Turquoise Energy Newsletter #154 - March 2021
Turquoise Energy News #154
covering March 2021 (Posted April 2nd 2021)
Lawnhill BC Canada - by Craig Carmichael

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

Month In "Brief" (Project Summaries etc.)
 - Snow - Handheld Bandsaw Mill: Kits? - A New Chevy Sprint EV Plan - Miles EV Mini Cargo Truck - New Chemie Batteries - Plastic Recycling - Beehive - Ground Effect Vehicle (R/C model) - More Stuff

In Passing (Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)
 - The Way Forward? Part 2 - Silverware Drainer Mark II - Small Thots (CoViD) - ESD

- Detailed Project Reports -

Electric Transport - Electric Hubcap Motor Systems
* A New Chevy Sprint EV Plan
* Miles electric cargo truck delayed project - Balancing of new shaft from motor to planetary gearbox - The Other Things
* EV Efficiency: Better Tires -- Lower Rolling Resistance increases EV range
* Lawn Tractor Starter Motor Repair

Other "Green" Electric Equipment Projects
* Handheld Bandmill To Double As Bench-Mounted Shop Bandsaw? - Commercialization: Kit?

Electricity Generation
* My Solar Power System: - Monthly Solar Production log et cetera

Electricity Storage
* Turquoise Battery Project (NiMnOx-Zn in Mixed Alkali-Salt electrolyte)
 - Making New Cylindrical Cell - Trying to plate Zinc - Drawing copper cans?

March in Brief

It Snew

   One expects by mid March that spring is arriving. On the 11th I was thinking about planting seedlings and putting them out in my window greenhouse. I went for a walk in the rain in the late afternoon. As I walked it sort of turned to sleet or snow. By evening it was a blizzard, and the next day the heavy wet snow broke a 16 foot 2"x3" fence board and the net over the new "portable" chicken yard collapsed - in spite of my having gone out and beaten the snow off the net with a stick a few hours earlier. (The heavy snow fell through the net when disturbed.) The snow got to maybe a foot deep on the ground. It started melting, but it froze each night and kept snowing until the 14th. Snow covered the ground until the 15th. On the 15th it went up to 4° and really started melting, and there was bare ground in patches on the 16th. At first it covered all the solar panels and there were a couple more "zero kilowatt hours" daily power made. Then it melted off some and I dumped the snow off a couple of the panels on the lawn, but they weren't all clear again until the 16th, and there were still patches of snow on the ground until the 18th.

   While there were many things that needed doing around the ranch, perhaps it was the bad weather that got me working on some green energy projects again. I didn't get any seedlings planted.

Handheld Bandsaw Mill - Kits?

   I had shown my bandmill to Wayne a couple of years ago, and I had talked with him again recently. Now he contacted me and said he thought I really had something. He just wanted to help, and said the design should go somewhere and not be lost through neglect. He suggested that I should sell plans or kits, and also that it would be great if it could be turned on end and used as a shop type bandsaw. Selling plans sounded like a way to waste peoples' time and energy - there were various little special parts that had to be ordered from various sources... just to make one saw?
   Selling kits sounded good to me. I thought of the lawn tractor electric conversion kit I had bought. There were all kinds of little parts in it that the guy selling the kits had obtained in some quantity that I'm glad not to be hunting for to get one of each. (I'd probably still be hunting. But yes, it's still sitting in my storage waiting for me to have time.)
   The idea of using it on end as a shop bandsaw sounded ludicrous to me. It certainly wasn't made for that, and shop bandsaws are widely available!

   I met with him and he made the point that not everyone has shop space to dedicate to a bandsaw and the working space it needs around it. A bandsaw that could attach to a workbench and then be put away when it wasn't in use would be just the thing for a lot of people. Plus, someone who used it rarely could just attach their skillsaw when needed and not even buy a motor for it. (And a whole low cost skillsaw is cheaper than most any motor by itself anyway!) Hmm... maybe something could be made that would clamp the saw to a workbench and it could be used in a safe manner that way. That would almost make it a mass-market sort of shop tool. (Eliminating my own shop bandsaw would free up considerable shop space!) And it could still mill a nice hardwood tree cut down at somebody's house into lumber in situ, instead of the owner having to cut it into firewood.
   Wayne also had some good contacts: a company that made some potentially useful special parts, and one already making various specialty tools that he thought was honorable and that might like to manufacture the kits. That actually sounded promising. Perhaps this should be where my commercialization of products should start? If it's to start anywhere, a project with a finished prototype that has been proven to work really well (it has cut a lot of lumber!) should really be ideal. And Wayne seems to know how to deal with the specialty tool company for presenting a new product to them - the agreements to be signed first et al.

   I started by taking video footage of taking apart the saw, to make a video of it as I had said I would do a couple of years ago. (I was leery of taking it apart, but I haven't cut anything since I finished milling the last couple of cants early last summer. And it's not like I couldn't put it together again in a couple of hours if I needed it... as long as I'm careful to keep all the parts together. There's nothing like parts that belong together getting separated. I met someone who had a whole collection of "tupperware" and not one lid matched one container! Same with an espresso maker, peanut butter maker and blender... just the bottoms. And then there's... well, I digress.)
   Then I made some wooden "mock-ups" of steel parts that would be CNC cut then welded together, to get them all fitting together and then to take measurements of them. But I'll have to make actual parts and try it out.

Wooden mock-up of drive side plate.
(Now, how to weld posts onto wood?)

A New Chevy Sprint EV Plan

   The original differential from the Sprint's transmission, installed either in the original transmission or in the experimental steel box I made, took up the space for the "novel" transmission things I wanted to add. It did provide a handy 3.8 to 1 gear reduction. On the 16th I got a group email about a new rear axle with an electric motor made for pickup trucks.

   It was academicly interesting in itself, but somehow it crystallized some recent thoughts about connecting two motors via planetary gears straight to the CV shafts of a front wheel drive vehicle (not exactly a new idea of course)... or... perhaps... to do just one motor to one front wheel in the Sprint.

   Where the forklift motor had run the car adequately with the gears in the original automatic transmission set up fixed at 9 to 1, I now picked 5 to 1 -- and hoped that with the rated 96+% efficiency it would still climb up my steep driveway. With the 2000-2500(?) RPM forklift motor, that would get the car up to 40-50 KmPH instead of 25. (A 5000 RPM motor would make that more like 100 KmPH.)
   I found a suitable looking planetary gear on AliExpress.com and it was hardly 30% of the price of the one I got from Anaheim Automation a year or more ago, even counting the costly shipping. The working torque spec was slightly higher (210 Nm versus 155) but maximum rated torque was lower (315 Nm versus 465). Well, it's a light car and a small motor! If 5 to 1 proves to be too low a reduction, I can buy a higher ratio one the same shape and size and still be ahead in cost. (And I have another potential use for the 5 to 1.)

The Gear.

1. Connect Planetary gear to motor to make a single assembly.
2. Remove one CV drive shaft.
3. Mount motor & gear assembly under hood here somewhere.
4. Connect gear output to remaining CV shaft.
5. Reassemble/rewire everything with the lithium iron phosphate batteries
- or two stacks of the new lithium ion ones.

   Of course this would just basicly get the car rolling. Eventually I could add the 100% efficient variable torque converter and then presumably further reduce the planetary final reduction ratio to allow higher driving speeds without the motor revving higher. (But at higher speeds, the forklift motor will probably power the car better downhill than uphill.)
   And - even more "someday" - when I get the CNC router software going to make molds for the polypropylene-epoxy body parts - replace the forklift motor with a unipolar Electric Hubcap type BLDC 'pancake' motor.
   Unless I use a more powerful motor than I'm planning on for now, it certainly won't be a "muscle car". But if one drive didn't take up too much room, I could add the same thing on the other wheel and get good power and performance. (At some point there'd be the possibility of selling kits?)

   I decided to wait until I got the gearbox and see how things fit together before deciding just how I would install it.

Miles Mini Cargo Truck

   The more I thought of the Sprint car, the more it seemed silly that I hadn't finished with the truck when there were just a few little jobs to do on it. So I finally crawled underneath, removed the shaft, and supporting both ends on the lathe, got the coupler centered for balance. Then I took it to Steve to have it tack welded as he said, "in three places on each side of the coupler", so nothing could slip or shift during operation. I could weld it myself, but I'm not a good welder. The vibration from having it off balance shows that it's a critical piece and I'd rather have a pro do it than mess it up. I want the truck to run well and smoothly! I got it back welded at the end of the month.

   (After putting that back in there are a few more jobs before it'll be working well. => Detailed Report)

Plastic Recycling

   I saw a video from people who had developed some giant, hollow "Lego" type recycled plastic blocks for making walls. It mentioned "PreciousPlastic.com", and for some reason I went there. This time I found a link to "Bazar.PreciousPlastic.com", which had somehow escaped my notice on every previous visit. (Maybe it's new?) I had been looking before for the cut metal parts for plastic recycling machines and found nothing, but finally here was more than I had hoped for: people independently making and selling plastic recycling and processing parts, kits and machines all over Europe and the world - an "e-Bay" of plastic recycling equipment.

   The prices for some of these 'kits of the essential parts' looked quite affordable, although obviously the shipping would be costly. Here (as I also anticipate with my handheld bandsaw mill kits), deciding to undertake the project is a lot easier with a good starting point: a kit with the essential and custom components, even if they aren't complete with all parts.
   I decided to order the basic plastic shredder box kit (assembled), full of rotating and stationary chopping blades, from a maker in Czech republic. (225 Euros plus 125 for shipping) A table, hopper, motor and reducing gear have to be found separately, but the box is the key part.

The plastic shredder box, with stainless steel blades. The shredded
plastic bits come out the bottom and pass through a sieve.
Pieces too large for the sieve holes (various sieve sizes available)
get churned up and shredded some more. The sized "crumbs"
fall into (any) container placed under the table.

   Then at about the end of the month I started looking at a kit from India that was the essentials of a plastic extruder. (300 Euros - Good price: anything else was just loose parts or much more expensive.) On the output of the PreciousPlastic extruder is a standard pipe thread fitting. Therefore, when one designs any mold, simply make it with the matching threaded pipe fitting or thread for the plastic to flow in through. Screw it onto the extruder (or injector) to connect them.
   An injector is similar to an extruder, but it has a handle like a water pump that is manually operated. A batch of shredded plastic is put in and heated, then the liquified plastic is pressed out rapidly into a mold by pressing the big "water pump" handle. The volume of the mold can't be more than what the injector holds.
   The extruder keeps on heating and pressing plastic out with a screw mechanism, and it has a hopper that may be continually fed more shredded plastic for a continuous process or to fill a large mold.
   Some make "lumber" or rods using long pipes for molds. I'd more especially like to extrude transparent greenhouse panels from clear food containers, maybe 2 feet wide, perhaps corrugated, and extrude them to arbitrary lengths, eg 8, 10, 12 or 15 feet long. or longer! (a 30 inch wide by 10 foot long "Suntuff" greenhouse panel is over 50$ in the stores around here, while zillions of transparent plastic food containers are used once and discarded.)

