Turquoise Energy Report #168 - May 2022
Turquoise Energy News/Report #168
covering May 2022 (Posted June 8th 2022)
Lawnhill BC Canada - by Craig Carmichael

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

Month In "Brief" (Project Summaries etc.)
 - Gardening - Brief Projects Mentions - Panasonic 5.5 amp-hour Lithium-Ion Batteries: "Compression Case" - Nickel-Zinc Flat Cells with compression case? - Solar PV Addition results - Off-Grid Infrastructure: Another 3D printed case - The Grid: "Smart" meter Readings online - The "Low Rolling Resistance" Tires - Bitcoin Miner - "Solar" 24V DC Deep Well Pump

In Passing (Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)
 - The West Versus Itself Versus Russia... with FARMING & FOOD, FUEL, US 2019 PLAN TO "BREAK" RUSSIA, Zelensky the Kremlin Agent?!? - Freezer Chicken Coop? -  No Smol Thots - ESD

- Detailed Project Reports -

Electric Transport - Electric Hubcap Motor Systems [no reports]

Other "Green" & Electric Equipment Projects
* Just a bit more on Gardening
* Just a bit more on Plastic Recycling 2.0 - Big Oven - Flattening curved steel plates from big propane tank.

Electricity Generation
* My Solar Power System:
 - Inverter Test - Rewiring Some Solar Panels - Yet More New Solar Panels? - Switch Ratings
 - Latest Daily/Monthly Solar Production log et cetera - Monthly/Annual Summaries, Estimates, Notes

May in Brief

   Although I am still having plenty of ideas for improving projects, products and ideas I've been working on, it looks like I'm having little time to actually do the work. (or even to finish this newsletter!) Basicly my highest priority projects for the time being are working on self-sufficiency and growing food. In a situation deteriorating year after year and no leaders doing anything about it, there must come a point when things just grind to a halt. And where the population is dense and things aren't working, competition displaces cooperation and a period of violence is almost inevitable. The carrying capacity of the land in our complex society depends on cooperation between people of all stripes, and it drops precipitously without that cooperation. Every civilization in human history has arisen, flourished for a few hundred years, and then fallen, usually with huge loss of life. Typicly it has grown until it overshot the carrying capacity of its environment and "mined" it for food and fuel, leaving the land able to support only a much lower population. Now we are globally "strip mining" even the renewable resources, let alone the non-renewables.
   Various people have been predicting collapse for a long time and it hasn't happened yet. But the trend from "flourishing" to "dictatorial oligarchy" has been proceeding gradually for well over a century. Some with great foresight could see we were well into "overshoot" by the 1970s. (eg, see pivotal book by that name: Overshoot by William R. Catton Jr. - or for the short version watch Collapse on Youtube by Michael Dowd)
   Today society appears to be self destructing with no one interested in the welfare of civilization: it's broken up into competing fiefdoms - institutions, departments, corporations, divisions... And the problems continue to multiply and are never addressed except to try to quell immediate fires - and now, often not even those are attended to. With violence and disorder rising, how can collapse now be "that's for the grandkids to worry about" far off? The grandkids are grown.

   I'm not going to write much about my gardening, but here are a few pictures. Many gardeners have plenty to offer on youtube. Perhaps the most interesting things here are that after about 4 years one of my coffee plants has a flower and some flower buds, and that I bought and planted an english walnut tree supposedly suitable for cooler climates, for which I have high hopes. Also that my plastic garden edge barriers seem to be doing a good job of keeping the grass out, and a line of piled sawdust along another edge seems to be deterring slugs.

Main garden looking East.
Front: 3 rows of potatoes (out of many), Rear off left: mostly raspberries
Far (SE) corner: a couple of josta berry bushes being swallowed by a huge rhubarb
A 10' long row of peas starting to climb in front of that (expected yield > 1 Kg)
Sawdust piled along south fence has deterred at least some slugs.
I left the gate open once while working around the yard, and
before I noticed it a deer ate the leaves off a blueberry bush.

Recycled PP plastic grass roots barriers, well dug in. (not that I've prepared the spot and planted anything yet.)
I hope to mold 3 foot long pieces and do the entire perimeter.

The slugs haven't got my short row of transplanted seedling vegetables... yet. (More slug bait!)

I bought a pipe frame & plastic greenhouse from aosom.ca for 265$.
(If I ever leave the door open, the deer will probably devour some prize stuff!)
I also made a little pond and put in 3 very costly goldfish.
("It's the air freight express shipping with all the water they're in that costs so much" said the store.)
I put a black Ikea sofa back frame as a grating over it to (hopefully) keep out raccoons and otters.

In this greenhouse: my potted plants. The coffee bushes, peppers, tomatoes, witch hazel.
All those brown leaves... did I overwater, or underwater, the coffee?
(Not seen: the strawberry tree/bush.)
The corn is growing nicely in the main greenhouse, and the asparagus, chard and some squash,
and cabbages, brocolli, and carrots going to seed.

A flower on a coffee plant!

I milled a couple more of the spruce slabs.
As the slabs get lower and lower with each board taken, knee
pads on the saw need to be higher and higher up.
(Must add big knee pad to the design!)

I'm presently making the new plastic molding oven from a
freezer with a metal inner liner to hold large molds.
(Egads I'm getting so little done in a month!)

and salvaging steel plate for molds from (old, free) 85 gallon propane tanks.

One of two propane tank steel plates for the 17"x36" flat sheets/plates mold.
Not very flat - but very stiff!

Flattening with hydraulic press

Bending past flat because steel springs back part way.

Sprint Car

   Since the Sprint car doesn't climb hills well with the torque of the present (36V forklift) motor and just a 5 to 1 speed reduction (despite the high efficiency drivetrain), it's not very useful. Not having found time for installing the special centrifugal clutch or for building the new unipolar Electric Hubcap motor - projects that might make it work - I thought to order a planetary gearbox with a higher reduction. I've thought 7 to 1 would surely be plenty. But I didn't want to further reduce the already slow maximum speed of the car any more than necessary. (The motor is only 0-2000 RPM.) At the risk of it possibly still being a little too high of a gear, I've ordered a 6 to 1 planetary for a simple swap with the 5 to 1. Hopefully that will get it up my steep driveway and any hills on the main roads. And give it just a bit more "pep".

Solar PV Addition

   The results of putting three new solar panels on the carport roof at the end of April were more exciting than I expected. This 17% of the eighteen total panels continued adding around 25% to the total daily output to make it 4/3 of what it was before, and the daily and monthly totals reached new highs. In April new highs of "19.xx KWH" and "20.xx" per day were reached even without them and I had to add a two new rows to the table. With the new panels contributing I had to add more, finally up to "29.xx KWH per day" on the sunniest day in May.
   Where the previous highest monthly collection before April 2022 was 313 KWH, April's equipment and wiring improvements and more sunny days than usual brought the record up to 404. But May's total with the three new panels came to 547 KWH. This is starting to be some serious energy!

   I now want to add another 3 panel "A" frame beside that one (there's just room) - either new panels or move the three from the lawn up to there. It definitely gets the most sun of anywhere. (Running fatter wires to the equipment should help for some of the existing panels, too.)

