Thursday, July 30, 2009

River Turbine

Water typically has about 780 times the density of air (if my math is right). That means that a small drag type or savonious turbine could generate some usable power. Not a lot, but usable non the less. Using 4 inch pvc for the floats and the blades gives us a blade set that is about 7 inches wide and in the drawing I made each blade set about 7 inches tall. But you could make longer if you have deeper water. If you make each blade 14 inches long and have two of them like the picture shows, then you should get somewhere between 2 watts and 300 watts. That is if the water is flowing between 2 mph and 10 mph. At about 5 mph you would get a consistent 40 watts. You could also build a few of these with those cheap treadmill motors. The motor could be housed in a wood box to keep the rain off and open on the sides at the bottom to let the belts connect. Multiple units could be connected in parallel to charge a battery bank.
So, the floats are just 4 inch pvc with end caps. The platform is 1/2 inch plywood painted with good marine paint. The generator is a small DC motor. The blades are just a section of the 4 inch pipe cut to length and cut in half and then slid apart. You could have a tail on the back so it always lines itself up into the water flow like a windmill would. Or you could have a rope that holds it into position. Also, if you slide the blades further apart from the axis, you effectively make a bigger blade set and can get much more power. But rememer that it will spin slower and the homemade wooden pulleys will have to be bigger. To see how to make a wooden pulley, check here and a lot more detail here.

So, if you have a river or stream on your property and the water flow is between 2 and 10 mph then you could use this. You could even use this for tidal as well.

How good is this? Well, let's say you get 50 watts on average, 24/7. And into a 12 volt battery that is about 4 amps. That is what a 60 watt solar panel does, except that is only about 5 hours per day. So you would need about 5 of those 60 watt panels that cost about $400 each. So, $2,000 worth of solar power PV panel equivalent. Don't under estimate continuous power. It can be very deceiving. And this could be built for $50 to $100 each depending on the motor you use or if you have one already.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Electric Cars and the Ultimate Battery

I was reading an article today on "The Oil Drum" called

Who Killed the Electric Gas Tank?

This article called about EEStore's super capacitor battery replacement. They are still working on it and it is controversial whether or not it can even work. It supposed to be about 52kwh at 3,500 volts. It is supposed to be charged in about 3 to 6 minutes. A couple of thoughts occurred to me.

First, they say we need 50kwh of power to get the range that everyone is used to - about 300 miles or so. Most electric cars today get somewhere between 60 and 120 miles on a charge. It isn't good to fully discharge lead acid batteries, so most home built electric cars could possibly go up to 120 miles, but the owner minimizes the trip to half that so that the battery life is extended. But, be aware that most people are fine with short trips per day. The average commuter drives about 30 miles a day. So, my question is, do we really need that kind of range? If we do, we could take a bus, train or a plane. Are we so spoiled that we just have to have a 300 to 400 mile range? Or is it just the brainwashing from the media that constantly compares electric vehicles to their gasoline alternatives?

The second thought was the amount of time to fill up. The assumption is that people wish to fill up their electric vehicle in the same time it takes to fill up a typical fossil fuel car. That changes as well. A big SUV takes longer than a Honda. And a small diesel car can take longer than a suv. That is because the diesel is foamy and topping it off gets pretty slow. But lets say the average is 3 minutes. The EEStore seems to shoot for that goal. So, that is 52, 000 watt hours from empty to full in 3 minutes. I don't know about you, but that struck me as a lot of power in a very short amount of time. If you did that charge in one hour from a 240 volt outlet, then that would take 52,000 watts of power at 240 volts and 216 amps. Most houses are setup with 200 amp service, so that wouldn't work. If you did that same charge in 3 minutes, or 20 times faster, then it would take over 4,000 amps. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!!!

But, let's say that you only needed a 140 miles or less per day and you needed to top off the super capacitor at 24,000 watt hours. If you had 100 amps free to use in your house, then you could top it off in 1 hour, or a little over 2 hours for the full 52kwh capacity.

