Turquoise Energy Ltd. News #108
  covering January 2017 (posted  February 5th 2017)
Victoria BC
by Craig Carmichael

www.TurquoiseEnergy.com = www.ElectricCaik.com = www.ElectricHubcap.com = www.ElectricWeel.com

Month In Brief (Project Summaries)
- Improved CNC Router - CNC Gardening Machine - Electric Suzuki Swift Notes - Moving to Haida Gwaii Halts Projects - Improved Solar Panel Cover Glasses? - Solar Cells & Panels for Electric Truck

In Passing (Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)
- Replacing Plastic Bags - Shower Nozzles - Pro-baa-baa-ly not Funny

- In Depth Project Reports -

Electric Transport - Electric Hubcap Motor Systems (no reports)

Other "Green" Electric Equipment Projects (see Month in Brief)

Electricity Generation
* Making Piggott Generator - continued

Electricity Storage - Turquoise Battery Project (NiMn, NiNi, O2-Ni), etc. (no reports)

January in Brief

   As expected, I did a lot more packing than project work in January. There's only one short "Detailed Project Report", so I'm sending it in the e-mail as well as posting it online.
Details are there.

A wound coil, sitting on the former it was wound on

Improved CNC Router

   My friend Bill who made the CNC drill/router which I bought from him and have been employing for several years now, phoned me on the 23rd and
said he had acquired a commercially made CNC router in an estate sale. He was interested in swapping it with me for his creation. I had already packed his in the container, but it wasn't buried behind anything yet. The next day I went out to his farm to have a look. It was smaller and lighter, but I decided it would probably suit my purposes better. (And it would take less space in the shipping container!) The big machine, priceless to have but used only occasionally, had taken up 1/4 of my entire machine shop floor space, counting the computer and a place to work at it. And with all the struts low to the floor it was almost impossible to clean up the shavings under and behind it. It would do work up to about 30" * 30", where the new one was only about 22" * 22". But after my experience with the "Electric Weel" and all the tolerance and fitting problems with a machine that size, I don't think I'll want to create any machine that large again anyway. A double size "Electric Hubcap" would be about tops, and that would be about 21".
   A major hitch with all the equipment Bill had acquired at this sale was that all the cables were missing, doubtless along with many other bits and pieces. Those handling the estate were very careless, considering that everybody has had things that have become garbage because of a missing cable or power adapter (or some 'trivial' broken piece), and should know enough to keep everything together. It will be a headache to set it up and get it working. But perhaps good practice, for the next item below, CNC Gardening.
   Once it is working, the controller has 4 stepper motor drivers instead of 2, so it can can have proper "Z" axis - programmable up & down travel - instead of just a pneumatic 'up' or 'down' switch.

CNC Router table.
The router too (not shown) is smaller than the old one, but adequate I trust.
There is no special drill came with it, but it's been a long time since I
used the drill, and holes can be made in plastic with the router.)

The stepper motor controller for the 'new' router. Front, Rear views.

CNC Gardening Machine

   This project idea, long set aside, came suddenly to the fore again on the 24th when I went to look at the 'new' CNC router. Bill had acquired a stair lift used for the handicapped, and asked, "Can you think of a use for this?" The track was about 11 feet long with a housing having a motor and gear that drove the housing along the track's linear rail gear. I immediately said I would use it as a gantry and turret for a CNC gardening machine. Although they were in fact doing market gardening where Bill was living, he didn't think they'd be interested in that. Their garden was too large anyway. But it coincided with my thoughts that I might want to do just a bit of market gardening myself once I was settled in my new location - especially if a machine made it as easy to do a big garden as a small one. He gave it to me as part of the deal. I know someone who was in the business... I wonder if I can get another extension piece(s) to make it twice or three times as long?

   Then Bill showed me some "Unistrut" steel tubes, and sets of wheels that fit inside them. The tops of the square "U" shape were bent in at 90 degrees, so things can be locked into place with special nuts on the inside. The wheel sets made to fit inside this system, attached to the gantry on the top, can only come out at the ends. This would be an advantage over the angle iron wheels because they couldn't derail. If bumpy rototilling caused the turret to bounce, the wheels in the track had to stay in the track instead of potentially jumping off the rail. I took two sets of the wheels and some short pieces of the unistruts to use for track.
   That leaves needing something to move the tools up and down, the "Z" axis. Then I could see making a garden maybe 20' x 60' or 30' x 60', with the hard work (tilling) and tedious operations (like watering) exactly where the plants were planted, being done for me. Once programmed, of course.

