20080429

Fremkit


Fremkit
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I spent most of the day fabricating my latest invention. This is a solar water distiller made with a laminated ferrocement technique. A solar distiller works by evaporation. You pour dirty water into the large tray, then place a piece of glass over the top. The sun warms the distiller to the point where water evaporates. The water rises to the glass and since the glass is slightly angled the water falls in my gutter on the right. The water is very high quality typically 3-5 ppm. Our tap water and well water are not potable here. They range from 700 - 3500 ppm. This device should be ale to distill one gallon of water per day. If it works well I will make many more. It cost about $14 to make including the reusable jig. It should be about 10,000psi in strength.

20080428

Discovery Channel - Mikey Sklar - Daily Planet

I was on the Canada's discovery channel last month. The story was about me being a inventor in New Mexico. I obtained a copy of the segment earlier today. It is about four minutes long.

20080427

Official Electrical Inspection

After working all weekend to replace grounding lugs, add a door vent, build a support stand, cleanup misc. wiring, fill a 30' trench and finally add a switch cover plate we are ready for our first 'official' inspection.

Ventilation


Ventilation
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Today I cut two small rectangles into the battery room door. Next
week I will add a 80cfm fan to the roof. This should get us passed
any possible ventilation issues.

20080426

Overload


Overload
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I noticed today that my panels were exceeding their rated value in watts. I was actually getting 2100W out of my solar panels which are only rated for 2040W. I know people that have lived off solar for years and never managed to even reach what their panels were rated for. Sadly, it could only be sustained for about thirty minutes. The panels eventually dropped down to their usual 1950W during peak sunlight.

Alone


Alone
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I took this photo while standing on a 12' tall ladder. I had to change the grounding straps on the solar panels to UL approved clamps for #6 gauge copper wire. It totally sucks to work alone that high up. Partly because nobody can take great photos of me. The other downside is that I could fall and have nobody around to get me help. It is however nice to finish half a audiobook. I've been enjoying Robinson Crusoe this week - the adult version.

H2 Hole


H2 Hole
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
This hole is located at the top of my papercrete battery room. It was designed in from the beginning of the project to help vent the explosive hydrogen gas that the batteries put out when they get overcharged. Sadly, it was deemed "not good enough". I will be installing a 4" 80cfm fan in the hole next week to constantly circulate the air. Tomorrow morning I will add a intake vent in the battery room door to help bring more air into the dome. Sadly NEC article 690 is incredibly vague on ventilation. I had to hire a mechanical engineer at $85 a hour to stamp a paper saying put in a vent and a fan. That will keep the room below 1% hydrogen gas at all times.

20080423

Happy Plants


Happy Plants
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
These are my happy radish plants. The photo was taken thirteen days after I planted the seeds and turned on a 1W LED grow light.

Hello Sunshine


Hello Sunshine
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
You can see how excited I am to use the energy created by our pv solar panels. They had been charging the batteries for the last 48 hours. Solar power is a sort of use it or loose it thing. Once the batteries are charged up the panels energy will go to waste (unless some other load is in place). Today I shut off our grid power, turned on our solar power. I proceeded to run inside our trailer and turn on a air conditioner and swamp cooler. Now we are using our solar setup to its full potential.

Bye Bye Grid Power


Bye Bye Grid Power
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
My new favorite way to spend the day is standing in front of the control panel in the battery room and watch the batteries charge up. While I was staring at all the LCDs on the equipment this afternoon I realized that the batteries were full. This means it was time to shut off the city power (for good).

Water Boy


Water Boy
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy had me water the yard today in preparation for her trip to Sufi school. It takes a good thirty minutes to water all the plants, trees, and mulch. Hopefully we will automate this at some point.

20080421

Transplant


Transplant
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy began moving a number of our vegetables today. Mainly squash, cucumber, and melon since they were in the same cold frame, but needed to be separated before they cross pollinated and made weird baby plants. Even though Wendy followed all the procedures including move plants on a full moon the plants look very weak and unhappy after the relocation.

Da Hookup


Da Hookup
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our batteries are charging! Today Jerry and I threw the breakers and watched the solar charge controllers light up. We generated 3.2kWHrs in about four hours of late afternoon sun. Tomorrow I hope to generate 12kWHrs. Next week will disconnect from our city grid power and be entirely on own for electricity.

20080419

Totes


Totes
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our friend Asher hooked us up with these 270 gallon totes. They had been used to store vinegar. I think they will make nice little cisterns or event WVO (Waste Veggie Oil) storage.

