Ike’s Lights Part 1 – The Shelves

An old intention, finally realized

After the hurricanes (both Hurricane Sandy of last week, and the misery of October midterms + papers + business trips + more), I realized two important facts.  First, I had somehow survived those hurricanes.  Second, I was damnably irritated about being so behind on the various projects I have signaled (both here and in person to various folks) that I have wanted to do.  Given the coming freezing weather and the presence of a bearded dragon in my home, I really want to get the temperature sensors and automated controls (as my housemate Nicole put it, “Ike’s own thermostat”) set up and running smoothly as soon as I can.  Being the over-planning type, it occurred to me that this project is dependent upon having the shelves in place, in order to 1) hold the lights up off the mesh; 2) have a place besides the floor to store the sensor computer and the like; and 3) to look better than merely a jumble of wires.  As such, I went on a quest that involved Salvation Army, Good Will, Walmart, and all manner of character-building challenges along the way.  Though my original intention was to get my hands on a very narrow and tall shelving unit, at Walmart I found something FAR better – a 2-shelf system that goes on rails which are fixed to the wall.  Also picked up a couple of the other necessary components for later stages in the project (wire coat hangers, to provide material to affix the sensors and wires to, down into the vivarium, for instance).

Installation successes and setbacks

In the process of installing the shelves, I did the process itself to an extremely high level of workmanship.  Installed the shelves into the wall studs (harder to find than one might imagine, in a 100 year old house with horse hair plaster walls).  The issue, of course, is not a new one in my experience: my excitement at diving into a project meant I acted a bit quicker than was wise.  Specifically, my though process of “I don’t want to install the shelves too low” was worth having as it left a lot more of the space usable.  Unfortunately, I didn’t consider the fact that the bottom three rungs on the adjustable shelves are not useable because of the screw hole into the wall.  Oops.  The lights ended up a bit high off the tank, not warming it as much as I would like.  A problem to resolve in the future.

That said, the shelves look great, and do their job well – I ended up using a scrap piece of 4×4 from a project MONTHS ago in the basement, in order to 1) screw the power strip into something on the shelf but not the shelf itself; and 2) to provide counterbalancing weight for the 4 light fixtures hanging over the edge of the shelf.  The top shelf houses a small network switch, two Raspberry Pi computers, and a Playstation 3 Eye… which will be explained in the post after this one.

Video: Ike’s second bath, and the new shelves up and running

STAY TUNED IN THE NEAR FUTURE FOR PART 2: I scheduled 3 or 4 hours of my Monday night to go over to the engineering hacker space and work on the sensors and software for Ike’s lights, and once they are working shall do a follow-up post here.


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