Save the Environment and Learn a Skill!

Creative Commons Recycling Symbol

We are wiring the E-lab and need your help Sunday, 14th of June 2015, noon-4pm!

Learn Something New

Learn how to attach the Ethernet connectors to cables to create a cable of arbitrary length. The tools and instructions are provided. The main requirement is that you not be colorblind, so you can identify the color-coded wires.

Save the Environment

We have some donated computers and other electronics that we need to get working. Help us test them and take them apart to salvage the useful parts, and then we’ll rebuild what we can and e-cycle what we cannot use (or do you have an up-cycling project in mind?).

These are good tasks to do while your waiting for adhesives to set, or 3D printed parts to be completed.

 

 

Laser Etched Deerskin Moccasin

People ask me what I make – and that can be tough to give a simple answer. This past summer (2013) I worked on a whole lot of different projects… the usual arduino/electronics, satellites, farming, and this one – a pair of moccasins. This project had a long gestation. I initially discovered Teri Edmonds store “If The Shoe Fits” several years ago, and noted that she also offers classes under the “Maui Shoe Academy” name.

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Teri’s store is both a retail and repair center, selling and fixing both men and women’s shoes. Her specialty is out-of-norm sizes, with nice slippahs (aka flip flops for mainlanders) in sizes to fit a badly underserved local community (size 13+). She has her own shoe design too – the Hot Bisket.

Teri teaches four basic classes three times a year… Accessories, Sandal-in-a-Day, Handbag and Moccasin. I wear LLBean Camp Moc almost exclusively, so the moccasin class caught my eye. The moccasins Teri has in her shop (and teaches) are calf high boots rather than quick slip-ons, however they look cool and I am always looking to learn new skills, so I decided to take the class.

Teri and I talked a number of times about Makers, shoe making, etc. but it took a few times to get me into her schedule for moccasin class. And then I had to leave town the 2nd weekend of the class (for a workshop on making satellites.) Fortunately Teri was very understanding and helpful, allowing me to come back a couple times to work in her store to finish the boots.

Usually the class makes moccasins from cow hide, however, I got very lucky and hooked up with a local Maui provider of brain-tanned deer skin. We have a LOT of deer here on Maui (and other islands). These Axis Deer (aka Chital) were introduced on Moloka’i in 1867, Lana’i in 1904 and Maui in 1959. They have no natural predators and have been very damaging to the native forests (along with other feral ungulates like wild pigs and goats)… so much so that parts of these islands have been defoliated. There are ongoing efforts to control the populations. The worst of these used aircraft carrying hunters to shoot them from the sky, leaving the carcasses to rot on the ground. The most common are the local and tourist deer hunters, which usually get turned into delicious venison for locals. The best I’ve seen so far is a new program on Moloka’i with a USDA approved/monitored venison production facility. Unfortunately, most of the hides from all of these sources go unused (often simply buried). It takes a fair bit of time/effort to make buckskin, but the results are quite nice. I’ve been in discussion with my provider to see if we can get some classes in brain tanning here – so we can develop this great local resource. (go read up on the Feral Ungulate issues at Maui Deer Culling).

Since the deer are rather small, I needed two hides to make my moccasins. One was natural colored, the other the rich brown that comes from smoking the hides. Teri suggested we use one hide for the back and the other for the front sides. This worked out quite well. The first day of the class we cut out the pieces from the hides and punched holes where they would be sewn. This took a LOT of time… more than the full day of work even. I had to borrow a hole punch and work on mine while on the road the following week.

Moc Class Day 1 a

When I got back to Maui, I upped the design ante on my moc’s by laser engraving designs into them. I used several designs from previous projects. The toes got a tribal face originally created with Rachel Deboer for body painting. The front got a gecko stencil created by David Fields and used for the SourceMaui CORE effigy at Burning Man 2013. On the back side I put the islands of Maui, with the Maui Makers logo on the heel.

Leather Etched

Once I got the parts prepared, the sewing started. Lots of sewing. Very glad we pre-punched the holes, as it would have been very tiring to push that needle through two layers for that many holes. First the front, back and tongue were sewn together, which gave us a good idea of how awesome these would look…
CalfBoot-inProcessFront

Teri glued the insoles to the soles with her special paste…
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I sat out in the back yard and sewed for a good long while. The results, while still not finished were good enough to be worn out for a few events…
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The last step was adding the real sole. Teri, being a cobbler, had a good selection and chose some nice Vibram material.

