Stuffing a 10-car garage

Today, I’ve let my imagination run wild. I’ve given myself unlimited funding to fill a 10-car garage with 10 of my favourite vehicles. Just imagine the expensive machines I will acquire when price is no object!

Before you begin, read the description below and make a note of what you think my favourite vehicles are based on the following description, then compare with the answers below.

  1. A French workhorse. No, this isn’t the pickup truck of that name, but a vehicle that will carry up to two people, and a Euro-pallet of materials.
  2. A Canadian pickup made in Errington, British Columbia.
  3. A Canadian sedan originally made in Delta, British Columbia. Production has now been moved offshore.
  4. A Canadian sports car, to be made in New Westminster, British Columbia, starting 2019.
  5. A Canadian three-door hatchback made in Saint-Jerome, Quebec.
  6. A Norwegian car made in Uusikaupunki, Finland then in Elkhart, Indiana.
  7. A Welsh utility vehicle made in Port Talbot.
  8. An Italian supermini that is actually made in Toluca, Mexico.
  9. A French city car rated best low running costs as well as second overall for ease of driving, out of 200 vehicles.
  10. A German workhorse, that will be able to replace vehicle #1, when it arrives in 2023.
10 car garage
10-car garage suggestion for Grand Theft Auto (photo: Sat Saintsfan, 2016)
Original Citroën Berlingo, from 1996. A fossil fueler. (Photo: Citroën)
Canev 2012-04-05 Might-E Truck
The Might-E Truck (photo: Canadian Electric Vehicles Ltd)
Leonard G 2007-12-15 Dynasty iT NEV
Dynasty IT, originally built in Canada, currently being produced in Karachi, Pakistan (photo: Leonard G., 2007)
The only sports car in the garage, An Electra Meccanica Tofino (rendering: Electra Meccanica)
Leonard G 2007-12-16 Zenn NEV
ZENN (Zero Emissions, No Noise) (photo: Leonard G., 2007)
Think City in precisely the correct colour (photo source unknown)
Acton ZeCar
Stevens’ ZeCar (photo: Stevens Vehicles, 2009)
Fiat 500 EV in New Westminster (photo: Brock McLellan)
Renault 2016-09-29 Renault ZOE
Renault Zöe (photo: Renault Norge, 2016)
VW Buzz
Volkswagen I.D. Buzz. “The most versatile and emotional electric car ever.” (photo: Volkswagen)

There is always a chance that one of these fantastic electric vehicles won’t be available. So, I have another in reserve, the GEM (Global Electric Motorcars)  eLXD made in Fargo, North Dakota.

Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz 2009-03-22 GEM eLXD NEV
GEM eLXD working as a food vendor. (photo: Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz, 2009)

Colour-coding Work space people

Note: the term workshop is confusing. While it initially referred to a room or building for making or repairing things, it has taken on an added meaning of an intense meeting about a specific subject. Using the term frequently results in misunderstandings. To avoid confusion, I am attempting to replace the first definition with work space. Yes, I am aware that others are using maker space, but not all work results in products being made. Frequently, they are repaired. At other times, they are disassembled, even recycled, hopefully upcycled. The term make looks at only one phase of a product life cycle.

Communication is difficult, especially between people. Communication at the Unit One work space can be more difficult than in other work spaces, because it currently has three purposes: research, teaching and prototyping.

Research means that we are continuously experimenting into new areas. With any experiment there is the potential for increased risk, which has to be analyzed and (potentially) minimized. Naturally, there are different types of risk. The ones that are focused upon involve the potential for injury or disability.

Unit One, including its annex, occupies about 25 square meters of space. This is a small area compared with many other work spaces. Only four workers are allowed to actively work in the workshop at any one time. A total of six people are allowed into the workshop when work is in progress. An exception can be made for demonstrations, where up to ten people will be allowed. A demonstration (not to be confused with a protest) is a reenactment of a work process, for the benefit of an audience.

One of the first things that is done at Unit One is that we make a distinction between four types of people: novices, skilled workers, supervisors and others.

Novices are people who do not have the training or experience to understand (fully) the consequences of what they are doing. They are usually in the work space to learn. They are not just observers. While restrictions may apply, they are expected to use equipment and facilities in their learning process. These people are distinguished from others by the colour orange. It is used on hard hats, name patches and identity cards. Novices will be observed and helped by the skilled workers and supervisors in the work space.