   By the end of the month I was starting to think of the fact that extruders and injectors need heaters to melt the plastic and temperature controllers to (what else?) control the temperature of the heaters. On AliExpress the heaters, which wrap around the injector or extruder pipe, are called "ring heaters". They specifically mention plastic injection in their descriptions. "Oven thermostats" would seem to be the right temperature controllers. I ordered a very few of each.

   The other general purpose machine one might want and can buy would be a plate or sheet press, and I think that would be heavy to ship and easy enough to make. For small sizes the plate/sheet mold could be heated in the kitchen oven, then taken out (quickly!) to the hydraulic press in the shop. Come to think of it, the book press might be adequate and could be placed on the kitchen counter. I could use UHMW-PE or HDPE to make molds for making Electric Hubcap type motors. I could make a couple 500 * 500 * 100 mm, with thick top covers, for the big unipolar motor. Those would be some very pricey chunks from a store. (And when you route out the mold cavities, you get back lots of shredded plastic for the next piece!)

   I also saw that molds for the "giant Lego" bricks in the video were available on the bazar.

   Finally I can see getting plastic recycling happening without bothering with trying to get a financial subsidy. Not that I am very excited about taking on yet another project, but I know others are interested and having the equipment should make the difference. And waste plastic is a HUGE problem! And after all, I still want those transparent greenhouse panels!
   The next question is who and how to involve people. (I do have a few names.) Definitely some plastic contributors would be required! (One could even pay some small amount per pound for clean, sorted plastic scraps. That would give people an incentive to collect it and do it right.)

[April 2nd] Hold the presses, here's a press! One wonders about online spying, but somehow AliExpress sent me an e-mail with suggestions, the first one of which was the screw and tube for an "oil press" ("400 grams of oil from 1 Kg of peanuts"). The screw looked almost identical to those for plastic extruders! With some examination, it looked like an oil press might actually work as a ready-made plastic extruder just about as it was, with a mod or two and nothing much else to buy!

   I found a machine that looked really appropriate. It was over 600 watts and could be set at up to 250°C, with a longer screw and boasting many features that seemed better than most of the other oil press machines being advertised. It was the only 120 volt one that said it would do coconut and hemp oil. If any "oil press" would extrude plastic for me, this would be it! And I don't see why it wouldn't. So there went another 371$C... but after all that was substantially less even than the cheapest incomplete kit at bazar.preciousPlastic.com And free shipping!

   Hopefully the only mod will be to put the pipe thread screw on the "dry waste" (ie, the melted plastic) output. Even that may simply be a screw-in piece. I expect no oil will come out.

New Chemie Batteries

   Being unable to get a decent coating of zinc on the inside of a copper can, I finally curled up a couple of thin sheets of zinc inside the other one and put a cell together. At one point it sat holding 1.8 volts like it was supposed to, but it had various problems including almost no current drive and dropping voltages. I ended up taking it apart without having learned much.
   I'm guessing (a) there was some low resistance path between the electrodes and or (b) that the agar gel wasn't admitting electrolyte and hence the ionic connection between electrodes was tenuous (after all, I'm hoping the agar will exclude zinc ions) and or (c) that the zinc sheets didn't have good electrical contact to the copper.
   There's about 3 things to do different in the next try:
- double up the separator paper
- impregnate the agar with some KCl salt (...as well as the forgotten zirconium silicate)
- get a proper layer of zinc on the inside surface of the copper can.

   About the end of the month I got a suggestion from Jose to make a zinc electrode by electroplating zinc into a piece of graphite foam or felt, which would be placed around the inside wall of the can, in contact with the copper. The idea seems very promising. To do it I need a bigger can - 1 inch pipe instead of 3/4 inch.

   I also made a new center "+" electrode for the next cell. It took several tries, each time adding more and more drops of liquid because it was too dry. I really should measure the liquid as well as the solids!
   (Note: I would like to find something like a big plastic "straw" to put these electrodes inside to slide them easily into the cell along with the separator sheet. Then the "straw" would be pulled out.)


   I had been trying to get a hive of bees. (Do I really like honey that much? But it was partly just to get some better pollinators around here.) Al from Sandspit was buying more bees and had made the connections to get them here from BC Bee (I think he's the only person on Haida Gwaii who keeps them), and he added an extra package of them for me to his order. From Australia, I believe. They arrived on the 25th and with his help and guidance we set the hive up on the lawn. It's rather early for around here - there was a foot of snow two weeks ago (and more in the forecast on the 26th!) and almost nothing was in bloom except the almond tree in my greenhouse. I put in a feeder with sugar water, and Al provided a pollen package supplement.
   A package, this one a screened wooden box in a cardboard box with perforations, typically has 3 pounds of bees - 3000 of them, with a queen in a small container. Next day there were dead bees everywhere around the hive. Hundreds. The sugar water was leaking out of the upside down bottle feeder at the hive entrance. There wasn't a lot of buzzing from inside. I hope I don't end up with nothing for all the money I spent on this!

   Of course setting up the beehive took the afternoon, and then I started getting onto the many things that weren't energy projects that I had been shoving aside. Gardening for example has a schedule, and I hadn't even planted seedlings yet. Various taxes and things needed attending.

Ground Effect Vehicle (R/C model)

   I did however finally manage to get the model's radio receiver to microcontroller to motor controller wiring done. Next: programming and debugging the microcontroller. The project creeps forward with the snails and turtles passing me by on both sides.

   Here is somebody's idea, apparently to generate electricity while driving. It seems to be not very well understood that generators merely convert mechanical energy to electrical energy. Whatever electricity is being made comes from extra power delivered by the motor to turn the wheels. (The alternator is probably spring mounted to maintain chain tension.)

   It is however the very sort of configuration I might use to directly drive a car wheel from a rear-mounted motor. And somehow from it, I got the idea to put a rod or beam between that motor and the axle or independent wheel mounting, to hold the motor at an exact distance from the wheel to keep the chain linkage tight, yet without adding the motor to the unsprung weight. (Another improvement, on a project I haven't yet even come close to starting on!)

   I looked at my Toyota Echo and can see an "L" shaped support would have to be welded preferably to the bottom plate of the rear coil spring, to move with the wheel. Then there would have to be a hinge to allow the wheel suspension to go up and down without moving the motor up and down. It might be tough to get the alignment just right as the car wasn't made to accommodate such a thing.
   Alternatively there can be an "idler" sprocket to maintain tension on the top side of the chain with varying distance between motor and wheel (like on the bottom side of a bicycle chain). But that would probably make backing up tricky.

TE News reader Ron in Australia is converting a Suzuki van to electric. Should be nice!
Amazing how tiny an electric motor can be compared to the petroleum engine it's replacing.
(Hey, the steering wheel is on the wrong side! Oh ya... Australia.
It's south of the equator so they drive on the left. Ya, that must be it!)

   Joker April first started with a thin layer of snow on the ground, which was then washed away with a deluge of rain. After a cloudy spell there was more snow with hail, which quickly melted. Then the sun came out for a bit before it settled back into the usual clouds with drizzle.

   In the next day or two I finally finished the siding on the East wall of the cottage. (A couple of people have asked for pictures.) One down, three to go.

Awk, hail! Then more snow! (April 7th!)

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

The Way Forward? - Part 2 (Solutions)

   "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."
 - R. Buckminster Fuller

   It is a sobering thought that every past civilization on this planet has collapsed and there has been no continuity of laws and government from one age to the next. Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Incas, the Mongols and the Han dynasty have not simply evolved and adapted over all these centuries: they each had a brief period in the sun are all long gone. One might say that their technologies, communication and knowledge bases were inadequate and incomplete foundations on which to build permanent civilizations. Today these factors have advanced tremendously and they are still rapidly improving.
   Yet many negative things are happening today with many diverging paths in sight for our societies. These are in many ways a result of the incomplete "scaffolding" foundational models of running societies that we have inherited from past generations. With our rapidly expanding new technologies and exploding knowledge base, let us set a new tone and focus on new models, and figure out which paths are the best ones to take. In democracies we need evolution, not revolution to move forward. The citizens of a democratic nation already have the final authority over the direction of governance when we are able to exercise it wisely. So if we are having unwieldy problems that seem to have no simple solutions, as Fuller put it we need to dream up new models for how things could work better. If a model truly is better, it can be adopted, at once or perhaps bit by bit or here and there in local communities, and the present model will be canceled or just gradually disappear.

   It is easy and comfortable to want to keep things the way they are and many of every generation have wished for that, but it has never happened. While we may (or may not) maintain social stability as things change, we are either growing and evolving or retrogressing, and in many directions all at the same time. And who of the many wishing for things to always remain "the way they are", would ever want to go back to "the way things are" that people wished would never change 50, 100 or 200 years ago? Our scientific and technical progress over those time spans has been immense. Overall we live much longer, more safely and more comfortably.
   But in many ways our societal and spiritual progress hasn't matched that of our science and technology, and in some ways we have regressed. Many problems today are a result of that large discrepancy. We see things we don't like happening, often enabled by science and technology, and feel like we have "enemies" who are doing them. Separating, divisive thinking occurs because of our lack of societal progress, but again there is no "them", just "us". Remember that today's enemy is often tomorrow's friend. (Think of all those veterans, both German and allied, who fought each other violently in 1944, and for decades later all got together in Normandy annually to remember the "D-Day" period and hear it from another person's and the other side's perspective. And the European Union of course includes Germany. European nations and countless persons have become friends. Someday you may respect and even admire one who you once thought was your enemy, and all nations will eventually be friends.)

New Model #1

   As I said in Part 1 ("The Problem"), hand in hand with our individual increasingly divisive thinking, our institutions, having been unable to remain "the way they are" in the face of changing conditions, have also over the decades come to be more and more separate and divided with each working more and more for itself than seeing itself as a component of an interwoven fabric knitting society together. This seems to apply to institutions of all types: economic, political, military, social, educational and health.
   A new, unifying model could be the reframing of all our organizations, our institutions, to be value oriented rather than objective oriented. In this they would explicitly hold the core human values, the ones embodied in human DNA or epigenetics*, as their core organizational values and develop morality and ethics in actions that embody those values, as a person would. It must be recognized that the ultimate stakeholders in every organization are... EVERYBODY! All of society and future generations. If they all work together for society and are concerned equally for each individual, fairness should start to prevail, society will become stable and everything will progress together.
   Fairness for all involved more directly, fair value for everyone's contributions, positions and legitimate stakes within the organization must also be recognized. Without that, no one will be truly interested in running and maintaining the organization and it will wither and be lost. Here we have again the need to be fair to individuals in order to be fair to society as a whole. This is a failure of what is often termed socialism or communism: the good of the individual is forgotten; the good of every individual is subservient to the good of the whole. But the whole is entirely made up of individuals. The whole - the society, nation or civilization - can't be maintained and improved without respecting the rights and life, and fostering the growth of, each individual that it is made up of.

