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A week is a weak is a week is a weak...

September 23, 2008 11:15 AM 9/23/08

So while I have next week off this week is shaping up to be annoying. I’m still working on getting the Cobalt Qube2 to accept the SoundBlaster Live! card under NetBSD 3.0 and my friend in Florida is helping me out there but it’s still being annoying. (Oh and whoever put the sbl* reference in the GENERIC kernel config file but didn’t make sure it worked - bite me.)

Other technical projects include the lighting stuff using the Freeduino, finding a replacement computer for my in-laws that doesn’t cost a fortune, and starting on the black-locust root-ball staff for my friend from Western Illinois.

I will likely take pictures of all the tube amps to put up on E-Bay tonight. I’m going to have to “smoke test” them to make sure they work because older equipment like that goes for more if it works. I can’t decide to insist on local pickup only for these or not. They’re pretty sturdy but I’m still concerned about shipping them.

I need to pick up some of the clean water containers this week to empty the rain barrel into. Thankfully those don’t cost too much and I won’t need to pick them up until the end of the week. I might get a Brita filter and filter all the water before storing it. That won’t solve bacteria stuff but it should get rid of any roof gunk that might have gotten into the barrel. The barrel itself is heavy-duty food grade plastic and was used for food before so the water should be clean enough. It still will need to be boiled if we want to use it for cooking or drinking.

Looked at the idea of putting up some sort of wind turbine at home and the best I could come up with would be two “oreo” style Savonius units on the garage or the anemometer style installed in the roof vent. Regardless if I want to use wind I’m going to need more than that.

I also priced solar panels and it looks like the good ones will cost anywhere from $300 - $600 each. I estimate that if I want to generate a kilowatt of power it will cost me somewhere in the neighborhood of about $4500. I guess I’ll have to start saving my pennies for that one...

The wasps show no sign of returning. Point in fact _all_ the wasps in the area are strangely absent. Makes me nervous. I’ll clean the one vent out today or tomorrow then worry about them if they come back. Though I will likely take someone’s suggestion and spray ammonia in the old nest locations as it supposedly keeps them from coming back to those spots.

Still no luck on getting the second Color LaserJet 2550n to print properly. I might consider swapping parts into the parts printer again and see if I can cobble it all together into one working unit but that’s a last resort as this one is close to working.

I’ll be highly pleased next week if I can get my workshop outside organized enough to start circuit design stuff from scratch and also editing anime music videos. Secondly I will definitely be happy if I can get all the servers into the basement and all the stuff out of the third bedroom. My wife really needs an office space and I’ve owed her one for quite some time now. So really those two actions are going to be my focus for next week. If I get to cleaning out the garden then that’s good too but frankly that can be done on a weekend without too much trouble.

I do have one thing I _should_ do before this week is out and that’s price getting someone to come out and check the fireplace and chimney. I could leave that to wait until next “fat week” but if it’s not too expensive then I’d like to get it done sooner rather than later.

Not much else going on at the moment. I’m basically biding my time until next week where I’ll do a great deal of stuff to get things into shape.

Back on the bike and back to work...




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Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
siliconshaman
Sep. 23rd, 2008 08:49 pm (UTC)
There might be a more affordable way of harnessing wind power.
Wind turbine kits DIY wind turbine

You could also build a sterling engine generator and run that off a solar hot water system which should generate a useful number of watts... plus hot water of course!

The advantage there is, most if not all the parts necessary can be bought second-hand or scrap...recycling and keeping the cost down!

Edited at 2008-09-23 08:50 pm (UTC)
nimitzbrood
Sep. 23rd, 2008 09:07 pm (UTC)
Re wind: The issue is not really materials or even money - both can be handled. The issue is local acceptance for a fast spinning object on a pole in a suburban neighborhood on a small lot. Otherwise I'd already be building one of those. ;-)

The style I posted the idea about a while back looks like a giant anemometer and could be made from a modified turbine vent, some aluminum pipes, and three stainless steel cooking bowls. Paint it to match the roof and it could easily blend in with the local environment.

