Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lake habitat

With all this focus on the new aquarium I thought I'd show some designs for a larger, domed habitat intended to be used in natural bodies of water. It's 16 inches in diameter and too large for the aquarium but just about perfectly sized for an easy to transport, easy to deploy lake hab. With a diameter of 1.3 feet it'll be the largest yet, which seems to be the trend in my designs lately. Whatever winds up being the fourth habitat for aquarium use will need to at least fit in it. Of course, since the dome unit alone costs $100 it may be a while before I can begin work on this.

Hamlab 3 is being decommissioned.

Remember the mixup with the wrong combination of glue (cyanoacrylate) and spray-on accelerant? Well, I thought it was salvageable by going over all the seals with the correct glue/accelerant combo. And in fact it did hold up fairly well, but during the standard 24 hour in-water testing (without occupants) of any new/modified habitat, it took on about a centimeter of water, and any amount is unacceptable. For those of you who have asked why I'm this ridiculously cautious and methodical about a hobby, anything that goes underwater or into space and must support life demands it. At any rate, I deem Hamlab 3 unsafe for further use. I'll be salvaging the ballast weights but the rest is going in the garbage. I have almost all the pieces I need to build another habitat exactly like it, and this time providing only the correct accelerant is used throughout construction it will be as dependable and solid as the other habs. Rather than rebuild the same design, this might also be an opportunity to make something different. Suggestions for novel habitat designs are welcome, preferably based on transparent waterproof acrylic/lexan containers already designed to be used by divers/kayakers. I had my eye on one of these large dome habitats, as they are designed to optionally be used as aquariums (and are therefore excellently sealed) but the $100 price is outside of the current budget after buying the 100 gallon aquarium, besides which it's just barely too large in diameter to fit. Still, I have my heart set on eventually purchasing one for conversion into a habitat when I can afford to, as it looks just perfect for it and is spacious enough to contain a running wheel like Hambase Alpha, an amenity I am becoming more and more convinced that hamsternauts need to be happy in the long term.

The final city takes shape

The last one's just a placeholder, still waiting on funds for the fourth habitat. And obviously we're gonna need more intrepid hamsternauts to populate the city, even as it is now it's kind of empty. Can't wait to get some fish and plants in there. A small shark or octopus, maybe?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Preparing to purchase the aquarium

It's 100 gallon with a bay window style front. 20 inches deep, nearly twice the depth of the current 'tank' (a clear plastic storage tub). The water level will be at least 10 inches above the highest point of the hab (the water bottle) instead of just barely above it, as it is now. The habs will be properly underwater, by a good distance, but still well short of the max depth that the pump is rated for. There's room for upgrading to a larger, deeper aquarium in the future but as a starter tank this one's enormous. It will be illuminated by overhead lamp, stocked with plants/gravel/fish, roomy enough to contain four habitats generously spaced apart and deep enough to be a suitable alternative to lake deployment. I'm excited; once my laptop's repaired I can begin streaming live video of the three existing habs inside the aquarium, and eventually all four.

Things I still need (Prices include shipping)

~An additional battery backup air pump ($80)
~Materials for a fourth habitat ($250)
~6 additional hamsternauts to populate the rest of the habs ($12 per hamster times 6 = $72)
~Fish, coral, plants ($50)
~Four more resistive heaters (So there's two per habitat)($30)
~16 by 9 HD webcam to show entire city in one stream ($30)

The streaming video will most likely be on Livestream, it will be free to watch, always on 24/7 except during maintenance and will be in 720p provided I can get a webcam capable of it.

Here is how it's expected to look in the near term with two air pumps, three habs and no fish/plants/coral:

Here's what the finished setup might look like, with the fourth habitat, some plants and fish. 

Once all of this is done, I will consider the city complete, and Project Hampture fully realized. Everyone will be able to log in and watch the city over livestream as much as they like, but I'll be moving on to the Skyhab project. That's also very promising, and I've been neglecting it so that I could finally do justice to the Hampture concept with this complete, 4 hab city in a large scenic aquarium.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hampture may become available for purchase.

I am shopping the idea around to a number of potential manufacturers and there's one in particular with an existing product that might easily be adapted for this type of use. I don't know if anything will come of it, but if it does, odds are you'll eventually be able to purchase a consumer grade underwater hamster hab of your very own. Stay tuned.  

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Aquasphere complete

Due to a much appreciated pair of $5 donations, I've been able to quickly complete the Aquasphere. If I can't raise funds for a fourth proper habitat, I may simply deploy aquasphere along with the three I do have, although not for as long a duration as the Aquasphere is more of a bathyscaphe than a habitat and not equipped with the amenities or leg room needed for comfortable long term habitation. Even so it's everything I could've hoped for. It can be used either as an ambient pressure or (for the first time!) 1atm system owing to the strength of the shape and materials (As well as the excellent seal provided by the twin silicone O-rings) it is perfectly neutrally buoyant with a hamsternaut inside, and it vaguely resembles an underwater pokeball. :3

As you can see in the last pic, because it relies on the weight of the silica gel litter to remain upright, it tends to tilt a little bit as the occupant moves around, because that shifts the center of gravity. As the Aquasphere is intended to be carried by hand, this is not a serious issue, although because I am someone that's anal retentive about precise ballasting it does bug me a little bit.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Out of money.

Unfortunately things are a bit tight right now and I can't afford to continue this or any other project out of pocket. The latest part, the aqua sphere, I have about 75% of the needed parts for. Three out of the four main habitats for Phase 1 are complete. That's where things stand, I'll wait on donations and hopefully resume construction on the aqua sphere and fourth habitat soon.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Working on a small pet carrier for a single hamster that is neutrally buoyant (neither sinks nor floats) so I can carry one hambro with me at a time on helmet dives. The parts are modular, so this could also be used as the basis of a new hamsub.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Hamstation repaired, hambase upgraded

Hamstation works beautifully now. Just needed replacement glue. It's not pretty but it works, and I've added a second electric heating pad to Hambase. I may also add LED lights inside, just for funsies. With this specific type of heater now proven to my satisfaction I'll begin adding them to the other habitats as time and funding permit.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kickstarter rejection

I guess that's that. They also rejected the low cost solar/battery powered diving helmet. I appreciate the suggestions to use this site but it doesn't seem like they'll accept any of my projects.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hamstation ruined?

I got a bad batch of glue apparently. I use Insta-cure, it's an exothermic fast-set glue that you spray an accelerant fluid on to make it harden in seconds. It's fantastically watertight, sturdy, and makes rapid construction and prototyping possible.

However the bottle I just recently bought must contain a faulty batch. It no longer cures when you spray the accelerant on it, it turns into a goopy greyish mess. Somehow the wrong chemical was labeled as accelerant. Or the glue is to blame? Either way if I can't clean it out of the bottom of the habitat I may have to scrap it and start over. A very expensive mistake.

I'll be returning this bottle and the bottle of accelerant to the store soon and having it replaced. Hopefully the grey crap can be washed out and I can salvage hamstation. If not I may need help buying new components for a replacement habitat.

P.S. this is their second week underwater in Hambase Alpha. Well, first was a 7 day mission, then a day of rest on land, and since then they have been underwater an additional 8 days. Food and water supplies are still abundant, so I'm gonna try for a month.