Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Terrarium - Part One

This is part one of a multi-part post on the terrarium. I decided to build a new terrarium for my tiger salamanders. I bought an Exo-Terra Large Tall Terrarium (36"x18"x24" LxWxH). I cut glass and made a 12"x12" by 5 1/4 " deep water area. I drilled three holes with diamond hole bits in the bottom for bulkheads. One for an overflow in the water area, one for the return via a waterfall, and one in the land area to drain excess water accumulation as needed if the soil becomes over saturated. I also used plexiglass to make an underground cave whose side view can be seen from the front.

I built a stand for both the big terrarium and for a smaller 12'x12" cube terrarium. The bottom of the stand will hold the sump biological filter.

Partially built stand: (Doors not made yet and still to be finished.)
I wanted the water from the sump to return via a waterfall. I carved out the water fall in green blocks of craft styrofoam. I used a long drill bit to make the hole for the waterfall water return pipe. A deeper pool was made by cutting a hole to hold a plastic hospital cup (painted black on outside). After carving the water fall I tested the water flow with a hose to make sure the water flowed the way I wanted before proceeding to the next step. Once finished the rim around the cup and return pipe are sealed with 100% silicon.

Waterfall carved in styrofoam:

To make the waterfall look natural and to make it waterproof, the first step is to coat it with sandstone color sanded grout. The grout is thin enough to paint on the foam. After the first coat drys, a second coat is applied. While the second coat is still wet, dry powdered grout in the colors natural gray, moss green, copper, and new taupe are applied to make the rock look realistic. The dry grout adds shadows and shading.

First Coat of sandstone grout painted on foam:

After the grout coatings on the waterfall are dry, it is coated in clear coat System Three epoxy.

The epoxy clear coated waterfall (still wet):

The finished waterfall attached with silicon in the terrarium. The exposed silicon is covered with coco fiber by pressing the coco fiber into the silicon. The area above the water fall is treated with slate pieces (Thin slate layers separated from larger flooring tiles).
The back of the terrarium is covered with Zoo Med real bark panels, sphagnum and coco husk fiber. The back and left side walls of the water area are covered with thin slate plates siliconed to the glass. Two ramps and a small platform are created with slate tile and siliconed into place. Traction is added to the ramps by siliconing large aquarium gravel and small pebbles to the ramps. The overflow tube is also coated with aquarium gravel.

Three clay orchid pots (have side drainage holes) were cut in half with a tile saw and then glued to the back wall to hold plants higher on the back wall.
The vines are exo-terra large and small vines. The bottom of the tank has a layer of hydroton clay balls covered with black sunshade cloth. The substrate is ground coco husk fiber. Various ferns, bromeliads, an orchid and ivy are planted. Sheet sphagnum, live moss and lichens are added to complete the natural terrarium.

The back is spray painted black. The two sides are masked off to spray paint the exposed side of the waterfall and cork black. The front of covered with 3M black vinyl stick on to cover the exposed dirt leaving the water area and cave side visible.

Dog House LED Rope Lights

Since it gets dark early I decided Fringe would like to have some LED rope lights on her dog house. Now she has some light at night on the evenings I come home after dark or go out at after dark.

Samsung LCD TV Self Repair - Capacitor Replacement

My Samsung LCD TV started showing colored spots which would go away after turning off and then back on. Then they got worse becoming spots and streaks and the problem wasn't completely going away after turning off and then on again. It also started taking longer to turn on. A colleague at work had the same problem and fixed the problem by replacing capacitors. A quick Google search revealed this was an easily repairable by replacing capacitors on the power board.

Once the back cover is removed, the power board is under the metal cover:
The cover over the power board was removed:
Close up of power board: (The bad capacitors are in the upper right corner)
Bad Capacitors: (Bulging and leaking tops)
I desoldered the bad capacitors and bought replacement capacitors that had the same capacitance but higher voltage rating. The new capacitors were slightly larger but still fit.

Soldering job before and after trimming leads:

The new Capacitors:

The cables were reconnected, power board cover and back cover were replaced. The TV is good as new and functions perfectly.