It goes back to what I've told people for a few years now - it's not enough to make good technology it has to be acceptable to people or it will not be used.

As for the Stirling engine I've considered getting one of the old satellite dishes, covering it with mirrors, and putting a Stirling engine in place of the feed horn. It's been done before and I can't help but thing it would be able to generate a fair amount of both hot water and electricity. The problem is making the engine from scratch that will handle the temps involved AND the RPMs.
siliconshaman
Sep. 23rd, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
IIRC a V-twin motor-cycle engine makes a pretty good sterling engine, able to handle both rpm's and temp. The satellite dish isn't such a good idea, it's high temp but needs to track the sun and the narrow focal point limits the thermal transfer potential.

A better solution is a copper pipe running though a rack of black-painted soda-cans laid end to end, and that array located at the focal point of a parabolic trough. If instead of water one uses waste/sump oil, you can get temperatures upto 200+ degrees C. [and it actually works better if the oil is heavily contaminated by metallic particles, ie, is useless for recycling.] Plus, the pipework is less obvious and easier to lag and run to a sterling engine in a shed or garage. Which I'd imagine would be important for you.



Edited at 2008-09-23 09:54 pm (UTC)
nimitzbrood
Sep. 23rd, 2008 10:38 pm (UTC)
Hmm...I would think that the problem with oil is that it doesn't flow well when cold and it would need to be pumped unless the Stirling engine were right there with it. However transformer mineral oil would work just fine and is relatively inexpensive.

Or - you could use antifreeze. It's designed from the start to be quickly fluid and transfer heat. If necessary it's like enough to be moved about by means of a solar pump.

As for modifying a V-twin engine I would think that a lawn tractor V-twin would work and be lighter. The problem there is that it requires machining to do that. And if you're going to do any machining you might as well mill one from scratch.

What I wouldn't give for an old Bridgeport in my garage...
siliconshaman
Sep. 24th, 2008 12:21 am (UTC)
I hadn't thought of transformer oil.. but that's good idea. According to a quick google at least one brand is stable upto 500 degrees and doesn't freeze until it hits 90 below...[guess they must use that brand in Alaska!] Pretty low viscosity too.

I guess a lawn tractor engine would work just as well..guy in question used an old motorcycle engine because that what he had... But I guess you could work with what you've got.

Come to think of it..you could cut down on the re-tooling the engine by using the hot oil to heat a water boil and running it as straight expansion steam engine, instead of a sterling cycle. You lose some effiecncy, but it'd be easier to build, and if you're getting the power for free, who cares if you waste some.
nimitzbrood
Sep. 24th, 2008 12:49 am (UTC)
Actually if we're talking steam there's a much simpler solution that you've likely just forgotten - a Tesla turbine:

http://shorterlink.org/4289

Simple to make - simple to maintain - handles both low and high speed pressures - etc.
siliconshaman
Sep. 24th, 2008 01:30 am (UTC)
I believe the phrase is D'oh! Although, I'm not sure how well a Tesla turbine would marry with a commercially available generator, they generally operate at high RPM's, possibly too much for a standard generator. But I guess a simple belt drive would allow you to step it down into the generators range.
nimitzbrood
Sep. 24th, 2008 01:51 am (UTC)
_OR_ you can use a cheap high-RPM generator like...a car alternator. ;-)

I've got a 2500 RPM 120V DC generator lying around somewhere...

Though I'm kind of at a loss as to how to deal with a full 120VDC to charge a battery bank with. :-/
siliconshaman
Sep. 24th, 2008 02:16 am (UTC)
Or that, yeah...[duh again] and sounds like you'd need a step down DC/AC-AC/DC transformer array with a whetstone bridge [or full-wave rectifier] to convert the 120vDC to 12vDC and charge the batteries in parallel... or build a 120 volt battery bank and charge that.

Come to think of it...there are rigs for exactly that sort of thing used on RV's and the like. Don't cost too much either on eBay.

Sounds like you might onto a winner there.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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