Turquoise Energy Newsletter #161 - October 2021
Turquoise Energy News #161
covering October 2021 (Posted November 4th 2021)
Lawnhill BC Canada - by Craig Carmichael

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

Month In "Brief" (Project Summaries etc.)
  - Pick One Project? - Windplant As Emergency Generator? - Battery Stack #3 - UHMW for Motor Molds? - Handheld Bandsaw Mill Kit - Oxyhydrogen (HHO) Gas Torch: CNC Steel Cutting Idea - CNC Router Mounting - Scale of equipment for major CNC Gardening? - A Metal Trimming Technique (for thick sheets)

In Passing (Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)
 - New Thought on Tinnitus - Eelgrass Building Insulation - Smol Thots - ESD

- Detailed Project Reports -

Electric Transport - Electric Hubcap Motor Systems
* Lithium Ion Battery stack #3 Assembly (for Miles truck)

Other "Green" & Electric Equipment Projects
* CNC Router Setup
* Handheld Bandsaw Mill Kit
* DC Plugs & Sockets: - 12V wall plates - 36V "click lock" plugs & sockets - 36V Porcelain High Current Sockets - North Coast Gardening, Greenhouse, LED Indoor Garden

Electricity Generation
* My Solar Power System:
 - A Power Test (Fridge draws 430 watts?!?: Oooh!)
 - 2 New Solar Panels on a Pole
 - Daily/Monthly Solar Production log et cetera - Monthly Summaries and Estimates

October in Brief

   October seems to have been a relatively eventful month, with some small projects studied, undertaken or completed. In the studies were a couple of interesting new ideas:
* An oxyhydrogen (HHO) torch system for CNC steel cutting (below)
* Eelgrass building insulation. No kidding, this free stuff that sometimes piles up in huge mounds on the beach is as good or better than fiberglass or mineral wool: similar or better "R" value, more pleasant to work with, good sound insulation, fireproof, rot resistant, and it's really Green in all ways! (in "In Passing")
* UHMW for motor molds
* A new method of making printed circuit boards: laser printer, nail polish, no heat!

   Projects "in process" and actually worked on this month included:
* Click-lock T-plug & socket shells (worked but need changes)
* Improved T-plug triplex wall plates
* Charging circuit for 36V lithium ion batteries (now just needs isolation diode so it only charges and doesn't discharge 'em!)
* Router mounted on CNC table's carriage (that's not to say ready to use!)
* Some design work and actual lumber cutting with the handheld bandsaw mill

   Projects undertaken and completed:
* Assembly of 36V, 120AH lithium ion stack #3 (for Miles EV truck)
* A few Porcelain high current sockets for 36V DC
* Erection of a pair of solar panels on a pole

Pick One Project?

   People ask me why I don't just pick one project at a time and finish it. It's a good sentiment and not without merit.

   The handheld bandsaw lumber mill project occupied most of 2018. Was it finished? As such, yes. It did what I made it for: I cut my spruce logs into many stacks of lumber.

   But it obviously wasn't an "end product"; it wasn't "finished" into a marketable item. Now I'm trying to make it into a kit ready to market. I probably should have started on it sooner. And doubtless I could be focusing harder on it. But things dovetail into other things. Over the summer (after diverting into getting the Sprint car with "96% efficient drivetrain" going in July), in some ways I recreated the saw with important construction changes, and finally I put it together again. I had trouble cutting with it and ordered new (slightly shorter) bands. It seemed prudent just to wait until they arrived, so half of October went by. Then I did some cutting which exposed more things that could be improved or added, and I made notes about those, and I ordered a few more parts (still waiting).
   But I want to build a "final" design on the "final" layout around the "final" mounting plates, which are intended to allow it to also be used as an upright shop bandsaw. I downloaded "FreeCad", which I had no experience with using and had to start learning (another project). Finally I designed them in OpenSCAD files which I sent to Victoria Waterjet for cutting out, only to have the e-mail returned. Apparently the former owner is gone and they won't take e-mails to his name. I sent another to the address given and have seen no reply, much less are the parts being cut and sent to me. Maybe I should look for another place?
   Then, it would be better anyway to have a way to CNC cut steel myself to get it done when I want it. I'm already working on getting the CNC router table running (another project) and thinking I should be able to put on a tool to cut steel with it (another project).
   And I couldn't seem to find some stainless steel I need when I went on line and looked either, so I'll have to try somewhere else when I've got up the mental energy and time to look again. Then I'll have to wait for it to be shipped. (If I was in a city I could probably have run around and found things "close enough". I'd rather not spend a bunch to buy, ship and wait for things that aren't at least "pretty close" to what I'm after. Maybe I could do better at the dump, for free and immediately?)
   And I'm unsatisfied with a couple of features and could use some inspiration. Inspirations often come to me. They don't come without giving some thought to a problem, but they can't very well be forced either.
   So the timeline of something that sounds simple enough stretches out and out, and I can't sit around doing nothing while the processes work themselves out. I work on something else, and occasionally I run across something else new and exciting and worth investigating, like Open Loop Air heat pumping (COP 10+?), or eelgrass insulation. So the projects seem to multiply unbidden.

DC Plugs & Sockets

   I tried to print some better "mini T-plug" 12V wall plates, but the prints left inexplicable gaps and I couldn't get a decent surround to shield the plug blade holes.

   Then I designed and printed "click-lock" shells for T-plugs (36V). They fit pretty well on the first try, then I realized the plugs should be shrouded to protect the blades from touching other metal. This will require changing both plug and socket (When plugging a charger into a battery, for example, both components are "hot" and neither should have pins sticking out.)

   Finally I made some porcelain high current "T-sockets" for 36V circuits at up to around 50 amps and tested the DC power system with an inverter running the kitchen fridge. I discovered that the fridge draws 430 watts at times to defrost its freezer coils! Ouch! - not a great appliance to have if you're actually dependent on solar electricity in winter here in the north. But the plug and socket seemed to work well.

Windplant As Emergency Generator?

   [7th] I walked by my driveway in a stiff breeze. The wind funnels up it from the ocean making it the windiest place in the yard besides the house roof. The fruit trees were taking a beating and the bars (metal tubes) on the gate were vibrating. I had the thought that if the power grid was down for anything longer than a day in the winter when there was hardly any sun, I might need any power I could get for freezer and lights. I would probably want to run the windplant if it was windy in preference to using the gasoline generator, especially if that was in short supply. (And anyway it's virtually 2 $/litre as it is!)
   And it occurred to me that it would be a lot easier to set the windplant on some stand at the top of the driveway than to go up in a wind and mount it on the roof. FAR more practical! I could put it out in any wind if I thought it was worthwhile, then bring it in again. It would be  nicer to have that ready to go than to have to build it and set it up when I needed it!

DIY PCB Toner Transfer (No Heat) & Etching

   Here is a new way to do printed circuit boards with printing the trace pattern (and silkscreen!) on a laser printer. Using fingernail polish remover, one simply rubs the pattern from glossy magazine paper onto the copper (or bare board for silkscreen). One thinks "acetone", but commenters under the video noted that acetone by itself doesn't work. The presenter didn't say what brand of nail polish remover he used, and there are differences in their composition. Some of the substances are mentioned in the comments.


Naturally I bought a bottle of nail polish remover to try it out for my next board. (Remember, if I paint my fingernails it's only for a test!)

Battery Stack #3

            Initially charging the new battery stack at 10 amps.
       The charging was completed with solar power over 2-3 days.
   Where to put a report? I dropped the "Batteries" heading (tho I'm thinking of a couple more experiments soon). The 36 volt battery stack I assembled this month is intended for the 72 volt Miles EV truck. That's Electric Transport. Then I put it in the garage and was charging it from panels hooked to the PowMr charge controller. That's Electricity Generation. I ran it through one of the 36V plug-in power monitors. That's "Other".

   At first I was charging the stack at 10 amps with one of the two power supplies I bought to charge the Miles truck as two 36 volt sections, and verified that that seemed to work well. It hit 38.0 volts. (I plan to also mount 2 or 4 solar panels on the truck to also charge it as two 36 volt sections.)
   Once it was charging on solar, I found the charge controller saying it was delivering 200 watts, but the power monitor said only 170 watts. I had thought the monitors were reading low. Finally I got out my old Fluke 77 multimeter (my best meter: "± .3%") and read the current. The voltage was pretty close between meters, but on the amps the Fluke and the power monitor agreed but the charge controller didn't. And the watts shown by multiplying the current read on the Fluke by the voltage agreed with the power monitor. I tried two of the power monitors. They were the same. The PowMr charge controller was measuring the current about 12-15% too high. Now I know. Don't trust everything you read, even numbers on an LCD display - check it out different ways. (That goes for the TV propaganda news, too. Use your discernment!)
   Another thing I discovered was that the PowMr draws about 40mA from the batteries even when the sun isn't shining. It would be yet another battery discharger and destroyer masquerading as a charger, except that in normal solar use it recharges the batteries it's draining every day. Suddenly I understand why the charging is a minimum of ~70 watt-hours per day in spite of lithium types having very low self discharge: that's what the charge controller itself has used overnight.

