How to: Install 3 Piece Miata A/C vents
An example of the custom 3-Piece A/C vents.  This particular example is the Volk TE37/Rota Grid replica, white face, white ring, black base, and black bolts.  This setup looks awesome and can help make any interior stand out.  builtbyhutch.com

If you're reading this... I'll assume you're interested in a set of custom a/c vents for your miata, perhaps you have even ordered a pair for yourself!  Well you are in the right place!  This install how-to is long overdue but I hope it will help you get your vents fitted in your car with relative ease.  This is a relatively quick process.  I have even installed vent sets at car shows and club meets.  

Step 1: OEM vent removal

The first step is to remove your stock vents from the dash.  I find the middle two vents in the tombstone to be relatively easy.  Many of you may have already removed these if you have installed an aftermarket radio or really anything else in the interior (I feel like everything I do requires the removal of the console and tombstone).  There are a plethora of ways to remove the vents and you can find others methods on Youtube and forums such as miata.net.  I found that the first time I removed them, which is the most difficult since the springs and plastic are the tightest fit, using something like rope or zip-ties laced through one of the main fins and back out was easiest.  If you are careful, you may use pliers (perhaps with something rubbery in between to prevent scratching the oem vent) and a small, thin tipped flat head screwdriver around the edge of the trim ring (be very careful with this part as it is easy to dent and scratch the ring) to pull and pry the whole piece out.  

The two side vents are a bit more difficult, as the padding around the crash pad material likes to hold on to the vent.  You may find yourself having to carefully pull of the drivers side small pad in the process.  This usually happens on my own car but I have installed on others that did not require removal.  With all of this, take your time, and be careful not to scratch your oem pieces with extra care around the trim rings.

Step 2: Disassembly of OEM vents

Miata vent and Small screwdriver

With all of your vents out of the car, find a comfortable place to take them apart, I recommend a desk, table, or workbench.  The tools you will need are a pair of sharp scissors, and a small jewelers screwdriver.  I find that the largest size of standard jewelers screwdriver fits best.  My current favorites are actually either one of my small husky tools screwdrivers or one I have from a kobalt set.  

Insert the screwdriver into the gap between the housing and retainer ring, just above one of the four clips.  Then pry the screwdriver toward the front face of the vent until it clicks out of place.  See the picture I have included for this step.  Sometimes it is impossible not to damage one of the clips, but I can assure you, after dozens of times installing and removing these vents, my personal set has some rounded clips but they still function perfectly.  It actually seems that the final click into place when re-assembling them is independent of the clips.  After prying over three of these clips, you should be able to angle the whole front ring off the housing.  With that, you can simply push the eyeball vent out of the housing and you will have the vent completely apart.

Step 3: Preparation for Re-Install

While the main part of re-assembly is simply putting your new custom vents in the old housing and snapping everything back together, there are also a few intermediary steps to make your vents fit as well as factory.  I Include some adhesive velvet to add to inside of the front trim ring.  Fun fact: NB miatas already come with this, but NAs do not.  You may also choose to replace the velvet on your NB if yours seems worn out.  I'll include the amazon link to the velvet I use if you would like to order some for yourself and replace all of the velvet in the housing.  Using your eye, or a measurement device, cut the velvet into thin strips and stick them on the inside of the trim ring.  I usually use 3-4 short strips.  See picture for an example of what I add.  At this time, you may choose to wipe down the housing of the vent, or where they fit to the dash to remove the up to 25 year old dust that has accumulated.  

Step 4: Re-Assembly

The procedure for reassembly is the opposite the first 2 steps.  Just simply push the vent back into the housing, face it forward, and push the front trim ring back on.  Make sure the ring clicks all the way in.  often times the clips have clicked in, but the whole ring needs to click a little further.  When all of your vents are assembled, bring them back to the car and just push them back into place.  Make sure you line up the indents on the vents with the springs in the dash.  The middle two have springs at 3 o'clock and 9, while the side ones have their springs about 45 degrees rotated from that.  

