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DIY Oven Build Using a Filing Cabinet

September 7, 2014
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Cheap and extremely effective! A DIY Oven for DIY powder coating, wood drying, acrylics and plastic; you name it!

Cheap and extremely effective! A DIY Oven for DIY powder coating, wood drying, acrylics and plastic and any other idea that needs heating or baking in future.

You did what?  Hacked a filing cabinet to make a home DIY workshop oven?!

Yes, perhaps we are crazy, but this DIY oven really IS made from a standard office filing cabinet and it works like a dream!

It is great for powder coating CNC milled metal parts; melting plastics; bending acrylics; scorching wood, sealing natural bamboo wood wax and any number of other DIY projects where oven heating is required.

See more about how we made this DIY oven from a filing cabinet here.

Industrial, or even DIY hobby ovens are extremely useful in a home DIY workshop. Unfortunately, they are also usually unjustifiably costly for most small projects.

Cheap toaster ovens can be used for small scale applications as a ‘make-do’ alternative, but are often not physically large enough to fit many DIY projects.  They also usually offer very poor thermal efficiency.  A big downside when working over longer periods as the units tend to get hot inside as well as out.

We recently cut some large aluminium parts and components using our home built CNC machine. We wanted to coat the metal parts using an electrostatic powder coating system to give them a lasting professional finish. Powder coat curing however, requires parts to be heated to high temperatures for extended periods. (And strangely, the cooking department said the kitchen oven was considered off limits well before we mentioned curing powder coat paint or the carcinogenic gases they produce….)

We needed a large, cheap DIY solution. A robust, purpose built DIY oven capable of maintaining high, evenly dispersed temperatures for lengthy periods.

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Rice Harvest in Japan

September 3, 2014
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summer-season

A Japanese rice farmer begins harvest of his roadside rice paddy with an open cab rice harvester.

A Japanese rice farmer begins harvest of his roadside rice paddy with an open cab rice harvester.

As Summer draws to a close, the most important event in the Japanese farming calender has arrived – the rice harvest.

Rice crops grow rapidly in the heat and humidity of the Japanese Summer. As the rice develops, crops becomes heavily laden with grain and eventually start to dry and yellow.

The soil beds of the paddies remain moist, but are generally no longer flooded or soaked through.  Farmers have allowed the water levels in the paddies to drain and evaporate in the sunshine as the rice has matured.

The rice harvest does not begin until the the moisture content of grain heads fall to around 20-30%.  Once dry enough however, there is a sudden burst of determined activity and the rice harvest is on for another year.

Farmers, harvest machinery and trucks can be seen scurrying around the rice paddies; harvesting and moving the precious rice crop as quickly as possible.
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Super Storms Risk Rice Crops in Japan

August 24, 2014
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A storm super cell approaches rice paddies in Japan.

summer-seasonWeather presents major risks for any farmer and their crop.

Rice plants become heavily laden with maturing rice grains.

Late season rice plants become heavily laden and top heavy with maturing rice grains.

For Japanese rice paddy growers, the unsettled weather and violent storms which occur regularly in Japan’s late Summer can be soul destroying.

Massive super-cell storms suddenly develop out of no where. The ferocious storms couple wild winds, flickering lightning and damagingly heavy rainfall.  Precious rice crops can be destroyed in minutes.

Intense rain downpours at fall rates up to 4 inches/hr (100 mm/hr) and winds up to 100 mph (170 km/hr) are not uncommon in Japan.  On top of localized storms, passing typhoons also bring further potential for widespread crop damage throughout the country.

The weather related risks for rice farmers are usually greatest just prior to rice paddy harvest in late August and September.

As rice paddies yellow, the mature rice plants become drier, more brittle and heavily laden with grain. The plant stems and leaves are thicker, but also more easily bent, broken and shredded under their weight.  The top heavy plants are prone to damage from both flooding and high velocity wind squalls (and even the occasional tornado!).
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Drone Helicopters for Spraying Crops

May 20, 2014
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Drone helicopters are replacing traditional techniques for spraying crops in Japan.

Drone helicopters are replacing traditional techniques for spraying crops in Japan.

Drone helicopters are quickly finding their place as efficient tools within the Japanese agricultural industry.

Drone helicopters specifically designed for crop spraying and inspection are well suited for use over confined farming land with numerous obstacles.  Drones do not have the same drawbacks or carry the same risks as alternative ground or aerial spray application methods.

Rice paddies and other farming plots in Japan tend to provide exceedingly poor access to farmers for servicing of crops once planted.