Most electrics drive maybe 60 miles a day tops and need about 10kwh up to 15kwh to replace that charge. Charging from any 120 volt socket, that takes about 7 to 10 hours. From a 240 volt socket rated at about 20 amps then you could charge that in about 2 to 3 hours.

But, assuming you need to top off the super capacitor at your house from empty to full and use that same 20 amp 240 volt circuit, it would take over 10 hours. So, the fast charge may not be an option, although a battery swap program would work pretty nicely.

Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of super efficient and cheap batteries. I just want to see very light weight vehicles and/or bikes and trikes for daily commutes. Something small like this could charge very quickly because there is nowhere near 50kwh of storage in it. A 24 volt bike battery with 10 amp hour batteries only holds 0.24 kwh. That means you could fill that size super capacitor 200 times faster. So, a super battery for the bike could be charge in 3 minutes, but not a big one for a car that gets 300 mile range. (Unless you get powered up at the nearest power plant)

Super batteries are nice, but striving for the ultimate 3 minute quick charge, while possible, is not at all practical. Probably the best you could hope for at a filling station is to get 10kw at a time. After 10 minutes of that, you only have about 1.7 kwh of charge, or about 6 miles worth of driving. (If 5 people charged at the same time it would be about 50,000 watts at about 200 amps.) And 6 miles for charging every 10 minutes isn't that great. Even if they double the power available to 20,000 watts, you are still looking at 2.5 hour charge time. If you went to 50,000 watts of power available then it would still take an hour to charge and only a few people could fill up at a given time.

It reminds me of Ean from the first Jurassic Park movie, "Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Homemade battery

Sorry for the late post today. My friend and I were working on the homemade 6 volt batteries made from the recycled free forklift batteries. Each battery that we are making will be 6 volts, 650 amp hours and weigh about 300 lbs. This is way easier to move around when compared to 1,500 pounds or so. Below is a video of "tinning" the bus bar.

We took a type "L" 1/2 inch copper pipe and cut it to length and then smashed it with a hammer. Then we drilled holes for the bolts. We then put the thermal paste on the ends and heated the ends so we could apply the solder. Before it cooled we wiped the excess off to make it nice and smooth. This will ensure good contact with the battery terminals and will prevent corrosion. (the picture below is before the tinning)
These copper tubes can handle over 800 amps. Isn't that amazing? Most people think they have to buy specialty copper bus bars that are expensive and have to be shipped from some exotic place. Or you have to be an electrician to know where to get the bus bars. Well, copper pipe is cheap and sometimes free. In fact, almost any HVAC technician or plumber will have some pieces laying around that they would gladly give you.

Below you can see that I ground the lead bar on the battery nice and flat so it can make good contact and have lots of contact area.
In the picture below, you can see the whole battery all connected and being charged. Notice, it is just a welded frame on a tray and there are tabs at the top where "all thread" is used to tighten up everything.
We still have to clean up the outside of these cells and paint the battery tray. This is just a test to make sure it all fits. We have about 15 more batteries like this to make over the next few weeks. And remember, everything was free except the "all thread" and bolts and angle iron. So, cost of each 6 volt, 650 amp hour battery is about $4.

Please, let me know if you have any questions.

see ya tomorrow,

Monday, July 27, 2009

Power Outage Alarm

I know what you are thinking, "Why would I want an alarm to tell me when the power is out?" Well, I want to make one for the freezer. The hot tub is on the same circuit and I've had the circuit breaker trip and I didn't notice until the next day. Luckily I noticed in time.

I could design a circuit but it is a lot easier to use something that already exist if it is cheap enough. I plan on getting one of those plug-in rechargeable flashlights that light up when the power goes off. Then get a piezo buzzers from Radio Shack (the Source) and hook it in parallel to the light bulb. That way, the light comes on and the buzzer annoys us until we flip the breaker.

