Today, while grocery shopping at Fairway, I noticed that they have fresh Branzino (European seabass). Without second thought I asked for 2 whole fishes. The good man from the store gutted and scaled them and we just ate them for dinner with some asparagus and lettuce and cucumber salad. I used a very basic recipe. I spread some coconut oil over the and in the fish, salt, black pepper, stuffed the inside with thyme and lemon slices and that was it.

It took about 10 minutes to cook and the fish tasted great. If the keep stocking it (it said on the label it comes from Greece), I’m sure it will become a frequent item on our menu 🙂

The reef is doing well. I have some problems with hard corals, but I’m working on it. Otherwise since my last writing, I’ve changed the wiring of the LEDs with regular CAT5e cable. That way there are fewer wires to hang around and the RJ54s are very easy to plug/unplug , so now it much easier to dismantle the whole thing.

I also have the controller up and running. Initially it started monitoring pH only and wasn’t logging the data. Then I added a few temperature probes. Then came the programming of the network controller and I added a small program that saves the data to a database and uses Google’s Web Toolkit to visualize it:
http://reef.geodar.com/

As you can see it is fairly taxing on the browser and even though I like how it looks, I wasn’t very happy with it. A few days ago, however, I found out about ThingSpeak, which does roughly the same thing, but it is much more polished than what I had written. It also uses a much lighter library for charting – Highchart – so it is much easier on the browser.
So I quickly sat down and fixed up the code for the controller to talk to ThingSpeak and I put together a quick graph:
[iframe_loader src=”https://thingspeak.com/channels/445/charts/1?height=220&width=450&round=2&average=60&timescale=1&days=2&bgcolor=%000000&yaxis=pH&xaxis=%20&title=pH” ]
[iframe_loader src=”https://thingspeak.com/channels/445/charts/2?round=2&average=60&days=2&bgcolor=000000&yaxis=%CB%9AC&xaxis=%20&title=Room Temperature” ]
[iframe_loader src=”https://thingspeak.com/channels/445/charts/4?round=2&average=60&days=2&bgcolor=000000&yaxis=%CB%9AC&xaxis=%20&title=Display Tank” ]

So now I’m playing around with their API more over here:
http://reef.geodar.com/charts.html

For a few months now, I’ve also been removing my sandbend so that I can replace it with a coarser one. The super fine sand just gets blown too easily and it I don’t like that. Now it looks pretty good and I’m sandstorm free:

Last week, I finally put my dosers for calcium and Alk because I grew tired of manually dosing every night. And since I have a controller I modded the dosers a bit with a simple relay so I can directly start and stop them:

I put them on the 2×4 in the ceiling of the cabinet. Very good place in my opinion:

I’m also glad I left some space on the side of the sump. Otherwise I don’t know where I could have put these solution jugs:

So for one week now, I’ve been doing Ca and Alk tests twice a day at 8:30 so that I can adjust the dosage properly. On the first day I noticed that something was wrong and first looked at the code of the controller. Of course it was a little messed up :). I fixed it and set the calcium to 47.6ml and the soda to 58ml (Alk is a little low so I want to bring it slowly up). Here are the results:

I use two tests for Alk so that I can verify what is happening. As you can see the Salifert test had some strange readings at one point (I repeated the test every time I noticed an anomaly just to make sure I’m not making a mistake in testing) compared to the Hanna digital checker. Also, both are showing somewhat different value (though with almost constant difference). Which one is the correct value is arguable, but I don’t care much. After I get it to the level I’ve decided, I’m just going to care about the stability.

Calcium still hang below 400, so I’ll probably increase the dose a bit to get it to 450 and keep it there.

When I talked abut the controller earlier, I forgot to mention that I’m working on a box for it. This weekend came my last connectors so I mounted them and did some internal wiring:



Now I wonder whether I should wire out the rest of the pins to something like a DB25, but I’ll probably leave it as it is for now. All I have do to now is make a little hole for the IR RCVR and paint the box and it should be all set.