Panasonic 5.5 amp-hour Lithium-Ion Batteries: "Compression Case"

   Looking at some batteries on line on the 30th, I recognized from a picture some similar (but larger - 24 AH) to some I had removed from a scrapped hybrid car just before I moved here. It had been involved in some flood, and the cells were all zero volts and had clay on them. I had been offered them free for the taking out. They were evidently Panasonic 5.5 AH, 3.7V lithium ion cells. I had tried charging some but they swelled up like balloons. I figured they were probably no good, but somehow I couldn't throw them out after all my effort extracting them from the wrecked car and bringing them up form Victoria. There were about 72 of them in the tote box, on the floor under a bench.

   Now I had the thought (from my quadcopter batteries) that all rectangular lithium-ion batteries with soft bodies do seem to swell when charging. I looked at some more pictures on line and found that it looked like they had to be held pressed together to use them. Then there was a picture specificly saying "Compression Kit".

   I figured I could make one like that, except never mind the circuit board. (Hmm, that board seems to have the connections for a balance charger. Nice!) Let's see... 10 in series for 36 volts, count on 60+ good cells so 6 x 10.  6*5.5=33 amp-hours; *36=~1200 watt-hours, however wired for whatever voltage. Well, 33AH @ 36V could be a small but not trivial addition to the 120AH set presently on the DC solar power system. with a lot of balance charger cell interconnections to wire up. (Somehow 153AH just sounds way bigger than 120.)

I found an alume plate that was just right for the two ends when cut in half, and some 1/4" threaded rods that weren't long enough to hold 20 cells. So I took a stack of 11 cells already connected together (with plastic grid spacers between them), removed one, cleaned some of the clay off the remaining 10 (without taking them all apart) and clamped them, not very hard, in the "housing". Now there's no space for them to balloon up.

   The next part is trying to charge the cells. Since they're starting at 0 volts, I put one on the charger at a time. I limited the current to 1 amp. The first two charged up gradually to 3.8 volts (several hours) and then discharged overnight to under 1 volt. On charging the second one for a few hours for the third time, the current finally started to drop, down to 1/4 amp by the evening of June 2nd. It dropped overnight just down to 3.4V. Promising! The next day I put the two cells in series and found one up to 3.98V, while the other was 3.72 and the current was 1/2 amp. I reduced the voltage and connected to the higher cell only. It drew under 10 mA (reading 0 on the power supply) until I turned it above 4 volts. A couple of other cells charged right up like new. Maybe with enough coaxing many or most of them really will work and hold a charge, after over 5 years sitting totally discharged? Wow!

Underside of stack: two of the bars support the cells from beneath

   When I get some longer threaded rods, I'll put 2 or 3 sets of ten cells together. (6 inches length per set.) Putting 6 sets into one housing (36 inches long) sounds unwieldy. Maybe two racks, 3 and 3 (or 3 and 4), sets, to use up 60 cells, or 70 if they all work, for a maximum 38.5 amp-hours. At 36 volts that's 1386 watt-hours - not trivial.)

Nickel-Zinc Flat Cells?

   In doing all this, I suddenly thought of my own nickel manganates-zinc 'everlasting' flat plate gel batteries, which even in a very small size swelled up and didn't work well unless I leaned heavily on them to hold them compressed. It seemed they would need absurdly thick walls or a system of 'pins' inside to hold the faces together at many points, and so I had played around with making cylindrical cells, which can take much pressure but proved very hard to make at home. An external compression housing is of course exactly what the flat cells need. That seemed like an absurd additional complication for one cell, but it's not for say 22 cells end to end (at 1.6V) to get 36 volts. With pressure plates to hold them I could make quite large area electrodes!
   And I have an idea for 3D printed reverse tapered holes for the terminals and the water filler hole, so that if they are filled with heat glue or wax after assembly, pressure inside the battery will tend to seal them. That should help with my other main problem of leaks and the cells drying out.

   These ideas inspire me to have another stab at making practical, working batteries!

Off-Grid Infrastructure: Another 3D printed case

   I have been buying wonderful little LCD DC power monitors off AliExpress.com . They work from 8 to 100 volts. A blue backlight can be turned on or off. The 0 to 20 amps model has an internal shunt. Another model comes with an external shunt: 50, 100 or 500 amp shunts are available. They show (all at once in the four corners) the voltage, current, watts and cumulative watt-hours of energy. The watt-hours reading is held even when disconnected or the power is turned off. A single button (by holding it down longer and longer) cycles through options. (The only ones I use are to turn the backlight on or off and to reset the "watt-hours" meter.)
   When dealing with solar and battery systems, I feel there's nothing like being able to see exactly what's going on, both going into the batteries and coming out. The voltage gives some indication of the state of charge. Seeing how much has gone in and how much has come out is better. Seeing that current is still flowing in an RV or boat because some light or fan has been left on can save a costly battery from being discharged while not in use.

   These monitors have a lip around the front edge for panel mounting, but other than that no good mounting system. So I 3D printed up some little cases for screwing them onto a flat surface such as plywood. On the first one I put screws holes outside the body. Then I realized that since they insert in from the front (friction fit), the box can be screwed onto the plate first and I put the screw holes inside, making it smaller. They fit in pretty well and are unlikely to fall out (unless maybe mounted on the ceiling of an RV, or in a boat pounding on the waves).

Two fotos of the new power monitor housings.
I left the wire end open as the plastic to cover would
sag into the slit during printing. Also that way the unit can
be wired while loose and then pressed into the housing.

Old power monitor (36 VDC output to loads, 0-100 amps) mounted on face of breaker/equipment box.
New power monitor (DC charging input, 0-20 amps) mounted on wall in new 3D printed case.

The Grid: "Smart" meter Readings

   I once tried to check on my electric readings, but as there was no microwave link, the meter was being read by a person. But some time back, Hydro had put in a radio on a nearby pole. When I paid my latest bill I went on line to BCHydro.ca and sure enough, one can find one's power meter's logged readings.

The usage bars correspond only vaguely with the days of more
sunshine, suggesting that consumption is the larger factor.
Note the increase from the 22nd on when the bitcoin miner started running.

   In the daily graphs, note the deceptively changing scales. On May first I used relatively little electricity, but it looks like a lot. Somehow in my random picks of days, I didn't choose any very sunny one. May 1st was cold (bedroom & other heat on) and stormy with rain, and very little solar power, and the 22nd was also mostly overcast. I turned the bitcoin miner on on the afternoon of the 22nd for the rest of the month and beyond. On the 11th and 28th the drop in consumption from around 9AM to 3:30PM (PDT) when the sun hits the solar panels is quite apparent. Occasionally car charging or laundry (dryer) bumps consumption up by almost 4 KW for an hour or two.

The "Low Rolling Resistance" Tires

   Now that spring is here, I'll stand by my earlier assessment about being quite disappointed with the Bridgestone Ecopia "low rolling resistance" tires I put on my Nissan Leaf around a year ago. It's not sticking brakes. Unless something else strange is happening to the car at a specific temperature (seems unlikely), there is a temperature range of about 9 to 13°C where the tires magicly go from being very high rolling resistance to "far lower". They doubtless work great in warm climates, but here the middle of May was the first time since last fall that the temperature has hit that range, so it's the first time in about 8 months that the mileage has gone from pathetic to decent or (on one trip) great. It's only that warm here on the northern coast for maybe 3 months of the year (adding up all the warmer days over 4 or 5 months), so most of the time instead of conserving batteries and saving power, I'm putting up with poor range and extra electricity to drive anywhere - and indeed driving way below the speed limit on the highway to make an 85-90 Km round trip with 20% reserve. In cooler weather the "Ironman All Season" tires it had before were substantially better. They still had lots of tread -- I wish I had hung onto them when I got the new ones.
   The trip that had "great" mileage I drove to Port Clements, and the car's thermometer went from 11° to 18°(!) as I proceeded inland from the coast.

