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# Friday, 20 May 2011

Ikea aquaponics - Currently dissembled. Removing the grow light killed off the last thriving plants. I've stripped it down and am looking into running the flood drain through 12V valves and an arduino. The loop siphon together with the tap are way to touchy to get to keep running in tune. A little algae  in one of the pipes and the flow rate is all off. The arduino should be able to handle the this and keep the system much more stable.

Makerbot Heated build platform (HBP) - Z rod binding is all fixed and the next problems is the mounting of the HBP on the wooden build platform causes it to rock after it hits temp. My best guess is the expansion of the aluminium is warping the wooden platform that it is bolted too. I originally though that it was the radiant heat from the element that was causing it, so I built a ceramic fiber insulation mat on a thin aluminium heat spreader to protect it. It made no difference.

Atomic Zombie High roller
Started, progressed upto welding, and now on hold. I'm looking into the Cruzbike as I want some suspension to protect my back a bit.

MythTV server - Our original prototype has been decommissioned and the new box is now set up with the dual pci tuner. The usb tuner was working fine, untill I rebooted the machine. I've removed it and I'll look into it next time I get an afternoon. Its running like a top and the entire family seems very happy with it. After arguing with an IR remote for a few hours, I ordered a small wireless keyboard with a little track pad in the corner. Its working really well and required zero configuration.

Motorcycle nav system - In progress, more details to follow.

Workshop - I've picked up a small metal lathe, and the bench to hold it. the next step is to get the grease cleaned off it and to get it tuned in. Then I'll need to learn to use it properly.

Food - Its currently olive season here, so I'm having a go at pickling some of my friend Jane's olives. I've never tried it before, and don't know  anyone else who has either. I've decided to do a four different recipes.
  • Hot washed Turkish style green olives
  • Fast brine cured olives
  • Slow brine cured olives
  • Salt cured black olives.
If I'm lucky, one of them will be great!

I've also picked up a CO2 regulator to fit a soda stream bottle and I'm making some home made cordial to go in it. The ginger creaming soda wasn't too bad. 

Friday, 20 May 2011 13:07:40 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [1] -

# Tuesday, 28 September 2010
Well, I haven't been here for a while. Work has been chewing up way to much of my time. Ok, the status of my various projects is as follows:

Ikea aquaponics
- The gold fish are very happy, which is luck more than anything else. I cant remember the last time I tested the water. The watercress went well, until the introduction of a strawberry plant with aphids contaminated the whole lot. The kale is aphid resistant, grew ok, but seems to be dieing off in the warmer weather. The snow peas went well at first and then died, total crop: 1 pea pod. Beatroot sprouted but failed to thrive, as did the basil.  I think I'm going to remove the grow light and see how I go without it.

Makerbot Heated build platform (HBP) - initial runs proved that the thermistor calibration was way out, so it was re calibrated. Things to note during this process, Kapton tape doesn't like water, and snaplock bags shrivel up and melt in boiling water. But, the end result is much improved. While it was in pieces i took the opportunity to lap the chunk of aluminium I'm using  as a build platform. I didn't go to a full mirror polish, but it is flat now.  I used a slab of granite from an old bench top as the flat base, and found that moving the build platform in a figure eight pattern gave more consistent results that forwards backwards movement. So, its all re assembled and installed and leveled. It heats to a true 120 centigrade, and the heat coming off it causes my one wonky z rod to bind against the z platform and jam everything.  All the z rods will be coming out on the next rainy weekend.

Atomic Zombie High roller
(New! 'cos I need another project...) - I've decided to build a recumbent bike to commute to work on. Most of a racer was scavenged from a front lawn on a hard waste collection day, and its now been stripped and chopped into bits. I just need to find someone who stocks the right steel for the main beam now.

MythTV server
- Our original prototype is still going strong, and a new AMD64 system has been purchased to replace it. Its just waiting on the aerial to be replaced so we get all the channels.

There has also been some adventures in the culinary arts too. I scored a bag full of windfall tamarillio(s? Whats the plural of tamarillio?) and made my first chutney, loosely based on this recipe. If you've never met a tamarillio before, they smell a little like papaya, and taste like a cross between a meaty tomato and a passion fruit. But they make dam good chutney!  We have also made our first Cheese! A lovely creamy ricotta, and a mozzarella. We also scored a bag of lemons from Jus, which has now been converted into lemon curd, and preserved lemons.

Wow, looking back over that I feel less slack for not posting! I really need to take more photos though.

