10 Ways to Maximize your Living Space

Many of us who live in small confined rooms know the struggles of finding space to put our stuff. For the people looking to tidy up their house, the students in dorms, the studio apartment owners, and persons who are forced to keep everything in one room, Dave’s Projects is here to help. In no particular order, here are 10 ways to maximize your living space (with amazon links).

1. Wall Mount Shelves

Wall mountable shelves are a great cost-effective way to maximize your living space. Particularly because it frees up floor space for other things. One re-occurring theme you will notice in this post is increasing floor real estate by mounting. Wall mountable shelves come in a wide variety of designs and can be as cheap or expensive as you want. But for the added real estate you’re getting in return it is more than worth it.

Amazon:

2. Surface Mounting Cables

cable clutter before and after

Cable clutter from all your electronics is not only unsighly but wastes precious floor space. Overtime this mess is generated by running various internet cables, chargers, phone lines, etc. along the floor. A great way this can be remedied is by surface mounting these cables along the wall. See my first blog post to learn how to do this yourself.

3. Door Hanging Hooks

excellent-hanging-wall-hooks-perfect-ideas

The design simplicity and effectiveness of the door hanging hooks are second only to a bicycle. All it requires is a door to support it and it can significantly increase your wardrobe space without a actually getting a wardrobe.

Amazon:

4. Storage Crates

amazing-of-plastic-storage-crates-storage-containers-plastic-storage-containers-storage-bins

If you’re the type of person with a whole ton of junk but you can’t throw them out because they hold some sentimental value or otherwise, storage crates may be the solution for you. They typically have a fair amount of storage space and best of all they are stackable, meaning more floor real estate again.

Amazon:

5. Sofa bed

sofa bed

Here’s a timeless classic in the efficient furniture world. The name speaks for itself. A couch for guests in the day and a bed by night. The definition of killing two birds with one stone.

Amazon:

6. Bed/Dresser

bed dresser2

Continuing the bed designs, here we have another hybrid type bed that does as the name suggests. This one you probably won’t see at your nearest furniture store however, if you know a skilled carpenter you might have a shot at building one.

7. Inflatable Mattress

air bed

Imagine you have a two bed room apartment. One room dedicated for your bedroom, but then the next room you want as a storage room but you also need a room when family or friends decide to stay the night. Why not do both then! The inflatable mattress is the perfect solution for obvious reasons. When not in use it can be stored in a corner somewhere, then when your guest is over just air that sucker up and boom you’re good to go!

Amazon:

8. Hanging Shoes Bag

shoes hanger

This is similar to the aforementioned door hanging hooks (#3); except instead of hanging up clothes this is for hanging up shoes. The same theory applies to this.

Amazon:

9. Vacuum Storage Bags

vacuum storage 2

This is the traveller’s best friend. With this you can pack your suitcase as efficiently as a Jamaican parent coming back from ‘farin’ bringing back goodies. Just know the increase space afforded means more weight when when you finish packing.

 

Amazon:

 

 

10. Under Staircase Storage

hqdefault

Think back to where Harry Potter used to reside before going to Hogwarts. His awful foster parents locked him up in a little room below their staircase. As in-humane as this was to lock up a human in such a confined space, its an excellent space saving design for a house.

-Dave 2018

Continue reading “10 Ways to Maximize your Living Space”

Advertisements

How to build a Mobile Acoustic Vocal booth on a budget

If you are a small time producer or composer on a budget, or just a budding sound enthusiast, this post is for you. We will guide you on how to set up your very own sound booth on a budget.

Acoustic vocal booths are used for live recordings and studio sessions. The materials in its design makes it such that there is minimal reverberations, reflections and echoing. This is because it constructed with thick sound blocking materials to isolate sound. This way post sound recordings sound more natural.

A typical professional booth can easily cost upwards of $1000 USD

sound booth prices

But as you know Dave’s Projects believe when the price is too high you build it yourself. Total budget for this build was <$130USD.

 

Step 1. Create Your design

 

WhatsApp Image 2018-03-03 at 9.34.17 AM

For this project, a 3x3x7 ft design was chosen. Just large enough to hold a single person. The enclosure would be made similar to a homemade tent (with pvc pipes). Thick car seat upholstery was used as the acoustic curtain material.