Electric Suzuki Swift Notes

   Checking distances, I decided I shouldn't try driving the Swift 60 Km out to Bill's farm and back. Theoretically doable, but one wants a reserve to be sure not to harm the batteries. I'd have wanted to charge it at Bill's for at least 2 hours to be safe before returning, and I didn't know how long I would be there. It's a great car for around town, but for trips over about 40 kilometers it comes up short. (This decision turned out to be fortunate. I took my "new" Dodge Caravan, which I bought for towing my electric vehicles to Haida Gwaii, and I needed all its considerable space to bring home all my CNC booty!)
   Now I'm considering that I'll be between towns on Haida Gwaii, and that it'll be about 50 Km to Queen Charlotte town (where there are some stores including a building supply) and back. It would be nice to have more than the 10 KWH of battery storage on board. No doubt I can charge for an hour in town somewhere to make the trip doable. But I think I'll give thought to putting more capacity than that in the Sprint assuming I ever get it running. Ideally it would be great to have the run of the island by EV, or at least to be able to drive to Masset and fully recharge there somewhere.
   Performance-wise, one does notice in both the Sprint and in the Miles truck that take-off from a stop is more gradual than with a DC motor. Once moving along, that sluggishness disappears.

Moving to Haida Gwaii Halts Projects

   In addition to taking up most of my time, as I pack things away in the shipping container, I don't have available what I need to do projects. I packed up the milling machine, rotary table et al, so there'll be no more gear cutting until I'm set up in the new location.
   And I packed up the chemicals et al so there can be no more new chemistry battery experiments. But Leonardo sent an e-mail suggesting a way to dope graphite felt with nitrogen (heat in microwave 10 minutes in urea) to make it a catalyst for oxygen reduction for the air side of the battery. If it would also eliminate the self discharge it would change everything.
    Along with the CNC equipment, Bill also gave me an ultrasonic plastic welder that he had acquired along with the other things. If I can get it to work, it could be useful for various cases potentially including battery cases. But it's just a box with connectors - there must be vital parts missing that connect to it, that I might or might not be able to buy from the manufacturer if I decide I want to weld plastic.

Improved Solar Panel Cover Glasses?

   When I emptied out the cupboard with my early (2010?) experiments with creating a nanocrystalline titanium dioxide borosilicate glaze for solar panel cover glass, I gave it some thought. Solar panels have only become cheaper and far more widespread since then. I still had a couple of the little final "glaze mix 9" tiles. How close was I to having improved the state of the art for solar panels? All I needed to do was to grind some glaze off the tile, sprinkle it onto a piece of glass, and put it in the kiln so the high refractive index glass powder melted into the surface of the glass, making something like a microscopic version of pebbly concrete texture.
   This would result in far less reflection of light coming from angles other than straight on. Instead most of it would be refracted to a steeper angle before it went through the glass to hit the photo surface behind it. Indications were it might improve collection over a day by 20% to as much as 40%, with perhaps the biggest increase occurring in diffuse light on cloudy days.

   The problems at the time were first that I had had no real plan and didn't even realize the obvious best use of what I had created until later when I had moved on to other things, and second that I was trying to make dye sensitized solar cells at the same time, with an idea or two for improving those. That involved trying to coat a glass surface (the under side) with titanium dioxide. (Yes the same substance as in the glaze.) Trying to coat both sides of the piece of glass, both involving kiln operations, it would be risky trying to do the second side without wrecking the first side. Theoretically, the conductive coating on the back is done at a lower temperature, but it would risk ruining the "pebbly" glaze doing it. I was definitely trying to do too many things at once! Another factor was that I didn't know one could buy the silicon solar PV cell elements without a glass cover. I've heard since that you can, tho I never looked for them.
   Perhaps I'll get back to this: grind the frit and coat a glass to the pebbly texture, then
order some solar panel elements and set them behind glasses with and without the texture, and measure relative performance at various angles of sunlight, and in diffuse sky light with clouds. It would seem to be a shame to pass up a chance to improve the state of the art in this increasingly widespread field. Then again, one can only take on so much.
    On February 3rd I looked them up at AliExpress and found some sources for raw, uncovered solar cells. Small ones were "dirt cheap" and I ordered a package of 100, 38mm x 19mm. (I should probably have ordered some of the special flat solar cell connector wire, too.)