This would also work if the freezer is being run from battery and inverter. What happens when the batteries get low and inverter automatically shuts off? This would warn me to do something else. Nothing worse than losing a freezer full of meat.

And, of course, some people would use this as an alarm to let them know that power just went off while they are sleeping.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Depression Cooking Videos

A 91 year old grandmother shows simple recipes from the Great Depression era. When times get tough in the near future and we have to rely on food that we grow, the knowledge here could come in handy. This is just the first episode and you can find the rest here.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Coffee Can Heater

Here is a video showing a homemade 12 volt heater made from a coffee can. This could work in a car or you could use it as a dump load for a wind turbine charge controller. Either way, it is about 600 to 800 watts depending on battery voltage. The trick is to measure the amps at various lengths until you get the amps you need. If the ni-chrome wire you find is too thin to carry the amps you need, then you may have to double or triple it up. For instance, if you want a 500 watt heater or dump load, and you are using 12 volts then you just do the math. In a car application or in a dump load application, it would be about 14 volts. If you were just running the heater off a battery that started at 12.7 volts, then for the math use 12 volts because the battery always drops once the load is applied. In this example, we will say 500 watts at 14 volts. So, 500 / 14 is 35.7 amps. But, let's say that when you apply the voltage to the wire and at a certain length it starts to glow red and you show 20 amps. Then you would need test a length to get about 18 amps and then run two pieces in parallel. If you need a way to measure amps that are higher than your meter can handle, just use the stainless steel bolt trick as seen on this older blog entry.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Solar Oven

I really like solar ovens. When I think about how much power a regular oven or stove top uses, it blows me away. At 3,000 watts for the oven and about 1,500 watts per burner, then you could easily be using up to 9,000 watts while cooking a large dinner. Or even 4,500 to 6,000 watts typically. But, the sun is free! How amazing is that? A solar oven at about the size in the videos below has about 4 square feet of glazing. At 50% efficiency, then that means about 250 watts of consistent power. Pretty much like running a big crockpot all day, for free.

Here are a couple of videos showing a homemade solar oven in action.

Notice that this solar oven has 2 layers of plate glass, but it is just laying on top and not sealed. But even still, it works great.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Forklift Batteries

Today I am sore. I worked on forklift batteries all day. We started with 4 batteries and took all the cells out of the two big ones. Our plan is to make battery trays that hold 3 cells each to make 6 volt batteries. This would weigh about 280 to 300 lbs each and I could move them with a hand truck. But the way it stands now, each forklift battery weighs 1100 to 1500 lbs each.We had to cut each connection bar and then cut the metal case open. We also had a lot of tar on the top to take off.

Notice all the tar between the cells. The yellow 24 volt batteries don't have that and they should be a lot easier to deal with.
And below you can see the 36 cells we took out of the two big batteries. It looks like about 30 and maybe even 34 cells are in good shape.
Next week, I will finish up these 2 batteries.
Anyone else get their free forklift batteries yet. Let me know, I want to hear about it.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Air Powered Car

This video show two types of air motor designs. Funny thing is that this video was posted in 2006. I guess when you get 11 cents per gallon effective then the big oil interests just don't allow anything to ever come of that technology. Yet again it comes down to us doing for ourselves. The DIY movement is getting stronger because, frankly, it has to. Governments and big business just aren't going to do it for us. And, in all likelihood, will actually stand in your way and try to stop you. If you want to experiment with an air engine, then I suggest doing what I talked about the other day. Take an old lawn mower engine, like a 3.5 hp 4 stroke and modify the cam shaft so it becomes a fairly efficient air motor. (see the second video here) Then you could get a used scuba tank and make all kinds of things. Like air powered bike, trike, lawn mower, backup generator, backup water pump, etc.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Hydrogen powered cars have been here awhile

