How something called a “Diffuser” saved my wife’s Christmas and my Giant Bass.

SAT 12-17:

OK… I haven’t posted anything since February and now it is mid December… That is a long time. Just to get to this point of typing was a chore. Yesterday I had noticed my blog site has been down. It was on an old system that hasn’t been updated and it was throwing up an error that I couldn’t easily recover from. So I moved it to my new web server and updated it to the latest and greatest WordPress. I did that last night.

So here we are. With the completely updated system and I have something to write about. That specifically being a “diffuser”. If you look it up in the dictionary it kind of describes each of the two things I need, BUT… It will still leave you clueless as to what that blog post is about:

  1. a thing that diffuses something, in particular.
    • an attachment or duct for broadening an airflow and reducing its speed.
      a device that spreads the light from a light source evenly and reduces harsh shadows.

That is it… That is what you have to go on. Do you know where I am with this yet? I didn’t think so… Here is the back story:

Let’s first talk about my wonderful wife and how I completely screwed up every single present for her for the last few years (both Christmas and her Birthday):

First I bought her a fruit and vegetable dehydrator that never got opened.

Next I bought her something that I can’t even remember and she either re-gifted it or she sold it at a garage sale. I think it was a juicer.

Then I went all in and got her a new computer that she ended up hating because it had Windows 8 on it. I am an IT guy and downgraded it to Windows 7 for her, she still didn’t care about that and now uses a notebook computer she won’t let me touch because “I will ruin it” even when I just want to set the time zone for her.

This time I asked her what she wants and she said a “scent diffuser”. I think it is for aroma therapy. They are expensive, but that is what she wants and I don’t want to blow it so I sent an email to her friend Katie and it will be delivered on Wednesday.

Now I know what you are thinking. You are thinking, “This is so stupid, why did I bother reading about this stupid diffuser thing and Joe is talking cryptic girl/present stuff with his wife. And how in the world is he going to bring this back to his pond and some stupid fish he wants to save?”

Well I get it that your frustrated, but let me show you this. This is a picture of my pond. It is iced over and covered in snow.

What you don’t see there is water. That is important you see snow and ice. What is never visible is there are two things called “diffusers” sitting 10′ below the surface doing nothing.

Why are those diffusers doing nothing? Because there is no wind. If there is no wind, then this windmill (we call him ol’ scrapie because I cut my leg building it) isn’t doing its job and pushing air into the diffusers.

The windmill has an air pump in it directly attached to the propeller. When the wind blows air goes don’t through hoses that go 15′ into the pond and pushes that air into diffusers. Here is a pic of what it is supposed to be doing.


The diffusers is exactly the same thing as a bubbler in an aquarium, but instead of just oxygenating the water for a pond they serve one other very important purpose; they keep a hole in the ice to allow the contaminates of the fish waste to evaporate out into the atmosphere. Without those things this big giant bass is not going to survive the winter.


Here is what the bass is thinking now.


Well that is a tall order. I am no Trump, but I do know about ponds and also know how to listen to my wife, so here is what I did to solve both of these problems.

First I ordered one of these!!!!

That is an air pump for a pond diffuser!!! I probably overpaid for it because in such a hurry to fix this problem. The plan is to set that bad boy up and bypass the windmill pump and save the big giant Trump supporting bass. Fish Lives Matter! My master plan is to set this up in my garage and just connect those hoses together all the way up to the windmill. Bypass it and get those diffusers going!!!


Then I ordered one of these!!!


Incidentally both cost almost the same amount of money.

Monday 12-19:

I have an interesting backstory on that diffuser I ordered for Rosie. A couple of weeks ago I came home from work. I enter through the basement where my office is and it was a very typical thing, I first dropped my nerd gear off on my shelf, then started to walk upstairs. As soon as I got about half way up the stairs I smelled something that just made me feel really really calm and comfortable. I was so taken aback because I don’t think my house every felt that comfortable. I asked Rosie what it was. And she told me it was some aroma therapy thing or something. I am actually pretty exited about her getting this going. I know some people have a knack for making their homes comfortable for their guests and children and that is what I want for my home.