   Only when all organizations recognize that their primal duty is to assist their entire society and the individuals in it to survive and thrive with every other objective, however important, challenging or relevant being secondary to that, will that society become cohesive, stable and eventually sustainable. That will take a whole new mindset from today's divisiveness, separation and intense competitiveness, moving to inclusiveness and cooperation, and it may take a couple of generations for such an "about face" to really start being embedded into our epigenetics and start to "come naturally" to most everyone.
   The changing conditions we are entering into will surely tend to favor trending toward this new mindset.

New Model #2

   Concerned and discerning citizens often see situations and developments that need addressing and aren't being satisfactorily addressed, but feel - and today mostly are - powerless to do anything about them. Thus we get ineffective letters to elected representatives who usually pay them little mind among 100 other things they have to do if they even get by the secretary, and demonstrations and protests in the streets, which are usually ineffective because the problem hasn't been framed in clear terms, solutions haven't been thought out, and no one feels any responsibility for, or perhaps any possibility of, finding solutions to vaguely defined problems having conflicting interpretations by various people.

   So the talent and creative thought of the citizenry is going to waste and at the same time problems aren't being solved: those elected operate in an information vacuum where they don't really know the needs and wishes of the people, much less know the specifics in the sort of detail that would point a clear direction to proceed. People everywhere need to be able to have effective input to government. There are people of intelligence all over who have given thought to various topics that aren't "on the radar" of those elected, and to whom that topic is an important concern. Today uncounted "lesser" issues have been simply pushed aside and never dealt while the topics on the present agenda of the politicians are pursued. Thus societal concerns have gradually piled up over the decades, even a century and more, without ever being looked at. Or having been looked at once, legislation then [hopefully] appropriate has been "set in stone" and "the rules" don't respond or correspond to changing conditions. The whole of governance gradually has become largely "ossified" and unable to adapt and evolve to meet changing conditions and needs.

   Here is where what we might perhaps call the "Ad Hoc Social Issue Design Team" can come into play. These are groups of perhaps 5 to 10 people having members assigned specific functions that constitute it an organized working team, working toward a specific goal of defining the problem clearly and coming up with clear recommendations for action by government. They are composed of concerned citizens focused on a single topic who want to create a new model for it that will be seen as one desirable to adopt, and so which is likely to be adopted in legislation.
   Then, using the internet, multiple such groups will communicate with each other to reach an overall consensus to submit. This provides a path of feedback between elected government and the more active, discerning, thoughtful part of the citizenry which is desirous of and capable of finding or creating better models. Elected representatives will still be responsible for final decisions, but the wishes and the needs of people will be much better understood by those in government -- will be clearly defined with clearly conceived ideas for obtaining the most desirable outcomes before they are brought to the attention of government.
   Once the goals have been accomplished, teams may disband or continue to meet to review the results obtained, for potential refinement or modification.

   A paper detailing the structure and operating procedures for such teams has been written by Daniel Raphael, among his many writings pertaining to the advancement of society toward "days of light and life", the envisioned utopia that this planet will eventually become. It can be found free on line at https://BigMacSpeaks.Life/list-documents-by-daniel-raphael/ -- "Paper - The Design Team Process".

   It is easy to be pessimistic and say "That's all well and good in theory, but these things will never be adopted in real life." However, things are changing rapidly and we are facing a crescendo of increasingly difficult problems that will not be solved while decisions affecting the many are made in a vacuum of information and understanding by the few. The hard times we are entering will probably be a grand opportunity for people everywhere to re-examine what they are doing and why, and where the directions we have been going are taking us. "Us" and "them" didn't work. It's all just "us", and trying to blame all the problems on a "them" hasn't worked. And then the recognition that we truly need to create and adopt new models will start.

   Our general societal outlook as individuals will also need considerable change in order to make such new models entirely effective. In fact, as I begin to discern all sides of separating, divisive and negative thoughts around me, I also start to recognize them in myself. As Jesus said (something to the effect of): If you want to get the sliver out of your neighbor's eye, first get the branch out of you own eye so that you may see more clearly how to help.

* I don't like to beat on these "core values of being human" again and again, but they are a key to building sustainable societies, and a prerequisite to understanding the articles in which they appear. For this reason and also for ready reference, I'll list them as a footnote whenever I've referred to them explicitly.

- Life
- Equality (equal consideration for each individual including oneself)
- Quality of Life
- Growth (living is growing!)
- Empathy
- Compassion
- Love (in general terms, for existence and for all humanity)

   One expects that people all over the world in every culture and society will agree on the primal value of Life and the next three, the "primary values", and will surely recognize that those things won't be attained and sustained over time without the last three, the "secondary values". One also sees that other English words or terms might be substituted for the ones employed, especially for the last three. Words like "fairness", "understanding" and "respect" might fit well. The seven terms chosen were felt generally to best convey the intended concepts.

(There is a web site: 7CoreValues.org)

Silverware Drainer Mark II

   Only long time readers (and probably few of them!) will remember I got fed up with any silverware drainer one could buy for a dishrack and made my own out of ABS plastic (TE News #43). That got lost when I moved, and finally, when pulling a fork from the wire one I got with a another dishrack a couple of years ago it caught and pulled off the whole drainer and dumped all the silverware in the sink, again, and I finally hit my limit. I stopped washing the dishes and went out to the shop and made a new one. This one is 5 inches deep instead of 4-1/2, and is wider. In fact it is 3 separate compartments instead of 2. The bottom is solid but there are drain holes in every corner and along the edges. (A screen bottom might be better? - provided it wouldn't wear out or grab hold of the silverware.) The depth doesn't bury teaspoons but holds even long knives well - things aren't always trying to tumble out of it.

Silverware Drainer - Three Views

   After I had finished it and put it on, I thought of two potential further improvements. The first was that the compartments could have different depths. Teaspoons and other other short items could go into a shallow compartment, and longer ones into the deeper one(s). And the deep one could be wider for spatulas and the like. Well, that may be making too much of it. This one will already hold many more items of various lengths than any of the crappy ones supplied with dishracks.
   The other was that, well, why is the lip that hooks onto the dishrack so short? It could just as easily be half an inch or even an inch long to prevent accidentally knocking it off the dishrack.

Small Thots

* How did temporary lockdowns "to slow the spread" of CoViD-19 in order that hospital emergency rooms wouldn't be swamped turn into long term lockdowns and business closures "to eradicate the disease" - surely an unrealistic goal?

* This video is critical of lockdowns, as is the World Health Organization (WHO):

* Also, the US National Institute for Health (NIH) came up with the statistic that masks have helped slow the spread of CoViD by just 1.4%. That's not zero, but it seems pretty negligible for all the trouble and various negative side effects.

* In Peru when Ivermectin was approved for use against Covid-19 in May 2020, the "excess death rate" dropped 14-fold. A new government there has restricted availability and the rate has climbed back up.

* Now in Europe, Slovakia and Macedonia have authorized Ivermectin for "over the counter" sales, and now Bulgaria is even making it free. It seems it has been flying off the drug store shelves. Was this not the sensible thing to have done everywhere?

* The findings of a recent widely reported Cali Columbia clinical study seemingly critical of Ivermectin seem dubious because some members of  the "control group" supposedly given a placebo were said to have exhibited symptoms of high-dosage Ivermectin side effects. OTOH in the whole study only one Covid patient out of the 400 died - Thumbs up for that!

* One doctor says Americans are getting "herd immunity" to covid, making it harder for it to spread. We may hope it's true.

* In Venezuela you too could be a millionaire!
   (Mil = thousand; Millón = million)

   ...Now if only that would buy you the sort of things you usually associate with such figures!

(Eccentric Silliness Department)

* Water has been discovered in the ground on Earth's moon. Is that part now called "the dank side of the moon"?

* Some blocked sewage canal recently was said to be costing 400 million dollars per hour. Luckily the blockage floated off and all the sh*t is flowing again. (Expect price surges and toilet paper shortages again. WE have to pay for those losses.)

* "Gold has become the poor man's bitcoin." - Max Keiser

* Dave gave Joan a gift that he thought would light up her face. But it didn't. She was de-lighted.

* My ("Arakans"?) chickens lay eggs with green shells. I gave someone some to sell at the farmers' market, but people aren't buying them. They buy the eggs with brown or white - or even blue - shells. Somehow I'm sure this must be Dr. Suess's fault.

* Do whooping cranes spread whooping cough?

   "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 may 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

A New Chevy Sprint EV Plan

   Really, using the original differential from the Sprint's transmission to connect a motor to the front wheels has hampered everything I've wanted to do because the transmission, or just the differential in the experimental steel box I made, takes up a lot of space, limiting what more that was "novel" could be fit in. It did provide a handy 3.8 to 1 gear reduction.
   On the 16th I got a group email about a new rear axle with an electric motor for pickup trucks, the "Magna e-Beam Axle" and somehow that crystallized some recent thoughts about connecting two motors via planetary gears straight to the CV shafts of a front wheel drive vehicle (not exactly a new idea)... or perhaps in my case to do just one motor to one front wheel in the Sprint. With no offset spur gears anywhere in the drive train and a single concentric planetary reduction, efficiency should be very high. Perhaps that in itself would allow a lesser speed reduction in the gear? An adequate rated planetary gear could be pretty small and light compared to any other sort of transmission.
   This is probably way going out on a limb, but where the forklift motor had run the car adequately with the gears in the original automatic transmission fixed at 9 to 1, presuming the in-line planetary would be very low friction I decided to try 5 to 1 - and hope it would still climb up my steep driveway. With the 2000(?) RPM forklift motor that would get it up to about 40 KmPH. (A 5000 RPM motor would make that 100.)
   I found a suitable looking planetary gear on AliExpress.com and it was hardly 20% of the price of the one I got from Anaheim Automation a year or more ago. Unfortunately the shipping was almost as much as the gear. (Grr... why won't anybody just send a planetary gear by the post office? So it's slow... who knows when I'll get around to doing this anyway?) I kept looking but even on AliExpress there were just 2 or 3 stores with such special components to choose from and this one seemed like a good one, so finally I ordered it. Still around just 30% of what I paid from California counting shipping. (No wonder everything comes from China these days!)

Ratings on the gear FWIW:

Length 149.5mm
Rated Torque: 210 Nm (155 foot-pounds)
Maximum Torque: rated * 1.5 Nm (315 Nm; 232 foot-pounds) (Okay, that's probably not a whole lot over "adequate". With two motors and two gears however...)
Maximum Braking Torque: rated * 2.5 (525 Nm; 387 foot-pounds)
Efficiency: ≥ 96% (That's the kind of number I was looking for!)
Max input RPM: 6000 (would be around 120 KmPH or a bit less)
Continual input RPM: 3500 (Hmm, that's only around 70 KmPH or less)
Service life: 20,000 hours
Noise: 65 dB.

