Turquoise Energy Newsletter #156 - May 2021
Turquoise Energy News #156
Covering May 2021 (Posted June 9th 2021)
Lawnhill BC Canada - by Craig Carmichael


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

Month In "Brief" (Project Summaries etc.)
 - Roofing Screws the Easy Way! - Ground Effect Craft: Promotion of the Designs - Sundry - Plastic Recycling - "Plug & Play?" DC plugs, sockets, circuits

In Passing (Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)
 - Tinnitus Treatment - World: Dangerous Phase? - Small Thots: (Reader/viewer comments under articles; Rudeness and Intolerance; Toxic Vanilla?) - ESD

- Detailed Project Reports -

Electric Transport - Electric Hubcap Motor Systems (no reports)

Other "Green" & Electric Equipment Projects
* Off grid infrastructure: "Plug-and-Play Solar"
* Greenhouse, Gardening, Chickens
* Innovative Beekeeping for the BC Coast

Electricity Generation
* My Solar Power System: - Daily/Monthly Solar Production log et cetera - Monthly Summaries and Estimates (26 months)

Electricity Storage * Turquoise Battery Project (NiMnOx-Zn in Mixed Alkali-Salt electrolyte)
 - Assembling C Cell - Tests (ug!) - Drawing Copper Pipes into C-Cell Cans?




May in Brief


Looking at my house - somewhere in there - from low tide.
(This camera has a much wider angle of view than the old one.)



Roofing Screws the Easy Way!


   I put up another piece of sheet metal siding on my cabin. (one piece for the whole month!) You can't push hard enough to penetrate the sheet metal easily without the drill suddenly jumping sideways and the screw coming out of the driver with its flimsy magnetic holder. You spin it and spin it and spin it trying to get the screw to start penetrating, even using two hands to try to press and keep it centered (when one hand should be holding you on the ladder). I take plenty of extra screws up the ladder to replace the ones that fall to the ground below. Some people punch a hole in the roof metal first for the screw to go into, but that too is extra work.
   After all the many years of frustration with this unsatisfactory process, this time I suddenly came up with the idea that the hex screwdriver bit for sheet metal roofing screws had a hexagonal base to fit securely in the drill chuck... but so did the roofing screws themselves! Why not just put the screw straight into the drill chuck? With a keyless chuck it's easy to tighten it in, and then loosen it off once the screw is in. Bingo! It stays in the drill chuck securely and goes in like a charm, ending all the extra effort, time and frustration. This should work for any hex-head screw that fits in the chuck.

   I was excited enough by how easy it was to quit working and make a short, clumsy video of it to share it with everybody on Youtube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipMVx4AkwZo


Ground Effect Craft: Promotion of the Designs

   I have been too busy to get at the programming for the thrust/steering on my ground effect vehicle. But on the 10th there was a new video from RCTestFlight, one of the people whose models I originally watched when I was designing the ground effect vehicle. He had now tried out in model form the "airfish" inverted-delta wing design and the old Russian ecranoplan layout. Neither of them seemed very satisfactory. An interesting aspect was that he used a height sensor to to automaticly control the motor power to try and maintain a steady altitude. I was going to potentially use inertial sensors to make for a smooth flight even over a rough sea, but even his altitude sensor might have worked well over flat ground if it controlled the angle of a canard rather than motor power.
   One of his problems was that the propeller was well above the center line and increasing the power made the craft's nose drop instead of rise. This was one reason I went with ducted fans: the small propellers can be more in-line with the wing without hitting the water.
   I put in a substantial comment with details of my design under the video. If he sees it amidst the other 1000+ comments, perhaps he may get excited by the ideas? If so, he seems to put together and try out cheap models pretty rapidly. (Well, actually I guess it's been over 4 years since his previous ground effect tests. Still faster than I'm getting there, and I wasn't able to get to it this month.)
   Soon there was a related video by someone who had been in contact with RC Test Flight and I more or less repeated myself there. Both times with links to TE News. If only there weren't SO many useless comments, mine might get seen.


Sundry

   On the 13th I drove to Masset airport, but my bees weren't on the flight. Way to go Hiveworld, who almost never return my e-mails or phone messages! But this may have worked out serendipitously: later I saw a video of a guy who just this month invented a new type of beehive that I realized would be much better for the BC west coast and especially Haida Gwaii, and having no bees yet, I combined parts of my two hives and built it. But it now depends on them finally sending me the bees. Details in "Other Green & Electric Equipment Projects" (which category I have to expand from just "Other Green Electric Equipment Projects").


The new insulated, tall, beehive box with plywood and insulation end spacer inserts,
and the first matching "tall" frame - two "deep" frames cut and glued together.

   I bought a nice metal door at Co-op Home Centre in Masset while I was there. On this island I could only find doors complete with frames/casings around them. What? Can't buy just a door?!? And because it did have a frame around it, I'll have to redo my opening and make it a little taller. Yuk! And the price floored me - with tax it was over 500$! I almost decided to build a wooden door myself after all. I hope there are no more similar unpleasant price surprises in building supplies that I still need. (It's looking more like we're headed into the long predicted hyperinflation, and shortages of all kinds.)

Expanding the Greenhouse

   On the 9th I went to prepare to plant the corn I had started in a tray of toilet paper roll centers "seedling pots".
   I was going to make a big "cold frame" to plant it in and give it a head start, similar to last year. But I ended up deciding to expand the greenhouse instead, which I had wanted to do anyway, and plant the corn inside it. Corn grown in the open around here most commonly doesn't produce. Once I had straightened out the formerly curved roof, which made it about 4-5 usable feet wider, I realized I should put in a concrete footing to keep the grass and weeds - and slugs - from creeping in under the wall. And before doing that I really needed to fix my cement mixer. Project creep to prevent creeping! The corn meanwhile was badly outgrowing the little containers. So... the seemingly simple act of planting corn took all working my time for well over a week. Everything these days is eating into energy project time. But the corn is looking good! The roots were already growing out through the soggy tubes, so I just planted them with the tube. Better than "peat pots". (More under "Other ... Projects".)


   I finally put together the "C" cell nickel-manganates / zinc. But it suffered my usual problem of self discharge, and didn't perform very well current-wise either. Then I had to clear off the top of the washing machine for laundry and didn't set it up again. Not much of a chem lab! (More under "Electricty Storage".)

   As I drove to Masset one day I reflected on "hybridizing" the Echo, that it would probably be much better to mount the motor in a fixed position and put in an idler sprocket mechanism with a strong spring to jump up and down with wheel suspension travel, instead of having the whole motor bounce around. (Is that as far as I get with a project in a month these days?)


Plastic Recycling

   The food oil expeller, which seemed to have all the same parts as a plastic extruder and for which I hoped to use it, arrived.

   Having also ordered a few other plastic recycling related things on AliExpress, I told Mike I had pipe heaters and temperature controllers suitable for the plastic injector he had made before I knew him, and had shown me a year or two ago. I got the injector from him to add the heaters to it. (Then I started working on the greenhouse and it sat helping to clutter up the garage. Sigh!)

   I kept thinking about how to make flat or "corrugated" panels from recycled clear plastic for greenhouses. I thought about something that would extrude a thin sheet of stiff plastic hopefully a couple of feet wide, but that seemed like a process that would be too involved and that I knew little about. The alternative would be to press entire panels at once into greenhouse "window panes", with or without "corrugations" to stiffen them.
   But how would one melt an expanse of plastic much too big to fit in an oven? On PreciousPlastic.com they had made a one meter square sheet press. It was huge and had a lot of metal in it. Very industrial in nature, occupying a lot of shop floor space. And at least 2 meters would be a better length. It had a bunch of flat cartridge heaters.
   Surely something simpler could be done? For the bed: two sheets of aluminum (can we just call this common metal "alium"?), thick enough to spread the heat, with a wooden frame under and on top. Stack dispersed weights on top instead of making it super rigid and using a press.
   A pile of heaters would cost a lot. What about just heating elements? What about just resistance wire? I ordered a couple of spools of ni-chrome resistance wire, which can be used to make heat. These might be strung back and forth on insulated hangers along the length of the press. I could make a mold and cast the hangers in porcelain. Or ceramic inserts going through holes in wood. (Good old "knob and tube" wiring!) The underside of the lower aluminum plate would be insulated with fiberglass and some bottom plywood. The top too. That way the energy to make the heat could be minimal, and slow heating would allow thinner alium plates to spread the heat through the plastic. Maybe I could get away with 1/8" (3mm) sheets? I asked Steve to order me a 4 by 8 foot sheet of 1/8" next time he was getting alium.

   Then it occurred to me that smaller greenhouse panels might be overlapped at the edges and "glued", either with a cement suitable for the type of plastic used, or melted together either with a clothes iron or a special heater that could do a whole seam at once. Then the individual sheets wouldn't have to be huge to be useful.

   Now... what about my plastic shredder kit? I finally checked on it. No information or tracking. I e-mailed the maker and inquired. A few days later, the 18th, I got a message that it had now been shipped. Sigh! But once shipped, it arrived on the 31st - just 13 days, from Czech republic in Europe! I had a motor and a 50:1 reduction worm gear. But I recently heard someone had had their shredder jam, and that burned out their motor. What about a safety clutch? Or maybe a V-belt that would slip if the going got too tough? Yes, I think that's a good idea.

