Turquoise Energy Newsletter #143 - April 2020
Turquoise Energy News #143
covering March 2020 (Posted May 3rd 2020 AD / 25 AI - After Internet)
Lawnhill BC Canada - by Craig Carmichael

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

Month In "Brief" (Project Summaries etc.)
 - Gardening: Window Greenhouse - Chicken Sled - Compressor Design for Open Loop Air Heat Pumping - Miles Battery Resore - Ground Effect Vehicle Batteries

In Passing (Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)
  - Gardening & Chickens - Gingko (or Ginkgo) Biloba for Better Memory - Small Thots - ESD

- Detailed Project Reports -
Electric Transport - Electric Hubcap Motor Systems
* Lawn Tractor as "Rototiller"? - The "Rototiller" Idea - What Really Happened - Electric Conversion Kit Arrival

Other "Green" Electric Equipment Projects
* Very High COP Open Loop Air Heat Pumping - Means for Improvement? - A Little Theory - Rotary "Bellows" Heat Pump Air Compressor/Decompressor?

Electricity Generation
* My Solar Power System: - New piece of solar equipment = Monthly Solar Production log et cetera - Notes.

Electricity Storage
* Turquoise Battery Project (NiMnOx-Zn in Mixed Alkali-Salt electrolyte) - No Report
* Miles mini cargo truck battery restoration

April in Brief

   This has been a somewhat exceptional month. I find myself unable to concentrate much on renewable energy and electric transport as the world changes by the month, if not by the week. It seems to me and many others that it will never again be "normal" as we have known it. After it being too cold to work outside even into early April, now instead with all the reports coming in and it being spring planting season, I have felt compelled to concentrate on planting a food garden and to get chickens. (Chickens have been in the plan since moving here, but I didn't really want the work of looking after them.) And the pressure of time has precluded even finishing milling the last of my spruce, or deciding to work on the long planned "CNC Gardening Machine" idea. Such a machine would now be an asset.
   Instead I started thinking of ways to plow with my lawn tractor to turn an area of tall grass and moss into an additional garden. I came up with a plan, yet even that looked like it couldn't happen in time, and I got a neighbor to dig up the patch with his tractor, dumping the thick grass and moss clods into piles nearby. I also got a kit to turn the lawn tractor electric, but then I decided I don't have time to do that this summer either. (Short blurb under Electric Transport.)

Lawn tractor electric conversion kit

Gardening: Window Greenhouse

   At the refuse transfer station I lucked out and found 5 nice thin single pane windows with cedar frames. I decided to make a "window box" greenhouse for seedlings and potted plants. I had a large south facing window that slides open. It soon proved great for seedlings in the spring - at least on days when the sun appeared. With efficient LED lights there seems little point trying to keep such a heat-sucking space warm in cold weather and I'll stick to the "Indoor LED Garden" for winter. (see In Passing, below, for more detail) Qt night my seedlings are getting "hardened off!" Day by day I get a couple more of them planted.

Chicken Sled

   I started on this lightweight coop just days before the chicks arrived. The idea is to tow it across the lawn day by day to give the occupants fresh places to forage, "free range" sort of, and save on feed. In my mind making it was trivial. In fact it took a lot longer to make then I expected. In the morning I would decide to do whatever piece was next on it and end up working on it all day. While much smaller, I think it wasn't so much less work than adding a room onto a house. Partly, I was cutting and shaping the lumber pieces for it as I went, small dimensions so it wouldn't be too heavy. (eg, 1.25" square) (Also see "Chickens" in In Passing, below.)

Day old chicks under red incubator lamp

Compressor Design for Open Loop Air Heat Pumping

   I came up with a new, rotary, design for a compressor-decompressor. At first I thought "Bellows!" There was a compressor with almost no friction, and no sliding seals! Then I thought of the "ROVAC" design. If one could have a rotating cam pressing and releasing sets of bellows there'd be no need for those nasty seals around spaces that were changing shape as it turned. But then I started having trouble imagining any bellows material that would stand up to continual flexing and changing pressures.
   That brought me back to pistons. But maybe instead of just two pistons (compression and decompression pair), one could could use the rotary shape with cams to move the pistons in their cylinders; any number of pairs of compression and decompression pistons.

   I may yet come up with something better, or at least get more sophisticated with this basic design. It seems to me slippery, dense UHMW plastic might make good piston rings and other sliding parts with minimal friction. And the layout might possibly be axial instead of radial. (Is there any way to make it so the moving parts ride on a thin cushion of air against each other to eliminate friction and wear?) Or there still may be some way to do some sort of modified 'bellows' design. I haven't settled on anything at this point. (Also see under Other "Green" Electric Equipment Projects.)

Miles Truck Battery Restore

   One electric "project" I did spend some little time on was trying to restore the "golf cart" batteries in the Miles electric mini cargo truck. Last fall some time, I had plugged in the truck's "Delta-Q" 72 voly charger to top up the batteries. I forgot about it. It decided to spend two weeks boiling the water right out of the cells at the maximum possible charge current. Thanks a lot! In fact it was in wondering why my daily electricity usage had risen so much that I finally remembered about the truck and shut it off. But there it sat. I considered putting the 100 amp-hour lithiums into it.
   35 of the 36 cells had no visible sign of liquid looking at the plates through the top holes. It took nine liters of distilled water to refill them.
   Then I put the little 2 amp pulse chargers on them, but they just said "Bad Battery" and wouldn't even try to charge them. Thanks a lot! I got out a lab power supply to start raising the voltage and got a couple of 12 volt sections started.
   At some point I thought of the 6 chargers I had bought from Canadian Tire, that had tried to fry my lithiums. They were pulsers, so they should be good for lead-acid golf cart batteries. I looked and noticed they had a 2 amp - 10 amp switch setting. Oh... 2 amps would be ideal. Improvidently I had in the last month just sold two of them to other people having trouble with golf cart batteries! I should have used them for the truck, charging each 12 volt section separately to replace the diabolical Delta-Q -- really what I had originally bought them for. It wasn't until the 26th, at least two week after I had refilled the cells, that I had all six pairs charging at once. With 180 amp-hour cells charging at 2 amps it was going to take a while, but if they really could be restored it would be worth it.