Just to point out that H2 cars have been here awhile. Simple to modify a car. Just get rid of the carburetor, replace gas tank with carbon fiber tank full of 5,000 to 10,000psi hydrogen. Then regulate that pressure down to less than 20 psi and put that right into the manifold where the carburetor was. Change the timing to top dead center and there ya go. The first internal combustion engine was designed to run on a hydrogen dominated gas in the 1800's. All the explanations of igniting the gas at top dead center are not true for gasoline. Gasoline burns too slow for this, so they have to ignite before the piston gets to the top. This means that the piston is fighting against an ever expanding gas as it moves up. This wastes lots of energy as heat. They took a good idea for an engine and bastardized it to work on gasoline. Back then compressed h2 just wasn't practical. Now, any welding shop will sell you compressed hydrogen.

Here is a car that was modified in the 70's.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Free Energy - Stuff to Think About

I'll say right off the bat that I don't believe in free energy. All energy comes from somewhere. But sometimes people just don't see where it comes from. The first law of thermodynamics basically says that energy can neither be created or destroyed but only altered in form. The second law says that in a closed system, entropy will increase. In other words, the heat or energy in a closed system will equalize over time. An example would be a large container full of steam that turns a turbine and then condenses and flows back into the container. If you aren't adding any heat at this point, then the turbine will slow to a stop and the steam will become water and the temperature of the water in the container will equalize. That rate of equalization is called entropy. The funny thing is that it will equalize to the ambient air temperature, because, guess what, it isn't a closed system. The air touches the container and thus adds or removes some heat energy depending on temperature differential.

What about solar PV panels? If you didn't consider the sun, then they appear magical by creating energy from nothing. Or windmills that spin randomly and create power for no reason. Or sailboats that move whenever the sails "poof" up. It is a strange and mystical world we live in.

What about residential heat pumps? They often rate them at 400 - 500% but we know that's impossible. It is because they consider it a closed system and only account for electrical power in versus heat power out or heat extracted. Never mind that a huge portion of the energy into the heat pump comes from either the air or the ground.

What about atoms? Little machines made of super small particles that spin for the last 15 billion years without missing a beat. If an electron is knocked off, it magically searches for a new home. The electron is always attracted to the proton but never seems to hit it. Where does that energy come from? If it is in the atom itself, then surely, after 15 billion years each atom in the universe would have much less energy now than when they started. Doesn't it make more sense that there is an outside force giving all atoms in the universe their energy?

I think the energy comes from space itself. They used to call it aether or the ether. It wasn't just the vacuum of space, it was tangible space, a real liquid like substance. Scientists mostly believe in the big bang anyway. Wouldn't that set the whole universe in motion? I believe I read somewhere that Tesla believed that the relative motion of space and matter actually imparted energy to the matter. In other words it energized the subatomic particles.

I have read that using cosmic microwave background radiation measurements, they have determined that we are moving at 390 km/sec or 872,000 mph. Now that is fast! We could be going faster though, especially if the entire universe is rotating in space. We couldn't know that because there would be no point of reference. It would also depend on where we are in relationship to the center of the universe. If we were at the center of the universe (like some believe, lol) then we would have relatively zero motion. But that also means no power for our atoms.

Let's assume that the matter, that we are used to on planet earth and things we see in telescopes, doesn't really interact with rapid moving space except to use some of the energy to charge its particles and to provide for nuclear forces at the atomic core. But what if some matter "interfered" with normal space flow? We are more space than matter so normally space can flow very easily through us. But, in the beginning, what if some strange formation of elements or molecules occured that made it difficult for space to pass through? Well, I would say that the instant that happened, then the 800,000 mph space would have grabbed those atoms or molecules and ripped them off the planet with extreme prejudice. Sort of like jumping out of the space shuttle on re-entry and opening your parachute. I'm sure these particles were destroyed or at least reoganized to a high degree. Worst case, they would be left floating motionless in space, but to us it would appear that they are traveling at 800,000 mph.