Miata custom 3 piece eyeball vents glowstar.jpg

And that's it!  Hope this has helped and wasn't too long winded.  I like to include as much detail as possible in the hopes it makes things easier to understand.  Thanks for reading and come back soon for more posts in the new year, and maybe even some Youtube videos in the near future!

Robert Hutchins
The Shop Is Live!

The online store is LIVE!!!  

After working for a while on getting this going, I finally have the store page added to the website.  By clicking the shop icon on the navigation bar it will bring you there.  Currently I have the visor deletes for the Mazda Miata for sale, in addition to the GoPro mount version.  The standard deletes come in a pair and are the standard design that has been around in the miata community for years.  I made sure to create mine slightly thicker and with nicer countersunk holes than what you can find elsewhere for download.  

 Next up, the GoPro mount version.  I had seen this idea used elsewhere but when I went to make my own I realized that the standard design left the Go Pro at a horrible angle when you used it without extensions.  This is due to the curve of the windshield frame.  So with that in mind I created my own design that compensates for this angle and is reinforced to prevent cracking from over-tightening the mounting bolt.  

That's all for now!  Check out the store for both of these products and stay tuned for more this week.  

 

Robert Hutchins
PRODUCT: Replacement Shaker Top Project

This is long overdue.  Part of why I wanted to create a website and a blog was to feature my projects...my real need, to idea, to product ideas.  So here is my first of many PRODUCT blogs.  I'm going to start with what I think is my first real commissioned product.  From when I first moved to New Orleans to the present I have worked at a buisiness that produces touch up paint for the automotive industry.  There are several departments for the production of the paint bottles and cans, and in what is known as the touch up department, employees individually mix small bottles and paint pens, which are then shaken on lab grade small orbital shakers.  The model of shaker that is at each station is perhaps over 10 years old.  While the internals of each shaker is meant to last into the hundreds of thousands of cycles, the tops of the shakers wear out due to the lateral stress put on them and subsequent wear between the mount and the socket of the shaker top.  Eventually the shaker tops become loose, rattle, and finally fail to stay attached to the mount.  This process of wearing out takes quite a while.  But the problem with these tops isn't so much that they wear out, it is that they are very difficult to find now that the shakers and tops have been discontinued.  

Not very glamorous but here is one of the workhorses in the "touch-up" room.  The exact model is unknown as these machines have been used for so long, and the outside has been cleaned with solvent so many times, that the rear stickers have been worn off.

The top mount of the shaker

The top mount of the shaker

Around winter time I had started to challenge myself in recreating broken components of appliances and decorative parts for my car.  I became aware of the problem with the shaker tops and let my boss know that I would be willing to try making some replacements using my 3D printer (at the time I only owned the Maker Select Mini).  So I went home that week with on of the spare tops to measure and managed to recreate it in Inventor.  I printed one to test and was pleasantly surprised that it fit and worked on the first try.  For the next few months I left this first copy on one of the shaker tops and an employee in the touch up room used it to make between 70-100 paints a day.  As neither I or my boss was in a rush to create more tops, we let that first copy be tested to see if it would hold up.  And it did...until that shaker was swapped to a different employee.  At the time, each employee had a specific size of paint he would mix.  The first employee was responsible for making 0.5 oz paint bottles, which are very light and do not put much stress on the machine.  Then the shaker was moved to a different desk, where another employee started to use it to mix 2 oz paint bottles.  

The mounting portion of a used original shaker top.  Notice that the centering notch has been work into a small bulge.  This allows for the rotation of the top.   Also the groove in the socket that allows that top to lock on to the mount is worn and rounded, so that it easily comes off, often when unwanted

The mounting portion of a used original shaker top.  Notice that the centering notch has been work into a small bulge.  This allows for the rotation of the top.   Also the groove in the socket that allows that top to lock on to the mount is worn and rounded, so that it easily comes off, often when unwanted

The mounting portion of my 3D printed shaker top.  This is what the mounting portion is supposed to look like: a crisp angled centering notch, and a sharp groove around the inside.  My design fit first try and tightly.  