   Anyway... that's for later. My plate is more than full!


   (And... what about the planetary gear I ordered in March for the Chevy Sprint project?... It was taking forever. Turned out FedEx had auto-dialed my old cell phone number, and getting no reply was now in the process of returning it to China owing to a trivial customs charge. Sigh!
   It arrived on June 7th. It's much larger and heavier, and seemingly more skucum, than the one I bought before. It's just short of 15 pounds. I expect it'll have no problems direct driving a wheel via a CV shaft on the car.)


"Plug & Play?" DC Power Components
Improved T-Plug (right) works better, holds better             
   I designed and 3D printed more of the planned T-plug (36V, 15A) and mini T-plug (12V, 10A) wiring shells. And using these I connected some devices together. I gave these the names "T36" and "T12", so a 36V plug is a T36P. Eventually I hope there will be screw and crimp type connections as well as solder-on, and high current versions for heavy loads, which will need other shells and variant names. And plugs and sockets that lock together. But this is enough for now.




   The first plug-in device I did was in-line LCD power meters (9-100V, 0-20A) with T36 plugs and sockets, and a identical meter with T12's. Using two of them you can see all the things you most want to know such as solar panel and battery voltages, current in and out, and accumulated totals of power made and used. And being plug-in, they can easily be unplugged to measure somewhere else, and the plug and socket of the circuit connected together without the meter. I had only bought two of these power meters/monitors, but having all these readings, independent of any other equipment, seemed so useful that I ordered some more of them to sell with solar systems. To go above 20 amps requires identical looking ones with an external current measuring shunt. I also got some straight LCD volt meters, 8 to 30V and I put T12 plugs on them. Also some for up to 80V for T36 plugs.
   Not seeing what's going on can be costly: After all, if I had had low power LCD voltmeters on the batteries in the truck - or even on one of them - I'd have seen at a glance the truck was draining all those batteries before it ruined them all.
   Next I put a T36 plug and a T12 socket on a DC to DC converter and set it to 13.6 volts, 10 amps max. to make a plug-in charger for 12V Ni-MH or lithium-iron phosphate batteries.
   I also made up a cable with MC4 solar panel connectors on one end and a T36 socket on the other, a T12 socket to a 12V battery, and a T12 plug to alligator clips for batteries and a 12V cord on a light fixture for a DC "light bulb", then connected them all out on the porch. (The arrow straight to the DC to DC converter input is a ...typo? The solar panel cord is right under the words - Solar power goes through the meter, then to the DC to DC.)






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

Tinnitus Treatment?


   I have terrible tinnitus. The ringing in my ears started when I was very young, perhaps either because of going duck hunting with my dad when I was 4-5 (which just very recently came back to my memory), or because the TV we kids used to sit in front of and watch had a very loud 15,750 Hz flyback transformer. (IIRC the frequency correctly. It seemed to me that was also the original frequency of my whistling tinnitus. OTOH, the audiologist thought the duck hunting would have been the culprit: single very loud noises - "It doesn't matter who was firing the shotgun.")
   It got worse over the years along with my hearing as I hammered together additions to my house, played in a concert band, and so on. Notably it got worse 2003-2007 while I was making my "Supercorder" modern recorders, and playing them and playing them, loud and soft, high and low to get each note in tune by scraping away bits from the inside around the finger holes. And then 2017-2019 probably from running a very large, powerful chainsaw to break up logs into cants for milling lumber. Even 'earmuffs' ear protection probably wasn't enough. My left ear is somewhere in the "mildly impaired" hearing range in the mid to high frequencies and always has a loud, high pitched whistle to it. My right ear is just above "impaired" range.

   On the evening of the 26th I heard that someone who works in a hospital said tinnitus can be cured by taking magnesium and calcium for a year. If there's a way to end tinnitus I wasn't putting it off!: the next morning I ran to a store and found "Jamieson: calcium-magnesium+D3, 100+100 pills, 333mg, 167mg, 200 IU" and bought two bottles to get a year's supply (400 pills). I took one in the in the car as I left the store. In case some deficiency of magnesium is contributing to the ringing, I'll take two daily for a while to build up the levels and (i trust) eliminate the deficiency, then one a day for the next year. The amount of vitamin D3 is almost trivial, so I'll continue taking daily vitamin D pills (1000 IU) to ward off potential cancer. (And CoViD, I hear, but I'm not convinced of that.)

   If it works I'll certainly mention it in an upcoming TE News! If I run out of pills with little or no apparent effect I'll also write about it. (In the meantime, writing it here gives the date for when I started.)





World: Dangerous Phase?

   While some still hope for a return to "normal", the world is moving on. It is very much overpopulated and the time seems to be upon us that things are primed for collapse. Every civilization of the past collapsed, and while each collapse was unique they shared some typical features. The population grew too large in good years to maintain in bad, and the high population and or poor practices degraded the environment. (Reading "Collapse" by Jared Diamond is eye opening. Easter Island lost all its forest - every tree. The Anasazi turned the pine and juniper woodland they built on into a desert, which it still is. There are a few presently successful stories too. Japan stabilized its population and reversed its deforestation by 1700, before it was too late. A key take-away in the many failures is that no one seriously thought there was a systemic problem - or that a developing problem was their problem - until it was much too late and the population much too large to do anything about it.) The institutions became self-serving: concerned with self-aggrandizement and finally self-preservation rather than societal service. As soon as a few years of drought (self inflicted from deforestation?) or other bad weather reduced agricultural output people started starving. Chaos ensued. The organizations and institutions couldn't cope and simply ceased to function, and finally ceased to exist. Usually there was great loss of life and people were thrown on their own resources until a new order eventually started to emerge. A thousand year "Dark Age" ensued from the collapse of the Roman empire before things started being well organized again. (Why did Alaric sack Rome? Looking for food. But there wasn't any. The Romans were starving too.)
   This time such effects look like they will be global, not limited to any one nation or region. There are many factors. Healthy, vibrant societies with stable, sustainable population levels would be resilient and weather adversities easily. But most societies so far have never even tried to address population growth, and our social mentality (at least in the west) has to a significant extent moved from being society serving and cooperative to being separative and self serving and this is reflected in our institutions, creating a dysfunctionality where even the most blatant and severe of societal problems go unaddressed and unresolved.

* With the population growth, poverty and want is rather suddenly becoming widespread. We think of that as being a "third world" phenomenon, but it is now everywhere. Rents and mortgages gobble up everyone's paycheque. Shortages of housing and land are so far the most observable effect. Individual homelessness, which started around 1980 (pop. 4+ billion), has reached the point of tent cities and refugee camps full of people, tens of millions, to which there seem to be no solutions, nowhere for them to go unless they displace others or occupy land already in use for something else. There are more displaced people today than during World War II. And suddenly the price of lumber (hey, it grows on trees!) and other building materials has shot way up.

* We have had 2 years of generally very poor crops, globally, and 2021 is looking like a third. Supplies of grains are now increasingly tight. The largest nations that usually export a major crop are now often trying to import it. If the weather doesn't get the crops, plagues of locusts or mice do.

* The global distribution system seems to be having increasing trouble moving goods around. Delays are becoming widespread and costs are rapidly rising. Many cargo ships have been scrapped for their steel in recent years decreased shipping, which has lately risen substantially. Shipping containers badly needed elsewhere are sitting empty at other ports. It is said that things have been continuing to get worse instead of better since the Evergiven was cleared from the Suez canal. By early June the situation has been looking chaotic. Shipping a 20 foot container that cost 2000 $ in 2019 is now over 10,000 $ -- but only if the shipper can book a space at all.

* Owing to the cost of housing and rising prices for most everything, food is becoming an unaffordable "extra" for some who are still managing to keep a roof over their heads, to be obtained at food banks. Such services, now often with long lineups, have staved off disaster so far, but they will surely soon be overwhelmed. Everyone trying to stockpile food is competing with everyone else: food banks, groceries and state governments that have decided they should stock up are all finding that larger quantities have become hard to get.

* We are told "the young today don't want to work", but is that not because the average salaries being offered are insufficient to live on? What is the solution? Life, not to denigrate anyone, is becoming "cheap".

* The financial system and the banks have been "on life support" since 2008. Ever increasing money printing has kept them afloat. Yet the underlying problems haven't been addressed. The value of your dollar denominated assets has been shrinking as the currency supply balloons, and hyperinflation seems inevitable and now much closer. Then all the fiat currencies, all your monetary savings, will become worthless. Advice to get out of currency and into real, tangible assets is increasing from many quarters, and when enough people actually do that, currency finally becomes a "hot potato" to be spent as soon as available, not accumulated as savings, and finally no one will accept it any more. In some areas, houses are now selling not just for a million dollars, but for a million dollars over the asking price.
   But it will surely be a rapidly rising price of food that will start getting everyone buying "tangible assets" - extra food - "today" since we all need to eat and it will only cost more next month. The crisis will probably be sudden and will catch the majority unawares. It is said that in Wiemar Germany "One week no one knew what hyperinflation was. The next week everyone knew."