(I also have the thought that inland where there's more warmth on sunny days is probably where there might be some wild honey bees thriving on this island. It's so rare to see a honeybee along the coastline and highway where most of the people are. I've seen none so far this spring.)

Bitcoin Miner

   I write this in case some may be interested in this big electricity burning project. If not, just skip to the next heading.

               Bitcoin Miner on a board on a chair in the front
             entry making lots of fan noise. Power supply beside.

   After being so pleased with my solar panels' production, in mid month I traded someone a 305W solar panel for a used Antminer S9 bitcoin miner (with only 2 "chains" out of 3 working well). I had been asking about the miner for months, but the owner had to retrieve it from somewhere and he wasn't very motivated. It doesn't make enough bitcoin to pay for the electricity it uses, but it does make some. The idea was to run it in the cold months when the travel trailer needed heat to keep it from getting mouldy inside, instead of running an electric heater that made no bitcoin at all. Instead the warm months are here. On the 22nd I turned it on. When it is running, the solar power will definitely NOT be making as much power as the place is using, probably even on sunny summer days. My power conserving mind says to turn it off, but I think I'll leave it running for now. I wish I hadn't sold all my bitcoins in 2017. I had 27 at one point in 2013 or 2014 - now worth a fortune each but a trivial 67$ when I first bought them. (Up from 50$ the previous week -- it seemed like a lot to pay at the time!)

  The new one runs up to 5 times faster than all five of the bitcoin miners I was running in 2015-2017, and it was way easier to set up and get started. (I probably missed out on a dozen whole bitcoins in 2015 by taking several months from the time I bought the miners until I actually had them set up, running and then and running well. You had to hook them to a dedicated computer like a Raspberry Pi, which I ended up buying three of, all very slightly different but only the last one would run the software. And I had to order the 5 power supplies separately and got the wrong ones the first time. Then I got someone to help me set up the Pi and GFC miner program. And once finally running they were no end of trouble. The mining program kept randomly quitting. I eventually delved into the source code and (after some days) figured out how to get the program to reboot and resume if it had quit mining for "X" seconds, but that cost another 3 months before it was doing well. The five long USB connections with active hubs were also an ongoing source of trouble. The five miners together used around 2500 watts, and before I moved two of them had quit working entirely. Meanwhile the mining was getting harder by the month back then and I missed the best earlier rewards. The overall hash rate of the pool went from 20 PH in October 2015 to 40 PH in March 2017 and so my rewards were halved, and all rewards were halved again after block 400,000(?) per the bitcoin protocol. (It was probably well under 10 PH when I first got the miners.) It is now 13 EH -- 30 times faster again than in early 2017. After I moved I didn't have decent internet access for almost 3 years and had to stop.)
   The new miner was far simpler to use. It came with its own built in computer, accessed from any browser (well, not Firefox) on any computer, and connected directly to the ethernet. But my rewards (several a day in a mining pool) now are measured in x1 micro bitcoins instead of x1000. They would have been in the x10,000's earlier in 2015. Bitcoin was around 500$ (?) back then and it didn't seem like such a big thing. I'd still be better off buying them except that now the primary purpose is using the electric heat from the miner instead of just an electric heater.
   (I tried to buy another small fraction of one bitcoin a few days ago. The price came to within 27$C of my 36001 $/bitcoin bid, but then it rose and now it's over 38000$.)

   The new miner was using 950 watts, then I found a setting to turn it down to under 800 - but it mines proportionately slower. It still used 19 KWH a day. (One of the miner's three "chains" (it's really 3 miners in one box) seemed to be dead, but it didn't seem to use any power, or it would have been 1200 watts.)
   But where in October 2015 0.6 TH ("Terra Hashes per second") from 5 miners made up to 500 microbitcoins - and once they were all running right without the BFG miner randomly quitting in early 2016, at 2.5 TH they made around 2000. Now 8.0 TH makes only about 4 microbitcoins. One thing it has done is heat the house so that I don't have to light a fire in the evening to be comfortable. But the fan noise is a nuisance that I will soon tire of.

   Then I downloaded "Braiins" "ASIC Boost" O/S replacement firmware for certain Antminers including mine, which is supposed to improve performance. The third miner board "chain" came to life... but I soon disconnected it entirely as it seemed to be causing trouble, and I set the miner on its lowest setting: 600 watts, 6.5 TH and around 3 micro-bitcoins when Slushpool mining pool finds a block. Slushpool probably finds around 10 blocks a day, and you get whatever your miner has been making for about the previous 1/2 hour at that time. Much of the time you could turn it off and do just as well -- if only you knew just when to turn it on and off.

"Solar" DC Deep Well Pump

   Google and Amazon aren't the only ones with ads. Since I keep buying through it, AliExpress.com keeps sending me advertising emails. (I tried turning them off in "preferences", but then I also missed actual communications from sellers I had ordered things from.) I opened one before deleting it and at the top saw "Solar Deep Well Pumps" -- lower voltage DC units. They seem to have me disturbingly well profiled, because I have been wanting some such thing in case of lengthy power failures. Rainwater is great, but it's not connected to my sinks, toilets and bath and unless I build a water tower or put in a pump, it would have little pressure. My regular 230 volts AC well pump seems to be at least 1000 watts and probably closer to 1500 or more. I got a 2500W, 230V inverter to run it and tried it out, and it and the batteries seemed to be just able to run it.
   These were modern designs with BLDC motors, which are usually very efficient and have high torque, good for pumping from a deep well. I picked the smallest one, 300 watts at 24 volts. It claimed to be able to lift water about 100 feet, and claimed (IIRC) 50 liters/minute flow rate. Other choices were 48 volts and up and higher wattages like 600 and up. If you're really dependent on solar, low watts is better even if the flow rate probably isn't near the stated max when pumping up from a considerable depth.
   Of course my system is 36 volts. That wasn't a choice for these well pumps. I'm sure I can hook 24V up one way or another if it's needed. I'm less sure about running the main hot water tank off solar power, especially in winter, or how best to connect it to the DC system. With around 300 watts of power - one solar panel in full sun - it would take maybe 20 hours to heat up from dead cold. With less than that it's probably not worth trying to run it. (Most hot water tank heater elements are 230V, around 3000 watts.)