Now enough about Rosie’s diffuser, let’s get back to talking about my pond difussers.

Since I started writing this post it had occurred to me that even if I do get the air pump and it does work as expected, it has been so cold it will take a long time, like many hours for the little bubbles to actually break through the ice and be visible on the surface. Wouldn’t it be neat if I could do one of those time lapse videos over a couple of days and show that at the end of this post? Yes, I agree that would be pretty neat. I have thought of ways to do it. My iphone has a time lapse setting on its camera, but I can’t responsibly do that. As important is this project is to me I can’t be away from my phone overnight like Obama and Hillary were during those 13 hours of Benghazi. I had to think of a better solution and guess what I have? All of this!


Now that is a picture of a Raspberry Pi computer, a screen and a little camera module called a “noIR”. Which means “No infrared light filter”. That means it can pick up very low light and hopefully even capture some video in the middle of the night.

Here is a picture after I put it all together.

In the picture above the camera is actually folded over to the right lense toward the table, but it does work. I installed software on it that would allow me to view it’s screen remotely. I will have to figure out how to make that work later.

Tues 12-20:

Guess what arrived today!



That is Rosie’s diffuser! Nice. Now I don’t know anything about how that works but I am glad it is here. Guess what came later?



I got too excited and never took a picture of it as it was in the box, that picture is after I got it all put together and plugged it in (I was so excited I forgot all about documenting it).

Now it is a long long long distance to Old Scrapie. Old scrapie is the windmill if you don’t remember. It is the thing that is supposed to be pusing air into the diffusers that are already in the pond. It isn’t working because there is no wind. My biggest worry now is the distance. The new air pump came with these:


That is 200 feet of air hose. And I notice right away there is only one of these.

That is a coupler. 200 feet of hose won’t be enough and that coupler would only connect those two hoses together. I have to figure out what to do. I do have a garden hose that is about 100 feet and that should do the trick. I finally find it, it is underneath the front porch and it is frozen with all sorts of kinks in it.


It is clear to me there is ice in it. It is heavy very rigid and just getting it into the garage near where I am working was a difficult and annoying task. I bring it into the basement to thaw it out so I can get the ice out of it. I am not sure what to do.

After the hose sitting in the basement for a few hours I am getting too anxious and want to get the pump going. As I am figuring out how to connect it together without the proper fittings I start to get sad. If there is ice in this hose then I am sure there is ice in the hoses that go from Old Scrapie to the pond diffusers. I am totally starting to feel depressed right now because the last thing I want is to have me have bought all of this stuff and then have my fish die anyway. Uuugh… I can’t think about this now and must move ahead and decide to rope my kids to help me. I have to get the ice out of the hose before anything so I drag the air pump into the basement and connect one end of the hose to it.



Then I get my most hard working kid (actually my only volunteer out of three kids) to hold the hose over a bucket at the other end.

I turn on the pump and nothing happens. I am not one to give up so I think about it for a bit. If I want to move ice chunks out of that hose I just need more pressure. Simple problem to solve because I have ONE OF THESE!

That is an air compressor. That 150 you see at the top means 150 PSI (Pounds per square inch of pressure). After a HUGE mess of water all over the basement floor because my 2 year old assistant wasn’t watching, the hose became cleaned out of ice and water quite quickly).

Now I still have the problem of getting the garden hose connected to the actual pond hose and the lack of connectors. Lucky for me I am a middle aged man and what that means is I pretty much have something in some box somewhere that can help me solve almost any problem. I find a pair of these!


That is a brass fitting to repair the end of a hose when bad things happen to them like getting run over by a car and bends them so they no longer work (something that happens around these parts often).

And look at what else I found.


That is extra hose and copper tubing that I can cut and create my own couplers that will fit and connect right to each hose (I don’t know why I have that copper tubing, I don’t remember where I got it from or what it is for, but it is the exact diameter I need, let’s call that a Christmas miracle!).

This is what our now ice free hose looks like hooked up to the air pump.