Also, something to think about is space travel. If we were to travel either towards the center of the universe or away then our relative motion through space changes. Or, if the universe isn't rotating, then we could use the center of our galaxy as a reference. Anyway, as we change our relative speed through space, then our bodies chemical reactions could alter. Of course we are talking million of light years (light year is about 6 trillion miles).

Now, let's go back to matter that interferes with space flow. What if it only slightly interferes more than normal matter in such a way that the excess energy is radiated out in gamma radiation? Think uranium or plutonium. What if a certain formation of atoms were affected in a slightly different way? Imagine a substance that generated its own magnetic field with a north and south pole. We call them magnets. I know that some people say magnets are just springs and getting free energy from a spring is just as impossible as designing a type of machine that runs on magnets. But, first, you can block or redirect magnetic fields. A spring, on the other hand, is just a spring and it connects point A and B and either pushes or pulls. If someone makes a magnet powered engine (this may have been done already) then it isn't perpetual motion. It would just be utilizing some of the energy from space itself. I should say the relative motion of space itself. So, you can't say that the motor is more than 100% efficient or that it makes more power than it takes in. You just have to consider all power coming in. I'm tired of science ignoring space. There is talk of the curvature of space like it is tangible, then they don't even consider the ramifications of a "real space" on matter and energy. They pretend that space is just the absence of matter. Maybe matter is anti-space and space is the real stuff. All matter in the universe could be dead except for the energy that moving space gives to it.

You guys remember that video of the bridge that resonated with certain wind speed and shook itself apart? What if you layered varying substances until it interfered with space flow ever so slightly? Then you could put a magnet and a coil on one side and if it is facing the right way then space will resonate through the material and cause the magnetic field from the magnet to collapse multiple times a second. This will generate power in the field coil. Just theoretical but looking at the universe differently can open all kinds of doors.

There was a patent given around 1980, for a magnet powered motor.
You can read the article here

Anyway, some stuff to think about. See you guys tomorrow.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wind Power Special Offer

Most of you know about my Wind Power and Battery Systems e-book and that it comes with the DC Motor Analyzer software bundled for $34.90. And, that alone is a great deal. I used to get so many questions about sizing the blades to match the motor, and what gauge wire to run, etc. After I bundled the software with the wind power book, all that changed. Just a few minutes playing with the software makes your life so much easier. So, I think it is an incredible value.

But, I just added 3 books and another computer program to the bundle for free. The free books and program really mesh with DIY wind power. Here is what I've added:
  1. Homemade Amp Meters
  2. Shunt Designer software package
  3. Welding with Batteries
  4. DIY Grid Tie
Homemade Amp Meters - If you are building a large wind power system and maybe solar power as well, then you need to be able to measure amps to and from the deep cycle battery bank. If you have a charge controller for the solar portion, then it will show amps going to the batteries. But, some wind power charge controllers (assuming you even bother to use one) don't even show amps to the battery. And how many amps is your big inverter sucking from the battery? If you have a 1200 watt microwave hooked to an inverter, then it is drawing 10 amps. But on the 12 volt side, that is 100 amps. Most volt ohm meters only go to 10 amps. So, you will need a shunt. This book shows you how to use different metals to make a shunt and you can read large current draws. In fact, this book shows how to make a shunt that can handle up to 2,000 amps, for just a few bucks.

Shunt Designer - This software package makes the complicated much simpler. You choose the metal you want to use, such as copper, aluminum, galvanized or stainless steel, etc., and then the thickness of that metal and you can computer the exact lengths to use to get the desired current carrying capacity.

You can also use it to figure out the resistance of stainless steel wire and "all thread" so that it can be used as a dump load for your windmill.

Welding with Batteries - This one is self explanatory for the most part. Building a large windmill may require some welding. My book doesn't require it, but my wind power book is meant to guide you into using whatever is available to harness the power of the wind.

