Turtle tank filter

Today there’s a lot of posts of what I’ve made. :) I made a filter for our turtles’ tank. The previous filter, Sacem Marathon 2000 quit the job with a motor meltdown. That one circled 2000 l/h, but I wanted even more efficient filter and more filter material, because, you know, four turtles produce a lot of shit.

So I planned making a wet-dry sump filter. In this kind of filter, the water flows through an overflow box to a sump, which is on the floor (or lower than the water level in the tank anyway). There’s filter material in the sump. From the sump the water is pumped back to the tank.

Here’s a couple of pictures of the overflow box I made:

Overflow box 1

Overflow box 2

 Just type overflow box on google to get more information about their principle, if you don’t understand it from the pictures. This piece doesn’t look expensive, but actually cost me about 40 euros! The most expensive part was the clear pipe (25 e for a short stump) and pipe angles (about 6 euros each). I tried to make the overflow pipe of garden hose first, but this didn’t give enough flow. Those boxes are just breakfast serial containers. The piping going down to the sump was “borrowed” from my parent’s garage. They have piles of piping stuff (they used to be in that business).

The sump is made of a couple of storage boxes (with wheels under – WHOAAA! :)). Two of them just in case one of them leaks. The filter material is put in smaller storage boxes on whome I drilled lots of holes on the cover and bottom. The hose from the pump to the tank is supported right over the surface of the tank’s water, so that if there’s power cut or the pump breaks, the return hose won’t suck the tank empty. Here’s a picture:


Here’s the whole tank (I made that one too myself):


The turtles also have a ramp so they can walk on the floor any time they want. Usually they don’t, so we take them out of the tank every day for an hour or so and block the ramp so that they can’t climb right back. Basically only time they come on the floor voluntarily is when they are having eggs and they are looking for a place to dig them. Then they try to dig holes through the floor. If they do this in the summer, they can dig their eggs outside. In the winter the situation is more problematic. We have a big box full or dirt. Sometimes they dig their eggs there, sometimes not…

There’s also a level at the back of the tank where they can warm up under regular glow bulbs and a UV lamp.

Happy turtle – I hope:



Hippie guitar

I made this guitar a while back and actually it took a couple of years to finish. There was a long period of “idling” in the middle though, and finally, tired of looking at the half done guitar, I just finished it in a zap. First I bought a used Jackson Charvette guitar (looked pretty awful – somebody had painted a “nice” spider web thing on it) and took it apart. I painted the guitar with base paint and sanded it. I looked up 60’s spirited pictures from internet and printed them with a laser printer and then glued the pictures on the guitar. Finally I put clear plastic with glue on the other side on top of all (the same stuff that you use to cover books). Sounds simple but it took two years. :) The explanation is that I was going to look for more pictures for some empty spots, but because I never got around to it, I thought heck and just covered the guitar with the plastic… The empty spots don’t stand out much, since the base painting is black and white as are the pictures. Here’s a picture (this time it’s a bit bigger than my usual pictures, so that you can see at least some details):


Oh yes, and the guitar is ok to play. :)


Jimi Hendrix birthday cake

I made us a birthday cake, because it was my birthday recently. I make them always the same way (the best way): I bought a cake base from a grocery store, wetted each surface with peach juice (the juice that’s in a can of peaches… it’s mostly sugar water), put jam (strawberry is good and raspberry too), banana slices and peach slices on each layer. On top of all I put whipped cream (remember to put sugar in the cream). But this time I also made an especially nice decoration. I drew Jimi Hendrix’s face from a poster we have on paper and cut the “mask” off with scissors. Then I put the pieces on the cake and threw some nonpareils (colored sugar balls) on it. Then I picked the nonpareils off the mask and drew the pieces of paper carefully off. Here’s the poster:

Jimi poster

And here’s the cake:



About blues

Quite recently, by some influence of my friends, I’ve been introduced to the world of blues. We’ve been playing some too, even though some say you can’t play blues unless you’re black, fat, old and blind. This can’t be true because e.g. B.B. King, although black and fat and old, is not blind. And Johnny Lee Hooker was not fat nor blind. We are, however, non of those things. We are white, slim (well…), young (about 30 and less…) and we still see fine (I have glasses, though).

