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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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1929 Ford Trimotor

Volunteer Perks:–

Last week Dolly and I volunteered as ground crew for the EAA’s 1929 Ford Trimotor that was visiting Brooksville Florida.  On Sunday the ten passenger plane had eleven flights.  On the last flight there were only nine paid passengers.  From the volunteers, Dolly was selected to fill the last seat.  It was a beautiful yet blustery day.  Winds were 10 gusting to 24.

Dolly”s seat

I worked as flagman, signaling to the starter that my side of the ramp was clear of people.

This trimotor has a 235 gallon tank.  The pilot climbs up through a cabin roof hatch, drops a rope and pulls up the fuel hose.

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Happy Hydroponics

I have read about hydroponics for a number of years. This winter in Florida is the first time I’ve tried growing plants from seed without soil. Dolly and I now have a number of lettuce, tomato and pepper plants growing in three different modes:

      • Milk jugs outdoors
      • An outdoor plastic pipe tower with nutrient pumped to the top and trickle down
      • A tray in the garage under flourescent lights.

        Tower with thirteen grow sockets.  Small electric pump is located in Kitty Litter bucket at base of tower.  The pump is on a timer that sequences on or off each half hour.  Seeds were started in small peatmoss or fiberglas cubes at the end of November.

      The same nutrient mixture is fed to the plants in each case.

      Pepper plant outdoors in milk jug. It receives about two hours of direct sunlight per day.
      Pepper plant blossoms and one small pepper. January 9th.
      Tomato in milk jug. Some blossoms appeared this week.

      The tops have been cut off the milk jugs and a 2″ grow basket inserted to hold the plants.

      Initially, the jugs were wrapped in aluminum foil.  Now, the jugs are painted black to prevent algae growth and then silver to prevent the nutrient solution heating in sunlight.

      An unpainted strip down the handle reveals the nutrient level.  I add reverse osmosis purified water as necessary.

      I have been amazed at the growth rate of the lettuce, tomato and peppers seeded in Fiberglas and grown under the florescents.  The plants in the photo above were seeds 28 days ago. An initial charge of nutrient solution is supplemented with additions of plain water to keep the cubes moist.

      Dolly and I should be eating salads in March.  The overall results have been very encouraging.  I am planning a larger installation for next year using LED grow light strips and shelving units in our screened lanai.

      It may not be economical to grow your own on this scale.  Yet, the convenience of picking and eating fresh, no pesticide fruits and vegetables may offset the cost.

       

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Triple Tree Fly-in

Triple Tree is a unique place created over many years by Pat and Mary Lou Hartness. From undeveloped land they wrestled out a beautiful airdrome in South Carolina.

It’s centerpiece is a 7,000 foot grass runway of Bermuda bent grass that is irrigated and maintained like a golf course green.

For one week each year the private airport is opened up to all things airborne. All persons are invited provided they can show a pilot’s license or some other direct connection to aviation.

Facilities include the pavilion shown above, plus showers, wet and dry camp sites, an educational center, aerodrome control tower, a museum/hangar, pilots lounge and other necessary infrastructure. Pat’s prime aviation interest has been model aviation although he also has a full scale mirror polished Spartan Executive and a P51.

Pilot’s Lounge

DC3’s?

These two birds put on an airshow Saturday afternoon.

Shade from the sun and hangar flying conversation – Triple Tree hospitality.

Food at TTA is plentiful and delicious. There is a different menu for the cookout every evening. Thursday is “pick out and grill your own steak” night with tasty fixings and chocolate cake. Yumm!

On Saturday we lined up for a pulled pork dinner near the top of the hill by the hangars. A quartet played old songs and friends caught Dolly and I dancing. We had worked as volunteers all week; Dolly helped in registration and I drove six person courtesy golf carts.

Try it next year?

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