Thursday, January 8, 2015

Shed construction progress, now installing roof panels, plus software work on keypunch interface program for PC


I made the decision to use the wxPython module with the PC application I am writing, which provides a Python interface to use the wxWidget library which is a set of C++ classes to build and operate a GUI, including on Windows.

I did a bit of studying to understand the basics of the toolkit and will begin wrapping that into my code. It is higher level and more 'Pythonish" than the windows API itself or some other GUIS. The alternative GUI module would have been based on TCL/Tk, which would add a second interpreter and two more languages for coding. Even though I did some work with TCL and with Tk for GUIs about fifteen years ago, I didn't want to add the re-learning curve to the other costs of this part of the keypunch project.

The learning curve is certainly steep enough. I am using Microsoft Visual Studio, with Python installed, several packages, including pySerial and wxPython. I can't seem to get the wxPython to be recognized and used with Python 3.4, so I will try to put it on Python 2.7 for which it is known to work. Due to unfamiliarity, at each error message it takes a while to understand what is being said, where the problem is, and how to apply a fix at each level of the software (from VS to Python to the installers to the package to my code.)

I have the packages installed on Python 2.7 and working, but am at a very early stage of building up the GUI. I have a bit of design work to do now, thinking about how it will work, what controls are needed, etc.

I collected some pictures of the components and construction steps of the interface box, which I will use to update the construction manual.


The last piece of flooring continued to be extremely difficult to get to interlace with the remaining tiles. I tried to reverse bend the flooring to remove some of the wave that is in the end that causes the problems. I also have a wave in the installed tile end that this piece will mate to, which might require unbending of that piece as well.

Finally, I decided I had to cut most of the tabs off of one side, since it absolutely refuses to go together. I will depending on the anchoring of the floor to the platform that will take place later as a way of holding these together, as well as the wall panels which will provide some paltry support.

Cutting off the tabs that refuse to interlock
All it takes is one section of the job that is impossible to do as "designed" to sour my opinion of Lifetime and their HDPE plastic sheds. I will get this together but the design is not at all tolerant of any bend the parts develop, and the video for additional help on this step is no more than the two sentences in the manual - push them together at a 45 degree angle to interlace the tabs then lower.

I also found the references to screwing the panels together through the 'divots' in the floor made sense only when I viewed the video and saw entirely different flooring, which had clear round depressions for the screws to enter, but there is nothing at all in the panels included with my kit. Stale instructions, changed parts. Obviously no QA assembly of the kit was done after the change (or nobody paid any attention to the mismatch between the manual and the divot-less tiles).

I can't believe this hasn't happened to other customers. I recommend against buying any of their products based on this. Otherwise I had a bit of bashing that was necessary to put the hinge rods into the doors (which also had developed a bend), yet everything else was well designed, fit together nicely and was well documented.

Whether the bend developed when they were trucked (since the shed was about a half ton weight in its two boxes) or while the panels were stacked waiting for the platform to be built, this is a problem with the parts. I did comb through the manual to see if there was any mention at all of preferred ways to stack them, on the assumption that 100% of the bend happened here on site, but there is nothing anywhere in the manual or on their site that suggests they could be warped by how they lay.

Once I had thoroughly removed the tabs from all but the two on each side, I got the pieces to lay in proximity allowing me to continue installing wall panels. There is a gap in the middle, but I can fight that together later. I then installed the rear and remainder of the right side, getting me to about 60% completion, before I took a necessary exhaustion break.

After lunch, I returned to the shed and finished up the walls. In a few places the wall section was very balky, requiring a lot of wrestling and occasionally some heavy banging with a rubber mallet. Once they were all in place, some shelves got installed. I had to rest for a while before I began on the doors and front gable.

The process of installing the doors is very tough to do without two other people helping. Six foot tall doors are pushed into a plastic foot, but there is nothing to hold the rest of the door up or in position. One fell over, twisting the plastic over 120 degrees as the top of the door bent down to the ground. With the door teetering on its rod at the bottom, you need to lie down and push a cotter pin through the rod and plastic foot.

If you get one done, you are then installing the second door in the same way, while the first door is still teetering without support. Hard to hold two doors up while pushing a cotter pin through the second rod. It gets worse. You then have to lift up the front gable and lower it onto the rods of the two doors (which are still teetering). Even when it is attached to the doors, nothing holds the gable or the doors so the entire assembly wants to twist 120 degrees to lie top down on the ground.

It would have been good to have the instructions mention the need for two helpers at this point (not just the generic comment that assembly requires three people for the entire shed) and to suggest how to hold them in place while the pins are pushed, the gable is fitted and then the screws are put in to secure the gable to the front walls.
Rear tile separated as I had to shift the shed during wall installation - will have to fix later
With the gable fastened down, I moved to roof installation. A truss is placed onto the walls, then the roof panels are placed and screwed down one by one. Unfortunately, all the roof panels are warped, most are not too bad so I started with those. A bit of wrestling is needed to get the screws in each portion to pull out the warp and cinch down the roof section.
Shed with doors and gables installed, beginning roof panels

First roof panel in place (notice how tight it fits to the available space
Daylight ran out by this point so it was time to call it a day. Tomorrow I finish the roof panels, after which some roof caps get screwed down, skylights installed into those, windows installed and finally the shed can be anchored to the platform as a completed project. 

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