Thwarted again…

My giant Fresnel lens has a linear focal point.

It is better than the focal point on the previous lens I salvaged but not, as I had hoped a spot focal point. The frame and stand are finished and at some point I will attempt to remove the linear diffraction grooves and turn it into a spot lens using this method. As it is the lens would be great for solar cooking but that is not sufficient for what I have in mind. I should have taken some photos of the testing but it’s not like it was dramatic.


The sun guide bracket is visible in this image. Basically a bracket perpendicular to the lens’s surface with a whole the shadow and bright spot from which allows alignment to the sun.


Salvaged timber throughout as usual.


Last day with visiting family members, nice barbecue and long talks. Four year immunisations for L, car registration transfer hurdles completed.

Ready to paint.






Family tour of the farm, feeding cows, admiring the dogs exploring abandoned machinery piles.


Had an hour or two to build in this afternoon and knocked up a frame for my biggest Fresnel lens  Hoping to have a stand made tomorrow to test it with. The previous lens of this type I found didn’t have a tight round focal point and although I still own it it is unsuitable for my purposes. This one appears to have a round focal point. None I have yet found has the clarity I have seen others find online. though it is not as clear as I would like it to be. Again while making this I was practicing taking a shot for every single step of the process, right up until I forgot and did three or four things in quick succession without thinking. I think I need to film rather than photograph builds.  Stand and test run tomorrow. If I’m lucky this baby aught to be able to produce temperatures in excess of 1000ºC at focal point. 


Painting again tonight. Decided I’ll push on with colouring even though principal line work is not 100%. It is easy enough to add detail layers over the top.  Progress:




It takes him six minutes to get to the point but dammit if he doesn’t make it very well when he gets to it. I find FriendlyJordies caricatures strained but occasionally funny. As I understand it he lives in PM Turnbull’s own electorate so he has plenty of reasons to be angry.


Change in the Air

‘This changes everything’ is an astonishing book. Clearly a book I have been needing to read for some time. I’m at about 7 of 20 hours in and I am just blown away. No other document I have ever read about climate change has ever spoken so clearly about the hard realities of facing climate change, nor has any other document at the same time offered such reasonable hopes.

I don’t yet know what my response will be, it is very clear to me that I have become too complacent, too apathetic, too comforatable looking away. I will not ignore it any more, what I will do remains to be seen.

I write this five weeks before my family and I fly to the other side of the world, around Europe and back like the comfortable twenty percenters we are.

I am increasingly aware that global warming is not presently the headline issue it needs to be in both Australia’s and Americas elections this year. America at least has one potential candidate who is treating the issue with seriousness here in Australia neither of our majors want to talk about it and The Greens present marketing isn’t I’m sad to say, going to rock the status quo.


I just love rockstar statistician Hans Rosling have some more if you liked that one. Start with my favourite and the close second.

Build Complete

Finished my saw horses which involved almost a complete rebuild of the first. My joinery leaves a little to be desired, but they are solid, square and built to fit me. Nice and tall at almost 800mm high so I don’t have to bend over to much but also not so high that it is uncomfortable to brace a piece with a foot. I was keeping a build log but I abandoned it in a fit of pique at my carpentry ineptitude, I’ll persevere with the next project regardless. Thinking of trying to film it in fact. There is room in the design for a cross brace between the legs but it doesn’t appear necessary at the moment.


All timber scavenged from the tip, screws from my now dwindling collection.  Looking forward to using them in the next project.


No painting last night making up for it this evening, pressing on with the castle.




Blue Oysters


Lots of driving, a tip run which yielded a much more limited supply of timber than hoped and some more unsatisfactory carpentry. I didn’t finish the second sawhorse today. Borrowed an old saw and wood plane from the farm today hoping to achieve cleaner cuts. Instead although finer the saw cannot cut straight and the wood plane needs new handles, disassembly and sharpening before it can be used, reverted to my own tools and am facing the same assembly stability issues as on the first, at least I am not having to do it squatting on concrete though.

