Category Archives: Projects

Carsare Grande Log Cabin

This is a short blog on the process for constructing a Carsare Grande Log Cabin from Dunster House. I dealt with the Bedford branch as its the nearest to where we live and took a trip to look at the build quality and also armed with a tape measure, confirmed some dimensions, Samson the sales representative was very helpful and non pushy which made the visit very relaxed.


The garden was overhauled in 2006 when we first moved in and we were very pleased with it, but over time the maintenance became a burden and we only functionally enjoyed it for a limited time over the year, so we decided to make better use of the space and explore options.

Not sure which family member suggested a outdoor building, but it made sense and so the seed was sown.


Research included all aspects of an outdoor building, this included compiling budgetary costings, proposed purpose, design options and what permissions are needed.

So it quickly became obvious that a home gym with a recreational space was the preferred option, the gym would need plenty of room for equipment and be tall enough to stand in with arms lifted, the rest of the space would be for games and seating, looking at my gardens available area, a 6.5m X 4.5m outbuilding would fit.

Checking with the UK Planning Portal, outbuildings are a permitted development (Class E) as long as certain conditions are met, the key criteria that I needed to meet was below, (my answers in bold) –

1 Purpose – Incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling house. (YES)
2 Over 50% of the total area of the curtilage used. (NO)
3 Any part forward of the principal elevation. (NO)
4 Single storey. (YES)
5 Total eaves height restricted to 2.5m is within 2m of boundary. (YES)
6 Listed building. (NO)
7 Verandah, balcony or platform over 0.3m. (NO)
8 Microwave antenna. (NO)
9 Less than 30 square meters floor area. (YES)
10 At least one meter from any boundary. (YES)

The key document is below:

The outbuildings construction is not stipulated in the Guidance, however, I’m no builder, so the option to buy a prefabricated kit seemed a good idea.

After quite a long time online looking at different vendors and weighing up the pros and cons, we went for a 6.5m x 4.5m Dunster House Carsare Grande, 45mm thick timber interlocking walls, non insulated.

The following files relate to the Carsare Grande we have:

We decided as the cabin will not be a habitable space or used as an office, their was no need to have insulated walls also we didn’t take up the additional expense of roof insulation or gutters and downspouts from Dunster House as part of the purchase, more about this as bit further on.


OK, now we know what we are going to have, what it’s for and how much its will cost, the next bit is the base the cabin will sit on, here we had three main options, all of which required a level of excavation works and spoil disposal, I excluded simply building it on top of the existing grass as I want it to last!

Option 1 – Concrete Pad, The recommendation is that the base should be 150mm thick, as the cabins footprint is 6.5m x 4.5m, the foundation slab, needed to be bigger than this, the amount of concrete works out to be 4.46 Cubic Metres, and as the plot is 25m from the road, the concrete would have to be pumped as using wheelbarrows would need 50 trips and that would incur additional waiting time costs for the cement mixer driver and knowing my luck, the cement would have started to set before I had finished! also the cost for concrete, rebar and pumping made this unaffordable, putting aside the fact that restoration of the garden at a future time would be expensive.

Option 2 – Concrete Block or Slabs, Heavy manual handling and these would need a foundation and getting level would be difficult over such a large area.

Option 3 – Plastic Pro Base – This sits on a bed of pea gravel with a weed control sheet under the gravel, each base grid is physically interlocked into place and the spaces in the Pro Base grid are filled with more gravel to give stability and add to water drainage, this was the option chosen.

The base was marked out to give the required minimum 1 metre distance from the fences, this worked out perfectly as its enough space to comfortably get around the cabin to build it, apply stain and maintain it afterwards.

In total we used 4 bulk bags of 10mm pea gravel for the cabin base and the base dimension is 7m x 5m. The cost of excavation plant, labour, skips and base materials cost ~ £1350, so make sure you budget for this! To get the base level we used a laser level with remote detector, this was perfect for our needs, good value for money and easy to use. The model number is Firecore FIR411G and was bought from Amazon.

Dunster House

As mentioned earlier on, we went though to the Bedford showroom and when we got home placed the order using the online portal, this was very easy to navigate and the order tracker was informative. The lead time on the Cabin was eight weeks which was good as it gave us some time to prepare the plot, but after just three weeks we had a phone call asking if they could deliver, at which time we hadn’t even started preparing the ground!!