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

The West Versus Itself Versus Russia

Financial/Economic Warfare

   While the military fighting proceeds in Ukraine & Donbass, where the USA has been paying even the wages of the Ukrainian forces to "fight Russia to the last Ukrainian", the larger and more significant aspect of the economic war by the West against Russia also proceeds.
   After stealing Russia's foreign reserves held in banks outside the country, the plan was to cause the collapse of the Russian currency with "sanctions" including shutting down most Russian banks outside Russia. Surely the Ruble would lose value rapidly and hyperinflate? That started to work for a brief period, then Russia announced it would sell gas and oil only for rubles. Russia is the main supplier of fossil fuels to Europe, so it holds some good cards and it is seeing how to play them. In the whole world there are no other adequate sources of supply, or at least none that can be brought on line any time soon. We passed "peak oil" many years ago and are on a pretty steep downhill slope. Gas shortages were being felt in Europe long before the Russians entered the already ongoing Ukrainian fighting. Lack of investments in locating and draining the world's remaining dwindling reserves have accelerated (not caused) growing shortages.
   With countries forced to trade their currencies for rubles, the ruble soon rose higher than it had been before the military operation started, then to a four year high. Next the concern was that it would rise too much. The program was enforced when gas was cut off or threatened to be to a couple of European countries that tried to pay in Euros. Now there is a tricky scheme where companies that want Russian oil/gas open two accounts at Gazprom bank, one in Euros and one in Rubles. Somehow they pay using Euros without "violating sanctions" and then those are exchanged for Rubles in their bank accounts.
   So Russia has won economic "round one". Beginning before the attack, it also offered to buy gold at a fixed Ruble price per gram. (I don't remember the price.) That puts a minimum value on the price of gold, which has long been manipulated downward in US and British paper futures contracts that are never delivered and which far exceed the actual amount of gold available, to keep the paper currency looking good. In effect, the ruble has been tied to gold where all other currencies have been backed with nothing since 1972 when the USA refused to sell any more of its dwindling gold reserves to other countries for the agreed price of 35 $/Troy Oz, ending the Breton Woods agreement created following WWII. (Gold is now around 2000 $US/Ozt. The amount of silver in 1$ worth of old silver coins is now worth more like 20-25$.)

   In fact, the West seems to be having almost dire economic problems, which were clearly emerging before the Russian attack but accelerated by the backfiring sanctions. A youtuber (Richard Medhurst) asked people to send him pictures from their local supermarkets. How serious are the shortages - are the shelves full, half full or bare? Some people in Russia sent him short videos, which he aired a couple of in his. Gasoline was something like 46 rubles per liter at the pump, less than 1$, while it is well over 2$ in BC, Canada. (I understand Canada doesn't even have an oil refinery any more. We pay substantially more for gasoline from our own oil than Americans do. Good thing we have the government in Ottawa looking out for Canadians' interests! By contrast, I'm sure Putin would never allow such an absurd situation to arise.) The supermarket shelves were fully stocked and prices haven't gone up much since the start of the "special military operation" in Ukraine. Like Canada, Russia is a huge country with a lot of resources and a sparse population for its size, and also at least partly owing to its ostracization by others, it relies on itself for the basics more than on international trade. Reading the comments on under the video giving prices et cetera was revealing. (And Russia has just discovered that milk products from Belarus are superior to those they were buying from Australia and New Zealand before sanctions! Oops!) I do hear something Russia is short of is "booze". That should be easily correctable.

Farming & Food

   With fertilizer rising in price and already in short supply with various mines closing, and cut off from the biggest exporter Russia, prices have risen 2- up to 5-fold. Corn yields will drop 40% in the first year without these "fossil fertilizers" which are mined or manufactured using fossil fuel energy. (This helps point out how far we are from sustainable agriculture. The world's gigantic population can only drop sharply and painfully as these non-renewable supplies run out.) Many farmers are switching from corn to soybeans, which aren't such heavy feeders. Others aren't going to plant at all because they don't see how to break even. As usual, there is no "too big to fail" (or "too important to fail") "bank bailout" type program to keep farmers in business and producing. On the contrary, many have been paid to leave their fields idle the last couple of years, and millions worldwide have been bankrupted in the last two or three years if not earlier. Worldwide crop yields are expected to drop by 20-40% this year alone. Wheat is expected to be down by 35%. Arab countries which import their wheat from Russia and Ukraine seem set to be devastated. The UN warns that 1.6 billion people face famine. (Just 100 years ago that figure was over 80% of the entire world population!) Even US president Biden said "There will be food shortages, and they will be serious."
   An additional problem, owing to the war, is that Ukraine has sown untethered sea mines from Odessa to sink ships in case Russia tries a seaborne assault on Odessa. These randomly drifting mines have made the Black Sea too dangerous for cargo vessels and no insurance companies will insure vessels entering it. Russia has apparenty offered to send mine sweepers to clear the path for vessels that wish to carry Ukrainian grain to the Middle East and Africa via Odessa, for humanitarian reasons. The West and Ukraine have ignored this offer and want instead to send NATO warships into the Black Sea to prevent Russia from getting near Odessa. (My own question is: Why would Ukraine want to export its grain stockpiles at all when it seems likely that little will be grown this year? Won't they need it for their own people over the next year or two? But I don't have facts and figures - likely in spite of everything they still feel they have enough surplus to export some?)
   Russian foreign minister Lavrov points out that while Europe claims to have not sanctioned Russian wheat, it has sanctioned the Russian ships that carry the wheat, messing up the vessel insurance system and not allowing them into European ports, so it amounts to the same thing.
   With the supply chain buckling more with each passing month, it is more than possible that food deliveries in Western nations could fail too. That is to say that there may be food but it won't get from farms, through processing plants, and to the grocery stores. And our 'leadership' is doing nothing to help any of the problems. Instead food processing and fertilizer plants seem to be catching fire left and right this year. Everything taken together seems so bad that some think it's a deliberate plot to reduce the world's population by killing billions of people.

   As mentioned there were already very serious food problems unrelated to the fighting. One is of course the weather. Weather has been wreaking havoc on food production around the world especially for the last 3 years or so. The US drought is a prime example, as is last year's extensive flooding in China. Cutting down forests causes aridity. (French philosopher Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand said "Forests precede civilizations and deserts follow them." The Anasazi well exemplify this. They didn't live in a desert: they turned a pine and juniper forest into today's arid desert with no topsoil where any rain just washes away quickly through gullies. ...and in so doing, their agriculture failed and their civilization collapsed!) Other weather anomalies such as sudden floods in Soggy Arabia, hailstorms that flatten crops (sometimes with giant hailstones that kill livestock), early frosts and snows, powerful hurricanes and tornadoes, have worked much harm to crops.

   The only good report I've heard so far this year has been a bumper wheat crop in Australia. (But last year they had an unbelievable infestation of mice that ruined much of a good crop. I saw in a youtube video, when stored bales were disturbed whole floods of mice would spill forth from them! Elsewhere locusts have eaten what should have been bountiful crops from the horn of Africa to Iran, and in South America.)

   Another food problem is a very long term one. It is being ignored but it is affecting everybody's health. The chart below shows declines in the nutritive value of our foods over half a century. It illustrates how unsustainable our whole "mine the Earth for fertilizer" agriculture system is... and it's 22 years out of date; almost another 1/4 century has passed and the nutritional value of our foods is doubtless further depleted.

   In passing I note that boron isn't mentioned. It was discovered 15 or 20 years ago that the prime cause of both arthritis and osteoporosis is boron deficiency. Without boron, calcium builds up in the joints (arthritis) instead of being absorbed into the bones (osteoporosis). (Medical news that doesn't benefit 'big pharma' seems to spread more slowly today than before the internet.)
   Boron is needed in only trace amounts, but if the drops in nutrient densities shown applies also to boron (and there's every reason to think that it would), then I would think arthritis and osteoporosis must be on the rise most everywhere. (3mg boron citrate tablets are available at health food stores. Borax in water for trace boron supplement: TE News #88, #114, various web sources. I understand boron glyconate tablets are to be avoided as being harmful for consumption!)