The mounting portion of my 3D printed shaker top.  This is what the mounting portion is supposed to look like: a crisp angled centering notch, and a sharp groove around the inside.  My design fit first try and tightly.  

An example of how the PLA fails.  It is hard to see in the image but the socket heats up and bends outward, making the top come loose very easily.

An example of how the PLA fails.  It is hard to see in the image but the socket heats up and bends outward, making the top come loose very easily.

As I discovered, this puts much more stress on the machine, its motor, and the bearings on the internal shaft, which in turn creates much more heat.  So much heat, that it exceeds the glass transition temperature of PLA (60 degrees celcius), which is what I had used to create the shaker tops.  This heat would then soften the top, deform the indents that align the top, and push out the socket sides so that the top comes loose.  After discovering this I made double sure that PLA was the problem and not just the cheaper monoprice filament that I had used to create the first top.  So I printed a second copy using higher quality Hatchbox filament but ended up with the same result.  PLA just wasn't capable of standing up to the temperatures the shaker was creating.  

With that knowledge I printed a new version using PETG.  PETG presented its own challenges, such as the need to upgrade my second printer (Monoprice Maker Select V2.1) to use an all metal hot-end.  But I was able to dial in the settings and create a shaker top V3 to try at work.  At this time I had been transferred into the touch up room to assist in getting that room caught up.  So I swapped my own top to the PETG version on the shaker at my desk (which was the notoriously hot running shaker).  I am pleased to say that this third try has held up wonderfully and because of the printing properties of PETG, fits tighter than the original prototype.

A comparison between the 3 versions of my shaker tops.  From left to right: the original PLA top made with cheap monoprice grey filament, the PLA V2 made with hatchbox filament in an attempt to see if brand would make a difference in how PLA holds up, and the final PETG version.

A comparison between the 3 versions of my shaker tops.  From left to right: the original PLA top made with cheap monoprice grey filament, the PLA V2 made with hatchbox filament in an attempt to see if brand would make a difference in how PLA holds up, and the final PETG version.

 Since I had trouble with the unexpected problem of heat, I decided it would be best to take samples of PETG from the supports I broke off the V3 shaker top and expose them to the two worst case scenario spills in the touch up room.  I used two 0.5 oz bottles, each with a sample piece of PETG, and filled one with the orange solvent cleaner, and the other with the touch up paint thinner.  Both samples survived and were actually kept in solution for multiple months, as i was helping out in multiple departments and moved away from my desk in the touch up room.  I had expected to have some melting present on the sample in the thinner, as I believe there is some MEK (methyl ethyl ketone) in the recipe for the thinner, but either the concentration is too low to affect the PETG or the mixture of chemicals in the thinner neutralizes the effect it has.  So even in the worst case scenario of being soaked in the liquids, the shaker top should hold up.  PETG seems to be the clear choice from the readily available filaments, as ABS would react poorly to the solvents used in the paint mixing process.  

Hopefully this write-up was interesting to read.  In the future I will be writing many more posts such as this one.  I have a few Miata based products already made and more in the works so stay tuned!

 

Robert Hutchins
Reef Aquarium: Fragniappe 2017

One of the most fun parts of being a member of the reef tank community is frag swaps.  More recently these "swaps" have become more show-like.  Basically these events are like trade shows combined with flea markets, but for coral!  Most frag shows consist of a mixture of product companies (i.e. salt makers, pump manufacturers, and fish food companies) and coral vendors from across the country.  In the past I have attended shows in the northeast such as Reefapalooza NYC, Rhode Islands OSRAS show, New Jersey Frag swap, Connecticut Frag Farmers Market, and the Connecticut CMAC show.  In Louisiana the only local frag swap is Fragniappe.  I matches up pretty well compared to other swaps I have been to and has a great community behind it.  

