Tuesday, September 28, 2010

While we wait for the new enclosure...

Because I like to educate rather than just appall, I've decided to showcase interesting undersea facilities from around the world, both already existing and planned. This is Sea Base 1, brainchild of the engineer behind several historical habitats like the Navy's Sealab, project FISSHH, Helgoland and Tektite I:It's open both to scientists and to seasoned divers looking for an interesting experience, but it'll run you $3,500 per week to stay there, so better start looking for healthy white babies to sell! For tips on using ordinary cosmetics to improve their resale value, email me.

Anyways the tip of the structure is 21 feet deep, and the bottom floor is 61 feet deep, pretty respectable considering that the NOAA's Aquarius (covered earlier) is situated at the same depth. Deep enough to rustle your jimmies, but shallow enough that daylight reaches, making for the sort of beautiful blue scenery that makes you think, "I probably don't need both kidneys". As I've already donated both and am sustained only by a powerful hatred for those new loud-ass sunchips bags, I've elected to raise the necessary funds by whoring my supple, manly body to lonely supermodels. It's a method of last resort, but chasing down majestic tropical sea life and eating it alive will make it all worthwhile.

It should be finished construction in 2013, exactly one year after retards believe the world will end. It will be hauled out in one piece and sunk amid the largest cluster of reefs in Belize. There it will become the first permanent undersea structure in history (all habitats up to this point were removed after their useful lifespan, like Logan's Run but with undersea habitats and without palm crystals or laser guns. So I guess nothing at all like Logan's Run, but I did manage to waste several seconds of your time with that terrible analogy.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Shit just got realer than ever.

Having tested the Mk.I habitat in the tub, it's no good. It keeps water out for the most part, but lets it rise just far enough to totally soak the dirt, even at the lowest flow level. It seems expressly designed to do this, probably because it was originally intended for use in an aquarium, and with gravel. Anyway I don't have any confidence in the ability of this thing to keep the hamster dry and safe, and I don't think it's safe to put electric lights and heating in either. As readers have urged me to put the hamster's safety above all else, I cannot in good conscience use this habitat shell.

Will I give up? Fuck no I won't. Because I lack the common sense which would otherwise restrain my ambitions, I'm going to rocket ahead and skip directly to building the Mk.II habitat:This means I'll need to carefully consider which enclosure to use as I'll need to be dead certain this time that it'll keep water out. Mainly so that this doesn't happen:That means back to square one, almost. I'll need a battery pack, a different pump, and of course a different enclosure. This is what I have my eye on:It looks ideal. Scuba dryboxes rated deeper than three feet or so tend to be pretty small. This was the largest I could find with a decent depth rating (100 feet!) with an interior volume of 7.549" x 3.606" x 3.326" (Online ruler for reference). I need to be able to fit the small video recorder (thumb sized), a small feeder, a water bottle/dish (as I've decided this will have no moon pool) and an LED light. Based on the combined sizes of these items and the enclosure as well as the small size of the breed of hamster I'll be using, I think the Otterbox 3500 will just suffice. Below is a mockup of the interior. When you click the image (and then expand it) it should appear actual size, and everything is precisely to scale relative to everything else:I plan to have the heater powered by a small USB battery pack inside the enclosure, sealed in a ziplock bag and packed under wood shavings (as some of you pointed out the hamster may be frightened and would be comforted if it could burrow). This means zero allowance for leaks, for obvious reasons. Which is why the new habitat will not have a power cable running down the umbilical, because I don't want to make more holes in the enclosure than I have to. This also means that the LED light will be self contained and battery powered as well.

Here's a list of things I still have that can be reused for the new habitat:

~video recorder
~LED light
~USB battery pack
~Air hose
~kitty litter (will be packed under the shavings to absorb urine)

Here are the things I need to continue:

~Deep water aquarium pump
~New enclosure
~Power drill
~Hot glue gun [edit: silicone sealant instead!]
~Portable battery pack
~USB heated gloves (for the heating element)

I can afford the hamster food, the feeder, the water bottle and wood shavings myself. The rest of it, not so much. I'm going to build this thing no matter what. But if you felt like speeding up the process by pitching in, I'd be grateful. I didn't realize how complex this project would become when I started and the setbacks have been frustrating but the concept is so great that I'm determined to make it work in the end, provided I can get my hands on the parts.

If you've got any suggestions for alternate component choices, or some kind of extra I could provide to compensate you guys for your donations (beyond the game servers I mean) let me know in the comments.