On the revised delivery date the cabin arrived, I paid for a two person delivery and the guys were very helpful and placed all the parts, of which their was loads , onto an area I had laid out. The parts come off the lorry in no particular order, so some sorting out is needed afterwards, my Cabin is made of two distinct sections and these sections need to be kept separate to avoid mixing up the parts.

Oh, one tip, on the ordering portal you can track the delivery on route to you, don’t believe its accuracy and wait for the order to arrive in case you think it will be OK to nip out 😉

The Build

Tools I recommend you have in advance are:

  • Spirt Level
  • Pencil
  • Rubber Mallet (I used a white head type from Screwfix to avoid marking the wood – Part Number 2472V)
  • Drill and wood drill bits (3mm, 6mm & 8mm)
  • Impact screwdriver
  • Flooring Clamp (Screwfix – Part Number 932FT)
  • Step Ladder
  • Adjustable spanner
  • Tape Measure
  • Right Angle
  • Hammer
  • Tube felt adhesive and applicator gun
  • Stanley Knife and spare blades
  • Wood Saw

The first job of the build is to identify the parts, this starts with the floor timbers, as the cabin is made up of two cabin bolted together, you have two lots of instructions and the floor timber spacing’s are different, this will mean that the floorboard screws will not follow a straight line throughout the finished floor, my OCD would not allow this, so I had to take apart the floor timbers and make sure that were all in line. Not a big job, but as its the first thing to do, undoing your work is a bit demotivational.

The walls progressed quickly, simply slotting into each other, a bit of persuasion with the mallet helps to ensure the wood interlocks. I opted to have the window on the left of the door as you look from the outside, the reason for this is that we wanted a seat under the window which would be in a corner and the door would open with an internal wall on the right enabling the light switches to be easily operated without walking across a dark room to operate the lights.

Dunster House provide spare parts, so it may look like you have bits left over from the wall build, but this is intentional which was unexpected but welcome as we did have a couple of lengths with a twist in them.

Once the walls are up, roof joists tie the gable ends together, this is the only doggy part of the build, as for a moment in time, the gables are unsupported.

With the roof joists in, the next step is to board the roof making sure to use the roof boards and NOT the floorboards, they are different dimensions, so if you start cutting roof boards, your doing it wrong!

The construction guide says to leave a 2mm gap in the tongue & groove for expansion rather than have each piece butted up to each other, what we found was that as the wood had been outdoor for a while it had started to twist, the only way to get the boards to engage throughout their length with the next piece was to use a flooring clamp to pull the pieces into shape, this worked really well, but took ages. It was important to get this right as the boards are the cabins ceiling finished surface.

The kit comes with a under-felt plastic barrier and felt shingles, an extra Dunster House offer is roof insulation for £858. I decided to install my variant of this warm roof system which cost ~£250.

The first step was to install a vapour barrier on top of the roof, once this was done, a 25mm wooden baton was secured all around the perimeter edge of the roof. Due to planning rules the building cannot be over 2.5m high, this limits the thickness of the insulation to 25mm, hence the insulation is the same thickness as the batons.

With the insulation boards cut and fitted to shape across the roof with the reflective side upwards, I used aluminium jointing tape to seal the boards, the insulation was then covered by 9mm plywood and screwed down, the roof boards are 19mm thick, so 50mm screws were used, but not driven too hard as I didn’t want them to show inside the cabin ceiling.

The plywood joints and screw heads were covered with a waterproof tape and a waterproof membrane was rolled out on top of this. I tried to used the plastic sheet which came with the cabin kit, but it was impossible to get it to lay flat, so this was discarded.

The last stem in the warm roof process was to installed the roof felt shingles and affix them with the supplied galvanised clout nails.

The Tip for cutting felt shingles is to change the blade after 4 cuts maximum. The shingles go down quickly and I had a pack and a half left over, so they do give you plenty.

Once the roof is complete, the boards for the gutters and end boards go on. Dunster House wanted £330 for the rainwater kits which included water butts, I bought the same system parts from B&Q for £150, if you keep the receipt you can take unused parts back for a refund which worked really well for us.