Model 7
Novice worker name patch proposal.

Skilled workers are people who have appropriate training in the use of equipment available at the workshop, as well as elementary first aid training. They are at the work space to  undertake research, or to build prototypes. They use yellow as a distinguishing colour. Skilled workers are allowed to work independently, but are expected to help novices, when help or advice is needed.

There are two styles of name patch that have been short-listed for consideration for skilled workers. One is closer to that used by supervisors having black thread on a yellow background. The other is closer to that used by novices having yellow thread on a black background. It will be up to the skilled workers themselves to decide which they would prefer to use.

Model 2
Skilled worker name patch proposal. This style is closer to that used by supervisors.
Model 11
Skilled worker name patch proposal. This style is closer to that used by novices.

Supervisors have (at least in theory) the interpersonal skills needed to provide the training that will turn novices into skilled workers. Novices are not allowed to work at Unit One unless there is a supervisor on duty. In keeping with the traditions found on construction sites, supervisors have white as their distinguishing colour.

Model 1
Supervisor name patch proposal.

Guests in a work space (or site) are always a challenge. There are always a lot of temptations and potential dangers that have to be planned for. A large number of them can be avoided by disconnecting electrical power to any machines guests are likely to encounter.

Yet, it must be remembered that not all guests are equal. Members of the Unit One board, may lack the technical training to qualify them as skilled workers, but they also have a right to inspect the activities.

On many construction work sites guests are issued white hard hats. However, at Unit One we won’t be doing this, because all novices are told that they can always receive help from a person wearing a white hard hat, or white name patch.

The solution to this challenge is to use blue as a colour for all guests that lack status as skilled workers or supervisors. Board members without technical competence will be issued blue hard hats and name patches. Board members with technical competence will be issued hard hats and name patches appropriate to their skill level, either yellow or white.

Model 6
Name patch for members of the Unit One board, who lack technical competence.

Update: 2021-03-15 14:00

In an attempt to update this article, several sites were investigated. The main conclusion is that practice varies. The following colours are are commonly used for helmets. This could be extended to apply to other articles of clothing, as well as name labels:

  • white: for managers, engineers, forepeople, supervisors, and sometimes process operators.
  • red: for safety officer, fire fighting team
  • green: for first aid team, safety inspectors and new workers
  • blue: some sites this is for general labourers, more sites use this for technical workers, including electricians.
  • yellow: some sites use this for visitors, more sites use this for general labourers.
  • brown: workers in high heat situations.
  • orange: some sites use this for maintenance members, technicians, laboratory analysts.
  • gray: visitors
  • pink is often used in situations where an operator arrives at work without a safety helmet.

Within Europe the ISO7010 standard applies. It is an inter­national standard created in 2003 to assist with consistent safety sign regulation across Europe. This regulation concerns workplace safety signs and colour markings for accident prevention, fire protection, health & hazard information and emergency evacuation. However, once again, it could be applied to articles of clothing. Wikipedia has an excellent article on the subject.

Here are the specific colours that are specified: Black – RAL 9004 Signal Black; Blue – RAL 5005 Signal Blue= Mandatory; Green – RAL 6032 Signal Green = Safe Condition; Red – RAL 3001 Signal Red = Prohibition; White – RAL 9003 Signal White; Yellow – RAL 1003 Signal Yellow = Warning.

This weblog post was updated 2021/12/21. to eliminate Seeds from the title. This post formed part of a Needs, Seeds and Weeds website that belonged to my daughter, Shelagh. In addition, other things are also out of date, or my opinions have changed. Apart from the title, updating the text to a block format and other minor formatting changes, the text above this paragraph remains as it was before. Any significant content changes are found below this paragraph.