   After I was done I looked to see the cumulative energy put into the battery. It was small: ??? oops, I had changed the power monitor! I hooked the first one up to a power supply and read it: 276 watt-hours. Luckily it retains its memory with the power off. (End of day total was .623 watt-hours. It seemed there was only a couple of hundred watts available from two 305W solar panels from the low sun even in the sunny afternoon when the tree shadows were off the roof. You'd think I was way up north!)

UHMW for Motor Molds

   I mentioned last month that buying a big thick slab of UHMW-PE was unexpectedly costly, especially with "freight" shipping to here. HDPE would be adequate, tho not optimum. After I had considered stacking flat HDPE pieces and melting them together to make a motor mold, it occurred to me that I had lots of "too small" scraps of UHMW-PE. If I could horizontally melt together various scraps in the kitchen oven into bigger pieces, and left empty spaces where I was going to rout them hollow anyway, I would probably have enough. And I had long saved a big can of UHMW shavings from a previous routing which might fill voids.
   To do it, I should probably make a mold (alium. & plywood?) to make the approximate shapes I want them to be so the plastic is as little exposed to air as possible when it's hot in the oven. Hmm... Using (or creating by melting) larger sheets for separate mold bottoms that can be unbolted from the sides should make it easiest to get the finished parts out.

Plastic Bolts

   I had a plastic drawer full of 1/4 inch nylon bolts. I couldn't remember why I had bought them all. One day considering UHMW, CNC routing and motor molds it dawned on me that in 2018 I had found the #10-24 bolts holding my Electric Caik motor's stator together got pretty warm or hot with extended running. That would be because of the rotor magnets spinning around nearby inducing current into them. I had replaced those bolts with sets of three of the large nylon bolts running through the center of each toroid coil: one source of motor heat gone! I should plan the new motors to accommodate the same.

Bandsaw Mill Kit

   On the 25th I went to town to pick up my repaired computer (with a "new" motherboard), and found my bandsaw blades had arrived in the mail too - both of the things I'd been waiting for. Since I wanted to get on with the potentially money making bandsaw mill kit, the computer sat, into November. I went out and milled up the rest of the 6" by 6", making notes as I went about details to change or improve. (Kneepads! It must have kneepads!)
   Later I designed the left and right main mounting plates for CNC cutting by abrasive waterjet. I tried to use "FreeCAD", but I downloaded it and couldn't make head or tail of it. So I went to OpenSCad, which I know so well. The newer version explicitly does 2D as a subset of 3D, by defining "square" and "circle" instead of "cube" and "cylinder". The only practical difficulty with it instead of any other CAD program is that it defines curves as short line segments and exports them that way including to .DXF (2D CAD file format). 3D printers are fine with that, but I was told the waterjet cutter stops at the end of each segment. It takes longer and it causes a lot of vibration that the owner wouldn't accept. For this design I made sure to have almost no curves, and those it did have were defined as long, bumpy straight lines. (That wouldn't work well on a motor rotor, of course! I'll probably have to get into "FreeCAD"s tutorials and basic instructions at some point. Or maybe the next idea below will make that unnecessary?)

Oxyhydrogen (HHO) Gas Torch: CNC Steel Cutting Idea

   Somehow I got onto this at the end of the month. I watched a youtube video about it. I had not understood that the potentially self-explosive HHO gas created by the generator isn't saved in a pressurized tank or anywhere. Instead it passes through tubes straight from the gas generator to a torch. Essentially electricity is converted by hydrolysis into a torch flame, which goes out when the power is turned off. HHO flame is about 2800°C, perhaps second only to oxy-acetylene (3480°C). Propane-air tops out at around 1900°C.
   An article I read said only oxy-acetylene could cut steel, but the video presenter cut a slit around a thin stainless steel cup (as well as an alium. beverage can), separating the bottom from the top. That seemed exciting, but for 1/4 inch steel would it not need a heck of a big gas generator using a lot of power?
   Then I remembered the pulsejet cutter idea from 2010. At that time I had intended to try it and see if it would get hot enough to cut steel. Might it work better? I went back to TE News #31-34 and reviewed the work I did back then. The unit was 3/4 made, and Tristan had made an electronic box to fire the spark plug. How much work would it be to finish it? And if I did, would it work for steel?
   Then too there was the plasma cutter, which others have used for CNC steel cutting. But it seemed finicky, needing the metal to lie "perfectly" flat on a very level table, or to have a fine height sensor and adjust the tool minutely up and down as the work proceeds. And I certainly hadn't much liked the rough results from cutting with the plasma "torch" by hand.

   I decided that having seen it actually cutting stainless steel quite well in the video, an HHO torch seemed very promising, whereas propane isn't supposed to be hot enough and so a propane pulsejet (even if better) was a dubious prospect, and I wasn't thrilled with the plasma cutter. An HHO torch should work quite nicely as a CNC carriage mounted tool. It just needed to be a big enough cutter to burn through thicker metal. (or could a smaller one just cut more slowly?)
   I ordered an HHO torch with 3 or 4 tips. Making the hydrolyzer "DIY" seemed like a good bet for getting one that would produce enough gas flow. I think I have everything I need to do so. On youtube Robert Murray-Smith said (from a technical paper he had read) that graphite gasket or graphite foil electrodes were in fact longer lasting and better than the stainless steel ones in the available HHO generators. From my battery work (and admittedly only after having heard the idea from him), I recognize this as being obvious. Any metal used as the positive electrode oxidizes away in sodium hydroxide solution. (Cupro-nickel might work. Many metals would work as negative electrodes.)

   Having not got back an answer yet from Victoria Waterjet on the bandmill plates after some days, and having heard a lot of places are understaffed these days, I'm thinking having my own basic CNC steel cutting facility might be a much better idea than relying on others for whom you are priority #23 or #123 on their list - even if the cuts aren't going to be as smooth as from a waterjet. I've long wanted it but didn't previously understand the HHO system or realize it could cut steel.

   This brings up the CNC table again - now for a third project, the plates for bandsaw mill kit. Getting it running is certainly rising up the priority list - and now with an HHO torch attachment for cutting steel.

CNC Router Mounting

   While the computer was out for a new motherboard, I located the router and its mountings for the CNC table, and a stepper motor for it, and got it mounted.
   I got this table just as I was moving from Victoria and I hadn't really looked at the router before. I had thought I would have to fabricate mounting pieces myself, so I was pleased to find it was mostly done. I did end up modifying it - the previous owner had some superfluous parts in the mounting which only detracted from operability.

(Now, about that HHO torch attachment...)

Scale of Equipment for Major CNC Gardening?

   I saw these CNC rigs, long, tall gantries on long tracks and big carriages employed to extrude concrete for CNC housing. My immediate thought was that they were the sort of scale that I have been envisioning for really serious CNC gardening and farming projects.

   Differences would be that the mountings would only need to be tall enough for the tallest desired crops, eg, corn, sunflowers, but that the gantry would always be at the top to stay above the crops and only the tool on the carriage would drop down. (more like my typical CNC table).
   No tractors would drive over the field and nothing more than people's boots would be compacting the soil. Even if it was very wet it could be planted.

   Hmm... often things are only limited by the imagination... One might also envision a very tall unit that could move over an orchard, and an operator could traverse the whole thing and pick the fruit at branch height standing in a bucket 'tool' that he could operate.  (That wouldn't be "CNC" operated -- assuming you still want/need a human fruit picker.)

A Metal Trimming Technique

   In making blades for 50 amp, 36VDC plug sockets, some pieces of copper were too wide and I needed to just cut a bit off. It seemed too small to saw, but the copper was too thick for tinsnips. I hit on another idea: put the piece in a vise and hammer a chisel against it. It worked quite well in this somewhat limited application. (It did seem to dull my chisel... or was that done by those steel filings I notice in the photo?)