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We cut the basic shape, glued it and then Teri used her talents and cool tools to finish the sole. Gotta love and respect a woman who owns and knows how to use tools like these!

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The final result was quite spectacular…
IMGP0363IMGP0364IMGP0366

April 28 Chill Box Build and Meeting

Our regular Thursday meeting this week was pretty much exclusively a Chill Box Build.  Cole and I arrived a bit before 5pm. We spent about 20 minutes walking the grounds and looking for places on which to put Our Container.  There are not many places with enough space and access for the trucks to drop off.  Rai would like it to be not all that visible from “street”. However, there are not a lot of places where we could set up a 40×40′ container building. I think the best site is straight back in the open space. There is a fair bit of Habitat for Humanity material in this area. It looks like the parts to make a steel building, and a whole lotta roofing tiles.  The CWD people know the container shows up Tuesday AM and will be planning a spot, at least for temporary siting.

After our walkabout, we got down to business – building the Chill Box.  We brought the parts and tools inside and started assembling. The chiller parts (plastic tubing, the Corsair cpu cooler, peltier, valves, etc) are a tight fit. Tubes dont bend as easily. We tried adding a bit of larger tubing on one end, and it fit better.  Cole made a quick run to Home Depot for some clamps and silicone sealant.

3-pin CPU Fan Connector

I worked on building some power cables for the Corsair. It uses small 3pin CPU Fan connectors. Two leads are power and the third is for speed sensing (see pic at left). Cole had previously cut three header pins from our stock and was using them in a breadboard with alligator clips to power the device. Two cables are needed. One connects to the Corsair’s pump, the other connects to the double fans with a vendor provided Y-cable. I used some 4-wire cable, stripping off the green wire. I soldered these to the pins, covering each with small shrink wrap, and then shrink wrapping the entire connector.  The other ends were connected to an 8-pin connector strip. We wired up the Peltier and water pump to this 8-pin connector too.

Wiring up 3pin connector for Corsair Chiller

Wiring up 3pin connector for Corsair Chiller

Power Connector for Chiller Subsystem

8-point connector block for chiller power connections

When Cole returned, we clamped the tubes, calked around the edge of Peltier (to avoid condensation shorting it), and filled the tubes with water.  Filling the tubing is tricky. The basic fill is easy, but there remains a bubble that takes a fair bit of manipulation to remove.  Perhaps there is another arrangement that would make it easier. Perhaps a bleed valve as well as the fill valve? (spoiler – on April 30 build we did major improvement to plumbing and fill).

Tommy and Brian chat with Cole about Chill Box

Brian T, Tommy and Jen R came by about 8pm to see the space, project and  and chat.

Then came moment of truth – powering it back up and seeing if it still pumps and cools. We got it hooked up, but went through a couple false starts with power not being connected properly. We’re using a hacked PC 300w power supply – kinda wimpy and it sometimes shuts down. We get it pumping and … well the block seems to be getting cool, but not icy like last week. There is a lot of hot air blowing around in the container. Perhaps the vents are not working well enough? The wave side of vents already has some broken pieces where the laser cuts got too close together, so we break out some larger chunks. This seems to help, although arrangement of components in this area is problematic. The corsair now seems to be pulling cool air in and pushing out only slightly warmer air.

The little IR temp tool Cole got shows it cools down a bit, and the pipes cool, but then it starts warming up. Drat… Maybe its the wimpy former PC power supply? Several times these have kicked off (shorted?) and then reset themselves after sitting for a bit. We pulled out the 12v battery, which had done a better job last week, and hooked it up to the 12v supply. It works good for all the 12v stuff (Corsair and peltier) but the water pump is 5-9v. Since the pc supply was down, we decided to test the pump using 12v. It worked – pumped fast and heated up quick. Wait, it heated up? Oh drat – its heating the water! Shutdown, try the pc supply again – it works and runs the pump ok. The pump still heats up. This little beastie is fully enclosed in plastic, so the heat has really no where to go but into the water. They really sell this thing as good for cooling systems? We let it run for a while but it appears the water pump is countering whatever the peltier can do to cool. Drat! It worked last week right? Ok. dont panic yet. Cole has a little micro-pump he ordered early on. Its got really small hoses but is supposed to be really good (rather expensive too). Unfortunately, he left it home. Since its getting on 10pm and we are fading, we decide to call it a night. Cole takes the container and pump system home to work on it a bit. We plan to get together one more time over weekend to try and get it running.

