Just a few photos from today…

Just a few photos from today…

In album May 28, 2012 (6 photos)

A sun shade for her pool. Using the chair to prop it up was clever I think.

A sun shade for her pool. Using the chair to prop it up was clever I think.

She had just poured a bucket of water over her head and dropped the bucket from the shock of the cold water.

She had just poured a bucket of water over her head and dropped the bucket from the shock of the cold water.

The Fox River in East Dundee

The Fox River in East Dundee

The Fox River in East Dundee

The Fox River in East Dundee

The Fox River in East Dundee

The Fox River in East Dundee

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Plastic for my 3d printer, and how long it lasts.

The 3d printer kit I ordered can print several types of plastic. The 2 that are currently frequently used are ABS and PLA. PLA is a biodegradable plastic made from corn starch (http://www.cupdepot.com/PLA-FAQ.htm). ABS is a plastic that is food safe and ok to use in aquariums and such. PLA is also food safe but being biodegradable I am unsure about its suitability in an aquarium.

Being that I have the laBOREtory I think it’s only suiting that I do an experiment. I’m going to test ABS and PLA with the liquids in the list below. I am unsure if I want to do this by printing small cups or by placing pieces of filaments in glass jars. Either way I’m going to test each of the following for compatibility with plastic and see how long it takes to dissolve.

  • coke
  • Mountain Dew
  • hot water
  • aceetone
  • isopropyl
  • salt water
  • sugar water
  • baking soda
  • bleach
  • lye
  • wd-40
  • milk
  • drain cleaner
  • gasoline
  • testors glue
  • lemon juice
  • Hydrogen Peroxide

 

I could just look up the solve the solvent had ability but that would be too easy. http://capolight.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/solvent-compatibility-and-plastics/

What am I missing?.

Twitter Updates for 2012-01-09

  • I really am terrible at plumbing. I don't know why I even try. 12 gallons of water on the floor in my daughter's room. #FACEPALM #
  • With the weather we have been having, maybe I ought to take my new snow tires off and save them for next year? #
  • I've got most of the frame built for my solar hot air panel. Not sure how I am going to drill the hole for the air tube in it. #

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Aquaponics Store Idea

I’ve been looking at all the empty storefronts on main street Dundee on my way to work lately. I’ve been imagining having my own store front in one of those.

I’d sell Aquaponics stuff.

Ready made sets from tiny little things for apartment kitchens to fairly large backyard setups. I’d sell all the various parts, plumbing, bulkhead seals, containers, lights, whatnot. I’d carry some fish –  a few hardy ornimentals and some the pets stores don’t stock well locally and also the ‘eater’ fish such as tilapia, perch, etc. I’d also have a bunch of plants and seeds. Ones that grow well in AP systems that will give people the instant gratification of pretty plants now, and the economy of starting from seed.

I think a big thing I’d sell is pre-cycled media. One of the hardest parts of getting aquaponics up and running is getting the system ‘cycled’ – have the beneficial bacteria colonies all grown and doing their thing.

If people bought a ready to run kit from me, they’d get the booklet I’m writing, the tank(s), grow beds, cycled media, a few live plants, a dose of organic fertilizer to feed the cycled media, and a coupon for the balance of their plants and fish. The coupon effective date will be based on the system size so that the system will be correctly cycled when they go to add fish.

You see, I’d be setting people up for success, not to sell crap they don’t need (like 3-4 sets of fish). The only time I want to see them again is to redeem their fish/plant coupons, to get more parts for more systems (it’s addicting!) and when they bring their friends in to get their friends hooked on the hobby.

 

I’d make Aquaponics stuff.

I’d sell sets and kits that I’ve assembled. I’d make a bunch of the various bits and bobs that are needed, like the tank top stands to hold the grow beds, bell siphons, etc.. I’d give the plans away for free.

I’d have a 3d printer so I can make custom clips, fittings, and so forth.

