For all to see, the open shed.

It took awhile, but I finally got my Sketchup model cleaned up enough to share with the world. Alas, only to find that I can’t seem to post it natively into wordpress. Booo. I’m going to start looking into something else to host a link, but if anyone is really curious, leave a comment and I’ll email it to you.

Design Philosophies (and how I want to work with them):

Green construction

While this building will be to small for something like straw bale construction, it will use as much recycled material as I can get my hands on. In addition, All interior surfaces will initially be left completely untreated, to prevent the out gassing of any chemicals. Insulation will either be a wool or cotton based recycled material.


The exterior dimensions are 7 feet wide and 12 feet long at the base, with a maximum exterior height of 8 feet. While initially, this will be build on a concrete block foundation, this can easily be slid onto a small utility trailer. In addition, many of the systems are going to be designed disconnected use, including a small amount of water storage, composting toilet, and self contained power system. The water storage will be a molded water tank in the ceiling over the bathroom, designed to give approximate 4.5 cubic feet (a bit more than 30 gallons) of water storage, while still giving the room a flat ceiling. Battery storage will be under the bed, consisting of a deep cycle marine battery, with a very simple controller. Input will be initially from my 45 watt solar panel and my Chispito wind mill on a 20 foot, portable tower. All exterior connections will be easily detachable and be in a single location, to ease connections.


To help deal with harsh Illinois winters (or worse) , the structure will have 6″ thick walls and ceilings to maximum insulation. The exterior will be completely sealed with house wrap to prevent all drafts. While dependent upon availability, all windows should have as high an R value as possible, and to allow for maximum solar gain, the E value should be as high as possible as well. This is contrary to conventional thinking. E value is a measurement of how much light energy can pass though a window, especially at wavelengths outside of human sight. Traditionally, lower is better, meaning light is blocked, which prevents a summer sun from heating your home, and the heat from inside your home from leaving. However, I intend to use awnings to prevent summer sun from entering, while letting the winter sun in full tilt to help warm the space as much as possible. Insulating shutters will be placed on the exterior of the space as well to prevent heat lost during winter nights or heat gain during particular hot summer days.

As such, heating will be passive solar as most as possible, with auxiliary heat provided by fluid based radiant flooring, feed from an on demand propane water heater.

A full bathroom is going to be provided as well as a full, but very simple kitchen. The bathroom itself will be a “wet” bath, with no differentiation between the shower space and the rest of the room. It will be clad in a red wood, such as teak or cedar to still keep a warm feeling. The couch will fold out into a full king sized bed, even if it complete eats the “living room” up. The rest of the interior will be clad with a simple wood paneling, and all cabinetry made with 1″ thick pine.


I admit, with pride, that I’m both lazy and a complete nerd. As such, I expect my house to be a little smarter than most. this structure will have two unique systems, both controlled by a single Arduino. First is active/passive climate control, in which the Arduino is feed current climate information such as amount of sunlight and temperature both inside and outside the house, as well as predictions from an internet feed. With this information and some custom software, it will be able to estimate how much thermal energy the house contains and how much it is likely to gain or lose in the near future, and then make modification such as automatically opening the insulating shutters on the house when it is too cold inside and the sun is shining outside, open windows when it is to warm inside and cooler outside, turning on fans when it really needs to, using auxiliary heat as necessary and even suggesting a burn of an interior wood stove(if I ever get one, which is not in the immediate plan).

The other planned system is power saving lighting control. Each lamp will be built in, with a string of low voltage led lighting providing ambient light about knee level, and a series of task lights. Near each light will be a single push button. This push button will toggle between “All light off”, “Ambient only”, “This task light” and “Previous task light”. In addition, it will use the light sensors described above to turn off all lights when it gets to bright inside. This will completely prevent leaving on lights which will drain the battery.

The Arduino itself is a very simple micro-controller, a type of very small computer. So small, in fact, it can not be used to run any sort of desktop or OS as most people know it. It generally runs on program at a time. The Arduino itself is about $30, and eats as little as 1/100th of a watt of power, although I’ll be adding an Ethernet port for communication and a real-time clock, it will still be very, very easy on the power systems.


For more interactive use, I want to replace my current home server with a BeagleBoard. Very similar to the computers which power most smart phones, this little guy can take all of my “constant on” computer demands easily, while eating only 2 watts. In my case, it will run: a NFS server to share all my files, a cups server, for remote printed, support whatever internet connection I may have, including Winlink2K through a sound card radio modem when all else is unavailable. It will have software that will automatically detect when a disk is put in the optical drive, and properly rip it as a movie file, a music CD (to FLAC), or an iso. It will work as an internal router, between said internet connection and a wireless interface for my laptops. It will run Music Player Daemon for music as often as I want. And finally, it will work as a subversion repository, for all of my projects. That’s a lot of functionality for such a small machine.

Finally, I’ll have a place to put my HAM radios, through wall connections for antennas, a place for me to set my laptop’s: an Asus 1000 ha and a Dell Precision M6400 (work provided), and a 26+” HD television for both TV and as an external display to the laptops. Said TV will be a swing arm, mounting flush with the north wall for most case, but changing to be viewable from all angles.

To Do:

There is much more work to do on my model. All the cabinetry should have doors on them. I have yet to decide how to get the kitchen into the living room. Things like shower heads, controls, lights, and a wrap around shelf at the top of the walls (about 6″ down from the ceiling) haven’t been added. Once I actually get a Craigslist sliding glass door, I’ll need to readjust the measurements for it. And finally, I want to expand the model to show all framing. It’s quite a bit of work, and I haven’t even built anything yet.

To Get:

The biggest thing I need now is the windows, which I’m going to try to get free from Craigslist. Any offers will be appreciated. Also, when I have a few bucks, I’m going to build the lower platform, which unfortunately will be 2×6 pressure treated lumber, with an open bottom and a solid foam board insulation, edged and cracks filled with spray foam. It’s a start.

That’s all for now, tell me what you think!


About Grant Wagner

General class ham: KC9SJQ
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One Response to For all to see, the open shed.

  1. john b says:

    I definitely would like to read more of your open shed.
    Our philosophies seem to match….

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