 

Step 2. Go Shopping

Material List

  • 30ft x Chrome rods
  • 20ft x 1/2″ PVC pressure pipe
  • 8 x 1/2″ PVC Tee
  • 8 x PVC 1/2″ 90 degree elbow
  • 15’x8′ 1/4″ thick car seat upholstery
  • 1 reel velcro
  • assorted buttons

 

 

 

 

Step 3. The Build

The top and bottom frame was made by cutting the pvc pipe into 8 x 2.5ft lengths and creating 2 rectangles by joining them with the pvc fittings

IMG_20180325_132829539

WhatsApp Image 2018-03-05 at 10.16.22 PM

The chrome rods were cut into 4 x 7ft lengths and used as the vertical support.

Next the car seat- I mean acoustic curtain was hung over the frame.

 

Buttons were stitched on the curtain to hold it up on the frame.

Finally velcro was taped on to seal the enclosure entrance.

IMG_20180325_125929695_BURST000_COVER_TOP

When recording is done, just roll up the curtain and dismantle for storage.

 

See the time-lapse of the build below

 

 

 

 

Final Product

IMG_20180325_131426798_BURST000_COVER

 

Spread the word if you enjoyed. For any other project ideas feel free to leave it in the comment section below and we may make a post on it.

 

-Dave 2018

 

Continue reading “How to build a Mobile Acoustic Vocal booth on a budget”

Is Renewable Energy worth it yet? The state of Renewable Energy in Jamaica

Traditionally, Jamaica’s economic driving force has been tourism, agriculture and bauxite mining. Thanks to Jamaica’s position in the heart of the Caribbean, its tropical climate is conducive to such industries. However one industry which we seem to overlook for years is renewable energy. While the government has been making some strides over the years to push this industry it still has a very far way to go especially in comparison to the rest of the world and the potential locally. Let’s explore the Renewable Energy industry in Jamaica, and attempt to answer the question of “Is renewable energy worth it yet”.

 

Trend Setters

Jamaica has the acclaimed title of being one of the first countries in the world to have electricity! Thirteen years after Thomas Edison (inventor of the light bulb discovered electricity) the Jamaica Electric Light Company started to supply electricity from a small coal-burning steam generating plant on Gold Street in Kingston. It’s also widely said on the internet that Jamaica had electricity on the island before  USA, however this one is extremely unlikely since electricity was invented in USA. Either way Jamaica was ahead of its time when it came to electrical power. At this time electricity generation was dominated by fossil fuels.

Throughout the decades, advances in technology made cleaner alternative energy sources possible such as nuclear, wind, solar, geothermal, hydrogen fuel cells, and others. In Jamaica, the generation of electrical power continued throughout the twentieth century into present day with a heavy dependence on imported non-renewable fuels (93% generation from Bunker C and Automotive diesel oil as of 2014).

 

Why Jamaica’s Electricity Is So Expensive

Seeing as though Jamaica imports oil, this drives up the cost of electricity significantly. So much so that a study conducted by the IADB’s Multilateral Investment Fund and Bloomberg (on the cost of retail electricity to end users in the LAC region) found that Caribbean countries account for half of the top 10 most expensive retail electricity prices in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region (Jamaica costing around US 40c/KWhr). The impact of this high cost of energy also trickles down to every other industry as a high energy bill which is further passed on to consumers for every product they purchase. But wait there’s more, high energy costs also detracts potential foreign investors from investing their money on the island. This results in a country burdened with unnecessarily high cost of goods and missed opportunities for economic growth.

 

Electricity Sector

Currently the Jamaica Public Service Company (“JPS”) is the main provider of electricity on the island and are the owners of the national grid. I say main and not only because there are independent power producers (IPP) who partner with JPS to provide additional power to the grid. In terms of Renewable Energy Providers producers, JPS signed a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement with BMR Jamaica Wind Ltd., Wigton Wind Farm, and WRB Enterprises/Content Solar Ltd (Jamaica’s First Commercial Solar Energy IPP) to sell 78MW of energy to the national grid. Also are home owners who and installed solar capacity who sell back to the grid under a net billing arrangement.