In the welding book, you are shown how to find free car batteries and fix them to use as a powerful arc welder. Three car batteries can make 15 kw of power. At 240 volts and a 30 amp circuit in your house, you could only expect about 7 kw. You can double that with 3 car batteries. You can charge with solar. And it is portable. It could even be in the back of your truck.

Do it Yourself Grid Tie - This book is really new. In a nutshell, it shows 2 things:
  1. How to take an AC induction motor and use it on a windmill to feed the grid and turn your meter backwards
  2. How to take an AC induction motor and drive it with a DC motor to act as a grid tie inverter. Example - solar panel to DC motor that turns AC motor that feeds the grid to turn your meter backwards when the sun is out.
The AC induction motors can be found everywhere. In blow dryers and fans up to washers and dryers. You can also use large 3 phase AC motors and the book shows the "special" way to hook that up to normal household grid.

Anyway, I hope there is enough here to get you into the renewable and sustainable energy movement. And I hope the price is low enough so that the average person (especially in this economy) can jump in and make a difference.


air powered bike update

This is a video of someone actually running an air powered trike.

But this video below shows more promise.

In this video he is sort of on the right track. Forget the selenoid at the top where the spark plug goes. They are only good for so many cycles and will wear out pretty quickly. Besides, the 4 stroke engine already has great valves in it. And he makes the intake and exhaust work together for air power by adding the lobes on the cam shaft. I can't see it getting more efficient than that. You just need a cheap air compressor and a scuba tank or better, a carbon fiber tank. I like the idea of using compressed air instead of batteries. And imagine doing conversions on cars. You take the camshafts out, add the lobes and grind them smooth. Take the gas tank out and replace with a 10,000 psi carbon fiber tank. Have a double reducer on that that goes down to 100 to 150 psi. You could fill up at a welding shop or at home if you have a high pressure compressor. And once you pressurize a tank, it doesn't lose its power like batteries do even just sitting there. Gas stations could start adding high pressure tanks and compressors so they could fill up the new vehicles.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Solar Hot Water - revisited

I found this link the other day
Remember the other day when I talked about using the roof for a solar heater, but doing it with no glazing? Well this article show testing on a small scale. He has small channels for the water to flow through, but it is exposed to the air. He tried to simulate more channels by using the space between the channels and allowing water to flow there. The efficiency went up.

The more surface area the water flows across, the more efficient it becomes. But you also get more evaporation. At 2,200 btu/square foot day, you can get a lot of power. Most collectors are maybe 20 square feet and that means 44,000 btus per day put into the water. So, a 50 gallon tank with about 400 pounds of 60 F water could be raised to 110 F in about half a day. But using 1,000 square feet of roof would raise it to the same temp in about 5 to 10 minutes. My God! And it will do it at a higher efficiency than a evacuated tube would. We are talking 2.2 million BTUs per day possible.

You would probably want a small solar panel to drive two or three cheap pumps in series. That way you would have enough head pressure to get to the roof without having to buy a VERY expensive pump to do it. You don't need much flow, just enough pressure to get it to the roof. With a big insulated 150 - 300 gallon tank acting as your heat exchanger, you would only need to run the system for about 1 or 2 hours every other day. So evaporation won't be that bad. Since you are using the gutters to collect the hot water, you could also make up some water losses via rain collection. A simple diverter on the down spout can give you full control.

But rember, this type of solar collector is more efficient if the ambient air and water temperature are fairly close, like within 50 to 70 degrees different or less. So, if you wanted 140 F water and the air temperature is 70 - 90 F then you are ok. But if it were 50 F outside, then getting the water temperature above 100 - 120 F would be very hard.

I'm just blown away by how much potential energy is available on the average roof. And you don't need a lot of money to throw at the problem. And I know evaporation is an issue, but if you run the system for 1 to 2 hours a day on the sunny days, then you might lose 2 gallons a day or so. That evaporates into the environment and someday soon it will rain and you will collect it back. So it can be sustainable. Even the pump energy would be from the sun.