I have a funny story about B.B. King. A former colleague of mine, a physicist (I’m saying former, because I’m not working in that field anymore), was waiting for a visiting researcher with a friend of his, who is also a physicist, on Helsinki’s airport. A fat black man walked by and caught my colleague’s eye. He told his friend “hey, that man looked a lot like B.B. King”. Taking into consideration that it’s a bit odd to see B.B. King walking by in Finland, you may think that this is another white guy who thinks every fat black man is B.B. King. BUT a short while later, more fat black men walked by and they had a text “B.B. King” on their arms. So he WAS B.B. King.

Blues is flexible. Some are purists and just stick to the tradition (worst case of this when some bands just play the scale over and over again, basically creating songs which all sound similar). Some may be very good at it, but this doesn’t interest me, because of the lack of variation, except when done by Johnny Lee Hooker. Johnny Lee Hooker. He can say any shit he wants and it always sounds good. (I’m using present tense, although I know he’s dead. But he’s also alive, you know, through his music.) If I’d sing: “I heard my papa tell my mama, let that boy boogie woogie”, they’d laugh at me. But when Johnny Lee Hooker says it, the listener thinks: “YEAH! LET THAT BOY BOOGIE!” Boom Boom Boom. That’s street credibility at maximum.

The lyrics in blues songs are usually nothing special, but that’s their brilliance. It’s the beat and feeling that counts. If you listen to the lyrics with a critical ear, they sometimes sound even quite funny. In one song, by B.B. King and Johnny Lee Hooker playing together, they complained that this woman tore up their family by seducing them (they were singing as the man in this story). As if it was the woman’s fault :) But they were so serious about it that the listener feels sorry for them. In another song (I haven’t heard this one, but heard the story from my friend) B.B. King sang a duetto with a lady singer. B.B. King was married to the lady singer, his “wife”. The “wife” was complaining about something to the “husband”. The husband kept telling all the things he had done and sacrificed during their long marriage, but the wife kept knocking out his arguments, one by one. Finally, in the climax of the song, B.B. King howled in pain: “BUT I GAVE YOU SEVEN CHILDREN!” That was his final and strongest argument. HE gave HER the children :) A lot of this blues thing seems to be testosterone oozing dirty old men’s world. That’s fine by me. Although I consider myself a modern man, I still sometimes need that testosterone feeling.

Back to the flexibility. Blues has developed into a lot of things. The Yardbirds still sounded like a mixture of blues and psychedelic rock, but the yardbirds’ “chick”, Led Zeppelin, was considered the first heavy metal band. (Wonder if heavy metal got it’s name from “led”…)

Btw we thought that our band’s name should be “Led Light” (not sure if the other members of our band know about this). I and my wife gave us blues names, too. I am Papa Blues (guitar, vocals). My wife is Mrs. Hippy Mississippi (drums, vocals). The other members are Mojo Hand (guitar), Voodoo Daddy (metaphysical things, drums, guitar and vocals) and Sweet Lips Wookie Man (metaphysical things, harmonica; he has a beard, that’s why “wookie”).


Yet another “silent” computer project

There are probably thousands of computer case related stories out there and here’s another one, because I feel like writing and nothing better worth of reporting came to my mind.

My previous computer (which I still have on my table, on the other side of the monitor :) ), was loud as hell. It was put together in the era of computing (early years of this millennium) when only number crushing power was important and noise levels could be insanely high. The main noise sources were the processor fan (the processor is an originally 1.7 GHz Athlon overclocked to 1.9 GHz) and the cheap power source. I still use that computer to burn my CDs and DVDs, because I have my… Oh yes, I haven’t mentioned about that either: I made an accounting program and I sell it: So I have my tools and sources to make those accounting program CDs on that computer. I also use it as a file backup device (some of my old IDE drives are on that computer). And If I’ll ever do some network programming, I need it for that, too.