   Of course this would just basicly get the car rolling. Eventually I could add the 100% efficient variable torque converter and then presumably further reduce the planetary reduction ratio to allow higher driving speeds without the motor revving higher.
   And - even more "someday" - when I get the CNC router software going to make molds for the polypropylene-epoxy body parts - replace the forklift motor with a 12 coil, 16 magnet unipolar Electric Hubcap type BLDC 'pancake' motor. (Is it just pie in the sky that someday I'll have time to do all the work involved in that? Except for wanting it to be an "ourunner" motor to be safe at higher RPMs it's essentially a repeat of my Electric Hubcap motor work of 2008-2012 except that I'd be starting with a very good idea of exactly what I was doing, which should cut off maybe 5/6 of the development time and effort.)
   Unless I use a more powerful motor than I'm planning on it certainly won't be a "muscle car". But if one drive didn't take up too much room, I could add the same thing on the other wheel and get good power and performance. (At some point there'd be the possibility of selling kits?)

[17th] I went out to the car to size things up. The splined shaft on the forklift motor seemed to have an O.D. of about 22mm. Should I have ordered the 22mm input socket version instead of the 24mm? Might have been a mistake. But better too big a hole than even a bit too small. Doubtless I can put in some sort of shim. (although that didn't seem to work out very well in the truck!)

   Then I took out the experimental transmission box with the differential. Let's see, tho, the box might still be a useful mounting platform... The left CV shaft ends up at the left (ie port) side wall... and it's about the right width for the planetary gear. So the planetary might replace the differential and the motor could bolt to the left side wall, probably a modified left side wall. Some other pieces presently attached to the box could be removed. Hmm... a problem with that scenario is that the planetary gear has a 25mm shaft for an output, whereas a splined socket would be the thing to attach to the CV shaft.

   Next I looked in my storage for a cut Sprint CV shaft I thought I had. It's been an idea of mine that if one made a somewhat flexible mounting for a motor and small planetary gear assembly, one might dispense with the inner CV joint and just use the outer. The motor assembly would pivot a little - and perhaps move in and out a bit - as the suspension and steering changed the shaft angles. I found it. It looked just right. The shaft was 23mm diameter and about 5 inches shorter than the shortest complete CV shaft. It could be cut to any shorter desired length. (Then the right wall of the box, if it was still to be used, could perhaps be the plate between the motor and the planetary.)

   Something that I'd miss from the differential would be the speedometer gear. I'll have to come up with another way to measure the speed. In looking up tire info I found that the Sprint's are supposed to do 984.2 revolutions per mile. That's the key: counting the revs to get the RPM to get the vehicle speed.

- Okay, that's 611.55 rotations/Km.
- 611.55 / 60 minutes/hour = 10.19 RPM (at 1 Km/hour).

(Wow that's remarkably close to my 2008 ballpark estimate of 10 RPM per KmPH (for the old Toyota Tercel with 13 inch rims) and have been using ever since, also noting that the Sprint's 12 inch rim tires weren't much smaller outside diameter than the Toyota's.)

Miles electric cargo truck delayed project

   While thinking of the Sprint, I thought of how silly it was to start that when there were just a few little jobs to do to get the Miles electric mini cargo truck running. It's been winter, a few months and a few newsletter issues since I just got tired of crawling under it and stopped working on it.

Balancing of new shaft from motor to planetary gearbox

[22nd] It seemed warmer than most of the winter. The sun was out! I put some cardboard down on the cement floor and got under the truck on my back. I removed the new shaft and tried balancing it on two "rails", one at each end, finding which way up it rolled to, and then pressing the other side a bit in the hydraulic press. That didn't seem to get it perfectly balanced, so I tried another tack. I put it in the lathe, with one end in the 3-jaw chuck and the other in the drill chuck at the stationary end.
   I've never had a dial gauge but recently ordered one. It hasn't come, so I just set the tool very close to the shaft (beside each end of the coupling) and put a piece of white paper under so I could see the gap. Where it was widest I just tapped the other side with a hammer. This seemed to work better than the rails and press, and soon everything was pretty well aligned.
   It wasn't perfect, tho. I put it back on the rails and it turned until the side with the unused square key and setscrew holes was at the top. Really, just that bit of gap in the metal? I put a screw in one of the set screw holes, and sure enough, it was almost balanced, with a very slight preference for stopping about 1/4 turn from that. If I put screws in both holes, it would stop with them at the bottom. Being that well balanced, I figure if there's still any vibration I can add a screw to balance it, or just screwing on a hose clamp or two around the coupler or shaft, rotated until the right position was found, should get it spot on perfect. if necessary.

   Steve had said I should put three tack welds on each end of the shaft coupler when all was aligned so that nothing could move. My welding skills being what they are, I took it to him to do them for me. I would really like to get the truck running well this time! He said it was ready at the end of the month and I picked it up.

The Other Things

   Then there's the handheld programmer. No one had heard of the problem I'm having with it with the truck. Now I'm thinking maybe the motor controller "broadcasts" its ID blind on it data output, so the programmer sees that it's connected to it, but there's some sort of break in the data line from the programmer to the motor controller, so the programmer can't send anything to it or ask it to give its status information. That's the next item to check out.

   Then I have to decide what batteries I'm going to use. For now I'm only thinking of one set of 100 or 120 amp-hours batteries taken from those I already have, (lithium iron-phosphate or lithium ion... or half of each) For 72 volts that's 7200 or 8640 watt-hours - about 1/4 of what's in the Nissan Leaf. That should get it to town (not back), but it won't be doing highway speeds anyway. The truck was more use in town in Victoria, and even there I didn't use it much.

   Lastly is a charging system, which will vary depending on which batteries I choose. Three 24 volt sections will be problematic, so the 72 volts will be divided into two 36 volt sections, each charged separately. I had been thinking I'd just put two solar panels on the roof for 610 watts. A question was whether to just lay them flat, or be able to tilt them toward the sun when parked.
    But then I watched a video about a solar powered "Tour de France" in a converted electric van towing a trailer full of solar panels. It occurred to me that two more panels could fold down and latch against the sides of the van without taking up extra space. These two panels could be unfolded to optimum angles for charging when the truck was parked.
(Vis: \__
             \ )
   The two on the roof could still charge while driving, but would have to lie flat.

   Charging from the grid will need a couple of ~40 volt power supplies.

EV Efficiency: Better Tires... Well Inflated... Somewhat Worn
Lower Rolling Resistance Increases EV Range. or gas mileage.

   Of course steel wheels on steel railway track have very low rolling resistance. On a level surface railway cars once set moving will roll on and on. Vehicle tires on road surfaces are pathetic by comparison. Where the rubber meets the road must be one of the least efficient aspects of the drivetrain. So we might suspect that different tires can have a great effect on rolling resistance and energy consumption. And in fact, when radial ply tires started replacing bias ply tires in the 1970s, an approximate 10% improvement in fuel economy was observed.
   Today's electric cars have meters that can give us a good indication of how tires and road conditions affect energy consumption. Last summer I started looking at the actual "percent charge remaining" meter. I would typicly come home from town with 52 to 56 or even 58% battery charge remaining. This winter it's been more like 46 to 50% - and that's mostly driving at lower speeds trying to conserve. It seemed to me I could feel that there was considerably more rolling friction in cold weather, and this was reflected in the "charge remaining" figure. It also seemed notably worse when the highway was the least bit damp, which it is much of the time around here.
   In addition to increasing the potential range, using lower currents and less total energy while driving should maximize battery life.

   So I started thinking about getting some different tires. It seemed like "a pig in a poke" since I hadn't heard of there being rolling resistance specs on tires, and it would also be a hard thing to compare between manufacturers. So I was inclined to just look for low cost used tires, eg, "auto wrecker" type goods, and try them out to see if they were any better than those I had. Another reason for using used tires is that they already have lower rolling resistance than new tires. Evidently some loss of tread makes them a bit more pliable. or something. (Some suggest that as the tires lose tread they get smaller, so they have to make more turns to cover the same distance, tricking the odometer into reading more distance than actually traveled and hence indicating "better mileage". This is doubtless true but I don't think it's a significant factor in most cases.)
   I brought home a set from the refuse station that looked pretty good, but while they were 16 inch rims, they were really too big outside diameter and I didn't mount them. Later I took them back.
   Someone suggested I start looking for tire specs on line. I wasn't finding much and someone else suggested I add "Nissan Leaf" into the search. This bore fruit: there was a Nissan Leaf web page with a discussion about that subject from 2019. To my amazement, there was a consensus on one particular tire, the Bridgestone "Ecopia EP422 Plus". These, the discussion seemed to affirm, were better than anything else, even other reputedly low rolling resistance "LRR" tires from the most reputed brands. A blend of special materials along with the tread design was used to help achieve this. They are available in various sizes. They are a road tire and said to be very good on wet pavement - Yay! (I don't suppose they're very great in our very occasional snow.)
   Armed with this information, it seemed much more worthwhile to spend the money and I ordered some from Charlotte Island Tire. They seemed to be taking a while and on the 23rd I thought I would check on the status when I went into town and passed by. They had just arrived when I got there (In fact I had just seen the Tuesday ferry going by my house as it was leaving!) and they put them on within the hour.
   Perhaps it was my imagination, but it seemed like there was less rolling resistance even just driving back across town. After another stop I drove home, and I was pretty sure they were better. The "kilometers per kilowatt-hour" said "average 7.2" on the highway instead of maybe around 6.5. And as I left town the batteries said "73%", which meant it usually would have been down to about 45% when I hit home. Instead it read 51%. It was a bit soon to start estimating percent improvement, but it was unquestionably better.
   I drove into town again the next day - partly just to check the energy use. Unfortunately it wasn't a very typical drive and had some special variables. I went across town twice (an extra 5Km), back to the garage at the far end and pumped the tires up from 36 PSI (Nissan's spec) to 40 - a bit harder ride perhaps, but it decreases rolling resistance. So it had more air in the tires after the half way point. I got home with 52% charge remaining having gone 59.5 Km. The average energy use said 7.5 Km/watt-hour. Again it seemed very good, even like summer again, but hard to compare with other recent trips.
   When I hit even a small downward grade on the highway I noticed that the "kilometers per kilowatt-hour" bar on the display would shoot up to the top, "pinned" at 10. I don't remember it regularly "pinning" like that on the highway before. Maybe once in a while.
   Driving conditions vary. On the 26th I drove to Port Clements and it didn't seem like a big improvement. And it was warmer (9°!) and the road was dry so I was expecting better. But then, I drove faster as I was a bit late, and I drove a few extra kilometers, and still got home with a couple of percent extra. On the 27th I took a more typical trip back into town. It was raining and 7°, but I got home with 56% battery remaining instead of maybe 50% or less, indicating an improvement probably around 10%.
   To get "only" 10% improvement probably means the original Ironman "Radial RB12" tires weren't as bad as I thought they were. But the playing field probably wasn't quite level even yet. Worn tires are supposed to be better than new ones, and it seems to me I had inflated the old tires to 42-44 PSI, 44 being the maximum rating. I now inflated the new ones all the way to 43 PSI.
   In the next couple of trips, it did seem to do a bit better. I drove to town (but only to the near end; -3Km) and still had 60% left. 58% was the previous record high, last summer. On the 31st in rain and cold (5°) I went to town with a side trip up a gravel road, and still returned with 56%. I'm pretty sure it would have been well under 50% with the old tires, suggesting improvement of at least 15%. Warmer weather should bring further improvement, and my overall sense is that the improvement is probably between 10 and 15% -- as I had hoped.