* New, worse strains of CoViD seem to be emerging. But whether it is these or some other disease that next crosses over from animals to overcrowded populations of humans, predictions indicate that disease will almost inevitably strike down billions of people in the next decade or two. And then this new disease(s) will continue to be a scourge until we learn enough about biology to eradicate it - that could be many decades or a century or more. (Early June: WION reports a new strain of avian influenza in China (H10N6?) has infected a person. Might that one spread human to human? If not, might the next one?)

* The weather disasters not only destroy crops and livestock, but have become a large nuisance in their own right. Especially, high winds are wreaking havoc in many areas. Also seemingly random "rivers from the sky" unprecedented floods, snow and cold to the horse latitudes, and giant hailstones that can kill even large animals and destroy cars are causing major damages. They seem to be getting even worse. A snowstorm in the southern USA bought Texas to a halt last winter, and in more recent storms there a few hailstones even bashed through house roofs. One triangular shaped hailstone measured 8 inches across.

* There are worrisome and credible predictions of a rapid, almost sudden, 3 meter sea level rise before mid century, saying that it is already too late to prevent it. (It may not be too late to prevent further disastrous rises over the next couple of centuries.) Many present day port cities and facilities will be flooded out, which will not help supply distribution. These predictions would also involve hundreds of millions of refugees from low lying areas seeking to find higher ground. (In Bangladesh alone 100 million people would or will be flooded out!)

   For those who manage to weather the worst of the storms, the world by 2050 will obviously look very different than it does today. After the now inevitable cataclysmic events have run their course, the exponential learning curve we are on especially since the printing press and now the recent advent of the internet will continue, and we (or for many of us it will be "they") will start understanding our major problems better - societal as well as technical - and learning how to solve them. For everyone to understand the need to limit population is the key to the future. (Best estimates to enable high quality lives are around 3 billion globally with cities of 1/2 a million or less.) The smaller, less dense populations will be more secure and contented, and much more cooperative inter-person and inter-nation instead of competitive and suspicious, and a better prosperity and solutions for sustainable societies will emerge. It won't be utopia at that point, but it'll be the start of the road toward it.



   Should our democracies finish failing, those who take power may tell us "Democracy didn't work." And they won't want to try it again. Could we see a new dark age before there's another chance? But what is failing? It may soon be that democracy as it is currently framed may be said to have failed. But if so, why? Did it not become ossified, stuck in time when constitutions were framed, and failed to evolve to meet human and social needs? Why did that happen?
   It is said that when citizens don't participate in governance, that society is already doomed. When populations were tiny, person to person contact was sufficient. One of the people at dinner candidly and openly discussing an issue was probably an elected representative whose voice would be heard if he brought it up in a government house. But as they grew, those governing became aloof. Listening to everyone with a concern probably just left them confused and indecisive from hearing multiple incompatible ideas, and occupied their productive time, so they gradually stopped listening. This process started very gradually around 150 years ago. Citizens today have almost zero opportunity for effective input into governance. Think of all the talent, ideas and potential plans and social designs that continually go to waste in every direction and sphere because those everywhere who are involved in something, and who see and foresee problems and solutions in their areas, have no voice in their governance. How can a few elected representatives be expected to come up with good answers to all of the many multiple issues society faces? A leader is given responsibility for everything. He probably picks a few major topics he's familiar with; the rest are never dealt with. The potential solutions of countless thoughtful people are scattered to the winds. And into that vacuum of input and thought step in ever more powerful special interest groups who eventually gain impunity to start paying politicians to pursue their specific agendas quite apart from - and hence inimical to - the general societal good. So: essentially no input from the public except the occasional letter to a representative (and where does that go?); daily input from lobbyists, who also bear gifts for those who listen to them. Who is going to be served?
   Populations have long been much too large for one-on-ones of someone with an idea explaining to the leadership, or even making an effective presentation at a "town hall" meeting. Again, what is surely needed is for those people who have considered some topic to organize into small local groups, probably under a dozen people who assign themselves specific roles that discuss and formulate plans or solutions related to it, that are agreed upon within the group - preferably unanimously but at least by majority consensus - as being the best way forward. These can be written down and presented to government. Presently they will probably have the most influence at the local community level. But once this process has taken hold, groups will link via the internet and pick or formulate the best consensus plans coming from all the local groups. Once this has been done, the plans can be submitted to elected government for action. Even national governments will understand that the submission is the collective will of the most thoughtful part of the citizenry who have given that specific issue a far more thorough "going over" than anything they would manage to formulate from the center of power.

"Social Sustainability Design Team" Organization

   What differentiates the new ideas for a design team from a "citizens' assembly" or a "citizens' jury" is that it is an organization rather than a simple collective, with the team members fulfilling specific different roles within it. It is also smaller, to be composed ideally of around 5 to 9 people. A committee of 100 people without specific functions or assignments won't necessarily research and compile more ideas or have more themselves, or come up with better or even as good solutions as a small focused group where each person has done some specific homework in search of optimum answers, and everything is thought out in an organized way as a group.

   I was going to try to briefly describe the "organizational chart" such as it is, but I don't think I could do any better than has been done here:

Here is a link to the structure/members of a social design team:
http://www.7corevalues.org/values-based-design-teams.html

(It's worth starting on their main page!)

http://www.7corevalues.org/




Small Thots


* I got a new Ryobi skillsaw. It came with an edge guide. If I've ever seen one of those for a handheld circular saw before, I've never thought of it or used it. This time for cutting some pieces of plywood I did. Wow! Perfect, straight cuts with a skillsaw! The big caveat is that it only works cutting up to about 14 inches wide. If you're making a wider cut you're still on your own, and I wonder how effective it would be even at a foot or so width.


* I have come to look on "news" articles on major platforms that don't allow for comments below them as potentially being "fake news". Such articles often seem to have agendas other than true information dissemination and contain serious distortions of facts to pursue a narrative, and apparently the authors are not being open to hearing the views, ideas and even facts others might submit underneath. Just recently I've started scanning down to the bottom first to see if comments are allowed, and sometimes skipping suspicious sounding articles if not.

* Come to think of it, I myself would probably get more interesting and useful feedback if I could arrange to allow comments under Turquoise Energy New issues! And other readers would be exposed to more and doubtless often better informed opinions and ideas than just mine. (Awg, now I'm talking about undertaking another major project, to set up such a thing? Way beyond my very basic HTML skills!)



* In India CoViD seems to have suddenly spread wildly. Two states not using the big "I." pill were the hard hit ones. Finally it was decided that it should be used, and CoViD cases dropped by 92% and 84%. Well duh!

* In Madhra (SP?) Pradesh some village doctor or medical practitioner had made some herbal concoction administered as eye drops that seemed to be curing people - by the dozens - with notable improvement even in just ten minutes and no side effects that any of the treated who were interviewed had noticed. The villagers had quit masks and social distancing as being no longer necessary. Thousands very ill with CoViD or with a family member in severe condition started coming from all around. They were even arriving in ambulances. The doctor said it was a family recipe passed down to him from his father and grandfather. He was arrested and the police stopped non-residents trying to travel to that village. A second news video treated it pretty much as a hoax, mainly showing the crowds and the police and (IIRC) without interviewing patients or really asking anyone's opinion about anything. Viewer comments below that one were rather scathing, saying the video was pushing a judgment that had been decided in advance without evidence.
   Of course I have no other knowledge, but there did seem to be a lot of people there who didn't seem to think it was a scam or mass delusion.


* According to most people, rising prices are a problem. According to bankers, lowering prices are a terrible disaster.

* "They" say the US dollar has lost 96% of its value since 1913. I have thought for several years that it's more like 99%, that a dollar now buys what a penny would buy then. The trend toward 'worthless' appears to be accelerating rapidly this year.


* I have been troubled by some no longer new but more recent "themes" that have been put forward by authority:

 - "Just say NO to drugs." I'm not a proponent of psychedelic drugs, but what happened to common courtesy, "Yes please" and "No thank you"? It is implied that we should be rude because we dislike what is being offered. What does being offensive accomplish besides rubbing people the wrong way? Is it more or less likely to generate respect for oneself? If good people rudely alienate the person who offers the drug will he become more or less likely to want to have dialogue with them, which just might result in him changing his own views of what's good?

 - "Zero tolerance." None of us want people who are unfit to drive driving. Accidents happen. People are hurt and killed. Drunk drivers account for a lot of it. But... total intolerance? Somehow getting the inebriated off the road has progressed to extremism. What is gained by besides stress, anxiety and a distaste for authority by almost cutting in half the long-defined acceptable alcohol limit and giving roadside suspensions or fines to someone who had a glass of wine or two with dinner or a social beer or two at a pub? Other drivers such as tired ones may be less safe than one with just a tiny bit of alcohol in their blood but nothing is said about that. When did intolerance and extremism become good, even commendable things? (One of the women who started MADD said they never intended it to go so far.)