Like so many others I got fed up with the WWWWWWWOOOOSHHHH. So the next thing I wanted was a completely silent computer. Bought expensive parts. The mother board (Asus M2N-SLI Deluxe) and graphics card (cheap Geforce 6200 card) are passively cooled. A 500W power source (Antec Phantom) is passively cooled when it’s cool enough (the fan wakes up sometimes, but I’ve got it on the lowest temperature setting). I also bought a generously sized copper processor cooler (SilverStone) with three heat pipes. The manufacturer stated that it could be also used as passive cooler. The processor is AMD 64bit X2 (double core).

But when the parts arrived I noticed that I had bough a cooler which is not compatible with the processor slot of my mother board. Damn. I had to make an adapter. But there was no way I could have the cooler in it’s most favourable orientation for passive cooling, which is so that the air could travel vertically through the slots between the cooling fins. Well, maybe I could have, but it would have been hard. I thought that there’s no guarantee anyway whether the cooling could be completely passive, so it wasn’t worth the trouble. Besides the cooler would have been too close to the power source. So, I pointed the fins towards the back wall of the case. This way I could put a case fan to cool the processor if the passive cooling wouldn’t work.

Here are the adapters:

The adapters

They are the aluminium parts between the motherboard and cooler. The picture should be self-explanatory.

Ok. I was ready to measure the temperatures. First, just to make sure, the processor wouldn’t cook, I pointed a table fan towards the cooler. Then I installed the operating system (Windows Server 2003). I had a bit of trouble finding a suitable software to do temperature measuments. Motherboard Monitor didn’t work on Windows Server 2003, but Speedfan did. I downloaded CPU Burn-in to stress test the CPU. I ran two of those to get full 100% of the both processor cores. But things didn’t work out. The temperatures went too high. I reached 70C when I wasn’t paying attention at some point! Luckily the processor didn’t suffer. So I needed a fan. I searched the web and ordered Noctua’s 120 mm NF-S12-1200. This is as quiet as they come.

I dry tested the fan without attaching it to the case, but instead to the processor cooler (some tape and a paper clip was needed). Much of the air went by the cooler, because the fan is huge. I measured the temperatures and the result was: 56-59C, the mean being about 58 degrees Celsius. Still quite high.

Then I mounted the fan to the back wall of the case:

 The fan at the back

Perfect fit :) I cut a fan size hole in the back. I didn’t settle for drilling a few small holes for air intake, because I didn’t want anything to block the air or cause turbulence (and noise) near the fan blades. I have to be a little bit carefull when I’m doing something behind the computer in order not to stick anything to the fan, but you don’t really have do something behind the machine so often, so it’s not a problem.

Then I made guides to channel air to the cooler as effectively as possible:

Air guides

Air guides from beneath

Some sheet metal, rivets and tape was needed for this stage. I measured the temperatures again: 52-54C, the mean 53C. This was with the fan at 70% speed of the maximum which is 1200 RPM and both processor cores at full 100%, of course. At this speed the fan is almost completely silent even when the side panel of the case is open. Actually the side panels have been open for about two months now. I never finish up anything :(

Problems: the hiss of the hard drive is now bothering me. Also the fan of the power source wakes up sometimes. I’ve decided that I need sound insulation on the walls of the case. That’s up in the programme next.


UPDATE 19.03.2007:

 I finally finished the computer. I bought some sound insulation material from a hardware store and insulated the side walls and bottom of the case with it. When I closed up the case (up till now the side walls had been open), the temperature of the processor rose. I had to put the fan to 100% speed which of course is a big louder. However, thanks to the sound insulation the overall noise is a bit lower. It would be sweet though if I could still keep the fan at 70%… It’s a pity that the motherboard doesn’t have automatic speed adjustment for the fan. I’ve already been looking at water cooling systems. Oh, dear… when is it going to end?


How old is the school?

I don’t know exactly. The site has been “separated” (I don’t know this legal term in English. What is “erottaa tontti” in English?) in 1924. There are, however, some other, contradictionary clues to the age of the building. There’s a writing on the wall at one place: “This is going to be a fine school, 1910″ and the signature of the builder. But we found a board where it has a year 1906 on it. But the oldest piece of goods found in the house was a piece of newspaper from year 1886 which I found a couple of weeks ago in the floor’s insulation moss. But it could be that the paper was old already when it got among the moss. Here’s the picture of the paper.