   In spite of knowing how much better steel railway wheels are, I hadn't thought that there might be room for another 10, 15 or even higher percentage in regular pneumatic tire efficiency over "typical" radial ply tires. One wonders how much more might possibly be gained - safely - and thinks how inefficient the older bias ply type tires are.

   There are novel tires I occasionally see in news articles that don't have air in them, with various rubbery "wavy ribs" or "hollow circles" that connect the outer tire surface to the hub. I would be curious to know what sort of rolling resistance some of these have, but I've never seen that any of them have made it to production or had published any info about any aspect of their performance besides "can't go flat". (One would expect great handling on corners!)
   Someone mentions that the thinner the tire, the lower the rolling resistance, pointing at the ultimately thin tires of a 10-speed bicycle. But the tire has to support whatever the vehicle's weight is, including the sideways forces during sharp cornering. The 10-speed is lightweight and leans into its turns. I'm no expert but surely the best "LRR" would doubtless also be solid hard rubber (or blended material), but thinner, solid tires would probably skid too easily on pavement and they would surely give a rough ride. (and wear out quickly?) A sponge rubber sort of interior would be softer but I suppose it would probably have more rolling friction than pneumatic.
   Hmm... What about a tire of thin, solid rubber on a thin steel rim, with some sort of steel spring 'spokes' between that rim and the center hub? Would that not ride smoothly and with very low friction? And entirely "unsprung" weight - thin rubber and rim - could be extremely low. There just might be a big potential for improvement there, if it could be made safe - to corner well and not skid too easily. Might that even head toward the negligible friction of the railroad wheels?

   I found a limitation to the Bridgestone Ecopia tires: their smallest rim size is 15 inches. So much for putting them on the Toyota Echo (14"), the Miles mini cargo truck (13"), or the Chevy Sprint project car (12")! (In fact, I was concerned about finding tires for the Sprint at all - and it looks like it may need them, with the rubber on at least one rim splitting open. but there do seem to be some on line - and they're cheap compared to larger tires! It would also seem there are 13 inch tires with about the same outer rubber diameter. That would of course require new rims - which hopefully would fit. Maybe I shouldn't have discarded the 13" tires from the Suzuki Swift in 2017!...except they had an odd size bolt pattern anyway.)

Lawn Tractor Starter Motor Repair

   Two magnets of four in my lawn tractor's starter motor broke loose form the housing and then (being hit by the rotor) broke into pieces. I thought about the electric conversion kit I had bought, and decided I just didn't have time. But it seemed a new starter motor was 350$! It sat for months, and in spite of it being winter there were a few times I could have used it. About the start of March I tried epoxying the pieces of magnets back in. (Sorry, I didn't think to take pictures.) I cut a few little wedges of wood to hold the pieces in place since they all wanted to repel each other and attract to the other nearby magnets. I didn't glue them all at once, but only what I could manage at each go. I didn't glue in some small fragments - too hard.
   I put it together and something was hitting at one part of the rotation. I filed down a bit of magnet or epoxy that I thought might be protruding to no avail. I then looked at the rotor. One of the laminates had been bent and was sticking up a bit. I straightened it and filed it down a bit. Then everything turned freely. I re-installed it on the lawn tractor and it worked fine, and has done a couple of dozen starts now.

   I was rather disgusted with the sloppy glue job on the starter motor magnets: the curved magnets were somewhere around 1.5"x3"(?), but the little spot of epoxy holding one of them on was hardly 1.5" square. No attempt was made to coat the whole back of each magnet or even much of it. So the first one had broken off and the forces had bent the stator lamination and dislodged the almost equally weakly glued second magnet. (The glue didn't break - the rest of the magnet broke off the small remnant glued spot on the sintered magnets.) Hopefully no more will break loose, but my level of confidence isn't high! I don't think my gluings will come loose unless the epoxy somehow degrades.

   I did this once before with an electric lawnmower motor. First I just took out the pieces of broken magnet (one magnet of two) and it seemed to run fine but at half power. Then I glued in most of the many fragments and it worked full power again. Then the other magnet broke off and I had to do it all over again! Not so much later (just to add insult...) someone gave me a perfect identical motor outer case with intact magnets.

[29th] Sure enough, a third magnet has broken loose! My repaired ones are fine. [31st] Epoxied and running again. That leaves just one magnet yet to bust.

Ground Effect Craft (RC Model)

Why Reverse Throttle?

   Someone suggested I phone the hobby shop where I bought the radio control equipment. I explained about the reverse throttle and how if I turned off "the remote" (as he called the handheld control transmitter) with the model on, the stopped motor suddenly roared up to full throttle. "Always turn the remote off last." he said.

   But what if the model loses the signal? "You're more likely to lose visual orientation first. The transmitters have quite a long range."

   It's nice to hear that the transmitters have a considerable range, but it doesn't entirely assuage my concerns. The same person that suggested I call them said his uncle had lost a big "B-52" model airplane that he lost control of over a lake. It went out of range and just kept going. I am still left with my original question of why radio controls would be made to have the aircraft go full throttle if the signal is lost instead of having the motor stop. it just doesn't make sense. A glide is good, but surely even a crash is better than having your precious model carry on and on, perhaps never to be seen again. Of course hopefully the ground effect craft will simply alight on the water (or flat land) and stop if the motors stop.

Wiring Done (about time!)

[29th] Well, I finally did the wiring, per the pencil diagram. It just couldn't sit another month! Next: programming and debugging before actually trying to run the model.

Other "Green" Electric Equipment Projects

Handheld Bandmill To Double As Bench-Mounted Shop Bandsaw? - Commercialization?

[5th, 8th]   Wayne, who I had shown my bandsaw mill to a couple of years ago, had an idea that if it had an attachment or a couple of pieces done differently, it could be clamped to a workbench vertically and used as a regular shop bandsaw. This struck me as a little silly at first since there are plenty of shop bandsaws around. That wasn't what I had made it for!
   But if one doesn't already have a bandsaw, a dual purpose one that could easily be clamped to a workbench as a shop bandsaw as well as be hendheld to mill an occasional log outside - and then be put away on a shelf when not in use - might be just the thing for the more casual, occasional user. Like me for example. Convenient as it is to have it sitting there when I have some little job, certainly my own shop bandsaw takes up a good chunk of floor space. And certainly I had had the thought that the self-adjusting band guides might be a nice improvement for shop bandsaws.

   Wayne thought if it was all done nicely, sets of plans or kits with the special parts pre-made, they should sell well. I had thought about these ideas before but had eventually just let them fall by the wayside. But he's probably right, and the "clamp-on shop bandsaw" idea would much increase the potential market. He says he knows a reliable company that he's dealt with before, that makes and sells such all sorts of such 'specialty' equipment. They would probably like it.
   He also thought to never mind selling the skillsaw and the readily available parts as pieces of the kit: just make the parts that needed welding or CNC fabrication. I could see doing that, except I'm pretty sure people wouldn't want to be sourcing little pieces - bearings, shafts, special bushings and V-belt pulleys from here, there and everywhere to put a kit together. Also some would be almost sure to get ones that didn't quite fit together properly with the pre-made parts: "brand A" fit fine when I checked it, but they found "brand B" when they bought one, and something was a little different. So I think the more of the essential parts that are included in the kit, the smaller the potential for customer headaches. And while I would have no objection to selling plans, that's also a good argument for selling a kit - that few would actually get built from plans, but many from a kit that mostly just needed assembly.
   But the skillsaw itself is the heaviest and most costly part of all. And one that most users would already have. Most any one will fit on, and omitting it would substantially reduce the investment. Depending on how much or how occasionally they used saws and the bandsaw, some might just attach one they already had, and take it off to use it as a circular saw again. If they found that tedious they could buy a second one almost anywhere. I had first put my 13 amp Ryobi skillsaw on the mill as a temporary power source to see how it worked, but found it to be a very convenient and perhaps the best solution. To my mild surprise it had sufficient power to mill lumber (not excess!) - from just a regular 120 volt power plug! They have their own mounting plate and trigger on-off switch, and the "cut depth" adjustment makes it easy to put on the V-belt and adjust the tension.
   (My other plan was to make and mount a 36 volt "Electric Hubcap" motor that could be run off batteries in the bush. That would of course be a lot more work and in the worst case so far I used 200 or 250 feet of extension cords to reach the alder log where I cut down the tree, with good results.)

   By the end of the month I started cooling on the idea of using for a shop bandsaw. As a mill it's pretty safe, because to use it the operator has to stand behind it and have one hand on the skillsaw trigger and the other on the right side handle. (In spite of it being most easily pushed along with the knees/legs.) The most dangerous operation is positioning the saw, where one must be careful not to press the trigger unintentionally.
   As a shop saw, one would have to tape the skillsaw's trigger switch "on" and attach another "on"/"off" switch in-line. What happens when you go to use it as a mill again and the trigger is still taped "on"? Also one is standing on the cutting side and feeding into it. It would need a guard along the length of the blade to the top wheel, and a guard on the V-belt and pulleys. (I know someone whose fingers got pulled around a V-belt pulley, on an air compressor. Not nice at all!) Clamping it to the side of a bench so the cutting height is at table height would also be dubious. So it would probably have to have a whole enclosure that also is a stand for the bottom end, and sit on top of a table -- or better, a low bench.
   OTOH, it's all possible. The question is whether it's practical. And if the cut could be at benchtop height, it could be an advantage that the wood would lay on the table once it was cut instead of falling over a precipice. I have a whole table assembly I made that I can mount behind my shop bandsaw for that purpose.
   I decided to plan it as a mill, and then see what might be simple to add to make it into a shop bandsaw.

   I tell myself that the last thing I need is another project. OTOH, if money is coming in from a working product, perhaps I can enlist some outside help for some of the other projects? I think I'll get on board with this idea.


[14th] I thought about the size of the saw. Wayne thought bigger wheels would be better - then one could use any old widely available band/blade. 14 inch wheels are great for a stationary saw mounted solidly on its own heavy table. But it's the 10 inch wheels that shrink the whole size of the saw to "portable". I decided to keep that size. I expect one could put on an "ordinary" band instead of a thin "meat cutting" band just fine anyway, but I've never tried it. (Maybe I should.)

   I had used 36 inch alaska mill rails as the backbone. But with 10 inch wheels and a 93 inch band, the wheels actually stuck out the ends by about 2.5 inches on each end. I had never used the full cutting width. I think the widest cut I ever made was about 13" at a protrusion in the small alder log. IIRC I could theoretically have got a 21 inch cut. But with thin bands and the small motors, is such a cut width really practical anyway? In a commercial product keeping the wheels within the 36" length would probably still allow about a 15 or 16 inch wide cut. I decided that would be enough. (Instead of a 93" band, it would be 83". Or it could be a shorter one by sliding the undriven wheel end inward. That makes it much more adjustable than a regular bandsaw.)