* Related: You go out for an evening drink after work/sports/band rehearsal/evening studies/et cetera with friends at a downtown pub. In the interesting conversations you drink more alcohol than you had intended. You're not flaming drunk, but you're not exactly fit as a fiddle either. Sure, you could take a cab home. But in the morning rush hour your car will be in peoples' way and it will be towed away or at least ticketed. (It might even indirectly contribute to an accident just by sitting in an awkward place when the street gets busy!) Even if somehow it's parked fine in the heart of "no parking/short term parking land", you will still have to make your way downtown again to retrieve your car before work, and you're already out late. (You drove there because it was too far to walk in the first place, so now that's two cabs!) What do you do? You've accidently left yourself without an easy, right choice. "Playing it safe" and not socializing with one's associates has penalties too, and there is no "one size fits all" answer.

* Of course, these days people try to avoid "downtowns" because they have become "too hard to park" and unpleasant, with destitute beggars asking the now increasingly financially stressed for (at least) their change. (Okay, I haven't been in a city since the pandemic started. One suspects things will have changed again. A couple of people have shown videos of some pretty deserted looking downtown streets with closed businesses. In California and Ireland, IIRC.)


* My bottle of vanilla ran out. I had heard 3 or 4 years ago that something had ruined most of the vanilla plantations in the chief growing region, Madagascar, and soon there wouldn't be any vanilla to be had. (I can't remember what it was. One of the many "once in a century" to "unprecedented" natural disasters taking place on a daily basis in the last few years.) So I was rather surprised that it has continued to be available in stores. I bought two 125ml bottles.
   On the evening of the 29th I had strawberries I'd been given that would soon go mouldy, and carrot pulp from making 2 cups of carrot juice that morning and the previous day. So I decided to bake a carrot cake (or "carrot loaf" as I call my version) and a strawberry upside-down cake. I opened a new bottle of vanilla and used 3 teaspoons between the two cakes.
   Of course I ate some of each cake. During the night I developed a migraine that became more and more severe. Even 1/2 a 100mg Sumatriptan didn't seem to do much. A half packet of Cambia seemed to quell it. These migraine medications last many hours, but the migraine outlasted them. Even without the headache I didn't feel well all day and by evening I wondered if I was coming down with something. The other half Sumatriptan took me through the evening, but in the early morning of the 31st I had to get up and take another whole one. I finally started feeling better in the afternoon.
   I'm almost certain the vanilla was the culprit. It had the same list of ingredients as usual. They might as well have added phosphoric acid or MSG! I threw out both bottles. The chickens are getting the cakes, one piece a day from the freezer. (Do chickens get headaches?) It was "Western Family" brand but AFAIK it all comes from Madagascar and I won't trust any brand now. It would seem that vanilla has become toxic. (Another brand says... say, when did the first ingredient after "water" in "pure vanilla extract" become "propylene glycol" - the flavoring of artificial vanilla?)


* I had been re-imagining my "ideal bathtub" (since I had never got around to trying to make it). A little less extreme, but still much less of a water hog than the typical "big square box" tub that came with my house. A friend wanted me to look at some leaking drain pipes downstairs where he was staying while he drained the bathtub upstairs, to see where the leaks were. (I found two spots!)
   There it was in that house! My ideal bathtub! It had the sloped back and the (slightly) narrowed foot/drain end. It was a couple of inches narrower than mine and a little shorter. You could get a much deeper bath with less water. It was plastic so it wouldn't conduct the heat out of the water like metal does.
   It was probably decades old, but if I knew where to get one like it I probably would, and would be happy. (If I ever got around to installing it.) OTOH if I was actually designing a tub I'd change a couple of things. I'd add "arm rests" pretty much above the water line, giving more space for moving the arms around. (That might make it practical to narrow it another couple of inches down lower - 20 inches?)
   And a rather new thought had occurred to me: if the shower was at the upper end of the tub, away from the drain, then that end would be where one would stand, and the foot end could be narrowed even more since it would be just an place for the legs in a bath. Water pipes might be an issue: it would need a long pipe from the faucet to the shower nozzle and so the water temperature would respond to adjustment only after a considerable delay. The faucet could perhaps be moved to the middle of the tub on one side (where it would also be easier to reach from in the bath), but it might be more practical to have separate taps for the shower. (They could be placed higher up near the nozzle for quick response to temperature adjustment while also being easy to reach while standing.)




ESD
(Eccentric Silliness Department)

* What is the difference between hash browns and hash brownies?

* Why are we "Marsiforming" the Earth? I thought it was supposed to be the other way around.

* What is the difference between a widget and a wigeon?

* I hear we're having a "V as in Venezuela" shaped recovery.




   "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 (no reports)





Other "Green" & Electric Equipment Projects


Off-Grid infrastructure Components

[19th] Some desired configurations of solar panels and battery chargers seem perplexingly hard to come by. The variables are the solar panel voltage, the battery voltage, and the battery type. Each combination has its own requirements.

1. PWM solar charge controllers for charging 12 volt lead-acid batteries with 36 cell solar panels are very common and cheap.
2. The same ones can be used for charging 24 volt lead-acid batteries with 60 or 72 cell solar panels.
   They can not, however, be used to charge 12 volt batteries from 60 or 72 cell panels, nor of course 24 volts from 36 cell panels.

   It has occurred to me that all that is needed for many systems to use "full size" panels is a DC to DC converter. (The next problem was that most of the common DC to DC converters use the same chip, which has an absolute maximum rating of 40 volts. This choice by manufacturers is very frustrating as 60 cell solar panels output up to (according to my panels' labels) 40.05 volts, and many 36 volt battery systems can also go up to about 42 volts when charging. It would be far better if they could take 45+ volts for solar panel and 36 volt systems operation. Oh well, find the pricey DC to DC converters that can take 50+ volts!) Wait! The chip on my 20 amp DC to DC units is rated at 42 volts. A tiny margin for comfort.

 Here are some combinations that I thought could be obtained using DC to DC converters.

3. To charge 12 volt lead-acids from 60-72 cell panels, one would reduce the panel voltage to about 15 volts with a DC to DC converter, and then a cheap 12 volt PWM charge controller would handle the lower voltage properly.

(June 8th: Having now tried this with varying light levels, I found it doesn't work well. Whatever is being fed from the solar panel has to be sensitive to what it can put out. The PWM controller is insensitive to how much power the DC to DC converter is able to supply. I thought its circuits would figure out the maximum power point for amps available the DC to DC converter, but it just drags the panel voltage way down in lower light levels. If the DC to DC converter's current limiting is turned down too much, the major power of the panel isn't available when the sun is strong.)

   For battery types other than lead-acids, one doesn't want to use a PWM type controller. Most notably it will fry nickel-metal hydride type, which may leak, burst or even explode and cause a fire. And it's not good for lithium types either.

4. To charge 12 volt nickel-metal hydride or lithium, a constant voltage is ideal. And good DC to DC converters can be adjusted exactly to any desired voltage, and a maximum current can be set as well. If the batteries are being left perpetually on charge as in a solar installation, it's best not to push them to their maximum. This table is my suggestions for 12 volt systems:

Battery
Type
Max. constant
charge voltage (V)
Suggested constant
charge voltage (V)
Ni-MH (10S)
14.0
13.5 (1.35 volts/cell)
Li-FeSO4 (4S)
16.8 (better 14.4)
13.6-13.8 (3.40-3.45 volts/cell)
Li-ion (3S)
12.6
11.85 (3.95 volts/cell)

   With the suggested voltages the cells will gradually attain over 95% of their full charge with little stress, and then the charging current will drop to a very low value.

   Nickel-metal hydride batteries will continue to draw high currents once charged if fed a continual voltage above about 1.40 V/cell (14.0V). If it's much more -- including with PWM charging that says it's under 14.0V but where the peaks are actually much higher -- they may gradually get hot and even burst or cause a fire. Both lithium types will cease drawing much current once charged (~3.35V, ~3.95V) but may be damaged if the voltage is raised to more than 4.2 volts per cell (both types).

(June 8th: Again this may not work well in low light/low solar power levels. I have yet to test it under various conditions. AFAIK so far, an MPPT controller whose output voltage can be adjusted is still much the best performer.)

   By using a DC to DC converter we can get the desired charging voltage. But we can't see it. We don't know how charged the batteries are or what the voltage is. For that, enter the volts/amps/watts/watt-hours power meter/monitor. (Coming up, below.)


[21st] I printed a T-Plug socket plate for my 36V panel in the garage and changed the "HAT" sockets and the plug on the panel light to "T" sockets and plug. For the light I used one of the T-Plugs that had a little rubber boot to cover the wire ends. It comes off easily and I don't really think much of it. A proper shell is much better.


   Gosh, no proper shell for the T-Plugs? I went to design a new one for the nylon T-Plugs and sockets with lips around the upper edge. (With lip is better: The connection is definitely better when the plugs and sockets mate without a bit of plastic in between them being needed to keep them from falling out of the shells.)
   When I 3D printed it, "V1" as usual had a couple of dimensions slightly off. "V2" was perfect, an improvement in every way: it was smaller and held together better (two screws), the T-plug was firmly gripped yet flush with the front so it connected well, and the little ears for the screws on the sides made it easy to grip to unplug. I printed a second one.



Improved T-Plug shell (R) versus old one (L) that has a layer of plastic in front of the plug body.
Also note the plastic in front of the T-Sockets in the older wall plate,
versus the flush ones in the new round plate.
Cosmeticly the old is better, but flush makes better connection.



I printed a batch of T36P shells.