Grease Work


Grease Work
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
The grease car needed a few repairs yesterday to make itself road worthy again. I swapped the primary diesel filter which helped acceleration a great deal. I also put these little hub cap covers on. The last mechanic that put on a new site of tires totally destroyed the original covers costing me over $300 when a bearing got some dirt in it. I also increased the purge timer on the grease system from 5 seconds to 45 seconds. I had been clogging my primary fuel filter with my veggie oil because of short purge times.

Shaky Results


Shaky Results
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our shake test quickly confirmed what I thought we had.

1. The clay on our property has a lot of sand in it
2. Davey (my neighbor) has some nice red clay maybe 30-50%
3. Jason from the next town over has awesome clay 80% or more pure

I have been looking forward to not having to carry 94lb bags of
Portland cement. We traded our old papercrete blocks for access to
Jasons clay.

Shake Test


Shake Test
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I've been looking at the different types of clay available to us. It has taken me a while to acknowledge that we can stop using Portland cement in our papercrete insulation and just use a clay, paper, lime mix. These are three different types of clay we placed in glass bottles. Just add water, shake, and wait.

20080416

PV Control Center


PV Control Center
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
You can see that our solar control center is coming along nicely. The inverters, breakers, charge controllers, and lightening arrestors are in place. Next week the more complicated work begins. We need to pull the solar panels power cables into the dome along with the battery cables which need to be custom made from #2/0 welding wire. We should be charging our batteries next week.

Trench


Trench
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Whew! I have been digging a 25' long 30" deep trench for the last two days. This sort of depth and length is required for grounding a home properly. I placed a #1/0 copper cable between my AC and DC grounding rods. There is still a little bit of DC grounding left to tie off. I am going to take a one day break before returning to the trenches.

20080415

Gerry's license plate


Gerry's license plate
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Cute license plate for a electrician.

Solar Hookup


Solar Hookup
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I brought in a pro for our final hookup of all the solar gear. It meant a good deal of back tracking to bring all the work to date up to code. You can see Gerry replacing some schedule 40 PVC conduit with EMT and liquid tight connections between panel poles.

20080414

Organic Grits


Organic Grits
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I had to go to Albuquerque today and pickup some solar equipment.
While I was in town I stopped by Trader Joes for some food. This
artifact was disturbing. "Organic Southern Style GRITS".

20080413

LED Grow Light Radishes

My baby 1W LED grow light have been doing a amazing job of growing radishes. Just look at the difference between day 4 and day 5 in these photos. These radishes were not even supposed to pop up out of the ground until day 7 according to the package.

20080412

Solar Water Still


Solar Water Still
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
A friend recently mentioned the concept of a water still to me. I didn't really get into the idea of cleaning our salty bath water for irrigation until I saw a water still array. Today I was given a tour of a neighbors place noticed they were distilling mineral water. I need to start making some stills like this one.

IO Earns His Keep


IO Earns His Keep
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy has been suffering from Kidney pains this weekend. Our fat kitty seemed to understand this and offered up a intestinal massage.

Solar Bread


Solar Bread
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
This is a photo of the ultra simple no-knead bread that Wendy and I are crazy about. I've been making it every 2-3 days in our Sun Oven.

Plant Power


Plant Power
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I was curious how much energy it was taking to grow my radish seedlings. Here is what I discovered.

Total Power: 16W
DC Power: 1.2W (7.1V x .16A)

This is crazy. My benchtop power supply is such a power hog that converting 110V AC into 7V DC that I am blowing over 14W of energy.

20080411

Radish Seedlings


Radish Seedlings
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
These are the radishes I planted a few days ago. They are progressing quite nicely considering the package they came in said that it would take 7-10 days to see them sprout. I have had a full power LED grow light on them for the last three days.

Chance Goes for a Ride


Chance Goes for a Ride
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our Mercedes loves to be towed. Here it is going for a ride to a autoshop in Socorro, NM. This is the third tow in 30 days. The others were for a flat tire and broken linkage throttle.

Bad Noises


Bad Noises
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I was driving to Albuquerque in our grease car "Chance" this morning. A noise and slight hesitation began to occur that made me pull to the side. I saw that there were metal shavings, and smoke coming from a uncapped wheel hub. We called for a tow to the nearest autoshop in Socorro.