   My thoughts are that if the supply lines really are disrupted in the future, there may be no petroleum fuel at any price, and the electric truck could be invaluable for carrying local produce to town. I would mount three 305 watt solar panels on the roof and charge the batteries in three separate 24 volt sections with PWM (pulse) chargers. As long as these old lead-acid batteries last. If they're still any good now!

   Of course I would replace the clunky transmission with the planetary gear I bought for it, reprogram the controller a bit, and get it up to about 60 Km/Hr instead of 40 - yet another project I can't seem to get to.

Ground Effect Vehicle

      I blush to report how little again I did on projects. Here' what little I did do on this: I figured out how to make connections to the slit plastic "tubes" of batteries I created in March.

   That method was to put a bolt across each end, and use pieces of copper (pipe) that could be bent a bit to make them even and provide tension to hold both "flashlight tube" rows of cells all in contact with each other.
   The wires will have to solder onto the copper pieces on the stainless steel bolts inside the tubes, because if the bolts stick out even a little more to clamp a wire on the ouside, the stick is too wide to fit into the hull. (So I've made a copper tube to fit over the bolt on the "+" side, too, to solder the red wire to.)

   (That #8 AWG stove wire is sure stiff and heavy. The "plus" lead then has to go to a 100 amp breaker/shutoff switch before the "ESC" motor controller. Supposedly they can draw 120 amps. I can't believe the "22.6" volt batteries will deliver that much!)

   I hope it doesn't take me another month just to do the second one for the other hull! Everything I want to do feels like I'm swimming through molasses or something.

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

Gardening & Chickens

Window Greenhouse

   I continued my gardening in preparation for the time when food will doubtless be scarce. Along with everything else, this island is at the end of the supply chain for what it doesn't grow itself. No doubt even deer will become scarce if food gets short. At the refuse transfer station I lucked out and found 5 windows with thin (3mm), single glass and nice cedar frames. At first I thought to improve the largest greenhouse by replacing some of the "Solexx" plastic that doesn't let much light through with clear glass. Then an idea occurred to me to make a "window box" greenhouse for potted plants. I had thought of this decades ago when I lived in Victoria, but it seemed to me there wasn't enough sunlight in the winter to grow anything anyway. (I remember reading in a magazine when I was pretty young (at least 15 years BI - before internet) about "growing tomatos in winter" in a window box greenhouse. It said "they do need at least 8 hours sunlight even in December." I thought "Even cloudy Victoria gets that!". After getting all excited about building one I realized the author really meant per day in December, not for the whole month, and the intended locale must be considerably farther south and certainly not on the cloudy west coast.) Now we have efficient LED lights for winter.

   My present house has exactly one large south facing window that opens. It would be perfect. I figured that would have some advantages over a regular greenhouse:
* It is small. It can be crammed full of potted plants - greens, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, onions, my coffee bushes...
* If one desires to keep it warmer - either to stay above freezing or to where plants will actually keep growing - one merely cracks open the window into the house. Ditto the house window can be opened if it's too warm in summer. Since bugs can't get in, the window needs no screen.
* Can be used year round.
* Makes full use of natural light. (Of course LED grow lights could be added for winter.)
* It is accessed from inside the house. When you want something for supper, it's close. Deer and mice can't get in, nor slugs, nor hungry garden raiders who didn't prepare if such should make an appearance. (If they do they might get a lot of my other produce, from the garden and regular greenhouse.)

It would also have disadvantages:
* Dirt and gardening stuff has to go in and out through the house, in this case, the livingroom.
* In spite of this one being quite large for what it is, it's not a very big growing space. It's not a replacement for a large greenhouse.
* And it's not tall enough for tall plants.
* And if it's too full it'll be hard to inspect and water. The far right hand side, especially, is going to be hard to reach.
* Plants in pots can't be neglected long or they'll dry out and die. Plants in the ground put down longer roots and can tolerate some drier conditions. (Some of my seedlings in tiny 'pots' died from missing watering just one day, when they were probably also watered too lightly the day before. Others survived but were wilting. Still others were fine. ...and it I don't get up and look at them now, they'll miss today, too.)
* Unless it can be opened, pollinating insects can't get in.


   With glass windows for front and sides, what about a roof? To make a long story short, I found I had two 2x4 foot plastic light diffusers. Once upon a time I had bought them for making LED lights. Now they made 2/3 of a roof. I wished I had three. It would have been perfect. I split one down the middle to make narrower top sections. I didn't know how I would finish it, then I realized I had more in the form of three 1x4 foot fluorescent light diffusers that had been replaced and I hadn't thrown out the diffusers. The plastic from two of those made up for the missing third piece, just right to finish the roof. Now if only I hadn't split the other piece, since these two were already split! Oh well, so it ended up with an extra overlapping join. I just stapled up some small triangle pieces of polyethylene from a roll for the top of the sides.

   In practice it seemed quite nice. It got nice and warm when the sun was shining and was about neutral in clouds. But the cold draft coming through once the sun departed led me to close the window most of the way at night. I stapled in some polyethylene foam plastic as weatherstripping, but unless I can make it much better, or unless I get super cheap heat pumping going, I think I'll forget about trying to keep it warm in winter.

Other Gardening

Usually rock sieves are made from a square wire mesh. I had this grill sitting around and thought
it might let the dirt through more easily while still stopping the rocks. It sort of works, but it
lets a lot of flat or flattish rocks through. If the soil has mostly rounded or chunky rocks, it's
probably better than a square mesh.

A shot of my greenhouse mid April.
Some cabbage and beets in the foreground reseeded themselves this year. (Thinnings go into salads)
The asparagus seems well established (3rd year). They are thick and juicy.
Past the dividing wall are a couple of rows of onions from sets.
At the west end (that gets more shade from trees) I planted a cherry tree and then an apricot (here still in pot).
Close up and unseen off to the left, my 3 year old cabbage is producing flower bud
clusters that taste like broccoli. So I won't pull it up until the space is needed
or the flowers all bud out.

