Photography - Time lapse caterpillars

My old phone's camera didn't quite behave as it should have.

Each time it went on to the charge cycle it would shut down the camera.

I did manage to get some photos, although I haven't yet explored ways to knit the individual photo's into a video stream.

I had plans of rigging the phone to the back of the boat for my epic Murray River adventure, and adding as large a memory card as I could.

That way I hoped to be able to catch the entire journey, how ever long it might turn out to be.

I think I'll still want to do something along those lines, but now I might have to buy a purpose built device to achieve the same thing.

It's a shame my little test run didn't work, because in the end the caterpillars started to do the transition thing.

It's not very clear because they moved too close to the lens, but they have started to lay down silk to make somewhere to live while they become whatever it is they are going to become.

120 Things in 20 years - Making the sacrifice of wearing dirty clothes, so that the reader might enjoy failed, but shake free, caterpillar time lapse photography, foolishly set up on top of the washing machine.

Aquaponics - Salts

Here's something you don't see every day.

Unless you live at my house.

Adelaide water is internationally famous for being not very wet. In fact it's so dry we tend to convert it into beer and wine, where dryness can be considered an advantage.

It's full of salt and smells a bit like swimming pool water until you filter it through a brewery or vineyard because to make it slightly safer, they (in this case the "they" that is the water authority) add a generous helping of pleasant smelling chemicals.


Interestingly when you distil or evaporate something, you only take the volatile chemicals up in the evaporation, and you leave behind the salts.

These are salt crystals growing on the clay ball media. They grow on the very top of only the top-most clay balls in the grow bed, and only when conditions are right.

I don't know what the right conditions are, but it's a safe thing to report, because crystals cant grow when conditions are wrong.

I'm going to add that to my short list of things you can say and not be wrong.

They taste of things carbonate, with a hint of things from my school science lab. Fairly neutral in flavour with nothing standing out that I can identify.

120 Things in 20 years, where we learn that, like store bought strawberries, spontaneously appearing chemicals in the form of aquaponics salts, taste less interesting than they look.

Photography - Time lapse

Ages ago, the nice young lady we know who swapped her iPhone for my home made burger, gave me her old phone. She didn't need it any more because she had just signed up for the iPhone.

Today I discovered a very cool function on the old phone. It turns out you can set it to take six photos with however long a pause you desire between each pic. It says that if you hold the button down it will keep taking photos until the memory runs out.

I plugged it into the charger so it wouldn't run out of power, stuck a 4gig memory card in, set it to take photos every 5 minutes for a few days, and then thought about how tired I'd get holding down the button.

The result was a cable-tie, and a toothpick, to jury-rig a finger.

Now I have to wait 35 minutes to see if it's still taking photos after the first 6 that happen automatically. I wish the people who went to all the trouble of making such a cool function would have considered how much better having a "run forever" option might have been without the user having to invent a fake finger.

Nobody can hold a camera still for more than a 30th of a second. Never mind 7 days.

So for a subject, I thought I'd drop two big fat caterpillars, and a capsicum leaf into a jar, and see if I can catch them turning into whatever it is they turn into.

If all goes well with this test, I'll need to figure out a way to knit the images together into a movie.

When that works, I have bigger and better plans, but for now...I wait.

All the fun of waiting for live, time lapse photography, here at 120 things in 20 years

Movie watcher and critic - Adventure in Iraq

Why read your kid's bedtime stories when you can pretend this happened to you. It's not as if they will ever watch the movie and catch you out.

I'm guessing it was made in the late 40's.

Adventure in Iraq

Set in what seems like early world war two, middle eastern desert country (that looks a bit like california with pine trees, eucalypts, walnut trees and so forth), three people in a light aircraft go down in Iraq and find themselves captured by a local tribe of devil worshippers.
The planes radio is busted.
The boss devil guy has an English butler and a two way radio.
The locals want to kill all three of our heroes, because the bosses three brothers are about to be hung by the allied forces.
One night they take the valves out of the stereo in the bosses lounge room, and stroll back to the plane where they replace the valves and call the pilots buddies in the airforce.
The pilot and the woman surrender and get recaptured and the other guy gets shot and killed. 

Just before dying he tells the boss devil worshipper guy that he didn't make the call. 
The boss is quite happy.
Just as the two remaining heroes are torn between getting hung, or marring the devil worshipper boss (on her part), and just getting hung (on his part), some pilots land in biplanes and say "let them go".
The boss says "no".
They get on the hand held radio in a room surrounded by the heavily armed boss's men,  and call in a bomb strike to a nearby ditch.
The boss still says no.
They call in another bomb run a bit closer.
The boss says "Ok ok!" and lets them both go.
They fly away to safety.
----------------------------The minute and a half worth of plot and dialogue really drags on for what feels ages, making time seem to grind to a halt. Given every minute alive is a good minute, this movie makes 60 of them seem like 160. If you watched this a few thousand times, it would feel like you were living for ever. 

Immortality for the price of broadband.
1.2 out of 10
Definitely worth a look.

At 120 things in 20 years, as a movie watcher and critic, I watch things like "Adventure in Iraq", so you don't have to.

