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Growing Stuff!

Posted 2016.01.06 12.54 in Family/Friends, Hobbies by Stephanie

I got this great indoor garden kit from my sister for xmas this year!

It came with a bunch of ‘gourmet’ herb planters, and she also gave me a set of empty planters (supply your own seeds) and a packet of ghost pepper seeds!

Seven Planters Planted

So this year, I’m growing stuff! Edible gourmet stuff!

It’s pretty neat how it works; the seed pods contain a little column of planter loam stuff, and they are suspended so that they’re about 1/2 submerged in water.

The water is aerated (with a bubbler, like an aquarium) and you add fertilizer liquid to the water every fortnight. The florescent lights are mounted in a hood that can be raised as the plants grow.

The whole thing has a little timer and sensors to control the lights and the aerator and remind you to add water or fertilizer.

The only thing that’s going to take some getting used to is that it is BRIGHT!

The timing sequence for the herb garden is 17 hours on, 7 hours off. And the 17 hours on, is like 17 hours of noonday sun in midsummer in the sahara.

So my livingroom lights up like it contains its own tiny sun at around 5:30 in the morning, and stays that bright till about 10:30 at night. It’s so bright I can see the glow from my bedroom!

I’m sure I’ll get used to the brilliance (or cover it with a box or something when I got to bed), and really, it’s pretty gosh-darn neat and I’m all excited.

How many SEKs to the Dollar?

Posted 2013.07.26 19.54 in Hobbies, Swords by Stephanie

For the past week I’ve had an urge to make a new knife.

It’s been five years since I last made any knives. I’m quite happy with one of the ones from back then, but I want to make another, similar, but with a different style to the handle.

I want the same blade as before – it’s from Karesuando in Sweden. 75mm long, carbon steel. It’s a great blade. Sharp as a razor, keeps its edge, and as it ages it’s developing a nice patina.

My Knife

My Knife

Trouble is, I used to get my knife blades from Ragweed Forge, but some years ago he stopped shipping to Canada. It’s a huge disappointment as in past correspondence Ragnar was always very friendly and helpful. But it seems USPS is just not able to provide him acceptable international service.

Very frustrating, as I’ve had lots of successful purchases delivered from other vendors in the USA, but I guess whatever the secret is to getting USPS to function overseas, it has eluded Ragnar.

Seriously, so many other US merchants can ship to Canada without issue. It just can’t be that hard.

So I’ve searched and searched for other suppliers, or other equivalent blades, but come up with nothing. Found lots of other places to get bare blades, but nothing was exactly right. Frequently, nothing even close.

Seems like the only other place I could find to get Karesuando blades, was direct from Karesuando themselves. Shipping from Sweden to Canada seemed a bit dear, but hopefully it’ll be worth it.

Also, hopefully my maths aren’t wrong and five hundred or so SEKs (for three blades plus shipping) won’t put me in the poor-house.

Now, I wonder how long it’ll take to get them here…

Pics @ Etobicoke Creek

Posted 2012.09.23 23.20 in Hobbies, Photography by Stephanie

I went for a bit of a walk this morning, to have a look at where the local river (the Etobicoke Creek) emerges from a concrete diversion channel and reverts to its natural riverbed.

The diversion channel thingy was built in the 1950’s (if I remember right) as a solution to prevent downtown from flooding every year.

I’ve never really looked closely at it before, though it is not far from my house. The diversion channel thingy is really small and makes the river look like a wee little stream, but it must be deep and it does move fast.

Now I’m curious to go see the other end, where they squeeze the river down into that little concrete channel.

The film was expired Shoppers Drug Mart “EasyPix” brand (made by Fuji I believe), ISO 200. It came out with some interesting colour shifts, kind of an overall pink tone. I’ll have to try and remember to overexpose it by a stop next time to see if that helps.

Shot with my Lomography LC-A+ RL and developed at home in my kitchen sink with my tired old Press Kit colour chemistry – 14 months old and still going strong.

SFCave for Arduino

Posted 2012.08.06 11.48 in Computers/Internet/Technology, Hobbies by Stephanie

Back in the days of Palm Pilot, there was this great little game called SFCave. It was easy to learn, difficult (for me at least) to master, but it was a quick-n-easy thing to pick up and play when you had a minute or two to kill.

I’ve written an Arduino sketch inspired by SFCave, and all you need is an Arduino, a 128×64 OLED from Adafruit, and a single pushbutton.

You are ‘flying’ a ribbon through a cave. You can’t control your speed (it gradually increases) and the cave gradually gets narrower and narrower. Gravity is a factor – push the button to thrust upwards, release it to fall downwards. Try not to crash into the ceiling or floor.