Image courtesy of Bayou Reefkeeping

This year my girlfriend Sarah and I waited in anticipation for months and we were not dissapointed.  The show was a big success and we made it home with a half dozen corals and a few BIG wins from the raffle.  First I'll give you a quick run down of the corals we purchased.  

First up is one that Sarah purchased.  This is a chalice coral and its a part of the LPS category but must be treated like a sensitive SPS coral.  So far I have not seen any signs from this frag as to how well it is doing.  At times it seems deflated but it is hard to tell as some chalice corals inflated to look smooth and full, while others stay as a rough almost bony structure.  I also have not discovered if there is a name for this specific color morph.  

Next we have one of my corals.  So far I have collected two of the birdsnest coral varieties and now I have aquired a third.  This is a ponape birdsnest, which is characterized by its greenish limbs and pink tips.  All birdsnest seem to grow slightly differently and the ponape seems to grow in short, straight lines before branching densely.  

 

Sarah also bought a Jack'O Lantern Leptoseris.  This has been on her wish list for a while.  The store we used to frequent in Stratford CT used to have a large colony and several frags of this variety but the price at the time was very high.  Now these corals are much cheaper as the hype has died down and people have started to propagate it quite a bit.  This is another coral which is hard to judge if it is doing well.  It doesn't inflate or anything to give an indication of how well it is doing.  As far as we can tell if its not dying off, then it is doing alright.  

We also started an acan garden with the addition of a bright green acan colony.  I am very picky when it comes to acans and I like to collect ones that are all very different.  The problem with that approach is that there are many common colors out there, but the unique ones are rare and expensive.  So when I see something that is unique enough, I have to have it.  This frag has been doing fantastic since bringing it home.  It responds to feeding almost as well as our first rainbow colony.  

 

One of my bargain finds was a beautiful red/purplish and yellow polyp cyphastrea.  Cyphastrea is a very cool sps coral that encrusts when growing.  The most common variety of is the "meteor shower" color morph which has blue flesh and yellow polyps.  One of the coral vendors had two frags of cyphastrea, one meteor shower and one of this red variety.  It was a difficult choice because both were inexpensive for decent size frags, but ultimately I chose the more unique variety.  

Last we have some very cool zoas, that unfortunately have done very poorly in our tank.  Sarah purchased these "WOW" zoas at the very end of the frag show and they did well in our tank for about a day until they closed up.  Since then each polyp has melted away to nothing.  I have had a few zoas do this to me in the past and some do so for no reason at all.  Perhaps it has to do with parameters we can't test for, or the lighting was too bright, or the bacteria and organisms in the water column didn't agree with them.  In this case I have a feeling that our lower alkalinity level was unfavorable to them.  From my research and observations, zoas prefer a higher alkalinity level, and some require it.  These were a good reminder that not everything in the reef hobby comes easy. 

In addition to our coral finds, we also entered into the raffle.  Most frag shows have a raffle to enter into with many prizes ranging from supplements and test kits, to full tank setups and equipment.  This time Sarah and I purchased 25 tickets at a dollar each.  We ended up winning a years supply of Fritz salt mix and a pass to MACNA in New Orleans later this year.  Those two wins made a good day into a fantastic one and makes us excited to keep progressing in the hobby.  That's all for now, thanks for reading and come back soon!

Robert Hutchins
Introductions: 3D Printers

In July of 2016 I made my first venture into the world of 3D printing.  A company called Monoprice, which specializes in tech products and electronics, had decided to re-brand a very small 3D printer made by Malayan and market it in the United States.  For years I had looked at 3D printers and had even visited stores with them, but the ones available made by companies such as Makerbot were out of my price range as a college student and graduate.  I had seen kits for sale but never heard many positive reviews of these options.  So when I did my research into the Monoprice Maker Select Mini and finally caught it on sale for $160 I was overjoyed.  