Here's what the cabbages outdoors do around here: they grow no head,
but in the second year they grow 5 feet tall and 8 feet long and bushy, flower,
and produce enough seeds for a farm field. This one is hardly getting started, I'm sure.

When I didn't seem to have room in the greenhouse, and with corn outdoors
last year being a total flop, I thought I'd make a plastic cover, weighed down
along the bottoms with pieces of wood stapled to it. The back is attached to the house.
(I also note a store was selling "early-something" corn seeds. Why did I not buy some of those,
since the here summer just doesn't seem to be long and warm enough for typical varieties?)

   It worked well for a couple of weeks, then a wind lifted the cover off and started banging it around in the vegetables and the corn. I had to take it off. I haven't come up with another plan except to put some rigid plastic seedling tray covers over some of them (with a rock on each one for weight). After 10(?) days, the ones under the covers are notably taller than those in open air.


   On the 21st the store called to say the baby chicks I had ordered the previous month had hatched. I can't believe they all had the same parents - two yellow, two somewhat stripey and two pretty dark. That seemed like a good assortment. By the time I got them home the little cardboard box was chirping piteously. I set up a plastic tote with food, water and a heat lamp (all bought previously when I ordered them) and once they had warmed up they seemed content.

   Evidently after a month it'll be time to move them out to the chicken sled I had just started building. If that works and nothing gets in and eats them, in six months they should start laying. Depending on how many are hens. If there's more than one rooster I'll have some chicken dinners. (More likely there'll be 3 or 4.) If there's more than two hens I'll probably sell some eggs now and then.
   The idea of the chicken sled is a portable coop I can drag around the yard and let the chickens forage in a different place every day (without letting them out where the hawks would surely get them).

   A neighbor that works at the store says the price of the feed is going up rapidly. I had already bought four big bags - I knew I'd be getting chickens sometime soon. Finally it seemed like time - and it turned out it was almost past time as chicks that were supposed to arrive by air from breeders elsewhere were canceled along with all the flights. I was probably lucky to get some this spring. Hopefully the sled will greatly cut down on the added feed required.

   (On the 25th, out of the blue, one chick was killed. Apparently that happens. Maybe I needed a bigger incubator box? Now I have five, at least one of which is a homicidal maniac.) Skipping ahead, by the end of the month it looked like they were starting to peck at each other again. Getting too crowded as they grew, I assume? I had the penthouse suite on the chicken sled enclosed by then and I moved them out there, with the incubator light, where they once again seemed fairly content.

   The chicken sled construction continued once I had them. It took a lot more time than I expected. I guess the size of a structure only makes so much difference as to how much work it is.

I started with the idea of an ultra-light 2 foot tall frame on "skis" with
chicken wire around it and a vague idea for a small coop sitting on top.
Then I decided to integrate the coop with a slanted top to give them more
vertical space within the enclosure. (Maybe add a perch in the taller area?)
(Really it wouldn't have weighed much more or been any harder to make just
to have made it 4+ feet tall all around. In fact, probably easier to make
without the odd angles. But I didn't have much of a plan. Hindsight!)

So I started closing in the coop: 1/4" plywood floor, 1/8" walls.
And of course a nest box on the side. I put it just inside my
access door so the roof didn't have to open. (I'll find out if that
proves inconvenient.)
I put the roof sheet "sideways" to drip off the ends instead of into the enclosure.

Penthouse suite

       Chicken door drops down by gravity with piano hinge behind.
                    Treadle operated from inside, or manual

   I had been looking at "automatic chicken coop doors" on line. I finally decided they didn't fit in with my sled. Instead I'd make a door that the chickens open by stepping on a peddle as they start stirring in the morning. I'll still have to close it at night. (Darned if I'm getting up at the crack of dawn to open a door for some chickens!) But I may make my own electronic one at some point. Or buy one if it's still possible.

   The chicken sled is still light enough to easily drag around in the yard to give the chickens a new place to forage every day. (They can go to work clearing and fertilizing some new garden space.)

   Meanwhile, warnings have been coming in from "Ice Age Farmer" and "Adapt 2030", and others on youtube started saying that shortages of meat are "weeks, not months" away, and on the 23rd: "as little as two weeks away". On the 25th another youtuber warned '...one week away - if you want pork, get it now.' These may be a little overly alarmist, but when it's in short supply, all the other meat will skyrocket in price and get scarce too. (It seems it also varies by area - that there are more bare grocery store shelves in Eastern USA than in the west.)
   With rapidly rising food prices along with the "to infinity, forever!" money printing printing now going on, the stage is well set for hyperinflation, the demise of present day fiat currencies, and probably at least a partial collapse of the supply chain owing to the financial collapse - everything runs on credit. (I don't suppose the OAP I've just started getting will buy much soon. Precious metal prices are rising now as people start to get out of fiat, with long delivery delays and apparently are hard to get in any quantity.) I may be really relishing the produce, chicken dinners and the eggs, by the time things are coming ready!

Gingko (or Ginkgo) Biloba for Better Memory

   For decades I used to do things like go out to the shed for something, and on my way out, by the door I would see something that was there to be put away in the shed next time I went out, so I would take it with me. I would put it away and go back in the house without doing or getting what I had gone out to do or get. Back in the house I would remember of course, and have to go out again.
   A few years ago I started taking gingko biloba supplement pills, from the ancient bi-lobed tree originating in the Permian period before the dinosaurs (the oldest living seed bearing tree?), and reputed to help with memory by improving blood flow in tiny capillaries such as within the brain.
   Nowadays I'll do the same thing, but at latest and at least, just as I start back into the house, if I haven't set about doing what I had intended, I'll remember that I was out there for some reason besides putting an item away. Then at least when I think about it for a moment, I remember what it was I came out to do.
   While one cannot unequivocally assign cause and effect to this, it does seem to me that if the gingko isn't what's helping, I must be just getting "less senile" with age.