There is no end, the only goal is to see how long you can last / how far you can go. The score is a frame counter, each time the screen advances the score goes up. Check out the action:

You can download the sketch here:

The Kodak Jiffy V. P.

Posted 2012.07.24 12.26 in Hobbies, Photography by Stephanie

The Kodak Jiffy V. P. is a camera I acquired some time ago – last summer I think. It is the second oldest camera in my collection, dating from the mid 1930’s.

The V. P. stands for Vest Pocket, as the camera folds up and fits neatly in a pocket. It was a cheaper model even back in the day – bakelite construction, folding metal frame-style finder, and simple doublet lens. Groovy art deco stylings though.

The Jiffy V. P. uses format 127 rollfilm. This is a halfway size, bigger than 35mm but smaller than 120 rollfilm. The Jiffy shoots eight 4×6.5cm frames on a roll. You can still get 127 film from a couple sources. I used a roll of Efke R100 (ISO 100) black and white for the following shots.

The subject matter is an old abandoned driving range north of town. I noticed it a few weeks back while en route to visit my folks, so on the way back home I stopped and explored around and took some pictures. It was a blazingly hot and sunny day, which was good for the ISO100 film and the old camera.

Processed at home with some very old T-Max 1:4, 8 1/2 minutes at 76°F, and scanned with my Epson flatbed.

Camera Hack

Posted 2012.07.22 12.46 in Hobbies, Photography by Stephanie

Some long while ago I picked up a Lomography Action Sampler camera – a little multi-lens plastic ‘toy’ camera that takes four pictures in sequence when you press the shutter release. The four images all fit on a single frame of 35mm film, and are taken about 1/4 second apart.

It’s supposed to capture ‘action’ but the shutter speed isn’t very fast so if the subject is moving fast enough to capture the action, they’re probably going to come out blurry. And if they are moving slow enough not to be blurry, then there isn’t enough ‘action’ to capture.

Anyhow, I got the idea to modify it. I’d black out two of the lenses and remove the internal frame mask so that a) there was only two images instead of four, and b) they would bleed into each other.

It was a super simple modification, the frame mask was a plastic insert that just popped out when I tugged on it with pliers. To block out two lenses I just used some black electrical tape – so neither change is permanent.

I was hoping that the two lenses would have enough coverage to expose the whole negative, but it turns out they do not. I think there might be some more plastic inside that I could try and remove, to see if that does it. Or not. It’s not bad as-is.

The film was an OEM Fuji colour negative (store brand), ISO 400. Processed myself with my stale old C41 chemistry, 20 minutes at 76°F then scanned on my flatbed Epson.

Eagle Eagle Eagle Eagle

Posted 2012.06.22 9.25 in Computers/Internet/Technology, Hobbies by Stephanie

You know how when you get hooked on something new, it’s all you can think about? Like drawing schematics and routing traces on a circuit board? For the past week that’s almost the only thing in my head.

When I close my eyes I see a maze of red and blue lines, green dots, and skinny beige criss-cross lines. For those who aren’t familiar, that’s basically the default colours in Eagle for top traces, bottom traces, vias, and unrouted connections.

The freaky thing is, routing traces is fun! Like solving maze puzzles. You need to get this signal from here to over here. But you can’t cross any of the two dozen lines in between. And you can’t go outside the borders. And you can’t touch any lines – you can’t even get too close to any other lines.

So you snake up and down and left and right in between the lines, and when you’re completely blocked you dive down to the underside and weave around the lines on the bottom, then you pop back up again when the bottom is blocked, and finally you get to where you need to be!

And then you do that a hundred more times! And each time is harder than the last, because each time you route a trace, that’s one more trace that the next one has to avoid, and less overall space remaining available on the board.

So when the game finally ended, I had routed all my required signals, then I routed some extra pins, then I routed every last available pin on the microcontroller – even the ones that I had thought were totally trapped, I was able to find ways to break them out too.

This was all done by Tuesday – at that point there was nothing left to route, nothing left to tweak. So I spent another couple days just looking at it – admiring the patterns, and trying to find any flaws or mistakes.

Last night I finally submitted the designs for fabrication – using OSH Park’s service. They even gave me a rendering of what the board’s expected to look like:

Component Side

Solder Side

The lower part of the board with the buttons and battery connector is designed to be cut off – so it’s really two boards in one. This allows me to test it all in one-piece on the workbench, then separate the two parts for mounting on the leather bracer.

The Mark II version of the ISEB6 will have a whole lotta upgrades by the way… totally different uC, more sensors, more functions and features. It’s going to be awesome. So awesome that the PCB will be purple.

Yeah, that’s how awesome it will be!