The habitat slowly comes together.

Everything seen below was originally purchased out of pocket but has since been covered by donations. It blows my mind but the world apparently demands to see brave individualist hamsters conquer the perilous depths. I'm in the process of tracking down a txt file of Atlas Shrugged so I can print it out using the wallet photo setting, which will give me pages small enough to fit the completed booklet inside of the habitat. To descend into the blue frontier means nothing if he takes the parasitic ideology of the looters with him~ >:OIt seems to keep water out like a champ [edit: for about two minutes] but only when I persistently blow into the tube. I still need that one way safety valve. I'm also waiting on the LED lights and the replacement air pump. Once it's all put together I'll head down to petsmart and pick up a suitably intrepid-looking hamster pioneer. Current suggested names include Atlas, Fontaine, Nemo, and Mega-Fucker Supreme.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Good news, bad news

Bad news: The air pump shipped to the wrong address. Holy shit. I literally cannot even put a hamster three feet underwater without some crucial aspect of my plan going wrong. This must be why I was turned down for that NASA administrative position. They're shipping me another one but won't spring for expedited delivery because they are greedy little shitgoblins so it'll be another week until I have it.Good news: The habitat shell arrives tomorrow, and I've almost got enough in donations to buy the automotive air compressor I'll be using for the Mk2 habitat's bouy! Even so the maximum depth I'll be able to sink it is ten feet. But that's pretty deep for a small mammal habitat. I'm gonna need some swim goggles and a well thought out excuse should anyone stop and ask why I'm swimming in the community lake.

By the way, definitely stop by the Minecraft server. I love talking to you guys about this stuff. I have other projects going on too that I won't discuss here, but that I'd be happy to tell you about ingame.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Gmod and Minecraft 'clubhouse' servers

Having given it about as much "carefully considered thought" as I give anything, and as I already host a Minecraft server (on an undersea colony map no less) it makes sense to tie it into the blog. As someplace those following it can gather and intelligently discuss hamsterkind's brave future beneath the waves, by which I mean grief the shit out of the map and make Bioshock jokes.It's restored from a backup copy any time I reset the server, so don't worry about damage. It isn't up 24/7 but you can rely on it being online in the evenings. Unless you live in the southern US, expect there to be lag. You may also disconnect from time to time. Don't sweat it, Minecraft's still in alpha and I do need to take the server down to reset the map now and then, just keep trying to reconnect.


A Gmod server using a custom map is also in the very early stages. Once complete it will supplement the Minecraft server as a sort of online gathering place for goofing off and discussing the particulars of life underwater. Or building rocket powered bathubs and beating each other to death with crowbars. Either way. Think of it as Second Life but with something to do besides build virtual dog dicks.

It's more effort than I originally planned on putting in, but because I've recieved a pretty generous donation recently, I'm motivated to put something extra into the project and make it more engaging. I'll hang out in the server from time to time as well in case any of you want to talk to me directly.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

An informative promotional video.

Thanks to a fan of the comic for producing this art crime in Gmod. The propane tank at the end was added because I'd mentioned to him that if I can successfully build a series of increasingly larger and more complex habitats, I'd eventually like to buy a used outdoor propane storage tank (big enough to stand up in) and try my hand at converting it into a one man habitat rated for submergence in perhaps twenty feet of water.

MarineLab was repurposed from a used gas storage tank as well, so this is about what I could expect in terms of interior space:

A step up from my current apartment, anyway. I'd set up in the lake that I sometimes visit during the Summer, as I could run a waterproofed power and air hose from the cabin down to it. Trying to operate a habitat like this with a surface bouy would get very costly, very fast, because it would be constantly burning gasoline to drive the generator and air compressor. A powerline from the surface makes more sense, and if you're going that route, you may as well put the air compressor on land too. Not quite as cool as Hampture's self contained bouy system, but affordably supporting a human being underwater for extended periods necessitates certain compromises.

That's getting ahead of myself, though. First I must send a hamster to the lake's bottom, where he will become a rugged industrialist titan.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The habitat enclosure.

This morning, nestled tenderly in my inbox between "hot black sluts do it all on cam for you" and "Lifetime supply of Chipotle free click here" (The more tempting of the two offers, not for racial reasons but because I am a man who truly enjoys large burritos) I found a notice that my habitat enclosure had shipped. Here it is:

It's made by a company called Atlantis Underwater Islands, and it's intended to provide dry land for small turtles, frogs, newts and crabs in large aquariums. I will be completely disregarding that intent. Here it is without all the garnish added:

As you can see there are deep depressions for the soil, so it's possible for plants to take root. The "river" is fairly shallow by comparison. A dip in the river rim allows a bit of water to get into the soil every time the air pressure bubbles out and the water level rises slightly (it goes back down a moment later.)