The newspaper from 1886

The paper is called Suometar (Lady Finn or Ms. Finn or Virgin Finn – Female Finn, you get the idea?). There’s at least a story of a Finn who died abroad in a steam ship’s explosion. I’ve found other paper’s, too. On top of the moss there’s a layer of cutter chips (also a common insulation material) and among it I’ve found several papers from the late 40’s, just after the war. My favorite stories in these papers are the small ads sections. There was one ad where a man had “forgotten” a shotgun in a train and promised a reward for the one who would return the gun. Who just “forgets” a shotgun in a train? I suspect that he was a bit drunk, dozed off and woke up at the station, ran off the train and THEN realized he had forgotten the gun. You see people like that on the trains all the time nowadays, too. Maybe without guns, though.

There was also an ad where a reward was promised for a missing white cat who ran away in a park. After you read this kind of ad, you become immediately worried. This was probably an old lonely lady who’s tired of the war and whose relatives are dead. Her only comfort is a that cat. She’s poor but still she spent a large sum of money to place an ad to find her cat. Did she find the cat? I hope so. It amazes me how people, after having to fear for themselves, their relatives and their country men for many years in the war, still have strenght to worry about their cats.

That’s just one example of layers I’ve found in the house. The cutter chips were added when the floor was renovated in the late 40’s. It seems that the school has undergone a big renovation then. The roof tiles, for example, have been laid on newspapers when they were cast. So, you can see text behind the tiles. I found a year from one of the tiles and that was from the late 40’s, too. Under the tiles there’s an old roofing felt, apparently older than the tiles.

My wife just kindly hinted me that I should write something of her too. Well, she’s a nice person, very beautiful and I love her a lot. She’s a teacher at a children’s art school here in Oulu, Finland.


The House

Now finally about the house. We are fixing an old timber school to be our home. We bought it in the spring 2003. The roof has leaked, there was a fire in the early 90’s, and there’s water damage from frozen and broken pipings as well as from fire fighting water. Some of the lowest timbers and the corners under leaking roof were rotten. Here’s how it looked like in summer 2005:

The school in summer 2005

A lot had been done by the time of the picture. We had scraped of the old paint from many places and painted the walls. Most of the rotten timber had been replaced. Most windows had been renovated. The roof had been washed (that was hard: about 4 weeks on the roof in a tiring position with a pressure washer) and the almost all tiles had been painted (that was even harder than washing them). I had made new foundation rocks for the new part of the house with a gas driven rock drill (made you feel like a man as the drill was almost as high as I was and made a pretty loud noise). The floors had been opened and new boards placed under the floor (I had to adjust those last autumn). Almost all fire places’ (there are 7 in total) foundations had been surrounded with concrete (there were rocks before). New supports were made under the floor. In the picture you see the signs of the fire: black areas on the right. The white timber in the corner is the replacement of the rotten timber: that’s were the roof had leaked. The wall on the other side of the roof had similar damage: it’s been fixed there, now. The roof is nicely blue :)

 This is how the house looks like now:

The house in summer 2006

The new part has a roof on it :) Inside doesn’t look as good…

Inside summer 2006

…but we are getting there. Slowly. It looks a bit better now that I’ve finished the wall on the right side of the ovens and cleaned a bit.

 This is our life too. Our turtles Tinttu, Tanttu, Leevi and Ralph spend sometimes some time on the construction site. They have a nice pool at my parents’ house on the other side of Siikajoki (Siika river), but the place on the construction site where this little “pool” is, is very warm and there’s plenty of dirt to dig eggs into (they are impossible when they’re having eggs if they can’t dig them somewhere).

The turtles on the construction site

Here’s one more picture for now:


That’s a tractor we borrowed from our neighbour to do some yard work. It’s a Nuffield tractor. That tractor had ‘nuf power (are you guessing where this site got its name?).