Once the cabin was watertight we could focus on getting the floor down, the cost for an insulated floor was £300, so like the roof, we bought the materials from a local builders merchant and saved money. I fixed small blocks to the side of the floor beams to keep the insulating board off the floor and allow an air flow, the insulation boards were cut with a saw, and pushed into place and all joints sealed with tape or expanding foam where needed, before the floorboards were screwed down, we used the flooring clamp to get the wood to fit in order to get the finish we wanted.

Finish & Interior

I bought the wood stain from Dunster House and applied two coats as per the recommendation, the stain dries very quickly and runs easily, so take your time as the finish is worth it. The stain is a quality make and I couldn’t find it cheaper elsewhere, 2x 2.5l tins is more than enough for at least two coats of the cabin, windows and doors.

The double doors need door hook & eye stays to keep them open, these are a lot cheaper online than from Dunster House.

I undertook the electrical works, this involved digging a trench to carry 1x 25mm flexible conduit containing 3x Cat5e data cables and a Coax cable for the TV, also in the trench was a 6mm 2 core SWA for power, inside the cabin I used a 6 way consumer unit with RCBO’s. For ease of installation and future expansion if needed, I used dado trunking around the complete perimeter at low level, I was advised that the wood will move with humidity, so the trunking is fixed to one length of wood and not screwed to bridge separate lengths. All electrical bits came from TLC Electrical and they are my go to supplier. Within the dado trunking is partition separation between the data and TV cable and the power circuits.

The cabin has a WiFi Access Point as well as hard wired tap points for flexibility.

Lighting is by 300mm x 300mm LED panels, 4 on each side of the cabin, 8 in total.

Time to Relax

Floor tiles were fitted as the plain floorboards got too dirty with all the construction works, the tiles were good condition used ones and bought locally from Fuller Gray Carpet Tiles.

The only part of the cabin I didn’t do was the installation of the Samsung split unit Air Conditioning, this has the facility to heat or cool, this was sized to give 5kW of cooling or 6kW of heating, this method of heating uses less electricity for the comparable output than using traditional heaters.

We are very happy with the quality of the cabin and the all year round usable space it has given us, I would recommend this to anyone.

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Bird Bath Auto Water Fill

start pic

I bought my bird bath second hand for £10 and have had it for several years, I’ve always hated the colour and topping it up with the watering can every day was getting to be a pain.

So I thought I would ‘ kill two birds with one stone’, (I know, not the best phase considering the context), anyway, a nice little project in the making.

My original design ended up way to complex, the plan was to use a Programmable Logic Controller to drain the bowl and refill it everyday, plus some other tweaks such as overfilling the bath to flush out waste and only draining down at night etc.

I did a relality check and simplified the design to simply fill when the level in the bowl gets low, however, the plumbing manifold was made to allow auto draining if I choose to do it later.

Current Operation – This is very simple and needs no manual intervention. With the water supply and power on, the liquid level controller keeps the solenoid fill valve closed as long as a circuit is made via the water from the common connector (metal tank connector) to the low level brass stud.

When the water level drops below the low level stud and the contact to the common connector is missing, the controller, after a short delay, powers the fill solenoid valve and water enters the bird bath, once the water touches the upper contact (high level), the solenoid power is removed and the valve closes.

How it was made – As the bird bath is made of plastic and the top bowl lifts off the column, I was able to put hardware out of view inside the base.

First job was to drill and fit the 15mm Tank Connector (£2.79) and a small length of 15mm copper pipe in the top bowl, this will connect to the filling manifold via a push fit coupling, the copper stub will also act as a ‘Common’ connector for the level sensor circuit.

dish top

The manifold is made of 15mm copper pipe with end fed fittings, the manifold is connected via a 15mm ‘push fit’ connection to the bowl stub, thiis makes maintenance very easy as it all comes apart quickly. The finished pipework is fully lagged.

inserted manifold

The liquid level control PCB was off eBay (£3.65 and) fitted neatly inside an IP rated enclosure I already had, in the picture above you can see an earth wire which is soldered to the stub pipe from the bowl and the black cable is a two core to the high and low level stud contacts.