I've pretty much copied, wholesale, how the Aquarius reef base works. Prepare your body for science. In all posts from now on I intend to examine actual undersea habitats of all types because they are kickin' rad and it seems like nobody knows about them. Here's a video tour of Aquarius that explains the moon pool and how it's used to pass surplus air out into the ocean.

Like Aquarius, Hampture Mk.I will rely on a surface bouy to pump air down to it (in order to keep the water out/refresh the atmosphere) and supply power for the lighting. Unlike Aquarius, Hampture will be a glorious bastion of Randian philosophy as practiced by a single dwarf hamster. Pretty much the same otherwise.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Building the bouy, thinking about hampture Mk.II

Drove down to Target this afternoon and after deftly weaving through the herd of overweight women each leading a small circus troupe of screaming children I managed to escape with a small plastic tub and a drill bit that is exactly the same diameter as aquarium air tubing. Things I did not find were hot glue guns, fishing line (to anchor the bouy) or dignity.

In the course of navigating that glorious monument to capitalistic excess/fatty zoo I noticed they carry water cooler jugs. Huge, cylindrical, made of sturdy transparent plastic and they come with their own watertight caps. "Holy shitballs" I said outloud after waiting for children to wander within earshot, "This would make a perfect enclosure for Hampture Mk.II". Moments later my two brain cells began to rub together and it occurred to me that I wouldn't actually be able to get the necessary equipment *inside* there as the opening was too small (giggity). I'd need something I could fully open up and then, when everything was assembled, seal in a way that water wouldn't get in. It'd need to be rounded, transparent and made of very sturdy plastic as Hampture Mk2 will be a minimum of 8 feet underwater, possibly more depending on what point in my downward spiral into depravity I am at by then. I have no idea what sort of container would meet those specifications (sturdy transparent plastic, large but not too large for one person to move around, rounded shape, can be opened but is also watertight when closed) anything you can suggest would be appreciated.

I searched around to see what other people had done, and found this astonishing nonsense.

Their hamster sub uses two hoses, one to feed air into the sub (via hand pump) and the other to return stagnant air to the surface. I won't be using an exhaust hose for Hampture Mk1, but I'll need to for Mk2 due to the greater pressure making the use of a moon pool problematic. I'll also need an air pump far more powerful to push fresh air down that far. I considered using two car batteries and an inverter to power something like this, but then in an epiphenal realization of my own stupidity I remembered that there exist compact battery powered automotive air compressors. They'll run for hours, are relatively weatherproof, offer pressures around 260psi and it'd save me the trouble of wiring up the batteries with the inverter and waterproofing all of it. Obviously that powerpack would be in it's own waterproof tub, though. We're talking about a support bouy sufficiently large (probably 3 feet by 2 feet by 1 foot) that it's pointless unless the habitat is much, much bigger than Hampture Mk1. and much deeper as well.

I'm getting ahead of myself, though. I can't afford to build any of that unless Hampture Mk.I pans out and I get enough donations for that power pack, as it's the most expensive component of the MkII habitat. With any luck, the MkI prototype will prove the viability of the concept and it'll turn out that you're all fascinated enough by the prospect of a large scale deep water mammal habitat that you'll fund Mk II.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So many questions going in.

As we tumble ass backwards into a terrifying future which in no way resembles what we were promised by seemingly credible cartoons, on the way down we occasionally snag our balls on gems like Danish visionary Peter Madsen, the man who is paving the way for ordinary people to go to space and die there spectacularly or Lloyd Godson, a highly motivated but unfortunately Australian gentleman who proved that even on a woman's salary you can construct and live in a homemade underwater habitat ("biosub") which replenishes it's own air supply every time you pee into a vat full of algae, great news for those who don't mind smelling more like pee than normal. I think you know who I'm talking about.

But in either case, the tantalizingly lethal frontiers of the deep sea and outer space have been brought closer than they ever should be by brave, industrious men blowing their savings on personal rocketships and underwater dorm rooms so that their children inherit nothing but charred ashes or a drenched corpse. In celebration of these men and the noble sacrifice they will make any day now I have endeavored to recreate their feats, only in a manner that I can afford without compromising my lifestyle of gourmet killer whale eyeballs and surgeon-assisted direct brain massage with full release.