Now at this point I am way too excited I have to go outside and get this all connected. It is dark, my wife and kids are driving around looking at Christmas lights so I get hustling. First I have to show you a picture from the morning because it was too dark when I connected everything. This gives an idea of how far I had to go with the air hoses.

That is garden hose connected to air hose, connected to another air hose around that far tree going off (you can barely see it) to the left and all the way to the windmill, which is about 300 feet total) and then finally bypassing Old Scrapie to connect directly to the deffusers. Sadly once it was all done and this picture is late at night I can see the pressure that there is just a buildup of air. This picture tells me the air pump is getting to the fitting on the bypassed windmill to the diffusers going into the pond, but something is blocking the air flow… Probably ICE!

And that is where I am  right now. It is super cold out. I am pretty sure ice is in the air hoses that go to the diffusers that are already in the pond. I am not sure what to do and have to think about it. One way or another I will get it done. I don’t care if I have to go out and take a pick ax to the the pond and break a hole in it to sink a diffuser into it. Hopefully I can figure out a way to get the ones that are already in there going. It is supposed to warm up a bit over the next couple of days, perhaps that will do the trick to get them going.

Sat 12-24:

It is Christmas Eve and I only have a short time, but I don’t have to work at my normal job today so I want to really get things rolling with this. My goal is to get the ice thawed out and get air moving through to save my big giant bass and make the pond great again. I know those lines are frozen with water and my hope is that the only frozen part is the area where the actual air hoses go into the pond. If I can expose those and get them warmed up enough the air pump will actually do what it is supposed to and start those diffusers. I think big and look for my pick axe but I can’t find it. From what I remember the hoses are only a few inches deep so I grab these simple tools and head out to to the pond.

I slug away and my neighbor Rob helps. Eventually we find the hoses as they enter the pond (Rob actually ended up finding them because he does this kind of stuff for a living).

It is hard to see, but that is an exposed air hose in clay that leads right into the pond. It is beneath the frost line, so we decide to just turn on the air pump. Perhaps we will get lucky. I turn on the air pump. The only way I can tell if air is actually getting down into the diffusers is if there is a pressure difference when I open and close the valves that lead to it on the windmill. Here is the pressure that is going through the hoses when both diffusers are turned on


And her it is when both are turned off.

This tells me that air is actually going down into the pond and lowering the pressure. Granted it isn’t much air, but it tells me at least something is happening. My hope is that pressure will drop over time as gook and ice gets pushed out of the diffusers. I will check on that later. But NOW I have something I am really really excited about. I want  to do a time lapse recording of the surface of the pond! Remember this?

Yes… that is my Raspberry Pi camera setup. Now I put this into a box a few days ago to make sure it didn’t get ruined. I installed all sorts of software on it, camera software that allows me to connect to it with a web browser and take time lapse video. I pull it out of the box and this is what I see.



Yep… It is cracked. I am totally not sure how that happened, but I am focused. All I need that screen to do is still work cracks and all. The first thing I do is put some blue painters tape over it to make sure I don’t cut myself working with it. This actually makes me pretty upset. I really liked that little setup and now it looks like junk, but I have to focus on the bass that wants to make America Great Again, who know he may actually get to help by becoming our lunch someday.

We have all seen smartphones with cracked screens that still work. This screen is no different. It is broken, but working (Is that a thing? broken but still working). I have to check if the camera still works.

Blurry because of my iphone camera, but it works as well as I need it to. That is a close up of the screen showing the camera working. The next thing I need to do is weatherproof the thing. It is getting late and my family has to go to my mothers house in an hour or so so I put on a full court press. I grab one of those plastic bins you can get for storage, a small one with a top. I check to see if the camera setup will actually fit in it.

It fits. The box itself is translucent, I need a window. I have some of this!

That is a clear piece of Plexiglas with blue film to protect the finish. I want to cut a hole in the side and glue it, but totally didn’t have enough time for glue, so I drilled holes and ended up with this.