   About mid month it developed that as Europe was short of diesel fuel, USA's illustrious president sent them a bunch from the US northeast. This left the US northeast with only a couple of weeks worth, and rationing came into view. And the prices have skyrocketed to the point that truckers are running at a loss and quitting or at least shutting off their trucks in droves. I heard they were going to ship some diesel fuel from the western side of the country to make up for it, perhaps leaving the whole country short.
   OTOH, if we don't reduce and finally end our usage of fossil fuels, our planet is becoming more and more unlivable. Plastic is everywhere and (along with overfishing) destroying the life of the oceans. And UN estimates say air pollution already plays a major role in one of every ten deaths worldwide. Whatever the role of persisting jet trail clouds in the stratosphere, the climate is becoming more and more unstable and planting crops more and more a gamble.

    Inasmuch as many basic electrifications have not been attended to yet, a diesel fuel shortage threatens collapse of Western civilization. Consider what runs on diesel:
1. Virtually all larger trucks. No freight deliveries including food, no parcel deliveries, no fuel deliveries to gasoline stations...
2. North American Trains. (In Europe and Russia trains including freight trains are electric.) With no diesel, no train deliveries of coal to power plants (among all the other things not delivered) would cause widespread power grid failures. Yet the railroads, owing to staff shortages(!), are asking their big cutomers to reduce their loads - even of diesel fuel and DEF (DEF is required by newer trucks). That will inhibit any required petroleum redistributions as well as just plain getting it to the pumps all over.
3. Farm equipment. If there's no diesel or if it costs too much, present day mass agriculture shuts down. This is in fact happening this spring. And "no spring plantings" can't be remedied for a whole year regardless of restoration of supply. The global food shortage seems serious enough without this problem. The electric CNC farming & gardening idea would accomplish many things including potentially ending extreme and immediate dependence on petroleum fuels. But (AFAIK) you can't even buy an electric tractor. Electric farm equipment seems like a "no brainer" to me. You haven't driven the tractor miles from home for when you need to plug it in to recharge, even if that is more frequent stopping than may be desirable. Diesel fuel and fertilizer are the two biggest farm planting expenses. Electricity is almost free by comparison to petroleum fuel. (I have the 24V electric conversion kit for my lawn tractor. But it's not a farming tractor and I haven't had time to convert it. Maybe I should be looking for a "dead" one I can convert at leisure while my gasoline one is still running? Well, I haven't even got the electric Miles mini cargo van going again, and all it needs is batteries that I already have!)

   Many scream that "renewables" are no answer to our real energy needs, but now serious energy shortages are starting as "non-renewables" dwindle. While it is true that Northern regions like much of Europe (and much of Canada and Russia) don't get a lot of solar energy in winter, even my own personal half-baked forays into solar PV here in the north are providing at least a significant portion of my energy in the better months and annually are now probably making double what my electric car uses - and I drive much more than is absolutely necessary - nearly all x10s of kilometers highway trips from my rural location. If solar energy isn't a big part of the answer, is it not because we have invested so little in making it and in appropriate infrastructure? And why wait upon government? at a personal level, rooftop solar (especially DIY) is a good investment and it can bring a good level of self-sufficiency in case of infrastructure failures. As a place to start, there's a great youtube channel "DIY Solar with Will Proust" where he tries out and compares many things including batteries and solar equipment.

All According to Plan

   On the 22nd youtuber "iEarlGrey" said in a video that someone had pointed him to a published US 2019 plan to "break" Russia. (Later I found another video from another source detailing the exact same document.) Although the document is technicly from "Rand Corporation" one might as well read "from US Oligarchy". The president of Rand is a former head of DHS (or was it NSA?) and most of Rand's business is with the US military and government, so he's certainly an "establishment insider". It was hundreds of pages, he said, but the table of contents gave the outline. In the plan were to get Russia to "extend" itself by provocations including unilaterally backing out of arms limitation treaties and other agreements, meddling in various former Soviet states, arming and nazifying the Ukraine, sanctions to crash the Russian economy and making trouble in Syria and Moldova. They were all laid out in detail, in 2019!
   In short, everything that has been happening today in Ukraine and Russia was planned in the USA in 2019. Ukraine, Moldova and Syria are expendable pawns in the US game.

The US plan to "break" Russia REVEALED in 2019 Report - "Inside Russia Report"

   However, having succeeded in getting Russia embroiled in military action in Ukraine, the plan seems to have largely backfired. Ukraine is starting to crack despite Western involvement and the sanctions, while not without effect, are doing more harm to the West than to Russia. And Middle Eastern and African countries face starvation for want of Ukraine's wheat.

   I'll say it again: the longer Ukraine fights, the more it is bound to lose in every way. US president Biden could broker a reasonable peace deal and end the fighting any time. Nothing could be farther from his thoughts and plans. Instead USA has incited Ukraine to carry on fighting, with big promises of aid and final victory, and to make no reasonable concessions that would bring peace. (Ukraine still even demands Crimea back from Russia - Hah! Good luck with that!)
   No less a sage than Henry Kissinger has said Ukraine should negotiate whatever agreement it can with Russia ASAP and end the conflict. He figured there was about a 2 month window before the situation is "irretrievable". In addition to collapse of Ukraine, he was essentially thinking of Russia throwing up its hands with trying to deal with the West and pivoting to China, India and the East, leaving the West rather isolated. In USA an article was immediately printed, "Why Kissinger is Wrong". The present US regime seems to have no respect for anyone, even USA's own most respected, who isn't towing their line!
   On the 27th Alexander Mercouris, who pontificates daily about the progress of the war on youtube, thought the Ukraine military was collapsing so fast they had more like a week or ten days before Russia wouldn't bother trying to negotiate with a government that would have become pretty much a non-entity in control of nothing, and would just press on with an occupation as far as it pleased with little to no organized resistance, and decide how to reorganize Ukraine afterward.
   Russia started offering expedited Russian citizenship to anyone who asked for it not only in the Donbass, but in (or as far as?) Kherson in Russian controlled areas. Owing to inflation they also increased pensions for the elderly and the minimum wage. (I expect the pension probably also applies to new Russian citizens in Ukraine, who have been getting nothing lately from the Ukraine government. Offer money: what a way to "win over hearts and minds"!) Ukraine and the USA have cried "foul"!

   So the Ukraine part of the 2019 plan may be fizzling out because the Russian military are beating the Ukraine out of the Donbass and away from the Sea of Azov, and the [largely conscript] Ukrainian military's will to keep going into the slaughter is weakening. Many railroad bridges and fuel depots have been destroyed across the country, making it hard to get Western supplied weapons (which are also being directly targeted by precision missiles once they enter the country) to the battle areas in the East of the country. Literally millions of Ukrainians have fled the country -- refugees not from the Russian invasion itself, but from being pressed into military service for an apparently lost cause.

   But the heavy fortifications built in the Donbass by Ukraine - the "Ukrainian Maginot line" as it has been called - which have been taking Russian and allied DPR and LPR forces so long to uproot one by one, are evidence that Ukraine was actively preparing for a Russian attack long before it occurred.