We are eyeing up the creation of a fence dividing the front from the back yard so we can allow our hens to free range more and stop our youngest F from bolting straight out the front to rattle the gate whenever he has his boots on. The hen house needs a better handle for moving it because at present the mover has to be very close to its wall which is awkward. The dump has again furnished me with the timber required for this modification. I find the tip a terribly depressing place it is all so wasteful, the wall of green waste which could be enriching the local parched soils, the mountain of mixed metals and the disgusting fly blown scree of plastic is disgusting and filthy in more ways than one.

Finished ‘Career of Evil‘ while taking a crowbar to palettes and crates at the tip. It stumped me in the end as with the others. I was about half way though by the time I got around to googling Blue Oyster Cult lyrics from which are used in every chapter heading and elsewhere throughout the book. I was half convinced they were fictional as if I have heard before I have no recollection of it.


Immediately began a book which has been on my need to listen list for months now ‘This Changes Everything‘ Naomi Klein. It is of course infuriating but very, very good. I downloaded it after reading this excerpt last year and have postponed or as she says ‘looked away’ since then.  I am self assessing my own political complacency in recent years already so we are of to a worthy start only an hour or two in.

Noticed that one of my former teachers and generally cool person Dr. Kristen Lyons has recently announced as The Greens federal candidate for Moreton. An area I have lived in repeatedly, getting the candidacy seems unlikely at this point but not impossible. As always I will be encouraging everyone I can in both left and right politics give their first preference to the greens or minor parties as I don’t believe either of the majors deserve the $2.50 in campaign finance a first preference is worth to them.


Began colouring the castle last night a little preemptively as the ink layer needs another pass. But it was cathardic to see such progress on a card that has taken such a long time already. Update picture soon.


This lovely thing

Ma’agalim – Jane Bordeaux from Uri Lotan on Vimeo.

Thanks to this for reminding me that I haven’t touched my colouring project in a week or more.


Go home Hut. You are drunk.

A photo posted by @liatach on

Saw horsed

Wrecked my back making many of the final cuts for the saw horses in a half squat today. Lack of work outs over the past fortnight must also share the blame. As usual as soon as I allow muscle tone to slip my back starts twinging. Assembled the first sawhorse today but I am not calling it finished as once I have assembled the second using it in place of the low to the ground wood planks I used as a workbench for the first, I plan to disassemble the first and reconstruct it with more care to the tightness of leg joins. All in all I am quite pleased with the design I came up with. I just wish my woodworking skills had more finesse. Some better tools would help but only so far.

This guy I am not.


Attended a local and rather disappointing town street party and in violation of our rules we ended up spending close to fifty bucks on food and drinks.

Back to painting the castle again this evening.




Build Complete


Feels like an age since I started this project. Today after many delays the hens are doing their job admirably laying waste to the fields of cat head sprouts that have sprung up after the recent rain. There were lots of delays some quite unavoidable but three months from inception it is done. There are plenty of other projects waiting in line and I’m planning on attempting video of one or two.

For this evening here is the build process. There were a number of design alterations along the way. It all started with a rusted out old motorcycle crate piled among the bricks.

The crate is visible to the right of this panorama of the yard as we found it. PANO_20151224_092052 In speaking to our neighbors, the local motorcycle shop and family friends they offered some newer crates free of charge.

I saved this quad bike crate from the scrap heap and began with the idea of a box without a base.



Of course there was no bloody ply at the tip when I went the looking this first time. So I had to buy one sheet. Being frugal I managed to find a layout that would give me all the pieces I need from that one sheet. My only electric saw is a jigsaw so my edges leave something to be desired in perfect straightness.



The old motorcycle crate was cannibalised for many parts including the gate beginning here.


I built two the same, at the time it seemed unlikely that we would have the properties fences to a state where the hens would be allowed out during the day so I was planning on a primary tractor and an additional run section.


First sides going on.


Realising that I am never going to be able to keep it as square as I want it without a base. I for the time being abandon the idea of the extra run and attach the base section.


When working without a base side pieces were hanging from the top.


With the addition of the base I added an extra end support I had into the middle and hung the sides on it instead. The gate hinge support is also reinforced this way.


Material constraints left me with a gate hinge too short to extent the whole height. In the background the awning brackets in fabrication.



Awning brackets mounted


Side awnings on. The rear has to wait until roof hinges are done.


Main entrance and detail.