Open Source Workshop Automation

This post presents Marmot Chirp, an Intelligent Workshop Assistant (IWA) to be used at the Unit One workshop. It is an implementation of Home Assistant that could find its physical expression on a Raspberry Pi. However, there may be issues that require other hardware to be used. Thus, a more likely alternative would be a Gigabyte Brix EKi3A IoT unit with:

  • Intel 7th Generation Core i3-7100U Processor
  • Fanless 0.76 liter volume design: 180(W) x 117(D) x 36(H) mm, Weight 978g
  • 1 x COM port (RS232)*
  • 2 x USB 3.1 (1 x USB Type-C™), 2 x USB 3.0
  • HDMI 2.0 plus Mini DisplayPort 1.2 Outputs (Supports dual displays)
  • 2 x SO-DIMM DDR4 Slots 2133 MHz, Max 32GB
  • 1 x M.2 SSD (2280) slot
  • IEEE 802.11ac, Dual Band 1×1 Wi-Fi & Bluetooth 4.2 NGFF M.2 card
  • Gigabit LAN
  • Headphone/Microphone Jack
  • VESA mounting bracket (75 x 75mm + 100 x 100mm)
GB-EKi3A Brix iot
Gigabyte Brix IoT platform

Regardless of the computer used, it will have to be fitted with additional equipment: speaker, microphone and light. The light will be off (indicating system is not functioning), steady on (system is in use), pulsing on (system in standby mode).

Why Chirp?

An intelligent personal assistant needs a name, so it knows when it is being activated. Female names are often used, eg Alexa and Siri. I pity the poor girls with those names, or anyone living in proximity to them, with such assistants. Similarly, an IWA has to be addressed, so it knows when users want something done. One of the most important characteristics in naming an intelligent assistant, is that the name is unique, and not used in normal conversation. In a workshop, calling the IWA Plywood or Lathe is just asking for trouble. Here, the name used is Chirp.

The Unit One Workshop, at Vangshylla, Inderøy, Norway


There are a lot of different situations in a workshop where a user would want to interact with a IWA, and other situations where the workshop owner, through the IWA wants information from a user.

Much of the terminology used would be based on voice procedure used in other situations.

1. Visitor arrival

The IWA has proximity and other sensors to detect the presence of a visitor.

A. Known user.

IWA: Welcome to Unit One. I’m Chirp, an intelligent workshop assistant. Who are you?

Brock: Chirp, I am Brock

IWA: Welcome Brock. Your personal safety equipment is in box <A/ B/ C/ C/>.You are logged in at <time> on <date>.

B. Unknown user.

IWA: Welcome to Unit One. I’m Chirp, an intelligent workshop assistant. Who are you?

Cynthia: Chirp, I am Cynthia

IWA: I don’t recognize you, Cynthia. Please use the computer to log in or register yourself.

IWA: Thank you for registering, Cynthia. You are inside the Unit One workshop, where people use technology to make the world a better place. In front of you is box <A/ B/ C/ D> containing your personal safety equipment, including safety glasses, hearing protection, gloves, and respirator. Please use the equipment you need. Please note that there is a first aid kit and a fire extinguisher near the entrance, and a second fire extinguisher at the end of the workshop, near the Annex. These are to be used when needed. If you need help, just call me by my name, Chirp. You are logged in at <time> on <date>. Please remember to log out when you leave.

I have heard some interesting titles used by an IPA to address one or more users. The one in particular that I would want to avoid is, “Yes, Master.”

2. Other Events

A. Audio (video?) contact with house, referred to as Fjellheim, meaning mountain home, in Norwegian:

User: Chirp

IWA: Yes?

User: Chirp, Patch me through to Fjellheim.

Event: Telephone rings Brock or Trish, depending on who is home.

(Postive response) IWA: Contacted Fjellheim

(Negative response) IWA: No one is at home at Fjellheim.

With a positive response, a dialog would then follow. The IWA would be listening to the entire conversation waiting for its name and new instructions. The conversation would end with:

User: Chirp, terminate.

IWA: Conversation terminated.

B. Audio contact with emergency services:

User: Chirp

IWA: Yes?

User: Patch me through to <emergency services/ambulance/ fire department/ police>.

Event: IP telephone contacts appropriate service

(Positive response) IWA: Contacted <service>

(Negative response) IWA: Unable to contact <service>

C. Turn on electrical circuit for a particular machine (but not the machine itself, except dust control and air).

User: Chirp

IWA: Yes?

User: Enable <dust/ air/ drill/ band saw/ mitre saw/ table saw/ planer/ router/ sander>

Event: Circuit turned on for <dust/ air/ drill/ band saw/ mitre saw/ table saw/ planer/ router/ sander>

Positive IWA: <dust/ air/ drill/ band saw/ mitre saw/ table saw/ planer/ router/ sander> enabled.