 

Comparison with other countries

Germany a country with not nearly as much sunshine hours or brightness as Jamaica, has the highest installed capacity in the world by a long shot at 32.4GW installed PV as of 2013. This was already around ten times what Jamaica was producing from solar in 2016. Germany has continued to increase their solar and renewable energy capacity every year since. To be fair, Germany is a much larger country than Jamaica, and the energy demand would obviously be much more. So to put it into perspective, the percentage installed renewables capacity in Jamaica as of the start of 2018 is roughly 18%, while in Germany renewables covered about 100% of power use for the first time as of January 2018.

 

Future

Fortunately the Government of Jamaica has developed a plan for the country to diversify its energy sector and reduce the overall cost of energy, with a goal to achieve 30% renewable energy production by 2030 . This plan was drawn from the “Vision 2030” National Development plan which encompassed the National Energy Policy 2009–2030. A consequence of this policy was the  formulation of a Standard Offer Contract for the sale of electricity to the grid under a net billing arrangement as mentioned earlier. So if you’re looking to invest in solar not just for subsistence, you could sell excess energy to the national grid at the wholesale rate of JMD$14/KWhr set by the OUR through a net billing arrangement.

How Net billing works is that you’re metered for the net difference of the energy you use minus the energy you supply. Here is an example scenario:

Assuming you have a 10KW grid tied system, your average monthly usage is 300KWhrs, and assuming 5 hours of consistent bright sunlight.

Energy Produced per day = 9KW x 5 Hrs = 45KWhrs

Energy Produced per Month = 45KWhrs x 30 days = 1,350 KWHrs

Earnings per month =1,350KWhrs x $14 = $18,900

Energy used per month = 300KWhrs

Estimated bill = 300KWhrs x $44 = $13,200

Net Bill = $18,900 – $13,200 = $5,700

Considering that the cost to install such a system would be at least JMD $2.7Mil, if you were to take out a home equity loan from a building society, you may be able to reduce your monthly payments to a more manageable figure as can be seen in the example below

vmbs mortgage calc

In this example a home equity loan was calculated for 2.7Mil @8.5% int amortized over 25 years which gave a monthly pay back amount of $21,740. This value too will vary based on your age and how cheaply you can get the system installed. You can play around with these number using VMBS Mortgage calculator. The key point is that if you can get your earnings from the solar to equal this monthly payback then the system will pay for itself. In most cases though the cost of solar in Jamaica isn’t quite low enough to profit from net billing. However we are very close to that point and when we do reach you will see far more investors chipping in, in return this will reduce the country’s dependence on utility power.

 

Conclusion

As you can see the benefit of Net billing means that if you produce more than you consume you will not have an electric bill and will in fact generate a profit. However due to the enormous difference between buying vs selling rates, it may be hard make a profit off a solar system. That said its not just a financial investment you would be making, but an investmentment in the enviroment and reduction of the country’s oil foot print.

 

-Dave 2018

 

 

Bonus Video

 

References

International Monetary Fund. “Report for Selected Countries and Subjects

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Jamaica

https://www.jpsco.com/about-jps/our-history/

http://mset.gov.jm/overview-jamaicas-electricity-sector

http://energyinformative.org/where-is-solar-power-used-the-most/

https://www.jpsco.com/historic-power-purchase-agreements-signed-between-jps-and-renewable-energy-providers-including-jamaicas-first-solar-energy-ipp/

https://www.cleanenergywire.org/news/renewables-cover-about-100-german-power-use-first-time-ever

http://mstem.gov.jm/sites/default/files/National%20Energy%20Policy_0.pdf

http://www.our.org.jm/ourweb/sites/default/files/documents/sector_documents/2018-01-15_public_notice_net_billing_energy_price_final_pdf.pdf

Continue reading “Is Renewable Energy worth it yet? The state of Renewable Energy in Jamaica”

How to install a GSM/GPS Tracking Module for your car yourself

If you’re ready to put a tracker in your vehicle but maybe you do not have the $20K+ to fork out initially, or do not want to add a new bill for yourself to pay each month; then you have come to the right place. This post will show you how to install the device yourself professionally.

