Baby gate door for the baby’s room

I picked up a baby gate this morning on freecycle. It’s a weird cloth one like I’ve not seen before. The prior owners evidently used it to keep dogs where they belong so as soon as I got it home the thing got disassembled and the cloth got tossed into the washer.

Dirty baby gate
Dirty baby gate

I took this and made a door for Bella’s room. We need a door to keep the cat out of her room but we don’t want to use the current door as it stops the room from heating well as it blocks  the cold air’s path to the cold air return.

Bella's new door
Bella's new door

The door frame is just 1″x1″ wood scraps from the snowshoe building adventure. I used the existing door hinges so when we get tired of this, I can just re-hang the original door.

simple wood construction and using the original door hinges
simple wood construction and using the original door hinges

One feature I did add is an auto-closer. The door closes behind you, so you don’t have to worry about leaving it open so the cat can sneak in. He LOVEs her room. Probably because he’s not aloud in it.

Bungie auto-closer that can be quickly taken off so the door can be left open if needed
Bungie auto-closer that can be quickly taken off so the door can be left open if needed

Overall, I am only ‘meh’ about this door. It doesn’t quite close all the way. I think the cat will be able to push it open too easy and get trapped in Bella’s room. It doesn’t look bad, I just wished it looked better. It’s got a bit of a torque to the frame as well.We will probably use it until the cat becomes a pest about it, and then I will need to re-build it a little bit differently.

I think original baby gate frame will become closet clothes hanger rods. Re-use all the pieces, right?.

Installing a baby gate for the front entry

Today I installed the baby gate on the front entry as a half-door.

Baby gate
Baby gate

This gate is an expansion gate designed to span a door way. This won’t quite work for the front entryway. The trim buggers stuff on on one end, and the whole thing can’t clamp down tight enough to hold it in place with any amount of sideways pressure.

So I made it a hinged unit. The baby gate now opens and closes with minimal fuss.

Open Baby Gate
Open Baby Gate

For the hinges, I used some cabinet hinges I found in one of my parts boxes. I don’t even remember why I had the hinges, but they will work well here. I screwed a small board to the wall so I had something to attach the hinges to at the correct angle.

Baby Gate Hinge
Baby Gate Hinge

As you can see, I needed to re-manufacture the hinges a bit.

Drilling new screw holes.
Drilling new screw holes.
Counter sinking the screw holes.
Counter sinking the screw holes.

I needed to stiffen and secure the gate so it wouldn’t lengthen or shorten while in use, so I used some zip ties. The natural colored ones are hardly noticeable, and look no worse than the gate itself.

Zip ties to stiffen the gate.
Zip ties to stiffen the gate.

The gate latch is where I think I am quite clever. The gate just needs to stop a baby/toddler from going down the stairs. It also needs to auto-close and be easy for an adult to use. I figure by the time Bella has enough coordination to manipulate my gate latch, she will be old enough to be mindful of the rules and able to handle the stairs, basement, etc. If this is not the case, the latch can always be re-evaluated in the future and adjusted as necessary.

I used velcro as the latch mechanism.

Velcro as the gate latch
Velcro as the gate latch

I cut a strip of wood to follow the contour of the end-post of the railing and zip tied it down. I didn’t want to put screw holes in my nice wood. A bit of velcro down the whole length, and my gate is complete!

Staples help keep the sticky-back velcro from peeling off
Staples help keep the sticky-back velcro from peeling off

I am pleased with the idea of the curved cut wood strip, but not exactly happy with the results of my first attempt at making it. When I find another piece of wood that I can butcher cut I will try my hand at re-making the strip so it follows a little closer.

The hole project put 5 holes in my sheetrock wall that needs paint at some point in the future anyhow, and 4 holes in the baby gate. Pretty non-destructive for such a modification to a commercial baby gate..

Savonious VAWT windmill aquarium pump prototype

I made a Vertical Axis Wind Turbine today. It was supposed to pump air, but never quite got that far.

The idea came about from a discussion on a website I am on about aquaponics.

The indoor windmill in the LaBOREtory
I riggged up an indoor windmill to test some ideas

Yes, I made an indoor windmill. Stop laughing. Please. No, really, stop laughing!

