Sunday, March 28, 2010

Washroom & Laundry Room Build - Part 7 - Tin Knockers

11 months ago I did my last post on the build diary for the washroom and took a hiatus while I worked on outdoor projects in the summer. During that time I looked around for a Sheet Metal Worker (AKA Tin Knockers) to modify the HVAC ducting under the stairs to allow for more headroom. Most of the companies that I found in the yellow pages only worked on new projects and most did not want to go next to a retrofit. I had decided that I would undertake the job by myself even if it meant buying a few sheet metal tools. All I needed to get were the 90 degree elbows for the supply and return sections.

I located the supplier in Alberta and saw that Lowe's were their local distributor. A trip to Lowe's however confirmed the worst. Those pieces were only sold to the trade.... Then Andrew (from the plumbing department at Lowe's) put me in touch with Chris who was apprenticing as a Tin Knocker with a local builder and I finally got the work done...

Chris spent close to 3 hours yesterday and gave me exactly what I wanted.

Next step will be to frame in the alcove for the washer and dryer, complete the plumbing and finish the electrics.

Before: The ducts were almost 8 inches away from the bottom of the stairs 

After: A new 90 degree elbow and the existing 45's take the ducting close to the stairs.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Boxing Plain Air

Lynda plans to do some art workshops this summer and to do so, she would either have to carry her large easel into the field along with paints and sundry or she could get herself a 'Pochade Box'. A Pochade box (Pochade being French for 'quick sketch') is a small box that mounts directly onto a tripod and acts as an easel as well as storage for a wet palette and paints. En Plein Air or Plein Air is the act of painting outdoors or in the open.

Good quality Pochade boxes cost anywhere from 100 to upwards of 500 dollars. Really!! Someone must think that artists make money!!!!

I got a table top art kit from XSCargo for 19.99, which would normally be used on a smooth surface. The lid doubles as an easel with the paint storage on the opposite side of the painter. I completely dismantled the box and installed heavy duty brass hinges on the adjacent side. I reoriented the the lid stays so that the box would open to it's maximum at approximately 110 degrees. The base was reinforced with 1/4" MDF and I installed a 1/4"-20 T nut into the base. The tripod would then be affixed to this.

As a final touch I heat transferred Lynda's 70Popes logo on the lid such that it would be right side up in the open position.

Now all Lynda has to carry with her will be the Pochade box and a tripod.

Not exactly what I bought, but similar in structure.

The box on the tripod

The lid will serve to hold the canvas or art board

I've had to relinquish ownership of my tripod..... and my lovely Manfrotto head!!!

From the rear

Shot Full of Holes

Strictly a North American topic this, as we're plagued by the the inevitable 'qualified' cable and phone man who drills holes all around the house seeking the easiest means of ingress for their cable and phone services. My home was not spared and I had no less than 5 holes drilled around the house. More that the holes, was the amount of cable that snaked itself around the perimeter of the house. Most of these were redundant and I set about simplifying the method of ingress for current and future services to the house.

I decided to run a length of conduit from the outside of the house to the location of the distribution panel inside the house and then run cables along with a few spares for any future services.

Here are the tools and materials that I used for the job.

1" Conduit - 2 lengths - Courtesy of my cousin Karl
1" 90 & 45 degree bends - as required - Home Depot
1" junction box for the outside - Home Depot
PVC Adhesive - Home Depot
1 1/2" Bi-Metal Hole Saw - I have this
1 1/2" Carbide Grit Hole Saw - Lowe's

From the inside, I approximated the point of ingress and used the carbide hole saw to make the starter hole through the brick. I followed this up with the bi-metal hole saw to drill through the wood. An extender is required as the hole saw has to pass through one course of bricks and then through 3 inches of wood.

I then ran the conduit, cementing the necessary adapters in place to get the cables to where I wanted them to go. Sealed off the inside and outside holes with expanding foam and silicone respectively and anchored the conduit to the floor joists.

I ran three RG-6 cables, two to the Rogers box, one to the HDTV antenna and one Cat6 cable to the Bell box. The conduit itself has enough space for another three cables.  As it stands, the Cat6 and one RG-6 cable have no immediate function as a single RG-6 carries both the phone and the internet and could also carry cable if so desired at a later date.

Not my house, but my neighbors. It illustrates the kind of situation that I had as well. That's the Bell box on the main Hydro pole

The Rogers box mounted in another location

After - The Rogers box moved closer to the Hydro pole and the Bell box
The smaller box is the cable ingress.

From the inside. I got carried away with the expanding foam. This will all be covered when the headers have been insulated

The cables exiting before reentering the wall cavity. This part will be covered with a removable service panel

The conduit in the wall cavity. Will be sealed with drywall

Finally entering the service panel

DIY Selective Focus Lens

If you've ever seen photos from Selective Focus Lenses, you'd know what I'm talking about. Pictures where parts of the image even though in the same plane are completely blown out of focus. Sure you could go out and buy yourself a production lens. Lensbaby makes a range that start at USD 100+ for plastic optics and USD 300+ for glass optics. Canon and Nikon make Perspective control or Tilt-Shift that cost in the thousands. That's money better spent on other stuff. Besides..... where's the fun?????

I started off, as I always do, by trolling the Interwebs for information. There are a couple of ways of approaching a solution. The better of them involves getting your hands on a Medium Format Lens which even on the second hand market cost more than I was willing to spend. The other way to go is to use enlarger lenses and a quick search on Craigslist garnered me a complete enlarger replete with a 50mm and a 75 mm lens for CAD 40.00

I collected the unit yesterday and was really eager to kludge together the contraption. I say kludge, because this is exactly what I did. I harvested the lens mount with the bellows and pressed it against the SLR body to see what sort of images I would get. I threw the aperture wide open and set the shutter to 1/60 of a second and wished myself luck.

In the coming days, I will attach the bellows to a spare body cap and try to figure out a way to hold the lens in the desired position without requiring more that two hands for the entire process. I'm also looking for 105mm and 135mm lenses with M39 thread. Know of anyone who has these lying around?????

So here are the test shots, very Holga-esque complete with light leakage and everything. The images were shot around 5 in the evening of what was a very dull day. No post processing was attempted or done on any of the images.

First shot. Near the kitchen window. Tried to keep the nose in focus.

Our outdoor Chandelier. I tried to focus on the center spar

Christmas lights on the tree. The lights are all in the same plane, yet only the center light is in focus.

The hinge on my Garden Shed

This is with the 50mm lens. I had to go in really close, but I like the way it's filled the frame.
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