20100131

Seed Swap in Las Cruces


Seed Swap in Las Cruces
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

A blog reader turned us onto a seed swap taking place in the nearby town of Las Cruces. We packed up our favorite seeds and made a plan to check out the brew shop, dog park, and fabric store. The seed swap had really strong attendance a few people we had even met at other events in TorC. It was impressive to sea the serious gardeners show up with half gallon bags of seed for various crops.

Seed Swap in Las Cruces #2 Seed Swap in Las Cruces #3

PV System Prepped


PV System Prepped
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

This is my neighbor Michael who I helped put together a small 205W PV Solar system for. This will be installed in a remote cabin, but we did all the cable making and tested all of the equipment in town to avoid multiple trips to his cabin and back. The install went smoothly without any sort of complications. The price of the system came to about $2,000 which includes the Evergreen 205W PV panel, charger controller (Xantrex C40), Inverter (Magnum 612), and a pair of new golf cart batteries. It's a small system, but pretty much all anyone needs assuming they have other ways to deal with heating and cooling their living space. The equipment is mounted in a old dresser drawer and the batteries in a ice chest.

20100129

Public Domain Research Project. . Whew!

Now that I have the mechanics of silk sreening I have found that finding images in the public domain was a whole new research project. Since I spent two days coming up with these lists, in the spirit of public domain, I thought I'd share them with ya'll in case your interested. These links are all for images of various kinds in the public sphere. It'll take an hour to embed these so you'll have to take em as they are.

http://www.morguefile.com/ http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/graphics/photos/ http://arthist.cla.umn.edu/aict/index.html http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/ http://phil.cdc.gov/Phil/quicksearch.asp http://www.fws.gov/digitalmedia http://ihm.nlm.nih.gov/luna/servlet/view/all http://rs6.loc.gov/amhome.html http://www.metmuseum.org/works_of_art/collection_database/ http://digital.nypl.org/mmpco/ http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/index.cfm http://netvet.wustl.edu/pix.htm http://www.extremeintellect.com/ei2007/clipartroyaltyfreephotosimages/clipartpicturesdrawingspublicdomain.html http://digital-image-collections.wikispaces.com/Renaissance http://www.religion-cults.com/art.htm http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/ http://karenswhimsy.com/public-domain-images/ http://www.openclipart.org/ http://www.archive.org/index.php http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain_image_resources#Historical_images http://www.yestercards.com/ http://www.grandmasgraphics.com/index.php http://www.smithsonianmag.com/

20100128

Quickie Soft Measuring Tape Mod


I've been reading all day, getting ready to write a review of The Long Descent by Greer, an excellent book on peak oil and human nature. I will post the review when finished. I needed a break so I made a new measuring tape. I find myself walking around the house with a tape around my neck all the time. It seems that I need to measure things constantly. For this satisfying and quick project I started off with a plastic coated tape used for sewing and a ribbon (mine from garage sales) of equal width. I sewed the two together by sewing up one side of the tape and down the other. I tabbed each end. Now the tape is a tape on one side and sweet embroidered flowers on the other. Ahhhh. There's something about this simple mod that makes the tape way way more enjoyable to carry and use. I couldnt help but think this would be a great quick gift for friends who sew, or who measure a lot of stuff!

Silk Screening w/ Yudu Part III Day III

Well I've done it. I made a screen. Whew. . . For this first screen I used some public domain botanical art and added my own text to it. Here's what I learned for those using the Yudu: * when placing the emulsion on the screen keep the room DARK * over wet the screen, I recommend a spray bottle, on both sides before applying emulsion. get out every bubble and spider vein by applying water where you see them and squeeging them out * dry the screen forever: at least 4 to 5 rounds on the fan setting * make sure your art has fat lines. you can use a sharpie on the transparency to fatten them up

Fixed Another iRobot


Fixed Another iRobot
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

After my recent victory in converting my iRobot Roomba to lithium I decided to keep at it and switch the mopper robot (Scooba) which also had a weak Ni-MH battery pack. I wouldn't be able to smuggle this onto a airline flight with it's shady look and cracked case, but it sure lasts. The mopper has been running for nearly two hours and is still cleaning my bamboo floors. I don't think many people attempt the scooba repack because there are no screws. No problem I have tape. I would have used acetone to "plastic weld" the seems, but I was unable to locate my bottle I keep in the toolshed.

