Thursday, October 11, 2007

So Far A Good Week: Projects and Relief

This week has been a great one, as I have had a lot of time to experiment with some projects and I got some good news regarding my car. But first, the projects!

The Steam Air Ship
I finally got the necessary hardware for a prototype steam boiler. I'm not sure it's going to be the final boiler for the airship, because the parts are just too heavy. But at least I can experiment with the materials and see if that is what I want to use.

I purchased a 3/4 in. diameter copper pipe at 6 in. long. It's longer than I really need, but it was the smallest piece I could get from Lowe's (or any other hardware store). I can cut it in half if I need to cut the weight down on that part. I chose copper because of it's look, it's ability to conduct heat well, and because this pipe is used in high-pressure plumbing and survives easily. I think it will be fine for what I want to do with it. ^_^

I then purchased two cap ends for the 3/4 in. pipe. Unfortunately, it looks like they are exactly the same size as the pipe. Not being conversant with plumbing, I will have to rely on my father who has a lot of plumbing experience. If all else fails, we will just solder the caps on, and hope for the best. If nothing else, it would make a nice safety valve, being an expected exit point for high-pressure steam (if the pressure ever got that high).

I then purchased two saddle valves, which will clamp onto the pipe, and then puncture the pipe to make the opening. Why two? One for the steam, and one for the water. Also, to add water you need to have an exit point for air. The problem is, each valve weighs as much as the pipe and ends combined. So I have effectively tripled the weight of the boiler with the valves. The good news is that the valve weight is static, so I can move to a larger pipe with ends, and the valves will still work.

Anyway, that is the status on the boiler. I'm thinking of maybe going with a glass boiler in the final product. I think a large test tube will work wonders, and cut down on the overall weight. Of course the cost will go up, but it would be neat to see the boiler in action. Perhaps it will make a good science experiment for my son when he gets into school. ^_^

Mobile Lab In Action
I have also been working with my mobile lab, and it has been wonderful. I currently have it divided up into three classes, though right now each of them are working in the Mac environment. Still, the triboot issue was a success, and will be refined based on discoveries and requirements that have been made so far. Version 2 will be really nice indeed. ^_^

My Car Got Well!
For the past several months, my VW Jetta TDI has been sick. Sick? Yes, the check engine light has come on intermittently, and no one has been able to give me a definitive answer as to why. I have tried changing out filters, caps, and sensors, and it still has been coming on. It also has effected my fuel efficiency, knocking me down to the 50 mpg that I normally get to 42 mpg.

But then it all just stopped yesterday morning. Why? Well, I think it was something to do with some bad diesel I put into the tank. I ran the car until I was on empty, and on empty for a while. The ride from my office to a diesel filling station didn't have the check engine light on. Well, that's happened before, and it wasn't a long drive, so I didn't think much of it. I then filled up, and took the long way home. The light didn't come on! I got excited, but thought it may have been a one day fluke. It's happened before. So I waited until this morning, when I watched my dashboard carefully. The light didn't come on.

So, with relief, I am happy to say that my car is no longer sick, and it appears to have been something it drank. ^_^ I will be more careful in future which station I fill up on, even if it is cheaper. You never know when you will get a bad batch of diesel.

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