Turquoise Energy Ltd. News #118
covering March 2018 (Posted April 3rd)
Lawnhill BC Canada
by Craig Carmichael

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

Month In Brief (Project Summaries etc.)

Special Feature: The Fantasy Budget!  What if someone offered me a fortune for the purpose of helping to improve the world?

In Passing (Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)
  - The need for teaching the core values of social sustainability
  - Inbread humour?
- Project Reports -

Electric Transport - Electric Hubcap Motor Systems
* Chevy Sprint: Battery placement - Motor Controller
* A BLDC Motor Disassembly

Other "Green" Electric Equipment Projects
* Carmichael Mill ("Bandsaw Alaska Mill")
* "The Indoor Vegetable Garden" - Year round gardening with LED Lights! (and other gardening)
* LED Light Making Update (how the ones I made some years ago are faring now - dimming - repairs)

Electricity Generation
* Small Creek - And Larger - Hydro Power Units? - The spiral staircase "Turbine Pipe" with "Intake Head"

Electricity Storage - Turquoise Battery Project (NiMn, NiNi, O2-Ni), etc.
* Doped conductive coating separates graphite current collector from electrode
* Ethaline DES with potassium oxalate and calcium hydroxide electrolyte
* Nickel-Nickel test cell seems to work! (real, practical cells for EV.s now seem possible)
* Use NO Graphite or conductive carbon black powder - It caused the self discharge in all those previous cells

March in Brief

   For this newsletter I've done something I should probably have done quite some time ago as the newsletter length grew, and put links from the table of contents to each section.

"reflective" white wall paint; blueberries and strawberries planted

   Whereas most of February was too cold to work out in the shop, March got warm and sunny on many days and seemed ideal for outdoor work and gardening - so I still wasn't in the shop much and I didn't get the bandsaw mill done. I picked away at the Chevy Sprint electrifying project on many or most days (along with yard work and other things), for some time mostly just figuring out where the batteries could go. And I wrote up a "dream budget" so as not to be caught by complete surprise just in case some wealthy philanthropist should ask me how much was needed and what would be done if he gave me some money to pursue groundbreaking projects and products in a big way. Before mid month I was doing a lot of stuff outdoors and "project time" continued to suffer.

   Nevertheless, March saw some interesting and even exciting developments.
 - I thought up a new design, the turbine pipe, as a base for flowing water hydro power production, especially for either small creeks or floating hydro units.
 - Jim Harrington and I had both been experimenting with growing vegetables indoors with LED lighting. We had concentrated on the lights. But now that I've been eating lettuce started in January and I see what actually works and is needed, I started thinking it would be ideal to offer a "complete solution" LED Indoor Garden. I started to realize there's potential for selling literally millions of them, so erstwhile indoor gardeners don't have to "re-invent the wheel" to start growing their greens indoors in the winter.
 - And then, the very occasional formulation and testing I've been doing has at last apparently yielded nickel-nickel batteries that hold a charge, with all the potential that holds for electric transport and other battery uses.

   These developments and other thoughts had me revising the "fantasy budget" several times.

Carmichael Mill

   Along the way I ran across some great parts I could adapt for making adjustable band guides on the "bandsaw alaska mill", so the band could be carefully aimed, adjusted with a thumb screw as required to cut straight, without removing the saw from the cut. They were a particular model of pickup truck "canopy clamp" with a pivot hinge. I started adapting the first one on the 11th then got sidetracked.

Small Creek... or larger... Hydro Power Units?

   I had puzzled at how one might extract electricity from the shallow creeks nearby, and I finally came up with an idea, and one thought led to another. The final version was, Why have a floating unit in such shallow water?; use a screened funnel upstream entrance to keep crap out and concentrate more water; that would feed an enclosed "turbine pipe" with several "spiral staircase" propellers along its length. Surely one could come up with some sort of small, portable low voltage unit, easily set into place in rapids on a creek bed?
   The (12 volt) power cord would be tied to a tree or whatever both for connection and to ensure the unit can't get washed away if it comes loose. Then it would be carried into the rapids and set down. Any rocks holding it out of the water could be shifted, ideally setting it down low, perhaps even forming something of a trench. Rocks could be set on flanges at the intake funnel, or on the pipe, to hold it in place, or stakes pounded in. The steeper the pipe can be angled from intake to outlet, the faster the flow will be, hence the deployment in "rapids" or a fast flowing place.
   Sticking to a very small, basic unit, this could be a fairly quick and simple demo or an off-grid home power project.

   Over the next days I thought of more and more variations on the design. The generator could sit on top of the pipe, connected to the shaft with pulleys or by a "U-joint" at 45°.
   This configuration with the "turbine pipe" and a water concentrating intake soon became the center of my thoughts for any hydro power unit, small or floating, and whether the pipe was 4 inches diameter by 3 feet long for a creek or 4 feet by 30 for a substantial river. For a floating unit, the floats merely had to keep the pipe at or near the surface and prevent it from spinning, making their design and construction simple. (See the long version under Electricity Generation.)

Chevy Sprint Electrification

   On this I first figured out where to mount the batteries. I made a battery shelf for 12 cells under the hood and a level styrene foam cushion for the spare tire well for 24 cells in the rear. Then I did a "cargo floor" - a cover over the batteries in the rear, and I set them in place and (having two types of somewhat different shaped lithium ion cells) figured out optimum positioning.
   On the 21st the motor controller and programmer arrived and I started wiring the controller up. I used the plate with circuit breaker, contactor relay, car key relay et al that I had made for and used with the Kelly controller, but I decided to put it inside the car behind the firewall. That complicated things a little, but it won't get road dust, water and de-icing salt in it! Then I turned it around for better access and wire routing... and had to redo the heavy wires. In the last two days of March I got it wired up and tried it. But something isn't right, as the controller keeps shutting the power off when I try to drive.

Nickel-Nickel Batteries

   I found my old bottle of acetal ester and doped some with osmium powder to try out for thin-film positive electrode current collector coatings so the current collector substance (whatever may be used?) wouldn't corrode away or cause self discharge, and painted it onto the graphite foil. (If there are any gaps, at least graphite won't corrode away like metal would.) I finally got the cell back together to try it out on the 25th, which of course got me working on the project again. After adding some more potassium oxalate and ethaline DES, it seemed to hold a charge! And with a couple of other steps in the next days, performance improved. But when I added some "conductive carbon black" it started having the same nasty self discharge as my previous cells. It was a graphic demonstration of the deleterious effect graphite and carbon had been having on my cells. With the monel "solid solution" mix it can work without the graphite. So, with the osmium doped conductive film to separate the graphite current collector from the electrode, the positive electrode mix I made a long time ago, potassium oxalate and calcium hydroxide electrolyte in ethaline DES, I finally seem to have a working formula for nickel-nickel batteries. There don't seem at this point to be any remaining important problems. Real, practical batteries then should be just a few steps away, really for optimization. They should be better (and cheaper) than lithium types.

   But it all takes time. I may try making one cell with properly compacted powders sometime to be really sure it works as well as the test cell seems to.

LED Indoor Garden

   After making my "LED light table" in early January, before the end of the month I had planted leaf lettuce. In mid February I planted another box, this time with romaine. By early March I was eating lettuce from the first box. But not before putting the boxes on wheels for access and adding a fan to prevent mold from growing on top of the dirt. In mid March I planted a third box with spinach and another variety of romaine. In the last day or two I started including a leaf of romaine in sandwiches. In addition I started some seedlings in seedling pots and some tomatos in a big pot.
   I started to get the idea that this could be a fabulous product - not just the lights but a complete, ready made "LED Indoor Garden - just add dirt, seeds and water for year round greens." One could optimize it as lessons were learned, and people could start growing without each one having to figure everything out for themselves, find all the parts and do their own wiring. I added it into the "dream budget". On the 24th I took a head of lettuce down to the farmer's market just to show. People seemed suitably impressed. It started to dawn on me that literally millions of people might want them. One lady thought schools would buy them as a classroom educational tool. Exciting idea! And another whole market!

   Somewhere in there I fixed a couple of LED lights I had made some time back, and on April 1st I took apart a BLDC motor and had a good look at it - my quite new washing machine had broken and had to be completely disassembled.

The Fantasy Budget

   The subject came up late last year to consider what a person involved with plans or projects for advancing civilization in some way would do if some philanthropist multi-billionaire decided that some of his fortune should be invested in improving the future of the planet, and offered a virtually unlimited budget to give effect to a program of implementation. The terms would be that the money must put to productive use for the program, the recipient would take only a fair and reasonable salary and not otherwise help themself personally the money offered or to any profits that might accrue. Would we ask for 10 million? 100 million? half a billion? or a whole billion?
   If we asked for too little, it would limit our potential contributions to humanity. If we took more than we could productively use, everything would be subject to cancellation for being wasted. Are these various ideas and projects not priceless, worthy of such an investment? Furthermore, with some of the projects having the potential for swiftly becoming revenue generating, the seed money supplied would surely turn into a self sustaining enterprise and return manifold more fruits than the initial amount.

   Wow - to have the resources to be able to get talented people together as required to go at each project full bore, and to have several things proceeding simultaneously? The ability to develop my ideas multiplied many times over? Wouldn't that really kick-start everything! All those development and research projects that I probably couldn't perfect in my lifetime could rapidly be completed and commercialized! Useful new products and technologies for everyone's benefit!
   Capital to commercialize projects with, and even to get a reasonable salary for what I do, has been beyond my expectations for many years now. The idea of having an unlimited potential budget to go about several things or even everything in a big way I shoved out of my mind. The possibility just seemed so far off the radar screen. Perhaps it still is, but one can hope! The last time I had a salary and a decent budget even to order whatever parts and materials I needed for a project was over 30 years ago (1985-1989), when the facilities manager of the Victoria BC school district, Keith Hawkins, had me hired. There I designed, built, installed and programmed computers to control heating, ventilation and other functions in the schools, when commercially available products were pretty primitive.

   Should this sort of fabulous offer be made to me, where would I even begin to guess how much money to ask for, and how to best put it to use? I decided to focus in on technical and sustainable energy projects and products rather than those ideas for improving democracy and societal concerns. (not that setting up a web site or two for some of those programs might not be equally valuable!) Then I would break it down into very, very rough budgets for each separate project.
   I should point out that all these projects are described in past issues of Turquoise Energy News going back a decade and are not brand new ideas that have recently popped out of my head without having been thought out in some considerable depth for some time, and in most cases have had some actual development to some degree. Many projects have continuing development, physical or conceptual, moving forward from their origin even to this issue. Some projects I have left out as they seem to me to be less valuable or lower priority than those selected.

   I would start with projects I think are most certain to quickly start generating revenue, returns on the investment: the Bandsaw Alaskan Mill, the Indoor LED Garden and the 12 Volt DC plugs and sockets system. But there would be no pause before initiating the various projects that need more development and research. Having multiple projects running at the same time would be a major advantage. Everything could be housed in one facility, or a very small number of facilities next to each other to better utilize resources and minimize fixed costs. There would be one head office and one accounting department for all of them to split these overhead costs between all the projects. And if one project needed more resources (monetary or human) than budgeted, it might borrow persons or funds from another budget as long as everything balanced out. Usually, when a single project start-up business needs more resources than allowed for - as so often happens - it may go broke without success, or dissipate its efforts and "sell the farm" looking for supplementary funding, with progress set far behind. With multiple projects, when one becomes commercially successful, its revenue stream can help the others. If one is seen to be unviable or no longer very valuable in light of other developments, or is not progressing well enough, it can be terminated and its resources and probably valuable personnel shifted to other projects. The enterprise as a whole can become self sustaining before the the initial capital runs low, while R & D for the next products is ongoing.

   The budget amounts are the vaguest of estimates. I decline to write up phony "business plans" that pretend to know in detail how much everything will cost, how long it will take, and how much revenue will be generated and how soon. (Apparently many forward looking investors find formal business plans rather passé now anyway and use other criteria to formulate their decisions.) The total budget is 22 million Canadian dollars. If that figure seems small compared to 100 million or a billion, it's still a lot of money and a lot of good work can certainly be done with it!

