July to December 2014
If you have looked in on this site from time to time you will probably have noticed a drop off in activity during 2014. It's been one of those years where life, health and work has completely overwhelmed me and I haven't had the time or energy to keep up with regular posts. Hopefully things will change in 2015.
Wood Burning Stove Installation
Unfortunately in England we can't just research and fit heating appliances ourselves, we are burdened with lots of regulation and the need to notify the work to the Local building control department. As I am not a registered competent installer that can notify installations it has meant I have had to draw up plans and submit them to the Local Building Control for approval to carry out the work, and they have visited to check the installation. The plans were drawn up using Draftsight a free to use 2D CAD program, with the 3D details of the register plate and and termination being done in Blender with a Freestyle edge render.
Typically for a small building job this presented no end of unforeseen problems. The first one being the chimney, when I went onto the roof to change the chimney pot I discovered the mortar at the top of the stack had broken down and the bricks could be simply lifted off the stack. Rather than just a few bricks the top five courses had to come down and be rebuilt, I will re-point the lower bricks which were still well bonded together in the spring. In the lounge the fireplace was also much more difficult to open up, what I expected to be rubble filled turned out to be fully keyed solid brickwork. Every brick put up a fight and took much longer to knock out than expected. On the plus side when the opening was knocked out the brickwork above remained self supported making it an easy job to fit the new lintel. Fortunately the stainless steel chimney liner was an easy install just needing me tie a rope onto it and feed it into the chimney pot at the top. My wife encourage it through the chimney offset's by pulling the rope from the fireplace opening.
Finishing off went much easier, though I haven't plastered for quite a while, it is very rewarding still being able to float in a smooth finish. Though some cosmetic tidying will be required when we change the flooring next year, the Building Control officer was happy with the installation. We are now enjoying the warmth of a real fire this Christmas.
January to June 2014:
If you have visited my website over the last few years you may have noticed the lack of posts in 2014. As has happened previously work and family have completely taken over my spare time and it has been difficult to find both the time and motivation to write up details on the very few bits of project work undertaken this year. So apologies for letting the site lay stagnant for the past six months.
Though nothing has been entered here I have progressed one or two projects a little. My contact page had become targeted by a spam-bot, the page was originally created by an online form to email website and has proven to be unreliable. It became so annoying clearing several spam emails every day that I had to take the contacts page down. I have now rewritten the contact form and and the form handling code to hopefully be a little more secure.
On the graphics front Blender has advanced a lot more than when I last reported on an update with the 3D Graphics software back in February 2013, which was then at version 2.66. We are now at version 2.70a and there has been far too many advancements to report on but it is well worth a look at the release logs. The highlights include the inclusion of the Freestyle non-photorealistic (NPR) renderer allowing better control of line renders and should with practice make it easier to create technical graphics and line drawings.
- Subsurface Scattering shader
- Real-time viewport preview
- HDR lighting support
- Hair rendering
- Support for motion blur
My day job rarely allows me to use Blender or do any graphics, but I have managed to slip in a small smoke simulation which demonstrated the problems of smoke nuisance that can be caused by cliosed top chimney terminals when fitted to a problem chimney.
Back in 2011 I had been experimenting with a project to check the viability of a home brew solar heating system, which showed some very pleasing results. I was intending to build a solar wall on the side of my garden shed and pipe the heat into the house. Fortunately there was an offer on a 6ft square polycarbonate greenhouse at a local discount warehouse. The greenhouse with a slight adaptation has now been mounted to the south facing side of my garden shed and makes up the basic structure of what will be almost 8 square metres of solar heating.
As I progress with this project I will add a few updates on how the solar collectors are built and hopefully a few logs of the energy savings it achieves.