[25th] Next I needed to do one for in-line sockets. But I idly put a socket into a plug shell and realized it was the same except it needed to be 4mm longer at the front, the plug and shell bodies having the same dimensions except the front-to-back length. Change 4 numbers. 3D Print it. Perfect fit. That was simple! Now I have shells for both plugs and sockets in-line for both mini-T-Plug (12V, 10A) and 'regular'-T-Plug (36V, 15A). And triplex wall plates for both. (The 36V ones to be improved - should also be simple.)

   It's well the I got the newer 3D printer and the "Cura" slicer. It may be painfully slow printing such fine detail on larger objects, but it's really needed for small, detailed things like plug shells. Even "draft" mode is finer than the old RepRap and "Skeinforge" slicer, although I prefer Skeinforge for printing large objects in less than geologic time and it does work fine on the new printer.


[30th] I envisoned "Plug-and-Play Solar" for off grid systems. The components just plug in to each other with the T-Plugs and Mini T-Plugs. Which I think I'll call:

T36P      (T-Plug 36 volts)
T36S      (T-Socket 36 volts)
T36WP-3 (T-Sockets Wall plate 36 volts, triplex)

T12P       (Ditto for the 12 volt series)
T12S
T12WP-3
T12CLA    (Cigarette lighter adapter... TBA)



The plugs and sockets are of course to plug together the actual system components:

Power meter/monitor with T36 plugs, connected to solar panel (and DC to DC converter)


One with blueish backlight On


The DC to DC converter (9-42V in, screw adjust out, screw adjust 0-20 amps out max).

   Operating these things so close to the absolute maximum rating of 40V always makes me nervous. "36V" batteries can charge to a little over that, and the 60 cell Hanwha solar panels say "40.2V open circuit". Why didn't they make the XL4015 DC to DC chip - that they virtually all use - 45 or 50 volts just to be on the safe side? Wait! I just looked and I see the 0-20 amp ones use an LM25116 instead. It's rated 42 volts max! Just enough. Yay!




   Charging a battery. The battery has a T12S socket to plug loads into and so does the DC to DC converter, so there's a male-male coupler between them. It's always a bit weird connecting two power sources together.




(Top left arrow is wrong. The cable from the solar panel is the one under the words.
The cord to the DC to DC Converter comes out of this first power monitor.)



   I made a cable with MC4 solar panel connectors on one end and a T-socket on the other. Then I wired up a voltage/current meter with T-plug and socket. So now for the charging side a 12 volt system with a large (33-40V) solar panel, one plugs the solar meter into the collector, the DC to DC converter into that (amps up to 20 with the ones I have), and the battery into the DC to DC converter. (set it to about 13.5V output for lithium iron phosphate type 4S, NiMH 10s. Set to about 11.85V for 3S lithium ions.)
   For lead-acid, the DC to DC converter will bring the panel voltage down to 15 volts (must check optimum voltage), then a cheap PWM controller intended for a low voltage solar panel feeds the battery the pulses that lead-acids like.

   By one of these methods I expect one can feed 12V batteries including lead-acid from a 30+ volt panel instead of a ~17V one. With two low power LCD current and voltage meters one can see just what's happening both to the charging and the loads. Considering the cost of batteries, it's worth a few dollars to be able to see exactly what's going on. (If I had had them on the Miles truck I would have noticed that they were getting low - both the original golf cart batteries and the lithium iron phosphate ones - before they were all ruined. I would have seen that they were being continually discharged instead of being oblivious.)

   In fact, to that end I had found and purchased self powered, low power LCD voltmeters on line, and I wired up some 7-30 volt ones (T12P plug) and some 18-80 volt ones (T36P) to leave connected to the batteries in the truck. I used the power meters to check how much power they used. They read .00A, meaning less than 10mA. The old LED ones I had been using before read .02A, ie somewhere around 20mA. I figure the new ones I should be able to leave on for ages without them draining the battery they're supposed to be measuring. (If I could turn off their blue backlights I'd be even happier.)






Greenhouse, Gardening, Chickens

[9th] People have little success growing corn in the open around here. Last year I got some 1/2 decent corn (good tasting even if only 1/2 filled cobs) by placing an improvised wooden frame with LDPE sheet around the little patch and on top. It was all below my waist and when the corn got that tall I took it off. But by that time it had had a good head start. I did some hand pollinating, shaking tassels over the silks.
Right wall plastic shows where roof used to bend down to to also form the front wall, 
and how much new space has been added from the lawn (within the cement footings).  
Being [just] standing height instead of under the sloped wall, the increase in usable space
 is much more, and will be still more usable with the cement to keep weeds and slugs out.

   I started to do similar this year and had a somewhat bigger and better frame half made. But I went into the greenhouse, and had the thought that if I extended it as I had planned to do anyway, it would have as much room for the planned corn patch as the frame.
   I started by raising the roof, intending to put up walls the next day. Then I thought I should put a cement footing around it to keep the seemingly unstoppable grass, weeds and slugs from creeping in from all around. Before doing that, I really had to fix the cement mixer so I wasn't mixing it all by hand. That was going to increase project scope - all that just to plant some corn! But that evening I cut my finger and decided to be nice to it for a day or two. So I did other and 'office' things on the 10th and 11th. I got the cement mixer fixed, and I dug and got a few feet of the footing done on the 12th. On the 13th I dug more trench and finished another 6 feet of the footing. The blackflies were horrible and I finally put on a mesh helmet. At least a couple still got in under my left glove and my wrist was still itchy 3-4 days later. I could only look forward to finishing so I'd be working inside the greenhouse instead of out in the open. (Something I really miss about Victoria is the almost complete absence of biting insects, at least in my old neighborhood.)
   On the 15th and 16th I got things pretty much closed in, and I started digging up clods of grass to get down to dirt without grass roots.

   Then I dug up some clayish soil from an old garden (too shady with alder trees to use since long before I bought the house) and dumped in a few inches of that. Then I finally transplanted the corn that had badly needed it even before I started. Smaller seedlings went in the next day [17th].



   I could now dig out the rest of the grass at leisure... except that it was now the latter half of May and time to plant most everything. I had some broccoli in seedling pots go to out ASAP or sooner, and a considerable garden space to fill. By the 20th I had the rest of the grass out and the garden soil in, and the greenhouse was pretty much planted - not that I didn't squeeze in a few more things here and there over the next couple of weeks.


19th. The greenhouse is still rather "cobbled together".
I hope to be making my own clear plastic panels to replace the 6mil LDPE roll plastic
and the not-so-transparent roof material... "soon". (Ya right!)



20th. Later I stuck in a fifth row of corn next to the broccoli.
Who needs broccoli?


Egads, there's a snake in the asparagus!
(The aluminum trays are for light reflectors on the house wall -
the "not very transparent" greenhouse roof makes it all too dark.
There are no snakes around here!)


   Last year plastic "walls" - wall sections of polyethylene milk cartons - seemed to have stopped the slugs from killing vulnerable plants and I managed to grow some. This year I made a slightly raised bed with 8 inch walls. I covered the wood with coroplast (polypropylene). But it didn't seem to work. On the evening of the 30th I found about 15 slugs decimating the vegetables in that raised bed! Regardless of eliminating those soon the broccoli was eaten to stems. I guess polyethylene and polypropylene don't have the same deterrent effect. I also planted carrots at one end, but after seeing a few sprout they vanished and only fine grass, I assume from seed, seemed to be growing. I planted carrots in the expanded greenhouse and hope they fare better.

   I saw some mesh bags of tiny onions in a grocery last winter. They looked just like planting onion sets and I bought three bags (white, red and an larger type whose name escapes me at the moment) to plant in the spring. But nothing came up. I wetted some indoors in a tray and kept them moist, but very few of them would grow. Most of them just seemed to rot and not root or sprout. Someone suggested that they may have been irradiated. What a horrifying thought! What is happening to our food supply? Of course by then it was too late to buy planting onion sets at seed places.



I put out my quinoa seedlings next to the house.
Someone said sea shells would keep slugs away. Seems to be just a superstition!
But later I sprinkled on some spruce sawdust all around the patch...
and that actually seems to be doing the trick!
(Must cut wood, make more sawdust, for other garden beds!)


The auricana chickens gang, seemingly safe with a net above and when the door is closed
at night. (These chickens are late partyers and some day I'll forget to close it at dark
and there'll be mayhem. In the meantime, 3 or 4 eggs a day.)





Innovative Beekeeping

   Sometime later in the month I watched a video on a new type of beehive, the larger cubic, insulated "Bee Barn", created earlier this very month, May 2021, by Jim of "Vino Farm" youtube channel. And someone who had kept bees said I should add a roof to keep the landing and hive entrance area dry in blowing rains. I became sure that such an improved hive is just what is needed in this cool, damp climate with its cool to cold nights. Combined with Carniolan bees that can forage in "cool" and "damp" better than most, I finally see how one might make a reliable success of raising honey bees here other than by praying for very good summer weather.
   Funny how things can work out: if I had got the Carniolan bees earlier when I was supposed to, I wouldn't have seen the video in time and wouldn't have been able to make this new type of hive for them. But I really need to get Hiveworld to send the nucleus hive ("nuc") now, from their own last order of the year from Chile! (Where I hope there are no varoa mites!)