Here’s the Flicker Set for the April 28 build night:
[slickr-flickr tag=”ChillBoxApril28″ descriptions=”on” flickr_link=”on” sort=”title” ]

Acrylic Chill Box Build

This past week saw a few major steps in the chill box. This post describes building the acrylic container holds the parts and the plantings..

Cole came over to my (Jerry) home on Friday to work on the container.  I had a couple long (8×2′) sheets of 1/4″ acrylic.  We picked one and then cut it in half with a jig saw. The cut was pretty rough but it allowed us to put the resulting panels into the open door of the laser cutter.  We cut them down to three 24″ x 9″ and some 9″ x 9″ panels. The long ones are for bottom and sides, small are for ends and dividers.

[slickr-flickr tag=”ChillBoxAcrylic” descriptions=”on” flickr_link=”on” sort=”title” ]

To make assembly easier, we etched 1/4″ grooves around the edges of bottom and across side panels for the other panels to sit in.  This worked fairly well, except for some alignment errors that resulted in a ridge along the edge of bottom panel. Also the Corel Draw document used distinct overlapping lines. When etched, each line was rasterized and drawn in total – where they overlap was etched twice each pass, making a pocket.  Learning Experience!  Also, these wide grooves were rendered as rasters and when doing the short cross grooves, there was a LONG time spent moving between them…. Etch 1/4″, move 14″, etch 1/4, move 12, etch 1/4″… on each raster line.  To speed things up, I split the three cross pieces up into three separate jobs. The result was faster total time… although this may have contributed to creating the pockets.

Next we figured we need to etch some things into the side panels and cut some ventilation slats in the chiller area.  I spent some (too much) time updating the Maui Maker logo and placed it along with “Chill Box” text in the planter area.  I figured we would etch these into the inside for better effect so I mirrored the image horizontally so the text would be readable.  Then I mirrored vertically so I could etch in one pass. It wasnt until everything was complete that I realized the 2nd mirror had reversed the text again. When viewed from outside that one side’s text is backwards.. Learning Experience!

For the ventilation slats, we could have gone with a big hole or simple cutouts, but thats too easy and simple.  I opted to get artistic.  On one side I created a set of sine waves of different frequencies.  This took a fair bit of time as I learned how to make such lines in Corel Draw, offset them and then join the lines to make a cut out area.  Learning Experience!  To increase the open area, I added some circles.  Unfortunately I did not check the results closely.  When the waves were cut, a couple points were very close together, and effectively broke through where they shouldnt have.  Learning Experience!!

A Handful of Elementary Particles

For the other side, I thought, hmmm, Garrett’s E8 diagrams are pretty cool and would result in a lot of holes for wind to blow through (no reflection on his Theory of Everything). I popped over to the really cool E8 Elementary Particle Explorer site and came up with something half decent. I emailed the image to Garrett with background, just to get a sanity check.  He quickly returned my email with an even better diagram, specifically with axis, labels, etc removed.  I dropped this into the Corel Draw and ZAP! we had a mix of Agriculture and Theoretical Physics.. Fitting for our rather diverse maker group.

Laser settings for etching and cutting the 1/4″ acrylic:

  • Raster: 400dpi, Speed 20%, Power 100%; Required 2 passes to get good depth
  • Vector: Speed 5%, Power 100%, 5000Hz; Required 3 passes to completely cut

After all the etching and cutting was done, I setup my Festool table for assembling the box.  Actually, I had it setup after we cut the pieces and was checking fit, measurements, etc at stages all along.  The table is rather nice with large holes into which special clamps are inserted. These hold the work pieces securely in place.  I put a couple scrap pieces of wood between the clamps and acrylic so as to get a good straight edge and distribute the compression forces.  When all the pieces were cut, etched and test fitted, I squeezed a bead of Weld-on #16 acrylic cement into the grooves on bottom and side panels and assembled. (Note for next time – Have someone else around to help hold pieces in place.) The I put clamps on the top edges near or on the end/center panels, padding the metal clamps with some scrap cardboard. I left the whole thing dry in the clamps for 24hours. The end result was pretty nice looking – although there were a few places where the glue squeezed out and got some of the paper stuck. These can be touched up somewhat afterwards, but the larger one will leave a permanent blemish.