   I have been astonished at the way events have in so many ways been playing into Russia's hands in "corruption is an art form" Ukraine. It almost seemed as if the Ukrainian leadership were deliberately trying to get the country wasted and the neonazi batallions destroyed, and to give Russia not just what provinces it asked for (Lugansk & Donetsk - the Donbass), but what actually made a certain geographic sense, including a land route to Crimea along the Azov coast up to the southern Dneiper River area (large parts of Zaporizhzhia, Kherson), areas which also have a large percentage of Russian speaking people. (And obviously this isn't over yet. What happens next about Odessa and a Russian land passage to Moldova (which would leave Ukraine landlocked), or to Ukraine as a nation, remain to be seen.)
   Some unnamed Russian ventured the following appraisal, which was auto-translated and posted onto youtube, again by "iEarlGrey" at the end of the month:

Zelensky is a Kremlin agent!

So in just two months:

1. Actively bilked the West for dough.

2. Strengthened the ruble.

3. In addition to the Crimea, gave Russia Donbass.

4.. Turned off gas to all of Europe, sending it into the Middle Ages.

5. Drained the pockets of drivers, farmers, entrepreneurs and manufacturers in the EU and the USA.

6. Since the start of the special operation, almost all major competitors in Russia have left, making room for Russian entrepreneurs.

7. Begged for so many weapons that even Scholz declared that the Bundeswehr was running out of weapons "for itself."

8. Gathered all the bottom of the Ukrainian Nazi subculture - tattooed, marginalized, idiots, maniacs, murderers from Europe and other countries into one place, where the Russians kill them in packs and promptly deliver them to Bandera.

9. He united the Russian people around their Leader ! Russia has never known such strong support for the actions of the President and his cabinet during his entire presidency.

10. Sent into exile the entire cockamamie beau monde of Russian entertainment and film, with pockets full of "wishes" from the grateful Russian people.

Russia has never been as good as it has been under Zelensky!

[Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)] (& the odd word change to the English by me.)

Freezer Chicken Coop?

   It occurred to me one day that an old oven might make a good "instant chicken coop" for one or two hens. Add some extra ventilation and perhaps a latch on the door, and a wooden nest box and (maybe) a roost inside. Then I thought, better still, maybe an old large freezer (refrigerant gas removed). That would accommodate a slightly larger flock of maybe 3 or 4. Chop out a door and a vent window with a grille in the sides or ends and a way to close the door and to latch the lid shut to keep out predators.
...Just thinking of something fast to set up, somewhat weather resistant and easy to access and to clean! (Tip over freezer and rake out, add fresh straw/wood shavings/dried grass. Maybe even use it on its side?)
   Related?: On May 31st a raccoon was climbing over the fence into my chicken enclosure. I heard the chickens making a ruckus and got up from my evening nap just in time. Perry saw it on the lawn again an hour later as it was darkening, but after the chickens had gone in and I had closed the coop. This was the first time a raccoon had attacked the chickens in daylight. It made for a whole new hazard. Not only the coop but the whole chicken yard now had to be made "bulletproof" against some sneak daylight incursion when no one was around. I spent the next day (June 1st) replacing the loose net over the whole chicken yard (for hawks) with stapled-on chicken wire, and reinforcing a lot of the existing stapling. I added boards around the bottom to make it hard to dig under.
   This enclosure was intended to be easily disassembled and mobile to put the chickens on fresh ground since chickens turn any permanent yard into messy dirt with poop and nothing growing, but now it's all stapled together, and getting heavy and hard to move.

Smol Thots

   My thoughts this month have been too small to mention.

(Eccentric Silliness Department)

* On May 9th I learned that Russian forces were advancing on New York.   New York is a village in Donetsk.

* A trailer tongue jack's instructions started with: "Warning - Failure to follow these warnings and instructions may result in property damage, serious bodily injury, and/or death." Why stop there? "..., financial loss, ruin or bankruptcy of yourself or your employer or medical insurer, widespread street or highway transportation infrastructure failures, cyber attacks, societal collapse and/or the end of the world as you knew it and reams of government paperwork someone will have to fill out!"

* The crash of Wall Street wasn't really that bad. If Roof Street ever crashes, it'll be DUCK AND COVER! (If anything happens to Floor Street, wear snowshoes.)

* Where do Martians live?   --   In marshes (Well, duh!)

* Criminate: Perform an action that leads to recriminations.

   "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


   I did a lot of gardening again, planting and planting, transplanting from the window greenhouse to the greenhouse or outdoors. First the corn went out to the greenhouse on the first. By mid month the gardens and greenhouse were filling up. I still had more potatoes I could plant. Someone had said they wanted some seed, but they found some other. With no big rototiller breaking sod was a lot of work, and so was bringing over more dirt from elsewhere to cover the rows. Should I do a fourth 25 foot row? How much was worth planting? I started on the 24th and found there were just enough for half a row. That suited me fine. Some of the first row were just poking up. (I had some pictures of the potato rows... somewhere.)

[15th] I set up the greenhouse kit, and moved my potted plants into it from my regular greenhouse. That made more room there. And the potted coffee plants from the house, too.

Well, seems I didn't get around to writing any more. I was too busy gardening ect.

Plastic Recycling 2.0

Big Oven

[13rd] I took a break from gardening for a couple of hours and tried to straighten out the crumpled lid of the freezer. I took off the hinges and did a bit of straightening, but it seemed almost hopeless and I decided to try looking for a better one again. I also took the heating elements out of the oven I have been using preparatory to changing over to the new one.

[16th] I cut up one of the 85 gallon propane tanks to get some plates for a big mold: 16 inches by 36. I cut just above the weld of the bottom bell. It went terribly slowly and used up 10-1/2 zip disks. When I had got some distance cut it was pinching the disk and I put a screwdriver in to hold the crack open. But that wasn't the main problem. What I didn't know until it was open was that the bell and the side plate overlapped right there above the weld (à la "socket and tenon" or very short "telescoping" section), so I was cutting through 10mm thickness of metal instead of 5mm.
   After that I cut out the two plate pieces - using only 6 more zip disks over more length than the first cut. It amazed me that from that "huge" tank I could only get pieces for one mold of that size. There was a 16" x 20" piece left of the circumference, but just 12" of leftover side plate before the top bell.
   I was concerned about how to flatten the curved plates without folding them or denting them up with a maul. It finally occurred to me that I have a 20 ton hydraulic press. There must be some way I could use that. (I should have taken the other grader blade when I found two at the refuse station, to use for bracing?)

[21st] I went to the dump, and found another freezer lid. I didn't have a tape measure, but it looked pretty close. This one had sprayed foam insulation, about 2 inches. It was slightly narrower than the first one, maybe 1/2 inch, and a few inches longer. I came up with a new plan.
   Being slightly narrower than the first lid, I can also cut it slightly shorter. Then it will fit just inside if I bend out the "lips" of the outer one. I would use it upside down, so that the top of the new lid became the inner face - the "ceiling" of the new double lid, probably with the fiberglass insulation from the first lid stuffed in there too. There would be no "rubber" freezer gasket around the edges, which I assumed was plastic that would melt. The metal "ceiling" would close directly against the metal inside walls and the foam insulation of the freezer body. (Don't ask me why I think the spray foam insulation won't melt. I may find out otherwise.)

[24th] I went back to straightening the first lid. I got more brutal with heavier tools - hammers, blocks of steel to hit against and big pliers - and didn't worry about niceties or appearance, and in a while had it basicly back into shape.

Seems I didn't get any pictures, and anyway it's not done yet. Then I started impinging on June instead of finishing this news report...

