Friday, May 29, 2009


I have reached the end of the week without posting. Not a succesful week in terms of meeting my self imposed deadline for completing the bench. However, I am not beating myself up about it. I have made progress and some of the lines that emerged today appear good to me. I am aiming to try and hone things down to simpler forms. 
Meanwhile I made some decisions about which bits of aluminium etc would make it out of my vast collection of junk to become part of the solar modules I am building. None of the glass I had on hand seemed to be the right size, but then I hit on four small window glass panes that used to live in my daughters room and they were just right to build four 9v panels. A good size to start with. I have now soldered up enough cells to make two and they are bonded into place with silicon on their backs. Trying to fix things down seems to be the worst course with these cells. They need to be able to expand and contract freely as they become very hot in the sun. Window glass is not a good choice, but it will do for a first try. We have all the glass cleaned up and I found a load of half inch H shaped extruded aluminium that is now cut to mitres for frame pieces, so when the rain stops I should be able to wire them up and see whats watt..
I also recieved a batch of a different form of cell that is ready encapsulated in glass. These produce a higher voltage, but low amps, so not as good value. They are significantly more nifty than the fragile cells as they can be soldered up in any configuration without worrying about blasting them to bits by breathing a little too deeply or sneezing. I need to do some calculations, but it looks like they should be able to charge up a phone or media player pretty easily. I am wondering if they might power a Laptop in suitable quantity. My Internet research this week has been on voltage regulators and I found sufficient knowledge there to get one such off of an old video card and solder it into a circuit that should give a regulated voltage of between 3.3 an 9.8v adjustable. Pleased to see that work yesterday evening. Unfortunately the unit is only good up to one amp, so probably no good for the laptop.
One other activity in the week was a day spent on a little insect screen maitenance ready for the summer. The bugs are starting to increase in number and when we get to the other side of the rainy season we will be swamped. I cut new joints in an old aluminium screen to fit a different sized door and my daughter redid the mesh on that. We also bought and fitted a kind of vertical roller blind mesh unit that gives easy access to the veranda.
We have had our first few centipedes of the season, one monster and a few medium sized. The cat is proving his worth in pointing them out. He is also a couple of points up with me as he does not seem interested in chasing the tree frogs, which I was concerned that he would. Still no sign of their eggs as yet.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fallen to pieces

Short term memory loss at this stage could present a problem. All the bench in pieces as I do various cuts and curvy bits on the more deeply embedded parts. I quite like seeing all the various bits disjointed ready to be put together like they all came in a big box with "Some assembly required" written on the top and no instructions.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Leg trials

The leg section from Monday clamped in its proper place to give me ad idea of the final look. There is one panel left out, but I can get the general idea OK.  Working on shaping up the more curvy parts still. Mainly the back rail and a couple of the more insect bitten back slats. The rotten or worm ridden bits help one to be a little more agressive in cutting deeper and then the shape has to incorporate the post surgery timber. I had to face the fact that the top for the back needed to have some caps on the ends to allow for the potential to split. Made those and tried them on, but leaving the subconscious to digest that while I get on with the remainder of the critter. Using the arbortech and the large belt sander, so the fishbowl helmet a necessity. The big sander is pretty heavy, but with the very coarse belt on it gets enough traction pointing uphill to support some of its own weight. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


A change from the Lily of the valley for my mother's birthday this year. These Iris type creatures live to the west of our pond and have a good crop of flowers on them at present. They seem to like it there as they started out with just three stems. I haven't had any luck with the purple variety I like, I must look into getting some more of them to see if they will take.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Another one of those members of the community that stands out on rare occasions. Even stuck to the mosquito screen I thought it was a leaf for a moment. Lovely faux crinkly edge pattern along the back of the wings.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Duty Cycle

Sanding aplenty, like one of those cheap electric tools I seem to have a 45% duty cycle on the blog front at present. This week has a couple of birthdays in it that tend to lead to a little extra pondering at tea time. Moving back on to the leg sections this week. The shape down the other end is the leg panel for this end.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Getting to the dusty phase with the bench. The top of the back rest is also jointed up and ready to be shaped. The knobs on the side of the back slats are left over from band sawing. I leave them on to provide support if I need to resaw something. The two end pieces were also done by the evening, but I got distracted a bit in the afternoon as I recieved the batch of solar cells I had ordered from the US on Ebay. Very fragile things, much more so than I imagined. I am glad they have the tabs soldered on already, I think it would be a bugger to do all the soldering oneself. One cell had cracked across a corner, I thought I would do a tally before I started to get all English about it. It turned out the seller had included four spares in the batch of 100, so no worries. The broken one went on experimenting with soldering and the possibility of controlled snapping to size for future reference. Control level zero on snapping to size, so I won't be doing any of that I hope. 
The cells I have are virtually identical to the ones on this site in case you are interested.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Third hand

This sums up a lot of my evening activity. Looking at circuits and fiddling with electrical bits and bobs. When I went to pick up those cushions a while back I also bought one of those geeky third hand things as an assistant for fiddly soldering etc.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sink work

When I filled up the ink cartridges on the printer the other day there were a couple of drops of ink left in the bottles, so I watered it down a bit to use as paint. I have also recently started using a little 0.4mm ink pen for marking out joints, so that is in service on paper too. Shop business at the sharpening wheel in the sink here. A requirement as the planer blades were shouting out for a sharpening session, they worked a lot better afterwards.
Sammy back safe and sound from his little jaunt to paradise islands in the Maldives.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


The ladies were round again today for another session of object making. We had a go at the stained glass stuff, just as a little sampler really. I could see that a little prompting was required so I quickly made up this tiny mirror thing. To indicate a different mode of making using square bits, the use of mirror and also the possibility of adding squiggly bits of wire if desired. 
We are all a little bit distracted with Sammy out of the country on a modeling job for a few days.

Friday, May 01, 2009


This is the first time the Wysteria has flowered in our garden. Only the wild variety and a few blooms at that, but I have been watching this plant for a few years hoping it would give us something to write about. Amazing how the fresh greenery has taken over from winter grey. The chap down the road says the young flowers are nice as tempura, as are the acacias. I prefer to admire these for their visual qualities, but perhaps one day I will fry some.


Evening meeting to discuss the memorial ceremony at the end of July. See previous years for results in the past. Not bored by the event, but I was tempted to scribble, first two little elephants, then the two men sitting opposite me.