Completed Acrylic Chill Box in clamps

Lessons learned:

  • Acrylic stinks when etched/cut. We need a ventilator that scrubs the exhaust. Commercial ones are expensive but perhaps necessary. Perhaps we can make one using simple water tower-in-a-bucket?
  • Acrylic should be lasered with protective paper still on. Our piece had paper removed before we got it, but it scratched in handling. Also the vaporized acrylic can deposit on the non-etched surface. This can be cleaned using a soft scrub designed for light scratch removal.
  • Check cuts and etches using cardboard standins.
  • Always watch the cut – especially with cardboard. The burnt edges may have embers that continue to smolder, or burn outright.
  • Laser jobs always take longer than expected. Most of the work is in the setup, eg CAD work.
  • Laser rasters take a long time to run, plan the burn portions for efficiency, and have other productive work you can do while watching over the etch.
  • When assembling lots of pieces, more hands can be very helpful.

April 21 meeting and Chill Box build night

We had another build night on April 21st at CWD Puunene.  We are progressing slowly. Cole and I arrived before 5pm to take over from CWD people.  They are putting in a security system in a week or three, and we should have our own access after that.  Meanwhile they are continuing to upgrade the building. There were a couple good guys in hazmat suits setting up to strip the lead based paint from the building as we arrived.

Early on, we had several people come by to chat. Amit stopped in after work to see the space and chat about the nice solar panel he is loaning us for the Chill Box project. Jim came with three nice big deep cycle batteries and a charger. Power system is shaping up! Matt and Patricia from CWD came in for a while to give support and chat. Later in the evening, Ben W came and spent a bit of time cleaning up the spam in our wiki.

As usual, here’s the flicker set:

[slickr-flickr tag=”April-21-2011ChillBox” descriptions=”on” flickr_link=”on” sort=”title” ]

Chiller System

Cole has been working on the chiller and container box. He got the hot side fan/pump and copper block attached to the peltier, and plumbing on the soil side.

There are several different sized fittings with the copper block, pump and pipes. The flexible tube we started with last week has been reduced to a few short pieces that help with the connections. The main soil section is now aluminum pipe. The metal helps conduct cold well, so we get good condensation and soil chilling. Copper pipe would be more conventional, but we were concerned about the copper affecting plants. Aluminum is a good heat conductor and less of an effect on plants. A T-fitting and valve lets us add water and bleed out air bubbles.

Cole picked up a small planter box and has been hacking away at making the parts fit. We need to work this fair bit to avoid kinks, and get the electronics into the package as well. We decided, at the end of the night, that a custom acrylic box would be much preferable. It will allow us to show off the setup and learn how to laser cut and fabricate with acrylic! Looks like more educational aspects of this project keep popping up!!

We did get the chiller fully setup and working on the hacked power supply. It chilled very nicely with condensation coving the aluminum quickly, and none on the plastic pipe. Then we decided to try out the 12v battery. We chose the big marine battery and it worked great!!

Electronics

Jerry’s been working the electronics with parts arriving and code being written.

Cole ordered a RobotPower MegaMoto Shield to provide us with power control. The MegaMoto can be configured several ways and stacked for multiple motor controls. Each board provides up to 13A continuous power control with 30A surge. This should be adequate for advanced Peltier control, and also perhaps the pump systems. The MegaMoto looks like it will also be fun to try out on other projects later. 13A motor control on an arduino? Woot!

Power System

Amit has loaned us one of his Sanyo 205 Watt Solar Panels for the project. We should only need one of these but need to get a solar power charger/controller and some MC-4 connectors.

Sony HIP-205NKHA5 solar panel

came by after work to see progress and talk a bit about the solar panel he is loaning us. Jim came with a few deep cycle 12v batteries and a charger.

