LEDs for bathrooms
Friday, February 1 2013
A year and a half ago, Gretchen was at some function where hot peppers were being used as decoration. When that function concluded, the peppers remained (since nobody at such a function would have ever thought to eat one). So Gretchen brought them home to me, and I used them in sandwiches and such. Eventually they dried up, and last spring I planted some of the seeds. This resulted in two prolific pepper bushes. The peppers tended to be no bigger than an inch or two in length and are decidedly hotter than jalapeños, though unless I run a DNA analysis on them, I may never know precisely what variety they are. In any case, they fulfilled my warm-weather hot pepper needs well into November. Eventually I had to spread out my bountiful harvest to dry in the sun to keep them from rotting. Since then, it's been easier to use a shaker of store-bought pepper flakes than to cut them up. But today I busted open the single best-looking pepper in the collection and used planted its seeds in a can in the south-facing window of the dining room. It will be nice to maintain a mulitgenerational lineage of plants, perhaps gradually bending its genome to my will.
I've continued to be dissatisfied with the IR-rangefinder-based fuel level measuring system in the household fuel oil tank. Unlike the ultrasonic-rangefinder-based fuel level measurer, it continues to function, but the values it produces vary wildly, rendering it useless. So I've decided to fall back on an earlier plan and use a pair of concentric copper pipes as immersed dielectric-varying capacitor inside the tank. As the fuel level rises, more of the dielectric between the copper tubes will be fuel oil, changing the sensor's capacitance. I've actually already built the sensor, but I've had difficulty getting it to work in various test environments. Today I put together a simple Arduino-based system to measure capacitance, but it turned out to be useless at the very low (picofarad) capacitance range that I needed to measure. After some searching, though, I found that SparkFun sells a $13 Atmel-processor-based kit that somehow accurately measures low-value capacitance. So I ordered myself a copy and will use it to help me get such functionality working on the Solar Controller's "Serial Slave" (which is tasked with measuring fuel level).
This evening I went on what has become a ritual Friday excursion into town. I needed beer, hydronic antifreeze, and an LED light bulb that radiated its light in a toroid pattern from the center of its axis. Most LED bulbs illuminate either a small spot or a hemisphere from their ends, but it turns out that Home Depot sells a bulb with precisely the toroid radiation pattern that I needed. I intended to use this bulb in the first floor bathroom, whose light fixture (a hanging glass globe we'd bought in Turkey) tends to absorb any light radiated downward, where the glass is covered by a metal support sling. With this new bulb's toroid radiation pattern, the light would shine out exactly in the location of the uncovered glass.
For most of that Turkish lamp's history in our house, its bulb had been a small compact fluorescent. But the problem with CF bulbs is that they take an appreciable amount of time to reach full brightness, not something you want illuminating a room where someone generally only spends a minute or two (depending on the number of the biological function).
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