Negative IWA: Unable to enable <dust/ air/ drill/ band saw/ mitre saw/ table saw/ planer/ router/ sander>

D. Turn off electrical circuit for a particular machine (turn off the machine itself for dust control and air).

User: Chirp

IWA: Yes?

User: Disable <dust/ air/ drill/ band saw/ mitre saw/ table saw/ planer/ router/ sander>

Event: Circuit turned off for <dust/ air/ drill/ band saw/ mitre saw/ table saw/ planer/ router/ sander>

Positive IWA: <dust/ air/ drill/ band saw/ mitre saw/ table saw/ planer/ router/ sander> disabled.

Negative IWA: Unable to disable <dust/ air/ drill/ band saw/ mitre saw/ table saw/ planer/ router/ sander>

3. Visitor Departure

Person: Chirp

IWA: Yes?

Person: <name of person> is leaving.

IWA: Goodbye <name of person> Please put your personal safety equipment in box <A/ B/ C/ C/>.You are logged out at <time> on <date>.

What other events need to be controlled? What other comments do you have about an intelligent workshop assistant?

Update: 2021-12-20 at about 21:00.

This weblog post was originally published 2017/10/29 at 05:49, which is four years and fifty-two days ago. This is a trial to see if eliminating Needs the title, has any consequences. That is because, at the time of publication, this post formed part of a Needs, Seeds and Weeds website that belonged to my daughter, Shelagh. In addition, other things are also out of date, or my opinions have changed. Apart from the title, the text above remains as it was, content changes are found below.

Internet connectivity. The workshop is in theory connected to the server (Mothership) with a fiber optical cable. Theoretically, inside the workshop the cable terminates at a switch. In practice none of these installations have taken place, yet. The cable has been purchased, tubing has been laid between the workshop and the house, but work is needed to get the cable from the outside of the house to the server.

Inside the workshop the switch could be something as simple as a Unifi Flex Mini, with five Gb Ethernet PoE connections, one in, and four out. For about ten times the price, 10Gb Ethernet PoE connections can be supplied using a Unifi Flex XG unit. Wifi should not be a problem if a Unifi 6 Lite access point is connected to one of the ports.

As discussed in a recent post about Forth, the machine controller would be programmed in Forth. This could be a single unit attached with an Ethernet cable to the switch. At the present time, this unit could be a Raspberry Pi 4B.

For design, engineering, administrative and other purposes a relatively high powered workstation computer should be available. An Asus Zen AiO machine was purchased used to be a kitchen controller. This machine was rejected, and could be taken into use in the workshop. It comes with a touch-screen.

With an access point, machine controller and workstation in use in the workshop, three of the four output ports of the switch are in use.

Every Soul …

Every soul needs a fortress to protect it against the onslaught of the modern world. Life isn’t for weaklings. Living demands effort. Surprisingly, the Baha’i Faith does not promote work, or even careers, as this fortress. Rather it comes from marriage. A true marriage is not just confined to this world, but lasts almost perpetually.

“The true marriage of Bahá’ís is this, that husband and wife should be united both physically and spiritually, that they may ever improve the spiritual life of each other, and may enjoy everlasting unity throughout all the worlds of God.”

Bahá’u’lláh described marriage as a “fortress for well-being.”

I don’t think Bahá’u’lláh was just talking about passionate nights. Living with someone 24/7 requires more than just sex to sustain a relationship. Living together may be a normal state, it might even promote health and longevity, and result in greater happiness, but these positive elements will only develop if there is friendship, at the heart of the relationship.

They “must, however, exercise the utmost care to become thoroughly acquainted with the character of the other, that the binding covenant between them may be a tie that will endure forever. Their purpose must be this: to become loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity…”

Soon my beloved and I will have been married for 40 years. I would like to be able to say that we have learned to live together in perfect harmony, and to work together as a team. But that isn’t always true. Disagreements can arise. Frequently, we have separate areas of expertise. I will never have the culinary skills, nor the interest in textiles that my beloved has. Then again, she is less interested in woodworking and fixing computers. Hopefully, our interests and abilities complement each other.

“The love between husband and wife should not be purely physical, nay rather it must be spiritual and heavenly. These two souls should be considered as one soul. How difficult it would be to divide a single soul!”