   I have a perhaps humorous story with getting it for the first time. I had read about it in a book on supplements, 3 or 4 of which I had started taking. I was in a drug store in the vitamins section and started searching the shelves for... what was it again? "Can I help you find something?" an employee nearby asked. I said, "Maybe, except that I can't remember what it's called." I continued my search and recognized the name when I saw it. "Ah, here it is, ginkgo biloba." I said. "Now if only I could remember why I wanted it." I'm sure she must have thought I was joking, but I remembered nothing about it except that I wanted to get it and start taking it because it was recommended in the supplements book I'd just read. I had to read in the book again that it was to improve memory, and recognized the irony.

Small Thots

* Some time back, people had been posting that some of the fires in Fort McMurray and in California didn't seem natural and thought that they had been ignited and spread artificially. They sounded very convinced, and I was seriously thinking for quite some time they might be right. OTOH, what would be the motive? Would the US military really do that to test new weapons or to execute some government agenda? Then too, could it be that there have all this time been no leaks exposing the plot? The more I thought about it, the less likely it seemed.
   Recently I saw in a video of TV news a stand of dry evergreen trees in Australia during their fires. The fire caught at one end and the whole row of trees downwind was ablaze in a matter 2 or 3 more seconds. I no longer need any "conspiracy theories" to explain the amazing spread of fires in dry conditions. And then I was thinking about the metal in the posts, where the metal had charred the wood, which was otherwise not very burned. Well, if there was a fire burning around those signs and highway guard rails, the sheet metal with its large surface area would heat up quickly and transfer its heat to the bolts, then the wood would start to char around the metal and the bolts even if the rest of the post wasn't much affected. So we have the fallen metal signs and guard rails, burnt off their wooden posts.
   I still do have questions. Did the California governor really veto a dead wood cleanup bill passed unanimously by the legislature, as was reported in those videos? If so, why? Of course it would have cost money, but cleaning up a lot of dry, dead tinder would have obviously mitigated the spread and horrendous damage of those fires. And, with fire all around the main roads in and out as shown in videos by survivors, and all those burned out vehicles and homes, were there really so very few casualties as reported on the news, or were there bodies everywhere in the town afterward as the videos claimed some truck drivers that went in soon after had reported? There were certainly melted down cars parked on the streets. Did almost everyone actually make it out? It seems to me that in the Bahamas where virtually the whole of the islands were flooded out and all the habitations destroyed in the hurricane, that the puny death toll reported in the news must bear little resemblance to reality.

* Someone not that long ago said in the course of a video he had had to do something with dead bodies that had been shot during Hurricane Katrina. They might have been looters, but there were enough that he had the impression they must have shot prisoners in the jail rather than let them out or try to take them somewhere. But he didn't really know. I just hope that if it's true, it was only the ones who should have been removed from the planet anyway instead of languishing warehoused away for decades or for life at public expense.

* A redheaded woodpecker decided to start in on the back end of my house. I went out and chased him off a few times, but he came back daily, early in the morning, and started in again. ("Pellet gun" was suggested.) After a couple of weeks he had a couple of big holes and had flung out little bits of fiberglass insulation - all over, everywhere. Apparently he was trying to make a nest but didn't like the stuffing. Finally I had had enough and I went up on a ladder and screwed bits of wood over his larger holes. Then I went out with the vacuum cleaner and eventually managed to suck up all (?) the bits of insulation. (Yes I should deal with that old door, too.)
   I decided this woodpecker was not environmentally friendly, casually tossing all that artificial fiber all over the place to blow around in the wind. He came back a couple more times. I immediately went around back and chased him off both times, and that seemed to finally discourage him.

* From the Web: - This won't be the last or Worst Pandemic

* From the Web: - Our democracy no longer represents the people. Here's how we fix it | Larry Lessig | TEDxMidAtlantic
(I think my solutions are more comprehensive: HandsOnDemocracy.org
 Even more "total package" solutions: http://sites.google.com/view/danielraphael/free-downloads )

* From the Web: - The Data Is In... Stop The Panic & End The Total Isolation
Fri, 04/24/2020 - 18:55
Authored by Scott Atlas, M.D., op-ed via The Hill
(To me, the shutdowns this spring look to be leading to disastrous food shortages in the coming fall and even for a couple of years ahead.)

* Another take: - The Unseen Costs Of Government-Forced Lockdowns
(Generally Applicable!!!)  https://www.zerohedge.com/health/unseen-costs-government-forced-lockdowns

    "In the department of economy, an act, a habit, an institution, a law, gives birth not only to an effect, but to a series of effects. Of these effects, the first only is immediate; it manifests itself simultaneously with its cause—it is seen. The others unfold in succession—they are not seen: it is well for us, if they are foreseen. Between a good and a bad economist this constitutes the whole difference—the one takes account of the visible effect; the other takes account both of the effects which are seen, and also of those which it is necessary to foresee."
    ~Frédéric Bastiat

(Do we have any politicians who look ahead? It seems to me most legislation is enacted to solve one immediate problem - or even one possible potential problem which has not even manifested itself and is not certain to do so - with complete disregard for "side effects" and future effects. Whatever is done is virtually never repealed and everyones' hands are tied more and more with each decision making a right taken from the public and reserved to the government, who are notorious for saying "no" when one asks for liberty to do anything.)

* And then of course there's the main problem with everything: the population bubble.

I take exception to most of the graph. There were an estimated 50 million hunter-gatherer natives just in North America when the white man came. So it seems unlikely that the world population was much lower than 500 million primitive peoples worldwide even before the adoption of agriculture. Agriculture potentially quadruples the man-land ratio, so in the last 10,000 years the world population was likely 1.5 to 2 billion. Only "4 million" people globally at any time since humans first evolved and spread over Asia hundreds of thousands of years ago seems patently absurd; some sort of "urban myth". (Maybe they are only counting people connected to the internet?)