Finally, I am in the process of setting up a continuous water changing system, but enough for this post. I’ll write more about this in the next few days. My new salt is coming on Tuesday so I’ll probably turn it on for the first time on Wednesday. Keep your fingers crossed 🙂

And here is another one :). One day as we were chatting during lunch, someone mentioned bows (as in archery). So just out of curiosity I decided to see what is the situation with archery. It turns out that this hobby is relatively popular. I was even able to find a local archery club that has a private forest turned into a shooting course and it is only 5 mins away from my place.

So as I was reading about that club, it turned out their forest is open only for club members and nobody else. Only once a month – last Sunday of the month – doors open to the public. Of course I gave it a shot :). And of course I liked it :). The next step was to educate myself a little more on the subject so that I could decide if it was really for me. I bought Shooting the Stickbow and started reading.

Basically, there are two types of bows: compounds and traditional. The former are pretty sophisticated technology making use of various alloys for the bow itself, special pulleys and cam systems, which facilitate pulling but give much more power the arrow, have fancy sights, triggers and what not – complicated stuff. Traditional are exactly that – traditional. In its most elementary form, we have a slightly curved stick with a rope on it and that’s it.

I liked the traditional part better and it is a little cheaper because there is no piles of gadgets that you need to get for your compound. Of course, you can spend insane money for most things and traditional bows are no exception, but I’m not such a fan. So for 119 bucks I got a Samick Sage take down bow, which IMHO is great. I also got a dozen of arrows and a handful of other small things like arrow rest and finger tab and I was ready to go shootin’:

I will not go into much detail but let’s say that the the aforementioned book helped me a lot because it turned out you can’t just buy any arrows for any bow. The lenght, material, thickness, spine (bending), fletching material all matter.

So far I’ve gone several times to shoot, and even became a member of the club – Cos Cob Archers. Generally I go every weekend, but this one was raining all the time so I couldn’t go…

I have to say that so far I really enjoy shooting. Let’s see how it goes.


At the end of last year I came across a website for “toys” with remote control and I started reading a little bit about RC stuff. All started with the fact that I wanted to make/build something. It didn’t matter much what that thing is, but it’s just that for the last few years I’ve found joy in building things such as amplifiers, speakers, controllers, aquarium cabinet, etc.. So when I came across this site I noticed that many people make their airplanes and then they go and fly them. So I started to read a bit more and I decided to give it a try. Luckily, the entry level remotes and aircraft models are pretty cheap so it didn’t cost me too much.

But before I can fly a real RC plane, I decided to practice a bit on a simulator to get familiar with the directions when the plane is coming toward me or flying away. I took some cheap PC controller for 20 bucks and I started “flying”. It was a lot of fun :). After several sessions it looked like I’d enjoy doing that, and I was also looking for a hobby that will take me outside more, because all my current hobbies are indoors.

So, on the same site, I followed the for sale forums soon I got a mint condition ParkZone T-28 “Trojan” (not my photo):
T-28

Then I paired it with a Spectrum DX6i transmitter:
DX6i

And like a curse, since then (November) until now there hasn’t been a single warm weekend without wind so I’m yet to take it out and give a try! Damn winter!

That’s about it so far. I’m waiting for spring and summer to come, meanwhile I start the simmulator every once in a while to get a few minutes of airtime :).

More about RC stuff when the weather gets better and I do my first real flight 🙂

This could be my longest break without a post. And so much has happened over the recent months. I started learning how to fly an RC airplane, traveled to Bulgaria to celebrate New Year, then in January I went to shoot with a traditional bow and I loved it, so I have a bow now as well. Then we started an exercise program, which I still do and finally today I went to a Tai Chi class …

Overall, I have noticed that personal blogging has decreased probably because of social sites like Facebook. I’m firmly decided that I will not make an account there. Therefore I will try to resurrect this little habit of blogging.

Problem is that if I try to make up for past months, I’ll drag it to till next year. So I would write a post about the main themes that have happened. Let’s see what happens.