   Only one person on all Haida Gwaii, in an especially favored spot, keeps bees. Others have said it just doesn't work around here. A warm, dry hive for the queen, the brood and for the bees laden with pollen to return to after their strenuous foraging trips must be key in a cool climate. The fellow in Alaska who was keeping bees had actually put his hive inside a garage, with a "tunnel" through one wall to the hive entrance.
   And in fact, nights are cool up and down the whole BC coast from Vancouver Island to Alaska. I think it would make for a more reliable and more productive way to keep honey bees. There'd be more honey for harvest if the bees aren't spending their energy and eating more to keep warm. It seems like a worthwhile inventive project, and, in anticipation of getting the bees, I went ahead with building it.

   The standard Langstroth beehive components in ubiquitous use are built around two sizes of internal "frames", about 18 inches long, 1.5 inches thick and 6 or 10 inches tall. These hang from upper lips in the "supers" (superstructures?), simple four sides pine (or ?) crates with open top and bottom. The frames usually have a sheet of some material, often plastic laid out in a hexagonal pattern on both sides, sometimes pre-waxed with beeswax, for the bees to build their combs on. Simple wire frames for the bees to build over works too.
   The width of the box is sized to hold 4 or 5 frames (for nucleus hives, sold as "nucs"), or 8 to 10 frames, 10 being the most common. There are various options for the top lids and bottoms, and additional optional or accessory pieces that go inside the tops and bottoms - vents and feeders.
   Knowing so little about beekeeping I simply assumed that all these must be optimal and that much thought must have been given to choosing the designs. Apparently it's more a case of somebody (named Langstroth, IIRC) slapped something together that worked, and everybody else, having no original ideas, simply copied it. Of course at the time it was a huge improvement, an exciting technical breakthrough: for the first time, one could raise a honey bee hive and then extract honey from frames without destroying the hive. And it works well in warm climates.

   I was planning on getting Carniolan bees, which were said to fare better in cool summers and damp weather, so typical here, but Al was ordering two packages of live bees from Australia for the end of March, and he added another package to his order for me. Once the package of bees was dumped in and the queen released, I understood I wasn't supposed to open the hive for 3 weeks. The weather was cold (it even snowed again!) and my bees all died in a few days or a week or so. (Who knows exactly, when you're "not supposed to open it" and look!?!) What went wrong? I had just taken Al's advice on a hive entrance feeder. Apparently the bees, in trying to keep warm and keep the queen warm, don't come down to the hive entrance. I should have had a hive top feeder system. Also, did I mention it was cold? How were they supposed to keep warm in an uninsulated wooden box? I had heard something about wrapping a hive, but it looked almost problematic to start with, and especially once there were bees in it.

[17th] Ah... Here's when I watched that video. The presenter, Jim, had just had most of his hives die off over the winter in spite of his precautions. It wasn't his only problem, but he felt the Langstroth was a poor design on several counts and contributed to the problem. So he had (just in April and May 2021 -- this very month!) developed a new layout, the "bee barn" with a larger, well insulated main brood box and some features to require less lifting and disassembling, with less stress and dislocation for the bees during hive inspections and disassemblies. Instead of stacking a 10 inch and 6.5 inch super with their separate frames on top of each other, the box was made that tall (16.5"), "the Goldilocks size" he thought, and the frames were made taller to match - "more like a [hollow] tree". He made taller frames and used the same plastic 'hexagons' inserts as usual for those two sizes, which left a gap between 'for the bees to fill in as they saw fit', eg, with drone and queen cells. And because it was taller, he had only 7 of these larger frames, that being the equivalent of 12 ten inch frames. (Mine will hold up to 10 of these 'tall' frames, equivalent to 17 or 18 regular 'deep' frames.) And there were also several details for end spacers and end insulators, vents and feeders, that sounded well thought out.
   I decided that little experience tho I had had, this design sounded like an improvement in several ways - especially in being insulated like a house instead of needing to be "wrapped" - and I would try it out. It sounded especially suitable for our climate here where heating would be wanted at night for most of the year, and in the day for much of it. Thus insulation should save the bees a lot of energy expenditure (of buzzing to keep the hive warm) and could well make the difference between "practical" and "impractical" to keep honey bees in this climate. (Camille, an experienced beekeeper, earlier said to me that Langstroth hives were "no good". He was carving out some hollow tree stumps to use for hives himself, but then decided his location was just too cold, shady and windy regardless. Mine is more favorable - and I'd be able to avail myself of his expertise.)

The video:

I Fixed The Langstroth Hive (For The Bees AND The Keeper!)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z768OIA3bMo


   There were follow-up "Vino Farm" videos worth seeing, and there may even be another one by the time I'm writing this: The day after showing his new hive design on camera he picked up his packages of bees. He had actually made five of the new "bee barn" hives, and filled them with bees. Just 5 days later he showed his inspection of the hives and they seemed to be doing really well.
  
   A problem was that my Carniolan bees were [supposedly] coming as a five-frame "nuc". It is intended to pull out these five 10" tall Langstroth frames complete with bees and brood, nectar and honey from the "nuc" box, and insert them into their new home, a ten frame Langstroth box they can expand in. If instead I have a hive with taller frames, what do I do instead? My thought is to make five frames with bottom parts only and a metal frame, that the five regular frames will fit inside. (Made them in early June.)

   Awg! Before I even finish with the greenhouse and spring plantings, here I am with another construction project to keep me away from energy & electric transport projects! I didn't ask for this! Oh, well, it shouldn't take too long... like the "week" to change the clunky transmission to a planetary gear in the Miles truck? (started last fall, still more to do. "Project creep"...)

   To keep things simple I at first decided just to insulate the regular size box with one inch insulation and use regular size frames. Then to do an insulated bottom and top. I could still use the end spacers idea and have 9 frames instead of 10. Maybe some future year, if my beekeeping is a success (ie, I still have bees), I could try the deeper box.
   I decided 1" extruded styrene foam should be sufficient instead of 2", and I used 1/4" waxed birch plywood instead of lumber to keep it all from growing too heavy and bulky.



[24th] I watched the video again and decided the deeper box was really a key feature. I cut down a second 10" Langstroth box I had acquired from Al to "medium super" size, 6-5/8", and screwed the two boxes together to make the deeper size. I cut more insulation and plywood. (I could have cut bigger pieces, but I'd have had to buy more insulation and I had already waxed the plywood. Effectively I'd have been starting all over.) But where the join was, I could look right through the crack into the hive! It was just a thin crack, but it would be a draft of cold air! I reversed the insulation and some plywood so the joins were staggered between layers.


[25th] Camille came over and looked at my construction. He liked the depth and the insulation. He pointed out that I had better put very solid carrying handles on it because hives full of bees and brood and honey are very heavy. (I hope I don't have to lift it! One of its features is that there's normally no reason to.) He thought that hives should be made differently to suit the climate they were in. He mentioned another hive layout called "Kenyan Top Bars", which we looked up on youtube. It looked interesting - but probably for a tropical climate.
   He also mentioned that here there is a lot of rain and wind. The hive entrance should be fully sheltered from rain coming from various angles. He's right of course, and this was an aspect "Vino Farm" hadn't considered at all. He made some suggestions for large sloped roofs over the whole hive, but I may do something small just covering the entrance.

   Plus, once the deep brood box was well filled, "VinoFarm" intended to use an uninsulated medium super on top for the honey he would harvest. (Honey made in the brood box was for the bees for the winter.) Camille pointed out that that was fine where his summers were warm. Insulation was for the winter. Here on Haida Gwaii, the nights are cool to cold all year. So I should have all insulated spaces, all year round. (Once the bees are going and making 'excess' honey, I can get a new medium super and insulate it.)
   Then I had the thought that if I used the shorter waxed pieces of plywood on that, my cutting and waxing wouldn't go to waste. So I might as well redo the main brood box with single full length pieces -- more or less "start over" after all. Sigh!

[26th] I made it - new plywood all four sides, saving the shorter waxed pieces for the honey super. The tedious part was painting the boards with hot paraffin wax with a brush, and then using the heat gun to melt the wax and have the excess drip back into the tray. The tray sat on a grate on the woodstove with a good fire going. Drops of melted wax would miss the tray and land on the stove top. When I was done I realized the house air was rather obscurred with smoke - evaporated wax. That probably explained my growing headache, which thankfully didn't last long once I got into fresh air.
   I understand the common method is to simply dip the pieces into a vat of molten paraffin wax. That would take a lot of wax. And a big metal vat. It'd be worth it if one was doing more hives - perhaps even 2 or 3.


Tall hive box, with plywood and styrofoam insulation side spacers for hives with fewer bees.
The tall frames for this box are somewhat laboriously made from two regular frames
glued together.


[27th] I cut insulation and plywood for the top cover and bottom piece too. As I didn't have the woodstove going (Yay, a sunny, warm day for once!), I didn't wax and screw on the plywood until next day. Then I also made the two end spacers, and cut and glued together two frames to make the taller one. Next... tell Barry at Hiveworld. That should get him excited to send me the bees I had expected after May 10th.
   (On June 8th I finished everything I wanted to do on the beehive (instead of finishing this newsletter) and felt ready to receive bees.)