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

New Thought on Tinnitus

   An audiologist thought that my hearing loss probably resulted from being exposed to a very loud noise when I was young, such as a gunshot or explosion. I didn't think there was such an occasion, but after a year I remembered that my dad used to take me duck hunting with him when I was 4 or 5 years old. It was always loud. (One particular occasion even seems to come to mind. I was sitting in the van with the window open and dad shot a pheasant(?) from no great distance outside. If my mind isn't making something up, I seem to remember that particular shot as especially bothering my ears.) Hearing loss, apparently, doesn't always cause tinnitus, but it doesn't happen without hearing loss. It can be temporary as many have noted after a loud concert with amplified music, but in many it becomes permanent. (Many men have learned to protect their ears in noisy environments such as around power tools and hammering noises, but musicians often have hearing damage and even deafness. Beethoven was perhaps the first and best known example. I suspect he had a loud piano and evidently he played a lot.)

   Something occurred to me: that while nothing ever seemed to quiet the ringing in my ears, flexing jaw muscles, for example as in yawning, made it quite a bit louder for the duration. Some have thought that tinnitus is a psychosomatic effect. Really, this would seem to disprove it. Why would flexing of a muscle have an instant effect unless it was physical in nature? And what would jaw muscles have to do with it except that they run so close to the inner ear? No other muscle flexing except the jaw muscles has any effect. I thus surmise that the jaw muscles probably push, pull, twist, flex or otherwise distort the inner ears a bit.

   So then, in order to effect a change in the tinnitus, might there be some other way to flex the inner ears? I felt around. The only place that seemed to have much effect was pressing the earlobes against the bottoms of the ears, next to the jaw bone. That effect seemed pretty small. Could it make any change to tinnitus if done repeatedly over time?

Eelgrass Building Insulation

Harvesting eelgrass off a beach in Denmark

   Eel Grass [Zostera], a type of seaweed that washes up on the beach every year, was long used for home insulation. It seems there used to be whole industries of making eel grass insulation on the Atlantic coast. In a 1947 document it was considered the best insulation. I have noticed that it takes a long time to break down in the garden when added as soil enricher, and apparently it's been found insulating houses as old as 300 years with no rot or mould. Air trapped in the leaves makes it insulating, silica and salt makes it fireproof, and the iodine and salt content makes it impervious to bugs and decay. R value is similar to fibreglass or mineral wool. Apparently a crash in the eelgrass population off the east coast ("wasting disease epidemic" - fungus?) in the 1930s-1940s was what put an end to the industry.
   Occasionally huge mats of eelgrass wash up on the beaches around here. I wonder if it could be a commercial enterprise again, at least for local consumption? Importing things to Haida Gwaii is expensive, and there would be no cost of transport for this.

   So I looked a little further... and a little farther. There is actually quite a lot of information about it on line, of both historical use and recent production of eelgrass insulation batts similar to fibreglass or mineral wool batts, in Denmark. In a paper Climate Friendly Insulation, What, How and Why by Bodil Engberg Pallesen at the Danish Technical Institute, "ecofriendly" insulations from hemp and eelgrass were compared. Eelgrass came out as good as mineral wool (which is a little better than fibreglass) and the paper verified that it had good fire and pest retarding ratings without any additives. And it is very good sound insulation. (Hemp was also good insulation but needed to be grown, and to have fire retardants added.)

Batts of insulation made from eel grass in Denmark

   From another source (seagrassli.org -- not exact quotes) "A 6 inch layer of eelgrass spread to a density of 1.5 pounds per square foot has the same "R" value as 6 inches of fibreglass insulation." and "Zostera will burn if subjected to flame but will not itself support combustion." (That's about what I found when I threw a dry clump of it into the woodstove - it didn't "light up" but slowly withered in the heat and flames.) "Cabot's quilt" was an insulation made from layers of eelgrass stitched with layers of heavy paper. In the 1940s the "wasting disease epidemic" forced them to stop production." I think I read that Cabot's quilt was credited with saving buildings from burning down. And of course it's much friendlier to use and come into contact with than fibreglass.

   It sounds like eelgrass has lots of potential for an industrial comeback, but it has never been used except as garden mulch here on the west coast.

   I have already bought some bags of fibreglass, a material which I have no love for, but probably not enough for the whole cabin. Without going so far as to make industrial looking batts, maybe I'll try out some eel grass for the ceiling, floor or a wall. (Unfortunately the huge mounds of it that were on the beach a month ago have washed away.) The price certainly beats fibreglass.
   I was thinking that eel grass might be chopped up in the plastic shredder, too, making a more uniform product. (I was originally thinking of that so it wouldn't all pull out in big clumps when raking the garden.) But as I gather it, I think it'd be better and of course easier to leave it long, and be able to stuff it in into wall, floor and ceiling spaces in wads, somewhat like "batts". With all the long strands supporting each other, it apparently has little tendency to settle and leave gaps at the top.

   In all this I also discovered why boat propellers are a different shape from those most efficient ones, windplant and airplane propellers: their "S" shape helps prevent eelgrass and other water weeds from tangling up in it.

Smol Thots

* I have heard that on some planets Betrayal of Public Trust is considered one of the most heinous of all crimes, on a par with murder and rape, and carries the death penalty. On this planet it goes unpunished and those practicing it have become an oligarchy occupying all the positions of power and control. Fines to corporations, however small or huge, are just part of business, making it look to the public like corruption is being dealt with, but the perps giving the orders assume no personal responsibility and are left in control, or perhaps are shuffled to a different position within the power structure where they can still be "anonymous" again, to continue their crimes. How can there not be a collapse of civilization coming when so very few are still working on behalf of the overall interests of society?

* I think Betrayal of Public Trust would be a more fitting term for many of the most common offenses of greed and corruption than Crimes Against Humanity or Treason, which are harder terms to define and assess guilt for. You can probably think of times you think your trust "in the system" seems to have been betrayed by a government or a corporation, and there is always a person who has conceived of and given the orders for such things. And more people in the organization who are complicit, acquiescing to wrongdoings in head office, or carrying them out at lower levels. How would the many corporate and organizational cultures of greed and corruption today change if those in their various high positions thought they would actually be held to account in court, "The People versus Mr. John Doe", for willful abuse of the public trust vested in them?

* The developers of safe, low-cost Ivermectin oral medication got a Nobel prize in medicine for curing a great human parasite scourge, African River Blindness. Its efficacy against many other parasitic infections and some viruses has also long been noted, with 1.4 billion human doses safely administered and more to domesticated animals. It has lately cured countless people from Covid virus, and since April 2020 dozens of clinical studies and trials around the world have also demonstrated its high effectiveness in that application.

* Wikipedia was intended to be edited by anyone, so if one had knowledge of a subject, one could create or edit a page. This worked admirably to turn it into one of the world's premiere websites, a "go-to" lookup for tens of thousands of topics. I have made a couple of small contributions and edited a couple of sentences for clarity myself. On some topics it is a valuable guide. On some topics, however, such as political and economic topics where rich or powerful people have a vested interest, they pay people to make sure the page says what they want, and if anyone edits it, they change it right back again. New or controversial information is also likewise removed by those who don't realize it might be valid and potentially valuable new knowledge. So Wikipedia has become a mouthpiece for the "status quo" and is not a reliable source of information on many topics of public interest, much less a source of new information on any topic. One of the founders of Wikipedia has said these things himself in an interview I watched on youtube. (I don't remember the name of the video or the name of the person.) Be discerning of all information from any source.

* Continuing some very casual studies of Spanish as a result of some interesting youtube videos in Spanish, I noticed that their word for "second", "segundo", had absolutely no relationship by sound or spelling to their word for the number two, "dos". After thinking about it for a moment, in English neither does "second" have any relationship to the word "two"! (or "first" to "one"!) I never noticed that before.

* A video in Spanish that caught my attention was that the Quebec government has been advertising for Latino workers to come to work in Canada. They would make the immigration/permits process easy. The Yukon too. (Well, anybody who would go there is welcome there!) We now have Richmond BC full of Chinese signs, peoples of all types everywhere, and now we want to bring in a big Latino population? I have nothing against any of these peoples, but I must say I regret the Canada and the culture I once knew disappearing so fast in my own one lifetime and the white races very quickly becoming a minority everywhere, perhaps to be a tiny one or perhaps we will eventually be extinct. I think the world is the loser for that.