Home-made table saw

I was going to post this when my table saw is completely finished, but it seems like it’s going to take a while, still (the usual story). So here it is.

As the title says, I made a table saw. I bought a 3kW electric motor from a junk yard for 50 euros (I looked around and this one was the cheapest. I thought it was expensive, but these junk yard people seem to be price-conscious). This was to drive my saw, of course.

I wanted to make the saw belt-driven. There’s an axle on top of the motor which has opposite screw threads on each end (Machining these cost me 40 euros! The 40cm long and 30mm thick axle steel bar cost 17 euros.), so I can put some other tool to the other end. The motor is driving the axle with a belt and is hanging from axle by the belt so there’s always tension on the belt. The motor is 700rpm, so I needed a big belt wheel on the axle of the motor. Those cost sky-high new, so I ended up making both belt wheels myself of thick veneer. I sawed pretty rough circle shapes of the veneer first. I attached pairs of these circle shapes together with bolts and nuts. To the other piece I bored diagonal holes on equally spaced spots from the surface of the wheel to the centre hole and put bolts through the holes and nuts on the centre hole side. I was thus able to tighten the wheel against the axle. See the pictures below, the explanation is fuzzy.

Then I attached the axle by the bearings (about 7-8 euros each) to a plank and clamped an electric drill with a piece of water hose and water hose clamps to the other end of the axle. I attached the drill to the plank with some nails (which were hammered to the plank and bent around the drill) and Jesus tape (btw it’s called Jesus tape, because it can do miracles). I was now able to spin the axle and turn the veneer wheels I had attached to the axle with chisels. Oh yeah, and I also put those veneer wheels to each end of the axle, so that I could clamp tools against them with big M30 nuts. So I also turned those side surfaces as even as I could. I couldn’t get those surfaces perfect because veneer is a hard but also a bit springy and I had trouble holding the chisel still while turning. I will put some fiberglass cement on those surfaces later and get them perfect (I think fiberglass cement is easier to machine but hard enough to stand the pressure of the clamped tools). Now I had the axle ready with the belt wheel, tool holders and bearings on it.

Then I made the belt wheel to the motor with a similar technique, but instead of using a drill to spin the wheel I put the wheel on the motor’s axle and powered the motor. Then I made the table. The structure is basically made of 5x15cm planks. I had found a nice table top from a kinder garden repairs site so I hinged that on the table so that it could be lifted nicely. The tool axle is screwed to a bed which is hinged from the other end to the table and can be lifted and lowered with a threaded bar from the other end. The motor is lying on a bed, similarly hinged to the table from the other end and is hanging by the belt from the axle above. I put a “side table” on the other side of the table, under the other end of the tool axle.

Things still to do:

-Switch! Heh heh! :)

-Blade guards! Muhahaah!! :D This is one dangerous machine!

-All kinds of guides. At the moment I’ve just clamped temporary guides to the table when I’ve had to do something. It’s pretty clumsy.

-At the moment the table has just one threaded bar to lift and lower the saw blade, but it doesn’t hold it down. When just sawing, this is not a problem because the motor is very heavy and holds the blade axle down effectively. But I noticed that I need two more bars to hold the tool axle still if I put a highly eccentric tool on the axle (yes, I have done that – see below – and I am not crazy… at least I think so).

The saw:
img_0518-500.jpg You can see the side table and the other end of the tool axle here. The end of the tool axle is covered with a temporary guard(paint can).

The insides:
img_0505-500.jpg The table top is lifted. You can see the axle and the bed on which the axle is lying.

The Blade lifting mechanism:
img_0519-500.jpg Here’s the threaded bar which lifts the tool axle bed. I’m going to put a handle for easy spinning on that bar some day and also two more clamping bars in those holes you can see there… some day.

A closer look on the insides:
img_0511-500.jpg At each end there are the tool holders. You can clamp tools against those holders with nuts. Next to them are the bearings. In the middle is the belt wheel. The motor is hanging by the belt from that.