   However, the latter part of the graph with which we are really concerned is doubtless frighteningly accurate. It looked scary enough in the 1970s, and in the "developed world" in general we cut our family sizes substantially. We even turned our growth rates negative. But it seemed hardly anyone in the "third world", or even for the most part in the "second" (except in China with their "one child per couple" policy) did anything about slowing down their growth.
   People want sex much more than they want too many children to look after. Birth control products - and education about the whole problem along with them - would have been the best aid we could ever have sent to developing countries, so they wouldn't grow too large to feed themselves in the first place. Look at the hordes of refugees now flowing out of Africa. But that would have been proactive! It is now much too late to prevent a global collapse with mass dieoffs of people.

(Eccentric Silliness Department)

* What is the difference between a dieagram and a killogram ?

* Ducktionary: Ducktator
   1. Lords it over his fellow waterfowl
   2. What to do when someone throws a spud at you

* Bird embryo that thinks it's something special: an Eggomaniac.

* Traductions des Phrases de Craig
 "C'nest pas si grave": That's not a bad posse.
 "Tout le monde": A flute player on tour.
 "Achtung, Mimen!": Watch out for mimes! (They'll leave you speechless!)

* Pheronomes: Little imps that are tough as nails.

* Camelot: Great place to buy camels!

* Clutter: Insidious until it become ubiquitous.

   "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 just thought of and not tried... and even 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, consistency, completeness and elimination of duplications 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 and dead ends.

Electric Transport

"Rototiller" with Lawn Tractor - Lawn Tractor Electric Conversion

The "Rototiller" Idea

   I couldn't find a lawn tractor wheel rim(s), and then I decided that changing the rear wheels on the lawn tractor to do tilling was probably not all that practical anyway. Could I take my idea and transfer it to a trailer to tow behind? It still wouldn't take a lot of power to pull it.
   The weight of the tractor and rider was supposed to ensure the "shovel" bars dug into the ground as the wheels rolled. On a lightweight trailer they would just roll over without digging in. Okay, what about either weights on top of the trailer, or perhaps the wheel could be something hollow, filled with water? Really it might need both.
   So for wheels, I had seen some empty 20 pound propane tanks at the refuse station. What about two of those side by side, welded together and fitted out with the digging bars, also welded on, and filled with water? Those seemed like a rather large diameter... the blades might not twist far enough to loosen the dirt clods as they turned. Was there anything longer and thinner? Maybe some big old piece of cast iron or steel pipe?

   Sizing them up at the refuse station I took a 100 pound propane tank instead. That would be a better size to munch up a wider swath of earth. It would hold much more water to weigh it down. I figured that as long as the place to be tilled was within reach of the garden hose (with any required extensions), I could tow it there empty without it digging in much, fill it and do the job, then drain the water out and tow it back to, um, to wherever I was keeping it. (If the area wasn't within reach of the garden hose, how was I going to water it?)

What really happened

   But having so much to do I figured I wouldn't get to it this spring, and I didn't know if it would give good results anyway. I begged my neighbor with a tractor do it for me on the 19th or 20th. But he didn't use a plow or rototiller. He used the front end loader, and a cool rear small backhoe attachment that mounted on the 3-point hitch (amazing - I should have got a picture!), and dug and scraped off the whole surface layer of grass and moss, and dumped it in a couple of piles. He dragged the front end loader over it "claws down" to smooth it off and drag out more clods of roots. We found a couple of big ones from the nearby spruce tree cut down in 2017 which I had to cut out with a chainsaw.
   I would never have got that ground ready this spring, even if I had already made the tiller attachment! On the 22nd I planted a row of potatoes (the shadiest row - that end of the plot ends at the base of a three foot rise) and two rows of kamut wheat - part of my experiment to see what varieties grow best around here. A few days later I planted red fife wheat and then some more potatoes. I still had 3/4 of the plot to plant. (Next... More wheat, peas, and a row or two of quinoa.)

   But the next project is to build a fence around it. A deer walked through the planted area and left deep hoof prints a couple of times. No doubt deer would eat all the potato leaves as they come up. Then a mouse (?) dug some holes and dug up individual grains of the red fife wheat where the sandy digging was easiest. (Okay, the fence won't keep mice out! I put some 1/2 inch squares wire fence material on the ground in the worst places.)

Electric Conversion Kit Arrival

The kit to convert a typical lawn tractor such as mine to electric.
All the special parts plus wiring diagrams and instructions.
The small box at the rear has two motors that directly drive the mower blades:
No more belts and complex mechanics.

The 24 volt motorized transaxle.

   I don't get excited too easily these days. But on the 11th the electric conversion kit for the lawn tractor arrived, 10 days ahead of Canada Post's e-mail prediction. (I wondered if it might - if perhaps shipping volume would be down owing to so many thing being closed. But I hear that's changed to delays as everyone is presently ordering everything on line.) I was afraid the motorized axle was too short, but when I measured the tractor, it seemed right. (There were instructions for lengthening it if necessary, but it looked like a substantial amount of work.)
   So it looked great, but the next morning I decided to curb my enthusiasm as I had too many other things to do. (Window greenhouse done, full of plants... On with the "chicken sled" before the chicks arrive!) The kit went into a storage room.
   There were green energy projects with higher priority or closer to finished, too... but for the most part they also had to be set aside.

Other "Green" Electric Equipment Projects

Simple Air Compression Heat Pumping
- or -
How to Heat a Building Almost for Free

Means for Improvement?

   It occurs to me that a factor in the poorer performance of the larger Makita compressor versus the small refrigerator compressors may possibly be "overloading" of the outdoor heat exchanger, with the air coming in faster with insufficient time for exchanging heat, and hence colder. More measurements of incoming temperatures from this unit might be valuable.
   In addition, some of the larger volume of air it requires might be coming from window cracks and other air leaks. It might make a difference to connect the incoming air from the heat exchanger directly to the air intake of the compressor with a hose or pipe, to ensure that's where it's getting its air from. (Didn't get to it.)