[June 5th] I decided to see if bending the 5mm steel plates from the propane tank would work. It occurred to me to use a beam for leverage. I had a short piece of 6"x6". Done this way, it didn't take a lot of force, but more than I could get jumping on a piece - a ton or two. Soon I realized I was faintly smelling propane. Was there a leaking bottle in the shop? Wait... what was I working with, again? Oh yes, metal from an old propane tank. The "rotten egg" smell is actually not propane, which is odorless. It's a trace gas they put in with it so you can detect leaks with your nose rather than by explosion or being asphyxiated. Apparently it lingers long after the propane is gone.

The cut up propane tank and the other one.

One of the cut out sheets/plates (5mm thick).

The beam in the press bending the steel sheet, with a
steel block above the wood to spread the pressing force.

Of course steel springs back, so it must be bent past flat to flatten it... but by how much?
and where to bend? I put a heavy steel bar under one end of the beam for the extra bend.
Mostly I didn't go far enough and will have to work at it for a while longer to get nicely flat pieces.

Electricity Storage

[No Reports]

Electricity Generation

My Solar Power System

Inverter Test

I ordered a 600 watt, 36 VDC to 120 VAC inverter in case of having to run my smallest freezer off DC if power was out. (Around 75$ IIRC.) I wired it up with a T-Plug so I could plug it into the 36 VDC wall socket in the livingroom. Then I plugged it in, plugged the freezer, and turned it on. It squealed. Reversing the sequence I turned it on and then plugged in the freezer. That worked and it ran fine, putting out 121.7 VAC. On the DC input side there was about 39 volts and it drew about 1.75 amps. It seemed to run totally cold but a cooling fan kept coming on. (I doubt it was needed.) I don't know just what the power or voltages were in the moment the freezer started, but it did start.
   Since this small freezer, once running and warmed up (not inside!), uses about 55-60 watts, but 70-75 watts was being drawn from the DC, it would seem the inverter itself used just around 15 watts. When I unplugged the freezer, the cooling fan kept on running (no longer cycling) until I finally turned the inverter off and on again. Without the fan and running nothing it used only 11 watts. But consider that over a day that's 1/4 KWH of "dead loss" power drain. That's a reason I like to run DC devices that don't need inverters.

   I have a couple of bigger 36 to 120V inverters for other and heavier loads.

Rewiring Some Solar Panels

   I've mentioned before that my solar system grew piecemeal, a bit at a time. I never originally planned to try and make a majority my power even in summer, but more to have a "grid down" backup source of power. In spring 2018 I put four solar panels I had brought from Victoria when I moved onto the house roof, and I bought a Chinese 1000W plug-in grid tie inverter. It worked! It was thrilling to make a few hundred watts, reducing my electricity bill a bit over the summer.
   Then in 2019 I looked at a price list and specs emailed from HES PV, and was inspired to buy a palette or "skid" of thirty two 305W solar panels. I had them shipped up here by barge. I had never seen so many watts from 60 cell panels before. Since 2011 or so until before I moved in 2016, they had gone from something like 216W to 260W. They just kept getting better, and for lower prices. I added two new solar panels on the house roof to the original four and then for good measure, four more on the cabin roof, making ten.
   I sold the rest of the palette pretty quickly, then bought another palette of the same type. But they have only sold one or two at a time, so I started hooking up some more for myself. I put one on the lawn, at first thinking that was just for a while. It seemed fine, and I added another and then another, total 13. A couple of the panels were just connected to the DC system and didn't contribute unless I was using the DC and drawing down the batteries, so they were at times counted as only 11 or 12 panels. Last fall I added 2 more that could be angled for the season on a steel pole (but they seem to be in tree shadows all winter), and last month (April 2022) I put three at a 45° slope on a wooden frame on the carport roof -- the one place where there seems to be a bit of sun in winter (as well as summer), making 18 contributing solar panels. I still have about 10 spare panels.
   Since then solar panel specs have only continued to go up, to 325W-350W or so for this size, so mine seem less impressive to potential customers. But they're great panels!

[20th] In the afternoon I disconnected the two solar panels on the pole from the "House" circuit and ran a new skinny extension cord cable, about 100 feet, to "House East" instead. This brought down the number of panels connected at "House" to 9 (6 on the house roof and 3 still just sitting on the lawn. "House East" went up from just the 3 on the carport roof to 5. This accomplished several things.
   First, the maximum potential solar power at "House" was reduced a little to help ensure it wouldn't blow the AC breaker, whose 15 amp rating it had slightly exceeded at least once at over 1900 watts. At the same time, one 1000W grid tie there had had 5 panels going to it (1525W rated) when they were all switched to "AC". This change brought it down to a more reasonable 3, so the power in good sunshine won't be badly limited by the grid tie.
   Second, in the process I took a 1000W grid tie from "House" (in the garage) to "House East" (in the carport) for the pole panels. It had been connecting the four 250W solar panels. I replaced it with one of the new 1400W grid ties, since the 1000W ones really only put out about 750W even if there's more panel power to be had. With the increased power of this grid tie plus the reduced load on another, the 9 solar panels feeding 3 gird tie inverters at "House" were likely to deliver more on sunny days, and in fact "House" delivered a record amount on that very day, 13.96KWH. So did "House East" (with 5 panels & 3 grid ties as of mid afternoon) and also the cabin (now with 1400W grid tie instead of 1000) with over 8 KWH.
   The two pole panels had previously been strung on over 100 feet of #16 extension cord wires to the garage. Now it was again 100 feet of #16 wire, with one side doubled up as it was a 3 wire cord. (Doubling #16 makes that wire = #13. That's still too skinny, and only one of the two lengths.) It seemed that the two 305W panels, aimed well toward the sun, were only delivering 260 watts. I thought they should be giving around double that. I measured the voltage drop: 34.7V at the panels and just 29.4V at the grid tie. Probably that considerable drop accounted for the great loss of power. I really should find some thicker cables (like, #10 AWG) to connect several of the solar panels.
   The better wired ones are connected with #14-3 house wire. Adding in the bare #14 ground that's 4 wires to double up, making them equivalent to #11 - a better thickness.

                   The solar equipment wall in the garage... after all three switches had burned out.
         A new power monitor showing the DC charging has been mounted in a 3D printed box. (lower, center)

   In the evening I simplified the wiring at "House". The lawn panels go to one 1000W grid tie inverter and also to the low side of the DC charge controller (which need pairs of panels in series for over 50 volts to charge a 36 volt system). The original four (1000W ) house panels go to the high side of the DC charge controller and also to the new 1400W inverter. The DC of the panels is isolated from the AC output of the inverter, so it can sit at potential 30-40V on minus instead of ground, and 60-80V on plus, for the top half of the charge controller. If the DC is charging it and the two grid ties will compete for the power from the panels. They seem to find an equilibrium.
   The two 305W panels on the roof could be routed by the one remaining DPDT switch either to the third grid tie or to the low half of the DC charge controller. [Then that last switch broke and I had to simplify some more!] That means that the lower half of the DC charge controller can have [has] 915W or 1525W [if I change the connection over], while the upper half just gets the 1000W, which limits it in total, both halfs, to either 1830W or 2000W. (Still that's a lot of watts and more than it could get before I rewired.) But the 1525W of lawn and lower row roof panels are more prone to being in shade so it can be advantageous to have them all on.
   About the "competing" equipment: they seem to find an equilibrium. If the mains power is off the grid ties will be idle. (Or I can switch them off individually.) Or I can turn off the breaker connecting the panels to the DC charger and it will be idle.
[22nd] When I tried to flip it, I found that the last of the 3 DPDT switches had burned out the day before. There was no power to the 1000W grid tie from those two panels (610W), and I couldn't switch them onto the DC charging circuit. I wired them straight to the tie. If I really want them on the DC I'll have to get out a nutdriver and move the wires. Maybe when my 30 amp switches arrive [June8th] I'll try wiring one in again.