Here is the "Table of Contents" short list of the potential projects that I'd like to fund:

Bandsaw Alaskan Mill ("Carmichael Mill"): Manufacturing Business: $5 million
Standardized 12 VDC Plugs, Sockets, Wall plates, Adapters: Production and Marketing: $1 million
Textured Solar Panel Glass to Improve Overall Collection: Development and Production: $1 million
New Chemistry Battery(s): Development: $1 million
Permanent Magnet Assisted Reluctance Motor and Unipolar Motor Controller: Development: $2 million
Ground Effect Aircraft for Islands and Inaccessible Rugged Coastlines: Prototype Development: $4 million
In-Stream "Turbine Pipe" Hydro Power Generators: Development and Production: $2 million
Indoor LED Garden Kit: Development, production and sales: $4 million
Contingency & Optional Projects Reserve: $2 million

Total $22 million

Here are Short Descriptions of each Project or potential Product

Carmichael Mill ("Bandsaw Alaskan Mill"): Manufacturing Business: $5 million

   There are a lot of "knowns" in the bandsaw alaskan mill project with the "unknowns" being relatively few. We know chainsaw alaskan mills work well. We know that bandsaw mills on tracks work well. Combining these into a "Bandsaw Alaskan Mill" is therefore a matter of getting everything right to constitute a good, practical tool rather than explorations into unresearched or undeveloped territory. I've already proven that the first prototype cuts well and is pleasing to use. Business, production design (safety is of course paramount with any saw. This one should be intrinsically safer than a chainsaw mill) and marketing aspects will then be the main focus.
   In the 1990s more than one person estimated (independently of each other) that it would take 5 million dollars to start up my computer operating system business. Here product development will be much faster than in a new software business, but then this will be a manufacturing business requiring a lot more space as well as equipment and the cost of the actual parts inventory for the mills. So it might work out around even. Notwithstanding considerable inflation since then, administrative costs are shared between all the programs. So I'll call it 5 million.
   I believe the market for such saws will be large enough that the initial investment will be recovered in, say three years from the time the first batch of saws is out there and people are seeing them at work. That may be a couple of years from starting up, so give it five years. (Making and selling 7000 mills netting $700 above cost each would just about do it.)
   I think this mill will both open up new markets (people who wouldn't have bought a full-fledged sawmill just for a few logs or even one special one) and replace purchases of the smallest "low end" bandsaw mills on tracks, by being more practical: portability and milling logs without moving them to a sawmill, a lower purchase cost, low maintenance time and cost, and taking up little storage space when not in use.

CAT Standard 12 VDC Plugs, Sockets, Wall plates, Adapters: Production and Marketing: $1 million

   I think there's a big market for something similar to the ubiquitous NEMA standards for 120/240 volt AC plug, socket and wall plate systems, created similarly for DC battery systems for off-grid and portable applications. It's an area with much need and with a gaping vacuum of standards and parts availability. I've created a couple of "standard" 12 Volt DC sets based on "AT" automotive fuse pin and socket design, and I make them on a 3D printer. Real production and marketing would spread their use and make them a real, adopted standard. 24, 36 and 48 volt standards can also easily be created and produced. No one else so far has taken the initiative to create such a thing and manufacture and market the products. With capital, it could easily be done and should be effective. For 12 volt use, adapter plugs can easily give it both-ways backward compatibility with "car cigarette lighter" plugs and sockets, so migration to the new system should be simple and painless. Such 12 volt wiring for buildings can also utilize common and proven electrical boxes (which the faceplates fit on), wire and wiring components and techniques.

Textured Solar Panel Glass to Improve Overall Collection: Development and Production: $1 million

   The nanocrystalline titanium dioxide borosilicate glaze I created some years ago could be developed into a pebbly textured front surface solar panel glass that would increase light collection, especially from scattered and low angle light. The pebbly (little lenses) texture and the high refractive index of nanocrystalline titanium dioxide reduces reflections and bends more light straighter through toward the collector elements. This would increase effective solar collection over a day, including in cloudy conditions when collection is low, making any solar panel more effective overall. Since it hasn't been tried the percentage improvement is hard to determine. It could be anywhere from 10 to 30%. 10% could make it worthwhile; 20% or more much more so.

New Chemistry Battery(s): Development: $1 million

   With capital, a full time real chemist could take my ideas and designs much farther and faster than I have been able to do. In exploring "mildly alkaline" novel electrolytes, I seem to have uncovered not one but several potentially valuable new "better than lithium" battery chemistries that can be worked out. For example using trace additives I got manganese to hold its -1.5 volt metallic charge (world first!) to make nickel-manganese 2.5 volt cells. That's even higher voltage than lead-acid and high enough for digital circuits and to drive LEDs, so one rechargeable "button" or "AA" cell could replace two other cells for many small products, and larger cells should have very high watt-hours for their weight.
   Nickel-nickel has the promise of very high current capacity as well as high watt-hours per weight for electric transport.
   Nickel-air, if it can be made to work, could bring a whole new level of light weight electric transport batteries - a car might run for days before recharging. Nickel has advantages over other metals (eg zinc, iron) for a rechargeable air cell, but the electrolyte is again a key since it won't work in a regular pH 14 alkaline cell.
   Novel chemical developments or ideas to date include the ~-1.5v manganese negative electrode, potassium oxalate for a less alkaline (less caustic) electrolyte (along with calcium hydroxide), possible use of ethaline DES as an electrolyte base with a higher breakdown voltage than water, thin film conductive layer (osmium in acetal polyester) to protect positive electrode current conductors (now testing; looks like it works), chelation of active metals to prevent gradual deterioration with cycling (for everlasting cycle life).

   Taking the chemical techniques developed or attempted so far to practical cells for production and market may well cost substantially more than this budget, but, anticipating a delay before they're developed and ready for production, it might be financed with profits from more immediately salable items. (Or production might be contracted out... to China or ?.)

   And late this very month, I got a nickel-nickel test cell working (here), demonstrating the above theories work. I'm sure this is the chemistry to concentrate on for electric transport. It should be cheaper and better than the lithium types presently in use, and should have higher energy density. Rather than add to the budget, contingency money might go toward setting up for production if it seems warranted.

Permanent Magnet Assisted Reluctance Motor and Unipolar Motor Controller: Development: $2 million

   Here are opportunities to revolutionize the motor industry with exciting new but little explored developments. Different motor types use different types of solid state motor controllers, and the novel reluctance type should be developed along with a controller for it, as a pair.

   The permanent magnet assisted motor has coils with permanent magnets in them as well as electromagnets. Perhaps amazingly, there's no external field if the coil isn't energized, but if it is, the permanent magnets add their field to the electromagnet field, providing more magnetism with less current and power than with an electromagnet by itself. The ultra-efficient operation this provides can drive electric vehicles with less applied electrical power under heavy load conditions, potentially yielding much greater driving range even with present batteries. My "axial flux" reluctance motor designs with large diameter thrust bearings allow for very small gaps between rotor and stator, a critical parameter of effective reluctance motor operation. They are also easily produced, with CNC waterjet cutting of the main metal parts.

   The unipolar motor controller for reluctance motors is a simpler and more reliable design of mine, with half as many active mosfets as other controllers - allowing both forward and reverse motor operation with single ended transistor drivers. Cost is thus intrinsically lower and it should have fewer "failures per zillion hours" of use. And the reluctance motor can run safely and efficiently at very high RPMs, eliminating the otherwise valuable use for variable transmissions in electric vehicles.

(If development goes smoothly, there might be some capital left over to put toward production.)

Ground Effect Aircraft for Islands and Inaccessible Rugged Coastlines: Prototype Development: $4 million

   This is among the potential things to make more of the world more habitable, by making some isolated areas less isolated. The ground effect (or "surface effect") provides much more lift with much less drag and so the craft flies low over water using perhaps 1/3 of the fuel or energy of a regular aircraft. It goes where a boat or ship goes and isn't used over land. The main problem with commercializing ground effect craft has been stability. It's extra critical when flying just over the surface. Some promising testing of "catamaran" types has recently been done by radio control model aircraft builders (see youtube). But features of my "catamaran" designs (which would again first be tested with radio controlled scale models for safety and at low cost) would improve both lateral and longitudinal stability over other types, with a high degree of confidence a practical craft will result.
   The design traps air under itself like a hovercraft. The rear of the central wing and the catamaran side bodies meet at the waterline to form 3 sides of a box, and a retractable flap at the front of the wing extending down the same distance makes the 4th side. Some of the air from the ducted fan propeller is directed into this box. This allows much lower power take-offs, the craft lifting up at low speed like a hovercraft. It starts to fly like a ground effect airplane as it picks up speed (already "airborne"), with the front flap folding up under the wing.

   Developing a practical, safe manned prototype of this sort of larger, more complex product will obviously cost more than for the small items. If this budget takes it only that far and successfully proves the designs involved are practical, it will inspire and should be considered a success. If we can then produce a multi-passenger model for more extensive trials and perhaps to ply a formerly long and tedious commercial ferry route or two, or even a long route where no ferry runs now, that would be marvelous! Seeing them in use might bring in orders for more and larger craft for various such routes. (BC North Coast, between Hawaiian Islands, Norway Coast, Azores Islands, Canary Islands, East Asian coast, Thailand, Philippines...)

In-Stream "Turbine Pipe" Hydro Power Generators: Development and Production: $2 million

   There are designs, computer modelings and a few successful individual projects for making electricity with floating "catamaran" style generators with paddle wheels anchored in rivers. The idea has tremendous potential but no easily replicable or production designs have ever come out. (Wind power was commercialized in Denmark and they soon became the major manufacturer. Flowing water provides continuous power - why should it not be done?)
   This design would do even better. In the "turbine pipe" (written up in this very issue of Turquoise Energy News), the main body of the generator is a length of pipe with a center shaft holding a number of propellers along its length - a "spiral staircase" of propellers. An experiment (youtube) using such a system for a wind plant has shown that this should give "the most bang for the buck" - the most energy from a column of flowing water. The enclosed pipe design along with a screened "funnel" intake also addresses various concerns such as low water operation, ice, debris in the water, fish safety, longevity and durability.

   Small, easily deployed units could be manufactured and sold. The smallest could be deployed even in relatively small streams. Large units could potentially take the place of hydroelectric dams, making as much electricity or perhaps more from the same water energy, but deployed as floating units spread up and down the river instead of everything being housed at a single costly dam site (with its potential for eventual catastrophic failure).

   The smallest units, perhaps a few inches in diameter and 3 or 4 feet long, for use typically in rapids in very shallow streams, would simply rest on the stream bed, held in place with weights or rocks, with the screened "funnel" inlet potentially somewhat upstream and feeding through a hose to give more pressure and flow to the turbine pipe. Larger installations, feet in diameter and proportionately longer, would be anchored in a fast flowing section of a river or a tidal flow, and would include sufficient flotation for buoyancy and stability.

   This project would concentrate on the small end of the scale (starting with retail units of 12 volts, under a kilowatt?). Assuming marketing these products brought more interest, later designs would scale up to "industrial" size models for small community and larger "on grid" power projects.