A Little Theory

   One of the readers who sent me some info on air compression and compressed air heat pumping sent me a bunch more. But I finally got down to reading some more of the first batch.

   It occurs to me: Regarding the compressed air car whose energy was said to be from the sun, visualize a tank of air, painted black and sitting outside in the sunlight. The tank is going to get warmer, along with the air inside it. Since the volume is constant, the air pressure will rise with temperature. The pressurized air can then be used to do work, eg, directed out through a piston to drive the car or a locomotive. And obviously, once the tank is down to atmospheric pressure, the air can be changed for cool fresh air and the process repeated. I don't think this is really how the compressed air car was supposed to work, but in theory we must concede that a solar powered compressed air car is possible. We may also see other ways of doing it and perhaps of making high COP use of the air.

   The book's subject was compressors and compressed air engines, so their thrust is a little different than for heat pumping. They suggest that the cooling of decompression and the heat of compression can be put together to annul and prevent the undesirable heating of the compressor and cooling of the engine. But for heat pumping, we want to keep them separate: the compressor should pump as much heat as possible to be applied as warmed air to the radiator pipes, and then as much heat as possible is to be extracted from those before the coldest possible air is sent to the great outdoors, having delivered the maximum possible amount of heat into the building, and then (given a special compressor) having also given up its pressure energy to assist with the compression of the incoming air.

Some Notes:

amount of heat energy required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of air by one degree (C or K) is .276 watt/hours. (And IIRC air at sea level is around 2 Kg/m^3)

Ideal gas law: P*V = n*R*T

Where P is pressure, V is volume, n is the amount of gas (in "moles": 6.02*10^23 molecules), R is the ideal gas constant for putting everything in the desired units, and T is the temperature.

R = .08314 Bars*Liters / Moles*Degrees-K


   For what seems like a pretty simple, straighforward relationship between changes of volume, pressure and temperature of a gas (air), the overall situation actually starts to get rather complex. It is noted that in adiabatic air compression, that is, where the heat of the air is retained during compression, as the air is compressed, it is also heated, which further raises its pressure. If a quantity air is suddenly compressed into half its space, the pressure is doubled... but the temperature is also doubled. Doubling the temperature also doubles the pressure. So then the pressure is actually multiplied by four. So if we are measuring the pressure and double it, we are not doubling the quantity of the gas.

   According to the book a ratio of 1.406 applied: if an energy of 1.406 units is applied to adiabatically compress air, the energy in that air consists of 1.000 units in the increased pressure, and .406 units in the extra heat energy of the air. I wondered where this figure came from.
   Instinctively I suddenly thought it should be the square root of 2: 1.414 rather than 1.406... which figure (looking again at the book) was apparently taken from measured values and calculated with some numbers of only 3 digits precision. If one compresses air to 1/1.414 of its volume, then P*T = 1.414*1.414 = 2 : pressure has been doubled with compression and increased temperature, each the square root of doubled. Suddenly the theory added up! 1.406 may also have been derived from the fact that no gas is actually an "ideal gas", but for the sake of clarity I'm going to use 1.414 for now.
   So our efficiency of the compression to pump heat is .414 / 1.414 = 29%. (Using 1.406 also rounds off to 29% anyway.) So only 2/7ths of the energy is heat. Once the heat has been dissipated, the other 5/7ths of the energy is still available in the compressed air. (This would assume the air is the same temperature as it went in at. We have actually extracted still more heat via the outdoor heat exchanger and it is colder. So it has yielded more then 29% of its energy as heat.) In a system with a regular air compressor this 5/7ths of the energy hisses out the exit valve outdoors, wasted.
   So if we had a theoretical possible COP of 30 from having a temperature lift of 10°C, 29% efficiency immediately drops it to 8.7 even if everything else is perfect. This starts to give a glimmer of why the regular air compressor gives poor performance.
   If we make a compressor that utilizes the exiting air to help compress the incoming air, we gain 71% (or say 67% since the air is colder), or in other words the compressor only needs 33% as much energy as a regular air compressor. This doesn't sound as good as my previous estimates, but it still gives 8.7 / .33 = 26 theoretical COP before various mechanical losses.
   The application in the book was for compressing air for later use by a compressed air engine, and notes that the compressed air's heat energy is lost because it cools before it is used. Here we use the heat energy and it's the compression energy that mustn't be wasted.

   My big takeaway is that it doesn't change my essential conclusions from all the experiments:

1. Open loop compressed air heat pumping employing an outdoor heat exchanger should be possible and effective with some very high COP.
2. In order to get a very high COP figure, a specially made air compressor/decompressor must be utilized.
3. With allowance for the law of diminishing returns, the better the outdoor heat exchange, the higher the COP will be even at very cold outdoor temperatures.

Rotary "Bellows" Heat Pump Air Compressor/Decompressor?

   So again, what might an appropriate compressor for heat pumping look like? The ROVAC had some appealing aspects, but the seals of the sliding vanes seemed almost problematic. I discovered in a bit of the new material that a similar compressor for refrigeration ran at 25000 RPM. That explained how it could be done at all: the air was pushed through so fast it didn't have much time to leak out. In the ROVAC also the spinning cylinder was pushing almost horizontally on the vanes where they had to slide vertically, so there must have been a lot of friction.

   I thought of a bellows, the manual air pump "accordion" device for blowing air onto a fire. It only has one air inlet and one outlet. Other than that it's a sealed unit. If something conceptually along those lines was placed within a rotary device, an elliptical rotor (or perhaps one with a cam or cams) could press on the bellows and activate it. There wouldn't have to be sliding seals on the rotating mechanism. (Hereinafter I'll call this a "bellow unit")
   Then, if there was another opposite bellow unit whose input was the compressed air side (the cold but still compressed air after heating the radiators and outdoor heat exchanger), it would be pushed open by that air and so the expansion of that air would help turn the compressor.
   Any number of cams could activate each bellow unit any number of times per rotation. Likewise, any number of pairs of compressing/decompressing bellow units could be activated by each cam ( or pair of cams). If more than one pair of bellow units were offset to operate at overlapping times during the cycle, operation might be very smooth. (And hopefully much quieter than a person bellowing.)
   Since no seal is required, the cam(s) or ellipse can have bearing wheels that roll across the bellows units with very low friction. (or each bellow unit might have a bearing.) So if such "bellows" units prove easy enough to make, this design might even prove to be more efficient (have lower losses) than a piston type... or maybe even than any other type?