   I decided the saw was wider than it needed to be front to back and so to shorten the distance across the rails from 5-1/4" to 4-1/4". (I had about 1-1/2" of spacers on the main wheel shafts anyway.) This would shorten in front of the band and leave the same width behind it. The band guide wheels on the prototype wouldn't have room, but they would be redone anyway and changing their mounting posts could reduce the width they needed.
   Then I thought about tracking. Wider means longer wheel shafts. Too short would make them touchy to adjust. Better to keep the 5-1/4" width, which seemed to work out well when I was making the saw, and not make an arbitrary change.

Drive Side Assembly

   Next I considered the drive wheel, on the left. I had the "pillow block" bearings for the shaft bolted to the rails. (There are also "steady bearings", which are about the same except their bodies are made of formed sheet steel instead of cast, and hence they're a little smaller. The saw should be made able to accommodate either type.) For a kit, I would rather bolt both front and rear bearing to a single plate, and have the plate able to slide along the rails, moving both bearings at once. This would be a "U" shape with the end on the inside. (If the end was on the outside, it would be in the way of changing the blade.) The legs would have to be about 9 inches long, and the outer width 4-1/4".
   I had also discovered that with a 1.5" plank as a guide board the saw could only cut 1-7/8" deep. Changing the depth guide mountings could easily add another inch+ to make it 3 inches. But as it was I was using it all to cut (barely) 2 inch thick boards. Then, if there was at least a 1" spacer between the bearings and the rail, still more depth would be available.
   That suggested making an inch thick plate. If it was steel it would be too heavy. If it was aluminum I couldn't weld the guide wheel post or other attachments to it. I decided on a 1/4 inch steel plate. The post would be welded on with angle pieces to hold it rigid and prevent the plate from bending. Spacer blocks could be added between the plate and the bearings.
   Then I figured that the middle arm of the "U" should be extended front and back for welding two more arms onto. These would be to hold the depth adjustment rails. Maybe an inch behind the saw for the rear rail and 4 inches ahead for the front. The side stop could cross and weld to all three arms (legs?) and add strength. And all this should probably act somehow as the assembly for clamping the saw to a workbench for shop use. The side stop might also become the "table" for when tipped up on end for shop bandsaw use.

   At this point it was getting complex enough that I figured I should try to draw it, or even make one. Then I thought of doing a wooden mock-up: easy to do and put together, easy to cut more pieces for any that didn't fit right. CAD? Maybe after I had the mock-up! I doubt if OpenSCAD will generate the right files, and I use the 2D CAD program so rarely I don't even remember its name, and I'll have to learn to use it all over again! (I'll have to look it up in some old TE News. Maybe I put in the name and some tips for using it somewhere? "LibreCAD"?) However, the CNC waterjet people will need the CAD ".DXF" files in order to cut pieces for the kits. Even if I ever get the CNC plasma cutter table going it'll need them.

Undriven (Right Side) Wheel Mounting

   On the other side, the guide wheel assembly has to be separate from the main wheel mounting. Otherwise the cut width (distance between guide wheels) can't be adjusted except by getting different length blades/bands. And the wheel mounting has to be movable to slack it off for changing bands as well as for slightly (or even very) different length bands.
   In making the mockup of the drive wheel side, at first I thought the one for the other wheel could be more or less a mirror image of that. The left (driven) wheel assembly also holds the post for the left band guide wheel and the posts for the front and rear guide rails that set the depth of the cut. But if the right end posts for the rails were similarly affixed to the right wheel assembly, the left-right length between the two assemblies would make it impossible to adjust the band length and tension without loosening the rails. So the posts holding the right ends of the rails also have to be a separate assembly from the right wheel assembly. Thus the right wheel assembly only holds the wheel itself.

   Most shop bandsaws have one screw to tension and de-tension and another to adjust the alignment (or "tilt") of the wheel. But they also have an open ended shaft. My shafts have a bearing on each end. So it has been more convenient to have two adjustment screws which do both jobs together. The prototype's arrangement has been workable but tedious.
   Now it occurs to me that, with the shaft and bearings not being right at the end of the backbone rails, I could put a cube onto each rail end, each with a screw having a knob for easy turning, that would thread into the two ends of a "U" block that holds the bearings, similar to the one on the drive end but without all the attachments. Thus the blade would be slackened for replacement by turning both knobs, then retightened with both and the tracking adjusted by varying the tension between the two. That's probably about the most practical solution for this saw layout. The wheel's "U" plate bolts would be held "loose" on the backbone rails with two nuts tightened against each other. Thus the plate would be prevented from moving up or down but could move in and out, and could twist a little left or right to align the tracking.

Right Side Cut Depth Rail Adjustment Posts

   A single "I" mounting plate running across the two backbone rails would hold the right end front and back posts, in line with the left end posts on the left wheel assembly. At first I thought they could be just long enough to reach the band and have a reinforcing bar between them, somewhere near the ends but out of the way of the cutting band. But a reinforcing bar anywhere inside the band would prevent setting the cut to that depth.
   That leads to the idea that they should instead stick out past the band and a flat strength piece welded on the ends, but that would prevent installation and removal of the band!
   I guess they should be made sufficiently strong to each be freestanding, welded only to the "I" plate.

   On the 25th it occurred to me that if the adjustment rails could slide left to right inside short square tubes, and the tubes were clamped to the posts instead of the rails, that the posts could after all be welded to the right main wheel assembly plate without causing problems. That eliminates the "I" plate, which allows the right band guide wheel mounting to get closer to the right wheel for widest cuts.

Right Side Band Guide Wheel Post

   The right end guide wheel has to be able to move left and right according to the width being cut. To simply have it 16-18 inches from the left end guide wheel leaves much play for wavy cuts in cutting (eg) 6 inch wide boards. Better to move the wheel so there's only (eg) 7 inches between them.
   Thus suggests yet another "I" plate across the backbone rails to hold this post. It would have to be inside from the depth post "I" plate, further limiting the maximum cut width... unless the post and guide wheel could be offset from the "I" plate and moved past the glide rails "I" plate to get it next to the right end main wheel without the plates crossing. Maybe a cross plate welded to the "I" plate with just enough clearance over the other plate, and the post welded ot that?

Motor Mounting and Top Cover

   I have an extra objective for these covers beyond the prototype: Minimize the number of screws that have to be removed to change the blade/band. A stiff cover attached to the front rail could mostly "float" at the back with a small gap between the rear rail and the cover. Thus the blade could be removed through the gap. But I think the section holding the skillsaw, and the piece holding the right hand grip handle need at least one solid connection to the rear rail, one or maybe two bolts each. That might make:

a) loosen the 2 screws to slacken off the band
b) Take out the screw(s) holding the back end of the motor mounting
c) Take out the screw(s) holding the grip handle on
d) Probably have to take out the 2 screws holding the guide wheels on to get them to let go of the band.

   That's 6, 7 or 8. If they all had knobs it should still be pretty simple.


   I soon cut a shape and size for the driven wheel's base from 1/4" plywood. But I can see I'll have to make real parts and run it before trying to make a kit of it.

Electricity Generation

My Solar Power System

Month of March 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, since its removal mostly just lights - are reset to zero daily (mostly for just lights, occasionally), while the others are cumulative.) Note that the DC is actually power used since there's nothing totaling up the amount incoming to the batteries, which is (unless it's a lot and there's little sun) replaced the following day.

Solar: House, Trailer  => total KWH [grid power meter reading(s)@time] Sky conditions
Km = electric car drove distance, then car was charged.

28th 1234.55, 379.51 => 1.30 [82730@18:00] Clouds & drizzle

01st 1236.68, 380.98 => 3.60 [82757@17:30] Light overcast
02d  1239.45, 383.05 => 4.84 [82785@17:30] Variable light overcast, rain.
03rd 1241.57, 384.41 => 3.48 [55Km; 82821@18:30] More overcast.
04th 1241.79, 384.58, .4 DC => 0.79 [82860@21:00] Gales and rain. Mains power was off for a while. Used DC/battery power with inverter to make a pot of coffee in coffeemaker.
05th 1244.42, 386.40 => 4.45 [90Km; 82897@19:00]
06th 1246.49, 387.69 => 3.36 [55Km; 82933@18:30] Rain, clouds.
07th 1249.04, 389.46 => 4.32 [82968@19:00] A bit of sun, but mostly more rotten weather.
08th 1253.63, 392.14, .1 DC => 7.37 [not read] A nice, sunny day! (Yay!)
09th 1257.95, 394.80 => 6.98 [65Km; 83029@19:00] Frosty AM, mix of sun & clouds but pretty cold.
10th 1262.73, 397.90 => 7.88 [20Km; 83059@18:30] Sunny AM then clouded over.
11th 1263.95, 398.63 => 1.95 [83087@18:00] Clouds & rain. Hit 7°. Snow late PM.
12th 1264.07, 398.65 => 0.14 [83120@19:30] Blizzard! Snow covered the solar panels.
13th 1264.29, 399.15 => 0.71 [83152@18:00; 55Km] Snow still covered house panels at end of day, but cottage panels were clear. In the afternoon I dumped the snow off 2 of the panels on the lawn and discovered they weren't producing anyway. There was a bad connection, a green corroded pin at an MC4 combiner (presumably the "+" side). I plugged it in and out a few times and put some vaseline in and around the connection. (For how long has it been working poorly?)
14th 1266.70, 401.85 => 5.11 [83185@19:30] starry sky, frozen solid, overcast, sunny, +2°, snow, overcast, sunny (some snow melt), hail, sunny, scattered clouds, 0°. Some solar panels at house still obscured with snow at end of day.
15th 1268.49, 403.49 => 3.43 [83210@20:00] Light overcast. hit +5°. Still 2 panels snowed in.
16th 1271.06, 405.09 => 4.07 [50Km; 83248@19:00] Overcast. Solar panels clear.
17th 1273.70, 406.95 => 4.50 [45Km; 83282@18:00] Overcast. +6°. Most of the snow is gone.
18th 1274.83, 407.50, .1 DC => 1.78 [83314@20:00] Overcast. +7°.
19th 1278.43, 409.83 => 5.93 [85Km; 83347@19:30] Light overcast.
20th 1280.42, 411.09 => 3.25 [83382@18:30; 55Km] Light overcast, later rain.
21st 1283.70, 413.19 => 5.38 [83424@21:30] More rain than sun.
22d  1288.22, 416.12, .1DC => 7.55 [83452@20:00] Sunny afternoon.
23rd 1290.27, 417.40 => 3.33 [55Km; 83491@19:00] Rain.
24th 1293.75, 419.59, .1 DC => 5.77 [60Km; 83526@18:30]
25th 1297.93, 422.44 => 7.03 [83554@20:00] Some sun today - mostly dull sun.
26th 1300.23, 423.84 => 3.70 [90Km; 83598@20:30] Clouds, again?!? Forecast SNOW again?!?
27th 1302.83, 425.72, .5 DC (oops, lights left on) =>4.98 [55Km; 83637@20:00] Rain (no snow), light clouds, sun late PM. AWG! Temperature dropped and Snow after dark!
28th 1306.94, 428.40 => 6.79 [45Km; 83667@18:30] Snow melted. Mostly sunny PM. Still quite cold (4°?).
29th 1311.53, 431.67 => 7.86 [50Km; 83701@21:00] Warmer, fair bit of sunshine.
30th 1314.09, 433.31 => 4.20 [83733@24:30] Cloudy AGAIN
31st 1316.28, 434.73 => 3.61 [55Km; 83769@19:30] Clouds and rain.

