May 22nd, 2008

Glowing LED

Adventures in electricity

So, I rewired part of the extension, so that we once again have decent lighting in the kitchen. I also installed a dimmer for the halogen spots we have in the ceiling of the extension, so that we can have a bit of mood lighting if we so desire.

Halfway the evening, the halogens went off. Checking with a power seeker (a small screwdriver with a light in the tip that lights up if you touch a live wire) confirmed that the dimmer didn't work anymore.
So we did some calculations. I checked the packaging of the halogen spots, and they're rated at 20W. With 14 spots, that's 280W -- and the dimmer was rated for 300W. But because the dimmer was placed in a wall, we'd have to deduct 10% of the maximum power, so at 300W that was cutting it awfully close.
The dimmer was a (relatively) cheap no-brand thing, so that was the most likely cause.

Yesterday, we went into the city centre and asked at a lighting store for advice. We got a high-quality 400W dimmer -- which should be more than enough for our purpose. Back home, I installed it, and it worked quite well.
But during the evening, the halogens went out again, and the dimmer felt quite warm to the touch!

So we re-calculated, and drew a schematic of the situation, to rule out shorts, ground-leaks, etcetera. And then I checked the lamps.
It turns out that the 12V halogens we use with the transformers are rated for 20W. The halogens we use in the extension are for 230V, and are rated at 50W. It's a small wonder the fuses of the dimmers lasted as long as they did!
So I installed a normal switch instead of a dimmer -- we're used to running the lights full-on anyway. That should fix it.

Also, as an experiment, we bought a single LED spot in a halogen-like housing. It's quite bright (though not as bright as the halogens, but at less than 7W one can't expect too much, I guess). But the LEDs in the fixture are bright white, and not warm white. This gives a very 'cold' feel to it, which means we're going to give this a miss -- but there are spots with warm white LEDs, though our DIY shop doesn't stock them. Maybe we'll order a few and gradually replace the halogens with LEDs. This needs some more experimentation.

Also, in completely unrelated news, I used my birthday money to get a beer-brewing starter kit -- along with two ready-to-brew kits too. We'll see how that goes.
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Bishoujo squad!

Finished series: Happiness!

We've finished watching Happiness!. My first episode review is here.

When Haruhi was a small girl, she was teased by a group of boys. But she was rescued by a boy magician. Ever since that day, she searches for him, in order to give him Valentine's Day chocolate... Haruhi turned out to have a talent for magic herself too, and she goes to the special magic section of the local high school.
But when the magic section burns out one night, the magic students are mingled with the 'normal' students. Haruhi makes some new friends, amongst whom is Yuma, who seems to dislike magic. But he reminds Haruhi of someone...

The first half of the series is pure fluff. We get some magical goofiness: using magic when going for hanami, getting pressed into joining the Divination club and being forced to make magical creatures, and other stuff like that. Whenever magic presents an easy solution, Yuma (Haruhi's love interest) scoffs at taking the easy way out -- the usual talk about feelings and hard work ensues.
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Once you cut through all of the fluff, there's a decent story there, but the plot is too thin for a whole series. And the fluff is very fluffy and inane -- it takes a bit of stamina to get to the meat of the series. And not every character is likable. The usual tsundere friend/rival dynamic makes for some especially tiresome fluff.
This being based on an adult game, great care has been taken to make the female character designs attractive and cute. (The male character designs are all kinda generic, as is usual with such series...)

Good points:
- Cute (female) characters;
- Some of the goofiness is pretty funny.
Bad points:
- Lots and lots of fluff;
- Predictable plot.

All in all, a 6.5. It's a bit of a re-hash of some things you've already seen before.