* The present US administration, at odds with the public from the start, seems to be destroying the country by importing as many poor, desperate economic refugee immigrants as it can find, as fast as it can, from every direction. A nation rises or falls on the level of culture it maintains, which ultimately rests on the quality of the people that compose it. By 2024 these new immigrants will constitute a significant percentage of the population. Few Americans - white, latino, black or native - want this massive and destabilizing influx. The desperate immigrants themselves who apparently had little hope of a good quality life where they came from of course seem all for it. But will they fare better in a USA that is economicly collapsing with increasing shortages here, there and everywhere and where many anticipate famine isn't so far off? I wonder how much will be much left of USA soon?

* In different videos I heard that polls say 26% or 29% or 31% of the American public skips meals at least once a week because of the high and rising cost of food. Ouch!

* It is said that ports in China have a couple of hundred giant container ships waiting anchored and that the authorities have severely restricted port operations because of the virus. In California there are 60 or 70 ships waiting (rising to over 100 at the end of the month), altogether a million 20 and 40 foot shipping containers waiting weeks to be loaded or unloaded. And there are abandoned ships at foreign ports whose crews have been on board for a year and more who have no food or water and who can't even fly home because they can't get vaccinated. The UN is calling it a humanitarian crisis.
   Apparently those in control of the various bottlenecks in the supply chain don't get direct financial benefit from fixing it, so they don't. Instead the ports profit by charging extra fees for all those containers that are sitting too long or that can't be returned on time because of the ports' own delay problems.
   The whole thing seems like a slow motion train wreck and everyone just watches as the cars go off the track and pile up on each other.

* As the supply chains flounder, the Everything Bubble is now giving way to the Everything Shortage.

* In the rush to switch from fossil fuels to electricity, evidently there has in recent years been less new investment in the former, but little reduction in usage. As a result fossil fuel shortages are emerging too. Prices are going way up and the ability of nations to keep the heat and electricity on is in question, especially in Europe.

* In Australia, the home of the invention and development of the solar PV panel, here's some potentially good news: At its good latitude and with its sunny weather, there is now more solar power being made during the day than can be used, and then at suppertime the sun goes down, people cook dinner and the demand goes up. This creates a serious imbalance. Someone has come up with the idea to smelt alium. (which takes huge electrical power) in the daytime while the sun is shining to absorb the surplus. Since people use lots of alium. this could turn Australia into an exporter. Presently a lot is smelted in Iceland where there is a huge hydro plant making cheap electricity and not many people using it. (Hmm, why is this not being done in Ocean Falls, BC, where there's a big idle hydro power station in almost a ghost town?)

* First it was the Renaissance. Then came exciting scientific, medical and technical advances. Prosperity and a growing population came along apace. An acquisitive materialism came with it. Everyone was always excited about the latest developments. When I arrived in the 1960s it was exciting new styles of music with famous musicians and "hi-fi" stereos and good quality FM radio: everyone could for the first time hear the music clearly and were buying records and tapes to "acquire" their favorite music. That gave way to the early computer technology, and computer games captured us young people. Then came along the internet, which evolved in many different ways.
   But I think that now people are used to these things. New inventions are still taking place but don't have the same captivating mass excitement any more. And our societies are collapsing around us. Materialism for the great majority is waning (or unattainable), and people are asking "Where are we going from here?" Not many were asking that question in past times. It seems to me we are now primed for a new era when people will be pursuing social, intellectual and spiritual development and evolution.

* If you poke even your best friend long and hard enough, you'll may make him into your enemy. So why is the eagle poking the bear again?

* Thinking, rational people want Peace. A new term I've run across is "Complicit Peace". This means that everyone takes a hand in bringing about and keeping peace, working for a peaceful and sustainable future within their scope of activities, rather than seeking for personal gain even at divisive cost to one's society, nation, world and the future.
   And this will largely be brought about by keeping the core values of humanity and human societies* distinctly in mind, rather than the many possible secondary sets of values. Core values are like "prime numbers" in our DNA that can't be reduced or derived by multiplying other numbers. Ultimately other values are interpreted and derived from core ones. But they "take over" and lead to a multitude of philosophies, moralities, ethics, means and goals. Derived values which are at odds with the primary values are a prime cause of confusion and conflict. With the "prime number" values, philosophies ethics and morality will become unified and simplified instead of multitudinous and complex, and make societies adaptable and sustainable.
   Making the world physicly and socially sustainable for one's children, grandchildren and great-granchildren is an altruistic endeavor required of the present generation and those soon to follow, without which the world is doomed to still further future misery and privation than has already become largely inevitable in the coming decades given current general divisive mentality and leadership and changes already in play in the climate.

[* more?: 7CoreValues.org ]

* This planet's climate is of ever more serious concern, with ever worsening climate cataclysms daily around the world. Some of the changing conditions seem to be natural, but those are obviously being exacerbated by human causes - especially long persisting stratospheric jet trail clouds and CO2 (and other) emissions. It has been estimated that if the human causes were somehow all stopped today, things would continue to get worse for a while, and it would be 50 years before something similar to pre-industrial climate conditions would predominate again.
   Since at this point we can hardly expect to drop all fossil fuel use all at once, the best we can probably expect, making our best practical efforts for very substantial reductions over say the next three decades, is ever worsening climatic conditions for several decades and somewhere around a century before the climate really settles down again.
   (Must get on with my ultra-efficient unipolar BLDC Electric Hubcap motor & controller to better convert cars to electric! ...Etc...)

   In the meantime it increasingly appears that shelters or even whole homes built like caves on higher ground, impervious to high winds, hail and flooding, would be prudent investments in many areas. There are some good videos on youtube about building dome structures with unusual materials like insulating foam cement or filled-in tires. In some an air filled plastic shape is inflated and the material sprayed on top. When it hardens the "balloon" is removed from inside. There are also designs for homes built into the side of hills with earth over top. These are easy to heat and cool.

(Eccentric Silliness Department)

Cities: (well, pretty obvious!)

1. Libyan city has a triple "E" rating.
2. Sudan city ought to be setting for Bugs Bunny.
3. In Mali between Tim Buck 1 and Tim Buck 3

(Answers Below)

* She said that he said that they said that I said, and so I was banned from facebook and twitter.

* Walking on the beach, a little dog ran a long way over from the people it was with, barking at me and trying to come up behind me. Having been bit on the ankles by similar little psycho dogs before, I was trying to be nice to it and hoping it wouldn't bite my proffered hand. Finally the owner got closer and called the dog. "Maul-y..... Mauly!". Ya, I knew it was that kind of dog!

* I have 4 laying hens. I've never found more than one layer of eggs in the nest but there are sometimes two layers in it at once.

* "We Promised: No Boots on the Ground!" All personnel please pick up your new running shoes at the canteen prior to deployment.

1. Tripoli
2. Khartoum
3. Timbuktu

   "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

Lithium-Ion 36V, 120AH Stack #3

[13th] I finally got around to assembling the third stack of ten 120AH, 36V lithium ion cells. That way I would have two stacks for the Miles EV truck (72V) and one for the Chevy EV Sprint. (The Sprint had 2, but for the little I'm driving it, it doesn't need them both.) On this afternoon I got 5 connection clamps made. There were 2 pieces left over from the previous stacks, so I had half of the 11 needed clamps.
[14th] I spent a couple of hours on these in the evening and got most of the rest of the way. But abruptly in the middle of a cut with no warning, splitting a piece of 1/2" x 3/4" alium. bar, the bandsaw would cut no further. as if I was suddenly trying to cut steel or something. I guess I overheated the band or something. I think that was my last 105" cutting band, so I resolved to take out the 6" extension block I had put in when I bought the saw 15 years ago. I haven't cut guitar backs in a long time, and anyway the handheld bandmill could cut still wider boards than the shop saw even with the extension, so when would I ever need it?

   But the next morning I found a dull 105" band and put it on. It cut rather slowly, but least it cut and I could finish making the pieces. I'm still mystified why the other one suddenly stopped cutting. Over the day I put the stack together, and later cut the mounting pieces and put them on. (Never mind taking out the block for now!)

   Examining the first bandsaw blade with a magnifying glass, it had a tiny bit of alium. stuck on the front of each tooth. I guess I melted it.

[18th] I got out one of the 0-48V, 0-10A power supplies I had bought for this, set it to 39.5V, and hooked it up to the new stack. The current was maximum (>11A) with the voltage at ~36.5V and quickly I smelled hot semiconductor. I turned the current limiting down to 7 amps. After a couple of minutes the cooling fan came on. The battery voltage slowly rose. I shut it off at 38.0V. Later I tried again at 10A, and nothing blew up before the fan came on. I still didn't get the battery up to full voltage, just to 37.5V after it had settled a few hours.