The solenoid is 1/2″ version, 12vDC and connects to the water supply via 15mm tap connectors with fibre washers (£1.50 @ B&Q), I fitted a flywheel diode across the terminals to avoid pitting the PCB relay contacts, the valve was off eBay and cost £4.32.

The studs are Pan Head 12mm x 4mm brass machine screws commonly used for metal conduit box lids, the studs are positioned at the low level and high level marks. On the underside I have used hot melt glue to secure the sensor connecting wire.

Finished bb

Finished project and a new colour, Winsor Green. The water supply to the bird bath is via a hose from an outside tap, the connection at the bird bath is via a hozelok connector with an isolating ball valve, the valve is ‘gagged in’ so the when the solenoid opens, the bath fill is quite slow,

12vDC to power the circuit board and solenoid is fed from an external IP rated socket with a small plug in PSU.

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UFH Controller Upgrade

I installed 150W/M electric underfloor heating in the kitchen and utility, each area was controlled using a seperate TS700 programmable touch screen controller, these were bought off eBay for £20 each.

TS700 UFH Controller


The TS700 worked fine but wasn’t very user friendly to programme and so you ended up not making any changes after the initial setup.

Looking for an alernative controller which will be within my buget and fit the same footprint as the TS700 and be Smart, I came across the BHT-002 series of WiFi enabled Thermostats on

The Smart aspect means I can use an App (Beca Smart) to control and programme the controller, also as its App based, I can share permissions with familiy so they also can control the floor heating, another bonus is the ability to have control via Alexa.

BHT-002-GBLW UFH Controller

BHT-002 Series Instructions

The BHT-002 Series of controller has different versions, the one I selected was 240v AC and capable of switching 16A, it has a backlit display and WiFi connectivity.

Connection to the iPhone App was painless and the instructions an setup are considerably easier than the TS700, the cost from Aliexpress was £20 each, unfortunatly I had to pay £11.07 Customs Duty when they came into the UK, but they were a breeze to swop over from the TS700 and work perfectly.

A nice touch is the comfort light on the controller to show it is powered, all in all, a really good move to make the change.

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Spirovent RV2 Installation

The bedroom over the garage was always colder than the rest of the bedrooms, I decided to remove the existing single radiator and replace it with a Stelrad Compact K2 double radiator, this will give a heat output of 1645 Watts against the original radiators 907 Watts.

As the heating system needed to be drained down to enable me to make pipework modifications, I thought this would be a good time to add an air separator into the system.

My system already has two Automatic Air Vents, the difference with an air separator is that the heated water passes through a ‘packing’ which creates a turbulent water flow, any entrained air or micro bubbles are liberated, rising to the top of the device and vented.

The unit was very easy to install, the instructions contained a cutting gauge and the fitting location was ideal.

spiro out

I had just enough room to install the Spirovent RV2 on the bottom pipe which is the flow from the boiler, the manufactures instructions suggest that the unit should be installed at the point where the heated exit water is the hottest, so this was ideal.

After the radiator was replaced and the Spirovent RV2 installed, I slowly used my filling loop via a pressure regulator to refill the system, checking for leaks and venting the system until all are had been removed and the pressure stabilised at 1.5 bar.

After the system had been running for a few days and all the air had been vented, I used the Magnaclean Pro 2 as a dosing pot, and replenished the Fernox F1, again after a few days I used the Fernox test kit to confirm that the inhibitors concentration was satisfactory.

On Youtube one of the respected UK plumbing engineer asserted that the circulating heating water should be treated more like a heat transfer medium and more effort should be paid to its treatment, going so far as to say that the customer shouldn’t top the system up with the filling loop, introducing aerated water. He has a point, but in reality this will never happen.

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Electric Mat Under Floor Heating Installation Alert

As a DIY home improvent project, I’m installing electric mat underfloor heating, whilst researching this I noted in the American market they sold a device called ‘Loudmouth‘ which warns of damage to to the heating cable during installation, rather then complete the floor only to find the heating cable was not working!loudmouth

In the UK underfloor heating manufactures sell a version of ‘Loudmouth’, the prices vary from £9.99 to £30.00,  I bought one online for £10.49 inc P & P after searching the internet in vain for a schematic in order to build one. (Damage-Sensor-Instructions).