Children seem to be an essential part of marriage, despite the world heading to a state of overpopulation and global warming. When those children arrive, they have to be raised. This can strain a relationship, because most people are come unprepared for parenthood. Children don’t always follow the book, with respect to their behaviour. Sometimes, differences can arise between parents, because they see things from different perspectives. Yet somehow, with a little prayer and reflection we muddle through, and children develop into adults.

“The foundation of the Kingdom of God is based upon harmony and love, oneness, relationship and union, not upon differences, especially between husband and wife.”

There is a life after children. There is even life after retirement. Yet, I am eternally grateful that I have my beloved to share my life with me.

“The Lord, peerless is He, hath made woman and man to abide with each other in the closest companionship, and to be even as a single soul. They are two helpmates, two intimate friends, who should be concerned about the welfare of each other. If they live thus, they will pass through this world with perfect contentment, bliss, and peace of heart, and become the object of divine grace and favour in the Kingdom of heaven.”

Unit Two

Fictional worlds are real. They frequently exist in the minds of authors and artists, not to mention those of their readers and viewers. Unit One is, at best, only half fictional. It consists of a tangible workspace, currently under construction, at Vangshylla, Norway, as well as a co-located, intangible faux-institution, Ginnunga Gap Polytechnic.

While Trish & Brock McLellan are real, personas Daffy & Jade Marmot are fictional. Marmot family members, and other personas, can express alternative (even contradictory) values to those of living people. That’s one reason personas are fun people to be with.

Most first class polytechnics as institutions have had their names changed. In Britain, most lasted only from 1965 to 1992. Almost all have become second class universities. Whereas polytechnics were grounded in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) and teaching oriented towards professional qualifications, the new universities offer a wider variety of courses, frequently in the humanities.

The purpose of Unit One, both the workspace as well as the faux-institution, is not to make stuff. It is to promote “Innovation & Equality – for a better world”. The term workspace is used instead of workshop, because workshop has lost much of its original meaning: “A room or building in which goods are manufactured or repaired” as it acquired an additional meaning: “A meeting at which a group of people engage in intensive discussion and activity on a particular subject or project.” (Oxford Dictionary)

From the beginning of the new year 2018, the Unit One workspace will be a place to develop (as in innovate), build and use equipment. The space and machine park will be available for others to use, under some conditions, but free of charge. The space and equipment will also be available for the sharing of knowledge and skills in woodwork and metalwork, microprocessors, mechatronics, robotics and the like. Target users include disadvantaged groups, especially women, young people and immigrants.

The Garden Project will show some of the thinking at Unit One. One consequence of constructing the Unit One workspace, was the displacement of the gardener from her shed. It became the Unit One Annex. Thus, one of the first products to be built at the Unit One workspace, will be a replacement shed, built on SIP (structural insulated panel) principles, which can be used for storage of equipment and more. In addition, a geodesic dome will be built that can be used as a greenhouse.

Unit One is scheduled to open on Monday, 01 January 2018 at 12.00 noon. At the moment a number of speakers have been invited to entertain guests.

1. Proton Bletchley: Unit 1 – A community work space? (10 minutes)

2. Precious Dollar: What does it cost to build a workshop? (10 minutes)

3. Billi Sodd: Workshops in Prison (This is dependent on Billi being given day release from Verdal prison) (unknown duration)

4. Refreshments

5. Jade Marmot: The fun with DIY videos (30 minutes)

6. Brock McLellan: Concluding remarks (10 minutes)

After the official opening, at 14.00, Ginnunga Gap Polytechnic’s first course will be offered. It is a 2-hour health, environment and safety course for people who want to use the workspace. They will receive training on how to protect themselves from danger, when working in the workspace.

Initially, the equipment at the workspace will focus on woodworking. A number of stationary machines will be available, if not on the opening day, soon after: table saw, band saw, miter saw, router, planer, jointer and drill stand.


As time progresses new equipment and courses will be added. In fact, it may be desirable for other people to build and share new workshops. In other words, a Unit Two, Unit Three … It will be up to other people to decide.

Despite this suggestion, Unit Two may not be something physical at all, but another fictional environment, a virtual work space, with a focus on creating instructive videos that can be viewed by anyone anywhere. This is the type of topic to be discussed at a monthly “fredags fika” (Friday Coffee). This will be a forum for people to discuss how they want to use the workspace, its development over time, and rules needed for its use.