   There was however one more critical test. I hooked in a current meter and unplugged the power supply. Sure enough! The unpowered power supply drew 25mA from the battery. It was yet another slow, insidious battery drainer and destroyer! I would have to put a hefty diode in series to prevent current from going the wrong way.
   And now that one of the power supplies has proved itself... why did I only buy two when I have three stacks of batteries? (In fact, it might even be an idea to double up on them for faster charging. At 10A, it would take 12 hours to fully charge a completely discharged 120AH battery. At 20 amps it would only be 6 hours. The balance charging device is rated 20A. Say I drove the truck to town it might be 3 or 4 hours to recharge instead of 6 or 8.

Solar Charging

[20th] This time I had used an XT90 plug and socket (the pins are recessed on both) instead of my 36V T-plugs. (Oh wait... I should be making "click-lock" T-plug & socket shells where the plug pins are surrounded. I seem to have forgotten about those!) I made an adapter cable XT90 to T-socket, took the battery stack out to the garage, and put it on the solar charger. It charged at 4 or 5 amps all day while the sun was out, around 170-225 watts, using .623 watt-hours of electricity. Since 39.5V*120AH = 4740WH, that's just 15% of a full charge, from (effectively) two 305W solar panels. At that rate, if I did put 4 panels on the truck, it could take a week to charge it from empty to full - and that's if it's sunny out! It wasn't out first thing in the morning and tree shadows obscure the panels much of the day, but early to mid afternoon was good and I was surprised it was so little. The days are certainly getting shorter and the sun lower. You'd think I was way up north! Perhaps I should connect more solar panels to the 36V DC system?

Meters and Solar Equipment: I found the PowMr solar charge controller saying it was delivering 200 watts, but the power monitor said only 170 watts. I had thought the monitors were reading low. Finally I got out by Fluke 77 (best: ".3%") multimeter and read the current. The voltage was pretty close between meters, but on the amps the Fluke and power monitor agreed but the charge controller didn't. And the watts shown by multiplying the current read on the Fluke by the voltage agreed with the power monitor. I tried two of the power monitors. They were right. The PowMr charge controller was measuring the current about 15% too high. Now I know. Don't trust everything you read - check it out different ways. That goes for the TV propaganda news, too. Use your discernment.
   Another thing I discovered was that the PowMr draws about 40mA from the batteries when the sun isn't shining. It would be yet another battery discharger and destroyer masquerading as a charger, except that in normal solar use it will recharge the batteries every day. (Since it seems to charge a minimum of 70 watt-hours each day, that must be what the charge controller uses overnight!)

Other "Green" & Electric Equipment Projects

CNC Router Setup

[9th] Since the computer was out for repair, and thinking that I should at least get something done on this, this evening I located the router in a box among several, which was mounted on an assembly to raise it up and down, but without a stepper motor. I eventually found the right size bolts and nuts to fit into the slotted plate (not 3/8", not 5/16", not 1/4" but 6mm, and not the nuts, or pan head or with attached washer, but only plain hex head bolt), and figured out how it attached and got it on. I had the right size stepper motor and I attached that.
   It hadn't realized it was almost a complete assembly, and had visions of spending hours cutting pieces and drilling holes, so it was contrary to expectations that it went smoothly and easily, in one [very late] evening.

   The next morning I looked at it and wasn't satisfied. There seemed to be a couple of superfluous alium. channel plates putting the router farther from the carriage. Surely the closer it is the less play there will be in the position of the cutting bit when forces are acting on it? And the maximum size of workpiece fitting on the table expands by that inch or more, too.

   So I took it apart, measured and drilled new mounting holes in the plate backing the "Z" axis & router assembly, and assembled it again. Looks better to me. It also took at least as long as the first assembly.

   Next was the wiring to go between that stepper motor (with 6 short wires sticking out of it [why 6 instead of 4?]) and the "Z" axis output DB9 plug of the Geckodrive 4 axis motor driver. How was that cable to be held so it didn't sink down into the work as it moved to the slack side? There was no special cable routing trough usually used for that, and I didn't have any.
   I looked up and found that 6-wire stepper motors have center taps in the two coils. I can pretty safely leave those unconnected.

   Then this got put aside for other interests.

12V, 36V Plugs and Sockets

12V Wall Plates

[17th] I redesigned the 12V T-socket triplex wall plate to put a thin layer over the sockets with only the rectangular holes for the blades exposed, because I had found it was possible to touch the plug and socket pins backward when trying to insert them. I printed a couple, but the filament snapped while doing the third. (This spool of PLA has been terrible for breaking with little force.) I couldn't find the acetone, the best substance to clean the print glass, and the printer didn't do a good job with the tiny, thin slots. The edges seemed to lift and move around during printing. But if they were made very thick, even a millimeter, the plugs wouldn't stay in the sockets very well.
   A bright note was that the sockets fit in so tightly I had to push them in with pliers. I didn't bother to do anything to keep them from being pushed out by someone putting in a plug, because I doubt it would come loose.

[18th] I made a slight change to the dimensions of the blade slots, remembered another place the acetone might be (and was) and tried again. Frustratingly, it left a gap on three sides immediately surrounding the slots. There were no gaps anywhere else. In other words, the Cura software that told the software exactly where to lay down plastic made a mess just of the only really critical points on the whole plate. The surround of the blades that I'd changed the design to include were just about set to break off with any slight agitation or scraping from trying to insert a plug. Spending a few more seconds of the hour and 20 minutes printing time per plate on the critical inner edges where the plastic was only one trace thick would have been most appreciated! Sure enough, when  putin a plug and pulled it out, the inner ring around the hole came out with the plug. (G-code files are text, but there are so many traces and commands in a 3D printing file that trying to manually edit it would be nuts.)
   But the position and size of the blade holes weren't perfect, so I changed them a bit. I hoped maybe they'd just work out better next try, but they were even worse, a thin skeleton of an outline, one trace surrounded by gaps. I changed something in the many optional settings thinking it might be better. I'll change it the other way next time.

   I finally left it, still without having a satisfactory print around the blade holes.

36V Click-Lock Plugs & In-Line Sockets

[21st] I modified plug and socket shells to click together. It worked pretty well on the first iteration of each the next morning. But then I realized it would be much better if the plug pins were shielded with plastic, especially so battery chargers wouldn't short out, and so they should be redesigned for that.

36V High Current Plug & In-Line Sockets

[23rd] I had changed from my own designs to "T-Plug" designs when I found them. They were being used just for model aircraft and came with the batteries for the model ground effect vehicle. (Yes, I must get back to that, too!)
   There were "mini" and "regular" size of T-plugs and sockets, Which I decided should be good for 12 and 36 volt systems. But in spite of high current ratings for use in model aircraft, they are probably only good for maybe 10 or 15 continuous amps in home use. Model aircraft aren't in long or frequent use.
   So I went back to my own design for a 50(?) amp plugs & sockets. I thought I could probably adapt the T-plugs' spring idea into the socket and in fact did so. An advantage in current rating that the T-plugs have is that typical sockets have a conductor in the form of a double spring that presses against the plug blade at just two lines or even two points, on opposite faces of the blade. In the T-plug idea, the spring is a separate component that presses the flat blade of the plug against the flat blade of the socket, along the entire common contact plane. In the original T-plugs, this spring is on the plug blade. In my high current version, the plug is the simple piece and the spring is inside the socket. The effect is the same.

   But again for high current I figured the socket should be porcelain. I got out the mold I had 3D printed previously and squashed out 8 halves in porcelain clay for 4 in-line sockets to be fired to 'cone 5' - 1180°C. (Laguna B-mix cone 5 grayish clay.) That took a couple of hours. The next morning when the clay was dry I spent more time sanding and scraping them somewhat smooth. Somehow I didn't break any. Then they still needed to be fired in the mini kiln. I used a thermocouple and a meter for the temperature rather than melting-down pottery cones.
   Tempting as it was to throw them right into the kiln, I set them on top of the woodstove (running) to warm up for a few hours to be sure they were dry. Otherwise they might crack in the kiln - or surely warp badly. (Not that they won't warp anyway.) I got onto cleaning my gutters, and put the already crispy sounding pieces in the kiln. (How hot was the top of the woodstove?) Once it was getting quite hot the thermocouple did funny things. I finally cut it a bit shorter and twisted the wires together again. Finally I got a stable looking reading of 1190°C. Since that was up toward the top, I figured the bottom was probably just about right (1180°) and unplugged the kiln. (It has no temperature control or switch.)

   After that I arranged straight "bars" of copper as the connections, and pieces of steel spring opposite to them in the socket to press the plug blades against the bars. The springs have no electrical connection. They are put in loose and are held in place by the porcelain shell.