Indoor LED Garden Kit: Development, production and sales: $4 million

   In temperate climates vegetables can only be grown "in season" for part of each year. A greenhouse can extend this season but much of the winter is still "out", with increasing winter cold and reduction of daylight hours with latitude. This idea in its essence is a pretty obvious application of LED lighting technology, which has lately become "mainstream". Before LED lighting existed - and then became "cheap" in big box stores - it wasn't realistic to grow vegetables beyond the seedling stage indoors with artificial light. It took hundreds of watts of lights making excessive heat to light a small area. This LED vegetable growing idea has been successfully tested just this year - indeed it has just been written up in the last issue of Turquoise Energy News (#117) and this one, with lettuce started in late January growing well and being eaten by early March.
   In the process some less obvious things were discovered. For example, a small fan (or fans) is required to circulate air to prevent growth of fungus/mold on the surface of the soil. Flat rolling dollies were made so the planter boxes could be pulled out from under the rather low light table for access - watering, weeding and harvesting. It would be easier to use if the lights were on a timer, and perhaps an irrigation system could be provided to automatically water - or a water bucket on top could feed a small hose to simplify hand watering. This month it was realized that access would be easier and less floor space would be needed if the entire light table pivoted up and back like a freezer lid, with a latch to hold it open. For wider units, that lighting lid might advantageously be angled left to right or stepped (2 lids) to provide closer light on one side and more height for taller plants on the other. And it or they might be adjustable height lid(s). The unit could be raised up off the floor with storage cupboards or drawers underneath for gardening supplies and tools.

   The new part of the idea is to provide a whole "Indoor Garden" product that is a complete solution, with all the features that are found to be useful and practical well thought out and arranged. That way anyone could start year round growing quickly and easily instead of each person having to design and build their own from scratch. There could be multiple sized models from "kitchen stove" size to "large freezer" size for different needs and spaces, or perhaps modular "kitchen stove" size units could fit together. They might pack down into boxes for shipping and be assembled at home, as is so common for furniture these days.

Contingency & Optional Projects Reserve: $2 million

   However conservative the estimate, product development usually takes longer and costs more than planned. Then, there may be developments that go better than planned and may go into profitable production earlier than hoped. For example a battery experiment success or two (such as those this very month!) might mean moving the project from "research" to "setting up for commercial production" in weeks instead of months or a year or more. But some are bound to lag behind. For example it might take much longer than anticipated to solve some problem with the new motor or motor controller, and that would hold them both up. The reserve allows taking advantage of the breakthrough on the one hand, financing lagging projects longer, or both.

   No doubt I could add to the "valuable projects" list, but these seem to me to be the most valuable items that I also have confidence in because I pretty much understand what needs to be done. I expect to hire self-motivated talent that can be expected to proceed day to day with minimal supervision and guidance. Still there's only so much one person can initiate, direct and oversee. I wouldn't want to spoil it by extending myself too far - not that I would want to absolutely preclude taking on a new idea or project of great promise should one present itself!
   And here already is such an example: the "LED Indoor Garden" idea has made its appearance, with a prototype originally intended just for personal use working since January and proving lettuce (at the very least) can indeed be grown successfully in winter with just 100 watts of LED light. Improved and commercialized it could be a fabulous product used by millions, so it was added to the list.

Misc. Notes:

   Apparently marketing via social media is now more effective than other techniques for introducing new things and someone good at that would be a valuable employee. As has been observed before, the trick to business success is to hire people that are smarter, more talented and more knowledgeable than you are. Or one might say, with different skill sets in different areas.

   In setting up an organization full of talented people (to whit an innovative company with various departments), there may be various opportunities to try out "design team" approaches and new democratic systems in line with the core values of social sustainability (Life, Quality of Life, Growth, Equality, Empathy, Compassion and Love). With everyone understanding that the financial "bottom line" is vital, it's possible the socially sustainable approach could improve organizational adaptability and contribute to long term success and an organization that continues to learn and adapt and remain relevant through the centuries.

   I think probably every department or project engaged in development and research should contribute a monthly report. Turquoise Energy News would thus become considerably expanded. Since the objective of the funding would be to improve the world, such reports would make an excellent contribution toward further research by others irrespective of the business success of each project. Even "failed" projects would contribute to the human knowledge base, potentially pointing better ways to future success by others, and so the money would not have been wasted.

   Until "the ultimate best" technologies may someday be created in all fields, progress makes for obsolescence of existing technologies as new ones are created. For example antigravity craft will probably some day make all other types of aircraft including ground effect craft obsolete. (Things do progress: When I was young, cell phones and the internet were beyond science fiction!) As a "learning organization" this one should be in on it as developments occur, phasing out production of ground effect craft and working on potential commercial development of the new technology. However, neither would it sit and wait for a speculative unproven or virtually unknown technology instead of developing technology (the ground effect craft) that could be highly valuable in the present day and current conditions probably for decades to come.

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

The need for teaching the core values of social sustainability

   It is disheartening that the government in South Africa is apparently now following that of Zimbabwe where all the white farmers have been tortured, murdered or driven out
. (I in fact know a couple from Zimbabwe who were lucky to get out with the shirts on their backs - they weren't permitted to take any possessions with them.) All the core values of social sustainability are being violated: love, empathy, compassion, equality, growth, quality of life and even life itself are being extinguished.
   It's not like black people take over the farms. They are abandoned. Zimbabwe went from being a food exporter to needing food aid in just a couple of years. And it's not like blacks are reclaiming land that historically belonged to them in all cases: there were no blacks in the Cape of Good Hope area when Dutch settlers arrived there to start farming. Until about 1960 blacks were under 70% of the population and whites around 20%. From 1985 four million Africans entered South Africa while 640,000 whites left - 15% (and probably the cream) of the white population. By 2015 blacks were 80% and whites 8%. Where are those who just a few years ago were "tsk-tsk"ing apartheid and asking how white people could be so cruel and why blacks weren't allowed to vote? Surely, that was nothing like an ideal situation, but what about now? It's as bad as the Jewish Holocaust in Nazi Germany, in a supposedly Christian country. With a growing black population, and no consideration for the core values by the larger group, it was inevitable that the governing power would shift and the concerns and influence of the white and other populations would be marginalized. So this collapse into barbarism has been predictable for a long time. South Africa, where Dr. Christian Barnard once performed the world's first heart transplant, appears to be sliding from being the one bright light in sub-Saharan Africa into the same sort of primitiveness as the rest of it. Will the blacks continue to tolerate the Indians and mixed races, or are they next on the hit list? (And how long will Australia maintain its current culture and identity when a tide of more southeast Asian refugees than its whole present population comes pouring in?)
   Perhaps this situation could have been avoided if everyone had had to study, pass tests and understand the responsibilities of democracy before being permitted to vote. That could have been applied equally to all the races in South Africa. Hostile, ignorant demographics might have settled down to study and understand broader viewpoints and principles in order gain the right to vote. And of course there would be more advanced courses for those who actually wished to run for office. That would have been my plan for ending apartheid. Alas, nothing like this was tried, nor has it been tried elsewhere.

   Closer to home there are also daily outrages to law, order, morality and reason, complete with lies drummed over the "corporate media" so repetitively "it must be true" to justify them and obfuscate the issues. One can pick an issue and try and fight it, but by the time any slow progress might be made, other similar outrages and many dissimilar ones have been committed. (Someone spent 12 years in US court having the so-called "patriot act" struck down. Obama re-enacted it in a moment with the stroke of a pen.) Finally good people simply throw up their hands in despair - it's hopeless. And our legal system is so gutless that many of the worst social predators are never dealt with. They remain on the planet for their whole lifetime free, even rising to high places to instigate bigger outrages that harm more lives, sometimes of millions of innocent people, and society as a whole. How can and why should one try to fight a brush fire while new ones are lighting up on all sides until the whole forest of society is burning - and no one stops those lighting the matches and setting the fires?

   And where do the matches come from? Like every civilization so far, ours has come about without conscious planning. It had and still has no overriding goals for where it wants to go and to be in the future and there's no planning for social, scientific and technological change. Mostly it just happens, haphazardly. A constitution or framework of operation is set up that is appropriate for the conditions of the day, with only vague allowance for "amendments", which are to be pushed through only with the greatest circumspection by overwhelming majority, virtually in the face of potential revolution. But those who framed the American constitution could hardly have dimly imagined today's world.
   British parliament passed the reform act giving most men the right to vote by just one vote out of hundreds cast in the face of the working American example, the most cogent arguments and with the spectre of a potential "French Revolution" in Britain staring everyone in the face, in (?)1830. Even back then it was noted pointedly that "constitutions are fixed while society changes", yet no thought was or is even now given to the need for provision for government and its institutions to ever learn and reform to keep abreast of developments and needs.

   As the forest burns itself out and nations fall apart and perhaps little will be left of many beyond the local community level in coming decades, a fresh start has become necessary. In order to build a civilization that lasts into the indefinite future, the root causes of forest fires must be understood and preventative measures taken in timely fashion. The way to start, humble and almost trivial as it seems, is at the personal and the family level, where children learn to think in sound, moral and right terms - or in terms of avarice, greed, power seeking and other aberrant ways of thinking and living. Children have to be taught to think for themselves, and given the highest set of values that will enrich their own intellectual and spiritual development as well as the community and society around them.
   No Earthly civilization so far has thought about needing to have ongoing means for growth, to have its institutions change and adapt as conditions change. The ruthless figure out how to "game" the relatively static system to their own selfish advantage, the civilization becomes corrupted and the contributing public on whom everything depends become increasingly overburdened, neglected and impoverished, until there is a general collapse, usually with great loss of life. (Even in the relatively recent and relatively mild collapse of the Soviet Union people did go hungry and even starved, for some years.)

   Again, the 7 core values for social sustainability are Quality of Life, Provision for Growth, Equality, Empathy, Compassion, Love and summing up, Life itself. Are these not the highest social values? And values always underlie all decisions.
   There are many worthy secondary values. They are implicitly based on the core values but they tend to supplant them, giving rise to many aberrant paths of development. Renewable energy is good - but why? Because it improves the environment. And why is that good? Because it enhances the quality of life. So what's wrong with renewable energy as a core value? If a society puts renewable energy first, it may for example decide to develop and employ renewable energy even at the expense of quality of life. If noisy windplants are set up around where people live, it deteriorates their quality of life and sacrifices even their environment. Inequality and discontent are sown. Renewable energy must fit into place in a broad spectrum of things that together determine quality of life. If quality of life and equality were the first concerns, a solution that would be more satisfactory to all would be sought.
   Or, tolerance of people who are different and who do things differently or do different things than we would is a good value. There are many beliefs, tastes and and ways of living. But tolerance is again a secondary value: once society tolerates predatory behavior as it does today, where one person is able to violate the rights of others with any degree of impunity, disaster and collapse are waiting. Quality of life and equality are higher values than tolerance.

   Only by explicitly including these core values in teaching youth, so that these future leaders may in turn explicitly incorporate them into their plans for social, political or economic uplift, will we see plans formulated in ways that benefit everyone, leave no one out and permit no one to lord it over others - in socially sustainable ways. Many of us will at some time or another encounter situations where these values can be used for effecting improvement at a personal, family or community level, or in the workplace. But in the broad picture such values will take a couple of generations to instill in youth who then grow up to become better decision makers themselves. Then they can start becoming broadly effective in transforming the whole world, eliminating the root causes of forest fires to bring us to days of "Peace on Earth and goodwill among men", the beginnings of "days of light and life". In a century great strides can be made. In two we will no more recognize society than the American founding fathers would know ours.

   In order that a program that will take generations to mature not be lost and forgotten before it has a chance to come to fruition, and will be sustained into the indefinite future, a new institution is needed: one that gathers together the world's collected wisdom on raising children to become fully functional, contented, contributing adults without developmental handicaps, and teaches parents, prospective parents, grandparents and teachers how to raise their children in accord with this wisdom, so that it may taught and instilled in each new generation. The internet will make it much simpler to have such a program initiated and adopted around the world than it would have been in any previous time. One might almost say it makes it possible.

   It may seem to many that such things are impossible of accomplishment - that such developments are just not in human nature. But this discounts what is sure to be severe "fallout" from the environmental, economic and epidemic catastrophes that are looming in front of us on our present course. When the things that used to work aren't working and one's very life is on the line, people become more open to change. And even today there is a rise in consciousness occurring with a decrease in national, racial and ideological "us versus them" attitudes and materialism, indeed not in the war hawks who seem to want to rip apart everything mankind has accomplished to justify their existence and enhance their personal prestige, but in general and especially in the young. It will become increasingly manifest in the coming years and decades, changes occurring perhaps even suddenly when tipping points or triggering events are reached. We may soon see students on the streets and on campuses marching to protest inequality, and this will help redefine public perceptions of what is true wealth versus material wealth and especially material wealth gained at the expense of everyone else.

