Using TFT01 2.2″ Display With Arduino Uno R3

How to drive a 2.2″ TFT01 colour display from an Arduino Uno R3 using the UTFT graphics library.

Continue Reading September 1st, 2015

How To Stream Video From Mac To iPad For Free

I got an iPad a while ago, and I’ve found it to be an awesome tool.

The only thing I’ve really wished for that it lacks is the ability to play videos directly from iTunes on my Mac over the network. You can do this between PCs, and my AppleTV can stream videos from iTunes, so why not the iPad? I’ve never understood why this functionality wasn’t there right from the start.

There are some apps you can buy, like Air Video, that allow you to stream video, but I wasn’t impressed when I tried them. In particular, most of them can’t play DRM-protected videos.

Then I stumbled across a simple way to set up your Mac to allow your iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone to play music and video from it without needing to install any additional software or purchase anything. It’s awesome!

Mac Observer has the best set of instructions I’ve found on how to set up the video streaming.

In a nutshell, all you need to do is enable Web Sharing on your Mac, and then make some links from the web share folder on your Mac to the folders where you keep your music and videos. You can also use this same technique to share PDF eBooks and other files.

You then access the files using Safari on the iPod/iPhone/iPad. The video will start in the Safari window, but you can make it full screen and you have full control of volume, playback position, pause, etc – it’s just like watching any other video on your mobile device.

You can even connect your iPad to your TV, and play the videos there (doesn’t work with DRM-protected videos, though).


January 6th, 2011

Family Bonding Day

Today was a huge family bonding day, although we didn’t all spend it together.

Megan and Grace went up to Sydney with the Peterborough school for the Rotary Club of Turramurra and Pathfinders Jumbo Flight. Qantas donated the use of a jumbo jet, pilots and cabin crew donated their time, and Rotarian volunteers provided ground support in the terminal to allow a plane full of disabled kids and their carers to enjoy a 90-minute flight/party over Sydney.

Meanwhile, Darren took Sarah and Hannah to the Ss Peter and Paul Catholic Primary School fete.

As if that wasn’t enough, Darren and the girls then went up to Glengarry Cottage at Kembla Grange for their gala day.

Sarah still wasn’t done when we got home (Hannah had fallen asleep by this stage), so we then had to make a scarecrow.

On a personal note, there’s something strangely satisfying about making a scarecrow from your mother-in-law’s clothes!

November 8th, 2008

Sustainable Illawarra Super Challenge

We have signed up for the Sustainable Illawarra Super Challenge, and Monday night was the official launch of the programme.

The idea is for 120 households across the Illawarra to spend the next 12 months moving towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Sustainable Illawarra provides participants with information, workshops, guidance and resources (as well as some nice discounts and freebies from local businesses!) to help them achieve the goals they’ve set for themselves. In return, Sustainable Illawarra will learn what the issues are for local families, and they’ll also get some stories and case studies they can use in getting the message out to the wider community.

To keep track of what our family is doing and how far we’ve come, we’ve set up a new blog: Feel free to have a read, leave some comments, and send us suggestions!

November 6th, 2008

Mint Pesto Recipe

Here’s one I haven’t tried yet, but I do have a lot of mint and parsley at the moment so maybe I will soon.


  • 1 cup chopped mint leaves
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil


In a food processor, combine mint, parsley and garlic. Slowly add oils until emulsified. Serve at room temperature.

3 comments October 23rd, 2008

Wicking Beds

NOTE: I have moved this post to my other blog,, as it fits in better with that blog’s theme of suburban sustainability. For futher updates check out Wicking Beds – Water Efficient Gardening.

A wicking garden bed uses a waterproof container or layer below the soil surface to form an underground reservoir of water. There is enough soil above the reservoir so that the plants don’t get “wet feet”. Plant roots then draw up this sub-surface water via capillary action.

Because they are watered from below, wicking beds lose very little water to evaporation. They are reportedly extremely water-efficient, and so are very well suited to low-rainfall areas (isn’t that most of Australia?!). You can also leave them for a week or two without any watering, and your plants will be fine.

This page aims to collect links to information on wicking beds:

Wicking boxes are an adaptation of the wicking bed design to container gardening. Here are some links:

3 comments September 8th, 2008

Magic In The Garden

What I love most about this photo is that Sarah actually disappeared into her bedroom to get dressed for gardening, and this is what she came out in. Click to embiggen.

1 comment September 7th, 2008

Growing Mushrooms From Mushroom Compost

In July I took my trailer up to the mushroom farm to get a load of mushroom compost. It was $2.60/bag, and I got 16 bags for $40. I was really just thinking of using it on the garden as a mulch layer at that stage.

