one car, and we don’t have a lot of junk being stored in it. So when we first moved into our new house, here in Boise, our garage was feeling quite empty. The third car port didn’t have a garage door opener on it, nor did it feel like a car should go in there. The area itself just seemed perfect for a bouldering cave due to it’s U-shaped walls.

We did some research on cave designs and knew we wanted a 45 degree wall. Vertical walls are almost useless and a waste of effort. One problem was, we had a window on the left wall that we didn’t want to cover up. This would allow natural light to come in while we’re climbing and not have to burn electricity while we’re out there during the day. It would also allow cooling and ventilation in the summer so we just had to keep it open. It turned out to be a bit of a problem as a 45 degree wall would come right out and cover part of it up. We spent almost an entire day planing it out, thinking about pros and cons about different wall designs. We decided to make a 30 degree wall next to the window and a 45 next to it against the other wall.

We then decided to extend out and wrap around the dividing wall for some extra climbing surface. These walls are flat as we didn’t want them to jut out and take up more space, but they can serve as walls for kids or extra distance for traverse warmups.


We borrowed a lot of the tools from friends since there was a ton that we ended up needing.

  • Circular saw (a table saw is better to cut the longer plywood)
  • Chop saw – perfect for cutting angled 2x4s
  • Plug in hammer drill – the hammering feature helped drive in screws to concrete.
  • Power Drill – the ease of portability, the downfall of recharging batteries a lot
  • Hammer – for hammering in the T-nuts
  • Measuring tape – measure twice, cut once. Also great for planning and visualizing angles and how much material you’ll need
  • Clamps – When you only have two hands, holding up plywood and other pieces of wood becomes a lot easier once you clamp them in place before screwing it together
  • Drill bits – for various pilot holes, but also a special one for the t-nuts.
  • Belt sander – sometimes you’re a few millimeters off and instead of recutting, you can just sand off that extra length. We always cut a tad long, sanded it down and made everything fit with high precision.

Hammering in the t-nuts


We made a ton of trips to the hardware store. This was mostly because we ended up wrapping our wall out and around the dividing wall that was there so we needed more materials than we first expected. We also were generous on the use of screws since everything needed to be tight and snug. Any movement of the wall as we pulled and climbed on it, would be a jarring experience as rock shouldn’t ever move.

  • 5/8 inch plywood – We calculated the area, then added a few more for waste and extra features
  • 2x4s for the main structure
  • 2x6s for various structural componets such as tying into the ceiling and wall
  • Concrete screws
  • Wood screws of various lengths (2″ – 3 3/4″)
  • Liquid nails – to glue the wood to the concrete after screwing it in
  • Wood glue – ended up using vary little of this, but definitely needed it in a few places
  • 800 t-nuts – we put t-nuts every 6-8 inches apart in the plywood


We built a frame for the wall in front of the actual wall to allow us to get back inside to fix fallen t-nuts and inspect the structure in coming years. This took some space away for climbing as it made the inner area smaller, but it’s well worth it and necessary.

View from inside the wall, looking at the 45 degree wall

View from inside the wall, looking at the 45 degree wall

Once we were done with the framing, we could build out the angles. Using clamps to secure some 2x4s at a 45 degree angle, we prototyped what the wall would look like. We sat under it to get a good feeling for what it would be like to climb at that angle and height, and moved the 2x4s up and down, adjusted the angle by a few degrees both ways and got it to “feel” right. Once it felt right to us, we screwed in the 2x4s and took off the clamps. We did this for the 30 degree wall as well to get it to work with the window. We had a little less choice with that, since a wall that was too steep would come out and cover the wall, so we brought it out as steep as we could to hit the top corner of the window.

With the main structure in place, we finished up the framing of the angled walls.

Structure of the 45 degree wall

Structure of the 45 degree wall


Once the frame was done, we started measuring and cutting the plywood for the wall’s face. We tried to keep waste to a minimum while cutting and planned out the cutting of the 4’x8′ sheets. We actually made the frame 8′ deep and 8′ wide to best fit the plywood. You can’t reliably climb on a wall that doesn’t properly span studs. It’s just not sturdy enough, so each piece needs to span multiple studs.

Once the plywood was measured and cut, we had to plan out where the holes were going to go, keeping in mind any adjacent walls. We ended up putting holes about 8 inches apart, starting 4 inches in. This allows us to avoid any studs on the edges, while keeping holes 8 inches apart spanning sheets of plywood. On the vertical, we had to keep in mind the widths of the holds and also try not to put them too close to the top or bottom to make them unusable. We marked out the studs on the plywood so we wouldn’t drill into them. If our holes came close, we’d nudge the marks left or right to avoid them.