First meeting in Pu’unene space

We had our first meeting last night (4/14/11) in our new temp space in Pu’unene. Although there was a small turn out (5 total), I consider it a success. We did not so much talk about Makers, finding space, etc as we worked on projects!

Attending were myself, my son Brian, Cole Santos, Gabe Mott, and Matt Lane. Matt works with/for CWD (community work day) on their Community Garden project. He was basically stopping in after a full day in the field, but was happy to hang with us for a while. We chatted about the space, and potentials for container based buildings. We need to look carefully around the area in daylight sometime soon to see where we can site some – and get discussions going with CWD (and Maui Electric, etc) about this.

Here’s the full flicker setof images:

[slickr-flickr tag=”MakerMeet-April142011″ descriptions=”on” flickr_link=”on” sort=”title” ]

Cole and Chill Box

Cole had all the elements for his part of the Chill Box project. He was working on getting the cooling unit hooked up with new Peltier heat sink (water cooled hot side – awesome!). Unfortunately, the peltier we used last week didnt seem to operate. Perhaps we fried it without having proper hot side cooling? Fortunately, Cole just happened to have another peltier fridge in his car. Even though we lacked proper tools (gotta work on the traveling kits!) he hacked the peltier out and got it hooked up. It quickly made a very cold surface, so we put our water block on it and fired up the pump with hose…. oh yeah, filling the hose was not easy. Adding a T with a fill valve helped, but perhaps next time we do this step outside so as to avoid spilling water. We didnt have any heat conducting paste but the setup didnt do a whole lot to chill the water. Paste and a clamp will help but perhaps we have too much water/tube length. Perhaps a peltier just wont cut it… as people have cautioned us. Cole is going to look into a larger peltier and perhaps some DC compressor fridge/dehumidifiers.

JerryI and Chill Box

I, Jerry Isdale, got a bit of time to work on the SHT-11/15 Sensirion temp/humidity sensors we are using for Chill Box.  I found several sets of example code for running it on the Arduino. I found one from ?? that includes all the code with no C++ library.  The PracticalArduino site has a library based one (not mentioned in their good book). The Target23 example with library has some comm reset functions but needed some mods to the example to avoid name conflicts.

I had all sorts of problems not getting responses (error 1) from all the various PDE sketches.  After some close examination of the code I realized I had major operator failure – the data pins can be any of the 0-13 on my Mega board.  different examples had different values.  Once I synced up code with hardware, it works good.

I like the practical Arduino lib gives both F and C readings. I like softReset etc from Target23 lib.  I think we will create a mashup with assorted extra fixes when we put together all the code for Chill Box.

I brought the Vegitronix soil moisture and temperature sensors but didnt have time to try em out on the Arduino. I did find a project on web that shows how to use the moisture sensor.

I’ve also got some DS18S20 temperature sensor samples incoming (arrived as I wrote) from Matrix Orbital. There are some examples using this with Arduino. It uses a 1-wire protocol which lets you gang several sensors on one ‘network’.

A similar sensor LM-35, was used in an Instructable for underwater rov use. Technique looks like it could be used for the DS18S20.

BrianI and Arduino

BrianI (my son) worked on his arduino, and organizing his electronics box. He has the ARDx.org Arduino Experimenters kit and is learning (mostly self taught) how to program and wire up circuits. The kit is a decent basic intro to Arduino. It is available from several sources such as AdaFruit and Solarbotics for about $85. Documentation (experiments, etc) is available for download from the ARDx site (see links on adaFruit page).

Gabe Mott, ColorBox and Ideo Labs Kinect Physics

Gabe Mott, who is building the ColorBox, brought in his Kinect. There is a Kickstarter project to help fund some upgrades to the Color Box. Please help out! Earlier in the day we had found Ideo Labs Kinect Physics Demo. Its an OpenFrameworks based application with source available and supposedly could run on a Mac. I pulled down the FAT distribution of openFrameworks (of_preRelease_v0062_osxSL_FAT), which includes various addOns referenced in that article. Then we started trying to make it work in XCode…

My first test was to go into the ofxKinect/example (of_preRelease_v0062_osxSL_FAT/addons/ofxKinect/example) and build the application. After a minor bit of relearning to navigate Xcode UI, I managed to get the application running. We connected up Gabe’s kinect and Wow – it worked.