Solar Cells & Panels for Miles Electric Truck

   While I was at AliExpress, I checked for whole panels and found 100 watt panels listed "on sale" for 141$ Canadian, free shipping. The price seemed good and I ordered 5 for the Miles Electric Truck. The plan is, as described in testing in an earlier issue, that 2 panels doesn't quite have the voltage to charge 36 volt batteries, which need up to 42 volts to charge, even for a trickle charge. (It might just work if they are straight on to bright sunlight with no haze.) Likewise 4 panels isn't quite enough for the truck's 72 volts. The 5th panel raises the voltage enough to ensure the truck will charge under most typical sunny conditions (if it's not parked in the shade). Maximum power point in full sunlight is about 18.6 volts. Mostly the sun will be at an angle so call it 17 volts. 5 * 17 = 85 volts; 84 is required for strong charging.
   The size of the panels was 997mm * 665mm. If 3 of the panels are placed side by side from front to back, that's 2 meters long and a meter wide. If the other 2 are placed end to end, that's 2 meters long by 2/3 of a meter wide for a 'perfect' rectangle of 1-2/3 meters by 2 meters. The truck roof is just big enough with two panels overhanging one side a bit. Up to 500 watts of charging even while driving will actually increase the driving range a little on sunny days. (It's a pity the roof of the Swift is too small to hold more than a couple of hundred watts of panels.)

   To continue with the truck, I expect it to be useful at Lawn Hill, and I hope to disassemble the transmission once I'm there and make it able to shift into a higher gear to do higher speeds, with a two-speed stick shift - maybe going between 2nd and 4th. (Of course if I get the efficient variable transmission working and some sort of production, I'll replace the present transmission entirely and get more range as well as more effective power and speed.)
   I also hope to buy a set of replacement golf cart batteries for it, not filled with acid, and have them there to install and fill after the current set wears out. The present ones are only 180 amp-hours, while most new ones are 220-245 amp-hours, so the present range (whatever it is) will be increased when they are changed.

In Passing
(Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)

Replacing Plastic Bags

   I saw a video article somewhere (RT?) about a new type of organically derived material invented in India, created to replace plastic bags. These bags, which are for sale and in use, are more or less like plastic bags to use, but if they get wet they disintegrate. If I recall correctly, they're even edible. I don't know what they cost, but a few cents more would be worth it for the reduced litter.
   I tried to find the article again. Instead I found multiple efforts here and there of people trying to find ways to replace plastic bags, mostly with organic substances. But the only ones in use were the Indian ones.
   Given the huge and increasing amount of plastic littering the environment, any sensible alternatives should be carefully examined. I can stoop down most anywhere in my yard and see little bits of plastic. I've been picking each little bit up of late, but it's everywhere. My favorite technique is to reuse clean plastic bags - keep some in the car or stuff a couple in my pocket when I'm walking to a grocery. My other favorite is to put wood chips or sawdust in them and burn them, since polyethylene burns clean. The wood bits would make a mess around the wood stove if they were shoveled into the stove instead of being contained in a bag. Occasionally I actually run short of plastic grocery bags, but I confess it's usually a surplus from forgetting to bring them into the grocery.

Shower Nozzles

   A while back I did a short video about the "Waltec 10C" shower nozzle. It seemed to me to be the most water conserving one. Thinking to take these nozzles with me when I move (as they don't seem to be available any more), I bought a cheapest shower nozzle at Wallmart to try out and replace one of them. The package made no claims, but it didn't seem half bad compared to many.