Insulation under floor.


and inside roof.





Electricity Generation

My Solar Power System



Daily/Monthly/Yearly 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, (DC@house)  => total KWH [grid power meter reading(s)@time] Sky conditions
Km = electric car drove distance, then car was charged.

April
30th 1478.11, 547.08,(.08)DC =>   6.89 [55Km; 84449@19:30] similar to yesterday.

May
01st 1481.93, 549.53 => 6.27 [55 Km; 84499@29:30] For third day rain AM, cleared off later afternoon.
02d  1484.99,551.65,(.21)=> 5.39 [84528@22:00] Clouds, later rain & wind. Power was off in AM until (?)12:00 PDT. (Used DC system with inverter to make coffee.)
03rd 1490.40, 555.32 => 9.08 [84548@19:30] Another day of clouds & rain then sunshine in later PM.
04th 1496.70, 559.76 => 10.74 [55Km; 84571@21:00] A little better.
05th 1499.66, 561.71 =>   4.91 [55Km; 84595@20:00] cloudz an drain.
06th 1502.40,563.72,(.12)=>4.87 [35Km; 84614@20:30] more louzy weather.
07th 1505.01, 565.57 =>   4.36 [90Km; 84642@21:00] Apparently spring was 2 weeks in April. What's this?
08th 1507.54, 567.24 =>   4.20 [55Km; 84668@21:30] More overcast & some rain
09th 1511.66, 570.18 =>   7.06 [84679@22:00] Occasional sunshine or at least lighter haze.
10th 1514.63, 572.11 =>   4.90 [55Km; 84704@19:30] cloudy again.
11th 1517.93, 574.45 =>   5.64 [84720@20:30] agin.
12th 1523.49, 578.34 =>   9.45 [55Km; 84747@20:30] a BIT of sun.
13th 1528.38, 581.61 =>   8.16 [84763@22:00] more bit of sun.
14th 1532.97, 584.65,(.30)=> 7.93 [84777@21:00] overcast.
15th 1537.02, 587.27 =>   6.67 [55Km; 84798@19:30] mor cloudz, overcast
16th 1542.08, 590.48 =>   8.27 [84814@21:30] Sun made a very brief appearance, otherwise overcast.
17th 1547.59, 594.03 =>   9.06 [95Km; 84842@21:00] Sun made several brief appearances. Later it rained to make up for it.
18th 1553.14, 597.72 =>   9.24 [84856@22:30] A bit of sun in AM, then hail (small) to atone for it.
19th 1561.94, 603.61,(.13)=> 14.82 [40Km; 84869@20:00] WOW! a mostly SUNNY day! (First one this month!)
20th 1571.84, 610.01 => 16.30 [40Km; 84886@20:30] SUNNY DAY! 1/2 way thru afternoon I added panel #12 back into AC system. (I can easily put it back on the DC if the power fails. Maybe I should put T-Plugs/T-Sockets on the indoor end of all the panels! Then everything can be plugged in or unplugged any time instead of unbolting. Panel voltage is right (~~36V) and T-plug current spec is adequate (~15A?) for 10 amp panels.)
21st 1575.14, 611.73 =>   5.02 [55Km; 84909@21:00] Clouds & Rain
22d  1582.18, 615.73 => 11.04 [84925@21:00] hints of sun now and then
23rd 1587.01, 618.32 =>   8.42 [84945@20:30] overcast, a bit of rain
24th 1593.03, 621.64 =>   9.34 [84972@22:00] lighter overcast, no rain.
25th 1598.03, 624.38 =>   7.74 [55Km; 85006@23:00] cloudy again again.
26th 1600.05, 625.47,(.41)=> 3.52 [8Km; 85032@21:30] clouououdy.
27th 1608.67, 630.44 => 13.59 [65Km; 85054@21:30] A SUNNY, WARM DAY! (Oops, I turned the heat on in the travel trailer "overnight" and forgot about until today. From the grid power readings, it looks like it was on from the 23rd.)
28th 1615.32, 633.73 => 10.04 [90Km; 85080@22:00] Cloudy with some hazy sun here and there. (Should have been ~11KWH but I had the cabin unplugged for an hour or so mowing the lawn. Didn't want to mow the cord!)
29th 1623.10, 638.08 => 12.13 [55Km; 85097@19:30] Ho-hum light overcast/hazy sun until dark and rain toward evening.
30th 1630.72, 642.28 => 11.82 [45Km; 85111@20:00] Gosh, some sunshine! (but not all day.) When it is sunny, power has gone up from ~1200W at the start of the month to ~1500W from the house and lawn panels. (Then of course there's that 12th panel!)
31st 1634.46,644.31,(.12)=> 5.89 [85127@2100] Is summer coming? Is summer coming?

June
1st 1636.71, 646.10 =>   4.04 [40Km; 85140@21:00]
2d  1642.57, 648.89 =>   8.65 [85156@26:00(2AM)]
3rd 1645.11, 650.20 =>   3.85 [85166@21:30] MORE cold, cloudy days? Worse than May? Which was worse than April? Seriously?
4th 1648.93,652.35,(.16)=> 6.13 [60Km; 85186@20:30]
5th 1654.23, 655.25 =>   8.20 [55Km; 85210] Just a wee bit of sun!
6th 1661.45, 659.19 => 11.16 [90Km; 85232@19:30] and a little more sun. Then more rain.
7th 1666.96, 662.25 =>   8.57 [45Km; 85252@21:00]
8th 1676.15, 667.35 => 14.29 [55Km; 85262@21:00] A fair bit of sun today - even warm!

Daily KWH from solar panels. (Compare May 2021 with April 2021 & with May 2020.)


May 2021 (11 Panels;
12 panels 21st-31st)
April 2021 (11 panels)
May 2020 (12 Panels)
0.xx



1.xx



2.xx



3.xx
1
2
1
4.xx
5
3
1
5.xx
4
3
2
6.xx
2
4
1
7.xx
3
2
5
8.xx
3
1
4
9.xx
5
1
5
10.xx
2

1
11.xx
2
3
1
12.xx
1
4
1
13.xx
1
5
1
14.xx
1
2
4
15.xx


3
16.xx
1

1
17.xx



18.xx



Total KWH
254.76
274.51
313.18


Monthly Summaries: Solar Generated KWH [& Power used from grid KWH]

2019
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]

2020
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]

2021
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]
April  -  1-30: 161.83 + 112.35 + .44(DC) = 274.62 KWH Solar [680 KWH from grid]
May   -  1-31: 156.25 + 97.22 + 1.29(DC) = 254.76 KWH Solar [678 KWH from grid]

Things Noted - May 2021

* Even by mid month, energy collection looked pretty pathetic compared to last year. Or even compared to April. It's supposed to go UP in summer, not DOWN!


Annual Summaries and Estimates

March 2019-Feb. 2020: 2196.15 KWH Solar [used   7927 KWH from grid]
March 2020-Feb. 2021: 2069.82 KWH Solar [used 11294 KWH from grid]

   Haida Gwaii is probably one of the worst places in the world to harvest solar energy. The low sun, long shadows and usual clouds in the winter mean very little solar energy is available for six months of the year. Nevertheless, summer is much better and the overall result isn't trivial, and most of whatever power is made reduces the amount having to come from diesel generators. (There is also a small hydro plant on the south grid, contribution from which depends mainly on how much rain there has been lately.)

- Counting 2100 KWH annually from 11 panels, apparently about 52 panels would account for my roughly 10 MW total annual electricity usage. (There is an uncertainly factor here as some of the solar power generated goes to the grid, and some is consumed in the house.)
- But four of my panels are now older 250W panels and the others 305W. The newest ones are around 325W, so for a new installation one can probably lop off about 6-7 panels. And my cheap grid tie inverters lose a lot in variable clouds, dropping to nothing when the sun dims and then taking tens of seconds to build gradually back up to what's available. So call it maybe 43 new panels using better inverters.
- If tree shadows didn't reduce daily collection by... call it 25% (a very conservative estimate) that would then be 32 panels.
- A sunnier climate might easily add 25% (or more) again, making it 24 panels.
- One sees from the monthly totals above that with the low sun, long shadows and clouds, there is very little solar energy here in the winter months. A more southern latitude (than 53.4N) would not only have less shading but with longer days and higher sun angles, the solar energy would be much greater in the winter. (And - maybe - somewhat less in the summer.)

   Of course, these numbers are just based on my electricity use, and usage will vary drasticly by household. The electric car uses some. In a warmer climate (and without a travel trailer to keep at least somewhat warm so it won't go moldy) one might use less electric heat. OTOH, much of my house heat is from the woodstove (which many don't bother with even in this climate), so the heating part of the bill will very wildly. If the open loop air heat pumping were to be manufactured and live up to its promise of COPs of 10+, it would make a gigantic difference to electric consumption everywhere.