Feeble attempts at humor

How many times in a row can a word be used properly in a sentence? Consider the sign:


One might well say that the spaces between fish and and and and and chips are too small.
(Or properly punctuated: The spaces between "fish" and "and", and "and" and "chips", are too small.


Or how about just words that sound alike?

"The train stops here for 4 minutes from 2 to 2 to 2 2." (for not too long - 1:58 - 2:02)


Which word is out of place?

Ring, rang, rong, rung

Rong: it's the only word that's spelled rong.


Baking bread is similar to digital electronics except that rise times are measured in hours instead of nanoseconds. (Fall times are still measured in nanoseconds.)

   "in depth reports" for each project are below. I hope they may be useful to anyone who wants to get into a similar project, to glean ideas for how something might be done, as well as things that might have been tried or thought of... and often, of how not to do something - why it didn't work or proved impractical. Sometimes they set out inventive thoughts almost as they occur - and are the actual organization and elaboration in writing of those thoughts. They are thus partly a diary and are not extensively proof-read for literary perfection and consistency before publication. I hope they add to the body of wisdom for other researchers and developers to help them find more productive paths and avoid potential pitfalls.

Electric Transport

Chevy Sprint Car - Forklift Motor & Fixed (8.9:1) Reduction

Battery Placement

   My plan was to make up the 36 volts in three 12 volt sections in series. Each section would be charged separately, so it wouldn't matter if all the cells weren't identical or even identical types. (Four 3.2 volt lithium cells in series makes 12.8 volts. We're still calling them "12 volts" and 12 cells in series makes "36 volts", even tho it's actually 38.4.)

I had enough 100 AH lithium cells to do an all lithium battery up to 300 amp hours at 36 volts: 36 cells. I had 45. (32 were from the Suzuki Swift. At least two or three cells (not from the Swift) had the strange problem of not freely going up in voltage from about 3.3 to 3.6 or more once they were charged, which would doubtless cause charging problems even if they worked okay otherwise. One cell had had that problem but when I tried charging it a year later it was fine. Anyway there are a few spares.) 38.4v*300AH=11.52 KWH of storage capacity - not much more than the Swift's 10.24 KWH and nothing like the Nissan Leaf's 26.4 KWH. A 400 AH battery (15.36 KWH) would take 48 cells - a little out of reach. I could also make it 340 AH by adding in twelve 40 AH cells I have. (13.06 KWH) But I'd rather not mix them.
   I could do 400 AH by using 32 of the lithiums for 24 volts, 400 AH, plus 400 NiMH "D" cells to make 12 volts, 400 AH. The NiMH batteries are pretty much all put together anyway, so it wouldn't be too hard to do.

   But then there's where to actually put all those batteries in a car not designed for holding them. I looked it over on the 6th and finally decided to keep it simple and put them all in the cargo space behind the back seat. In order to fit them I decided to go with just the 300 AH of lithiums. And that would weigh about 280 pounds - also more than enough weight for back there. I would put a solid cover over and around them and there would still be some cargo space above.
   It took some puzzling to try and fit them in. It was as if the batteries and the car were each designed to waste as much space as possible to allow the smallest number of cells to fit. Each 12 volt block of four cells was 5-5/8" x 11". So two were 11-1/4" x 11" and turning them sideways didn't really help. Four wide (22") wouldn't fit near the bottom of the spare tire space because of its gradual bends from vertical to horizontal. But 3" higher up (read 3" less cargo space!) they would fit. Then for a second row behind the first there was... 10" - not quite enough! All very frustrating.

   Then I realized there was one trick left. The cells could be electrically connected as blocks of four without being physically stacked together. If I put in just three cells per row, 10" was enough. So 7 sets of four would fit instead of 8. The remaining two would just fit to the right, higher up, using up the cargo space on that side. (and somewhat balancing out the driver left-right for weight?)
   And there was one fortuitous thing about the 4-door Sprint's layout: the tailgate didn't open to the floor. (I guess that makes it a "hatchback" instead of a real "station wagon".) The batteries, even the upper two at the right, would all be below the level of the door. There was still room for groceries, etc, above the batteries, as well as in the small remaining "full depth" space to the left of them, and folding down the back seat still would make room to slide in quite large items.

   Continuing this subject, I spent some time on the 9th on it. I cut some 2" extruded styrene foam, making rather elaborate undercuts around the edges so it fit the spare tire well well, and turned the batteries sideways to the way I'd had them. (Here, saving 2 * 1/4" = 1/2" of length actually did help, allowing me to set them an inch lower than the other way.) I could get in the seven 12 volt batteries, with just the rear one stretched out lengthways instead of compact, and with little ventilation spaces between rows for cooling. For the "balcony" at the right side (for the last two batteries) I used 3/4" foam. (Say, shouldn't the cells be on spacers up off the foam, so the bottoms get air for cooling? Maybe on a metal grill or grid?)
   The rear battery at the side was the thinner, wider shaped cells of the same height (about the only place they fit well), leaving just the 'malfunctioning' two cells of the original shape and seven of the thin-wide ones as spares. (If I ever need any of the spares, I'm not just sure how or if they'll fit.) But I spent a good portion of this time cleaning dust and grime around the edges of the space with a cloth and soapy water. (I thought I had already vacuumed and cleaned the car?!? Ah... it was where I took out the plastic trim pieces in fitting the cells. old car... road dust!) Let's see... a metal box for the batteries? It had probably saved them in the Swift fire. If I left the plastic trim off, the bottom, back, and right side, and the lower part of the front, were already metal. I could bend up an aluminum left side and a couple of pieces for the front, just behind the back seat. 3/4" plywood covers might be as good as anything, and would make a solid cargo floor. Metal on the top is just an invitation to short out battery connections. How about 5/8" firestop gyproc glued to the bottom of the plywood? That would seem to have all the right properties.
   With 250 pounds of batteries the rear springs were definitely lower. But not bottomed out.

   On the 11th I took a set of 4 cells apart and turned them to make the thin, "stretched" battery. Now all were in place. But it reminded me that where the radiator was was a thin space that I had sometimes thought might be a good place for some batteries. I took it up front and set it there. I measured the width for three such rows and it was iffy - the innermost one was virtually touching the transmission. But there was just a post in the way of putting them farther forward. I disconnected the center link and nothing would prevent putting the two halves of the battery farther forward, ahead of the radiator grille area, except the horn. The horn could easily be moved, or even its bracket simply bent to get it out of the way. I could use the two sets of thinner, wider cells as well and save another 1/2 and inch, and have 4 of the "Swift" cells as spares for 28 in use (excluding the two that charge funny), and 3 of the thin ones for 8 in use.
   That changed everything. The first 12 volts, 300 amp-hours battery could be on a shelf at the front of the hood. The 24 and 36 volt batteries would be at the back, in the spare tire well. That definitely improved the weight distribution: 185 pounds at the back and 95 at the front.
   In the event I managed to make the front shelf so wide I could fit any desired batteries onto it - even the extra set of 40 AH ones for additional 12 volt loads - headlights etc.

   Then I remembered that I had to put in the three chargers, one for each 12 volt section. They added bulk and weighed 10 pounds each. So much for the neat little box in the spare tire compartment - the chargers needed the side shelves even without the extra cells. And so much for putting an extra 40 amp-hours of smaller lithiums on the original battery shelf: the third charger had to go there. (The first 12 volts will have to supply the lights and other car circuits as well as drive power. Owing to the low voltage I see no need for a floating ground for the motor system, so 12 volts is 12 volts.)
   Hmm... and the chargers I had, heavy tho they seemed, were only 10 amps. With 300 amp-hour batteries it could take a whole day to charge the car! (At least if I put up some solar panels on the house it could charge without overloading them when it was sunny.)

Carefully fitted plywood cover over the rear batteries
and chargers forms the new floor of the cargo space

AWG! I accidentally sliced into it. It looked about the same as the
regular plywood saw table where I had set it to glue a minor flaw,
and I set a board on top and cut it to length!


   The Lovejoy couplers arrived on the 5th. I took the motor and plate off the transmission. Replacing the one on the transmission was simple. The other was more challenging. The inner spline was rough and didn't readily go onto the motor shaft. Filing it a bit didn't seem to help. It seemed that I could pound it on, and the hammering beat the rough projections out of the way. (Maybe a very small wire brush?) But the bigger problem was that the L110 size didn't quite fit through the hole in the mounting plate. The choice was to grind or gouge the hole bigger, or to turn the coupler down a little on the lathe. I decided on the latter. At the same time I could turn the back down so it would fit on the motor shaft without spacing washers - the back of the Lovejoy would replace the washers to hold the bearing cone securely and at the same time be a little better seated, the spline on the Lovejoy being much longer than the motor shaft. A little more of the splines would be coupled.
   I did this turning on the 7th. I ran out of "Valcool" special formula cooling water, which also evidently reduced friction, to drip on the carbide cutting tool. I didn't know where to get more locally and I didn't want to go to town in the middle of the job anyway. Oil wasn't as good. Straight water would make rust on the cast iron. I added soap and baking soda to some water. The soap might reduce friction, and the alkalinity of the baking soda should inhibit rust. (Perhaps there's a better formula I could look up on the web?)

   (I couldn't seal the cup & cone bearing, and the Lovejoy coupler was quite close fitted. Could grease be squeezed in, or would the motor have to be dismounted and the coupler pried off to grease it?  Not the best arrangement for routine inspection and maintenance!)

Connecting the splined-shaft motor to the transmission shaft - the L110 Lovejoy Connectors

One on the end of the shaft in the transmission

With the mating one in place, one sees that the motor will stick out from the transmission
Steel strap (yellow) was added to support the right end of the motor and transmission

   Then I turned to the missing right-side support for motor and transmission in the car. With the motor off, I found another hole at the very bottom of the motor plate. It seemed to have no purpose. (Maybe for the manual transmission?) That was the lowest thing to run a diagonal support from. I drilled a matching (3/8") hole in a bar of steel and bent the end around to fit behind the plate and extend the bar toward the original engine support. After deciding about how high up to raise that end of the assembly I cut the bar to length and drilled a hole at the other end. It'll pull to the side (and somewhat forward) more than up, so it builds in quite a bit of stress, trying to pull the plate off the transmission from the bottom, and at the other end to pull the mount off the frame. But I decided 120 pounds of motor and transmission just isn't heavy enough to worry about. (Otherwise I could try to balance it with a tube from the same engine mount to the top of the plate, which would push instead of pulling. I still wouldn't call that ideal, but I think it would be the best that one could do short of welding in a new piece(s) of frame to hold a new cushioned mount somewhere underneath - major work. I tried fitting the motor and was relieved that the new bar passed by to one side (by about an inch) and didn't hit it. (The 51 pound motor was too heavy for me. When I tried to fit it into place by hand, I couldn't get it lined up and ended up suddenly lowering it rapidly to the floor, almost dropping it. Next time I wore gloves, and put a big block of wood in place under it to hold it up while I aligned it with the bolts. I'm sure 30 years ago I could have done it by hand!)