   Again the design is in keeping with the superior (IMHO) T-plug idea that the plug and socket be pressed together along a whole flat contact surface plane instead of just at two points or lines on a bent springy conductor in the socket.
   My design moves the springs inside the socket instead of attached to the plug pins, and the plug is unchanged from my previous design, as is the socket shell itself.

   Then I soldered short wires to the coppers for "pigtail" connections and put in #6 screws to hold the socket halves together. There was a "crack" sound and one piece had broken. I had hoped they would be less brittle than that. Perhaps I should have left them in the mini-kiln a little longer (than ~1-1/2 hours) to reach a higher temperature. (notwithstanding that they were still glowing white hot when I finally opened the door a while after turning it off.)
   I had made four, so I tried again, successfully.

   Then I connected it with marette connectors ("wire nuts") to the 36V wire I had run from the garage to under the kitchen sink, and plugged in a 36 to 120 volt inverter. I ran the kitchen fridge off the DC system for a while to check it out.
   (I was shocked to discover that while the fridge drew 130-140 watts most of the time when running, it had a defrost cycle in which the defrost heating element drew a continuous 430 watts. This will not go over well if there's a long power failure and I'm trying to keep it running!)

   The plastic plugs are 3D printed - no problem. The porcelain sockets (to ensure no fires result from heat if there's a poor connection) are a lot of work to make, not uniform, and brittle. I have to punch the bolt holes by hand with a little brass tube and they don't always line up. I couldn't sell them at any reasonable price without a better way of making them. Maybe I should get one of those 3D printers that extrude clay? I suppose they are $$$$. Come to think of it the plastic mold was printed with the old coarse 3D printer & Skeinforge slicer. I should at least reprint it with Cura slicer at the finest resolution (smoothest surface) I can get, on the slipperiest plastic filament I have. (Nylon?) That could help a bit.

   Also it would be good to have sockets on a plate that fit into an electrical outlet box. That needs a new design of socket.

Handheld Bandsaw Mill Kit

[8th] I tried milling a 1" by 6" off a 6" by 6" beam. It didn't go well. The band must have been quite dull and the set on the teeth poor. Soon it was getting hot and I realized I had forgotten about doing a cooling water drip system onto the band. And obviously the band tension was insufficient. It was jamming and it had been long enough since I had milled that I didn't realize what the problem was. I cut a few inches at a time until it was hot again, and each time had a hard time getting the V-belt to not slip and the band to run again.
   When I finally got to the far end I found the board was cupped so much across that the cut had almost come through the top in the middle of the board. Memory started coming back as to that sort of phenomenon. More band tension; set the teeth to give some clearance! Sharpening, while definitely desirable, actually comes third on that list.

   I ordered a couple of different spigots to shut off water. I didn't find anything very miniature like I wanted, but at least they're for small diameter (6mm) pipes. I also ordered new cutting bands: 2 shorter, 3 medium, and 2 a bit longer (80, 85 and 88 inch).

[18th] I sharpened the band and set the teeth with pliers, a tedious job. Wayne had shown me his tooth-setting jig, and I think I want something like that. Preferably it would be automatic like the band sharpener, moving the band two teeth at a time and pressing one each way all by itself. If not, perhaps it might allow manually pressing several teeth at once?
   Then I put the saw back together and drilled a little hole in the guard for the bottom of a funnel. I put a piece of sponge in the funnel to hopefully control the drip to a reasonable rate. I cut another thin 3/4" by 6". It still went very slowly, less than half the usual speed - only 5 or 6 inches in ten seconds instead of 10 to 12 inches. I am puzzled by that. I trust the new bands will cut better. The second guide wheel that I had made was jamming, and with the saw half way along the cut I replaced it with the new "4 pieces" type I had bought the main parts of from VXB bearings. The sponge kept popping out of the funnel, but it jammed up quickly with sawdust and often no water was going through at all. But this time, with a good set on the teeth, the band never got very hot. Except for those details and being slow it did run smoothly and made a good, flat board.

[25th] The new cutting bands arrived. In the evening I put one on and got it ready to mill the next day.  When I went to take the mill to the cant, it started to rain. Then it quit, then it started again. Every second time I went out it was raining. It poured rain even when the sun was shining. Finally at 1:30 it seemed pretty nice and I finished cutting up the 6" by 6": total three 3/4" by 6", three 2" by 4". Somehow the 2" by 4"s came out thin, and so the last one was more like a 3" by 4". In this cutting I kept stopping for the band to cool. And the boards were something of wedge shapes. Notches in the posts as markers for setting the depth of cut as desired and evenly all around will be a must.

   It cut much better, but for a brand new band still a bit slower, maybe barely 1 inch per second in the 6 inch wide cut. (10 inches or less in 10 seconds.) I assume it's because the wood is now dried (4 years now!) and tougher instead of fresh and green. Still, for the four inch wide boards I was cutting up to 16 and even 18 inches length in ten seconds of cutting.

   In with all this I measured the steel plates for making them a CNC design pattern, and made a few notes of things to modify or add to the mill. I think the plates, posts and depth set/slide bars should be stainless steel.
   It was a bit hard on the knees pushing the mill along the board, which I will attribute to the rusty steel guide rails not sliding easily. But I also note that glue-on(?) knee pads for pushing would be very desirable. Maybe 1.5 inches thick.

[27th] I started looking for a good 2D CAD program. I seemed unable to download "LibreCAD" for some reason. I tried "FreeCAD" and got it running, but I was unable to make heads or tails of it. I thought I would try their tutorial next day.

[28th] I looked over my 3D printer "OpenSCAD" program and found that newer versions would do 2D drawings and export them to to the standard .DXF format as a subset its 3D features, using "square" instead of "cube", and "circle" instead of "cylinder". I designed the left and right mounting plates [to be stainless steel], the main custom parts of the saw that needed to be CAD done, to send to a CNC abrasive waterjet cutting facility.
   After I finished, I remembered why I didn't use OpenSCAD for this purpose. It turns curves into a series of very short straight lines. That seems fine on a 3D printer, but Jesse at Victoria Waterjet said that would make the cutter stop and restart for each line instead of cutting a smooth arc, creating unacceptable vibration. My simple solution - for these plates - was to tell the software that each arc segment is to be at 30° to the previous: just a few longer lines instead of a bunch of short ones. That wouldn't have done the job for the motor rotor I was cutting then, but I think it should suffice for this. I made the drill holes as little squares as center points, and will use a drill to cut them to size later. This affected only two holes, the eight other holes being square anyway.

[30th] Having finished up the plates I sent the .DXF file off to Victoria Waterjet. I might just make some kneepads and cut some more boards from 6" by 6"s to finish the firewood shed doors. (By November 4th there was no reply!)

North Coast Gardening, Greenhouse, LED Indoor Garden

In Case of Shortages, Break Glass

   I wonder if some aren't thinking that if there are food shortages then they'll go out, dig up the lawn and grow vegetables. I suspect many such people are either going to have help from neighbors who garden or they're going to have a lot of work and a lot of failures for at least a couple of years. A neighbor originally taught us gardening when we moved to the coast in 1972. I was 17, I haven't been on it full time or every year, but I'm 66 and I'm still learning, and I'm still learning more in this somewhat unusual climate zone of very cool summers and not very cold winters with lots of rain.
   The lawn can reclaim a garden over the winter here, and sometimes you have to pretty much start over again.

Easier Garden Clearing or Turning Lawn Into Garden

   But on youtube someone's comment reminded readers that one can put down cardboard or black plastic or whatever, and then weigh it down, preferably with something like compost or chicken guck, and keep the light off the soil. Then the weeds and grass die or at least don't grow much, and the job of clearing off the lawn or the weeds is much easier. This seems like the right time of year as most of the garden produce has been harvested. I got a car full of flattened paper towel boxes from a grocery. (They have no packaging tape, just cardboard - yay!)


   Somewhere this month I noticed that my apricot tree in the greenhouse was bare with no leaves while the one outside had yellow leaves. I fear I may have killed the inside one - which bloomed so nicely in the spring but had no fruit - for lack of water. Somehow I always think I'm doing plenty of watering but peppers and tomatos wither, my prize new grape vine almost died, I think the cherry tree in the greenhouse has suffered, the apricot tree outside died way back the first year I had it and now it looks like the one inside is probably gone.
   I've always been afraid of washing nutrients out of the soil, and only through long experience have I learned to water as much as I do, and apparently it's still not always enough. A nice pepper in a pot withered, to my surprise. Blueberries take tons of water and I was never able to grow them until someone apprised me that fact.