I am using the air coming out of a heat vent to test the concept as it’s a bit cold outside.

The windmill actuates a air pump valve
The windmill actuates a air pump valve

The air pump isn’t getting enough power to actually work, but it does prove that the concept should be able to be made. I blame the flimsy soda bottle. I had a hard time to get the curved bits to flare evenly. I used a lighter to heat the plastic a bit while I had positioned it where I wanted it. One half would work, the other doesn’t. Weirdness. I also used a bit of excess cat5 wire to hold the thing together. Not quite baling wire, but the tech-age equivalent.

An air pump head getting powered by a soda bottle windmill
An air pump head getting powered by a soda bottle windmill

The pictures are kinda hard to see what’s going on. so I made a video too.

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Aquaponics Solids Lifting Siphon Overflow Box AKA Johnny Jump Box

It all started with a chat on the homepage of aquaponicscommunity.com with Johnny and Paul. Johnny  said he was trying to figure out how to make a solids lifting siphon overflow box. Now, at first I didn’t think it could be done – having built a weir siphon overflow box in the past. But than I got to thinking… Which lead to a drawing…

drawing of a Solids Lifting Siphon Overflow Box
Drawing of a Solids Lifting Siphon Overflow Box

Which lead to a construction project… using only stuff I had laying around.

You see, I had been wanting to add a sump – a smaller tank under a big fish tank that holds water – to my 75 gallon aquaponics system so that the water level in the main tank stays the same level (and to push the water over 100 gallons and the bragging rights that go with it). But to do that, I would need to build an overflow box. This would tank a fair amount of time and work, and more silicone that I have on hand to finish, using the methods I had already tried...

But not my Fountain Soda Solids Lifting Siphon Overflow Box.

Fountain Soda Solids Lifting Siphon Overflow Box
Fountain Soda Solids Lifting Siphon Overflow Box

A solids lifting siphon overflow box will pull water from the bottom of the tank, where all the fish poo settles. This is a big deal for large aquaponics systems. Not so much a big deal for me right now, as there is only 2 fish in this particular aquarium.

The Jack Dempsey
The Jack Dempsey

But, I digress… what happens in a Siphon Overflow Box is that the water level rises in an aquarium to a certain height where the water flows out of the overflow box into the sump.

Plastic tote as a sump
Plastic tote as a sump

What makes mine unique, is that I made it out of a leftover fountain soda cup. It’s what I had for a water holding container. I would have made a plexi box, but I was lazy and don’t have enough silicone on hand to make it. So I drilled a hole in the bottom of a cup that is just a smidgeon too small for the tubing and pushed hard. This gave me nearly a water tight seal, so a dab of silicone finished the job.

Near watertight joint without silicone
Near watertight joint without silicone

The tube that goes through the bottom of the cup (overflow box) is the stand pipe, which sets the height of the water in the aquarium.

The top tube is the stand pipe, the bottom tube the siphon from the aquarium.
The top tube is the stand pipe, the bottom tube the siphon from the aquarium.

Just trim the tube to the right hight, and you can control the water level in the aquarium. I’ve got it set so it’s just above the bottom of the plastic trim on the top of the tank. The water level rises a bit as the grow bed drains into the aquarium, so I wanted it to be as low as I could and still have the aquarium look full.

These nippers made reaching down and trimming the top of the tube easy.
These nippers made reaching down and trimming the top of the tube easy.

So, with the addition of my super-fancy soda cup aquarium siphon, I now have 1 more thing in my Aquaponics system to go wrong and leak water all over the place. Being an expert in making leaks. I have held up the pickup tube for the water pump so it won’t pump all 30 gallons of water onto my basement floor. It should only be about 10 gallons!

Holding the pickup tube up high to minimize flooding when the siphon fails.
Holding the pickup tube up high to minimize flooding when the siphon fails.

I put the siphon out where I can futz with it and it looks tacky as all get out. When I get the bugs all sorted out, it’s going against the wall side of the tank so it’s less visible.

The Aquaponics corner in the laBOREtory
The Aquaponics corner in the laBOREtory

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