   On the 8th an L110 'spider' arrived in the mail, purchased by a friend in Victoria at considerable cost. Good timing! I put it in and pushed the second Lovejoy coupler into the hole in the plate. It stuck out almost an inch. I was going to disassemble the tranny, take out the shaft and cut an inch off it... then I thought it might be just as good to have the motor sticking out farther instead of tight against the plate. The mounting bolts were stiff, and long enough. It'd need some spacers or something to hold it securely.
   I securely mounted the plate on the tranny, then remembered I hadn't tightened the set screws on the inside Lovejoy. I took it off and tightened them, then I screwed in another couple on top to hold these inner ones in place. I wrote on the Lovejoy "4 Set Screws!" hoping the felt pen would last and that the note would help anyone who couldn't figure out why it wouldn't come off with the (outer) ones loosened.
   I greased the bearing on the motor and tapped the splined Lovejoy onto the shaft until it got to the bottom, to the bearing, and stopped. The set screws on this one were almost an inch long, and 3/8" diameter instead of 5/16". That was probably much better, and there wasn't room left for outer ones. Then I attached the motor. It was 1.50" from the plate measured at both bolts. There was a small scraping noise at intervals as I moved the car, as the motor turned. The motor hung down a bit. I stuck a short piece of 2"x4" lumber (actually 1.5" x 3/5") under the lower side to even it up to 1.5" all around. Now it scraped more of the time! It could hardly be anything but the Lovejoy coupler rubbing on the plate. Evidently the "jaw" end, which I had thought would be within the plate and left a bit wider, needed to be reduced just a bit more to clear the hole.
   With a battery connected, again the car moved "maybe" with 6 volts, slowly with 9 and faster with 12. (Perhaps it's ironic that my Electric Hubcap motor probably would have done about the same if connected to the tranny the same way - but its lower RPM would have limited the travel speed even for city use, and it probably would overheat in actual driving.)

   Sometime I decided that the motor controller should go inside the car, out of the weather and road dust. There wasn't much room if one still wanted to be able to use the passenger seat, but the shift lever was gone so was space in the middle from the parking brake to the heater ducts. A controller just behind the firewall would still have pretty short cables to the motor. Perhaps all the drive electronics (circuit breaker, relay, heavy contactor, motor controller) could go inside in a narrow "center column" enclosure, just leaving the heavy cables to the batteries and motor out under the hood?

   On the 20th I made a hole to pass the cable through to connect the batteries at the back to the front. I had just one Greenlee hole punch, 1.18" diameter, purchased a couple of years ago at an electrical wholesaler. The hole was just large enough to get the wire through with little to spare. No room for a clamp or a gland. I came up with a two-part solution: I rolled a piece of sheet steel and wrapped it around the wire, and I put a pipe clamp around that. The steel stuck out 3/4" from the pipe clamp. I worked the cable and the steel ring into the hole and tightened the clamp. The steel would protect the cable insulation in the hole and the clamp would both hold the steel in place and prevent the cable end from being pulled into the hole.

   At the same time I checked the size of the 100 watt solar panels versus the roof of the car. From side to side, they only stuck out about 1/2" over each door frame, so it's unlikely anyone would hit their head on one getting in or out. There was easily room for two front to back, but a third one would have to extend way over the hood. One wouldn't be watching the birds! Two wouldn't quite provide a full charge if simply connected straight across the batteries (with a diode to prevent discharge). The voltage was a little too low. Maybe, gradually, a 3/4 charge. (OTOH it would never overcharge - no precautions would be required. But this is where one wishes some "non-standard" voltage panels were available to provide just another volt or two - 23 or 24 instead of the ubiquitous "(~)21.6 open circuit volts" rating. OTOH "specialty" panels would surely cost twice as much.) Well, maybe a DC to DC converter would be the best answer. But that should come with a "full charge" detector and shutoff. There the electronics start to become custom projects. The seemingly simple idea of connecting solar panels to charge starts to get messy.

   On the 21st the motor controller and programmer arrived. (Also the now spare L110 Lovejoy rubber "spider".) The controller was surprisingly small, smaller than the gearshift lever enclosure, and I could see it would fit easily in the center column space. Then there were the external components: 12V relay from car key, 36V main contactor relay, circuit breaker, polarity protection diode and controller fuse. These were almost the same as for the Kelly controller. I had mounted them on an aluminum plate that attached under the hood. Could they all go inside the car? I dismounted the plate and put it inside. Part of the plate was in the way of the gas pedal. Then I turned it sideways. If I cut off the part of the plate where the Kelly controller had sat, and removed a terminal strip, it was close enough to ideal. (I don't have to redo it from scratch? Really?!?) The Curtis controller would sit 2/3 off the end of the plate, but sheet aluminum could be bent up and around to form a top and back for the enclosure as well as help carry off any heat from the controller. I dismounted the components and cut the plate.

Probably only for my own reference here are the wires I ran from a two foot long 12 wire cable to the controller's 16 pin molex connector:

Connector Pin - Wire color (resistor color code)
1 -
2 -
3 -
4 - 4
5 - 5
6 - 6
7 - 7
8 -
9 - 9
10 -
11 - 1
12 - 2
13 -
14 - 8
15 - Lite brown
16 - pink

The other end of most of the wires in the cable went to the terminal strip under the dash, previously wired with speed control pedal, forward-neutral-reverse switch, and (wired at last?) 12 volts from the car key when ON. The cable was short enough to pull out individual wires that went to the nearby components on the plate. The cable that had previously run from the strip under the dash to the one under the hood for the Kelly controller was removed. (Hmm, I guess there'll be no RPM reading from the motor!)

   I picked away at the wiring. I had #2 AWG heavy wire but no lugs to crimp onto the ends. I finally bought some but at the same time I decided it was awkwardly heavy anyway. I bought two 5 foot #4 AWG battery cables and another piece 6 feet long. I put all the lugs together into (I thought) one ziplock bag. The cable for the batteries in the back, a "cab tire" cable with four #6 AWG, was too long, and the 36 volts from the back only had to go to the motor controller in the car, not up under the hood. The 12 volts on the other hand went from the batteries at the very front to the back. I kept looking at it but couldn't see anything for it but to strip the outer rubber off for seven feet. I tackled that on the 29th and my thumb was sore for two days from pealing back the outer rubber as I went along. I sat down comfortably to do it. I used a sharp knife but put a short piece of 2"x10" cedar on my lap so I couldn't stab myself in the leg if the knife slipped.
   Finally on the 30th I went to get the lugs for the last two wires... and couldn't find them. I looked for over an hour. I found another bag with 3 stray lugs, a bit small, and finally decided 2 of them would have to do. I tightened up all the connections and connected just two batteries to try it out at 24 volts. (Would that really save the controller if there was some fatal problem?)
   It was only much later I remembered that the new lugs for the #2 wire had come in a small unmarked box, and I had stuffed the whole ziplock bag of all my heavy lugs into it. It was right there all along, but of course I was looking for a bag.

   With everything ready, I disconnected the motor power wires at the controller then got out the Curtis programmer and plugged it into the controller, then turned it on. Nothing blew up! I reduced the maximum drive current setting from 300 amps to 120. (If I had had a programmer for the Kelly BLDC controller in 2016, I'd have set it somewhere below 200 amps and it probably wouldn't have blown when the motor shorted.) The programmer showed the forward/reverse switch was different than I had it and the switch's wires needed changing. After I got it out from behind the dash, it was easily done with the contacts being lugs and screw terminals. I noticed the motor controller LED was blinking a pattern. (..  .       ..  .) I found an "initial checkout procedure" in the manual that I should have been following. It said to go to the "faults" page on the programmer, but there didn't seem to be a selection with that name, or I'd have already been there. I went back in the house and checked the LED fault code meanings in the manual. It was something to do with the 'throttle'. It was preprogrammed for a differently wired type than I had put in the Sprint. I changed it with the programmer to my type. Another blink code... Next it turned out the "pot high" and "pot low" were done in reverse, so "off" meant full throttle. I swapped the wires. Finally the controller was happy and just did single blinks. "Monitor" on the programmer showed how far I pressed the pedal, and when I moved the forward-neutral-reverse switch, now with the desired result. I reconnected the motor wires. But still the contactor never closed to give power to the motor. I finally realized that I had to pull the "interlock" pin high. I wasn't using an interlock switch and had wired for use without it, and hadn't realized the pin had to be pulled up to 36 volts just the same. By this point it was dark and getting quite cold after a sunny, warm day, and I quit for supper.
   I returned to the chase in the morning and hooked up the wire. This time the contactor clicked on just after I turned the breaker on. Surely everything was ready to go, barring any adjustments! I jacked up a wheel so the motor could turn freely. But when I pressed the pedal the contactor clicked off and it started telling me the motor field coil was shorted ("field shorted or resistance too low or short to ground or B+"). I started adjusting parameters related to the field, and got it to at least start to turn, but I couldn't get it to run nicely, and it kept shutting off. I disconnected the controller and put 1.00 amps through the field, and measured 12.9 mV, ie, 12.9 mOhms (DC). And there were no shorts to the case.
   When I had just hooked up a battery with the armature and field in series, of course the field current was identical to the armature current. 75 amps was 75 amps. The controller would only put out 5 to 25 amps to the field. If the field current is only 1/4 as much, doesn't the armature current have to be 4 times as much to give the same torque? So 75 amps at the armature only made maybe 1/4 as much torque? Wouldn't the armature need 300 amps for the same torque? Does that follow?
   Had I got the wrong type of controller? Should I have just got a "series wound" controller and hooked the windings in series? But the manual said the parameters could be programmed to handle "nearly any" separately excited motor. Why should it not handle a typical forklift motor?
   Then again, I had set it to 120 amps max, thinking that was a lot more than the 75 when hooked straight to a battery. But 120 amps armature current would be at a pretty low voltage, so it surely didn't mean anything like 120 amps battery current. Maybe I should have left it at 300 A? I set all the settings back to 300 and hooked up an amp clamp meter to the B+ (24 volt) power. Sure enough, the battery supply current was only around 10 to 20% of the armature current. It didn't quit and the motor ran. It still didn't seem to have much "oompf".
   I lowered the car and tried driving forward. It just started to move and shut off. Reverse was about the same. (The directions were right.)

   Further checking of the manual showed a "motor warm" field resistance example of 900 milliohms (.9 ohms), and "motor hot" of up to 2.5 ohms. It couldn't be set lower than 100 mOhms. If those were DC resistance measurements, by comparison 12 mOhms was a "short circuit". In fact, wouldn't that be more the resistance of an armature coil? Four equal size bolts for connections... could the motor maker be so devious that the connections right by the brushes were the field, and the ones off toward the middle were the armature? I took the other connections off and measured: 49.6 mOhms! Surely that was it - I must have had the field and armature connections reversed! So I swapped the wires. It was worse. The field current jumped all over the place, including to levels above its maximum, while the armature current hardly moved. And it now shut off as soon as I pressed the pedal. Furthermore, putting a meter lead directly on a brush showed it was connected to where I originally thought and not to the other. But why would the armature have much higher resistance than the field coils?
   An answer came to mind, but not one I had any confidence in: The motor depends on the magnetic interaction of the armature and field coils. What was the difference which was which? Isn't the armature always the high current and the stator field the low current one? Perhaps this motor was reversed: the armature was the low current "field" side and the stationary field was the high current "armature". Sheldon had said of them "The brushes never wear out." That would make more sense if they were carrying the lesser current instead of the greater. And if it was possible, it made sense to make it that way, too. There'd be less brush wear and lower resistive losses with the high current not going through the brushes. That didn't seem to help the motor controller any. It started to hail for the third time and the washing machine had broken down with my laundry in it. I was ready to quit.
   Then I thought of a couple more things. By leaning against the car until it moved I rotated the motor, while checking armature resistance to see what effect the turning and brushes had. The 49.6 was the lowest reading I got. More typically it said 80 to 150 mOhms, fluctuating as the motor turned. Those were the sort of resistances the manual mentioned for a field coil. I decided to turn off the "Field Check" programming parameter, presumably preventing it from checking for shorts or opens and shutting off owing to fluctuating currents. It didn't work. The diagnostic was still "field shorted" after it shut off whenever I tried to drive. Why should that be if sensing it was turned off?
   Then I found in the manual that a monitor value called "mot res x10 mΩ" was actually motor field resistance. I turned it back on and looked. With a few seconds between each reading it said 0... 2... 4... 6... 8... 10... 12... 14... 16... . What was that all about? Could the controller be defective? Maybe if I waited longer it wouldn't say "field shorted"? But "16", for 160 mΩ, should have been high enough, and it shut off all the same. Turned off and on again, it would restart its counting from zero.

