Our Hydroponics Lab

Its a ten gallon recirculating system currently holding two 60 day old bell pepper plants.  The tray has a 3D printed bell siphon with about a 15 minute fill/empty cycle that changes the water level by 1.5 inches.

The peppers have much larger leaves than those growing in our tower, and there are no insects eating holes in the leaves as did those in backyard milk bottles.  There is some red algae growing inside the sunlight exposed nutrient recirculating tubes.  Next winter I’ll use black vinyl.

No sign of blossoms yet.  We have hope.

Sterile Masks?

Worst Case:  We are going to be in this for a long time, so be prepared.  The mask-in-stores requirement will go on for months as the ramp up for the second wave occurs next fall.

Dolly and I have a handful of N95 shop masks left over from building the airplane.  They have been used during trips to grocery stores, etc.  We expect them to become contaminated, and they get set aside after one day’s use.

I found DIY advice on building a UV-C sterilizer on YouTube.  The sterilizer uses a 30 watt Phillips UV-C bulb available online.

Note: UV-C is the far (short wavelength) end of the ultraviolet spectrum.  Brief exposure is said to cause eye damage and skin cancer.  It’s not the UV-A/B ultraviolet spectrum used to light up fluorescent materials.  The light intensity will sterilize anything in the box in five minutes.

Dolly contributed the wooden box which was made some time ago by her late husband Al’s uncle Edsel.  I wrapped Reynolds foil around quarter inch foam board and stuffed it onto all interior surfaces of the box.  The shiny foil ensures the light is reflected onto all surfaces of anything in the box.

Masks are held for sterilization on 3D printed frames.  Each frame is composed of five parts that snap together solidly.  Lucky we have a printer!  I found the design for the frame on a medical website.

Family and friends who need masks sterilized are welcome to use the box.

 

No more lost pencils?

Pilots flying under instrument flight rules (IFR) make a practice of recording instructions from air traffic control (ATC), usually with pencil and paper.  Pity the poor pilot who lost their pencil to the cabin floor and can’t retrieve it because the seat belt and shoulder harness are tight and the plane is flying through turbulence while ATC is issuing an amended route clearance.

With a 3D printer and idled hands I made a solution for Van’s RV aircraft. 

The blue double ended thingy sturdily clips onto both the plane control stick and standard sized pencils.

I’ve started giving them to other fumble fingered pilots.

You know who you are.  Just ask the next time we see each other.

For RV deprived pilot friends, I also have a version that clips onto standard aviation chromalloy 3/4″ tubeing.

200 Knot Club

In the world of Van’s RV Homebuilt Aircraft there is an event known as “joining the 200 knot club”.  It’s for aircraft that have surpassed 200kts (230mph) groundspeed in level cruise flight.  By far the majority of Van’s RVs have a top speed in level cruise around 175 kts or 200 mph.  So a pretty good tailwind is required.

Thursday 4/7 on a flight retrieving N50KB from Michigan to Florida we (I and the plane) joined the club.  Click on the photos to see the detail.  What a ride!

There was a 72 kt tailwind component at 14,500 ft msl. That plus the 143 kt full throttle (59% power) true airspeed pushed and pulled us at 215 kts over the ground.

215 kts

9.9 gallons per hour.  24.9 miles per gallon. Hooah!!!

Face Masks

Rowan University engineering and medical students have developed a prototype for a durable, lightweight, reusable face mask to augment the supply of face masks during the current shortage…”

“The prototype provides two components: a contoured mask and filter housing. No special tools are needed for assembly. The replaceable nonwoven filter materials recommended for the filter housing are widely available. Users will supply and install the elastic or cord.

The mask can be printed in three sizes, all with the same size filter housing. The contoured mask may be more closely molded to the user’s face by submerging the edges in hot water and pressing it to reform the shape against the face.”

A link to the Rowan website.

The website has detailed instructions for printing and using the masks.

I have printed several of the masks in both polylactic acid (PLA) and acrylonitriel/butadiene/styrene (ABS) plastic.  Dolly and I have each tried the masks.  Of the three sizes, we prefer the small . When printed in PLA the mask can be softened in hot 140 deg. F water and then molded to the face for a perfect fit.

Over Michigan last week

Last Monday (03/30/2020) I relocated the Dream Weaver from Florida to Bishop Airport in Flint, Michigan. Then, I took our mini motorhome out of the hangar and drove back to Florida. Eight hours including two fuel stops going up; three days sanitizing gas pump handles driving South.

Michigan and northern Indiana were totally socked in. The photo is from 9,500 ft. Ceilings were 4000; scattered 1300 ft. Outside air temp flitted between 27 and 32F. When ATC cleared me lower for the approach I dove at 2,000+ fpm to pass through the layer as quickly as reasonable. Even so the plane picked up some light rime ice on the leading edges and windscreen. Fortunately it quickly melted below the deck. The approach and landing were uneventful.

The relocation was done because the plane is ten months into its last twelve month condition inspection; all of my tools and hangar are in Michigan, while Dolly and I expect we will be stuck in Florida till late July.

Today’s Harvest

It was forecast to rain today.  So, I harvested these from our hydroponic garden.  I should have placed a ruler in the photograph.  The central tomato is about 3-1/2 inches in diameter.  Add lettuce, raisins, craisins, dried cherries, shredded cheese and salad dressing.  Yum….  Eat Healthy.  Next week I’ll put on a mask and gloves to go grocery shopping for several head of lettuce.