Thursday, December 7, 2017

Forgot to post last week

Hamsters were swapped, George is underwater, Scott is on land. Damn, but the holiday season has me swamped.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Monday, October 2, 2017

Hamsters swapped

Scott is underwater, George is on land. Also the fish are missing (presumed dead) and algae has taken over everything.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Monday, August 7, 2017

Shoutout to the City of Anture

I don't know how this escaped my notice for long. I think I was dimly aware of it a few years back but forgot about it when Googling "Anture" and "City of Anture" didn't turn up any results. The City of Anture is (was) a project by one 'Iris Corven' to build an underwater ant farm. Sound familiar?
I found out about it because Mr. Corven commented on a recent post on this blog. If you're reading this, for some stupid reason I can't reply to comments here, I dunno if it's a problem with Chrome, with Blogspot, with Google accounts or what.

But what a cool project you built! It looks to be one of those gel ant farms where the substrate they burrow through is also their ongoing source of both food and water. A great choice for a self-contained underwater ant colony as this way, you never need to bring it to the surface to replenish the food or water.

 The only points I take off are for the tiny aquarium it's in, and the fact that the colony is 1atm. I made this mistake too with the very first Hampture prototype, using a stagnant air return tube. Connecting it directly back to the surface that way makes the air pressure inside the habitat the same as at the surface.
This is a bad way to go, since it means there is a pressure differential involved. The water pressure outside the habitat is greater than the air pressure inside, which can lead very easily to leaks. Maybe not at first, but as wear and tear accumulate.

 The surprisingly easy solution to this? Don't have an air return tube. Let it bubble out. It has to overcome the outside water pressure to do so, which means it first must build up to a slight internal overpressure.

This overpressure ensures that wherever there is a crack, air can bubble out, but water cannot seep in. The water would have to get past the higher pressure air. This is called an ambient pressure habitat, and it's inherently safer/more fault tolerant than one atmosphere.

Ants don't need much airflow compared to hamsters, but there are in-line valves for aquarium pumps that let you reduce the airflow to the desired amount. This will reduce the bubble plume and won't dry out the top layer of gel.

There's also no ballast weights on the habitat. It seems he glued(!) it to the bottom of the aquarium. I would not recommend this. The stress will eventually overcome the glue and shoot the ant farm up to the surface. Properly attached ballast weights are needed.

This is a very cool overall idea that could easily be revisited with these small changes. It would be really cool to see footage of an ant farm like this with LED lighting inside the top of the lid (to make the ants more visible in the gel) sitting on the bottom of a pond or lake.

The edible gel gives this project a lot more autonomy than a hamster habitat. If somebody set up an underwater ant farm of this type, ambient pressure, in a pond next to their home and used grid power for the air pump (or better yet the pump is inside so cold weather doesn't kill it, and there's just a fucking long air tube running to the pond) it could potentially be fine by itself for several months.

There's also a wide variety of different gel antfarm enclosure designs to play around with, that would look more suitable as an underwater structure:
They are overwhelmingly very close to airtight because of the necessity of not having any small openings ants could escape through, so they don't look difficult to make watertight, especially given that ambient pressure habitats don't even really need to be fully watertight. 
If you're reading this Iris, I salute your efforts so far, but you stopped too soon! There's so much untapped potential here! I have my hands full with hampture but would love to see you pursue more ambitious versions of Anture in tandem. With LED lighting, ballast weights, ambient pressure, in a natural body of water. All that good stuff.

If you need help/advice with stuff like ballasting, buoyancy calculation for weights, electrical power supply for lighting or heating, drop those questions in the comments on my blog and I'll somehow get back to you about it. 

Greenhab has plants again!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Grass is growing again in Greenhab!

Why now? What was wrong before? My hunch is that the hotter, drier Summer air being pumped down into the hab was carrying away moisture faster than usual, so the normal rate of watering wasn't cutting it. 

All I did was increase the amount of water, and now look at all the little sprouts! I really need to study plant care, because I'd like to build a larger, more ambitious dedicated plant habitat after mega hab is finished (if I ever get to that, life has been crazy lately.)

