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Morning musings...

03:43 AM 10/26/2011

So...I'm awake...again...

Part of the reason is that I'm not using up all my energy every day and thus am sleeping less. This should even out once I get a job again.


By 2 pm today the floor in the workshop will be fully cured and I'll be able to start moving stuff onto it. Likely the couch first because that's a big piece that takes up space that I can use to shuffle things around. Hopefully it won't rain today so I can move some things out of the workshop then move them back in. There's a lot of stuff to move and I need to get it right today because I won't have the time tomorrow and I want to start moving stuff out into the workshop from the house to help de-clutter the house. The third bedroom in particular.

I have an interview scheduled for 3 pm on Thursday. Hope it goes well. It's for a Help Desk/Desktop Support position in a nearby town. The headhunter said the client has high standards so I have to bring my "A Game" so to speak. Polished shoes, black socks, tie, etc. Professional interview mode enabled! *grin* That said I hope the working environment is a good one. I know I can produce well but it's much easier if you're not fighting the working environment. Anyways I wrote up my 20 questions for the interview so I should be all set. :-)

Been thinking a lot about solar heaters for the workshop. That would help reduce our natural gas bill over the winter so it wouldn't hurt so bad next summer. I'm pretty sure I can construct the window based heaters cheaply. I might even be able to use the glass from the two shower doors I have here even if it's a little frosted. It wouldn't be as efficient so I have to think about that. I have enough soda cans or a source of them to make the can based solar heater so maybe I'll try that one.

The chives are doing well for the moment. My fear though is using city water to water them as it contains all sorts of stuff you might not want. I did figure out that you could make a DIY PVC container to hole the round Brita filters and make a large-style gravity filter system. It wouldn't be able to filter rainwater but it could be used to filter and store tap water for use later. The big thing is obviously keeping mold and algae out of the system. I think if you keep it dark that won't be a problem though. I really need a damn quality microscope and water test kit to do that sort of thing right. That and a ton of the right wavelength UV LEDs among other things.

The Brita filter thing is pretty damn simple too. You take a PVC pipe just large enough for the filter to sit in, then put one half of a larger screw-together coupler on that piece of pipe and glue those two pieces together. (Don't glue the filter. Duh. ^_^) Take a piece of PVC pipe that fits in the other half of the screw-together coupler and drill about eight holes around the top edge so that if the end is plugged water flows out the sides. Screw the two pieces of the coupler together with the Brita filter inside and insert the piece of PVC pipe into the coupler until it stops against the top of the Brita filter. Mark the PVC pipe appropriately and glue it and the other coupler half together. When screwed together the couple and pipes keep the filter cartridge in place but allow water to flow freely.

And there you have a simple water filter using PVC and Brita cartridges. Not as good as a reverse-osmosis system but much more readily available and definitely cheaper. I wouldn't recommend it for something like outdoor water - that still needs to be sterilized in some manner. Though I could in theory see a UV sterilizer first then using this to make the water 90% safe to drink. (Though you want to shoot for 99% really. And UV doesn't remove nasty chemicals so that's why I specified 90%.)

Huh...I think I just designed a free watering system for aquaculture units. I could put a hose from the rain barrel into the basement, run it through one of these filter assemblies, and then use it to fill the aquaculture tanks. Then flush them out the sewer or sump pump when a water change is needed. Interesting...

Here's another quick thought...if you can get the right wavelength UV LEDs you could easily make a drop-in solar powered rain barrel sterilizer unit using either a good quality solar panel or solar path lights strung together. Depending on the current/voltage needed for the LEDs you might have to include a battery but honestly those units are fairly cheap. It's the UV LEDs that are likely to be expensive. But the design would fit any rain barrel or water tank and be almost completely maintenance-free.

Unfortunately all the ones I'm finding on E-Bay are 350nm or better and you want as close to 260nm as possible. (And for the love of all DON'T LOOK DIRECTLY AT UV LIGHTS!)

It's almost 5 am as I type this. That means the kid will be up soon and I will have to get moving on things like breakfast, clothing, shower, and last night's dishes among other things. *yawn* Start of another day. Time to make the donuts....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz! ;-)

Cross-posted from Dreamwidth ( http://nimitzbrood.dreamwidth.org/246706.html ) but feel free to comment here as well.