I am running out of time so I grab all of the stuff, the camera and everything and haul it out as close to the pond as I can get with the extension cord I have. I setup a chair in the snow to put the box and camera on and start getting it set up and then guess what happens? Yep… I move the chair and the cover wasn’t on my protective box so my cool setup fell flat into the snow. When that happened I knew exactly how this kid felt.

I was at least as upset as the kid in the video. I didn’t even stop to take a picture of it in the snow. Here is what it looked like after I brought it in the house trying to figure out what to do.

See the snow? Fuuuuuddddddddddddggggggggggeeeeeeee! I have no idea what to do. I first try to blow it off with my cool air compressor. I get it as dry as I can. I bring it up to the nearest outlet I could find and boot it up.

It works!!!! But sadly when I bring it out the pond to actually do its job, it just restarts itself over and over and over and doesn’t stop. Clearly it isn’t dry enough. Now I am totally running out of time. We have Christmas Eve dinner at my moms house and everyone is getting ready. I am a mess, I have been digging around in the pond and sloshing snow into the basement and my office. I am a mess, but I need something to dry this off so I can get my time lapse video. I think of something, I need a hair dryer! I find the only one in the house and guess what? It is being used because I have a wife and three girls and if there is anything that is going to be unavailable when we are about to get out the door it will be a hair dryer.

In the picture you will see below this is precisely how to solve a problem. My oldest daughter Hannah has a ton of thick hair, I know if I have to wait for that mop to get dried the schedule will be blown and we won’t get to my mom’s house on time. I know this because I dried her hair once. I did it only once because it take flipping FOREVER. So I hand her the camera and tell her to hold it in front of her hair to get it all dried out along with her hair. That should do the trick!

While that was going on I have other fish to fry. When I build the camera setup a few days ago, I connected it to my home wireless network. I tested that and it doesn’t reach the pond because it is too far. Here is a picture of where our wireless access point is ((The upper right on the top of the china cabinet).

Out that far window is the pond by about 50 feet or so, I need to move that so I can connect to that camera if it actually still works. Here is a picture of me moving it with my 2 year old Kasia. She helped me bring it over by the window and set it up by a table.

Here is what our wireless setup is now.


Finally Hannah’s hair is dry and so is my camera. As fast as I can I set it all up outside so it gets as clear a picture of where the diffusers will be bubbling up the oxegenating goodness. Here is the picture of the box and the camera, and the chair, and the extension cord and the snow that almost ruined my documentary.

And if you were wondering, “why is it so important for Joe to make his time lapse camera connect to the network?”. It is so I can do this from my iphone at my parents house. I want to watch it real time. This is from my iphone connected to my home networks viewing my pond through the busted up camera over the internet.

The lights you see there are a reflection of the LEDs on the Raspberry Pi computer board reflecting off of the plexiglass, my focus is on the pond surface. I want to see that break up over time in a video. That is the goal anyway. Here is a picture of the pond at 12:51AM on Christmas day. It is dark! I am not sure how this time lapse video will turn out. It may be a huge effort that amounts to nothing in the end. I guess we will have to see.

It’s Christmas!!!! The air pump has been going for about 24 hours now and the pond still looks pretty much the same. We are supposed to be getting a pretty big warm up tomorrow. I guess I will just have to wait and see.

12/25: It is late. All of my relatives have left and I can’t help myself. I have to mess with my time-lapse video. Figuring out how to make an actual video out of it took some work. As I was messing with it there were lots of things that went wrong. My timelapse camera ran out of disk space. I though the little card in it would be able to do a timelapse and it just didn’t work that way. Apparently the timelapse feature just takes a picture ever few seconds and then saves it as an image file. That would have been fine if it were on an actual full blown computer, but that little PC only had a couple of GB of space. I did a lot to get this interesting timelapse footage.

That is a video of a muskrat walking across the edge of the pond.


Wow… I blew it as far as timeliness. I wanted to wrap this up a week or so ago, but with the holidays then getting sick, and catching up on work, only now do I have a chance to finish this. It was a hard road and even after getting everything setup, there was some issues with leaks in the joints of my air hose and the pressure kept popping a couple of them apart, but after fussing with it…. I finally…. Have…. This!!!!





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