Fixed Another iRobot #2 Fixed Another iRobot #3 Fixed Another iRobot #4 Fixed Another iRobot #5 Fixed Another iRobot #6 Fixed Another iRobot #7

20100127

Winter Greens!

I've been enjoying our winter greens. This year we planted arugula, broccoli, bok choy, celery, and lots of lettuces in our cold frame. The cold frame's sides are wide open and basically just have glass covering the top and everything is growing like crazy! It seems to hold the daytime heat through the night. Yahoo! Greens in the winter!

20100126

Silk Screening w/ Yudu Part II Day II

I knew that the Yudu instructions were not worth using. I'd been warned. But in order to learn what to change about the instructions one must do it, fail and do it again. This morning I read a bunch of blogs and watch youtube instructionals made by folks who've already done some troubleshooting. Today I did burn a screen! Half my art worked but that had more to do with my poor selection of appropriate images and less to do with the machine. I have not yet inked anything, tomorrow's another day. What I've learned so far: when the instructions guide you to wet your screen before laying down the emulsion - use a spray bottle and thoroughly spray the screen. place the emulsion sheet and then wet it again with the spray bottle from the back of the screen and use the squeege to press out ALL and any bubbles, veins, etc. This will cause your screen dry time to be about 4 to 5 times; using the preset fan button you'll need to run it about 5 times. Burning the image into the emulsion: the preset button for this part is an adjustable clock. Set the time for a minimum of 9 minutes. Tomorrow I will try longer as I have a feeling it will work even better. Finally, the lesson learned on art. . . choose art with big fat lines, nothing dotted or small. I did know this but now I realize it's really true! Tomorrow I hope to finally complete the process. More as it comes. . .

iRobot Lithium Repack


iRobot Lithium Repack
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

I repacked my iRobot roomba battery with 8 lithium cells. This is my third repack. Originally I just replaced the bad cell. Then I switched chemistries, dumping the stock charging and using my own. Now I'm on my third repack and decided to spend a little money on fresh batteries. I purchased $45 worth of 2200mAh 3.7V 18650 cells through Amazon. These guys are really performing. The vacuum has no trouble running on carpet / wood floor mixes for well over a hour. My battery pack may look as if I gave it a lobotomy, but it sure beats paying $100 for a lithium pack on-line.

iRobot Lithium Repack #2 iRobot Lithium Repack #3 iRobot Lithium Repack #4 iRobot Lithium Repack #5 iRobot Lithium Repack #6 iRobot Lithium Repack #7 iRobot Lithium Repack #8

F*$K CBS

I dont like to get too into politics on this blog however, should any of our readers still have a TV, you might considering blocking CBS till the end of time. Here's whyLINK

20100125

Silk Screening with the Yudu

Earlier this year I took on a sponsor for Swap-O-Rama-Rama. The company, Yudu makes a machine much like a photocopier only it burns silk screens. Today I'm working on adding botanical drawings (via silk screen) to a canvas image by surrealist painter Remedios Varo, my favorite painter of all time. I have a feeling that I'll wreck a couple of screens before achieving success, we'll see. More as it comes. . . Oh, one thing I like very much about Yudu is that they make water based paints. A nice addition to the silk screen world.

PV Install #3


PV Install #3
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Helped my neighbor make up some heavy duty cables for his remote PV Install. We used 1/0 welding wire for the batteries and 6 AWG for the rest of the connections. This is a small 205W off-grid installation.

DIY Dormant Oil - Fruit Trees

This year I got on top of pruning and prepping my trees right on time. I pruned them about a week ago. Today I made a homemade Dormant oil. I looked into commercially made Dormant oil and found it was pretty toxic. The oil I made included the following ingredients: veg oil (1 cup), gallon water, few tablespoons of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and dr. bronners soap. I think my pear trees have blight or some microbe that turns the leaves black and curly. I hope this helps! Anyway I made the mix in a 1gal sprayer and it worked great!