As I’m installing more than one mat at the same time in different areas, I thought I’d simulate the one I bought and make a quick blog.

The parts were from eBay apart from those I had in the workshop, total cost £5.61:

  • 4.5v (3 x AA) battery box with integral switch –  £1.84
  • S8050 Transistors (Pk 5) or J3Y for SMD – £0.99
  • 3v Buzzer (Pk 2) – £2.38
  • Resistors, LED, Veroboard already had.

Completed home made unit

Alerter Schematic


All the parts fit neatly inside a battery box in the space left by the lack of one of the AA batteries, the unit works on 3v, so only two batteries are needed.


How To Use

Before unboxing the underfloor heating mat, measure and record the mats element resistance and resistance to the sheath, if this meets with the manufactures instructions, the alert unit can be connected after the mat is laid out.

Turning on, the LED will light and the buzzer will sound, the LED stays permanently lit, this acts as a confidence check that the unit has power.

Connecting the Brown and Blue wires together will silence the buzzer, touching the Green/Yellow wire to the connected Brown and Blue wires will cause the buzzer to sound.

In use, the Brown, Blue and Green/Yellow wires will be connected to the underfloor heating mat cold lead cable wires, the heating element wires are a continuous circuit, damaging the cable will  break the circuit  causing the buzzer to sound and alerting you to stop and check and repair the damage before progressing. The element wires are contained within an earthed sheath, the Green/Yellow monitors the sheath for shorts circuits to the elements, and will again alert if damage is detected.

Logic table for the alert to sound
  • Brown & Blue – Open Circuit
  • Green/Yellow, Brown & Blue – Short Circuit
  • Green/Yellow & Brown – Short Circuit
  • Green/Yellow & Blue –  Short Circuit
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Sonoff to Homebase Air Conditioning Unit – 636212

I’ve had a Homebase portable air conditioning unit (Model 636212) for ages, the unit removes 9000BTU of heat and is ideal for my home office, especially with the hot weather we are experiencing at the moment (May, June July 2018).

Homebase AC

I have a number of Sonoff devices so I thought I’d add remote control to the air conditioning unit, using a Jog Switch (SKU437888).

Jog Switch

The Homebase unit is turned on and off via a simple push to make button, wiring the Sonoff relay normally open contacts in parallel across the on/off switch allows a single pulse from the relay contacts to either start or stop the air conditioning unit.


The low voltage to the Sonoff is from the internal Power Supply Board, this gives out 17v DC which is well within the operating range of the device (7v -30v AD/DC).


The picture above shows the unboxed module fixed for testing,  total cost was £6.50 and took about 30 minutes, what makes this more impressive is that the EWeLink App allows ‘Scenes’ to be setup with other Sonoff devices.

I have set the Server Cabinet Sonoff which operates the internal fan to trigger the air conditioning at 34°C, turning OFF when the temperature falls below 31°C.

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Installing Boiler Condensate Runoff

I currently have a Vaillant Thermocompact 624 System boiler which was installed in 2002 and some of the parts are now obsolete, so its only a matter of time before it needs replacement.

All new boilers now have to reach an ERP (Energy Related Product) minimum efficiency of 92.5% and only condensing boilers can achieve this, it does this by recovering the latent heat within the exhaust flue gases, this causes the water component of the flue gasses to condense and require disposal.

The boiler condensate produced varies in quantity and is acidic, therefore, only plastic parts can be used within the drain system (no copper or cast iron pipes unless the condensate has been neutralized first).

My existing boiler has no need for a condensate drain, however, when this packs in, any new boiler will.

I have read that if the condensate drains runs outside into a gully or soak-away, that the external pipe unless lagged or trace heated can freeze in the winter, and if the condensate can’t run away freely, the boiler will lockout until the pipe is thawed out.

So, thats the backstory, fortunately for me, the boiler is in the garage and also a portion of a 11/2″ (40mm) drain pipe runs inside the garage, before going through the wall to connect into the soil stack, the drain pipe carries the waste water from the washing machine, dishwasher and utility sink.

darin pipe

The pipe used was 22.5mm plastic overflow pipe from the boiler to the drain pipe clamp, the picture below shows the capped boiler condensate pipe in advance of the installation.

capped condensate

Fitting this pipe without taking the garage apart was a ‘challenge’ and took ages!

wide angle

This pipe runs behind dado trunking where I used plastic cement to fix a 90 degree bend and ‘Tee’ with a capped stub so I can flush through if needed.