I'll leave you with a video of a completed version of the recumbent I'm building. I hope mine turns out this good.
Tuesday, 28 September 2010 12:57:43 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] -
aquaponics | food | MakerBot | Mods
# Tuesday, 25 May 2010
Ok, the Ikea tank is up and cycling. It'll take a few weeks to get the eco system up and runing.  its running about the smallest pond pump that they make, with a loop siphon to drain.  I'm really looking forward to getting some fish in there, even if they're just goldfish.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010 12:05:39 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] -
# Wednesday, 19 May 2010
So, I've recently found that some people are growing (and growing well!) plants hydroponically using the waste water from fish to fertilize them. This water is then recirculated back into the fish tank, so its a very low waste system. I've been doing a lot of reading about it, but I don't have room to set up a proper system here (1000L for the fish alone is considered the practical minimum). So, as an interim solution, I'm making a micro system from some Ikea storage tubs. It may all go pear shaped, but logically, I don't think it should take more maintenance than my tropical aquarium. I'm not planning on growing edible fish in this one, but I have my fingers crossed for some edible plants.

I've got a few adapters to print out on the makerbot before I can start it up, but most of the bits are purchased now.  Details will follow when time permits.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010 13:08:56 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] -
Well, the heated build platform is finally installed, wired up, and controlled by the extruder controller. I still need to calibrate the new firmware to the thermistors. I have a 1mm in the extruder and a 3mm in the HBP. In the end I've gone for a relay to drive the heater element, its a FRA2 from jaycar. The first data sheet I found for it was in German, but the diagram covers the pin outs.  I haven't included a diode for suppression of back current, as there is one in the mosfet driving the relay (so I've been informed by someone on the makerbot google group).  The other bits all assembled as expected. The heater element is mounted to the aluminum plate with 24mm wide kapton tape, and then backed by the ceramic wrap that was supplied with my makerbot kit. I used the makergear braided insulation on the print head.  I've raised the aluminum plate off the wooden build platform by putting a long M3 bolt through from underneath and spacing it out with spare M3 nuts.

I've run it up to an indicated 108C, which was enough to burn my self :), but I'll wait until I have a bit more confidence in the reading before I proceed.  I have a couple of LM35 temp sensors and an unused arduino board, which I'll used to confirm the thermistor readings.  I might get some sleep first though.

When I get printing again, I think the relay will need a nice mounting clip. :)

Photos will follow.

Note: the temp was still climbing at this point.
Wednesday, 19 May 2010 13:00:12 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [1] -
MakerBot | Mods
# Saturday, 08 May 2010
Well, its not the most exciting thing in the world. But my new catch that holds my gate open is making it a lot easier to get the pram in and out! As much as the blindingly cool opportunities that the makerbot offers to designers, hackers, and geeks, its things like this that bend my mind.  I needed to hold my gate back. So a quick measure with some calipers, 5 minutes of sketch up, print, screw to fence. No more tripping over the gate.

Saturday, 08 May 2010 10:58:24 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0] -
MakerBot | Printing
# Sunday, 07 February 2010
I'm slowly delving into the skeinforge settings. The main objective is to get the Whistle to whistle. Currently it looks good but it doesn't make any noise as the sides are too porous and allow to much air to escape.

I'm bringing the "carve>extrusion width over thickness" down from 1.9 (default) to 1.5. We'll see what it does.

As promised yesterday, here is some pictures too. Sorry about the color balance on the second one.

Sunday, 07 February 2010 09:32:37 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] -
MakerBot | Printing
# Saturday, 06 February 2010
#458 is alive! Its happy and printing in Melbourne Australia. Its brilliant! I'm gobsmacked by the possibilities of these machines, but pictures will have to wait until after sleep.

I had a great time putting it together, thanks to the Makerbot team for a great kit and to the people on the forum for all the great help. 
I have a successful print of the Makerbot coin, and a new insulator retaining ring (just in case).  After destroying the first orange build platform with the hot extruder head, I'm printing on one of the foam core boards, with a layer of extra wide kapton on it, and the raft holds well during printing and releases well after.  I'm having a few issues getting the raft off the printed part, but nothing a file wont fix while i'm looking into it. :)

Next up, Skeinforge battle to figure out what all those settings do. And then onto the heated build platform!

Saturday, 06 February 2010 11:21:38 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] -
MakerBot | Printing
# Friday, 08 January 2010
I purchased a heated aluminum build platform kit from Jet at It was promptly shipped out to Oz and in my excited hands. I can't use it until the 'bot is assembled of course, but now when I get the 'bot assembled, I won't have to wait for parts! Any way, I thought a photo of the box contents was in order. Thanks Jet!

Friday, 08 January 2010 10:41:31 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] -
MakerBot | Printing | Mods
Hello world!
I've decided to take two plunges this year. I've bitten the bullet and purchased a CupCake CNC Deluxe kit, and I've set up this blog to document the adventures with it. Enough lurking, its time to join in!

Friday, 08 January 2010 10:26:04 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #    Comments [0] -

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