20080531

Through the Grape Vine


Through the Grape Vine
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy and I planted four grape vines yesterday. The hope is that the grapes will climb the sides of our shipping container and cover a lattice the runs between the containers. Offering us additional shade and fruit in the warmer months.

Two Pots One Oven


Two Pots One Oven
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I am now able to soak soy beans for soy milk as well as make rice and beans in a separate pot all at once in my small solar oven.

Free Copper Tubing


Free Copper Tubing
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
A neighbor found this small roll of copper tubing and tossed it in the back of my truck. This gauge of copper might work well for a parabolic solar concentrator water distiller.

20080529

Balding


Balding
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Yes, I am balding. Fortunately I have maximized my hair growth savings by keeping it in dreaded knots so only the forehead area is significantly effected.

I Like Pinky


I Like Pinky
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Someone painted my trailer pink. I don't want to point fingers, but this young lady with a paint brush and overalls looks quite suspicious.

Swamp Cooler Thermistat


Swamp Cooler Thermistat
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
In the dry climates of the southwest it is quite common to see ventilated boxes on top of homes used to cool them down. These are called swamp coolers and have a water line, pump, pads, and a blower motor inside them. They are simple devices that can pump cool wet air into homes and bring the temperature down about 15 degrees F. It bothered me that there was no way to have the unit shut off so I picked up a fancy digital thermistat designed for swamp coolers for about $65 online. I was showing it to some folks only to find out they sell them at the local hardwawre store for $39. These can save a great deal of energy since a desired temperature can be set and the swamp coolers blower motor only turns on when necessary.

Rusty Motor


Rusty Motor
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
It took me nearly a hour to pull this motor and swap it with another one. I think it was a good call to let this guy have a rest.

20080528

Renewable Energy Group


Renewable Energy Group
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy gave a nice presentation about proposed ordinances for the city of TorC. Things such as PV solar paid through property taxes, grey water ready homes for all new building, and golf carts being used for city transportation.

A New Grow Light


A New Grow Light
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I just completed a 40W LED grow light. This one is about 2,200 lumens and uses a old apple laptop power supply that had a damaged plug. The most painful thing about making these lights is first power on. I keep blinding myself.

20080525

Almonds for Everyone


Almonds for Everyone
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Here is a happy princess and a little tree. Wendy just planed a baby almond tree which we have been told could produce some nuts this year. That is nuts.

Thanks Wind


Thanks Wind
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
After a week of high speed winds we had some repairs to do. Wendy is lowering the height of the bamboo shade structures that cover our raised beds.

20080524

Falling Apart


Falling Apart
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I was asked to try and salvage the data off a old ibook. I spent a few hours taking it apart and getting the drive out. Sadly my firewire enclosure I tried to put the drive in didn't work out. Now I will be waiting for a 2.5" to 3.5" to usb drive connector to arrive.

20080522

Lots of Grapes


Lots of Grapes
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy and I drove out to the Animas Creek Nursery today. It is about twenty miles south of our home. We picked up five different types of grapes to grow between our shipping containers. The larger plant in the passenger seat is a baby almond tree. Our first nut tree which we will plant on Saturday.

No More Meters


No More Meters
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Early this morning I found Ken from the local power company taking out our meters. He asked me how he can get onto the property in the future to reinstall the meters. A lot of residences clear out during the summer heat and shut off their power. I informed him that we were done using grid power and he will not be coming back. Then I gave him a tour of our solar PV setup.

Community Garden Fire


Community Garden Fire
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our local community garden caught fire today. This garden is about a 1/4 mile from our house near the library. We don't have a plot as it is up a big hill. There are debates as to weather it was arson or someone not thinking tossed a cigarette butte in it. Today was dry, hot, and very windy so fire alert was already on high.

Goodbye Power Bills


Goodbye Power Bills
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Unless you live in a small town you probably did not realize how many people pay their bills in person. Today I stopped by our City Utilities office and asked them to pull my electricity meters. They immediately offered to shutoff my water and stop charging for trash setup. I told them "no, just the power".