Next was trying to get the IdeoPhysics demo built. The blog page said it needed the ofxBox2d physics add-on as well as ofxKinect. I found that but had to renavigate XCode to figure how to create a new project with both app features.

Easiest way seemed to be to copy the example folder from ofxKinect to apps/myApps/IdeoPhysics. Then I opened the ofxKinect.xcodeproj file with XCode 3.2.5 and used Project->rename to rename it. (You cant simply rename xcode projects in finder as there are a bunch of internal vars/proprties that have to be changed.) The path depth (apps/myApps/IdeoPhysics) was needed to match addons/ofxKinect/example so relative path names inside the project still worked. The project rebuilt and ran identical to original – file moving worked.

Next I copied the 3 source files from Ideo’s googleCode release to the src folder in the project (overwriting the 3 files there) and rebuilt. First glance at the code indicated there were 4 image files used in the tumbling boxes, but these were not included in the Ideo repository. The code did not check for failure to load. I left this for now.

The compile first indicated the ofxBox2d addon code was not found. The ofxKinect example didnt use it so it was not linked into the project. I dragged the folder from Finder to the xcode project’s add-on group and trimmed out the examples folder.

Next compile indicated we were missing ofxTriangle and contourSimplify. I did a web search and found ofxTriangle as an addon. countourSimplify was a bit harder to find. After some digging I found the code over in Joel Lewis’s google code svn. There is probably a better link than that, but for now it worked.

Next up I got a whole bunch of errors about:

class ofxBox2dRect has no member named width
class ofxBox2dRect has no member named height

testApp.h defines

vector rects;

It seems that ofxBox2dRect does not have width and height members, at least as provided in v0062_osxSL_FAT. So I edited the ofxBox2d source In file ofxBox2dRect.h, after line 12, I added public variables:

float width;
float height;

then in setup() after line 31 I added:

width = w;
height = h;

and Eureka! it works!!

We bounced around some blank squares for a bit rejoicing.  Then Gabe made 4 colorful images and we dropped them into the project.  They needed to be located in bin/data so the app could find them when run.  And LO! we had bouncing colored boxes!

The four of us (Gabe, Cole, BrianI and myself) had fun playing with the app for a while. We noticed that when you go to full screen window, the boxes still (for most part) stop at the original bottom of the screen as if it was still there.

I transferred the code to Gabe’s Mac, and we rebuilt and ran it there – yippee it worked.

We cleaned up and packed ourselves out by about 10:15pm.

Some notes for future meetings:

  • bring full set of basic hand tools (screwdrivers, pliers, hammer, etc)
  • wear insect repellant
  • food will be attacked by ants
  • bring some foldup tables for added workspace, maybe some chairs

GGHC Chill Box Prototype at Ag Fest

[Update: it worked well!! See blog post for build documentation. and picture below]

Our first prototype/demonstration for the Chill Box is under construction and will be shown this week Saturday April 2, at the Maui Agricultural Festival in the Educational tent. The Chill Box is our project for the Great Global Hackerspace Challenge

The prototype is a small styrofoam ice chest that will be full of chilled water – chilled by containers of ice floating in it. A small submersible fountain pump circulates the water thru a small loop of 1/2″ copper tube. The idea is there will be condensation on the copper tube and it will drip onto a small planter of “starts”.

Laura Burkhart of Sustainable Living Institute of Maui (SLIM) is hosting it and creating the educational materials to go along with it.  Today, she and I hacked together the basic demo box. Pictures will be posted shortly.

The festival runs 9am-4pm on the lū‘au grounds of Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapū.  The general event is free and open to the public. They also have a “Taste Education” tent in partnership with Slow Food Maui, where you can taste food prepared by chefs and farmers from the island, and learn how to grow, and prepare locally sourced food.  That part cost $25/adult presale, $30/adult at gate. There is a flyer (pdf) on the Far Bureau site with details

Here’s a pic of Laura and Devon (sp?) at the fest:

Laura and Devon showing Chill Box v0.1 at Maui Agricultural Festival

UPDATE: check our Element14 ChillBox blog and find other posts here under the Chill Box Project Category

GGHC Chill Box week 2 (or 3?)