Strawberry Tree (more of a Bush - Arbutus Unedo) has little
white bells. Fruits next year? Where am I going to plant it?

The green grape vine in the corner is growing slowly, but I expect it
will become a nuisance, spreading everywhere, within a few years

Last of the yellow zucchinis

The asparagus hit the roof and blocked the path until I finally cut it back
with hedge clippers! Maybe I should eat more of it, earlier, next year.

A pathetic double row of carrots. Why can't I seem to
grow decent carrots, inside the greenhouse or outside?
I probably don't water enough when they are germinating?

And outside, a sunflower spent the whole summer growing taller and taller,
and only in October-November is it trying to grow a flower. Good luck!
Apricot tree with yellow leaves; New, productive strawberries in front of it,
runners all planted. (Freshly planted garlic bed very bottom.)

The blueberry bushes with red fall leaves

   I started sprinkling - almost dumping - wood ashes around the fruit trees, and sprinkling them in the garden and on the blueberries too. Perhaps lack of potassium was part of the reason for for the almost complete lack of fruits on my trees? The leaves of the apple and pear trees are rather yellow except the new one that I planted in its peat pot, which are dark green. The blueberry crop wasn't bad, but I didn't think it was as good as 2020 considering I have more bushes now and the first 3 have grown a bit. (I forgot that wood ashes raise the soil pH and blueberries like acid soil!)

   On the bright side I have noticed prolific caterpillars/"worms"(?), that look like slimy tiny black leeches from above, on the outside cherry tree, and this year I took pains to wipe them off every leaf, with "touch-up" repeats several times. They finally stopped appearing about the end of September. In previous years this tree lost its leaves in early September(?), long before the nearby apple and pear trees in November. This year it still has leaves into late October. So! Those caterpillars have really been doing it in, cutting its growing season way short! That probably helps explain why it has grown so little over 5 summers and maybe why it has produced so few cherries. Now there are healthy looking suckers coming up vigorously on one side. Do I assume those are tiny, bitter wild cherry from the root stock and cut them off? Or do I say, gosh, finally at least a part of the cherry tree is growing well!, and leave them? Those leaves didn't get the caterpillars.

   Around the 5th(?) I lowered the light bulbs panel in the LED garden for plants down on the floor instead of up on shelves - last year's unsatisfactory arrangement. I brought in the coffee bushes from the window greenhouse as it was getting pretty chilly at night. Everything on the floor went into "boot" trays (to catch water) set on the rolling flat dollies I made when I first made the LED setup. But having put the growing coffee plants into bigger pots, it all takes more room. It seems the main set of lights is now largely devoted to them.
   The rest of the plan was to put the small "grow lights" panels up high for lettuce and small things, but I hadn't got around to it by month's end.

Millet and Timothy Grass

   I plucked a head of the unusual grass plant I noted finding in my garden a couple of months ago, and checked on Wikipedia to try and find it. It seemed to look most like sorghum, of which there are evidently 25 species. The top flowers had some little seeds in them which might just be worth harvesting if you have some means to automaticly process them. The lower ones felt empty, and it's October 20th, so this may not be a very good climate for it.

   There was another grass family plant a couple of feet from it, which I assumed must be the same thing but as the flowers developed turned out to be quite different. It seemed more like some relative of a bullrush.

   A Russian Tatar friend of much experience around the world saw the head on my desk and exclaimed "millet!" He also identified the other, as "timothy grass" from the prairies, which I had never heard of, but a picture on Wikipedia looked pretty similar. Millet makes sense since I had bird seed with millet in it. The seed could easily have come from that, and the seeds looked about right - maybe a bit smaller because probably not quite mature. Maybe the bird seed had timothy grass seed in it, too?
   I wonder how different millet and sorghum are? There are several species or varieties of each, and mine looked more like a Wikipedia picture of sorghum than ones of millet.

Electricity Generation

My Solar Power System

DC Power Test

[26th] Having made new porcelain "high current T-Plug" sockets (above under "other projects") for 36 volts, I replaced the broken ceramic socket under the sink. Then I thought I would run the fridge for a while for a test. The present batteries are three of the five 12V sets of the old yellow 100AH lithium iron phosphate ones.

   The 2500 watt inverter's plug went in, felt solid, and the socket didn't break. Good start! [11:41] I plugged in the fridge. When it came on the voltage dropped from 39.3 to 38.5. (after dipping down substantially for a moment as the compressor started.) That drop was mostly in the long 36V wire across the house, since it still said 39.2 at the batteries. The PowMr was recharging the batteries at about 80-90 watts - about the best it could do in the cloudy weather with two solar panels. (which I'll call "SPs" here. I find "panels" by itself confusing since there are many types of "panels".) (At the same time the AC grid ties with ten SPs were doing a little over 400 watts. Later the sun came out but the key SP was in tree shadows and charging dropped to around 50 watts.) The fridge plus the inverter were using ~135 watts. (The inverter uses about 15). The fridge shut off and the voltage at the inverter rose to 39.0, 39.1, 39.2 at the batteries.
   I left it to run that way, not connected to the power grid, for a few hours. Since the fridge didn't run continuously the SPs were keeping up with it during the day, even on this sort of "medium overcast" day in late October. (November to February it probably wouldn't. More solarps would of course help.)
   Except for the one SP connected to the DC system only, nothing is gained by running the fridge off the DC system: the power "sent to the grid" by the grid tie inverters first goes to things in the house anyway. Only if the grid is down for a day or more does the ability to run without it become valuable. Otherwise one is just running batteries up and down, which (with present battery technologies) gradually shortens their life.
   At ~19:00 I looked and the voltage was down to 33 volts, soon 32, after having been at 37.0 with the fridge running moments before. I found the fridge was using 420 watts, and it wasn't even running! This was an unpleasant surprise. How? It dawned on me that it was defrosting the freezer coils. At that rate, if there is ever a long power failure, this fridge is going to be trouble!
   I used the opportunity to check the 12 battery cells, which were after all pretty old. 9 were above 3 volts. 2 were just under. 1 had died ingloriously and read -.32 volts. I unplugged the fridge and plugged it back into the wall. I had a spare cell I had already found to be weak, and I connected it to the dead one with alligator clip leads. The voltage on the other was 1.5 once the fridge was unplugged, and it slowly rose, being charged by the other. The two weaker cells can stay in parallel.

2 Solar Panels on Pole

[20th] A couple of years ago I dug a pit and had an old steel pole from a 1980s era satellite TV system, anchored in a heavy concrete base, carted by a lawn mangling machine (a skid-steer forklift) to about the sunniest spot in the yard, intending to put up a couple of solar panels on it. But I wasn't sure how to attach them. This mid afternoon I thought of it again and looked, and realized I had only to remove the short aluminum beam and replace it with a longer wooden 2" by 6" beam as the central support. Duh!
   So I cut the pieces of wood and tried to measure everything up carefully. I bolted the "Z clips" to the 2" by 4" cross piece "bars" and made sure they fit across and would bolt onto both sides of a SP. Then I put it together and up on the pole. Somehow the vertical measurement on the main beam was short by the thickness of one cross bar (~5cm), and so the bolt holes on those didn't line up with those in the SPs. By this time it was starting to get dark and I had to quit for the night.
[21th] That was just as well, because it blew up a storm in the night and I had intended to add stays to stabilize it the next day. It blew and rained all day, and if the SPs had survived the night, I'd have had to be out in it to do the rigging. It blew fiercely again in the evening.
[22nd] It was still breezy, but not raining. I got at it after lunch, padded the length with a couple of bits of 1" by 6", attached the SPs to the frame on the ground this time, and (not without effort and a bit of help) put the assembly up. I used some stainless steel 1/8" wire rope, eye hooks and a couple of pipe clamps to make stays and hopefully prevent the wind from doing anything bad to it. It didn't seem very sturdy. Either I'll think of something stiffer or we'll see how it does in a blast.
   I must say the time of year doesn't seem very opportune. The solar systems don't seem to be doing much most days now, and it'll just get worse until spring. At least these SPs are pointing straight south in a good spot, and are aimable up and down with the seasons. I set them steep for low winter sun.