Irregularly shaped plots scattered over the semi-rural landscapes are closely entwined with a multitude of barriers and confinements in surrounding infrastructure.   Deep drains, pump  houses, power lines, communication towers, houses and roads all become access barriers and dangerous aerial hazards when it comes time to spray crops.

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Rice Paddy Planting

May 16, 2014
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Spring Season

A Japanese farmer plants rice seedlings in his rice paddy.

A farmer plants rice seedlings in a partially flooded paddy in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan.

Japanese farmers have been in full force in their rice paddies in the last couple of weeks. As a result, once dry plots of farming land have suddenly been transformed  into flooded lakes of emerging greenery.

Rice farmers ride atop specially designed planting machines to embed neat rows of rice seedlings into the mud of their paddies.    The machines have large, broadly ribbed wheels designed for water and deep, boggy mud in the flooded rice paddies.

The machines come equipped with various arrangements of rotary planter mechanisms, fertilizer delivery boxes and driver seat positioning, amongst other features and components.

A rice seedling planting machine is loaded with seedling mats and fertilizer, ready to sow the season's rice crop.

A Kubota designed rice planting machine is fully loaded with rice seedling mats and fertilizer, and is ready to enter the flooded rice paddy to sow the season’s rice crop.

The machines typically vary in size from approximately 3-10 feet in width, with each planting a similarly varied number of seedling rows at a time.  The selection of the machinery is made depending on the size of rice paddies to be planted and the capitalization of the farming operations.

Rice seedling stock is germinated from seed in densely packed seedling trays during late Winter.  By Spring, the crowded seedlings form a sturdy mat of roots topped with vibrant 4-5 inch high blade leaves.

In preparation for planting, the young rice seedlings are removed from their germination trays as a complete mat and loaded onto the planter delivery systems at the rear of the machines.  Additional mats of seedlings are also stacked on racks by the farmers’ side, where they can be easily accessed and later loaded into the planting mechanism when seedling re-fills are required. This saves overly regular returns to the edge of the flooded rice paddy for seedling re-fills.

The rotating mechanism on the rear of the machines takes the  individual seedlings from the trays and inserts them into the water. The fragile seedling roots are embedded into the mud a few inches beneath the rice paddy’s water level.  Once planted and paddies are fully flooded, only a portion of the plants’ leaves appear above the surface of the water.

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Etching DIY Circuit Boards (PCB)

March 3, 2014
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PCB Screen PrintingElectronics hobbyists who have never ventured into the realms of making their own circuit boards, are missing out on half the fun.  Here, we present a quick step-by-step guide to the UV light transfer and Ferric Chloride etching method for making your own printed circuit boards.

Home DIY electronics projects can be a lot of fun for discovery and learning.  They can also be extremely useful for those  extra buttons and remote devices in your home.

What is even better, is being able sit the project components on a printed circuit board (PCB) that you also made yourself.

It is extremely satisfying seeing a finished DIY electronics project which looks so professional it could have just as easily come from the nearest electronics store.  Learning the skill of etching your own PCBs will help you obtain that same satisfaction in your home electronics projects too.

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Lithium Battery Destroys iPhone

February 17, 2014
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“I didn’t open the case.  It was found like this!  DIY dead I tell ya!”

dead-iPhone

Notice the curve on the circuit board as it was “stretched” by the puffing lithium battery.

Hardly a DIY project of my desire or making, but my iPhone definitely DIY destroy itself!

The battery of this iPhone 3 puffed up so much that it cracked open the phone case all by itself and bent, broke and destroyed the circuit board and connecting contacts inside.  The total movement caused by the puffing Lithium battery was approximately 3cm (ie: a bit over an inch).   Should I think myself lucky that there wasn’t a Lithium fire too?

This iPhone 3 was used in the workshop for listening to music.  It was used regularly and the battery was kept well charged most of the time.  It was approximately 2 years old.

This damage occurred over about a week when the phone was left in the cold.  Some mornings dropped to around minus -5C and it appears the Lithium battery discharged beyond it’s limits.  The Lithium battery was puffing like a blowfish!

Unfortunately, the battery had destroyed many internal connections.  The hold down screws in the corners of the PCB circuit board had snapped off.  Repair was simply not a feasible option.

The culprit. Knowing I had a payload of lost data on my hands unless involving exorbitant costs, I did pull the phone apart completely to see if there were any parts to salvage.  I also wanted to remove and dispose of the ailing battery properly.

The lesson in this is, be warned!  Check any phones or appliances that use Lithium batteries often.  Even more often in Winter.  Your ever trusty devices do have the potential to destroy themselves when left alone.

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