   Should it prove difficult to make suitable and long lasting self-sealed "bellows" units, perhaps each one could be replaced by a piston and cylinder, which would be activated by the cam. This would have the friction of the piston seal, but that would doubtless be less than that of sliding vanes.
   The thought also occurs that each piston might do double duty: compress air on the approaching cam, and decompress it as the cam is going behind. A problem with that approach is that it is then being cooled between compression-heating cycles, which seems counterproductive in a heat pump.

(28th) I started thinking of different "bellows" arrangements. The outer case could be a short hollow cylinder with precision sides (ends). The moving face of each "bellows" would be slick UHMW, made to seal well enough against those sides. Its end would be a rounded extension of that face, which would slide into a similarly rounded slot in the outside rim.
   When the elliptical rotor face (or cam) started pressing on the bellows face, the air trapped underneath would be pressed through a hole on the outside leading to the radiator ducts.

   As May started I started thinking that with the slick UHMW and high precision parts (unlike the sort of parts I make), perhaps one could go for [a cylindrical cylinder with] an elliptical rotor with seals at the sides and on the outside where the maximum diameter was, so it would be something like a low-leakage wall spinning around. A thinner part of the ellipse would contact a hinged "door" or a "bellows cover" that would fold down flat as the thicker part of the ellipse rotated toward it. And maybe it could be two flat surfaces that come together so that the "bellows" is pushed closed via a thin cushion of air to reduce or eliminate friction.
   But as I edit the newsletter to try and finish it, I'm thinking of so many potential variations on a theme that my mind is boggled. I was going to do a diagram, but I'm afraid clarity isn't really there and it's going to have to wait until next month.

   ...I should continue reading the book I was sent, too. I've certainly learned from the part I've read. Should I be so conceited as to think I now know everything? Maybe better solutions will present themselves?

Electricity Generation

My Solar Power System

New Equipment

   I was going to order another plug-in grid tie inverter and add a couple more solar panels to the system. (It's not only cheaper but just way more convenient than the ones you have to wire into an electrical panel.) But I saw, and on a whim, decided to order a 5 KVA pure sine wave inverter / 48 volt PWM (lead-acid) battery charger / utility tie. This programmable unit will power your devices from solar, the utility grid, or batteries depending what's available, and recharge the batteries from solar or utility grid. A stand alone generator can stand in for the "utility grid" if required. It is not however a grid tie inverter: it won't send power to the utility grid from the solar panels. (Unfortunately I didn't see a 36 volt model.)
   I'm not sure if I'll be using it or reselling it later.

Month of April Log of Solar Power Generated [and grid power consumed]

(All times are in PST: clock 48 minutes ahead of sun, not PDT which is an hour and 48 minutes ahead. DC power output readings - mostly the kitchen hot water heater for some months, then just lights - are reset to zero daily (for just lights, occasionally), while the others are cumulative.)

Solar: House+DC, Trailer  => total KWH [grid power meter reading(s)@time] Sky conditions
31st 106.26,1059.54 => 11.11 [55Km,chj; 73434@19:30] Some sun again at last!, dull sun, and clouds. High 5°

  1st 113.68, 1065.07 => 12.95 [73454@19:30] SUN! At last a full sunny day! High 3°, low -2. (still feels like winter somehow.)
 2nd 117.00, 1067.38 =>   5.63 [73485@19:00] CLOUDY! I guess yesterday was a one-off. High 4°.
  3rd 121.55, 1070.89 =>   8.06 [55Km,chj; 73516@19:00] Clouds, 4°. A bit of misty rain and snow to end the day.
  4th 124.63, 1072.63 =>   4.77 [35Km, chj; 73562@20:00] Mostly clouds, 4°, a few snowflakes.
  5th 131.00, 1077.17 => 10.91 [73587@20:00] Pretty much sunny, all day! Even a bit warm.
  6th 134.87, 1079.83 =>   6.53 [73608@19:30] Mostly clouds, a little sun. But getting warmer at last!
  7th 141.79, 1084.82 => 11.91 [55Km,chj; 73637@20:00] Warmer - YAY! Also quite a bit of sun.
  8th 144.25, 1086.49 =>   4.13 [73672@20:30] Cloudy. A few drops of Rain.
  9th 147.57, 1088.86 =>   5.69 [87691@20:00] Mostly cloudy.
10th 155.14, 1094.80 => 13.51 [55Km,chj; 73713@2100] Sunny! (Now warm enough to let woodstove go out during day)
11th 162.75, 1100.86 => 13.67 [55Km,Chj; 73736@19:00] Sunny. (A few jet trails later PM.)
12th 170.06, 1106.80 => 13.25 [73754@19:00] Sunny; quite a few jet trails.
13th 174.76, 1110.15 =>   8.05 [73774@18:30] Light Overcast.
14th 179.42, 1113.59 =>   8.10 [73791@20:00] More of the same.
15th 186.30, 1118.95 => 12.24 [73813@20:30] Mostly sunny. Low +4°.
16th 193.67, 1124.18 => 12.60 [78837@21:00] Mostly sunny, some light overcast.
17th 199.83, 1128.85 => 10.83 [30Km,chj; 73859@19:00] Mostly sunny. Hi +12° Lo +5°
18th 207.55, 1135.08 => 13.95 [55Km,chj; 73880@19:30] Sunny +13°
19th 210.30, 1136.93 =>   4.60 [73894@19:30] Overcast & Undercast (some fog). Hi +8°.
20th 214.94, 1140.13 =>   7.84 [55Km,Chj; 73922@19:00] Overcast.
21st* ! What happened to the 21st?!? Oh ya... excitement... baby chicks arrived! Overcast. {*est 6.5}
22nd* 225.17,~1147.5=>17.60* [73968@20:30] Overcast AM, sunny PM  {*est 17.60-6.5 = 11.10}
23rd 230.08, 1151.16 =>   8.57 [73988@21:00] Cloudy.
24th 234.08, 1153.95 =>   6.79 [50Km,Chj; 74018@19:00] Cloudy.
25th 237.71, 1156.47 =>   6.15 [74054@20:00] Clouds, rain, wind, cold... sun for a few minutes.
26th 240.44, 1158.76 =>   5.02 [74083@20:00] Overcast
27th 245.63, 1162.50 =>   9.03 [55Km,chj; 74124@20:30] Overcast, some rain, a little sun midday.
28th 250.08, 1165.76 =>   6.97 [74156@21:00] Mostly rain and wind, bit of sun.
29th 255.92, 1169.95 => 10.03 [74185@19:30] Mixed clouds and sun
30th 262.35, 1174.66 => 11.14 [74218@20:30] Mixed sun & clouds