Beginnings of the roof stripped from a very heavy piece of the motorcycle crate.


Edges attached, applying insulation with ‘help’.


Locking the Styrofoam jigsaw in with aluminium tape.


Coating the underside in foil.


Ready for roofing.


Scrap roofing iron from among the debris cut with a hand angle grinder forms the cover.



Lots of sharp edges to deal with.



Sitting in place.


A tiny ten minute tease of rain stained and warped some of the ply.


Roof hinges on.


Cleaning up timber edges prior to painting.


Everyone helps paint, while the enthusiasm lasts anyway. Free paint is the best paint.


The best wheels found up until this point die under pressure. I was hoping they were solid rubber as there was no valve visible. Not to be.



It takes two more trips to the tip and a lot of trial and error to find better replacements. In the mean time wiring began. Using off cuts and old crumpled spare pieces from the farm this was frustrating and slow work. Compounded by the fact that we were having great difficulty finding someone to sell us point of lay hens.


A view into the roost. Nesting boxes from an old Ikea shelf and scrap ply.


Wiring continued an hour here and there for ages.


News that hens would be available in a week put the pressure on to finish the job. Painting the door, ramp and wall extension using a very smelly old enamel found in the shed.


Ramp in place. Thriving fresh crop of catheads visible in the soil here.


Interior shot. before floor wire.


View from the front before and after wall extension.

IMG_0555 IMG_0556

The previous wheel axle holes are no longer useful.


The new wheels require an altogether different kind of mount.


Of for a drop grinder.

IMG_0560Ready to weld.


Calling in help from my brother in law for this job. Snapped with welding goggles on of course.


I put the wire floor in so that the hens can be contained during moves and they will be safe if and when a fox gets into the enclosure at night.


Job done. Last couple of additions today not yet photographed. Gravity water container, hatch so the hens roost door can be opened without entering the enclosure and modifications to the nesting area in the roost to make it a little cosyier. I’ll edit them in at a later date.



Our hens are Isa Brown rescues from an egg farm which disposes of its hens at one year of age. Waiting to establish dominance order before assigning the names we have chosen for this batch. Georgie, Porgie, Pudding and Pie.

20160328_Easter2016_3620 sml


Bonus build…

Ancient crank shaft from the metal heap in the back yard


plus plow blade from the farm


 plus a little sugru,


equals distinctive bird bath.IMG_20160328_175848

Sugru was still drying at dark so testing will wait for the morning.

Eyeing some much needed sawhorses for my next build. Not that I think I can produce a pair like that.




A couple of extra details. As with everything but the one sheet of ply, the hinges on the roof and the boxes of screws, the latches are found, rummaged or reused from somewhere else.


My but those hens can do a number on an interior. two choose to sleep in the nesting boxes two on the bar.


Access hatch for releasing and containing hens without entering the enclosure. Needs a better latch but the local hardware in a now atypical experience have none.




The bird bath holds water and there is spoor to suggest that it has been in use today. No witnessed visitors yet though. The water stains pretty quickly though, I may need to strip it back and seal the dish. Also visible is the new path still in need of edging on this side and fresh sheet mulching on the other.








Boxes and bad news



A very productive day. With the help of my father many a cupboard and wall mount were taken down and holes in the walls filled. Whole rooms have been consumed by hungry cardboard box monsters, who now tower engorged in great heaps around the house.

The image above is a very rough style demo for the game project I discussed yesterday. This image is for the card I thought of as ‘teeth’, looking again it should be ‘fangs’ and thus the revised version will be a whole lot greater bigger and pointier.  The style I’m going for will be quite jagged and geometric and be heavy on the black with solid colours and occasional gradients underneath.

The bad news is my finger will likely need surgery, according to the GP the chip of bone that has disconnected is the ligament attachment point. I have been instructed to splint the finger indefinitely and seek the advice of an orthopedic surgeon. This is not very likely to happen in the two business days left prior to our departure to regional NSW. I’m going to try for a last minute appointment all the same as it is not going to be easy to find specialists in Cobar and this finger splint is already annoying. I will also have to do a work-cover claim which is  a pain in the bum for everyone now that holidays have begun.

Exhausted now.