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 9

Lots of digital stuff – some major breakthroughs made on converting pdf files to png for publication in EPUB format. The huge show-stopper problem that previously prevented me using the built-in macOS tools to do the job, has seemingly been fixed, unbeknownst to me, so I was able to get a whole bunch of stuff automated.

I managed to update all five parts of Surfing The Deathline, and get them live on the Apple Books store, but not without them screwing a part of it up, and applying some weird colour tint to the cover art.

What seems to be happening, is that for some reason, Apple has decided two of my books should have a black base colour for their cover art, as presented on the Apple Books Preview site. It seems the website works by having a basic tone texture for the book cover, and then applying the cover art to it in multiply mode, so the tone texture produces a subtle gradient on the image.

I can inspect the page source, and if I switch off the background colour attribute in this class:

.we-artwork::after {
height: 100%;
top: 0;
background-color: var(--background-color);
left: 0;

I can return the artwork to its correct appearance.

This might all be part of that most pathetic of user-interface trends “dark mode”.

2021 – Week 8

Most of this week has been spent on digital processes – clearing up Surfing The Deathline for eBook publication. Primarily, to get one final update done for the versions on the Apple Books store, before creating the collected version for direct sales.

Highs and lows all round as options presented themselves then failed, but finally I’ve succeeded, and managed to get a workflow happening.

Had a moment of reflected glory – Bruce Sterling, one of the two founding authors of the whole Cyberpunk genre, Quote-tweeted me:

2021 – Week 7

Quiet start to the week, aside from having to rush my mother to the hospital, which kindof dominated the week’s events.

Picked up my remade glasses, and they’re unusable in a different fashion. The edge highlight is now converging lines, and they’re “blue blocking” which means they completely wreck the colour calibration of my displays.

Received an email from a Kickstarter project I backed in early 2019, for a product that was supposed to ship in September 2019, which I’m still waiting for, and for which part has been cancelled – the company was offering store credit for the part they weren’t making.

Suffice to say, I wasn’t interested in anything else they made, so sent off a stern email. They’ve agreed to refund at least part of my order. I’m hoping they’ll just do the whole thing.

Surveying the catastrophe.

If there is one trend that is clear, it’s that a greater and greater percentage of economic “value” will be concentrated into fewer, and fewer people and companies. Automation will destroy more jobs, and concentrate more economic extraction to fewer individuals, than new industries will produce.

It begs the question, why a political party would base their campaign on providing “jobs”, rather than providing income? “We promise to keep you busy with tasks” – hardly the most inspiring of messages, is it?

There is too much that too many people do, which requires more skill and more time, than people have money to pay for it to be done.

UBI, at a level considerably higher than the current unemployment rate, is inevitable – large economic extractors (including wealthy individuals) are going to have to pony up radically higher taxes, and that money is going to have to go directly to people, because through Covid we’ve seen both the future of what happens when too few people have enough, and how effective “just giving people money” is in blunting that catastrophe.

So again, IF you were a political party hoping to win government, why would you double down on an obsolete paradigm?

2021 – Week 6

Spent time trying to fine-tune the air conditioning – it’s a little too powerful due to being in a 2 story home, so we had to redirect the pressure overflow to the bathroom. Overall the solution seems to be working.

Heard back from the coolsuit people who were following up the problem with the bladder in my coolsuit backpack. They were checking the other ones they had in stock, and all of them had perished in the same way on the shelf. So, at least I didn’t have to convince him that it wasn’t user-error. We’re waiting to hear from the manufacturer as to what spare parts they can supply.

2021 – Week 5

Teeth re-cast. The local town is quietening down as holidays end, and schools start.

Friday, we finally had the new air-conditioner installed. Of course they arrived at 7am to start work, so hooray, 4 hours sleep. They finally left after 5pm, and we have a new climate system – with separate sensors and temp adjustments in different rooms. Damn thing’s unnervingly quiet, but finally, it’s cool enough to think clearly again.

2021 – Week 4

Took glasses back to the optician to have a look at, went back to the dentist to get the work checked, and get cast for a tooth guard to wear while I sleep. Found out a few days later I have to get it recast next week for some reason.

If there is one thing that most stands out in the move from Sydney to Regional Qld 5 years ago, it’s that finding good optical and dental care here is super-hard.

Weather-wise, iIt’s been cool, verging on cold even, so taking things slow to make up for days of missed sleep.

Friday I tried setting up my coolsuit – only to have the water bladder burst as soon as I tried adding water. The rubber had perished, so the plumbing points where the inlet & outlet tubes connect just ripped out, and the seams split.

Called the vendor, and they’re going to try to organise me a replacement.


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.