Category Archives: Projects

T8 tubes in T12 fixture, overdrive fluorescent

We have a plant grow fixture made for two T12 48 inches fluorescent tubes with an electromagnetic old fashion ballast. This ballast is made to push 40 watts per tubes.

From my indoor growing experience, the light output (lux measured at 1ft from tubes on a white sheet of paper) was looking quite low with the two original T12 tubes this fixture was coming with.

I measured the light output from the two old tubes, my reading made with LightMeter iPhone app (maybe not scientific but fair enough for my experiences) was of 2500 lux.

After I had a hand on some two used but good T8 tubes from Philips and installed them in the fixture and waited 3-4 minutes for full warm-up, the measured value following the same protocol was of 16000 lux.

Just as a comparaison, we also have the same T12 fixture but 24 inches long in which we put brand new T12 grow tubes last year and this one has been measured at 8000 lux.

Returning back at our T8, these tubes are made to run on 32 watts and now get 40. Also, they are made to be used with an electronic start ballast so they had some flashing / flicker state during 2-3 minutes when I first cold started them. They were just out from the garage at -5degre celcius so maybe next time, the warmup will be a little quicker.

Affer 3-4 minutes, there was no more flickering, the light was perfectly solid and quite bright to start plants indoor.

Math made, bulbs are actually running at exactly 125% of thier designed power. How long will they last with a 25% power increase, I would believe at least 50% shorter… but only time will tell. These used tubes were found free in the garbage close to a renovation field so, for free tubes, if they last 3-4 month for us to have the time to start our seeds inside during this spring, that will be awesome.

Note that I will add a low velocity fan around the tubes just to move some little air in order to cool them and the ballast as well.

I’ll post an update when time will be arrived to transplant young plants outside to tell you how the overdriven fluorescent tubes went on the long run.

Here are some pics of the thing…

Heat & Grow Machine – Growing veggies during winter

Who said growing veggies during winter was impossible?

What if creating a perfect climate for your plants during winter would cost just no electricity at all?

This is the first prototype I made two years ago of my Heat & Grow machine.


Since most houses are electrically heated these days, heating the house with the heating system or from the heat dissipated by the lights in the Heat & Grow machine will not cost you any additionnal electricity bill and plus, you have a bonus veggie season inside your house!

These are some other experiments I made. everything grown on those pictures were grown under artificial lights. at some point, corn was just too high to fit the machine!


I figured out here that aluminum paper was not a good idea, using PAR directional light pointing straight down is way more efficient!




Here is a graph combining the spectrum of various light sources and the plant absorbtion spectrum. All lines are from various sources, they have been added and scaled to fit all together. What’s interesting here is that, plant absorbtion spectrum is totally out of HPS light bulbs spectrum. Knowing that, I don’t know at all why everyone keeps growing under HPS. All the generated light from these ultra powerful bulbs is just not absorbed by the plant which is just pure energy waste.


I fugured out after many light bulb pattern attempts that the more efficient pattern would be to combine halogen and LED. The more efficient halogen bulbs for this purpose are PARs. PAR20 or PAR38 are best suited for these projects. Be sure to employ “Spot” instead of “Flood” for the beam width.  In addition to that, Bring up some bluest 6500k LED bulbs.

Sylvania 16743   70PAR38/HAL/S/NFL25 70w 1305lumen Medium 1500hrs  120v  5100cd  25° 2925k


It will need about double the brightness of halogen than LED to achieve a perfect natural white balance.

Let’s say in a closet like the first one, 6 halogen PAR would be needed (420 watts) and about 40-50 watts of LED Par as well in the 6500k part of the spectrum.

Osram 78551 seems to be a good product but not powerful enough, some more research would be needed.



Let’s talk safety. Since the whole machine will use and need to dissipate about 500 watts, if you keep all that heat inside, you’ll literally have an oven in which your veggies will be cooked before grown. Some ventilation will need to be taken in consideration as well as an over heating shut off protection system. Depending on the kind of veggies you want to grow, temperature must be set differently as well as the number of lighting hours.