The device we will use is the TK103A/B GSM/GPS Tracker. Accessories included in the box:

  • GPS Antennae
  • GPRS/GSM Antennae
  • 12V/40A Automotive Relay
  • Remote Controller
  • Cable Harness
  • Microphone
  • Manual

 

Other materials/tools used:

  • 5-20Ft 18AWG 2 core cable
  • Electrical Tape
  • Cable ties
  • Socket Wrench
  • Wire stripper
  • DC Voltage Circuit Tester
  • Digital Multimeter
  • GSM SIM Card

 

Step 1: Buy a SIM card

sim-cards-banner-image.png

Buying a SIM card (uncut) for this device is the first step because after the device is installed in the car, it’s not so easily accessible. Also, if using Digicel its important to set up the SIM with the MyDigicel App; and if using Flow install the My Flow Self Care App. This is to enable you to monitor the SIM balance as well as top up when necessary.

 

Step 2: Choose a hidden location for the device

Location is everything. If a criminal can find your tracker in your car easily and remove it, all the features of this device will all be for naught. Most automotive electronics are installed within the dashboard area of the vehicle. However criminals also know this because it is common practice and will be the first place they will look. Ideally you want to find a place that is hard to access, unconventional, and is near a 12V supply you can tap off and ground (metal chassis).

Cars typically have two 12v supplies:

  1. Permanently ON
  2. Accessory only (ACC) – ON with Ignition switch

If you want your device powered when the vehicle is off you can tap from a permanent 12V supply (recommended).

However if you are concerned about the current draw on the car’s battery (especially if the car is inactive for long periods), you could either install a switch in series or connect power to ACC 12V (Turns off when ignition key out).

The current draw is relatively low, from my measurements, the current draw is roughly 60mA. If you use your car everyday this shouldn’t be a big concern since the alternator will recharge the car battery.

You could also run a circuit from the car’s fuse box, but the last thing you want is to have a long wire between your device and car’s fuse box revealing the tracker’s location.

 

Step 3: Installation and Setup

TK103 wiring diagram
Car GPS Tracker – TK103 wiring diagram

 

The above shows the wiring diagram for the device. For simplicity I will only be using the device for tracking and remote engine shutoff (immobilizer). So the only cables I’m interested in are the red (12V), black (ground), and yellow (to relay). This post will focus primarily on set up of the location monitoring. The other features I will not use because I don’t need them and it will force me to install at the dashboard.

For first time setup, insert the SIM card, using something fine to insert into the SIM card popup switch.

tk103 front 1

 

Connect the positive (red) and negative (black) to your vehicle’s 12v and ground respectively and wait 1 minute before turning on the backup battery switch.

tk103 front 2

Note the indicator light colours

GSM/GPS LED Indicator

  • Red LED indicator ON: No GSM network signals.
  • Red LED indicator flashes fast (one time each second): GSM Network
    signal is normally, and tracker works under GSM mode.
  • Red LED indicator flashes slowly (one time each three second): Tracker
    works under GPRS mode.
  • Green LED indicator on: GPS signal is normal.
  • Green LED indicator off: No GPS signals.

Note that if the GPS and GSM antennas ideally require line-of-sight with the sky to operate. It can still function concealed beneath thin materials (metal or plastic).

If your device is stuck on red after several minutes it may mean that the antennas are not getting a clear signal and may have to be relocated.

 

Step 4: Configuring device settings

To utilize the features of the tracker, commands are sent to it via SMS. The manual lists all the available commands but I’ll highlight some important ones.

Initialize:

Using your main cellphone, send SMS “begin+password” to the unit, it will reply “begin ok” and initialize all the settings to default factory settings.(default password: 123456)
For example: send SMS “begin123456”, it will reply “begin ok”. (No
quotation marks“” when sending all the SMS)

 

To Change Password:

Send SMS “ password+old password+space+new password” to the unit to change the password.
For example: send SMS “password123456 888888” to the unit. If succesful, “password ok” will reply to your cell phone from the device tracker.
Authorization:
Send SMS “admin+password+space+cell phone number”
to set up an authorized number, the other authorized numbers should be set
by the first authorized number, if the number is successfully authorized, the
unit will reply“ admin OK” by SMS.

 

To get location:

Dial the tracker device from the authorized number, it will hang up
your calling and respond to a real-time latitude and longitude information
as following:

Screenshot_20180222-215544

Now you can rest easy knowing you have a means to monitor the whereabouts of your vehicle anywhere.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this series where we install the immobilizer system and make it wireless.

-Dave 2018

 

 

Continue reading “How to install a GSM/GPS Tracking Module for your car yourself”