That means I wont be going to space, or to the depths of the ocean, but I can abide by that because I don't have 4G coverage there and if I can't watch cats doing ridiculous shit on Youtube at the drop of a hat I immediately take out my frustration on those around me. The superior option is to send man's tiniest, hairiest, finger bitingest friend, the Hamster. I love hamsters and would trade a billion Snookis or Kendras or Tila Tequilas for even one hamster, or for none. Consequently in sending these tiny sociopathic cannibals to the final frontiers of human exploration, I'm compelled to take every precaution, including triply redundant life support systems, escape pods and so on in the course of ensuring their safety, no matter how many pop culture icons must be sacrificed to accomplish it.

With your concerns as to how humanely this experiment will be carried out completely allayed (Completely) other questions arise:

Q: Why?
A: Shut up

Q: Won't the habitat flood? (aka fucking air pressure, how does it work)
A: No, the pump produces 0.15cfm at 30 inches, sufficient to continually push air *out* of the moon pool, completely refreshing the habitat's atmosphere once every three minutes.

Q: Seriously look at the river opening I'm sure it will flood
A: That's a flare in the rim, not an opening, and the air pressure keeps the water out. Google "moon pools".

Q: Why a moon pool instead of adding an exhaust hose back up to the surface?
A: Because hamsters need to drink and a moon pool is a better way to accomplish this than running down a separate hose for drinking water. Also a habitat open to the water can equalize with the outside pressure and is less likely to implode.

Q: How long can it stay down?
A: The air pumps last 14 hours on main battery and perhaps a few more on the backup D cells. The LED lighting is powered by a dedicated solar battery and can operate essentially nonstop provided decent weather.

Q: What if the pump fails? Won't the habitat flood?
A: No, there's a one-way safety valve which prevents it.

Q: I'm a bedwetting alarmist who cries animal abuse any time I don't immediately notice the precautions taken to protect them, what will you do to appease me?
A: Help you locate and climb into an active volcano.

Q: Seriously, what is the point of all this?
A: I'm interested in all sorts of things. Space travel, robots, outposts in harsh climes, the triumph of human ingenuity which makes it possible for mankind to live comfortably in places nature never intended, like Florida. The best way to learn is to do, so when I want to learn about robots I build robots, when I want to learn about rockets I build rockets, and when I want to build an underwater habitat for a dwarf hamster I get a refill on my antipsychotics but ultimately build it anyway because the annukai reptilian shapeshifters driving my body around like a meat robot always get their way.

So I'm going to build it. Because it's interesting, and a challenge. Because I want to learn firsthand what is involved in designing and constructing a complete underwater habitat capable of sustaining complex organisms. It's a weird hobby but some of my friends crochet so I'm in the clear.

For reference, here's the initial concept schematic for Hampture. The stage in design where I'm sixteen again, big blue eyes like dinner plates, rosy cheeks and wild expectations all of which are ground slowly into a dull brown paste as reality sets in. Every project, in a sense, is like another lifetime of gradually lowered expectations and all-consuming regret:

If you're confused as to why you seem to be in a planetarium right now it's because upon viewing the above schematic you climaxed uncontrollably and your load shot straight up into a cieling fan which sprayed it in all directions like postmodern spin art. An ultraviolet light fixture you forgot you purchased from Spencer's because you can't be trusted with money was jarred into activation and the flecks of your seed adorning all four walls lit up like christmas lights. Savor this magical moment, you will never again feel so viscerally alive.

Anyways here's what the project turned into when I realized I'm broke:

A single moderately sized cabin with composting dirt to handle the poop, a dish of food pellets and some LED lighting. As the moon pool is designed to continuously circulate water the little guy has plenty to drink, and by scaling back to only what was strictly needed for a reasonably extended stay underwater I was able to buy the parts for this crime against god but also continue sleeping indoors.

If you'd like to see the habitat grow into something resembling a proper city, with multiple enclosures (possibly interconnected?) or even the construction of the original design, click the paypal button and send me the dollar you were going to spend on bullshit DLC for some magical elf game. Watching something this bizarre and ill-advised by any sane authority come together before your eyes is worth at least that, and some portion of the proceeds will go to paying my attourney, posting my bail, or hiring a reconstructive surgeon when the hamsters discover ADAM.