If you should happen to choose a geek

This "lounge" you see mikey in was where we spent a good part of the day. We were on our way to albq to see mom and get some supplies when "chance" ( that's our WVO vehicle) broke down again. Ok it was not the veg conversion that actually broke but this does not preclude me from the right to warn those who've opted for a geek of their very own that tinkering does equal all sorts of malfunctions while the bugs are getting worked out. Patience and a good sense of humor are required but, I still recommend a geek any day!

20080410

Tofu Containers


Tofu Containers
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Recently a recycling enthusiast posed the question to me of what to do with all the tofu containers. You can see that as we are making pizza today I was using them as little containers to hold our toppings. I've also used them to grow plantlets from seed under my LED grow lights. I think there are many applications for nuts and bolts to electronics where these work great. Don't forget their excellent stacking capability whether full or empty.

Vermicomposting


Vermicomposting
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

20080409

Latest Paint Job


Latest Paint Job
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy and I did a second coat of paint on the exterior of the dome. I
am really happy with the final result. This was a mix of lime, white portland and brown umber. A very inexpensive and strong paint that is easy to make on your own.

The Mix:
- 2 gallons of water
- 10lbs lime
- 10lbs white portland

The cost is probably $5 per 4 gallon bucket.

Bad Habit


Bad Habit
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar


Here you can see that while Wendy is cleaning up the kitty litter center baby IO is rolling around outside of his little dome.

20080406

Light Holder


Light Holder
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I used a piece of wood from a old pallet to mount my LED grow light. There are four small plantlets of radish below the light. The grow cycle for this radish is only 22 days. Lets see how it goes.

20080405

Scott's EV


Scott's EV
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Scott brought his fiat EV conversion by for Jay and Ryanne to test
out. He has some new batteries and think it might be able to do over
60 miles.

Mulch It


Mulch It
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy, Ryanne, and Jay worked very hard yesterday doing multiple
truck loads of card board, mulch, and dirt for various parts of the
yard including the east facing raised bed seen here.

Leaky

I've become quite the DIY plumber. We woke up yesterday to a hose oozing water. I turned the needle valve as much as possible and it would not shut off. A quick trip to the hardware store and one 1/4 turn ball valve later we had no leak fossit. Curse those needle valves.

Solar Bread

Ryanne Hodson of RyanIsHungry gave me a great recipe for a no-knead bread. It is very popular on the internet. I made one slight variation and instead of putting it in a standard kitchen oven for 45 minutes, I put the bread in my solar oven for 1.5 hours. Four ingredients: - 3 cups bread flour - ¼ teaspoon yeast -1¼ teaspoons salt - 350mL of water

20080403

The Hawks Nest


The Hawks Nest
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
This is a wide angle shot of Dpug Lacy's "Hawks Nest" home. It is made entirely of welded wire remesh and expanded metal lath. The hawk shape at the top looks a lot like a Klingon war ship from star trek. I should have asked him how much for the cloaking device.

Doug Lacy Interview


Doug Lacy Interview
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Soon after visiting Ashers grease palace we met up with Doug Lacy in Silver City. Doug has a amazing collection of fences and homes in Silver City made out of ferrocement. The RyanIsHungry crew saw several of Doug's pieces and interviewed him.

The River


The River
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
My favorite part of going to Ashers place in Mimbres is popping off my sandals and crossing the river.

RyanIsHungry & Asher


RyanIsHungry & Asher
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Today Wendy and I drove to Mimbres, NM with the RyanIsHungry crew. They interviewed Asher Gelbart about his veggie oil life of WVO and biodiesel sales. Also about his goals of selling veg generated based electricity back to the grid and algae production.

Raised Bed


Raised Bed
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy is making a raised bed for summer growing on the east side of our trailer. This will get minimal direct light due too shading of trees and trailer. We expect this raised bed to do well in the summer since the sun cannot scorch it with middayand afternoon heat.

Red Wigglers


Red Wigglers
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
A neighbor of ours Jason has been breeding worms for gardeners. Wendy and I converted a old cooler to host our slimy friends and encourage them to multiply. We used 2.5 gallon plastic jugs filled with partially broken down compost so that we could separate "tea" from the compost.

20080401

A Thief


A Thief
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Around lunch time I found a blind women in the yard picking from our
broccoli rab plant.

It turned out to be my girlfriend and we had a great lunch of lentils,
rice, ad garlic fried broccoli.

Cold Frame Progress


Cold Frame Progress
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
This is one of three of our cold frames. The seedlings have been
planted for about 12 days and are coming along well.

Herb Garden


Herb Garden
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Checkout or grey water herb garden.