Also, a good source of small, sometimes free pumps can be dishwashers. They aren't meant to run all day, but they can easily run for 1 to 2 hours and they can pump hot water at 140 F as well.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Air Powered Motorcycle

If you guys remember this other post from July 1st, then this would be the next logical progression. This is a picture of a motorcycle powered by air. It was designed by Edwin Yi Yuan and supposedly it is fast, efficient and has a long range. I'll have to see the numbers though.

But still, nice idea. If you were to use carbon fiber tanks and pressurize to 5,000 or even 10,000 psi then the range should be pretty good.

Take a look at this picture from
You could take the reed valve out and then plug the exhaust port. Then have a spring loaded valve at the top instead of the spark plug. The top of the piston would have a welded tab that hits the valve and opens it. This lets air in and pushes the piston down. The length of the welded tab is such that when the top of the piston is almost to the air intake port, then the spring loaded valve shuts. This gives a longer push of the piston without wasting compressed air through the exhaust port. Effectively, it moves the exhaust port lower so the power portion of the stroke is longer.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

How to Find a FREE Deep Cycle Battery

How to Find a FREE Deep Cycle Battery: "I hope this helps someone find a free or at least a cheap deep cycle battery."

Electric Bike Anyone?

Here is an electric bike from Currie Technologies called Ezip on sale for $299 at

It looks like it has a 10-15 mile range. It is 450 watts and goes up to 18 mph.

Of course, you could take this motor shown above and replace your existing motor for double the power to 900 watts instead of 450 watts. This would half the range, but you could add a second battery pack.

Or you could make your own from scratch. Check this video out.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Solar Food Dehydrator

This is a picture I found on
It is pretty self explanatory. I would just add that the food needs to be on a screen type tray that is elevated enough so the warm air can get through. And also, the food should not be exposed to the sun so a piece of cardboard sticking up in front of the top screen would stop the sun from getting to the food through the screen.

If you want something more permanent then take a look at this one.
This can be found here*session*id*key*=*session*id*val*
It is much more permanent, you could even leave it outdoors all year. But, it is also much more expensive and complicated to make. I may try the cardboard one first to see how it works.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Homemade Spot Welder

Here is a homemade spot welder I made. It just connects to a car battery and welds thin steel and tin pretty well. The far right side is where the welding occurs. Just hook one side of the battery to the left side on the longer copper pipe. And hook the other side of the battery to the shorter pipe where there is a gap in the electrical tape. If you make this one, make the pipes shorter, about half the length. There is too much play in mine and that is one thing that I would change.

Take a look at this video. It talks about resistance spot welding and how it works.

Here are some videos of people using microwave transformers to make spot welders.

Just be careful when working on microwave ovens. The main thing is make sure it is unplugged and then short the capacitor out using a screwdriver. Those capacitors are very dangerous.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Solar Water Distiller

I hope everyone had a good 4th of July.

Today I wanted to talk about solar water distillers. These are great if you have no other way of getting clean water. Maybe you only have access to ocean water. Or maybe you collect rainwater but have no way of filtering the water. Whatever the case, having a distiller is very handy. I have listed below three types, a purchased one, a nice homebuilt and a poor man's version.

This type is called the water cone and can be found here:
You put it on top of the dirty fresh or salt water as seen in the above picture. There is a black pan that sits underneath. The water evaporates inside and condenses on the inside wall. It then drips down to the curved side tray area. You can then lift it out of the water carefully and open the top and pour out the fresh condensed water. You can also place this directly on top of dirty water without the black pan.

You can also use the cone upside down to collect rain water. They are 100% recyclable and should last for 5 years of daily use, giving about 1.5 liters per day of distilled water.

