Product Review: Rifle Rods

I have been thinking about doing this review for a while, but had not got up to doing it…. until now.

As you may have inferred from previous posts, I am a shooter, and considering where I live (Australia, for those who have not worked it out from the domain) I do have a rather extensive, and expensive collection of longarms (well for Australia at least), and as with any hobby, space is always at a premium. Due to this, and the fact I have plans to double my collection over time, I had to find space to fit more into the (do more with less anyone??). Considering I already had two safes, one being used to store ammunition and the other the firearms themselves, as to comply with Australian law, I had to get as much into the Hy-Skor (Hyskor) HSCH2 (a 30 longarm safe) as possible. As anyone who has had a firearms safe with any type of modern scoped rifle in it, can attest there is no way you can fit the stated capacity in the safe as it is (if I am to believe what I am told) based on how many shotguns, specifically over/under shotguns it can fit, not rifles.

So it is with this starting situation I start looking for solutions, as it happens someone else at the time over at Shooting.com.au (No longer a forum) was looking for something called Rifle Rods (available through Store More Guns) them, and I saw the thread and my interest was piqued. After some research I decided to purchase some on my trip to the US in December 2012/January 2013, and this is exactly what I did, I purchased them and had them delivered to my hotel in San Francisco, then flew back with them.

After several months of having other things to do, including hours of catch up work for taking 6 weeks off (is it really a holiday if you come back and do the work anyway?) I finally got around to doing the first part of the install in April. The first part is/was the modifying of the safe itself, whilst strictly not required and I could have put the special hook and loop material onto the bottom of the shelves and internal compartment, I would have only got about two thirds of the possible shelf space. So instead I took measurements using the pre existing mounting points for the firearms and the pre-existing shelves and internal compartment bottoms to get dimensions for shelves, these turned out to be as follows;

Shelf: 590mm in width; 360mm in depth with 2 folds on the 590mm edge adding another 10mm for each fold, and the material being 1.5mm steel
Internal Compartment Bottom Extension: 540mm in width; 360mm in depth with 1 fold on the 540mm edge adding another 10mm for the fold, and the material being 1.5mm steel

Which I then took to a local metalshop and got them to fold me the new larger shelves, when this was done both shelves were then primed with 2 coats of Kill Rust primer that I purchased from the local hardware store, as well as a top coat of “hammer tone” black to make it more closely match the powder coating of the safe. I also cut and fitted the Hook and Loop material to the bottom of the shelf and the bottom extension, with the shelf also getting a piece of non slip matting being cut for its upper part. That was the easy part done, now to install them.

To install the shelf was the easy part of the installation process, simply take the old one out, and put the new one in, the extension to the internal compartment bottom was a whole different ballgame.

To affix this new bottom/shelf to the safe I firstly had to remove the lining from under the compartment, this was very, very well adhered to the bottom of the compartment with some form of glue, so after about an hour of scraping away at it will a scraper, and making a mess in general but I eventually got a clean(ish) surface to work with, I then proceeded to use SikaBond to glue it to the base, using various objects from around the safe area to hold it in place until the SikaBond had dried, then plus a few days to ensure it had cured.

Once this was done it was simply a matter of re-installing the lighting system and putting the rifles and other bits back in. Now I have not only a safe that will hold the advertised amount, but more than the advertised amount I believe, but I will have to find out at some point.

Overall I am very happy with this, I do want to make a couple of modifications to the system, namely for the shotguns where the rods really need a rubber or silicon part attached to the rods that makes them a little wider so they sit properly upright, I suppose I had better break out the moulding gear and the vacuum chamber.

Now back to the Arduino Project.

More Arduino Project Stuff

Just thought I would make a quick entry in a couple of spare minutes to state that I have decided to “split” the Arduino system, well rather the PCB’s as I was simply trying to do to much on one PCB so what I have done is split the power supply onto one board, and as I am splitting it I have taken the opportunity to add a second regulator to the design for 3.3volt along with its associated smoothing capacitors so I can integrate 3.3v electronics into the system in the future if I want, besides I can then intergrate the powerboard design into other projects making the extra PCB’s I will purchase usefull as most places have a minimum run of 4 or 5, which means that for the once of projects its not paticuarly useful, but if I design it right the first time I can use the board on other projects as well. On this board as well will be the two OPAMP’s and the linear optocoupler to allow for the monitoring of the power via a plug in lead to the board, meaning that in total there will be 2 leads to the board, the first one carrying power (12VDC, 5VDC, 3.3VDC and ground) and the second one being the voltage monitoring.

I will release the designs for it once I have built it and tested it

SafeDuino – Part 03: The goalposts change

Ok, I admit it… feature creep has officially set in on this project.

After doing the basic designs and working out I needed the EtherMega (from Freetronics) for the SafeDuino project, and consequently purchased some (I say some as I keep changing the design) of the components I decided that it was a “waste” of a mega to only use the small number of I/O’s I needed (but more than I could get from an ethernet connected UNO), and this is where the feature creep began.

So, now what I have is more of an environmental monitor not only for the cabinet it was to maintain originally, but also for the room/building it is housed in, this will allow me to do differential monitoring for parts of the building vs the areas I am going to monitor/control individually.

So far I have determined, that beyond the original cabinet it was going to monitor, the following are going to be monitored;

  • The building itself, this is to allow for differential comparisons and fluctuations in temperature and humidity to see if the things I am putting in place to control humidity are in fact working
  • Two other cabinets, including one humidor, just because I can 😀
    • Turn on/off humidification/dehumidification equipment and fans to allow for circulation in the closed environments based upon readings
  • Possibility of wine/beer fridges
  • External temperature/humidity
  • Solar Radiation (for estimating solar panel power generation)
  • Background radiation, this is more of another because I can thing, being able to monitor radiation (Alpha, Beta, Gamma) in the background of the environment long-term will be useful in the future just to see the changes over time, I will be connecting it to one of the sensor networks that have popped up after the Fukushima accident
  • Internal and External light sensors, again to see how it affects temperature/humidity in the closed environments/building
  • Same goes for door/window openings

I am sure there is more to come, in fact I know there is, I have 40 odd pins to fill up :D.

In addition to these added features, I have decided to add some protection to the arduino itself through the use of optocouplers/optoisolators to isolate the external electronics from the device itself, where possible anyway, this will also take some of the current loading of the arduino board. So far I have confirmed that the 4N25 optocouplers work, and I have tested those which I have purchased to ensure they operate correctly.

I am still to get a few linear optocouplers for use the with the voltage divider to allow me to monitor the voltage in the battery system.

Considering ultimately that the EtherMega will be powered via POE (supplied by the switch, so a proper 801.11af regulator, which is being done to ensure monitoring will continue even if the batteries for the lights etc fail) there will be no load on the batteries apart from a few mA for sensors and alike for the most part, but I will be configuring the reed switches for example to be Normally Open (NO) so that there is no power going through them when they are not activated (apart from what is used by the resistors to keep a proper ground) I should be able to maintain this for a long period with just the batteries, and with a solar charger, I should be able to maintain this use of the system indefinitely.