When I got home, though, I realised there were actually a lot of mushrooms on top of the bags. I picked them off and put them in the fridge. I wasn’t really ready to use the bags just yet, so I thought I’d put them under the house and see if any more mushrooms might sprout.

And sprout they did!

I kept a tally of how much mushrooms I got from the bags. All weights are after trimming stems for use:

  • 25-07-2008: picked approx 750g of mushrooms off the top of the compost bags after picking them up in the trailer
  • 28-07-2008: picked 150 g (total 900 g)
  • 30-07-2008: picked 235 g (total 1.135 kg)
  • 31-07-2008: picked 348 g (total 1.483 kg)
  • 02-08-2008: picked 482 g (total 1.965 kg)
  • 03-08-2008: picked 649 g (total 2.614 kg)
  • 04-08-2008: picked 1703 g (total 4.317 kg)
  • 05-08-2008: picked 699 g (total 5.016 kg)
  • 06-08-2008: picked 841 g (total 5.857 kg)
  • 07-08-2008: picked 442 g (total 6.299 kg)
  • 08-08-2008: picked 177 g (total 6.476 kg)
  • 09-08-2008: picked 660 g (total 7.136 kg)
  • 10-08-2008: picked 326 g (total 7.462 kg)
  • 14-08-2008: picked 348 g (total 7.810 kg)
  • 16-08-2008: picked 407 g (total 8.217 kg)
  • 17-08-2008: picked 369 g (total 8.586 kg)
  • 20-08-2008: picked 510 g (total 9.096 kg)
  • 21-08-2008: picked 540 g (total 9.636 kg)
  • 23-08-2008: picked 415 g (total 10.051 kg)
  • 24-08-2008: picked 275 g (total 10.326 kg)
  • 30-08-2008: picked 206 g (total 10.532 kg)

The mushroom compost bags are now starting to be overrun by some kind of fluffy white fungus. It’s killing the mushrooms, so I think that’s pretty much the end of the harvest. Time to get the bags out from under the house and into the compost heap.

So, 10.5 kg of mushrooms plus 16 bags of compost for the garden. Not bad for $40!

2 comments September 6th, 2008

Soil Blockers

Note: Updated and expanded versions of the information in this post are available at my other site,

Soil blocker toolI recently bought a soil blocker from Peddler’s Wagon with some birthday money. It was way cheaper to get it sent from the US than to buy it in Australia – like 40% cheaper. Aussie sellers need to learn to be less of a rip-off now that we have access to a world-wide market.

By the way, the Peddler’s Wagon people are great to deal with. Highly recommended. You can read more about their Little Homestead In The City, where they’re growing 6000+ lbs of food per year on 1/10th of an acre of land. Incredible!

It’s been a few weeks, but today I finally got around to making up some blocks.

But first, some resources for making soil blocks:

Using the above recipes as guidance, I made up a mix from what I had lying around in the garage and yard. I used:

  • 2 compressed coir bricks, expanded in 10 L water (made ~20 L volume)
  • 5 L worm castings from the worm farm
  • 10 L sieved compost from my compost heap
  • 5 L clean sharp sand
  • 2 handfuls of garden lime
  • 2 handfuls of rock dust

I mixed it all up thoroughly in the wheelbarrow, adding water to keep the mix nice and moist. It really needs to be fairly wet to form nice blocks.

Then you just plunge the block maker into the mix and squeeze the blocks out. I laid the blocks out on wooden boards in potting trays.

From these quantities I got 88 blocks, and I only used slightly more than half of the soil mix. I’ve put the rest in a container to make up some more blocks next week.

Later tonight I’ll plant out some seeds into the blocks. I’m not sure yet what will go in!

September 4th, 2008

The Chicken Ark

An updated version of this post is available over on my suburban green living blog, Green Change: Chicken Ark Plans

When thinking about a coop for our chickens to live in, we wanted something practical, non-permanent, and space-efficient. Looking around the net, the ‘chicken ark’ or ‘chicken tractor’ concept seemed the best for our needs.

To get some idea of the number of variations on the basic chicken tractor, check out this chicken tractor gallery.

There are heaps of resources for building chicken arks:

There are commercial options, too:

Of course, none of these were exactly what we wanted :-). There were lots of good ideas, though, and we got a good sense of the features we wanted in our own ark. After a few nights spent researching and sketching, measuring and planning, we came up with our final design.

To be continued…

3 comments August 3rd, 2008

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