The printer proved to be an amazing machine.  For the price, this machine performed beyond my expectations and was able to print anything I wished using PLA and it did so essentially straight out of the box.  For about 3 1/2 months I logged many hours with the printer and started creating my own designs in Autodesk Inventor.  Inventor proved to be very similar to solidworks, which I had used throughout college.  My first hurdle came in November.  I had received a spool of PETG filament from my girlfriend, and tried a few test prints with it.  Soon I learned about the different types of hot-ends on printers and the advantages of having an all metal one.  My MP Select Mini came with a PTFE tube liner in the hot-end.  PTFE starts to deform as temperatures rise closer to 260C.  I found that as I pushed the printer over 235, I ran into under-extrusion and clogging problems.  The heat from the nozzle would soften the PTFE tube and eventually wear it into a strange clog-prone shape.  

As I looked into repairing the printer, I also started to research my next step further into the hobby.  After browsing forums, reviews, and social media I purchased a Monoprice Maker Select V2 during cyber Monday.  Now with a second printer, I started to explore the possibilities of modifications for the printers, made by the printers.  For the past 4 months I have worked on learning more about modeling, slicing, and printing with PLA.  I found many excuses to create new projects.  So far I have developed 3 of my own products and have even sold one of them to my workplace to replace parts that wear on the paint shakers.  

Currently I am perfecting my second self made product and am working on making it work in PETG.  I hope to have several more posts detailing both printers and my first 2 working products.  Thanks for reading and come back soon!

Robert Hutchins
Reef Aquarium: Fish Roll Call

So I wanted to create several more specific posts about my reef aquarium in order to highlight the inhabitants and equipment.  That way, I can have an excuse to get some really good photos of each of our fish friends.  It may sound easy to just snap a picture of a fish but with limited camera equipment, its hard to get a clear photograph when the fish never stop moving.  But in any case here's a short history of some of the fish I've had.  My first fish experience was unfortunatly not a good one.  My girlfriend and I picked out a Banggai Cardinalfish and quickly found out that the store and collection methods vary greatly.  Unfortuanatly the collection methods we suspected were used for this fish were negative and fairly inhumane.  Many fish used to be collected by using cyanide to stun them and easy collect them.  This can then leave the fish with damaged organs and no appetite.  So with that, our first fish didn't last very long. 

But after that, our knowledge of where to shop for our fish, and how to "test" the fish before we brought them home increased.  Soon after we purchased a royal gramma and recieved a captive bred clownfish that my girlfriend helped raise at the Roger Williams University wetlab.  These fish were awesome!  They ate anything that we put in the tank, they were incredibly smart, and they were amazing to watch grow and learn their environment.  We kept these too fish for quite a while and they even made the move with us from school in Rhode Island, back to Connecticut.  These first two fish were the most important of our past fish, and thats why I wanted to highlight them.  But now I'm going to skip ahead and talk about our current fish.

Our two clownfish.  Onyx clown above, naked clown below.

First off is our current two clownfish.  One of them is an "onyx" clownfish and the other is a "naked" clownfish.  These too funny names they have are their color morphs; a name for the color pattern they have.  These fish are some of the first fish that most reef hobbyist get because they are incredibly hardy and eat almost anything.  Clownfish are born as undifferentiated hermaphrodites, which means they can turn into a male or female depending on their dominance.  So in the case of our clownfish, The older, larger onyx clown is paired on purpose with a much smaller clown to reduce the risk of aggression towards each other.  The large size difference makes it easy for them to sort out who is more dominant.  So far they have gotten along and seem to be friends.  The onyx clown has even let the naked clown start to inhabit the duncan coral with her.  And with any luck they will be paired together and will maybe start to lay eggs.  