   More hail and then snow ended a rather disappointing day. But nothing had blown up yet (except the washing machine and the computer video monitor I'd been reading the manual on). I pored over the manual again in the evening looking for clues, occasionally going out to the car to check something. (I had a spare video monitor. Why did I give away the spare washing machine? Now what's with my flashlight? I've heard that eventually catastrophes will be pouring in upon us, but this is getting a bit personal!)
   What were those weird field resistance readings, why did the field current fluctuate so much and why did it keep tripping off whenever I tried to drive? Reducing the "minimum field current" parameter reduced the humming I could hear when I turned it on, but didn't stop it from tripping off when I touched the pedal. Finally the day, and the month, expired. I sent an e-mail for help to Canev.com, hoping this situation and its cure are known. (It wasn't.)

BLDC Motor Disassembly

   With the washing machine having quit on the last day of March while I was working on the Sprint/forklift motor/Curtis motor controller, it became top priority for April 1st and I spent the day on it. To take it apart I had to take the motor rotor off. Of course I wasn't going to let it go by without having a good look at the motor. It was an interesting BLDC motor that drove the clothes basket directly, just such as I'd heard had taken over from the old induction motors with complex transmissions. The motor was on the back, outside, with the basket on the same axle inside. But the basket had come loose and was flopping around. The entire machine had to come apart to get at the back of the basket. (YOW!)
   So I got my first and unintended look at a modern BLDC washing machine motor. It had three connections for the three coil phases. But it only had a four pin connector for the magnet sensors instead of a 5. I'm not sure how that worked. The five pins are for ground, power and three hall effect sensors, one per phase. I can come up with ideas... like that at least one is "high" at all times, and half the time two, so the power might be pulled from the one(s) that's high to power the one(s) being driven low? Maybe something like that. The motor controller was in the bottom of the washing machine.


   The inside of the spinning drum, the outer rotor, had 12 curved magnet pieces. I say "pieces" because checking with another magnet revealed that each one had four poles instead of two, and was thus two magnets in one:

-------------  -------------  ---...
-------------  -------------  ---...

   So there were actually 48 magnet poles instead of 24. This matched the 36 narrow stator coils, in the very configuration I'd proposed myself as "BLDC4:3", 3-phase (4 rotor magnets to 3 stator coils) configuration, thinking it should have more torque than with the usual 2 magnets. (I should have known for something so apparently simple that someone else would have already done it!) But they seemed to be just ferrite magnets, not supermagnets, so ultimate torque couldn't have been the aim. Cooling fins were die stamped out of the rotor side and bent to 90°, the voids forming air slots in the side. The center had a splined hub, which fit onto the splined shaft that turned the clothes basket/drum.


   The stator was made up of the usual insulated motor laminates, a big "O" with 36 "posts(?)" sticking out to make each coil core. Each sheet occupied .5 mm thickness. This was almost entirely covered by a two piece plastic cover, upper and lower. The coils were wound onto the plastic spools around the posts. Depending on how many layers there were, there may have been 60 or 80 winds on each coil. For 120 volt operation, the 12 coils of each phase were in series. (Or maybe it would be closer to 150-160 volts if the 120 VAC was converted to DC with a diode bridge and filter capacitors. For lower voltage operation some could be put in parallel, eg, four parallel sets of three coils for 40 volts instead of 160. ) There was no extra insulation anywhere besides the thin magnet wire insulation, but some tiered plastic posts molded into one cover kept the wires about .1" apart between phases. As I found in the Electric Hubcap, keeping the wires spaced apart is better than insulation. There was also no motor varnish or epoxy anywhere, but all the wire was so tightly wound and run that there was little place for vibrations to move any and fray the insulation.
   The flux gap diameter (or effective motor diameter) was about 258 mm (10.15"). Unlike the axial flux motors I've been working with with their 1/2 inch flux gaps, this flux gap was small, around .8 mm. Such tiny gaps are where it is said that the coils may eventually demagnetize the rotor magnets.

   I wonder what the torque and RPM specs for that motor really look like? The clothes basket is certainly really moving on "high spin".

   The problem with the clothes washer was rather sad: The three heavy spokes of the entire main supporting hub for the basket had broken, leaving it hanging. It left bits I thought at first were small rocks in the bottom of the tub. It would take quite a lot of stress on the "spin" cycle, still it should have been designed for it - and it looked heavy enough. But it looked corroded, or at least filthy. Of course it was immersed in the water tub. The pH of the tap water tested as about 6. Didn't sound too corrosive. It spent its first two years in Victoria, and I don't suppose the water there was much different. (Nothing like Port Hardy and the north end of Vancouver Island with its so-called "natural acid rain" [down to pH 5 and below]. But that quit happening after Utah Mines closed its copper mine there. Little did we suspect!)
   The washing machine was only around 3 years old and it had worked great until now - better than almost any other and certainly better than any previous one I had ever had. But 3 years isn't much bang for the buck with the cost of a new washing machine!
   I took my laundry into the shower and bath with me to rinse them. With no "spin" they'll take a coon's age to drip and then dry in the dryer! Working on the machine took the whole day. It was not a part one could fix. To order the part one must buy an entire basket assembly, for half the price I paid for the entire machine. (Is it worth it?)

Other "Green" Electric Equipment Projects

Carmichael Mill ("Bandsaw Alaska Mill")

   On the 7th I dropped in on someone on my way by his place. He had told me he was making a water wheel for his little creek, and after some days I thought of giving him my little car alternator converted to permanent magnet alternator to get electricity from it. (TE News #104 & #103)
   He wasn't home, but a 6th sense told me to look around his acreage for something I wanted. In a derelict pickup truck was an odd piece, a clamp of some sort. I recognized that it was similar to what I had envisioned for holding the band guides in the mill: thick extruded aluminum with a "hinge pin", and a bolt to tighten it. With a spring along the bolt it could hold the band guide wheels and turning the bolt would minutely adjust the angle of the guide wheels. Maybe if I took it to someone they could tell me what it was.

   My friend stopped by later. He hadn't been far off, working, and had seen me come and go. He told me it was a canopy clamp, to hold a canopy on a pickup truck. And there were probably more of them there for the taking, so I could get the required two.
   I gave him the alternator. The next day I went back and left him the poly-V belt and the other pulley that match it. I found three more canopy clamps, but only one more of the same type. The other two were useless. Anyway I got what I needed for the prototype.

   The plan would be to cut off the clamping parts and keep just the hinge with two flat sides. The short one with the pin sticking out would be attached to the saw post. The band guides would be attached to the longer piece near the hinge. There their angle could be adjusted without moving them in and out very much. They seemed to be about the right size. The (new) 'thumbscrew' adjustment bolt would go through the post to keep the hand behind and as far as possible from the cutting band while adjusting. (The adjusting should of course be done with the saw stopped, but one can't guarantee that it always will be, especially once they are being sold... or even before. I suppose one could have two triggers and thereby force the operator to have both hands in position to turn the saw on, but that would probably be annoying. In a long cutting session it is nice - even vital - to relieve stress by changing one's grip now and then.)

   On the 11th I tackled one of them. I cut off the "extras" and drilled and tapped holes for 1/4" bolts for the two guide bearings. On the 14th I cut holes for mounting it on the saw. I got sidetracked by various things. I had intended to finish it up and test it before the month ended (or at least before this newsletter), but the battery project and then trying to get the Chevy Sprint motor/car running kept me from it.

Indoor Vegetable Growing With LED Lights (and other gardening)

Lettuce boxes, March 10th
(The 'volunteer' potato at the back now towers
 over the lettuce and is up among the light bulbs)
   Not far into March I started picking out some of the lettuce plants started in late January and eating them, to thin them as the big box was getting crowded. At first they weren't much but a small addition to salad, but they continued to grow well. The "counter lettuce" (romaine) in the other big box went from little shoots to having some small substance by the 10th. In little bedding pots I planted more tomatos "moneymaker" and "roma" (just as just one of the earlier ones finally came up in the big pot), and peppers, and by the 9th, cucumbers and zucchini. By the 13th a leaf lettuce plant was the base for a single serving salad.
   That seems pretty good. We had freezing weather with snow and hail into the first week in March. So these are well over 2 months ahead of greenhouse lettuce which might be planted in late March and 3 months ahead of an outdoor garden planted in April. I'm probably almost the only person around here having home grown lettuce in March, and I've never before had any before May myself. On the 13th I filled 2 more boxes with dirt and planted one with some spinach and another variety of romaine. Next winter I'll be able to grow all winter. (Now... what else to grow besides lettuce and spinach?) How about a tomato? Onions?
   Since the trays roll out about like drawers for access, the operation takes twice as much floor space as it actually occupies. On the 15th it occurred to me that if the light "table" had hinges or other pivots at the back, and a catch to hold it vertical, it could be stood up against the wall and be out of the way. Then one wouldn't need to pull the plant trays out for access: just put the lights up, and have access along the whole top. By pulling out single trays, access is best - from all sides. But if there was any shortage of floor space, and just in general, inspection and watering would be simplified by a folding light table. (Well, maybe next year?)
   Another point: water has gotten under the plastic I put down to keep the floor clean and dry, a couple of times. I need a better system to keep excess and slopped water contained, and it probably shouldn't be plastic right on the floor to trap water underneath. The wet will curl up the edges of the floor tiles.

   At that point, one might actually have a product that people would buy. The LED light table: "Grow vegetables year round in your house."  ...In fact, one could offer the "complete solution": lid with lights, control timer and silent fans, adjustable height to accommodate different plants and pots and hinged at the rear to pop open for easy access from above. Underneath it could have roll-out trays and exact size planter boxes to fit the rollers and make maximum use of the space. Maybe a big plastic mat to catch spills. "Just add dirt, seeds and water!" (But wait... there's more!) Hey, maybe an irrigation system on a timer? And let us not forget different sized models for different needs. Maybe some with two tiers? I could see people lining up, pre-ordering, to get one! And eating better vegetables and perhaps faring just a little better in lean times for having and using it. (Maybe I should add it to the "fantasy budget"? ... Done! Wow, one might sell millions of them!)

The LED Garden April 1st.
4 or 5 heads of leaf lettuce have been plucked and eaten. The romaine has grown much.
Spinich is coming up in the third box, as are tomato and other seedlings in seedling pots.


  Well I don't suppose you're here to read a humdrum ordinary gardening report, but it occupied considerable time in March, and gardening gave me the inventive product idea above... so why not write it up? My attempts at growing laurel from 4 year old frozen berry seeds having failed, I bought two small bushes at a nursery (the nursery, on this island). At the same time I bought two more blueberry bushes and two apricot trees, variety "Scout". On advice of the owner, peaches don't do well here except in a greenhouse, but apricots do, "preferably near a south facing wall". (I don't know why you should need two apricot trees if they're the same variety anyway - the only variety he had - but that's what he said.) He delivered them (from the nursery, 40 Km away) as the trees wouldn't fit in my car and fortuitously it turned out he had been about to go see my next door neighbor anyway just when I arrived. He looked at my gardening and said I should spray my other fruit trees with "dormant oil" very soon. It kills fungi and eggs of bugs that attack the trees when the buds open. He had done his 3 weeks ago. (The cherry had had some nasty little black "goobers" (I have no idea what they were) eating the leaves last fall, so it sounded like a wise move.) He was excited that I was digging in eel grass. "Anything from the ocean is great for the garden." (One day in February there had been eel grass piled deeply all over the beach after a storm. I put some containers in the trailer, drove down there and filled them.)
   On the 10th I couldn't find any "dormant oil" in town, but I found "Safers Insecticidal Soap" in a squirt bottle, and sprayed the trees with that. It's probably just as good. I hope!