01st 1219.68, 437.19 => 5.86 [83792@19:30] Snow, downpour, clouds, snow & hail, sunshine, clouds, drizzle, yetch!
02nd ?? Oops, what happened? (Estimate: 6.25 2nd, 8.35 3rd) [?] Cloudy.
03rd 1228.57, 442.90 =>14.60 [60Km; 83850@20:00] Some sun in AM, later rain, hail, clouds.
04th 1232.53, 445.44 => 6.50 [83882@19:30] Alternating sun and clouds.
05th 1236.16, 447.68 => 5.87 [83909@19:00] Clouds, bit of sun now and then.
06th 1239.24, 449.62 => 5.02 [55Km; 83940@20:00] mostly overcast.

Daily KWH from solar panels. (Compare March 2021 with February 2021 & with March 2020.)

March 2021 (11 Panels)
February 2021 (11 panels)
March 2020 (12 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 used from grid]
Nov. - 1-30:  36.51 +   6.31 + 26.29 =   69.11 KWH, solar [653 KWH used 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]
* The solar DC system was running the kitchen hot water tank. Now it's only running a couple of lights - not worth reporting. So there's just the 2 grid tie systems: house and "roof over travel trailer".
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]
May    - 1-31: 181.97 + 131.21 = 313.18 KWH Solar [723 KWH from grid]
June   - 1-30: 164.04 + 119.81 = 283.82 KWH Solar [455 KWH from grid]
July    - 1-31: 190.13 + 110.05 = 300.18 KWH Solar [340 KWH from grid]
August- 1-31: 121.81 + 83.62   = 205.43 KWH Solar [385KWH from Grid]
Sept.  - 1-30: 110.68 + 65.09   = 175.77 KWH Solar [564 KWH used from grid]
Oct.  -   1-31:   67.28 + 42.55   = 109.83 KWH Solar [1360 KWH from grid -- Renters!]
Nov.  -  1-30:   35.70  + 20.79  = 56.49 KWH of Solar [1301 KWH from grid]
Dec.  -  1-31:   19.78  + 11.31  = 31.09 KWH Solar [1078 KWH used from grid]

Jan.   -  1-31:   25.47 + 18.58  = 44.05 KWH Solar [1185 KWH used from grid]
Feb.   -  1-28:   47.18 + 33.22  = 80.40 KWH Solar [1121 KWH used from grid]
Two years of solar!
March - 1-31:   81.73 + 55.22 + 2.2 (DC) = 139.15 KWH Solar [1039 KWH grid]

Things Noted - March 2021

* The days get longer and the sun higher rapidly in March. From the 9th or so the solar system finally started making some energy - although still less than 15% of what I was using (mostly for electric heat, plus the LED indoor garden).

* There wasn't one really bright, sunny whole day in the whole month.

* So perhaps it's no surprise that in clouds, rain and even a blizzard this March, solar collection has been down by 30% this month from March 2020. In fact many months have been down. (2018, especially the summer, would have had better figures if I had had the solar all hooked up then.) This "Grand Solar Minimum" thing may get to be a real drag if it's going to cause so much cloudiness for perhaps a couple of decades.

* On the 13th the house solar said it was making 32 watts. All the panels were covered in snow. I dumped the snow off one of the panels on the lawn. No change! I discovered a pin connecting all three was all corroded - again. When was the last time the three lawn panels (and the grid tie inverter they were hooked to) had been contributing? (Hmm... I saw 1200 watts recently when the sun was shining brightly near midday. That meant it/they had to have been contributing at least about 450 watts on the 8th, 9th or 10th if not all three days.) OTOH poorer collection from them might explain lower daily and monthly collection totals from 2020.

* While 10 or 12 panels should be enough to keep essentials running in the event of a lengthy power outage, and while I've been using a lot of power for heat to make my bedroom comfortable and to keep the travel trailer from going moldy, I should think 20 or 30 panels would be much better for any really serious attempt to replace grid power usage with solar even without electric heat. (Of course, if one had the open loop air heat pumping with a COP of 10+, power for heating would be very much minimalized.) At this high latitude (53-1/2°N) in west coast clouds, in the depths of winter no reasonable number of panels is going to provide much. Of course the lower the latitude the more even collection will be over the year.

Electricity Storage (Batteries)

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

Zinc Plating -- Or...

[12th] I didn't get good results trying to "galvanize" zinc - pour melted zinc into the copper cell cans and get some to stick to the inside walls. Regular electroplating just made lots of loose dendrites, and I was dismayed how long it was taking to get any sort of layer of zinc plated into a cell by brush plating. Peter thought that having electroplated a little zinc onto the copper, maybe the galvanizing would stick to the zinc already on the copper and work better. That seemed to be worth a try.
   Another thing I might try would be regular electroplating and then brush plating on top of that. Maybe the thick, powdery layer could be filled in and made more solid by the brush plating? More likely the brush would knock off much of the powdery stuff and anyway leave a coating with lots of holes. But that seemed easier than melting zinc and I had more confidence of at least workable results, so I started it up. 1.3V gave .40 amps - 2-1/2 hours per amp-hour of zinc plating. That was fine since I didn't have to stand there brushing it.
   But after 20 minutes I heard the cooling fan come on on the power supply. 10 amps, almost 0 volts! The bottom of the zinc piece had corroded away, allowing it to shift over and short to the can.

   After a bit more plating and fussing, I thought, was I just doing it all the hard way? Ideally one visualizes a copper can with a nice layed of zinc coated onto it for a zinc electrode with an impervious current collector. But why couldn't I just roll up some thin zinc sheet and put it into the can? It would touch the copper here and there all the way around and surely make contact. And in discharging and charging the cell surely it would plate itself to the copper at least here and there?
   I cut a sheet of very thin pure zinc, two strips, rolled them around a rod, put them around the dividing wall on the plastic bottom piece, and stuck it into the second can. The two pieces weighed 6.95 grams: 5.7 amp-hours. (A NiMH "sub-C" cell is about 3 A-H, so that should be enough.)

Thin strips of zinc, the plastic bottom, and the copper can.
(Can the can really look that ugly?!?)

The zinc strips are held outside the plastic
dividing wall on the bottom piece.

Zinc strips in the can.
(I sanded off the can! The inside got sanding,
dremmel wire brush, hydrochloric acid, more
dremmel brush, scotchbrite... and it still didn't
look clean. Trust it's good enough.)

Assembly & Testing

   I then wrapped the center "plus" nickel-manganates electrode I compacted a couple of months ago in a layer of parchment paper, and put it in. It seemed to fit. I pulled it out. I heated up just a bit of agar in water, poured it in, and put the electrode back in. I must have pushed it down too fast because some of the agar solution spurted out. There seemed to be still enough, but certainly no excess. (I had expected to cover over the top of the electrode. There was none left for that. I used modeling clay.)
   I mixed 100cc of water with 20g KOH and 20g KCl for electrolyte. pH was 13 as expected. I added about 1.3cc to the cell. I think that pretty much saturated it; maybe not quite Then I put the top on.

   Initially it read about 1.1 volts and would source about .05 amps short circuited. (33mA with the meter on low range, which seemed to have about 5 ohms internal resistance.) With a 100 ohm resistor it read .007 amps at .8 volts. Pretty disappointing.

   Since the zinc was in metallic form - fully charged - the low open circuit voltage meant the plus side wasn't. Let's see... If I charge charged zinc, it's likely to form zinc hydride. Ugh. Is there any other option? Perhaps I should have tried charging the Ni?(MnO?)? manganates electrode powders by chemical means before I made the electrode?
   Seeing no other reasonable choice I put it on charge, at 1.7 volts. It drew about 10mA. In a few minutes it was putting out 10mA at a volt into the 100 ohms, or again almost 40mA (meter on low range)
(Much later I remembered I was supposed to put nano zirconium silicate into the agar mix as a hydrogen overvoltage raising agent. Forgetting comes of taking so long and working to seldom on a project!)

   An hour of charging didn't seem to raise the voltage or make anything better. I came up with the theory that the agar was holding back the electrolyte and not passing much current. I took the eyedropper and put in maybe .4cc more electrolyte, but this time aimed it around the zinc sheets at the edge instead of the porous center electrode. The voltage, with no more charging, went from 1.2 to 1.8V. Say, that's what it's supposed to be! It seemed too good to be true. I had to check a couple of times to make sure the meter was actually measuring the cell and not the power supply. But the power supply was definitely disconnected.
   I had to raise the voltage to 1.95 to get it charging again, and then only at a milliamp or two. The drive current also only went up a little, to 1.2V/12mA@100 ohm load. Maybe .055A shorted. But then the current rose a bit and if taken off charge the cell voltage started dropping. Here I left it. The next day it was under a volt.

   The possibilities would seem to be either it's some sort of "short circuit", meaning a lower resistance path somewhere between the electrodes, or a bad connection. The low current drive might indicate the latter. Was the "loose" zinc really in good contact with the outer copper wall? Or, is the agar not letting electrolyte through? It went in damp, perhaps but no salt or hydroxide ions were getting in? But I don't remember this problem in the flat cells. Do I need to include electrolyte when I mix agar? We do of course want the agar to stop zinc ions.

   About the only encouraging thing was reading 1.8 volts open circuit from the cell at one point. That would seem to mean it should work. If I can get everything right. What isn't right?

[14th] The cell was down to .5 volts. I took the top off. Sticking a tiny screwdriver between the zinc and the copper can didn't seem to help. Hmm, except sometimes. But it only went as high as .7 volts. (Why were the edges of the zinc green? Isn't that the color of copper compounds?) Adding water didn't help. I tugged at the center terminal. It didn't budge. If I heated it until the agar liquified it should come out easily. Right? I heated it up but when I tugged the strip pulled out of the electrode. So much for that cell!

   I scraped out the center electrode. I was minded to re-use it, then I thought it would have a lot of agar mixed into it if I did, which would reduce its conductivity. So I discarded it.

How hard can it be?

[15th] Others have made zinc electrodes with zinc powder and zinc oxide powder. Of course the particles are pressed together with great force to get them to conduct electrically. I wonder if there's some practical way to press a layer of compacted particles onto the inside face of a copper can? That might solve my problem with getting a zinc coating applied to and conducting to the copper? Or what if I put some zinc powder and some flux (borax) on the copper and torched it (or put it in the kiln) until the particles started to fuse? Here we have a disadvantage of the round cans as opposed to laying powder on a flat copper sheet. Hmm... is there some paste flux I could use to stick the particles to the copper until they've fused in? I recently found my old tin-lead solder plumbing flux. Maybe I'll try torching zinc powder with (a) borax, (b) tin-lead solder acid flux and (c) silver solder flux, on a flat copper sheet first?

