Sunday, 23 March 2014


Two things have occupied my technical time today. These were lighting up the shack, and making sure I can deal with it if the workshop catches light!

My workshop also doubles as much needed storage for the rest of the family, so one of my ongoing jobs is to improve this storage (or, as Julie puts it - 'tidy up'). Ive bought six plastic storage boxes today (stackable) to help with this. Part of the problem is I have lots of 'junk', otherwise known as salvaged equipment. These boxes will help me store such things as salvaged circuit boards, RF/Coax patch leads etc.

One of my obsessions is with fire safety. This stems from my earlier, childhood obsession - fire.

When I was younger, fire fascinated me. I would sit watching candles burning. I would also set fire to anything and everything, from dry grass, to cardboard boxes in the woods, to 'volcanos' made from weedkiller and sugar. But I soon came to realise that the real buzz from pyromania isnt destruction - its control. I learnt to respect, but also control fire. From this led to my unending interest in fire extinguishers. From a teenager I knew the classes, colour codes etc. I have already taught Sam how to control a fire, and soon will teach him how to extinguish one!

The workshop is a particular worry, due to the expensive electronic test gear, soldering irons, flammable solvents etc. The two choices are dry powder and CO2. Because of the risk of damage to the equipment, I opt for CO2. Today I finally put my extinguisher into its permanent  fixture on the wall, within very easy reach! (I have another CO2 for domestic use, plus a 1kg powder. I carry a 2kg powder extinguisher as part of my mobile set-up)

I need to go through a lot of the stuff I have and decide if I am ever really going to use it, and if not to dispose of it. Ive already stacked a load of casings/cabinets up to be recycled.

Onto the shack lighting. A strip of LED cool white self adhesive flexible lighting was cut and stuck tot he underside of the top shelf of the shack desk. I just need to solder on the power wires, add an on/off switch, and wire it up to either the shacks solar power system or the main PSU. This three foot strip of LEDs is bright enough to light up the whole desk and most of the rest of the shack.

As I share the shack with the rest of the family (Im in the corner!), and as I had bought the 5m long RGB LED strip just for a bit of a laugh, I also today ran this strip around the ceiling coving, attached the control box and held it in place with a couple of map pins, and ran it to a small 12v SMPSU. These LEDs are enough to light to whole room, and when all the LEDs are on it does in fact result in a general white illumination. But the real fun is with the control box and its little remote! The LEDs can be made to flash in RGB sequence, or to fade in and out all colours in all combinations, etc etc, and the speed or brightness can be adjusted. Ideal for a room the boys play in. I just need to lengthen the power cable and hide it in a bit of trunking.

I still have a fair bit of the cool white LED strip left, I think I will put this in the under stairs cupboard, along with a 7Ahr 12v SLAB and a microswitch on the door! It will make finding my next beer much easier!

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