   Then I started thinking, that if the laurel bushes did well and grew to a height where they started producing berries (around 10 feet and up), they would surely become an invasive species, with seedlings from berries carried by the birds popping up here, there and everywhere as they had done in my yard in Victoria. In 30 or 40 years they might be everywhere, like the scotch broom is now. It didn't matter in Victoria in town, but here they might displace the salal (which also has great berries for pies and jam!) and other native plants. So I decided to destroy them. At least I didn't have to figure out where to plant them!
   I should probably note that "hedge laurel" or "bay laurel" - "prunus somethingorother" - has pits and is related to other "prunus" stone fruits like plums and cherries (& olives?), but that the name "laurel" is used to describe several unrelated plants of more than one genus, which are probably not all edible.

   Before I even moved here I had already decided to grow vegetables along the south wall of the house. It was strategic in several ways: it could easily be fenced off to keep the deer out with a single fence line from the porch to a greenhouse at the far end. And the south wall is always warmest, valuable in this cool climate. It turned out it even had a sidewalk going along it at just a good distance for a fair garden size (well, maybe a bit narrow, but good enough) - an excellent grass and weed barrier. But last summer, with the dark brown house wall, the vegetables had all bent away from the house. The closer they were to the house the more they bent over, obviously because no light was coming from that direction. I taped up some aluminum foil along the wall with package tape, but one day a strong wind ripped most of it down.
   A better solution was to paint it white. In February I did one coat on the largest and blank part of the wall, going up 6 feet. On the 12th I wanted to plant the (now 4) blueberry bushes I had in pots... but then it would be hard to paint behind them. So instead I spent the day and finished the painting, putting a second coat on the first area and managing to do two coats on the rest below the windows. (All with paint from a recycling depot, of course. Why buy paint when there's a place that wants to get rid of it? In addition to two exterior and one interior white 1 US gallon cans, I also found a full(?) one of white anti-rust paint and a couple of other nice tins I couldn't pass up, in less than a minute, hardly even looking. A few cans were as new, full, and none much less than half full. I have enough paint and stain for a whole building - base and choice of colors - from this and a couple of previous visits to another dump/recycling place.) The first exterior white can ran dry doing the second coat (conveniently just as I finished) so I used the second one, which was totally different (gloss versus matt; use paint thinner instead of water), but I put the join at one corner of the bay window and it's not noticeable.
   On the 14th I planted the blueberries under the bay window (hoping they don't grow up to it) and on the 15th strawberries all around under them, transplanted from plants and runners grown last year and surviving among the weeds and grass that quickly took over. Tom did a good job of getting the grass and weeds out of the garden last summer. All I have to do is keep it that way!

"Light reflector" white wall with blueberry bushes planted under bay window


   Last year's potatoes were sitting in a cupboard. ("Keep potatoes in a cool, dark place") I figured the kitchen near the floor was pretty cool. I kept digging up potatoes here and there, and they were enough for me, so I didn't go into the cupboard for more. In mid March I finally looked in the cupboard. They were all growing shoots. Some, especially on some of the "Haida potatoes" favored here (purple skin and purple flesh) were two feet long! Apparently I should have found somewhere cooler to put them to keep them over the whole winter. I planted a few of them April first. But I don't want so many potatoes this year. I would rather have a grain. But I think quinoa is the best choice. I grew just 5 plants in 2016. They grew well, branched out and spread, and I got a jar full of quinoa seeds. A larger patch might be nice this year.

   I read up on apricot tree growing. They don't need a pollinator - as I had thought, having just one tree is fine. But I had got two, and I didn't know where to plant the second one. But the web site said apricot trees could be kept in pots! So I planted the one, and kept the other one in its larger pot. The pot wasn't full of dirt, so I first pulled it out (roots and dirt and all stayed in one lump) and added about 4" of new soil underneath. The roots, already growing out the little holes at the bottom on all sides, now have a place to expand some.

LED Light Making Update

   Well, in contrast to 2012 when I started with the few LED lighting emitter electronic components available, there are so many good LED lights available now, light "bulbs" and various fixtures for such low cost that I gave up on making them. The only reason now would be if it proves to be economic or necessary to do for grow lights for the "LED Indoor Garden" product.
   My only gripe with LED space lighting available in stores now is that they are either yellow-orange ("soft white", 2700K to 3300K color temperature) or quite blueish ("full spectrum" or "pure white", 5000K and above). The light that I like best is around 4000K to 4500K. They all seem white by themselves as the eye adjusts, but when are seen together they are noticeably yellowish (3000), a bit bluish (5000) and a bit greenish (4000).

   But some LED lights I made are now several years old, and I thought it might be "illuminating" to say how they are faring now. A 12 watt 6" globe light is in the workshop behind the lathe to light up the work. I have a 6 volt lamp with two Cree emitters on my bedroom dresser, running off NiMH cells that I recharge once in a while (or more if I forget and leave the lamp turned on.) Those two seem great - the latter perhaps mainly because it's not on that much. A 12 volt table lamp with four Cree emitters that was initially my brightest now draws less current and gives much less light, but if the voltage is increased from 12 volts to 13 the current goes back up. The voltage required by the Cree emitters seems to go up over time. I don't think it's as bright as it used to be even then.

   A 12 watt, 12 volt flat panel light worked fine when new and I was quite pleased with it on my bathroom wall for a while, but it ran warmer than I had hoped and eventually a couple of the LEDs started blinking and then quit working. I replaced them and after a while more quit. I set it aside when I moved, but on the 21st got it out and tried it (with a 12.0 volt power adapter, like most of them). I replaced 3 emitters that stopped soon or after a while.
   The current, supposedly relatively constant, was set by a resistor with one diode drop of voltage (.65-.7v) across it: .68 ohms yielding about one amp. But thinking of these emitters burning out I had earlier ordered some .82 and 1 ohm, 2 watt resistors. I replaced the .68 with a 1.0 ohm on the 21st, expecting the current to drop to about .65 to .7 amps. But four emitters at 2.9 volts is 11.6 (and the voltage needed seems to go up with age?), So the 12 volts with the diode drop wasn't quite enough. The diode voltage and current were both about .4 volts/amps. That made the light about 5 watts instead of the expected 12.
   Awk! I finally remembered that had I made the power circuit that way deliberately for running on batteries for off-grid. As the batteries got lower, the light output was supposed to drop somewhat to conserve them. By the time they drop to 11 volts the output is quite low. Notwithstanding this, the emitters were burning out with a 12.0 volt supply and less than 12 watts.
   Anyway now there's less light than there was. It also runs much cooler - hardly warm at all. The most interesting thing was that the 3 new emitters (from the same bag of 100 LED emitters, I believe) are noticeably brighter than the old ones. (Wiping the clear domes of the others with a paper towel didn't help.) Obviously I had been running them too warm, but I still get the impression from these and others that they don't seem to last as long as advertised, getting dimmer sooner than expected. It may however be because mine are in open air, not sealed in, and thus perhaps absorbing carbon dioxide. Or maybe they run too hot. Perhaps it's just as well I never did sell any!

   There was yet another lamp, a floor lamp of PVC plastic plumbing parts. It was originally 6 volts and I used the wrong power when I plugged it in after I moved. Both emitters (in series) blew almost instantly to protect the fuse. It wasn't very bright anyway. On the 23rd I dug through the drawers and found three multi-emitter modules that turned out to be "9 volts" and had the desired 4000-4500K color temperature. I spent the evening replacing the original emitters with two of these in parallel. It wasn't very bright, so I decided to change it to 12 volts with more dropping resistors, so that there was some voltage to spare. I put in four 1 ohm current limiting resistors in series to make the current about: 12v-9v = 3v; 3v/4ohms = 3/4 of an amp (which actually measured .69-.70). That's .7a*9v=6.3w (3.15w each). It still wasn't a very bright lamp, maybe the equivalent of a 60 watt tungsten bulb. But given the overheating and gradual dimming problems I've had, I thought to leave it at that. Cooling is just a big aluminum plate with no fins and some small holes in the top of the plastic diffuser.
   Writing that gave me an idea. The diffuser, which was in fact a near-transparent plastic bottle, left the lights a bit glaring and I had added a lampshade. I replaced it with with a 6" polycarbonate light globe. To my surprise the light was not only better diffused but considerably brighter. I had assumed that since it was thin and it didn't diffuse as well (you could see your fingers through it), the bottle must let the most light through, but that's evidently not the case. The globe, made to be a light diffuser, was (duh!) best for the job. (Unlike glass I can drill some vent holes in the globe as easily as in the thin plastic "bottle" diffuser. If I also drill some holes anywhere in the base unit, it will have flow-through convection ventilation.)
   And to think I had planned to make myself a nice applesauce cake that evening!
   The next morning I tried a glass 6" light globe. I had the slight impression that the polycarbonate one was a little brighter. But perhaps two glass ones from different sources might have had as much difference too. I thought I was quite pleased, but then the wire soldered to the bottom resistor melted off. Wow it was running hot! Four 2 watt resistors each dissipating only about 1/2 a watt get hot enough to melt solder? Who would expect that .7a*12v=8.4 watts total would make so much heat? Evidently it needed generous cooling holes, and fins on the aluminum plate. There I left it, having spent more than enough time on one silly light.
   But being unable to leave it almost working, the next night I added two more resistors making 6 ohms, and the current dropped to 1/2 an amp. Each resistor now dissipated only 1/4 watt and the whole light 6 watts. On the 25th I drilled the flow-through ventilation holes. Leaving it on all day on the 26th, the plate and the emitters didn't seem too warm, but the resistors were still pretty hot. Rated two watts? - Hmpf!

Electricity Generation

Small Creek... and larger... Hydro Power Units?

   I had puzzled at the shallow creeks nearby, wondering how power might be extracted from their rapids with a small floating generator unit, without a turbine of most any design hitting rocks and having all sort of problems. (And of course I think the "spiral staircase of propellers" turbine which should extract the most power from any flow. Someone proved it worked well with wind power on youtube.) Even 50 watts continuous beats a 250 watt solar panel in a rainy climate, and depending on the creek it could produce much more.

   Then, in writing up the floating hydro idea in the "fantasy budget" I came up with a modified idea, and one thought led to another. Why have a floating unit in such shallow water?; why not just something sitting on the bottom and sticking up out of the water?, and then: why not make it a trough with a solid bottom - that would keep the rocks out of the turbines. And a funnel upstream entrance could concentrate substantially more water to the turbines to make it more worthwhile. Or how about a pipe instead of a trough?: that would keep everything safely out of the turbines, and round is the right shape for the propellers. Whether the pipe was full of water or just had some in the bottom, the entire flow would turn the propellers on the shaft. Surely one could come up with some sort of small, portable low voltage unit, easily deployed and removed?
   The design could be: a screened, flat-bottomed "funnel" intake directs water into an enclosed round pipe. No fish or debris get in. Nothing lands on, floats into or otherwise disturbs the shaft of propellers enclosed in the pipe. The front of the shaft protrudes over the intake, and the generator is mounted above it (still inside the screen... or housing), connected by plastic gears or with pulleys and a belt. (If the RPMs match - and the turbine RPMs can be modified - it can be attached directly to the propeller shaft. To keep the generator out of the water a 45° U-joint might be employed to raise the end of the shaft farther up.) 2 or 3 intake funnels of different cross sections might be supplied to optimize it in different streams.
   And the propellers could have a number of possible designs, perhaps depending on flow rate and volume, and whether the pipe was to be full of water or only partly full. For a full pipe, a string of "windplant" type propellers might be appropriate. For a pipe less than 1/2 full, think of the "danger, radiation" symbol, with vanes, perhaps just two, set at an angle so the water turns them, one pair after another down the pipe in a "spiral staircase" pattern.