Aquaponics - Bucket tomato

I had a pair of tomato plants a while ago that I decided needed to be uprooted so that I might rebuild my system, and rearrange my grow beds. Mainly, they had to go because they were using the grow house for support, and the grow house had to be moved.

They didn't like it.

In fact I would go so far as to say they didn't like me.

I had to cut them free of the grow house, and the bits that were still in tact were all snapped and bent and generally looking more like tangled green string than a tomato plant, so I pruned them back to almost nothing but the thick base stems with a root ball attached.

Healthy looking no?


Actually that photo misrepresents, because that photo was taken today, but framed to look like its from the past so that later when I show you the "after" shots, these "before" shots will look pitiful in comparison.

Nobody will know.

I put them in a bucket of running system water instead of composting them, because I figured it might be worth keeping what was left of the impressive root ball they had developed, and try to make use of it to get a head start on what I would have had if I planted some new seeds.

Most of the root ball was left in the grow bed, and what was saved looks like it's slowly looking for a nice place to sit and turn to compost.

I think that's why my once cared for plants didn't seem to like me any more.

But it turned out to be a bit of a success after all...

It's later, and they seem to be beginning to get the hang of it.

Which is nice.

It seems a little strange to me that they should be growing roots in the air, but I'm guessing they think it's a little strange that they should be living in a bucket of water, so clearly convention has gone out the window, and it's time to have a go, and see what happens.

Not only are there new air-roots, but there are even some nice, fresh, new, under water roots that I hadn't noticed.  

In fact, the reason I noticed them at all was that I saw them growing out of the hole in the side of the bucket to let the water out.

Sometimes it pays to get a bit ill and turn your back on your system for a few days.

I think the thing runs better without me.

There's fresh growth up at the top end as well.

Plenty of it, and even a stack of tiny clusters of flowers.

And this!

Huge isn't it!

Its amazing what you can grow in a bucket with running water while you're sick in bed.

Keep in mind, there is no media in the bucket, just water and roots.

I for one am impressed with my ability to grow tomatoes, but we middle aged men tend to think that about our tomato growing skills for some reason. If you know a middle aged guy, who lives in suburbia, you know it's true.

Tomatoes. (it's because all they need is too much of everything water, fertilizer, heat, sun. Too much of it all, and everything works just fine. I'm willing to bet that if a study were ever done, tomatoes would turn out to like too much beer as well)

But still - not bad, me.

I'm also slightly impressed with the universe and all the strange stuff it can do.

Not bad, universe.

Actually, my tomato was nearly the size of a large grape, was totally flat on the other side except for a large yellow crack running from top to bottom, was split, crackly, and charred looking on the bottom, where not only was it full of holes,  but where it had an entire civilization of something living in those holes.

My first 120 Things in 20 years, aquaponics water bucket tomato was delicious, and today I found a radish in my pocket that I'm pretty sure I didn't put there. (no civilisations were harmed in the eating of this tomato)

Also, it's "be nice to your mum week" because, if she's like my mum, she just got out of hospital.

I got her a radish as a gift, but it's a surprise.

I realise its not a surprise to my mum because she will see this, but it was a surprise to me, so it still qualifies.

Get well soon mum.

Solar voltaics - turning a 24 volt panel into 2 x 12 volt panels

Before I begin, I should mention that I have a fever of 39.86c and I estimate there is a 80% chance of anything I say being total nonsense.

Including that estimation.

Actually, on giving it more thought, I've decided to go and do some serious vomiting instead of blogging...

OK that was truly horrible....

When I was a kid, I had a fever high enough that (I'm told) I developed blisters on the tips of each finger that looked like an extra finger joint.

It cost me a kidney.

So I think what I might do instead of blogging, is pack a bag for hospital and call an ambulance before I run out of kidneys.

So if you don't hear from me, I'm probably either dead, or in hospital. (But I have an iPhone now, so if you don't hear from me it really means I'm probably dead.

But I wont be dead.

So far I never get dead.

Solar voltaics - My $50 230 watt solar panel works

So I finally got around to unwrapping my solar panel from it's travel blanket, and tested it with the multi-metre.

It looks like this.

It's leaning against my aquaponics growhouse.

It's big.

If you look closely in the pic above, you can see the glass is shattered.

That's why I got it for $50.

It looks like this in the bottom left hand corner.

From the way it shattered, I'd guess it's tempered glass. That means to replace it will cost around $200, and it will be heavy.

I want it light to go on my boat, so I dont think I'll be using glass.

One option would be to just pour epoxy resin all over it and fill in the gaps to water proof it, but the weight is a bit of an issue. Another is just a sheet of plastic. My boat is small, and isn't meant to be carrying anything other than one person. I plan on either one or two people, a stack of gear, a motor, and this solar panel an aquaponics system, and perhaps a grow house. I'll also need a way to keep any fish I catch alive, so some kind of live well will be required. Otherwise I'll need to catch a fish for each meal on demand. I hate pressure, and I hate being hungry,, so being able to catch some fish when they are plentiful, and save them for a day or two will be a really useful thing. It will also be easy enough to do given how much water I'll have all around me. There should also be enough power left over at the end of the day for an air supply, and perhaps a bit of lighting.

