Monday, November 28, 2011

Rocky Soil in the Desert

My relatives and friends that don't live in the desert don't understand why I complain all the time about the rocky soil.  Those city folk that live on asphalt and the country folk that live on land farmed for generations don't think about what the dirt is really like in the desert where man and nature have conspired against me.

Today I am working on a continuing project; a deck on the East side of my house.  I didn't have it built when the house was constructed because I wanted to move in.  I was living in a motorhome on the edge of town commuting out to the house each day and that was getting old, so I had the house inspected and moved in without several patio areas.  This is the largest and will take the most time and money to build.  Enough background, I had to dig a hole to put in a support to keep the deck from bouncing and sagging.  This is one of those pre-made ten inch concrete things that you put under things to hold it down in the wind and support it when walked on.  Normal stuff.

So I dug a hole roughly 18 inches square and 12 or so inches deep to hold the support; here's a picture of it.
No big deal right?  Well, this little hole took me a couple of hours to dig.  Why??  well, here's the pile of rocks I got out of this one hole:
I put the framing hammer there to give you a sense of scale.  There's enough rock there that I couldn't possibly fit them back into the hole.  Each one of them had to be pried out of the ground with a 6 foot, tempered steel rock bar.  There wasn't enough dirt taken out of the hole to fill it back up even after I put the 10 by 10 hunk of concrete in it.  It was all rock like this with coarse sand holding them in place.

Shovels are for moving the coarse sand around, picks are for loosening the rocks a bit, and rock bars are for leveraging them loose enough to lift out of the hole.  You DON'T just go outside and dig a hole, it's a major undertaking.

Now, on to the next board....

Acid Pump Problems, Part 2

Called Hanna Instruments today about the pump melting.  They were polite and friendly, but didn't totally set my mind at ease.  They were willing to send me a new pump, but I explained that it appeared the fittings were the problem, not the pump itself.  They took a look at the picture in the previous post and are sending me a new pump head with the fittings.  I'll give it a shot.

However, these fittings are the only ones they have, and if the new ones start to melt, there is no other option available from them.  I'll get the new ones, install them, and see what happens.  It's not a comfortable feeling knowing that I could be looking at another failure in a couple of months.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Acid Pump - Problems.

I've had the acid pump I put together and controlling remotely working for a while now and it has already started giving me trouble.  The pump itself is fine, but the check valve fittings are starting to dissolve.  DISSOLVE???  WTF??

This is a chemical dosing pump that should handle acids as strong as they make them.  It even says that it will handle hydroflouric acid, you know, that stuff that dissolves human bodies on TV?  I shut it off and will call the company after the holiday to see what the heck is going on.  The tubing is HDPE ( high density polyethylene) and it is handling the acid just fine.  The pump body and mechanism is handling the acid just fine.  The stupid valve fittings are the problem.

Here's a picture of the problem:

If you click on the picture, you'll get a bigger version where you can really see what's happening.  Annoying isn't it?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Measuring temperature, what not to do.

So, it was about 62F outside and an overcast day.  I checked the temperature coming from my outdoor temperature sensor and it said 75F.  I started checking the wall and put a thermometer near the device.  It seems the house is actually radiating a little heat through the wall outlet it's plugged into.  This won't make any difference in the summer since the outdoor heat is so much higher than the indoor heat, but in the winter it will throw all my readings off.  Guess I'll build one of those little houses that hold sensors out in the yard and paint it white.  I'll run power into it and that way I can have other devices in there if I want them.

I'll also seal the outlet.  R twenty something insulation in the walls and an outlet gets overlooked.  Spray foam, here I come.