(BTW?: I think I got sold an old dried out jar of silver solder flux. I suspect it was supposed to be a paste, not a solid lump that I have to crumble bits off of. It would certainly be easier to use that way. Then the torch blows the bits away. But it's the only jar of silver solder flux I've ever had, so I don't really know how it's supposed to be.)

[18th?] I tried fusing some zinc powder mixed with borax into the can with a small propane torch. The biggest effect seemed to be to burn the zinc to oxide. It was sort of stuck in there, but it was easy to scrape out.

[21st] I thought I'd try a slightly different tack, just for a prototype: Regular electroplating. Then when it shorts or is fairly thick, pound down the porous zinc "sponge" until it's flat against the copper. until it looks like enough fairly solid zinc plate. (Once again, easier to do to a flat plate than inside a cylinder, but I figured I could manage it somehow.)
   Hmm, and maybe before I pound it I'll shake in some zinc oxide so it's a mix of oxide ("discharged") and "charged" metallic zinc. I started the plating at about 1/2 an amp (10:50 AM) and went off to do other things.

   I also made another positrode. It took several tries. In these I flattened the bottom of the endcap with the grinder. It tended to not stand straight in the hydraulic press, which I pressed to about 3/4 or 1 ton. After each of the first three tries it was dry and crumbly and fell apart by itself. I kept adding more Sunlight dishsoap. After the third one the particles seemed to hold together to give about the consistency of a commercial regular dry cell, but it came out broken in half.

Powder with graphite and potassium permanganate is really messy stuff!

Third try: Getting better! But it broke apart where the folded current collector strip ended.
Resistances from any point to another on the broken end of this were around 30 ohms.

In spite of my efforts to keep it straight, the cupro-nickel current collector center strip would be munched up during compaction. So I decided to make it longer (70mm) so it extended almost to the top of uncompacted powder. It could be as crunched up as it wanted as long as it ran from the bottom of the electrode to the top and stuck out for a terminal. I finally got that effect.

The fourth or fifth try looked usable. The crumpled current collector is at the outside
at both ends, and a clump of material broke off at the top, exposing the top fold.
(It looks like more might want to break off the side.)
For some reason resistances this time seemed to be in the hundreds of ohms, but it varied a lot.
From some points to the current collector it measured only around 60-80 ohms.
But I didn't want to break it by pressing very hard with the meter probes.
It weighed 12.2 grams after drying. (Current collector is about .8 grams of that.)

                     Jose's nickel-iron cell
[30th] Jose sent me some info on the Ni-Fe battery he had successfully made and his techniques. Now he was going to try manganese zinc with zinc sulfate electrolyte.

   He had made some nickel foam and graphite foam flat electrodes, and was planning zinc in graphite foam. He threaded a nickel wire into the foam to get good connection, and then, depending on what the active material was, used sintering or electro deposition to impregnate it. He mentioned zinc.

   That reminded me of my graphite felt - very similar. What about wrapping a piece of that around the inside of the can and electroplating it? The felt would be bound to contact the can in spots, and once some zinc plated it the connection should be secure. That might work better, maybe much better, than the things I had tried so far. And the felt (or foam) has oodles of surface area compared to flat copper. I ripped a piece into two halves but it was still so thick it seemed I would need a bigger diameter of copper pipe for the can - 1 inch instead of 3/4. Well, that's about "C" size, which is what I was planning on making if I could draw out the cans I wanted from a single piece of copper. (A smaller center electrode would work instead, but then the proportions between the two electrodes would surely be way off.)
   Image: Cans. Sub-C with too much thickness of felt and one close to "C" just made April 2nd. (Filled with water to test for leaks.)

   Another idea Jose sent in a picture was an odd form of "pulse charging" to recharge alkaline manganese-zinc cells. Using a diode drop, the charge current goes slightly negative for half the line frequency cycle. Apparently they charge better and last more cycles. Perhaps it helps reduce dendrite formation? (The edges of the picture were already cut off. I did cut off the top half, which listed the problems of nickel-cadmium cells and hence why recharging manganese-zinc cells would be better if it can be made to work well.)
   (It also says [not that I can read Spanish without looking up half the words] at the bottom that if Mn-Zn cells were rechargeable the market would drop to 20% of what it is. But it seems to me that if they were really long lasting, usage would surely shoot way up: They would provide for economical solar, EV and even power grid energy storage. It would surely absorb all the production capacity for some years if not overwhelm it.)

Drawing Copper Cans?

   I'm not 100% sure why I would want think about this without having succeeded with the silver soldered "sub-C" cells yet. But I have this vision of the perfect copper "C" cell can and it seems like a cool project. If I'm having trouble with the zinc plating, at least it's another direction where I can probably forge ahead solving problems that are well known in ways that have been done by others before.

   I kept looking at a 2013 video from "NYC-CNC" about drawing cans [for bullet jackets] that somehow seemed better/easier than others.

Drawing Copper / Making punches & dies - Video

It showed the 2nd and 3rd draws that made a shallow can into a tall thin one. The "bushing" and "die" of both punch and die sets fit into the same outer sleeve that holds them "perfectly" aligned. The "punch" fits exactly into the hole going through the bushing, and the shallow cup from the first stage fits into the widened bottom of the hole. After putting it into the sleeve with the die beneath, pressing on the punch pushes the workpiece into the die, straight and centered. It comes out longer and with thinner walls. The third set is the same as the second but makes it still longer and thinner, with still thinner walls.
   A couple of the commenters underneath the video had good ideas for small improvements. One I thought might be good would be to make the second punch end with a 45° (?or other angle? ?Also the first punch?) taper such that its square bottom diameter was the same diameter as the next punch's outer diameter, to help keep the next punch centered. (Then again, would that punch itself work as well that way? I don't see why not.)

   I thought it might be most practical to do that in about a "C" cell size. That size may not be very common any more, but it seemed to me it would be about the easiest and most practical for me to do. For the amount of work they're likely to be in prototyping or limited production, "AAA" or "AA" would be frustratingly little cell for the effort plus a very long "draw" that would probably need an annealing step, while "D" would make for a very fat center electrode with lower current capacity. (Ignoring the problems with making them including drawing the can, a double length "C" cell should have about the same storage capacity as a "D" cell and substantially higher current capacity.)

   I measured a "C" cell, a Ni-MH picked up from a recycling bin. It was 25mm OD and counting the button, 50mm long. Or if you prefer, 1" OD x 2" long. (The actual body length was 47mm.)
   Maybe I'll look up his earlier video about making the first punch and die and try that first. If I can form the shallow cups okay, I'll do the second set, and if that's still a success, the third and last.
   I remind myself that my cans will be a lot bigger than his, and so they probably will be more exacting to do and obviously will need my heavy hydraulic press.

[10th] I guestimate that the initial size of copper disk to end up with a C-cell size can would be around 48mm of . Rather than create a punch to make them - especially as that might not be optimum - I'll cut the initial disk out with tinsnips. That'll be one simplification to help get things going.
   I went to the refuse station to discard something and hunted around the piles of metal. (What a blessing that the attendant is for attempts to reuse discarded materials and items instead of telling people to stay away, as if the trash was valuable instead of people occasionally relieving the system of a few of the things it has to deal with! "Just be careful - and don't sue us if you hurt yourself!")
   I found an outer sleeve piece, and a heavy "cylinder" piece that almost fit right into it for one die. If I expand its inner hole to about 1.3" and cut off a 1.25" bolt to the smooth shank, I might have the makings of the first (or second?) punch and die. Maybe I'll try a 1.125" bolt size first and see if the disk can be squeezed through. One can always make the hole bigger, but not smaller. (The hole is for a 1" threaded bolt. I can't use it for the final 25mm/1" C-cell diameter unless a 1.0"(?) hole eliminates the threads and leaves smooth sides.)

[11th] I spent much of the afternoon watching NYC-CNC videos about making drawing dies. He had a 9 part series. It was a little before the one above with the two punch and die sets that fit in the same outer sleeve (all in 2013), but I got a few good tips and ideas. I also thought of "weld-on hubs" usually used for chain sprocket hubs, which might make nice ready made bushings. I had some, 7/8", 1.0" and 1.125", and pieces of shafts from my motors in 7/8" and 1.0", with another I could turn down to 1.125".

   I started to think about the copper, too. The 3/4" copper pipe measured about 1.1mm or .040" thick. I thought that was much thicker than necessary. But how thick would be good? .020"? .015"? I went out to the garage at 1 AM with a caliper and just felt the copper sheets.  .020" did seem like a good thickness. It had considerable stiffness, although not utter rigidity. Or .025" would be okay too - a little stiffer than .020". .010" seemed a rather flimsy and I didn't run across any .015". I decided to try for .025" or .635mm.

   NYC-CNC was using .030" stock. My piece was a lot bigger, so even if I wanted the same wall thickness, I should start with thicker copper. I found my thickest copper sheet metal. The caliper said 1.7mm or .067". Just over double. If one assumed the base would be the same thickness as the side walls, one should be able to calculate the wall thickness that would result from a given size piece of copper when transformed from a flat sheet/plate to a can 25mm diameter by 48mm long.

If I cut a 50mm disk, π*25^2=1963.5 sq.mm. 1963.5 * 1.7mm thick = 3338cmm (3.338cc / 3.338ccm).

Next, a 25mm OD * 48mm pipe circumference is 25*π * 48 = 3770 sq.mm
And the end disk 25^2*π/4 = 491 sq.mm

3770 + 491 = 4261 sq.mm

The volume of the copper will remain the same however it is deformed, 3338cmm. Spread over 4261, that would be:
3338/4261 = .78mm thickness (.031"). Apparently I should try a smaller initial disk to start with.

A 48mm disk would be: 24^2*π * 1.7mm = 3076cmm.
3076/4261=.72mm thickness. That's about .028".

A 46mm disk would be: 23^2*π * 1.7mm = 2704cmm.
2825/4261=.663mm thickness. That's about .026". I think that should be fine. A little extra sturdiness can't hurt.

A 44mm disk would be: 22^2*π * 1.7mm = 2704cmm.
2585/4261=.606mm thickness. That's about .024".

   So the 3/4" plumbing pipe is .040" and I'm shooting for .026"? Hmm, that's not a whole lot thinner. I was thinking the pipe was grossly thick compared to requirements, but it looks like it's just a little overkill. The 28 gram "sub-C" cell can would drop from ~28g to ~18. Am I wasting my time? But the other difference is that the 3/4" pipe (~7/8" on the outside) makes "sub-C" cell diameter, while swaging my own I would make "C". Either of those seem like convenient sizes, where "AA" might be frustratingly small for me to work with and not much cell for all the efforts that go into one, and "D" would make for a very thick center electrode (and I would have to find another pipe size to compact that size.) But the volume of "C" would be 25^2*π/4 * 47 = 23cc compared to 22^2*π * 42 = 16cc for "sub-C", almost 50% larger. (Reading specs some "Sub-C"s say 3 amp-hours while "C" is 5.) That seems like a good increase for what should be about the same amount of work. (And using graphite felt to make a thick zinc electrode it would seem going to "C" is necessary to fit everything nicely.)

Haida Gwaii, BC Canada