In this picture you can also see an earth clamp, this is fitted to the 15mm copper gas pipe  and is the main bonding conductor for the gas, unfortunatly it does not comply to BS7671 Electrical Regulations,  in so much as it is futher than 600mm from the point of entry and it is also installed after a branch, so I took the oppertunity to install a new clamp and 16mm2 main bonding conductor directly from the meters outgoing gas pipe to the consumer units earth bar, I could have used 10mm2 as I have a PME supply, but as I had the wire already, I made use of that.


After doing the first drain I rechecked the pipe layout on a Vaillant EcoTech and it showed the condensate oulet on the other side of the boiler, so it was out with the drill again and fit another drain.

two pipe

This is the new gas main bonding conductor clamp fitted with the cable sealed after being routed of the enclosure, note the quality pipe soldering done by the British Gas Smartmeter man……Nice!


The additional uncapped drain below was a lot easier to fit as I removed the boilers isolator and frost stat to make more room.

left side

The drain has to have a fall of 43mm per meter, the pipe was taken to a 90 degree bend and then on to the drain pipe, the pipe is supported every 300mm.


The  picture  shows a 75mm deep trap in the 22.5mm pipe, this then goes on to a McAlpine CONVALVE R28-NRV, this Non Return Valve will allow the flow from the boiler, but will restrict any back-flow from the drain pipe.

Installation of the NRV was very simple, I had to chisel the breeze block slightly so the clamp could fit without touching the wall, then drill a 15mm hole in the drain, debur the hole and fasten the 4 clamp screws and that’s it.

As the main drain pipe was at an angle and the condensate pipe came in vertically (the NVR will only work in this position), warming a small length of pipe and with an internal bending spring, I put a slight bend in the pipe, this was then cut to length and fitted between the pipe clamp and the NVR.

Once fully installed and all joints cemented, I ran a full bore water hose to check for leaks, once everything was checked, the exposed pipes were boxed in to stop any accidental damage (this pipe does form part of the boilers flue system when connected) and the garage was put back together again.

Not sure when my boiler will fail, but at least I’ve saved the plumber some time and effort and therefore I’ve saved some money in the long run.

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LED Emergency Light Kit

em kit

I saw a very similar discrete emergency light fitting recently and thought that would be a good idea over the stairs at home, looking on eBay I saw the above unit (MJ-LED-DZ09 by Zenergy) for £14.95 and bought one.

Prior to use, the instructions recommend charging the battery for no less than 24 hours before use as it comes discharged, this I did.

The LED light housing is really neat, it requires a 32mm hole (1 1/4″) drilling to accept the light body which is held in the hole by spring clips on either side, the electronics are in a low profile enclosure and this will easily pass through the 32mm hole.

Installation was very simple, I marked the center of the ceiling over the stairs, using a 32mm hole saw, checking that their wasn’t any joists or obstructions in the loft  above the ceiling before drilling.

To stop plasterboard dust going everywhere whilst drilling the hole, I used a plastic fast food container as a ‘dust catcher’.

To make this, I cut a hole in the container so that the hole saw shaft passed through the container into the chuck, this allowed me to hold the container steady whilst drilling the hole at slow speed so that all the dust was trapped in the container.

After pushing the electronics enclosure through the hole, I used decorators caulk around the inside lip of the LED light, before pushing the light into the hole, the reason for the caulk was to form a decent seal to stop any draft marks appearing around the fitting at a later date.


In the loft, I connected the emergency light 230v power to the upstairs lighting circuit (after isolating the supply!), when the power was turned on, the battery was then plugged into the unit ready for testing.

With the power on, a tiny green healthy LED is lit, when the power is off, the green LED goes out straight away, and within 2 seconds, the main white escape LED lights, I assume the delay is to avoid and short duration blips bringing on the main LED.

The light from the unit is very bright and cool white is colour.