   To deploy the unit, first the (12 volts!) power cord would be fastened to a tree or whatever both for connection and to ensure the unit can't get away if it comes loose. Optionally it could be tethered on both banks to keep it in the middle. Then the unit would be carried into the rapids and set down. Any rocks holding it out of the water could be shifted, ideally setting it down low, perhaps into something of a trench if the water level is quite low. Rocks could be set on the flanges at the intake, or even on the pipe, to hold it in place, or stakes pounded in. The steeper the pipe can be angled from intake to outlet, the faster the flow will be and the more power the turbines will produce for a given amount of water. (hence the deployment in "rapids". A waterfall the length of the pipe is of course the ultimate.)
   Sticking to a very basic unit, this could be a fairly quick and simple demo or off-grid home power project.
   One anticipates that a small stream will shift and change with heavy rains. Occasionally having to reposition the unit would have to be accepted as part of the operation. With more depth, perhaps the front end could be floating and tied to both banks, and thus maintain its depth and position in most conditions. Variations on this theme to minimize need for manual adjustments and for different flows and depths could be many.

   Over the next days I thought of more and more variations on the design, all using the "turbine pipe" with a generator sitting on it: intakes connecting with flexible hoses to draw water from higher up; deflectors at the output to deflect other water flow away and so create more of a "vacuum" for the turbine outflow; casting small propellers in plastic to put in the pipe, and so on. (3D printed propellers?) The generator could connect to the end of the shaft with pulleys or by a "U-joint" at 45°, to put it up out of the water. One of the propellers could have a ring around the outside, making it a "propeller-pulley" to couple the generator to. Or it could have a gear around the outside to couple to a gear on the generator. A small square hole in the top of the pipe would be all that was needed to connect to the generator's gear.

   This configuration with the "turbine pipe" and a water concentrating intake became more and more the center of my thoughts for any hydro power unit, small or floating, and whether the pipe was 4 inches diameter by 2 feet long or 4 feet by 20 as appropriate for the flow volume and depth. A reinforced, screened entry and the protective pipe surround solve all the problems with the unit hitting bottom, or debris or fish getting in and hitting the propellers and causing jam-ups or damage. or harming fish. For a floating unit, the floats merely have to keep the pipe at or near the surface and prevent it from spinning in the water from the propellers' torque. This makes for simple float design with minimal buoyancy requirements.
   The simplicity of the whole thing seems fabulous and I can well imagine making commercially successful small generators, and then expanding to large if and when there is interest in it from groups of people or organizations.

   As I write the newsletter I realize I haven't done a diagram. Oh well, next time!

Electricity Storage

Nickel-Nickel with Oxalate Battery Chemie

Protecting the Positive Electrode Current Collector: Osmium Doped Acetal Ester (Thin Film)

   Okay, this is what I seem to have been struggling most with all along: to get a positive electrode current collector with a sufficiently high oxygen overvoltage, that won't corrode away in lower alkalinity electrolytes. Graphite seemed to be the substance of choice for not disintegrating, but it still seemed to cause self discharge of any cells I made. Evidently it oxidizes and in that process causes the self discharge.

   I had run out of the substance named in the title long ago. On the 20th at long last I set out to make some more. I had only done it once and wasn't looking forward to trying again using my own vague instructions from years ago and very little memory of it. I found a jar with potassium chlorochromate in it and I found some pure alcohol (Alberta triple distilled vodka), to make the acetaldehyde from.
   But before I started mixing those I found a spice jar labelled "acetal ester (ethyl acetate)" on the chemical shelf. Left from my first batch so long ago, it was already made! Near it was the vial of osmium powder. I put a little powder in the same test tube it had been in before and filled it half way with the dark liquid. It all took under 15 minutes, mostly hunting down and testing the vodka. (Just how long did I put that off for? At least a month! To congratulate myself on a job well averted, I tested some more of the vodka. It still tasted like pure ethanol.)
   Then I took a small artists brush and painted the "graphite foil" (seems more like thick "graphite plate" IMHO) that I had on the top of the cell. Just the lower face and edges, since the top doesn't get wetted with electrolyte. (hmm... I hope I'll know which face it is. I put a felt pen mark "up" on the upper face.) I left it for the night to dry.

   Is it really acetal ester? That's what I was trying for and my best guess. It is however a thin film and doped with real fine osmium powder. Osmium is almost unique among the elements in having a valence of 4 or 8 to conduct electrons through the film.

Testing: What, it works!?!

   I finally put the cell back together on the evening of the 25th, now with the coating on the graphite. Results didn't look very good. Thinking some oxalate - maybe all of it - would have been absorbed into the electrode substances, I sprinkled in a bit more potassium oxalate and left it to charge for an hour or two. When I removed the charge and checked the voltage, it dropped to 1.2 volts in a short time... and then sat there! For the first time, a nickel-nickel cell seemed to be holding a charge at a specific voltage. In previous cells, the discharge slowed but never came to any real sort of halt at any voltage. I added a bit more ethaline, and that plus putting a heavier weight on top probably got more of the powder making connection. That lost the voltage and I put it back on to charge.

  Checking later it was holding 1.3 gradually down to 1.2 volts when the charge was removed - for a while. There's still a little self discharge. Maybe I need to make a proper cell with compacted powders so that it will put out real current, and holds amp-hours instead of milliamp-seconds. Then IF the self discharge current is similar and not proportionately increased, it would take days or weeks to discharge through the area of main energy instead of minutes. Or it may be that there's a gap somewhere in the osmium film. (A second coat might make a difference?)

Nickel Pourbaix (electrochemistry) diagram showing the overall cell
potential of about 1.25 to 1.3 volts at alkaline pHes from 8 to 13  

The layers of the cell were:

* Graphite foil (or other sheet or mat of graphite)
* Thin conductive film of osmium doped acetal ester (per very early TE News issues) painted on the graphite foil
* Positive electrode powder (scorched Ni(OH)2 with La(OH)3 in bean sauce (thiamin) binder, per very early TE news issues)
* ------------------------------------------------------------- Insulator paper --------------------------------------------------
* Metallic Nickel negative electrode substance (just a sheet of cupro-nickel (70:30), surface etched with ferric chloride)

   The graphite foil sheet is of course the current collector for the positive electrode. To prevent contact of the graphite with the electrolyte, the electronically conductive thin film doped with osmium separates them.
   A number of things might be used for the positive electrode substance. I chose my old nickel hydroxide mix rather than the nickel & manganese mix to leave manganese oxides and nickel manganates out of the equation for now.
   I chose my favorite heavy "Arches watercolor paper" as the insulator paper least likely to get a hole in it and short out.
   The bottom sheet doubles as the negative current collector. To get a "real" battery with good amp-hours, nickel foam filled with minute nickel powder flakes will give lots of surface area of minute nickel particles in contact with the electrolyte. The bottom sheet would remain for its surface nickel and as the negative current collector. The copper in the sheet gives it stability regardless of charging and discharging of the surface nickel.

   The ethaline DES with the (hopefully dissolved) potassium oxalate wets the interior. One nice thing about the ethaline: it doesn't evaporate in an open cell like water does. (Say, what is the solubility of potassium oxalate in ethaline, anyway?)

Negative Electrode: + Nickel Micro Flakes

   On the 26th, not seeing any further results, I opened the cell and sprinkled a little nickel flake powder on the bottom sheet. After some more charging the short circuit current was at least 5 times higher. Not that a few tens of milliamp-seconds isn't still pretty pathetic, but it was more than before.

Electrolyte Mix: + Ca(OH)2

   Then I thought that maybe some potassium hydroxide would help. I'd have to be careful because very much would turn the electrolyte to pH 14 and the cell wouldn't work. (Metallic nickel ceases to oxidize at that pH.) First I checked the pH with a test strip. I was a little dubious about using the test strips in the ethaline instead of in water. They were hard to wet, but where it wetted it seemed to give a greenish color indicative of pH 9 or 10. I looked in the cupboard and saw calcium oxide (CaO, lime) instead of potassium hydroxide (KOH, caustic potash). That reminded me... in water lime could only raise the pH to about 12-13 because it's only slightly soluble. Again, how soluble would it be in ethaline? I decided to try that instead, and sprinkled a little in. It may have improved the current a little. Later the pH reading was around 11.5, seeming to be between the distinct color difference between greenish 9-10-11 and brownish 12. If the pH had risen to 14, the cell would have quit working, but it appears Ca(OH)2 is, if anything, even less soluble in ethaline than in water. It's perfect!

Conductivity: + Conductive Carbon Black... and the Ever Nagging Self Discharge Problem Explained

   The next morning I sprinkled some conductive carbon black onto the positive powder to increase the conductivity. Initially all went well. It scaled up the current drive by at least 5 times. Charging current went from 1-1/2mA to upwards of 6, and short circuit discharge from under 10mA to over 50 (with an initial reading of over 130).
   But soon the cell started to have a lot of self-discharge. That might be the carbon black oxidizing, or it might be that it simply doesn't have high enough oxygen overvoltage and will continue to absorb oxygen or hydroxide from the fluid and release it as a gas. In fact, it started behaving like so many of my previous cells, showing that (as I more and more suspected) the graphite not only of the current collector but of the conductivity increasing powder in the electrode has been the main cause all my self-discharge problems. Graphite powder or carbon black works great in non-rechargeable dry cells... but then those use manganese dioxide instead of nickel oxyhydroxide, which has a lower voltage. It may be that this can be overcome by charging for a long period until it's all oxidized, but after several hours it wasn't looking very promising. (perhaps with addition of more oxalate and lime?) Well, there are other ways to improve positive electrode conductivity besides carbon. In fact, just properly compacting the electrode powder I used in a powerful press, without graphite, might well make the difference.

   Nothing seemed to help after that.


   The chemistry seems good. The pH papers worked, so I guess the DES acts like water in many ways. Of course this was still just a test cell with unmeasured powders simply sprinkled on and pressed down by a bit of weight, and the electrolyte mix was equally haphazard.
   With properly mixed and pressure compacted substances (nix on graphite & carbon black!), an optimized mix of electrolyte and reasonably well sealed, it should be a real battery without notable self discharge. I expect it would be cheaper and better for electric transport than anything else out there. It should be higher energy density than lithium types simply by virtue of having very thick electrodes (up to ~5mm?) instead of thin film electrodes. Lithium is a light, energetic element, but the multiple folded-up membranes separating the many thin films needed to use it in a battery are just extra weight and bulk with zero amp-hours. And nickel has been observed to have the highest usable amp hours of any common metal.
   There are further experiments that should be tried in order to obtain the most ideal cells. Mixes of monel (cupro-nickel) with lanthanum or samarium hydroxide, and various forms of manganese oxides combined with nickel should all be tried as well as variations in electrolyte mixture.

   And the 2.6 volt (open circuit) nickel-manganese cell with the manganese negative electrode, worked out in 2010-2012, remains an interesting development that deserves more experimentation to see whether or not it may prove to be practical if the electrolyte is changed to oxalate in ethaline. (I suspect manganese may be something like iron, that it reforms into larger crystals during charge and discharge and hence has low current capacity and low actual amp-hours compared to theoretical. But the zinc powder conductivity additive seemed to work well. And anyway nickel-iron cells are still made and used today.)

   (Having attained the results I hoped for, I turned back to other projects. But on the 29th I searched the shop for an electrode compactor I knew I had somewhere. In the hydraulic press it makes 2" round "button" electrodes. In that search, I found a box with some "missing" lab supplies including the oxalic acid I had been unable to find. There was more left than I had thought. Hmpf! I could have made my own potassium oxalate after all instead of ordering some. Anyway, I needed the other things I bought in the same order. I found the compactor on another shelf.)

   Well, this has only taken 10 years! It would seem I had many or most, but not all, of the essentials for good cells right in the early times. It took the rest of the decade and a lot of learning to get the remainder.
   Now it needs someone who can put some time into it to do these things, get it all optimized and ready to produce - I'm spread too thin with other projects already. Preferably of course someone who knows some chemistry and is able to measure and quantify. A better equipped lab wouldn't hurt either.

(What, no pictures?!? Oops.)

Haida Gwaii, BC Canada