And some vids, to summarise what I’ve been up to for a while

I’ve been working away at some prototypes. The glow fans are motion responsive, with a 3-axis accelerometer controlling the colour and brightness based off how they are moved. 10 LEDs, so decently bright too.

I’m working away at making these good enough to be sellable. Right now, the cost for each would be silly and the reliability… well, let’s just say the testing by tatjna & tieke revealed a few issues, but that’s what prototypes are for:

Vids of the glow fans and the Mitochondrion


I don’t think I’ve posted a pic from this angle:

We’ve got roofs. Four of them. Two will be green roofs, for which we need to order over two thousand plants. The soil is only 100 mm deep, so it’s mostly tussock and succulents.

It’s surprising how quickly the house has gone a bunch of bits of wood, sticking up in the air, to a house. Putting the roofs on was a major transition, even if one of them is still made from tarps.

This is above the bedrooms:

In other project news, testing the third and final circuit board for the Fannies reveals that it works. Woohoo! Here’s a tiny, two batteries to five volts converter that kicks out 600 mA. Three Watts is pretty grunty for something this small:

I did discover a new potential failure mode. The heatsink, the shiny bit of aluminium in the pic above, is a little bit small, to fit into ludicrously tiny space. This is fine, coz the power supply is so efficient that not much heat needs to be sunk. Well, that is to say, the MAX1703 chip is very efficient (90%+) at the designed maximum load. However, when turned down, the efficiency drops as low as 50%, and the heat to be sunk goes up. Up lots. The Fannies have a ridiculous peak power, but most of the time, they’ll be turned down, so major heat production. Hmm… I don’t have the kit to test the variable load properly, and there’s no room for a bigger heatsink without changing a whole bunch of other stuff. Ah, hell, we’ll just try it and see if it explodes.

Scuffing PVC
And now, a question. I’ve some clear, flexible PVC tubing that I’m using as light guides. I want to scuff up the inside of the tube. I’ve yet to find a good way to do this.
Cue head-scratching

Monthly progress

There’s been no house pics for nearly a month, but serious progress, so, pics for Africa!

We now have roofs:

Now the roofs and framing is up, we can almost claim to have rooms. The main living space runs from the two-storey trapeze space to the kitchen. Upstairs will have some internal walls, but till then you can look through all the bedrooms to the bathroom.

And there’s been further oiling of wood. This is weatherboards and uprights for the balustrade.

We have lots of wood.

Overall, it’s starting to look decidedly houseish.

There’s been minimal progress on anything else in my life, but:

Oh, and have a tuatara. This one was safely caged at Mt Bruce/Pukaha. For those of you not in NZ, these are vicious, grumpy, little bastards that move like lightning. They’re the curse of North Island trampers and many fingers have been lost to them. It’s too cold for them in the South Island, so trampers are only menaced by kea, the carnivourous, alpine parrots.

Lots of pics of house and projects

Big news is that one roof beam has been raised. That’s it hiding away behind all the scaff. There’ll be four, holding that part of the roof in a curved vault.

There is lots of scaff. This is the base of the trapeze space:

The house now has insides! Sort of. The upper storey floor is being laid, so the office has a ceiling. This is us nailing more joist hangers in the rain. And yet, thanks to the magic of ceilings, the rain was not falling on us. Hurrah for ceilings!

Cutting the Eye progresses. After spending this long with a jigsaw, I can only say that I want a plasma cutter.

The Fannies stack. The three boards are, from top, a four Watt step-up power supply, a three axis accelerometer, and a Picaxe and output stage. It fits into the space of one AA battery, leaving room in the box for two batteries to power the thing. Now I just need to solder, with occasional drilling of other bits.

And new batteries in the Mitochondrion seem to have solved the “only works for ten minutes” problem. However, they haven’t solved the “resets randomly if not connected to the programming cable” problem, nor has removing the serial out command. Am baffled, but it’ll do for now.

This is what the house looks like from the road above:

No, the house with red window frames is the neighbours, you can tell from the way it’s got a roof, unlike ours. Ours is hidden down below the trees, nice and unobtrusive.

This weekend was mostly working on the posts and fighting with tarps in gales:

These are the bottom end of the posts:

As they go up two storeys, it’s all pretty chunky. And they fit on these brackets:

The top of the posts have these tenons. Big tenons:

And at the end of the day, it looks better than before:

Moving to an entirely different scale, I mocked up the circuit boards for the Fannies, to check everything fits. I’m glad I did, in two square inches of boards I found five errors. Well, three “won’t work” errors and two “could be better” tweaks. And it turns out that to make it fit, I have to overlap the boards in three dimensions, not just two. Yup, some of the high components on one board fit between high components on others.

My head hurts now

Pruning and board layouts

tieke always knew her circus skills would come in handy around the garden:

When not running around collecting dead tree, large chunks of the weekend were spent scratching my head, trying to fit all of this into the space normally occupied by one AA battery:

That’s a microcontroller, 4 Watt step-up power supply, accelerometer, LED driver, and switched output stage. Oh, and bonus connectors. Ended up with a design that looks like:

Three boards, to go on top of each other. There’s links between the boards that are hard to move around. There’s components on each board that can’t be moved. Getting everything to fit together was complicated. Didn’t I say I was going to do something easy this time?

It should all fit, and it should all work, but frankly, I’m just going to have to try it. Now, squeezing that much power into that small a space might mean that it all melts, but we’ll have to see…