Quick Details from Web Site
LED –   1 X 3W LED
Material-     Poly Carbonate for conversion body & aluminum LED body
Mounted –    ceiling mounted
Life time of battery –    4 years
Light Output –       (Emergency)    170lm
Lamp protection –   over charge and discharge protection
LED indicator –   Green indicator
Charging current  –  90mA
Convert voltage-    155V  AC
Discharging current –   500mA
Discharge duration –   3 Hours
Spec of battery-    3.6V  2200mAh NI-MH Batery
Packing –   38.5 x 35x 32.5cm     50pc/ctn
IP Rating-    IP20



The series use for emergency lighting. The unit will provide 3W maximum output power at emergency mode.They are designed to be highly efficient and highly reliable, and with short-circuit protection; overcharge protection;over discharge protection and over temperature protection.

Important information for the installion:

The unit uses dangerous mains voltage,(220-240Vac, the converter will be with the emergency mode when the mains voltage is less than 65% of rated voltage) it should be installed by a qualified electricians only according to European safety standard or relevant nation regulations.

Connect the LED spotlight to the emergency LED converter with correct polarity according to the schematic drawing.

Connect the unit to AC power only after the wiring completed between emergency converter, battery and spotlight.

If the emergency converter is used for purposes other than originally intended or it is connected in the wrong way, no liability can be taken over for possible damages.


Model Main power supply Main power cut off
MJ-LED-DZ09 LED Spotlight off, green indicator on LED spotlight on, green indicator off

I’m really impressed with the product, and its another safety related home improvement which we hope is never needed in anger.

Update 6 June 18

Installed a Emergency light test switch rather than turning the lighting power off, these are just under £3.00 and include the ‘fish tail’ key.

Em Switch

The switched fused connection unit is for a cupboard light and Hive light fitting which are fed with 0.75mm cable, the emergency lighting is fed with 1.5mm cable and is not fed from the fused side of the fused connection unit.

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PCB Etch Tank

I decided to build a PCB etch tank for some up and coming projects, so this is a quick blog on how I did it.

etch tank

For ease I bought four pieces of 5mm thick clear Acrylic (Perspex), each piece pre cut to A4 size (210mm x 297mm) off eBay for £5.41 per sheet, the height of 297mm is also ideal to accommodate the immersed heater.

You only actually need three sheets, from this two full sheets are each side with the third sheet requiring cutting to form the sides of the tank, whats left over is the base, the idea is minimal cuts and make best use of factory cut edges to cement forming a leak tight joint.

I used a tenon saw to cut a 40mm strip the length of the sheet (40mm x 297mm), once cut, I turned the sheet round and marked 40mm in from the remaining factory cut edge, and cut the second wall strip.

The piece left over, I used as the base of the tank after shaping it using a jig-saw with an Acrylic cutting blade, I found that better results for straight cuts were with the tenon saw, rather than the jig-saw even though I used a straight edge.

Once the base was shaped I flame polished the edge.

With all the pieces  cut, the edges were rubbed with 1200 grip paper and cleaned with IPA, before being cemented.

The cement used was Model X Pro plastic weld, 50ml costing £6.69 from eBay, this came with an syringe applicator which was invaluable for accurate use.

I used butt joints ensuring factory cut edges only are cemented to the flat surface of the sheets, once the parts are checked for alignment, the plastic weld which is like water, is applied and ‘wicks’ along the joint giving a really strong joint, reaching full strength in 24 hours.

I did make a couple of brackets for the heater and a lid for the tank out of the remaining Acrylic sheet, but this was not absolutely necessary.

sideUsing the dimensions above, you should end up with a tank which is 45mm deep, 215mm wide and 297mm high, to cover the heating elements ‘water line’ will take 1.3 litres of etchant and will cope with 1.5 litres.

From a local aquatics shop I bought 6mm air line, air pump and bubble wall to agitate the solution, the heater is a 300W 230v EPH-20 Kinsten Etchant version from eBay and was quite expensive at £16.53,  this has adjustable higher temperature settings than normal fish tank heaters (33°C to 55°C), the tank is set for 40°C.


Exposed photo resist board ready for immersion in Ferric Chloride to remove the unprotected copper.