I’d have a small ‘workshop’ with a few basic tools such as a PVC pipe cutter, reamers, drill press with bits, etc. so people who don’t have some of these specialty tools can use them at the store to make things they way they need them.

 

I’ve a few ideas on how I want to lay out the store.

The weirdest part will that I will have irregular hours. I’d have a rolling 4 day schedule where I stayed open late one night a week, and by late, I mean 10-12pm or something like that. By rolling the 4 day late nights over a 5 day week, I would be open late at least once a given named day per month. A HDTV with a calendar, answering machine auto-attendant, and website would show the hours.

I’d have a few interactive displays where people can get their hands wet. Bell siphons are one of those things that are really hard to understand in their simplicity. There would be a  set up where you can try different sizes of bell siphons with different amounts of water flow.

The fish would have a full data sheet printed out in large print for each species including details on picking fish in good health. With life sized photos. Attached to the tank that the fish are actually in. There would be a date as to when the last shipment came in.

I’d have half a dozen TVs hooked up to computers with proximity sensors that would turn on when you stood in front of a display with lots of options. It would explain your choices to you, and things to consider for your purchase. Maybe I would have a kinect and make the displays interactive so somebody could get to the details they are interested in.

  • Explain lighting options – HID, florescent, LED, incandescent
  • Explain the biological processes going on
  • Explain water parameters and how things like PH affect plant nutrient uptake
  • Explain how some plants may work well in some systems and not others
  • Explore the different options for grow beds
  • Explore the different options for siphons

I’d have bins of plumbing fittings and small sections of pipe. I’d sell pipe by the inch. A lot of stuff needs short pieces of pipe, and it’s really annoying to put a 10′ section of pipe into a compact car when you only needed a few 6″ pieces.

There would be QRcodes EVERYWHERE. They would also link to real information! Screw the marketing BS that the vendors give me, I’m writing my own datasheets, instructions, pros & cons, etc. People can come in and self help while in the store if they want, or they can get assistance, and the store employee can show them the details on the tablet they are carrying around.

 

I’d hire a few part time people.

Each employee is in charge of 1 running display in the store. They also are given a small kit to take home as a hiring bonus and are expected to run it while they are employed. They get annual bonuses in stuff and samples and new products are seeded out to them. It’s important that they know their stuff, and how else to do that then with experience.

I am thinking a couple of little old ladies and some codgers who know the local gardening. I’d let them pick their schedules, and hire in to fill in any gaps. The stuff these people know is invaluable. I want access to it!

I’d hire some high-schoolers.  The local schools FFA chapter would be a good place to start, maybe 4H too. The energy that they bring is great. They pick up on new stuff very fast. That and somebody needs to get the stuff off the top shelf so old-man-rivers doesn’t break a hip.

I won’t be open on the weekend unless the employees wanted the hours. 2 employees can schedule the hours they want to be open on the weekends.

 

I’d sell stuff online.

I am a web-geek. I will sell stuff online. I think the cool thing I would offer though would be in-store pickup, even after hours. I’d have a set of PO boxes with codeable punch-code locks. I can place an order into a box and ‘ship’ the box number and access code. The person can come anytime and pick up the order, even if the store is closed.

I like catalogs that actually have information in them and not just a list of product numbers and pricing. The website wouldn’t be a list of products, it would be a treasure trove of information, tutorials, options, comparison lists that all allow you to buy the things being talked about.

The site would be based on ‘here’s the things you need and here’s how to do it. You can get the stuff locally or buy it from me online.

 

Community

I’d work with the local schools to have an Aquaponics system in any classroom that wanted one. I’d work with the teachers & students on learning science and have them write ‘grant requests’, make/donate the parts that they need that they can’t otherwise source, and feature the results in the store. I’d totally love to see turtleponics!

I’d work with the local pet stores and plant nurseries to see if I can offer my customers coupons for their locations for stuff that I don’t carry.  The back of the couple would list a bunch of things that would work well in Aquaponics context, and the coupon is good for those items. Maybe I could get a display at their location and sell Ready-to-Run systems at their locations.

