Thomas shares makes

Rainwater Tank Plumbing


After having the rainwater tank installed and connected to the roof, there was still quite some plumbing missing. The filter and calmed inlet add up to hundreds of euros. In my case the way the tubes were connected to the tank made off the shelve filters unusable, so I opted to DIY everything.

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Rainwatertank Level Sensor

rain water level sensor principle

Mechanical sensor parts assembled with a very short sensor tube to fit the picture.

This project idea scored 3/3 stars, combining electronics, water and creating something from scratch. I couldn't resist building my own reed switch array water level sensor.

This kind of sensor has a floating part moving up and down a sensor tube.

It's not an off the shelve solution to sensing water levels, buying a water pressure sensor or an ultrasonic level sensor would probably be easier, but DIY is fun!

My goal was to do some electronics and 3D design, 3D print, experiment and get a circuit board fabricated. I'd build a sensor using easily obtainable parts whenever possible. The electronics should be easy to build at home.

I will use it to monitor and log the water level in Home Assistant. Getting to automate the adding of a minimal amount of tap water to the tank during the summer will be a useful feature.

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openHASP touch display build

openHASP running in a 3D printed case

openHASP running in a 3D printed case

I discovered openHASP while I was searching for projects integrating touch interfaces with Home Assistant.

It's easy to wire up a cheap ESP microcontroller board and TFT display module, and by loading this opensource firmware you can turn it into a network connected touch control panel and control devices and display things.

When I bumped into a nice 2.8" TFT Desktop stand enclosure on thingiverse, I remembered I had an unused 2.8" ILI9341 display with resistive touch layer from a previous project.

Connecting the dots... I had all the necessary parts in my workshop, this would make a nice project to make over a weekend evening.

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Openscad: Interlocking Hash shaped platform


While designing a screw-drive based RC tank (perhaps more on that later), I wanted to create a large easily customisable support structure out of a minimal amount of plastic. I started prototyping an interlocking structure in the shape of a octothorpe (#). This turned out to be a lot of ugly code, and so I got sucked into rabit hole of optimising my openscad model and found a cleaner solution.

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Reviving my Standing stats project


I have used an Ergotron standing desk for 5 years, then it broke, right out of warranty. Several years ago I started building a sensor device to track how much time I spend standing up versus sitting down in my chair. The hardware prototype finished, it got shelved since I found other fun things to do with my limited hobby-time.

Later I noticed that I was sitting down 99% of the time when working from home. To revive my healthy habit of working upright part of the time, I decided to pick up my parked project by re-printing the enclosure I made on my own printer and leveraging the power of esphome on and home assistant to finish the project after all.

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Din-rail mounted Home assistant gear

din rail mounted stuff

I have a technical wall with several pieces of electronics mounted onto it. It started to look a bit disorganized, with all these things mounted at random places on the wooden board and cables running all over the place.

So I wanted to clean it up a bit... I stumbled upon a DIN-rail mount on Thingiverse, and remembered I had a piece of DIN rail in a box. Time to remix a bit and mount everything on DIN rail!

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Board stacks

raspberry pi stack prototype

At home and at work, I always tend to have around 5 small development boards on my desk. In a fixed setup with identical boards, metal or plastic standoffs can be a nice solution to build a stack that reduces the footprint on desk and avoid a spiderweb of cables.

In reality, the boards are of different sizes, and standoffs still cost a few euro's each. I knew I could do better, using a 3D printer and some parametric CAD modeling.

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TV Console corner protector

from the side

During COVID19 lockdown, the kids were running around the living room a lot more, and a lot more reckless. Our TV console is covered with glass plates. These have chamfered corners (45 degree cut off), but still it's a hard, glass corner, and I could imagine painful or catastrophic injuries and trips to the ER.

I decided to create a quick and dirty cover that, once installed, would provide safer plastic, rounded corners.

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DIY extension block

from the side

During COVID19 lockdown, I found myself struggling with cheap extension blocks, in fact I find most extension blocks horrible, and most power supply blocks can't fit next to each other.

I still had three brand new, wall sockets left over from electricity renovations (I opted to place earth wire so installed appropriate sockets). These are Niko brand, the finest EU/BE sockets available, and are lovely to use in every way possible. I already considered making larger extension blocks this way.

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DIY Automatic condensation water pump

Installed device

In 2015 we moved into a house which had a condensing gas boiler. When the previous owners installed it, they never installed a drain pipe to dispose of the water that it produces. Instead there was... a bucket that had to be emptied every week. I quickly grew tired of emptying the bucket. With no obvious way to direct the water except over the ceiling, I needed a device that would pump the water. This sounded like a fun DIY project, so I ordered some float switches and a 12VDC membrane pump, then got busy and soldered a simple set/reset controller with... Guess which old-school IC...

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