Arnica!

I recently pulled a long muscle along my side body. It was pretty severe and even limited my ability to lift my leg and bend. I chose to treat it specifically with arnica by orally taking it in the form of a homeopathic pellet and also topically with Weleda's Arnica oil. I was delighted and surprised by how quickly a very painful muscle tenderness healed. I would say that each day the soreness and immobility reduced itself by about 50%. In just three days I'm good as new. I created a tincture and homeopathic remedy collection this year and it's served me well. My favorite is calendula tincture which heals wounds very fast! You might also notice in the picture that I've got the 1918 influenza in there. Theory goes that if we had a flu outbreak it can be diluted to assist a great many in boosting their immune system towards a flu. I'm glad I did not have to test that theory yet.

20100124

30 Bottles of Wine on the Wall


30 Bottles of Wine on the Wall
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Wendy and I finally did it. We made our first big batch of wine. We capped 30 750ml bottles last night in about two hours. It was a fun learning experience and upon waking up this morning I spent another $90 on bottling equipment for the next few rounds. This wine is a Pinot Noir from a $85 kit. That comes to only $2.83 per bottle excluding the cost of wine making gear and our time. Perhaps the highlight yesterday was cleaning up the dumpstered wine bottled. We just tossed them all into our hot tub and worked away on the labels while soaking.

30 Bottles of Wine on the Wall #2 30 Bottles of Wine on the Wall #3 30 Bottles of Wine on the Wall #4 30 Bottles of Wine on the Wall #5 30 Bottles of Wine on the Wall #6 30 Bottles of Wine on the Wall #7

20100123

Capacitive Battery Charger


Capacitive Battery Charger
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

My friend Asher who originally turned me onto the concept of desulfating batteries has recently introduced me to the idea of making a capacitive battery charger. This charger offers constant current and reasonable flexibility (when batteries are attached in series the voltage is automatically increased). The downside of such a charger is that it cannot be used in combination with existing chargers like a PV Solar system or golf cart charger. Capacitive chargers can trickle/pulse a battery with a minimum of materials. Although once you start attaching meters for voltage/current monitoring it costs about the same as a desulfator. You can learn more about capacitive charging from Eagle Research.

Capacitive Battery Charger #2 Capacitive Battery Charger #3

Battery Shelves


Battery Shelves
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

I spent some time reorganizing my battery inventory. I have about two dozen batteries that I like to continuously desulfate. The shelves we recently made for our temporary refrigerator are not in use yet as our current fridge is managing to still run on about 1300W a day. Since the shelves are free I started relocating some of my better golf cart batteries indoors for desulfation and trickle charging.

Battery Shelves #2 Battery Shelves #3

20100120

RAW: Coconut Cream Pie


RAW: Coconut Cream Pie
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Our friend Asher guided us through a hands on demonstration of making a coconut cream pie using primarily desiccated coconut and fruit. This is one unbelievable concoction. It's all that I've eaten today (3 helpings).

A Dead Compressor


A Dead Compressor
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

Our refrigerator has been making funny noises for the last few months. I am meticulous about cleaning the coils and thought this was some sort of ice maker event. This week the compressor appears to have died and I was out in the yard at 7 AM building emergency food shelves in the battery dome to act as our temporary refrigeration unit. At this point we have to make a decision. Do we continue with our "Energy Star" 2000W per day fridge or do we start over with a modified chest freezer with a 200W per day load.

20100117

Battery Desulfators Available


Battery Desulfators Available
Originally uploaded by mikeysklar

At long last I feel confident enough to start shipping the second generation of battery desulfators. I am selling two different models:

1. Mini-D ($75)
2. Battery Deluxe ($115)

Both units come in a beautiful Pelican case. They are essentially the same in functionality. However, the more expensive battery deluxe includes a display which shows battery voltage and temperature. It also comes Xbee ready so with the purchase of $80 of xbee equipment (which I do not sell) this unit can be used as a wireless data logger. As always all the circuit design files and source code are completely open.

Battery Desulfators
BatDLX in Action