The motor’s belt wheel:
img_0516-500.jpg Ok, here’s some damage. The blade got stuck one time and a bolt holding the wheel on the axle was bent. But… It held. And at least if the system breaks down some day, it’s probably this wheel that’s going to come loose. Better than the saw blade, right? :)

DIY tool:
img_0515-500.jpg Here comes THE dangerous part :) I needed a tool to cut a couple of hundred decorational bevellings. So I made the tool myself. It’s made of 5mm thick iron plate and the parts are shaped with an angle grinder. Of course it became highly eccentric and made the tool axle bed and the table itself shake terribly. At this point I was glad that I made a heavy table. A lighter table would have become a traveller. I tried to tie down the tool axle bed with a rope but it wore off (it was thick rope with multiple turns). I finally hammered the bed down with nails. It was pretty scary device though, I tell you. The fact that I had no switch made it even more exciting. The shaking loosed the nut holding tool in place and I had to tighten it time to time. The problem was that the cable was plugged on the other side of the presumptional trajectory of the loosened tool parts… I put a plywood sheet on the way of the trajectory and made my way to the cable in the protection of that every time I heard scary noises coming of the saw.

The finished product:
img_0523-500.jpg In the end it paid off. Making of the tool, tuning the system and making the bevellings took about a day and a half, but still it was a lot easier than making all those bevellings by hand.

And painted:

img_1198-500.jpg Quite nice.

Was it worth it? I don’t know yet, because the saw is not ready yet :) I have big plans for the saw. I’m going to make lots of wonderful things with it. It took about 3 weekends to make the saw to this point and a lot of planning and hunting down the parts (the motor, mainly). The parts came to cost about 400 euros, so the saw was not cheap. But on the other hand I’m fantasizing that when I’ll present people all the wonderful things I will make with it some day, it’ll raise some eyebrows when I’ll tell them that I also made the tool to make them. How do you put a price on status?


Autumn trip

See the pictures of my and my friends’ trip to Korouoma, Posio, Finland.


Humane mouse trap

We were watching tv in our parents house and then we saw it. Mickey. Fievel. It ran behind the tv shelf. My wife tried to scare it from the other side and I was lurking on the other, planning to throw a cloth on it. No luck. We went on to watching tv and speculated that it surely would meet its end when my parents came back from abroad. My wife screamed: “There it is!” I jumped up, but before I could move, it was behind the couch we were sitting on. “Come on, come here”, I whispered to it on all fours, trying to locate the rodent. Blah. I stood up and then it ran again. I was right next to it and before I had the thought, it was behind the desk. Ok, it was way too fast for me. I browsed to google and typed “humane mouse trap” (humane, because I like animals – even mice). The first link was to this excellent site. I followed the intructions on the page and made this trap:

The trap(click to enlarge)

As you can see, the trap is simple. You have a bowl upside down on top of some kind of rigid plate (cardboard in my trap). You make a stick with a 90 degree angle on it (I re-enforced the stick with tape and a nail) and stick a piece of cheese to the other end of it. Then you support the bowl with the stick as the image illustrates.

It was time for bed by that time and I went ahead. My wife was to follow me right after. She put something in the trash can and mouse jumped out of it on the floor and ran away! She screamed and then laughed :) We put the lights off and talked about the mouse a couple of minutes. Then we heard a slam as the bowl went down. I took a peek and there it was! We went back to bed dreaming mouse dreams and in the morning took the mouse a good distance away from the house (about 300m/yrds is quite enough since the territory of mice extends about 200m).

Mouse underneath  Mouse underneath #2 It’s quite cute.

See how fast the mouse was: We took pictures of the mouse’s departure with fast successive shots, three pictures a second.

Zero... 0 sec

One... 0.33 sec

Two... 0.66 sec

 I became a great fan of this trap: it’s clean (no blood and guts sprayed all over as with regular traps) and it’s humane (sometimes in regular traps the trap recoils because of the spring force, catching the mouse only by nose or something, and the mouse dies a long and agonizing death).

I guess the mouse was pretty pissed at us taking it outside to cold autumn weather. But I’m easing my conscience by thinking that if it knew that we probably saved its life (until an owl or cat gets it), it would be thankful. Besides, at least it had a belly full of cheese when it left us (it ate the whole bate).