Electricity Storage (Batteries)

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




Assembling C Cell

[18th] I finally got back to the "C cell" after getting the cement mixer working, the greenhouse expanded and the corn planted inside. I had tried at one point to 3D print a bottom and top piece pair, but the print kept coming off the bed on the first layer ofthe top. Now I changed the design a bit and set the printer bed 10C warmer. This time it printed fine. The first draft didn't quite fit onto the top of the cell, and the bottom piece was a little too tight around the inner electrode. So I did a second set with the outside top fit 1/4mm smaller and the inside bottom 1/2mm larger. These seemed just right.
   Then I dug out a piece of parchment paper and the gum arabic. I cut paper to fit around the inner electrode. Then I glued the overlap with the gum, which will dissolve once the cell is assembled and wetted.
   I put the wrapped inner electrode into the bottom piece (insulates it from the copper bottom and spaces it away from the surrounding zinc). Seeing it I realized that if I removed the outer flange, I could insert the wrapped electrode with the bottom piece - now merely its base end cover - all at once during cell assembly. That would make it almost certainly insert properly with the bottom of the paper securely inside the rim of the base piece.

   Thinking of the low currents of my last cell I finally remembered something. I looked over TE News #134 which was mostly battery experiments. I had discovered then:

a) Zinc by itself works great but (as everyone knows) forms dendrites rapidly while recharging.
b) with only the osmium doped acetal ester, the zinc electrode still deteriorated but didn't seem to form dendrites.
c) with agar alone, current capacity was pretty pathetic
d) with both, currents were good and dendrites seemed to be inhibited.

   To have forgotten these key points this project has obviously been spreading out over far too many years!

   I got out my spice bottle of acetal ester. It had dried up over the years, with a black residue in the bottom of the jar. Did I need to make more, or could I just add water? I decided to try the latter first, and after some time and shaking it, it looked okay to me, taking on the original dark green color. (When was it I had made it? 2011?) First I thought I would add a little of the osmium powder straight into the jar. Instead I added water to the similarly dried up test tube where it was already added. I have no idea how concentrated or diluted either one is, nor how much osmium powder is optimum in the first place. On the 21st I painted the whole inside of the zinc plated felt from the test tube. Whether the coverage is good or not, at least I got it all well wetted. My vision was coating a smooth flat surface thinly. This is a porous felt structure, which obviously takes a lot more. Osmium isn't cheap - I hope it doesn't become uneconomical. but then, I don't know how much it takes to coat well. Probably only a few atoms thick!

   What does osmium do? I have been guided by intuition for using this metal based on it being almost unique in chemistry of having a valence state of +8, plus it is the densest of all metals and thus probably pretty immobile and insoluble in salt and alkali in most forms. This seems to open up some possibilities for blocking the zinc compounds from passing through the layer of dopant, and yet allowing hydroxide ions to pass through so current can flow. On discharge in alkali zinc forms the troublesome dissolved zincate ions "temporarily" which are said to then convert to molecules of (solid) zinc oxide. Perhaps osmium zincate is insoluble? The zincate ions might get taken up to make Os(Zn(OH3))8 which blocks the other zincate ions from passing the layer of doping, perhaps until they convert to solid zinc oxide particles. Or the osmium may assist by causing the zincate to immediately convert to solid oxide by grabbing the extra OH-, so again the zinc compounds won't pass the layer.

[22nd] In the morning I continued by making a new bottom insulator of PVB, not just without a lip, but actually tapered a bit on the bottom to slide in more smoothly and easily. When I went to put the inner electrode into it I found that the gum arabic had dried and the paper was loose again. I managed to get it inside the top and the bottom walls so the center electrode wasn't exposed anywhere. (Theoretically I suppose the separator paper isn't even necessary, since the plastic pieces hold the electrode centered while the agar gel sets, out of contact with the zinc electrode, then the gel should contain it. I'll probably try it without paper sometime. Not this first cell!)

   Then I heated up
20cc of water to "steamy" and poured in
1.0g of agar and
0.5g of zirconium silicate,

using the electric hotplate with magnetic stirrer. I filled the cell half way and pushed the center electrode in. As planned the electrode displaced the liquid (but already thickening) solution, which oozed out the cracks and the little hole intended for filling with electrolyte.

   I had been somewhat suspicious of my silver soldering job on the bottom of the cell, and had left water in it for days to see if any leaked through. It had seemed fine, but now that I was pressing on the agar solution by pushing the electrode in, there was wetness around the bottom rim. Dang! I waited for the cell to cool and filled the whole bottom cavity with heat glue. I hope it holds. This is why I want seamless copper cans! (If I had any confidence that plastic bottoms could be made to hold and not leak (including with temperature changes), I could just use copper pipes for test battery cans as-is!)


Testing

   Before adding electrolyte the voltage was 1.264V and shorted it would put out 8mA. I used the 20% KOH + 20% KCl electrolyte mix. After adding 2-3cc - it didn't seem to want any more, at least not in any hurry as it was coming out the top, the current went up to 120-145mA. The voltage was little changed.
[15:30 PDT] Giving it around 1.95 volts charging started at over 30 mA. (The first thing I learned was how unstable the cheap lab power supply was.) After 1/2 an hour it was down below 25mA. The voltage would drop in 10 seconds to 1.6xx range. Short circuiting gave similar currents to above.
   I tried to add another cc of electrolyte. Much seemed to come out the top, but the charge current went up to 30mA again and a short circuit momentarily overflowed the 200mA scale on the meter. I started to wonder if electrolyte was getting through the agar into the spongy zinc area. I suppose I should pry the lid up and squirt some in around the outside. (Another question then: would it be possible to have one electrolyte in the inner electrode and a different one in the outer? If so, that might be advantageous. Finally I did pry the top off and squirted in 1cc of electrolyte throu the agar around the outside edge. It just seemed to come up again and sit on top, but eventually it soaked in, with some little bubbles coming up where I had poked the syringe throu the agar. It didn't seem to make any difference to performance, so I left it at that and closed it up again.

   No doubt the positrode needed a lot of charging. I was pleased that the current didn't rapidly drop to "not much" and the voltage just sit at the charge voltage, then drop fast when disconnected. But ten times the currents or more would have been welcome. (Perhaps the thick agar layer is holding them down? Thinner electrode spacing is always better  - until you start getting shorts.) And would it really hold a good charge at a respectable voltage for days and weeks? In 3 hours charge current was down to around 10mA and it held above 1.70V for 3 minutes when taken off charge.

   At 20:30 the cell was down to ~5mA charge and held almost 1.7V for some minutes, which wasn't quite as good as earlier. It didn't seem to stop dropping at any point. A short circuit produced 170mA that only finally dropped off to 160mA after about 10 seconds - not much fade. But it took a long time recovering voltage.

   That night it wasn't holding voltage as well as earlier. I stopped the charge and ran a discharge test. It was only about 1.5 volts open circuit after a few minutes, and with a 100 ohm load it dropped instantly to about 1.1V. In an hour it went from 1.104V to 1.006V. The load was only 100 ohms (thus about 10 milliamps at around 1 volt), and the voltages were pretty pathetic. But it kept on running, and only lost a millivolt per minute for the last half hour

   Now, I'd like to start improving performance and charge retention without changing the design, changing just one variable at a time from one cell to the next so the effects of each change can be observed separately.

1. Try without graphite foam, in case that's what's causing self discharge. (What was the hydrogen overvoltage of graphite, again? Seems to me I found two entirely different figures when I was looking for it.)
2. Try copper mesh on the inside wall of the can instead.
3. Adding more osmium powder might increase current capacity.
4. Changing the amount and thickness of plated-on zinc.
5. I could try electroplating into the felt or mesh in a tank, perhaps flattening it thinner, and then putting it already plated into a cell.
6. This can is a little fatter than a real C-cell. A thinner can would reduce the gap (agar thickness) between electrodes.


The cell with the lid pulled off.
The agar is a pretty solid looking white layer, but it'll wither if it dries out.


Drawing Copper Pipes into C-Cell Cans?


   In a recent issue I wrote of the idea of drawing flat copper sheets into battery cans with punches and dies. That is a long used technique but requires making some very precise punches and dies. Now another and probably easier idea occurs to me: to draw 3/4 inch plumbing pipes into C-cell size cans. In this idea, I assume the end can be so squashed that the hole in the middle will cease to exist and the end won't leak.
   In some videos, I saw forms being inserted into straight copper cans, for example to make a narrow neck for a bottle, and the cans were spun on a lathe. A blunt tool was pressed against the copper and it gradually was pressed in to the forms and took on the desired shape. The forms (usually made as 6 segments of a circle) were then pulled out of the narrowed mouth of the bottle.
   Instead, I would expand the 3/4 inch (inside diameter) pipe from about 7/8 inches outside diameter to 1 inch (standard C-cell). First it would be heated to anneal it. Then there would be a 1 inch inside round form that contained and held the pipe, and the blunt tool would press outward from the inside. This assembly could either be spun on a lathe or the form around the pipe could be held steady and the blunt pressing tool spun inside of it, perhaps with a drill press.
   The end of the pipe that was clamped to hold the pipe in place would still be its original size. Now an inside form would be used to squash down that end, making the opening much narrower. Finally the end would be pounded (or pressed) flat against a flat-ended rod form, which would also expand the copper right into the middle and by pressure seal it into a solid piece. (It might take some trial and error to figure out the best length of copper to start with to form the best end.)
   If it all worked, it would make a can the right size with thinner walls than the original 3/4 inch plumbing pipe (and probably just about right), with one closed end.




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Haida Gwaii, BC Canada