The planning for the holes took a long time but once we marked them out, it was quite quick to drill the holes out and hammer in the t-nuts. We placed some scrap plywood behind the board we were drilling so the back wouldn’t splinter and blow out.

Skinning the frame

Skinning the frame

Texturing the climbing wall

Having something in your house, especially something you built yourself, should a source of pride and beauty. We knew we didn’t want to leave a plywood colored structure in our garage. Besides, the splinters alone are a pain. Also, using climbing shoes on a flat wooden surface doesn’t simulate anything except climbing on plywood. Instead of just painting it (which would have solved the splintering issue) we decided to research some texturing. We found some recipes for mixing sand with paint and joint compound but that seemed like a hassle. We happened across some deck restore that will take old wood and apply a concrete-like layer on it for a hardened surface you could walk on. You can even color it too. We bought a small amount to test it out and it worked beautifully. It’s very thick and heavy so we had to apply it in thin layers but the end result is like climbing on rough granite. Smearing is awesome.

Texturing the wall

Texturing the wall

Crash Pad

Like most garage floors, our is made out of concrete: one of the hardest materials known to a human’s skull. Not wanting to use concrete as a cushion we commissioned  Baboon Climbing to build us a crash pad that could fit in the space we had. What they came up with was a folding mat that we could break apart in the middle and use the smaller pieces around the gym. They did a great job and while it’s definitely softer than concrete, falling from our 10 foot tall bouldering cave is almost enjoyable, knowing they’ll be a soft but firm landing at the end.

The finished climbing wall in our garage

The finished climbing wall in our garage

Climbing on our Wall

We’ve had a bunch of fun on our wall since finishing it, but I think the most fun is had by the kids that come over and climb on it. We left some flat walls for them and we plan on adding large features to the others to make them more interesting. As you can see, we have two flat walls facing each other that’ll let us add features, but there’s also two other flat walls that wrap around the original dividing wall that can be used.

Finished wall showing the wrap around section

Finished wall showing the wrap around section

Starting your own project or have questions about ours? Let me know in the comments below!

Matyas Andrew Ziray Arango

November 24, 2012 · Posted in baby, personal, photos · 1 Comment 

November 21, 2012 at 10:02 am

7 pounds, 3 ounces

20 1/2 inches long

Baby Matyas arrived Wednesday morning at St. Luke’s Medical Center, in Boise, Idaho, perfectly healthy and with almost no fuss. We all spent Thanksgiving in the hospital with friends and ate a wonderful dinner in a cramped but wonderful hospital room.

Both mom and baby are doing well and should be released from the hospital Saturday morning.

What’s with the long name?

Matyas’s mother comes from a culture of combining both parent’s last names for their children. His last name is technically “Ziray Arango” and his middle name is Andrew, named after his great grandfather, Andrew James Ziray, Sr., and his Grandfather, Andrew James Ziray, Jr. His uncle is also Andrew James Ziray, III.

As for his first name, Matyas (ma-TEE-us) is a name that works in both Spanish and English, with the benefit of also being the name of Hungary’s first king, Mátyás Corvinus. Matyas also means “gift of god,” which has a bit of irony since Michael means, “Who is like god?” This latter part is purely coincidence. The Spanish version is Matias, while the English version is Matthias. Either way, it is a unique name and in our opinion, tasteful to the mixed heritage of this young little guy.

Baby – 20 Weeks – It’s a Boy!

July 19, 2012 · Posted in baby, personal, photos · Comment 

Last week, Ana and I found out we’re having a baby boy. We’re expecting the little guy November 29; just an early Christmas present to both of us.

The baby is healthy, within the 75% percentile for growth (which might just mean they’re 2 days or so behind the estimate) and moving all around inside Ana. This week was also the first week she definitively felt the little guy moving around. We found out her placenta is just on the other side of the tummy, so the extra padding makes it hard to feel the baby.


Ana doesn’t even look like she’s pregnant one bit. No one believes us when we tell them, but she hides it well anyway. She’s definitely feeling the pregnancy though but we’re still rock climbing, camping and other things to try to stay active. Rock climbing is of course perfectly safe and falls are limited to a only a foot or two on a nice stretchy rope. Plus Ana bought a full body harness instead of the one that wraps around the waist.


20 Week Ultrasound Video 1

20 Week Ultrasound Video 2

20 Week Ultrasound Video 3

20 Week Ultrasound Video 4


Idaho City Camping

July 14, 2012 · Posted in personal, photos · Comment 

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