The Strategic Luddite3 min read
I have a conflicted relationship with chores. On one hand, I love the simplicity of a task allowing me to tune out the world. On the other, this is one more thing occupying my waking moments when the world is already tuned out and I'd rather be doing something else. Most chores for cabin life will be physical in nature.
Certain tasks will benefit a great deal from automation. E.G Closing the windows on a greenhouse during a sudden cold spell, opening them again to manage humidity, turning fans on or off etc....
I'll be avoiding anything "Cloud".
Moreover, if I rely on certain systems to maintain my lifestyle and I don't understand how these systems operate, I won't know how to repair them when they inevitably fail or when I need to make improvements. Opaque boxes hidden behind obscure circuitry and licenses, running programs restricted by the DMCA, is an unpleasant proposition.
Sacrificing my future freedom for convenience in the present feels like an unwise investment.
In that spirit, I'm working on a set of single-role, simple circuits for handling various chores. Task handlers which will still remain sufficiently low-tech, that should actual human intervention be necessary, they can remain on standby as durable conveniences. Not contrivances for the sake of technology, which can fail on command at the behest of a corporation that answers to no one but itself.
Part of my rationale is that a smart device, or similar general purpose programmable machine requiring a network connection, isn't always available or desirable for various reasons. The other is the high scavenge and reuse potential for parts. Hobbyists and professional carpenters alike routinely reuse scrap lumber, of varying textures, hardness, and appearance they have laying around and the principle is the same.
Even in times of stress, plenty of past luxuries get discarded.
Where one would use a specific microcontroller like an ATMega, PIC, or STM series these days, I'm trying to get back to basics with simple transistors and logic gates whenever possible.
I hope to have most of them doing these tasks without any stored programming, which may be susceptible to undesired changes or unexpected failure modes years or decades in the future. The circuit assembly of each will function as hard-wired programming for the most part, tailored to each task, using generic components. Many circuits in older reference books didn't even have labeled transistors. They would sometimes be called "NPN" or "PNP", implying "whatever similar you have on hand will suffice".
Should programming be absolutely necessary, I'll try to use the bare minimum circuitry needed such that most of the operation will draw very little power and can be supplied with a small solar panel and battery combination.
If procuring circuit boards also becomes an issue, I'll likely use narrow copper tape to draw out my traces and mica sheets as the base. These sheets are usually sold as replacement parts for microwave ovens. In the meantime, I'll be experimenting with regular printed circuit boards and prototyping on simple perforated boards. I have enough spares for now so I can manage some failed experiments without too much cost.
Of course, whenever possible, I will forego electronics altogether. Analog task-specific helpers may be even more desirable as they can usually be repaired and improved with locally sourced materials.
There's no guarantee that I'll retain the dexterity, visual clarity, or mental acuity of the present in my future years so the configuration and makeup of my helpers will be well documented and as clear to me as possible for the foreseeable future, in addition to remaining simple.
I'd rather not be burdened with the prospect of a diminishing pool of replacements for these. Nor do I want to be concerned with my relevance in my own upkeep.