I dont really know how much my motor will use, but I'll do some tests in a bucket of water soon, and find out. If there is enough power saved to the battery during the day, I might even get a few extra hours of cruising early morning or into the evening.

Who knows.

I cant work such stuff out, so only tests will tell.

The best news in that my low cost solar panel works.

I guess I can call that a success.

at 120 thing in 20 years when taking risks on buying broken stuff at auction, I have a 100% success rate so far with solar voltaics, and discovering my $50 230 watt solar panel works.

Thinking - Opps

Oh, and I'll try to fix that and post more of what's going on.

Thinking - How many words are in a human

I have a feeling each of us has only so many words in them each week.

Get too many words out, and there's no more to put on your blog.

Lately I've been very involved in the community aspects of all the forums I'm a member of to do all the research I do. Instead of unloading my head here, I've been unloading my head in the forum space.

For some reason I think everyone is connected to everyone else and always know what everyone is saying so it doesn't matter where one says it.

It turns out it does.

Looking back over the dates of my posts, I see I havnt really posted a lot, even though a lot has been going on.

This leads me to believe that there are only so many words in everybody's head. Use them all up somewhere, and you have none left for anywhere else.

120 Things in 20 years - Thinking - How many words are in a human. I got nothing.

Epic adventurer - Communications and remote blogging

A while ago a nice young lady we know sent a text message saying she would swap her iPhone for a home made burger.

I made her a burger.

Mrs. 120 Things in 20 years got that one, but now, some absurdly nice people from decided they would give me an iPhone so I could blog my epic Murray River adventure whenever I passed a town with mobile coverage.

They didn't didnt even ask that I mention them in my blog, so...

Thanks universe.

And sometimes, even though it was my burger that got the first one, it pays to hold out for the later version :)

Now my karmic credit must be running on empty so I'm off to help old people get safely across roads or something.

120 Things in 20 years - Epic adventurer - Communications and remote blogging, I got a free iPhone!

Aquaponics - Colander feeder success

Well that was easy.

Not that it was ever expected to be difficult, but the fish found the food within a few hours of swimming endlessly in circles.

Fish are so smart.

I've already started to raise the feeder up each time I feed them so that eventually I can add feed directly from the surface without having to lift the colander.

If I feed from the surface with the colander at depth, the feeds blows away in the current before it reaches the sheltered waters of the strainer, and then gets sucked into the outlet before the fish even see it.

The colander will also allow me to trap any fish I choose with minimum fuss and stress. All I'll have to do is lift it to the surface when my chosen fish is in and it will be caught.

It will also serve as a measuring device as I can stick a stainless steel ruler in it to compare fish to each time they enter.

Is there anything a stainless steel colander cant do?

I also replaced the PVC hide for the little one, but this time I cut the sides so it stands on legs, and raises the walls up off the ground so solids cant collect.

120 Things in 20 years is one of the few places on the net where you might hear someone banging on about an aquaponics, colander feeder success.

Aquaponics - Colander feeder

One of the requirements for a SLO (solids lifting overflow) is that you need to concentrate the fish solids with a whirl pool.

One of the issues with making a whirl pool in my fish tank is that it's a cube.

I found by pointing the powerhead, I can make the solids collect where I want, but the result is that any feed I put in tends to be removed as soon as it hits the bottom before the fish get at it.

I figured I needed something to hold the food off the bottom until the fish eat it, so I made use of a large kitchen colander.

I hung it by three strings, and then tied an extra string in a loose loop around the three.

That's the three strings going off to the right, and the loose loop going off to the left.

The result is I can pull the thing up to the surface and to the side by pulling on the loose loop to add the feed.

Then I can just let the thing go to slowly drift back to the centre, where it remains suspended a few inches off the bottom.

I found that anything sitting on the bottom was collecting solids so I keep it high enough to allow a free flow under and around it.

The result is any solids can go straight into the SLO and to the grow bed, but any food hangs around until it's eaten.

The other result is that it's driving my fish crazy as they can smell the food, but haven't quite got the hang of going over the top rather than trying to eat it through the holes in the strainer.

My new 120 things in 20 years, Aquaponics - Colander feeder fish frustrating catch cry is "They'll figure it out".

Aquaponics - My first spinach*

I harvested the first produce from my new grow bed today.

It's some absurdly healthy spinach*.

It looks like this. And if not for the fact that I used my kitchen door for scale, and you cant tell how big it is, you'd be able to see that it's big.

It's also really, really green. I've never seen spinach* look so good.

I harvested a hat full, but even then you cant tell how big it is, because that's a really big hat.

The biggest non-sombrero hat I've ever seen.

My spinach* is really big.

And really green.

Really really green.

I've also had hundreds of baby carrots.

There they are.

Hundreds of them.

They look like this up close.

Not so big.

Things seem to be growing well in the new constant flood grow beds.

*or silver beet

Wearing a hat filled with spinach* from your first harvest from a new grow beds is a good way to get a seat on a bus. In fact as my first ever 120 Things in 20 years public transport tip, I would say its a good way to empty a bus.

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