I think it could be a great idea also to soft start the whole lightning in order to mimic the sunrise and sunset effect. I am not sure of that but I would pretend that instant blow of light under leaves that haven’t began yet to work on clorophyll could result into cell burns. Some experiment will have to be made on that as well.

I am planing on building the beta 4 version of my Heat & Grow machine soon. I just need a place to make it work where someone will have time to take care of it and add some daily water as needed.

In the 5th revision, an automatic water system will also be installed.

I may never sell a fridge to an Eskimo but who knows if I could sell them someday a Heat & Grow machine!


Hotel Yaris on its way


Just drawn my bumper sticker right on my bumper with a Sharpie. Don’t worry, it will erase slowly by itself with time or a light compound can get rid of it easily.

My appartment is rent and i am leaving it for the end of the month. Last preparation to be able to live out of my yaris. The rear seat will be removed and eventually a truck diesel cabin heater will be fitted into the vehicle.

Living in my car

Well, I am there.

I have to face it, i am somehow a hoarder, not as much as what we see on tv but well enough so it is impossible for me to bring back a lady at home or to live with roommates.

I just decided to go live in my car for a while. I always wanted to feel lighter and free of some obligations so i am also closing all of my businesses.

I will take one month for the transition, will have to clean a lot of stuff out there and to pick only necessary stuff. Friends and family member all offered me to keep stuff in storage for me if needed but i will try to avoid using those resources. After all, all i need is a place to be, a roof, clothes, food and some spots to clean myself. Gym’s or public pool are easy to find almost anywhere and on the long run, will be much less expensive that the actual rent i live in which cost me more than 1200$ per month.

As a friend suggested, i will try to live and travel with two of my cats. I don’t know how they will appreciate to live like that but, i’ll offer them grass everyday to pee and poop… well, during summer time.

Over there, temperature in winter are very cold so i don’t know yet what i’ll do for winter time. Will i drive south or will i try to heat the vehile? don’t know yet. Rough calculations and experiments in the past prooved me that 1500 w of heat was needed to warm the car to a comfortable temperature during cold days. It’s a Toyota Yaris, not really large car but not really insulated either. I will have the summer to think about all of that. Will i change for a little larger vehicle? The Yaris is very cheap on the fuel side.

For hosting my blog, actually i host it myself. I’ll have to see if i dump the server at someone’s house or if i use hoster services.

Lot of things to think actually. My brain will explode… Agggghhhhh!LIACExample

Upgrading to Virtual RAID

I am, since years, using Intel Rapid Storage RAID (onboard RAID) to add RAID5 redundancy to my data. Up to now, everything work just wonderfully fine, the performance are quite surprising and since it is managed by the chipset itself, processing is directly handled between the cpu and the chipset without any software involved processing.

The only bad thing is that when i want to migrate all the data to another machine, the host OS wich contains the file sharing already configured may loose all the shares and configuration when migrating the system to new hardware platform.

Since windows 7 and windows 2008 and up can do software raid, (even with multiple usb flash drive, yes), I had the idea to build my file server and all it’s shares inside a virtual machine, to create 3 virtual hard drives of 2tb on 3 different physical hard drive and to mount them all in the virtual machine and then ask to the windows inside the box to process the RAID 5. Of course, i am excepting a much lower performance but since my main goal is not ultra performance but ease of migration and maintenance, this new approach will be really interesting. Another interesting point is that no special hardware is requiered to mount the raid, simply connect the 3 hard drives to any computer, no matter the interface you use, usb or sata. Load the virtual machine with the file sharing system and mount the 3 drives in it and you’ll have access to your raid data in vacation on your laptop if you want.

I’ll let you know how the process has gone when i’ll do it. Should do that quickly since it’s becoming urgent to migrate my data to a new more flexible system.