20080521

More Off Grid


More Off Grid
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We have two different electric services. We initially took half the property off grid which included our trailer. Today, Gerry (our electrician), bridged our service boxes and took the other half of our property off grid. Now all of our energy must be produced by our solar pv array.

One with the Wind


One with the Wind
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
The winds drove us inside early this afternoon. Gusts up to 48mph are just too dangerous to work in. Wendy is attempting to become one with the wind.

20080518

Fire Wood Stack


Fire Wood Stack
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We have been poorly utilizing some of the best shade on our property for the last year. We had a out of control stack of wood that was to be burned in our fire pit scattered all over the shade area. Today Wendy and I made a terrible little stand out of some crell wood and organized all the firewood on it. Now we have a big shady spot to work in! The golf cart was helpful in moving the wood. Tomorrow we will look into making a wagon to drag all our tools around the property.

Apple Tree #4


Apple Tree #4
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We planted our fourth apple tree today. Apple trees should be planted in pairs at a minimum to help with pollination. We have a total of four apple trees. This autumn harvest could be crazy when all this fruit comes in.

Clay Delivery


Clay Delivery
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We received 3 tons of some really high grade clay. Our friend Jason is selling/bartering it out of Palomas Canyon which is about twenty minutes from us. This clay will be replacing our Portland cement usage in our papercrete.

20080516

Nice Day


Nice Day
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We finally had a day of amazing weather. It was nice and cool not even reaching 70F. No ridiculous high winds. Even a few brief rain showers so we actually had humidity.

Lester


Lester
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We bought a old like 50 years old golf cart battery charger. It didn't have a plug that was compatible with our cart. I hacked up a old washing machine plug and cut the ground on off of it to fit our old Melex gold cart. We managed to save a few hundred dollars by modifying a old ebay charger.

In Touch Story

My ruler tattoo somehow showed up in a ridiculous glossy magazine. I would not have even known about if my x-girlfriend "stinky" didn't come across it in a nail salon. I suspect some photos of Wendy hanging out on Brad Pitts yacht will show up next month.

20080515

Urbanite


Urbanite
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
While walking home from dinner Wendy was smiling at me. I asked her why we was smiling. I soon figured it out. She tricked me into picking up old broken chunks of concrete "urbanite" and bringing them back to our place to be used as walk ways.

Mycelium Running


Mycelium Running
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I have been waiting almost a week for this book to arrive. Paul Stamets solutions to saving the planet with the help of mushrooms.

OMG! More Fruit Trees


OMG! More Fruit Trees
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We now have about twenty fruit trees on our property. It is time to get into canning. Today we picked up two apple trees and one apricot. They are all fruiting and about five years old. Our neighbors got evicted and were nice enough to let us have them.

High Fructose


High Fructose Isle
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Oh, wait. Most of the rows in a standard grocery store are just selling high fructose. This one is just brighter.

20080513

Broiler Off


Broiler Off
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Here is a view of the grow light while turned off. Makes it a little easier to see what is going on.

Broiler Illuminated


Broiler Illuminated
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Today I turned on the 30W Cree based LED grow light I made out of thrift store equipment. I am still seeing green spots from just taking pictures of it. The boiler pan was $1 and the power supply about $0.25 from a old laptop. The 15 red Cree's and 5 blue Cree's came to about $100 with shipping. I did spend $15 on some 18 gauge hookup wire and a terminal strip from radio shack.

A Womens Touch


A Womens Touch
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We have quite a few Mulberry trees on our property, but they do not produce any fruit. A neighbor of ours ripped out a tree and helped us plant this female Mulberry today that is already starting to fruit.

Bamboo Shade


Bamboo Shade
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy was getting crazy with the bamboo shade for our plants this afternoon. It looks like something right out of Cambodia. We shall see how it survives the 50mph winds we are getting today.

Grease Go Getter


Grease Go Getter
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
This morning I took off in the golf cart to score some grease. I picked up about six gallons from a local restaurant. It sure was nice to take a silent combustion free ride while picking up my fuel.