Our first post to the element-14 site is up.  This is a Group Blog on the element-14 site.  You can comment, etc there by joining the element-14 site, then joining the Group.

Basically it gives a background on our space and the Chill Box project.  Here is the summary I posted for the project:

Our project for the Great Global Hackerspace Challenge is called The Chill Box.  It will be a demonstration of Chilled Soil Agriculture.  The basic idea is to use cold water to chill the soil, and air above a garden bed. This has two purposes.  First, the water will condense from the air in soil and above the garden, irrigating the plants. With sufficient natural humidity and proper chilling, it is possible to elimiate extra watering.  Second, there are many plants that grow well at altitude or in colder climates but do not do well near sea level and/or in semi-tropical environments. When these plants have their roots chilled properly (not too much, not too little), they are stimulated to grow properly.   The basic idea and early demonstrations of Chilled Soil Argiculture were done at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA). NELHA is an education and research facility founded in 1974 for research into the uses of Deep Ocean Water in ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) renewable energy production. One project uses the cold ocean waters for chilled agriculture demonstration gardens.

Our project intends to demonstrate and educate the use of Chilled Soil Agriculture without deep ocean water.  We plan to use peltier elements to provide electronic cooling to the water that will be circulated through our garden boxes. A micro-controller will use temperature, humidity, soil and leaf moisture sensors to determine when and how much chilling to provide.  This will allow us to avoid some of the overwatering that can occur, take advantage of high humidity and avoid attempting to dehumidify dry air.  Peltier elements can be harvested from CPU/GPU cooling and also from electronic refridgerator and dehumifier systems.

Cole put up an introductory presentation of the technology as a Google Doc.  Laura Burkhart of Sustainable Living Institute of Maui (SLIM) is working with us to build a simple demonstration system for the Maui Agricultural Festival this saturday (April 2).

There is some confusion about what week this is (2 or 3). However, the deadline for completion is April 30.  We plan to meet at least every wednesday at a location TBD.  Cole may have secured us a small space in Pu’unene with the Community Workday folks.

UPDATE: check our Element14 ChillBox blog and find other posts here under the Chill Box Project Category

Great Global Hackerspace Challenge – Chill Box

Its official – Maui Makers has been selected to participate in the Great Global Hackerspace Challenge (Spring 2011 edition)!!

Here is the brief summary of The Challenge:

  • Your hackerspace will create a project to help with education, using US$900 (or equivalent) provided by Element14. The project must use a microcontroller and a portable power source.
  • You have 6 weeks to complete your project, documenting your project as you go. All spaces that complete their project will receive 10 soldering setups.
  • Three hackerspaces’ projects will be chosen as finalists to present at the Grand Finale at the San Francisco Maker Faire. All three of these spaces will receive some really nice electronic test equipment. One person from each space will be flown out to present their project at the San Francisco Maker Faire over the weekend of 21-May & 22-May.
  • One project will be chosen at the Grand Finale at the San Francisco Maker Faire to receive some extra goodies, including a very nice oscilloscope.

Detailed instructions can be found in the Participant Packet PDF.

Our plan is build a Chilled Soil Agricultural Demonstration – aka Chill Box.  This system will circulate chilled water through (above) soil in a window box sized container. The chilled water serves several purposes. The main purpose is to condense water from atmosphere onto the soil.  Secondary purposes are related to growing temperate and high altitude plants in a semi-tropical/sea level environment.   We have already had strong interest expressed by the Sustainable Living Institute of Maui (SLIM) and representatives of the Maui County Dept of Water Supply.  Our intent is to use a peltier device to provide Thermo-electric Cooling controlled by a microprocessor using humidity and moisture and various other sensors to chill the water.  We intend to use a solar power panel to provide portable power, coupled with a deep cycle marine battery so the system can operate at night, when there may be higher humidity.

More to follow!!

UPDATE: check our Element14 ChillBox blog and find other posts here under the Chill Box Project Category

Homemade plastic extrusion system for Aquaponics

Make Blog today had a post that caught my eye on a “Homemade plastic extrusion system

Turns out the he uses his extrusion system for turning HDPE pellets into thin, textured strips his aquaponics grown plants liked.

His youtube site has some other vids that might interest our aquaponics makers.