Yellow Eye Kole Tang

Second is our yellow-eye kole tang.  The kole tang is in the surgeon fish family and are native to hawaii.  It has a brownish-purpleish body with white stripes or spots.  They also have beautiful yellow rimmed eyes and the bristletooth type mouth that is one type of mouth common to tangs in the aquarium trade.  Our kole tang and the onyx clown are both fish that now live with us in louisiana, but were purchased in new england and shipped down here.  Tangs are very intelligent fish that require lots of flow and open area to swim.  They primarily graze on algae on the rocks of the tank, but also eat most other foods that are fed to the rest of the inhabitants.  Our kole tang seems to be the king of the tank, and is sometimes a little agressive towards other fish, mostly the larger onyx clown.  

Tailspot Blenny in his perching spot.

By far the silliest looking fish of the tank is our tailspot blenny.  He is considered a nano fish since he stays relatively small.  His color is mostly brown with the exception of a reflective eye and stripe, and a black dot on the end of his tail.  tailspot blennies originate from the phillipines.  Like the kole tang, he grazes algae off the rocks for the majority of his diet, but also loves all the other food we feed to the tank.  He has plenty of personality and usually perches in view instead of actively swimming.  Unfortunatly he has decided that the algae in the sand is appetizing, so he eats sand and develops and unsightly bulge in his stomach.  This hasn't seemed to affect him and he is surviving comfortably for the few months we have had him.  

The best picture I have of the quick yellow assessor

The last fish is the most cryptic of the five fish we own.  The yellow assessor is in the basslet family, which makes them related to the royal gramma we used to own.  They are very curious fish that are more easily spooked than the others.  I would say that he is one of the most intelligent fish i have ever owned.  I feel as if he watches me more than I watch him.  He is a strictly carnivorous fish and darts out with laser accuracy to grab each piece of food.  The most unique part of the assessor fish is that they usually don't swim right side up.  When I first saw ours in the store, he was swimming upside-down, but now he usually swims turned 90 degrees sideways or vertically with his head facing up.  He stays in the shadows or his cave for most of the day, but when he is out in the open he is one of the most facinating fish i have kept.  

That concludes the roll call for the fish in our aquarium.  future plans hopefully include at least one more fish, but any more than that would be pushing the biological limits of aquarium.  I want to do a short invertebrate post, excluding coral, once we are able to find one more inhabitant to add in that category.  I will also eventually do one for the coral, but since there are so many types of coral we have, that may need to be split into multiple categorized posts.  

Thanks for reading and come back soon for more coral, car stuff, and creativity.  

Introductions: 1992 Mazda Miata

Behind the wheel of my car has to be what I would call my "zen zone".  When I need a break from reality, the drivers seat of my 1992 Mazda Miata is a spot that makes me feel at ease.  I was raised in a family that always maintained and modified their own vehicles.  My father has owned two 1967 Chevy Camaros and a 1989 "Foxbody" Ford Mustang.  I grew up helping him replace parts and keep the cars clean and working.  Some of my earliest car memories are of helping my father bleed the brakes on the mustang.

In the Fall of 2013 I was finally able to acquire my own car.  My father and I had looked online at some local cars, and we had talked to a few of his co-workers about cars they had for sale.  We even considered some cars at car shows we attended.  However we were unable to find any cars that were in good condition, fun, and affordable.  We eventually stumbled upon a Mazda Miata that someone was selling near Hartford, CT.  We went to see it and I thought it was awesome.  We thought about it, made a decision to buy it, and just like that it was mine.  I finally had a car that was just for me and I quickly fell in love with it.

Now, in 2017, I have owned the car for a little over 3 years, and I can tell you that I haven't stopped researching about the car since day 1.  I spend time every day looking at pictures, google searching, or talking to friends about the next mod.  To me, its a near perfect car.  But that isnt to say it doesnt have its flaws.  Its broken down a handful of times, it has some corrosion (Like every northeast car), and it seems to fight me with every turn of the wrench.  But part of that is why I love it so much.  It has 1000x the character of any new car. 

