Studio In a Box

So this is a project I’ve been working away on designing for a while now, as a way to solve a lack of accessible studio space, and the need to stay at home during Covid social-distancing.

It’s a trifold-door cabinet, with internal power supply, that will be installed in my carport, between the secondary entrance (left) and laundry (right) doors of my home. It’s designed so that all the equipment stacks inside it – at the rear is workbench space, including a drill-press station, then the UV-blocking welding screens go in front of that, and finally the welders on a trolley, and a fold-up welding table.

All the equipment within is on wheels, so it can be rolled out and the space configured, with no lifting required. All it requires me to do is move my car forward a couple of metres, but the cabinet is narrow enough that my car can fit beside it when closed.

There’s a long, narrow workbench for my drill-press and bench-grinder, as well as storage, and a table for my metal-cutting bandsaw (a quiet alternative to a drop-grinder), that sits over the Air-Compressor. The compressor is an interesting piece of kit – it’s a silenced model, that uses two small motors, rather than one large one. You can easily hold a conversation at normal speaking volume, while standing next to it.

The power supply, which will sit roughly in the middle of the cabinet, is already installed – a pair of 15 amp, and a pair of 10 amp plugs, on a 32 amp line, so I can drive both the air compressor (10) and the welder’s plasma cutter (15) at the same time. Or, I can keep both my TIG and MIG welders powered up at the same time, and alternate between them, using  MIG to tack things in place, then TIG for the finished welds.

All in all, it should be a super adaptable, and quick setup / packdown low-effort workspace.

2021 – Week 3

Picked up new glasses, hey had a problem with refracting light inside the lens. Had some work done on my teeth, not entirely thrilled with the result.

That’s more or less it for the week.

2021 – Week 2

An auspicious start to the year – chipped a tooth.

Picked up a new wireless backup drive  to copy files off camera while traveling. Also managed to get the power adaptor to let me charge up the battery for my cold-suit.

The drive charged up, and configured correctly, the power adapter charged the cooler suit OK.

Brisbane is back in snap-quarantine, as the even more horrific British Plague 2.0 makes its sinister appearance.

2021 – Week 1

Plague is spreading again – as anyone with a clear head could see, Christmas and New Years were super-spreader events, and now the dome descends once more.

The second attempt at NYE pool movies was an interesting engineering exercise. I built a truss from PVC, that could be threaded on a support rope, and would allow the screen to be hung over it without corner knots (which create diagonal wrinkles in the screen).

Sadly, the weather didn’t cooperate – we had cold (23c) windy conditions, with rain showers, so called it off and watched films indoors.

2020 – A Wrapup

What a year.

Things were going ok for the first ten or so weeks – I bit the bullet an began gearing up to do some welding, to finally make a push to get some sculpture done. I was offered another arts residency, which would be a wonderful expansion of Noosa Mnemonic, in cooperation with the local regional art gallery…

…then the plague hit, and hit HARD.

By week 12 we entered a kind of non-time, in which things drifted and became unfixed. Public events went away, my residency was cancelled. So I ploughed ahead with my home welding setup, and designing the Studio-in-a-box.

I received an Arts Qld grant that covered my costs for the Studio-in-a-box, which was also a nice little notch to add to the artist’s cv. A big part of this year was figuring out quantity surveying for materials, and mapping out cut-charts for steel lengths.

There were some big upgrades for my protective clothing kit this year – with a new powered respirator welding helmet, and an (as-yet untested) powered water-cooling suit. When all this stuff is combined, I should be kitted up like an astronaut, and able to work safely and comfortably in more or less any conditions.

I solved a problem of flakey power supply during the storm season, by dropping a bunch of cash on a honking great UPS.

In photography my processes had some issues to overcome, adapting to a new photo processing / management tool. It produces better images, but has worse management features. So I’m effectively now working in two apps. I also updated my monitor configuration for my workstation to 3 screens. Sadly, these changes really didn’t work out too well – 2020 is definitely the year I fell out with technology. I have to learn to not allow anyone to provide an “ecosystem” to me, and instead build one myself.

I finished an update to The Metaning, which frees it from Apple Books, and a European publishing standards group released an Ebook reader for Mac, Linux & Windows that can read the fixed-layout EPUB format, so that clears the way for me to ditch Apple for selling my books, and move to direct sales.

The other major thing this year, was 15 minutes of fame, after a tweet thread I started about my time in high school was picked up and retweeted by a bunch of folks. Had a lot of people relating to me their childhood horrors from the same school.

Overall, 2020 was a year in which a lot of long-term plans and strategies played out, and produced results that weren’t all I’d hoped. Of course, across everything hangs the pall of Covid, so it’s hard to put the achievements of the year in any greater context of where I thought I’d be by the end of it.

2020 – Week 52

It’s been so hot, that doing anything has been questionable. I did manage to order a coolsuit. For less than half the retail price (because it’s a discontinued model), I was able to get 2 pairs of pants, a vest and a hooded shirt, the backpack for the water reservoir with 2x icebricks, the pump, battery and charger.

It’s affordable enough, that even if it doesn’t work out, all the parts are there to build upon and modify.

2020 – Week 51

A week in which I realised I will need to do something about temperature, if I’m to do any welding before winter… and the house air conditioning failed.

I think I’ve found a solution, for welding at least – a powered icewater coolsuit. I’m still trying to sort out the supply, the distributor has only a few demo units, but they’re half price.

The basic rig is a shirt & leggings, that have thin tubing sewn onto them, each forming a closed loop. They plug into a backpack, which contains a small pump, battery, water reservoir, and ice brick, which acts as the cold source.

You wear it under your work clothes, it keeps you cool while you work.

Add to that my powered respirator welding helmet, I’ll be a freaking astronaut.

2020 – Week 50

A quiet week, medical stuff, bike rides, went to sushi train for the first time in 8 months.

Life under the dome is returning to normal.

Catastrophic storms over the weekend saw my UPS kick in for the first time, so its already paid for itself as far as I’m concerned. Less fun news, we have to replace the houses’ airconditioner, which is going to be something like $10k.

2020 – Week 49

A pretty quiet week, a fair bit of time spent messing around with a project. Ended the week by changing my internet access plan after our ISP dropped us from 100/40 to 100/20, while increasing the price.

Conversely, we decided to actually move up to a higher plan, returning to 100/40, with an unlimited cap – and now the question of bandwidth simply doesn’t have to be a concern any more. We had found that streaming through Prime Video was using a lot of bandwidth – significantly more than Netflix or Youtube.

2020 – Week 48

I picked up the UPS, and installed it.

The setup could be better in terms of the device’s UI. Part of the configuration wizard involves setting the service-start date for the battery, but whereas most devices with a date function ask for day, month, year as separate values to be input and locked, this device is just a long continuous scroll through dates – you go through all the days in a month, then on to the next month etc.

The result is I set the day correctly, then hit enter, and that locked the date as April, and from then on, not even a restore to factory defaults would give me the option to reset the battery date.

So, a long call to the manufacturer’s support line, where the tech hadn’t actually used this model, because they’ve been working from home for 8 months and haven’t had access to their labs, and we figured out we had to open the unit, remove the battery (while it was still running – it’s designed to do this, but it’s still unsettling when you’re on your own), disconnect the battery leads, reconnect them, and then tell the UPS that this was a new battery. Then, it re-enabled the wizard to set a battery date.

So both I, and the UPS support guy learned something from the experience.