[23rd] I found an old dead 3-wire extension cord with a socket on one end, and ran it from the new SPs to the plug end of the cord that had connected the windplant into the garage where the equipment is. When I stripped the wires I discovered the cord was #18 AWG. Ack! Do they even make such skinny cords? #16 would have been okay. #14 would have been better. With 150 feet of skinny old extension cords outdoors, the voltage was dropping at least 3 volts with just 4 or 5 amps of current. Power would be seriously reduced in strong sunshine - the wires could even get pretty warm. I may replace it. (In fact, I should add another grid tie inverter or two to the whole setup and have fewer SPs on each. At present maximum power output in full sunshine is limited by the grid ties, not the SPs.

   The two 305 watt SPs seemed to be adding around 100 watts to the total, but there was a tree across the highway casting a shadow on the SPs. A short time later it was off of one and I thought that in 5 or 10 minutes they'd both be in full sunlight. Then a cloud covered the sun, and then I had to leave.
   It must have been fairly sunny for much of the day. By evening the house system with these added on had made all but 4 KWH by itself, with a further 1.98 KWH from the cabin SPs, and with .10 from the DC system it [just] hit 6 KWH for the day for only the third time this month.

[31st] Finally I was out at a good time to catch both panels fully in the sun. It had seemed to me throughout that they weren't putting out what they should be. The connector formerly where the windplant attached was warm. That meant it had a poor connection. I cleaned it up and the 'power to the grid' readings improved. So I guess they weren't contributing a lot until the afternoon of the 31st.

   But there were definitely too many solar panels now for the two grid tie inverters for summer sun, and I ordered some new ones, and a couple more AC power monitors. Seeing I have been dissatisfied with the performance in variable light of the inverters I've been using, I ordered some 700 watt ones of a different brand. (700W were the largest in that brand.) With shipping they came to ~100$C each.

   I also noticed in this whole process that the top of my new carport roof was sunnier than the pole with the SPs, which got substantially more shadows than I had expected. That's where I should have put them, and it's where I'll put more next time I if have some craving to add some.

   The panels can be aimed up and down with the seasons, and I finally got the top free to rotate (albeit using much force, and having to loosen the guy wire clamps) so they could be pointed to the west in the afternoon. But there too they got a lot less afternoon sun than I expected - at least in winter. By the time the tree shadows from the trees to the south-south-west were clear, the sun was lower and behind the trees farther to the west.

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) battery system power output readings are reset to zero daily (often just for LED lights, occasionally used with other loads: Electric car, inverters in power outages or other 36V loads), while the grid tied readings are cumulative.)

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

30th 2307.19, 1031.84, .09 =>   4.52 [30Km; 87068@18:30] A bit of sun in afternoon (continued raining anyway).

01st 2308.05, 1032.37, .00 =>   1.39 [87088@21:30] Just rain.
02nd2311.00, 1034.19, .00 =>   4.77 [55Km;87105@20:00] Sun, deluge, on, off, on, off, on, off
03rd 2313.97, 1035.73, .25 =>   4.76 [87132@18:30] More of the same.
04th 2315.62, 1036.44, .00 =>   2.36 [87147@18:30] yet mor.
05th 2320.20, 1038.18, .17 =>   6.01 [87171@19:00] Sunny! Wow! The trailer installation was unplugged until mid morning, but I don't understand why it produced so little.
06th 2323.74, 1040.48, .00 =>   5.84 [55Km; 87219@23:00] Frost in AM. Partly sunny again! Colder weather: Electric heaters ON in travel trailer and Perry's RV. [48KWH - Yowr! More and more I want that open loop air heat pumping, in fully developed form!]
07th 2325.25, 1041.38, .00 =>   2.41 [87248@19:30]
08th 2327.41, 1042.61, .00 =>   3.39 [95Km; 87299@18:30]
09th 2330.71, 1044.69, .31 =>   5.69 [55Km; 87342@22:00]
10th 2334.05, 1046.59, .00 =>   5.24 [20Km; 87372@18:30]
11th 2335.67, 1047.42, .22 =>   2.67 [87397@18:00]
12th 2338.56, 1049.05, .00 =>   4.52 [75Km; 87430@18:30]
13th 2340.94, 1050.59, .18 =>   4.10 [87454@18:00]
14th 2342.42, 1051.36, .00 =>   2.35 [57Km; 87488@18:00]
15th 2346.63, 1053.53, .00 =>   6.38 [85Km; 87521@17:30] Oh wow, a sunny day!
16th 2349.35, 1055.58, .25 =>   5.02 [110Km; 87567@19:30] Another mostly sunny one. (didn't top it from sprinkling rain!)
17th 2352.72, 1055.98, .00 =>   3.77 [86602@18:30] Mostly sunny again! Cabin ground fault breaker was blown, so no cabin solar. (For how long ??? - shoulda been almost a couple more KWH.)
18th 2353.34, 1056.34, .15 =>   1.13 [86644] A windy day, so dark the solar outputs mostly said "0" until 11 AM.
19th 2354.37, 1056.86, .07 =>   1.62 [55Km; 86683@17:30] Not much better.
20th 2356.36, 1057.96, .62 =>   3.71 [86712@19:00] Mostly sunny! DC: .276 +.347=.623 (replaced power monitor - charging new 36V, 120AH lithium ion battery stack, stack #3.)
21th 2356.89, 1058.26, .15 =>   0.98 [86754@18:30] Wind, rain, dark! Batteries didn't get much mor charj today!
22th 2358.30, 1059.11, .28 =>   2.54 [85Km; 86803@17:30] Brighter than yesterday with little to no rain. Batts. finished charging.
23rt 2362.26, 1061.09, .10 =>   6.04 [70Km; 87838@18:00] Mixed sun & cloud. (Some actual sun!) I set up & connected 2 new solar panels on a pole facing straight south. (see report above. Wouldina hit 6KWH without the new panels! And the bit of DC!) At the end of the month I noted a bad connection, so the new panels really weren't contributing what they should have been until PM of the 31st.
24rd 2365.46, 1062.68, .16 =>   4.92 [87877@18:30] Pretty nice day, sun & light clouds.
25th 2367.65, 1063.75, .00 =>   3.26 [55Km; 87919@16:30] Light clouds.
26th 2369.85, 1064.93, .49 =>   3.87 [87952@17:30] A bit of sun but mostly overcast, rain off and on. Ran fridge from solar DC system with 2500W inverter for several hours.
27yj 2373.28, 1066.82, .25 =>   5.57 [50Km; 87983@17:00] A fair bit of sun, occasional clouds.
28th 2375.78, 1068.37, .15 =>   4.20 [88021@17:30] mostly lighter clouds, occasional sun.
29th 2378.41, 1070.15, .00 =>   4.41 [88053@18:00] Pretty sunny. (but chilly)
30th 2381.09, 1071.51, .21 =>   4.25 [55Km; 88091@18:00]
31st 2384.71, 1073.69, .09 =>   5.89 [88134@17:30] Sunny with haze at times


01st 2386.58, 1074.72, .00 =>   2.90 [88170@16:00] not bad
02d  2386.96, 1074.89, .14 =>   0.69 [50Km; 88225@19:00] Wind & rain, dark.
03rd 2389.42, 1076.20, .00 =>   3.77 [88257@17:30] Much nicer.

Daily KWH from solar panels. (Compare October 2021 with August 2021 & with September 2020.)

Days of
__ KWH
Sept. 2021 (12
solar panels)
October 2021
(12 solar panels ->
14 by end of month)
Oct. 2020 (12
solar panels)













Total KWH
Km Driven
on Electricity
1072 Km
(~155 KWH)
973.6 Km
(150 KWH?)

Monthly Summaries: 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 solar 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]
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]
June  -  1-30: 197.84 + 112.07 + 2.21(DC) = 312.12 KWH Solar [& 448 KWH from grid]
July   -  1-31: 204.35 + 121.21 + 4.06(DC) = 329.62 KWH Solar [426 KWH from grid; 150(?) KWH used by Nissan Leaf]
August- 1-31: 176.19 + 102.91 + 5.37(DC) = 284.47 KWH Solar [477 KWH from grid; 165 KWH (est) used by car]
Sept. -  1-30:   94.35 +   51.34 + 3.30(DC) = 152.29 KWH Solar [590 KWH from grid; 155 KWH (est) used by car]
Oct.   -  1-31:   77.52 +   41.85 + 4.10(DC) = 123.47 KWH Solar [1066 KWH from grid; 150 KWH (est) used by car]
Things Noted - October 2021

* Toward the end of the month tree shadows even from across the highway and from the acreage to the south were seriously interfering with solar collection. It's another reason there isn't much solar in the winter.


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]

(See TE News #156 for the two year writeup... which technicly should have been two months earlier.)

Haida Gwaii, BC Canada