Sunday, December 29, 2013

Hydroponics Upgrade

We've rebuilt the hydroponics system using a 75 litre nutrient tank and a 100W pump on a timer. The runs are a mix of sizes, held in place by a framework constructed from recycled palettes. Tip: When designing a hydroponic system, start with the tank, then design the drains as that'll tell you where everything has to go.

This is what it looks like after a month or so of serious growing:
As you can see, or not, the tank is hidden under the foliage on a palette. A block of three new runs stands behind the enveloped one, and the bare framework for our 3rd block - which will have 3 metre rather than 2.5 metre runs - stands on the concrete in the distance.

The runs are made from a mix of 50mmx100mm and 75mmx150mm rectangular section drainpipe. Some of our runs are over a decade old and have been restructured many times. We drill holes every 200mm-ish, depending on the intended crop and the size of the little pots. Pots are filled with either clay beads or vermiculite.

We used to get the endpieces from Switched On Gardener and the plumbing from Mitre 10, but we now print our own pots, drains and endpieces using a DiamondMind V2 3D Printer from Diamond Age PLA filament.

 The endpiece has slots in in which you fill with bathroom silicone sealant and smack on to the end of the tube.

You can just see the purple 13mm barb fitting on the bottom of the drain sticking out the bottom with the yellow nut holding it in place. This gets a bead of silicone round it as a gasket before assembly.

The hydroponic pots are then filled and loaded into the holes in the run. The yellow thing on top is a hydroponic plug that is used to cover the inspection hole above the drain so that algae do not grow inside the trough.

Once the silicone has set up, that run will go in the new framework and we can plant another 14 little weed-free wonders to feed us in the Autumn and Winter.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

This One Really Sucks

We're getting a 1.2m x 1.2m CNC, probably by early next week. In preparation I have assembled a dust extractor. It has a 2kW motor and more suck than the NSA.

I did intend to experiment with it in the following configuration as a jet cart, but the womenfolk did not agree...
 It would've been fun though. Ⓥ

Friday, June 7, 2013

Long reach nail punch

Just a little something I knocked up from a 6", sorry, 150mm nail and a piece of aluminium tube. The point of the nail is ground off and notched to engage with a smaller jolt nail head, and the aluminium sleeve keeps it on target when you whack the nail into otherwise unreachable places. The sleeve still slides a bit, so you can thump the nail all the way home and the sleeve obligingly moves out of the way.

Friday, May 24, 2013

PLA Filament Ear Plug

I've got an ear piercing that needs a reasonably-sized plug in it, and I thought I'd use my own company's PLA 3D printer filament to make one. So I took a few samples of 3mm PLA (just hit Diamond Age up for freebies folks!), held them lined up in my fingers, and applied a small blowtorch flame to the free ends to soften them. When they went soft, I squeeze them together and they weld nicely. When you get the temperature right, it welds to itself into a glorious technicolour ribbon, not to your fingertips - practice and keep a bowl of nice, icy cold water handy!

When warmed and soft, the PLA ribbon can be cut with scissors, wrapped around paintbrush handles, squished against flat glass surfaces etc. and generally worked over. So now I can make ear plugs of whatever size I need, depending on how my piercings stretch out.

I've been wearing a cruder version for a month, and the PLA has shown no sign at all of degradation when worn against my skin, so premature biodegrading is not an issue . In fact, the PLA plug is cleaner and my ear more comfortable than the titanium plug in the other ear. I'm wondering what else I can make with it. Ⓥ

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lab Stands

Ever needed lab stands and been unable to nick them from a convenient lab? Well, I need some for propping up photography backdrops, holding hot stuff while it cools, and keeping the bits of the good ol' moonshine still in place. Plus it makes the place look more like Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory and boosts geek cred.

Anyhow, simple solution: Take a 700mm length of 12mm aluminium tube, roughen up one end with a hacksaw, and stick it in a takeaway curry tub full of concrete. It helps to wave a spirit level next to the pole to keep it straight, and if you haven't got a handy lab stand to keep the pole in place with, just tape it to the edge of a table temporarily and put the tub under it on the floor.

For the clamps, I bend 25mmx2mm (1" x 3/32" in old money) aluminium strip into a "U" around a bolt in the vise, pack the arms of the "U" with scrap wood, and drill an 8mm hole through the lot. Remove "U", slide a piece of M8 threaded rod through the holes and add 2x M8 butterfly nuts and 2x M8 washers to make an adjustable arm. Wire your favourite clamp or wooden clothes peg to the free end of it, or just use tape for non-heated jobs.

Geek away. Ⓥ

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Spray Booth

Suspended spray booth
Welcome back, long time no write. I have a new workshop in Henderson, but it had no spray booth. But with a little help from my friends, we fixed that. We made a square with four 1.5m long pieces of 15mm electrical conduit held at the corners with 90 degree elbows. So we could reuse things later, we put small woodscrews into the elbows to hold them together rather than using PVC adhesive.

Two pipe saddles hold the square onto the wall by one side so that it can hinge up and down. We actually used M3 spacers to hold the saddles off a little to allow enough room for the pipe to rotate smoothly. Rather than screwing direct to the wall, we screwed into chunks of 2x4 which were then screwed to the wall, or rather a crossbeam at the bottom of an overhead partition wall.

Net result, the square can be folded up against the wall. This is a bit of a reach, so we fastened a couple of eyes waaay up the wall, put cords through them, and tied one end to each of the "free" corners of the square. By anchoring the other end to handy screws in thew wall, we can lower the square until it is horizontal and tie it off.

A few polythene drop-sheets were then secured to the square frame with clear packing tape, like a shower curtain. One split left for the entrance, of course! A diagonal piece of pipe held across the square with cable ties gives a handy thing to dangle spray victims from on long wire hooks.

The floor underneath is protected by an old duvet cover. Some 2x4 offcuts strategically placed around the edges of the drop-sheets stop them from billowing up when the spray gun is used. Seems to work just fine!