Seeing what the Nemo's Garden project has accomplished opened my eyes to the fact that plants, uniquely, can survive in an underwater air pocket exposed on the bottom to the sea because the rate of oxygen and CO2 exchange between the water surface and the air is sufficient for the respiratory needs of most plants.

That's how they are able to raise so many plants in those inflatable bubble habs without any air compressors on the surface. It makes me want to experiment with a passive life support plant habitat of my own. It also makes me wonder how large it would have to be, and how many plants, to support the respiratory needs of a single hamster. Maybe the food needs as well?

The way those domes are designed, the condensation trickles down the sides and right into the soil, so it's self-watering too. A habitat like that could be an autonomously self-supporting mini-world for the single hamster resident. Maybe more, I'd have to do some napkin math. Either all male or all female though for obvious reasons. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Hamsters swapped

George is underwater, Scott is on land. As a note to the people who keep commenting, Blogspot doesn't let me comment for some weird reason. I hit comment, it refreshes the page and my comment isn't there. So don't feel like I'm ignoring you, I can see what you write, I just can't respond.

Anyway here's some video of George doing aquatic hamster stuff:

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Scott has bunched everything over to one side.

No idea why. He's also built a little hamster hut out of the fluff. My first thought was, maybe the heater pad is broken? I brought the hab up to feel it, nope it's still working. Not really sure why he's doing this. Mysterious hamster reasons I guess.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Hamsters swapped, greenhab seeded

Scott is underwater, George is on land. I've also planted some grass seed in greenhab, it will be nice to get a fresh start now that I have a better idea of how frequently to water.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Scott re-submerges

The windstorm appears well and truly over. I've put Scott back in the habitat and he's once again living the life aquatic. :3

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Power outage

A severe windstorm afflicting Oregon, Washington and California knocked out power all day and well into the night yesterday. The battery backup air pump saved the day, for the second time (although it was the old pump before). This just goes to show the importance of making life-critical hardware multiply redundant. Scott is in the spare land cage. I'm waiting a day to make sure the windstorm bullshit is truly over before he re-submerges.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Hamsters swapped

There was an interruption because of the unexpected need for a new pump, so I wound up swapping hams mid-month. Consequently we're back to George living on land and Scott living underwater, even though that's what the last "hamsters swapped" message said. Pardon the irregularity, normal underwater hamster business has resumed and all is well with the world. Why am I so fuckin strange though

Friday, March 17, 2017

Project Hampture resumes

New pump is set up, hamster back in the water, all is right with the world. Stay tuned, more to follow incl. video below:

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Replacement pump ordered

I was able to raise $40 in donations, but didn't see the point to waiting on the rest of it and just covered the difference out of pocket. The pump is now on the way.

Friday, March 3, 2017

New donation!

For $20. With shipping included I am about $35 away from that new air pump.

Btw, I can't reply to your comments. When I put in my info and tell it which account to use to reply, it reloads the page instead of posting the comment. I have no idea why or how to fix it but I am not ignoring you guys. Maybe I should do a mailbag type post once in a while as a workaround?

EDIT: Another $20! Up to $40 now, another $15 will do it.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Need a new air pump

Hamsters are fine. Aquarium pumps typically don't fail "all at once", they just suddenly become much weaker for a while before actually failing. I noticed the bubble stream from the habitat was greatly reduced, down to just a meager trickle of small bubbles every few seconds.
 Because it's already like 15x the flow rate a single hamster requires, Scott was fine. It was just my cue to take him out of the water and go shopping for a new pump. This one has really lasted me a long-ass time. Here is the one I was using. It's expensive but the battery backup feature is a must, given that it's life-critical.

 I actually don't have two land cages, so George and Scott will need to cohabitate while I build a second one. I could use some donations for that new pump if any of you are feeling flush. I could rush out and buy a cheap normal air pump from petco, but the specific features of this battery backup model are really necessary for a project of this nature.

EDIT: Nope, they began fighting immediately when placed together. Evidently I need to drop what I'm doing and build a second enclosure right this minute. Oh well.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Hamsters swapped

...Because I mistakenly thought this was a month with 30 days in it. George is on land, Scott is underwater. Phone is having problems, pics/video when I get it fixed.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Hamsters swapped

On the 1st, just forgot to post about it. George is underwater, Scott's on land. Video soon.