   I check shower flow rate by having a shower with the plug in the tub and a clock in sight, then emptying out the water in a large 11.4 liter ice cream bucket that scoops it up nicely even to the last cup. It doesn't have gradations, but I figure I estimate the water in it pretty well, and of course the shower is averaged over several minutes. For myself, I ended up using about 5-1/2 liters of water a minute instead of 4 to 4-1/2 - still less than the 9 liters per minute advertised as being "water conserving".
   I didn't like it much at any lower flow. I put the Walltec 10C back on and figured out that its spray was more coarse, with each little stream of water delivering hitting the skin with some pressure. The Wallmart one gave a finer, more 'misty' spray - more streams of water but with no pressure behind them, where one didn't feel any individual jets of spray - more like rain. The Waltec spray had more force than the Wallmart even when turned down to about 3-1/2 liters a minute.

   But the 10C is only water conserving when adjusted to its smallest opening. Otherwise, it can easily be adjusted to gush a lot of water. And that's just how my renters used it. So I put the Wallmart one in the other shower. The report was that it worked fine, but any harsher would be too much. There's probably something to be said for something that can only adjust to within reasonable limits: if you want less power, turn the taps down instead of opening the spray nozzle wide like a fire hose! How it's used makes a lot of difference.

Pro-baa-bly not Funny

   They talk of "bears" and "bulls" on Wall Street. But I have observed that Wall Street is mainly occupied by packs of wolves, who are experts at fleecing the many flocks of sheep who come by thinking they can make some money by investing in the stock market, or at least have their savings keep up with inflation. Too bad about your "bad luck" in the markets, sheep. Sorry your mutual fund "didn't perform". Please come back and try again when you have some more money.

Newsletters Index/Highlights: http://www.TurquoiseEnergy.com/news/index.html

Construction Manuals and information:

- Electric Hubcap Family Motors - Turquoise Motor Controllers
- Preliminary Ni-Mn, Ni-Ni Battery Making book

Products Catalog

(Will accept BITCOIN digital currency)

...all at:  http://www.TurquoiseEnergy.com/
(orders: e-mail craig@saers.com)

Electricity Generation

Improved High-Powered Hugh Piggott Frictionless Axial Flux Alternators


   On the 7th I decided to wind the coils with 3 #14 AWG wires. I started by unwinding three #14 coils from an old Electric Hubcap motor from before the times of using the iron powder cores, one wrapped around a core of nail gun nail strips. It was the first one I had coated with rutile to complete the magnetic circuits within each coil, which had so improved the efficiency. (Ilmenite worked even better and better ways of applying it were found and are in TE News issues somewhere.) They unwound rather easily, and with gloves on I manage to wipe off most of the epoxy shards from along most of the lengths.

   Having no spools to wind them onto, I wound them onto a piece of aluminum pipe in three separate places to wind onto the coils together. I mixed 32g of heat conductive epoxy to glue them together with. As I had anticipated, there wasn't enough wire to wind all 3 coils of a phase, but it did two coils of 21 triple turns with a few turns to spare. I was however vainly wiping the epoxy off the walls of the little cup before I was done trying to get enough. Maybe count on using 20 grams of epoxy per coil.

Wound 2 coils

A coil

A coil with the center removed. The hollow center will provide more cooling surface,
but not so much more as I had imagined beforehand. The fact that the epoxy came
out not completely solid will actually help cooling more - I hope the wires never vibrate loose.

   After removing the coils and setting them into place, they were too fat with 21 turns, nearly an inch instead of 3/4". 4 wires of #15 would have been as large or larger. I could either try gain with 3 wires of #15 AWG, or unwind a couple of turns, making them 19 turns, so that they would fit. The wire connecting the coils seemed a bit short, but a turn unwound form the first coil made it far too long. I decided winding them one at a time and soldering the connections would be easier after all.
   I had no luck finding boron nitride powder to make epoxy heat conductive at the pottery supply, nor did Queale Electronics seem to have heat conductive epoxy any more. I might have to try a lab chemicals company for the BN powder - that'd be a pricey source!


   On the 8th I checked to see how effective the weight saving measures I'd tried were - the holes and the "scalloped" outer edge. The rotor, about 6 millimeters smaller diameter than the old one, weighed 2560g. (another was 2660.) The old one, even with its larger center hole, was 3390g. At least 1-1/2 pounds or so were saved. I'll call that successful!

   As the month wore on realized I wasn't getting packed quickly enough for my move. I decided I just didn't have time to continue, and finally I packed up the coil winding tools, wire and epoxy. To be continued, at Lawn Hill!

Victoria BC Canada