I will include a full modification list at the bottom of this page, but I want to highlight a few of the major modifications.  First is the roll bar, or more specifically a half cage.  The car is equiped with a 6 point half cage; a roll bar with supports going to the trunk area and diagonal door bars.  This is one of my favorite parts of the car, and is definitly the most race car-esqe modification.  Next the wheels.  I have 4 Kosei K1 white 6 spoke wheels.  They are 15x7in wheels with a +38 offset.  In my opinion they are some of the best looking wheels available for the miata.  And lastly but certainly not least, is the DIYautotune Megasquirt DIYPNP standalone ECU.  This engine computer comes as a kit and must be soldered together, flashed with firmware, and custom tuned.  All of these steps I completed myself and I continue to tune the car even today.  Out of all the modifictaions, I would say I learned the most with the ECU.  I learned a tremendous amount about how an engine works, from startup and idle, to ignition and fuel settings.  And although I have no power figures, I am fairly certain I have gained some power from this upgrade. 

The other wonderful aspect of owning this car has been the community.  I was lucky enough to join the NOLAmiatas group as it was first starting at the beginning of 2016, shortly after i moved to New Orleans.  I have made tons of wonderful friends and learned much more about the cars with them than I would have alone.  I continue to attend the monthly meets in addition to attending car shows with a handful of my closer miata friends as a part of the Louisiana chapter of Team Sunworks, a nationwide show car team. 

Mazda MiataRobert Hutchins
Introductions: Reef Aquarium

Hello! 

I'd like to start this portion of my website as a sort of blog/project log.  For my first few posts I'm going to review my hobbies and passions.  This post will be about one of my favorite parts of every day: my reef aquarium.

Background: My girlfriend, Sarah Woolley, and started our endeavor into the saltwater aquarium hobby during our senior year of college.  I was looking for something that both of us could enjoy together and we didn't really have one of those key activities that couples usually have, whether it be a sport, or the same career path, etc.  I had always had two categories I grouped my previous interests into: Organic and Mechanic.  I really liked the idea of having a bonsai tree, or growing vegetables, or owning a terrarium.  But my younger self never had the dedication to hobbies like those to keep them living and thriving.  In the other group, mechanic, I excelled.  Most of what I did in my free time as a child was building, constructing, and finding new techniques/tools to create things.  Looking back now, I guess you would call me a maker, but that was before that term was coined. 

As I got older, my dedication to projects and my increased ability to look past instant gratification, let me root myself in hobbies that were long term.  So in the winter of my senior year of college I stumbled upon saltwater reef aquariums.  The aquariums I saw were always beautiful.  They embodied everything I saw when I was looking at impressive bonsai trees or professional terrariums.  As I researched more about them I learned that you could keep fish, invertebrates, and live coral.  Soon after I started to buy equipment and visit fish stores to learn as much as I could.  I found that the hobby had a steep learning curve.  I was required to learn a lot about water chemistry and marine biology.  Luckily I had my girlfriend to help me with the latter.  She was pursuing a major in marine biology while I was going for a degree in mechanical engineering.  As a team we taught each other quite a bit.

From This point we added several fish and eventually coral.  At the end of our school career we moved the tank home to Connecticut and continued caring for it.  Eventually I started a second tank to use as whats know as a "frag tank".  In the saltwater hobby, a "frag" is a fragment of coral.  Many corals are able to grow and reproduce asexually.  They can then be cut and split and attached to rocks or plaster disks to continue growing.  There are even events for the trading and selling of coral frags. 

 

 

Fast forward to the end of 2015.  Sarah had moved to New Orleans, La to persue a job at an oyster hatchery and I had decided to move in with her and leave Connecticut.  With that I started researching the process to overnight ship our fish friends and coral to a saltwater store near New Orleans.  This process was expensive and required a large box in order to fit each organism in a separate bag.  But after all the trouble almost all of our aquarium inhabitants survived to trip.  Then we began planning and purchasing the aquarium featured on the "work" page of the website.  We were able to apply everything we had learned in the previous 2 years of the hobby and the result is something we are very proud of. 

That's all for this post... I will write another one soon that actually features the process, equipment, and inhabitants of our current aquarium.  Thank you for reading and come back soon.