Here is the one from El Paso Solar Energy Association. (sorry, link doesn't work anymore)

This one is more permanent and can produce over 3 gallons of distilled water every day in the summer and about half that in the winter. With reflectors, you could bring that up. You could also just use more distillers to meet your demand.

This one is a Poor Man's design using a cardboard box with a lid. The box has a black plastic bag or just black plastic inside it. There is a brick on the bottom for a glass to sit on. The lid has loose fitting clear plastic put in the cutout. A rock is put in the center of that to weigh it down. The dirty water is at the bottom no deeper than the brick height. This will help minimize the risk of contaminating your clean glass with dirty water. The dirty water evaporates and then condenses up on the clear plastic. The angle of the plastic makes the clean water drip down into the clean glass. This should be great for emergencies.


Friday, July 3, 2009

Super Quiet Air Compressor

I've always hated that air compressors have to be so darned loud. But, maybe they don't have to be...MUHAHAHAHAHAHAAA.....

I know that these things are supposed to be cooled by the freon coming back to the inlet, but if it runs hot, just get a cooling fan. Or you could use 2 in parallel for faster air charging. I've got a compressor out of a 1 ton AC I will save for this. I'll put it on my list of things to do.

Have a great 4th of July and see you all Monday!


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Water into Air - Using city water pressure to make compressed air

Depending on where you live, the city water pressure is usually between 70 and 120 psi at the tap. I had the idea last year to use that water pressure to make compressed air. It would be silent and uses no electricity. It does use electricity at the city pumping station and it does use about 45 gallons of water every time you fill it or charge it. But, in an off grid situation and with well water, the pump would be run by solar or wind. And the pressure tank could be for your water pressure regulator. But when you need it, you would also have compressed air. In other words, you already have a pressure tank on a pump system that regulates, this would just be an add on that would give you more steady pressure without the pump kicking on. But every so often, if you need an air powered tool, you have the air already there.

Or you could use it in your shop even if you are still on grid. After all, it is silent and it takes no electricity. At 100 psi water pressure, a 50 gallon water tank would give about 6.5 gallons of compressed air.

Note that the hot and cold are capped and soldered shut. Get rid of the pressure relief valve, you can keep the valve if you like but you won't be using the heaters and city water pressure would never get that high. Even if it did, something else (probably in someone else house) will blow before your tank. Just use the drain valve and the pressure relief ports for this setup as shown in the picture above. You can't use the hot water port because as the water compresses the air, water could shoot through the tube to your air tools when it gets high enough.

Depending on the pressure, the volume changes. For instance, at 60 psi the air volume would equalize at about 10 gallons. A problem could be water vapor in the output. A simple dryer mechanism can be built out of copper and 90 degree elbows. The heavier water vaper just can't maneuver like the air around the bends and turns so it hits the copper walls and condenses.

Mainly, I see someone using this if they want to add a pressure regulation tank to their house and they would like compressed air always available. Anyway, something to think about.

Also, if you are trying to figure the math for different pressures, just use ideal pressure law P1V1=P2V2. But use absolute pressure. The tank starts at 15psi and if you pressurize it with 60 psi water, don't use 60, add 15 to the 60 and use 75 as your number. That is absolute pressure. The 60 psi is really psi gauge which means it is that number plus whatever atmosperic is. So, add atmospheric pressure to your water pressure and then use those numbers as P1 and P2.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Weed Eater 2 Stroke Air / Steam Engine

I like the idea of using a simple 2 stroke engine as a air or steam engine. I think that a lubrication device would have to be placed in line with the incoming air or steam. But I was thinking that a small air tank, a throttle, and a small 2 stroke attached to a bike would be really nice and have lots of power. It would weigh less than a battery pack and probably get about the same distance, but more power than most electric bikes. Of course, if you use too much power then your air supply won't last very long. And you could recharge the air using a compressor at home or at any gas station. And a full charge could happen in under a minute, while charging batteries can take hours.