Peter Ward and his workshop, and the house of cement stabilised earth, built with a Cinva ram.
The author has a lifelong interest in electronics, dating from his schooldays at a time when huge amounts of WW2 surplus electronic equipment was cheaply available. With no formal qualifications in this area, save for a one year TAFE "Certificate in Basic Electronics" he worked in the marine electronic environment, servicing, for a year as an interlude from his career as a teacher, and continues through to today, part time, with private clients in electronic servicing and software development. Following an early retirement as a teacher in 1993, he worked for ZCG SCALAR  (a company manufacturing a wide range of antennas) in R&D, sales, and writing and implementation of ISO9000 QA program. Three years later he retired again, and resumed his earlier career. As an educator he won two valuable Curriculum Excellence awards, against state-wide competition. The first in 1990 for an unique school wide science and technology curriculum, the second in 2006 for his development of computer grading of children's written texts.
His mechanical knowledge was mentored as a youth when he worked part time for a genuine, old school motor mechanic who understood his trade, the science behind everything, and was never too busy to explain.

And why is the material on this site offered freely?
As a youth I grew up to appreciate Amateur Radio operators as real technicians. They had great knowledge. Listening to them was a thrill as this knowledge was freely discussed, challenged, explained, and exchanged.
But, unless you have the knowledge, you can't exchange it, which may help explain a general paucity of intellectual content not only on the airwaves today, but very evident as you go through the Arduino blogs!

So, ...this is posted freely to encourage others to
    .....learn a bit...
        ......keep sharing, and,
            ..... KEEP THE DREAM ALIVE!
Our house, built from cement stabilised earth, using a Cinva Ram. A "Beat the Bank" project.
All the family assisted  in the biggest project of all. It took over six months to make our bricks. The Cinva Ram uses an over-center lever to highly compress soil stabilised with five percent of cement. Actually, three percent will stabilise most soils sufficiently, but because we were using the bricks as load bearing, we used five percent. Each mix included one shovel full of sixty year old sawdust to make it easier to compress, otherwise it became difficult to get the exact amount into the ram for a good, solid, hold together block. The secret of blending the ingredients was to mix entirely dry, then finally mist in enough water to get to the stage where  the mix would ball in the hand. Blocks were "moist cured" in the shade for a month to attain maximum strength. They were tested to the satisfaction of our Shire Engineer in a concrete testing machine, but I would expect a more formal requirement these days. Bricks are the old imperial 6x4x3in, and walls have a two inch cavity. Internal walls are single brick thickness, without render. In all about 6500 bricks, and in those days with cement at $2.70 per bag, each brick cost 5c. Thus each square foot of internal wall cost 10c, external walls 20c. The neutral color of the soil mix we used means we need no render or paint, as it matches any color.
Roof, plumbing and septic were a learning experience, but a friend was happy to sign off on the paperwork for me. A six-foot verandah keeps rain off the walls in most circumstances, but the chimney has now been in the weather for thirty five years without any sign of distress.

In 1978 a comfortable four bedroom home cost about AU$30 000. Bank repayments over thirty years were then about $90 000, and so, having completed our home including wiring, curtains and carpets, for just $11 500, I told friends buying homes that I would have tax free pocket money of over $80 000 over the next thirty years that they would be missing out on.

In all, eleven "squares" (that's the old ten feet by ten feet) without counting veranda. A cozy size, with four bedrooms, and I smile to myself when I think of those of you paying to heat, cool, clean, and light your unnecessarily large mansions at today's rates!

Remember, A DOLLAR SAVED is WORTH MORE THAN a DOLLAR EARNED, because you don't have to pay tax on it!
Cinva Ram in retirement. Even with that length of lever, it was necessary to sit (bounce is probably a better word!) on the handle to get the last bit of movement.
Self and Greg at end of day wash up. Greg would soak the bricks for me, before laying, to avoid drawing so much moisture from the mortar that it would fail to bond. We used a high lime mortar.