  1st 266.67, 1177.70 =>   7.36 [55Km,Chj; 74252@19:30] Mixed clouds, rain and clouds.
 2nd 270.99, 1180.69 =>   7.31 [74285@20:00] Cloudy AM, sunny later PM.
  3rd 276.57, 1184.77 =>   9.66 [74318@21:00] Clouds, sun, rain, clouds, sun, moon.

Daily KWH from solar panels. (Compare April 2020 with March 2020 & with April 2019.)

March 2020 (11 panels)
April 2020 (11 panels)
April 2019 (10 Panels)
Total KWH

Monthly Tallies: Solar Generated KWH [Power used from grid KWH]
March 1-31: 116.19 + ------ + 105.93 = 222.12 KWH - solar [786 KWH - used from grid]
April - 1-30: 136.87 + ------ + 121.97 = 258.84 KWH [608 KWH]
May  - 1-31: 156.23 + ------ + 147.47 = 303.70 KWH [543 KWH] (11th solar panel connected on lawn on 26th)
June - 1-30: 146.63 + 15.65 + 115.26 = 277.54 KWH [374 KWH] (36V, 250W Hot Water Heater installed on 7th)
July  - 1-31: 134.06 + 19.06 + 120.86 = 273.98 KWH [342 KWH]
August 1-31:127.47 + 11.44+91.82+(8/10)*96.29 = 307.76 KWH [334 KWH] (12th panel connected on lawn Aug. 1)
Sept.- 1-30: 110.72 + 15.30 + 84.91 = 210.93 KWH   [408 KWH] (solar includes 2/10 of 96.29)
Oct.  - 1-31:  55.67 + 13.03 + 51.82 = 120.52 KWH, solar [635 KWH - from grid]
Nov. - 1-30:  36.51 +   6.31 + 26.29 =   69.11 KWH, solar [653 KWH - from grid]
Dec.  - 1-23: 18.98 +   .84* + 11.70 =   31.52 KWH, solar + wind [711 KWH + 414 (while away) = 1125 from grid]
Jan.  - 6-31: 17.52 + ------* + 10.61  =  28.13 KWH, solar+ wind [1111 KWH from grid]
Feb.  - 1-29: 56.83 + ------* + 35.17  =  92.00 KWH, solar + wind [963 KWH from grid]
One year of solar!
March - 1-31: 111.31 + ----* + 87.05 = 198.37 KWH solar total  [934 KWH from grid]
April   - 1-30: 156.09, + ---- + 115.12 = 271.21 [784 KWH from grid]

* Solar hot water tank removed because the mineral-rich water stank. (Why doesn't it stink in the main house tank?) Now the solar DC system is only running a couple of lights - not worth reporting. So there's just the 2 grid tie systems: house and "roof over travel trailer".

Things Noted - April 2020

* After the 18th (13.95 KWH) there were no fully sunny days, which might have generated a daily 14 or 15 KWH toward the end of the month. Whole sunny days in May (I *hope* there will be some!) should hit those figures.

* Overall April 2019 (10 solar panels) must have been a little sunnier than April 2020 (11 panels) to give 258 KWH.

Electricity Storage (Batteries)

Turquoise Battery Project: Long lasting, low cost, high energy batteries

   Wow... With everything ready to make what should be the best cell so far... Sorry, no report!

Miles Mini Cargo Truck "Golf Cart" Battery Revival

   Around mid month I decided I should either put 72 volts of 100 AH lithium cells into the truck, or else try to resurrect the truck's golf cart batteries that had been fried at full blast for a couple of weeks some moons ago by the truck's own "Delta-Q" charger (some "top-up"!), and see if they would still work and hold any good amount of charge. I had been reluctant to try it, not enthused about the prospects, and was leaning toward just putting in the lithiums.

   I started opening the tops. 35 of the 36 cells showed no sign of moisture looking down on the plates. One still had water. It took 9 liters of distilled water to refill them. Then I got out some various 12 volt pulse chargers and started hooking them up to each of the six pairs of 6 volt batteries making up 12 volt sections. I kept the current down to 2 amps.
   To make a long story short, voltages came up - some of them pitifully slowly, with chargers that kept deciding the 180 amp-hour batteries weren't charging and shutting off.
   On May 1st, one of the chargers said "Full" and that pair read over 14 volts. A couple of others were over 12, while the other three were still at 10.5, 9 and 7.5.

If these batteries come back to life - or if most of them do and I replace a couple - I seem to have made a big mistake. I had six of the pulse chargers (switch select 2 or 10 amps), enough to charge the truck without using the homicidal "Delta-Q", but after not using them for about 4 years, and on finding they try to fry lithium batteries, I sold two of them in the last month to others with golf cart battery problems. Now I don't have the six matched chargers.

Haida Gwaii, BC Canada