I’d be at the local ‘green’ expo and farmers markets.

 

Greenhouse

I’d want a location where I could have a greenhouse. Lots of big greenhouses would be great, because then I would sell plants and produce, but even a small greenhouse or two would be great. I would show that you can grow in the winter here in Chicagoland.

 

Dream

This is all a pipe dream at the moment.

I can’t transition from what I am doing today into a store – I’d loose the house in the time it took to get the store pulling in foot traffic.

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Sub Irrigated Planter (SIP)

Tonight I made a sub irrigated planter. These are pots that hold water under the dirt and let the pot get watered from the bottom up. Supposedly this gives you better roots as they grow deep, towards the water as opposed to staying near the top.

I built mine using recycled ‘stuff’. The pot is a round plastic tote that was on the deck when we bought the house, so it’s a bit weather beaten, but still in good shape. The tray is part of the plastic back from a rear projection TV I am parting out for parts for other projects. The fill tube is a bit of PVC pipe. The wicking fabric is the only part I actually bought for this project.

Cut out black plastic from the back of a rear projection TV
Cut out black plastic from the back of a rear projection TV

I traced the bottom of the tub onto the black plastic, and made a larger circle around the tub circle to cut along. I then cut tabs up to the tub circle.

Bend the edges 90 degrees so they form legs
Bend the edges 90 degrees so they form legs

I used a heat gun to heat up the plastic and bend the tabs up. These will for the legs of the tray to hold the tray above the water.

It doesn't have to be perfect, just good enough.
It doesn't have to be perfect, just good enough.

 

Cut four slits
Cut four slits

I cut 4 slits a little wider then the saw blade of my jigsaw.

Feed 2 pieces of Thermolam (or somesuch) through.
Feed 2 pieces of Thermolam (or somesuch) through.

The fabric gets cut into strips and fed through the slits.

Make sure the pieces are long enough to touch the bottom
Make sure the pieces are long enough to touch the bottom

Make sure the fabric is long enough to extend all the way to the bottom of the tub. They need to be able to touch the bottom so they can wick up every last drop of water.

Drop the wicking base into the container
Drop the wicking base into the container

The tray gets dropped in feet first and tweaked to fit. This was just a tad to big, but I got it worked out to fit.

Drill a hole for the fill tube
Drill a hole for the fill tube

I then used a hole saw to cut a hole for the fill tube.

Put all the pieces together
Put all the pieces together

The bottom of the fill tube isn’t flat, it was cut by drilling may holes – this makes sure that water can flow out the bottom easily.

The bottom may not sit perfectly flat or well, but that's ok
The bottom may not sit perfectly flat or well, but that's ok
Drill an overflow hole just below the bottom of the wicking tray
Drill an overflow hole just below the bottom of the wicking tray

It’s important to have an over fill drain hole. You don’t want water to get up to the dirt level or you will drown your plant roots.

Put some pea stone around the edges to address the varied height of the tray
Put some pea stone around the edges to address the varied height of the tray

My edges where less than perfect, with a low spot, so I used pea gravel to add some drainage and make sure that the dirt stays above the water level.

Fill the center with damp potting soil making sure to get good contact with the fabric
Fill the center with damp potting soil making sure to get good contact with the fabric

Dry potting soil won’t wick water from what I’ve read, so make sure the dirt is moist.

Fill the rest of the way and plant
Fill the rest of the way and plant

I used most of a new bag of potting soil, and some old stuff that I had but never used. This is a large container, so I am hoping it’s big enough for more than one tomato plant.

I now have a large pot that I don't have to water very often
I now have a large pot that I don't have to water very often

The pot is to go on the deck. Tomatoes and basil. Hopefully they do well, right out the kitchen door.

 

Tonight I made a sub irrigated planter. These are pots that hold water under the dirt and let the pot get watered from the bottom up. Supposidly this gives you better roots as they grow deep, towards the water as opposed to staying near the top.

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