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Central Heating Inhibitor Testing

I recenly refilled my central heating system after completely draining down to install an automatic bypass valve and then a partial drain down to install a Magnaclean filter a bit later on, when the system was refilled I used Fernox F1 inhibitor (£18.99 per 500ml), as I didn’t know the volume of water in the system to meet the required minimum of 5% inhibitor per 100 litres of system water, and to be on the safe side, I used two bottles of Fernox, as you can not overdose the system, but this is wasteful and not to mention expensive.

In order to use the correct amount of inhibitor, I needed to find the volume of water and ‘spend to save’, so I bought a couple of inhibitor test kits, a Fernox Protector Test Kit for £23.46 and Sentinel x100 quick test for £4.99.


So, why did I buy two test kits!

When the system was completely refilled I used Fernox F1, a few months later I decided to install the Magnaclean and needed some pipe fittings and inhibitor to top up the system resulting from the partial drain down, however, the merchant didn’t sell Fernox F1 only Sentinel x100, so I bought that.

Reading on a plumbing forum their was a suggestion that it was not a good idea to mix different manufactures inhibitor in the same system, I read this after I had already bought the x100 quick test kit off eBay.

I was refunded the cost of the x100 which was good of Plumb-It in Huntingdon, and bought Fernox F1 from another merchant and I also decided to buy as a long term investment a Fernox test kit.

As I now had two test kits, I thought I would see if the Sentinel x100 quick test would give an accurate indication of inhibitor strength of Fernox F1 as the x100 quick test kit will do two concentration tests for £4.99, rather than spend over £23, having said that, I can do 25 tests with the Fernox test kit, so it is cheaper overall, but as a DIY’r getting the x100 kit is more cost effective.


Reading the hazard data sheets for x100 and Fernox, they contained the same chemicals and concentrations, Fernox F1 had one further component:

  • (Fernox & Sentinel) <2.5% Benzotriazole
  • (Fernox & Sentinel) 5% Sodium Molydate
  • (Fernox) Nitrilotriethanol

So I decided to test if the X100 kit would work in practice.


Running some system water off using the vent on the Magnaclean, you fill the container to 1cm from the top and add two tablets, shake and then wait 10 minutes, the colour of the solution should then be compared with back of the x100 packet, if its the same yellow colour or deeper, its fine.


Using the x100 test, the result appears my system water is of an adequate concentration.

The Fernox Inhibitor Test Kit was slightly more involved than the x100 test, but not difficult, the first thing to do was establish as baseline for your cold water which was used to fill the heating system with water.


Filling the supplied container with 10ml of tap water, you add drops of the reagent and count the number of drops needed to change the solution from Blue to Orange.

This is after one drop.

4 drops

To change my tap water from Blue to Orange took four (4) drops of reagent, shaking the bottle after each drop, this number will be subtracted from the drops total in the next part.

Washing out the container, I refilled this with central heating system water to 10ml as before.


1 drop

One drop of reagent added.

Nine drops of reagent added.


Very nearly there.


After 39 drops, the solution changed to Orange, subtracting the baseline tap water 4 drops, means that 35 drops were needed overall, referring to the kit instruction, for Protector F1 at the recommended dose of 500ml for 100L of system water, a minimum of 9 drops of reagent is required to change from Blue to Orange, obviously, I’m well overdosed!!

This got me thinking of how I can determine how much water is in the heating system, the Fernox web site suggests that in a domestic system, volume can be estimated by counting the number of single panel radiators in a property and multiplying by ten. remembering to count double panel radiators as two single panels.

I have 13 radiators with 3 of these being doubles, therefore, using the formula above, this would be 16 x 10 = 160 Litres of System Water needing  just over 1.5 x 500ml bottles of Fernox F1.

To cross check this approximate value, I went the manufactures site for my radiators and found the data sheets, checking the sizes of my radiators against the Kw output of each one, this equaled a total of 10.87Kw, allowing that 1Kw requires 11 liters of water and adding a overhead of 25 litres for water in the boiler, indirect heating coil and system pipework, it worked out to 144.5 Litres of System Water needing just under 1.5 x 500ml bottles of Fernox F1.

The next time the system is completely drained I’ll use one 500ml bottle and then test to confirm if indeed it does need more than one bottle, once established I’ll sell the test kit on eBay.

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