20080512

Make Blog


Make Blog
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Not sure how I managed to get on my two favorite blogs today without submitting anything. I guess my tagging of content is improving. Make posted a short video profile of my wacky inventions that was done by Discovery Channel in March 2008.

Made BoingBoing


Made BoingBoing
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Mark Frauenfelder over at Boing Boing was nice enough to post about the PV Solar array that Wendy and I have been living off the last few weeks.

Dome Arches


Dome Arches
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy has been cutting the arches for the dome as I weld them. Today the weather was not so cooperative so I only got 4.5 arches done. We need to make 32 arches to make up the armature of the dome.

The HomeFront


HomeFront
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We just had a greasy band stop by and visit. They were traveling in one of Andy Reitz's Green Vans from Boston. The band "The HomeFront" got hooked up with 70 gallons of Waste Veggie Oil.

20080511

Big Plants - Big Problems

We got a velvet mesquite tree from a local nursery. When these trees are young they have incredibly sharp spikes on all the branches. At one point we were lowering it into a 3 foot deep hole and it fell on Wendy. I could have helped her and immediately removed the tree. Instead I thought that it was a "Kodak moment" and took time to document the disaster. This tree makes for excellent flour and a natural sweetener.

Getting Jiggy


Getting Jiggy
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy and I spent most of this weekend building a jig. This device will help us bend and weld rebar in a precise manner. We are making 32 arches for each guest room dome. I made one arch today after finishing the jig. We shall see if I can make another 31 arches over Monday and Tuesday. I like how the look of the triangle holders. They do a reasonable job of letting us place and remove rebar without too much fuss.

Shade Mode


Shade Mode
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our cold frame vegetable garden has transitioned into shade mode. We have not had a significant amount of rain for almost nine months. We do not have to worry about missing out on rain water with the glass on top.

20080509

Prefab Party


Prefab Party
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our trailer had been looking pretty beat down since we bought the place. Wendy started painting it today. I helped her with trim and flashing and we got a better looking trailer as a result. It reminds us both of a prefab now based on the colors.

Solar Golf Cart


Solar Golf Cart
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Since our property is now powered by solar panels pretty much everything we do ends up being solar powered. A issue came up with charging our new golf cart. The problem is that the golf carts system is 36VDC. Our solar panels run at 48VDC. The inverters output 110VAC or 220VAC. I quickly ordered a used golf cart charger from ebay, but since I wanted to keep on driving the golf cart until the charger arrived. I rigged this up. Three 15W solar panels in series. They got the battery up from 36VDC to 38.6VDC today. I want each cell to hit 2.3V which means 41.4V is max charge. I'm going to let it charge all tomorrow and see how it does.

Worm Migration


Worm Migration
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Our worm bin is doing great. I decided to take a handful of worm castings and worms and toss them around one of our raised beds. We are probably producing over 1lb of usable worm castings a week for our garden.

20080508

Out and About


Out and About
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We took our first trip in the golf cart to the local health food store for fake ice cream.

Connections


Connections
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
This afternoon I picked up some 6 gauge battery cable, lugs, an heat shrink. I made several custom battery cables for the golf cart.

New Batteries


New Batteries
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
We loaded the golf cart up with 6V batteries this morning. I was thinking about using old "dead" batteries, but eventually caved and spent a lot of dough on a new set.

20080507

Broiler Grow Light


Broiler Grow Light
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
I have been working on a simple high powered grow light. This one I just started putting together. It will be about 33W of energy, but equal to that of 330W of HPS/HID lighting. It uses 15 red Cree LEDs and 5 blue Cree's. I just used lexel to adhere the LEDs at to the broiler pan which will act as a heat sync. Now I need to wire up the LEDs, resistors, and power supply to test it out.

Fake Turkey Dinner


Fake Turkey Dinner
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar
Wendy thought this stuff Tofurkey product was very funny so we are having it for dinner. I cooked it for about three hours in the sun oven. This is before cooking.