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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 26th, 2011 08:18 pm (UTC)
Who's making 260nm LEDs?! I want some, though my application has absolutely nothing to do with yours.

I don't know anything about UV water sterilization other than what I've gleaned from servicing the treatment plant at my Dad's farm.

However, it occurs to me that an off-the-shelf 4W germicidal lamp(G4T5; ~$20) would work quite well with a small solar charging arrangement. It emits the same 254nm line as the higher-intensity lamps used for flow-through water treatment, and will have a much longer service life than the batteries in those solar lights...
Oct. 26th, 2011 11:50 pm (UTC)
I haven't found the 250nm LEDs yet but I know they're out there. I wonder how less effective the 350nm ones are. Those are available in 1W - 10W models.

As for bulbs I'm concerned because the design is for directly in the rain barrels and that means freezing when winter hits. Bulbs, as I'm sure you well know, sometimes don't take to that too well.

But a 4W lamp could well be the solution. Can you put that behind a piece of plexi or single-pane without affecting the end result?
Oct. 27th, 2011 01:25 am (UTC)
Let's see if *anyone* is using cheap LEDs for sterilization and go from there? I'm guessing not yet.

How do you plan to keep the water in the barrels from freezing?

Plex(or *any* plastic, including whatever it is they use for LED packaging) and common glasses are almost opaque at 250-260nm. Some harder borosilicates work(this is what's used in germicidal bulbs, as well as the water-treatment stuff I mentioned before) but "quartz"(pure, fused silica) is best. Even the quartz is pretty damn cloudy at shorter UV... So, the answer to your question is no.

You weren't gonna just dunk a bunch of LEDs in near-freezing, impure water, were you?

Oct. 27th, 2011 02:05 am (UTC)
Huh. I can't find my original link. My apologies. What I can find is this company developing UVC LEDs that has engineering samples available: http://www.crystal-is.com/company/press.cfm/newsitem/86372

Not sure what they would cost though.

As for the barrels freezing painting them black helps reduce that if there's any decent sunlight but honestly barrels freeze during our winter climate unless you empty them. Without a solar heating system it's unavoidable.

As for dunking the LEDs - yes that's _exactly_ what I was going to do. If you properly insulate a web of them so that you have a kind of net with a weight at the bottom you could easily put the entire structure inside the rain barrel without affecting water flow or shorting out. Rope lights in a lot of cases are made to be immersed for example. And LEDs can be frozen without a problem depending on their material structure.

But it looks like I'm ahead of the curve again it seems. Therefor the proper solution is a UV sterilizer bulb system in-line with the barrel output hose or something similar.

Oct. 27th, 2011 09:06 pm (UTC)
Interesting link... I need to research this more, but at a guess I'd say this route is going to be prohibitively expensive for awhile yet.

I've seen LEDs literally pulled apart by freeze expansion - that's mostly what I was getting at. Yes, ropelights can be submersible, but of course whatever plastic sleeve you use would entirely block the UV.

You could seal a germicidal lamp(along with its drive inverter and some weight) inside a piece of quartz tubing, then suspend it in your barrel by its power cable...

However, I wonder how well light propagates through water at 254nm? Probably not very, and the barrel may be too big without insane power levels. But...

You're talking low flow(that's all a Brita will do) and whatever sterilizing arrangement you come up with could be located indoors with the veggies you're growing, right? I bet you could cobble together a surface- or coaxial-type UV critter cheap.
Oct. 28th, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
Huh. Stupid question but aren't test tubes made of borosilicate? Does borosilicate block UV at all?

Because you could in theory then use something from these:


And save yourself some money on tubing.

Oct. 28th, 2011 10:29 pm (UTC)
Yes, test tubes are borosilicate and yes, it entirely blocks the wavelength you need. Sorry; TANSTAAFL.

The "hard"(higher silica content) boro I mentioned was developed specifically for UVC lamp manufacture, and I could make you all the custom lamps you'd ever want if I could get some... However, I have no idea where to get it, and fear it would cost a lot more than just building something around an off-the-shelf lamp.

I can't hotwork quartz, but it's not too difficult to get... Hell, I've purchased it in various forms from AS&S - I trust you've been there? Their stores must be seen to be believed.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )



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