A week of visible progress

I’m having a week where plenty of projects are coming to fruition, Nerd Nite, the sea level rise paper, and mark 2 of the glow fans.

With the much appreciated help of several, I got the big power supply running (previous head-scratching), wired up the LED driver (MAX16836 350 mA constant current), and fired up the LEDs (Cree MC-E RGBW). This is what happens when the phone on my camera fails to cope with 60 lumens of red photons:

They are ridiculously bright. You can’t look directly at them, even from across the room. It hurts to look near them. I like.

(I’m still after a single chip that can drive all four colours in one of these LEDs, controlled off I2C, with at least a hundred chips on a single I2C bus, and PWM frequencies of 1 kHz or more, in a hand-solderable package. Yeah, I’m picky.)

The sea level rise paper resulted in a section on Close Up last night. For those not in NZ, that’s TV One’s 7 pm current affairs flagship. Admittedly, we also had the Greenhouse Policy Coalition there too (representing NZ’s big industrial emitters), but it was a reasonable piece, or as reasonable as we’re going to get in the NZ media.

So yes, lots of visible progress this week, getting things finished off and having something to show for it. Thus I’m taking today off to put my feet up (and maybe write some code).

My sea level rise paper from RSNZ

This is what I’ve been putting together for the last few months.

Royal Society of New Zealand paper highlights new research around sea level rise

Summary: In 2007 the IPCC said 0.2-0.6 metres by end of the century, but maybe more coz ice sheets are melting and we don’t know how much that melting might increase. In 2010, we can say that the ice sheets are melting faster, we’ve some idea about how fast they might melt, but we’re still not sure, so 0.5 to 1.5 metres looks like something we should plan for.

More digging pics

The earth floor is all laid, so now we’re waiting on that to dry. Hence the next steps in getting this house built are to finish off the outside. So, we have a front door:

And the retaining above the house has been concreted in place. These rails are ex-NZR 91 lb/yard rail, cast by British Steel in Redcar, Teeside and rolled to shape in Workington, Cumberland. The Workington steel works closed in 1982, the rolling mills in 2006.

And this is the trench that did my back in.


Just had a meeting about one word.

The meeting was pretty epic though, there was drama, suspense, deceit, threats, passive aggression, actual aggression, and ultimately agreement. They agreed that they were being ridiculous.

Hey, guess what we did this weekend?

Yeah, more house stuff. What a surprise.

The floor is continuing to expand and should be finished tuesday. The curves are not quite perfect, although you’d have to be lying on the floor looking very intently at all the cracks to notice. We never have people do that, oh no. Currently it looks like:

This is, or will be the view from the bath, on a rainy day:

And just around the corner, they were doing things the quicker way. I’m pretty impressed they got that in there, up the slope, around the corner, and over the concrete walls. Turns out that those guys have a pretty good reputation and pretty fancy kit

I just woke up and…

When you read this you’re tagged. Take a picture of you in your current state, no changing your clothes or quickly putting on makeup. NO PHOTOSHOP. Show your F-List the real you!

This is all pleiadeslion‘s fault. What with her being on the other side of the world, she posted while I was sleeping. I stagger straight from bed to laptop, to check and see if I’ve missed any important penis-enhancement spam, get tagged, and so here’s what I look like first thing:

Luckily for all of you on the internet, I’d managed to collect the Stealth Cloak of Raveyness* between bed and laptop, so I’m at least wearing one garment. I’m sure you’re all glad about that.

* – No decent photos exist of the Stealth Cloak of Raveyness. It is too stealthy for that. One side is camouflage and water resistant, the other is long fake fur, pink at the base with long zebra-striped guard hairs. When worn with fur outside it is not stealthy and frightens cats, when worn with fur inside, it is particularly comfortable against bare skin. It is a tatjna special and caused her to declare that she was never going to sew long fake fur ever again.

Step-up converter fail

Ok, am baffled enough to ask for help. For those of you of you who know how little I like to ask for help, you’ll understand just how baffled I am.

Yet again, I’m failing to get a step-up converter to work. This one is a MAX608, aiming to give me 7 Volts and 500 mA from two NiMH cells (datasheet). I’ve rebuilt it three times, smaller each time, and it is doing something, but not what I want it to do. Symptoms are:
1) Not exploding, which is good.
2) Responding to the shutdown/enable pin.
3) Producing a 50 kHz waveform on the EXT pin that drives the MOSFET.
4) Producing some voltage, around 2.1 V. This is seems to be just the battery voltage, less the diode drop.
5) The output voltage is controlled by a feedback voltage divider. Shorting this to ground should give a set 5 V output. It doesn’t change the output at all.

Can I just say what awesome close-up pics my phone takes? That’s fives times magnification on my monitor. Nokia E90 – phone and microscope combined.

Mah inductors, they are not inducty enough. Or maybe too inducty.

More mudding

We’ll be up at the house in Brooklyn laying more earth floor from 10 am this saturday. Any help gratefully appreciated.

The clay is very good for the skin. (That’s my tactfull way of saying you’ll get filthy.)

How to lay a poured earth floor

We’ve been laying a poured earth floor. This is going to cover the whole floor on the main level of the house. It’s an extra two inches of thermal mass to store the heat and the one’s we’ve seen before look awesome. Kind of like flagstone, but much warmer underfoot.

The earth mix comes from clay from the site, more clay from Cliff’s place, and some gravel from the quarry just down the road. I think the current mix is 24 shovels of Cliff’s clay, 12 of gravel, and 2 buckets of ours. Here’s Jarrod utilising the precision measuring equipment:

Roel & Annelea are two WWOOFers who have been staying with a chap in Foxton who has a poured earth floor. They plan to build their house at some point in the future, so came along to help out and learn how this is done. Cheers! Here’s Roel loading the mixing trough.

The mixing takes place in this trough, using a rotary hoe. We tried a concrete mixer, but the mix is so stiff and sticky that it just sits in a ball, rolling around in the mixer. The hoe works much better, shearing the mix. This stage is messy.

You mix it up until all the clods clay are broken down, the mix is smooth, sticky, goes where you put it, and stays there. Then you plonk it down on the floor, ready to spread out. Plonk is the technical term here.

The mix is spread out using floats to a two inch thick layer. The steel moulds are pressed in to make a flagstone pattern. This isn’t just decorative, the earth shrinks as it dries and the shrinkage causes cracking. The moulds ensure it cracks in the right places, which then get filled with an earth mortar later.

We were originally planning on a square layout, with the pattern meeting the walls square. Cliff & Andrea stood scratching their heads for a while, looking at how people will flow through the house, then suggested something different. It’s a bit daring, but what the hell, we’ll give it a go. If it doesn’t work, we can always take it out. It means Cliff gets to be more creative in laying out the pattern, stretching it into and out of the corners.

Progress so far. When the floor is done, we just have to leave it for about six weeks to dry. Then we oil and wax it and after that there’ll probably be some rolling around on it.

Jarrod’s dog Kita had to sign the floor as well.

There’s more to do and after that, there’s earth plastering for the walls, if you want to get muddy.