Yet More New Solar Panels?

   The 3 new panels on the carport roof work seem to be providing almost 1/4 of the total solar power, yet they are only 3/18=17% of the total number of panels. They work so well compared to the others that I'm tempted to add another set of 3 beside them, with my second and last new 1400 watt grid tie inverter. If the present set is in the very best place, beside them would be a pretty close second.
   First I'll need to do some wiring - a circuit through the garage into the carport for the present and potential panels. At the moment they're just plugged into an outside plug with an extension cord. With three more panels there would be enough current flowing to warrant two circuits.
   Plus, I would do another 36V DC circuit and charge controller there, and charge the Miles truck batteries from it -- once the Miles is outfitted and running again. (72V truck = 2 sets of 36V.) Or just some other battery, which would also help run fridge & freezer through any long power outages.

Switch Ratings

   2 or 3 years ago I ordered a batch of "big" DPDT switches so I'd have them as needed for higher power applications.
   I had arranged a switch bank for my solar panels, switches to route them to the AC/grid ties or to the DC charge controller as required. One of them worked fine. The other switch broke - it stuck in the middle, it seemed like the first time I switched it. One had previously done that on my cement mixer (as motor "start-run" switch) after a few uses. I wired the solar panels to the spare switch. Same thing - it stuck in the middle the first time I flipped it!
   Eventually I took the first one apart and looked. The plastic around one of the contacts had slightly melted. A plastic piece on the lever looked melted too - that was why it wouldn't flip properly.
   "What crappy switches!", I thought. But really... their rating was 15A, 250VAC. Two solar panels in the sun is almost 20 amps, and it's continuous. So the switch contacts had got hot and critical bits of the plastic had softened and bent. (Doubtless the cement mixer "start" circuit was over 15 amps, too.) I still don't think much of them, but it would seem they were a little underrated for the job, so fair enough. (But I suspect they wouldn't take 15 amps for very long either.) I've ordered some 30 amp switches on line. [Arrived June 8th] Higher current switches are far rarer and cost more than the many models rated up to 15 amps.

Stats from BC Hydro

   On the 29th I paid my electric bill and then went to BC Hydro on line. The "smart" meter collects data and they put up a wireless repeater on a pole near my house. So I could now view power consumption on a daily or hourly basis. It showed a few things: that consumption can vary greatly and that the solar panels reduce it greatly for about 7 hours a day. (It would probably be closer to 8 or 9 hours if it wasn't for all the trees on the west side of the house.) One thing that bumps consumption up for a couple of hours is when I plug in the electric Nissan Leaf after a trip. The charger is 3.8 KW. Then there's electric heaters: in my bedroom at night, and Perry's heater in his RV. Intermittently there's the clothes dryer, 3 or 4 KW. Since I set the hot water heater to 120 volts it only uses 750 watts instead of 3000, so there are no notable spikes when it's on. I did that so if it came on during the day, the solar would be sufficient without drawing extra from the grid. (Unfortunately most showers & baths are in the evening.) And consumption unsurprisingly seems to be up a bit since I started the bitcoin miner, using almost 800 watts - 19 KWH per day. In summer (June-August) that might be 2/3 the typical total daily power.

The Usual Daily/Monthly/Yearly Log of Solar Power Generated [and grid power consumed]

(All times are in PST: clock 48 minutes ahead of local sun time, 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: Chevy Sprint electric car, inverters in power outages or other 36V loads), while the grid tied readings are cumulative.)

Daily Figures

Notes: House Main meter (6 digits) accumulates. DC meter is reset to 0 daily when DC is connected. House East and Cabin meters (4 digits) are reset to 0 when they get near 99.99 (which goes to "100.0") - owing to loss of second decimal precision.

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

30th 2922.68, 78.16, .05 => 20.07 [55Km; 95742@20:30] Sunny all day!

(New House East panels reading at end of April 30th: 13.47 KWH)
 ... 15+3 = now 18 Solar Panels!

New Order of Daily Readings Beginning May 2022:
Date House, House, House, Cabin => Total KWH Solar [Notable power Usages; Grid power meter@time]
        Main      DC      East
01st 2925.80, .79, 14.85, 79.99 =>   7.22 [95763@20:00] Stormy - wind, rain
02d  2935.00, .00, 18.69, 84.79 => 17.84 [95779@19:30]
03rd 2944.65, .00, 23.51, 90.13 => 19.81 [95797@20:30] It wasn't even very sunny!
04th 2953.34, .00, 27.50, 94.81 => 17.36 [55Km; 95834@20:30]
05th 2961.83, .00, 30.90,   4.51 => 16.40 [95861@20:00] What happened to the nice weather we were having in April?
06th 2969.35, .55, 34.75,   9.20 => 16.71 [95890@20:30]
07th 2976.52, .00, 37.46, 12.88 => 13.64 [95917@20:00]
08th 2986.23, .00, 42.18, 18.30 => 19.85 [95931@20:30]
09th 2997.67, .04, 48.56, 25.25 => 24.81 [95945@20:30] Yay, a mostly sunny day!
10th 3001.51, .50, 50.16, 27.50 =>   8.19 [55Km; 95982@20:00] Cloudy. some drizzle.
11st 3009.01, .00, 52.93, 31.22 => 13.99 [65Km; 96008@20:00] Yetsh.
12th 3021.99, .00, 60.20, 38.69 => 27.72 [96030@21:00] Sunshine!
13th 3031.32, .29, 64.43, 44.00 => 19.16 [85Km; 96063@20:30]
14th 3043.35, .09, 70.08, 50.38 => 24.15 [55Km; 96085@20:30] It rained in QC - looks like it was nicer here!
15th 3048.50, .46, 72.37, 53.25 => 10.77 [96116@20:30] Clouds & rain/drizzle.
16th 3058.10, .00, 76.87, 58.25 => 18.10 [96138@21:00]
17th 3064.38, .50, 79.58, 61.80 => 13.04 [55Km; 96172@20:30]
18th 3072.25, .00, 83.22, 65.97 => 15.68 [55Km; 96202@20:30] A few nice days would be nice! (Clear at sundown!)
19th 3086.04, .00, 89.77, 74.00 => 28.37 [60Km; 96222@20:30] Yay, sunny! (I did ask!)
20th 3100.02, .00, 96.84, 82.17 => 29.22 [96242@20:00] TWO sunny days! I rewired the 2 pole panels to "House East" (see above).
21st 3109.67, .29, 08.45, 89.23 => 25.45 [60Km; 96270@21:00; 80Km] Bright fog in AM, then sunny.
22d  3112.73, .67, 10.89, 91.42 =>   8.36 [96306@20:30] Cloudy AM, then rain, dark.  Started charging 12V 280AH LiFePO4 battery from DC system.
23rd 3118.30, .70, 15.41, 94.80 => 14.17 [BTC Miner on; 96350@21:00] The bitcoin miner is a pig!
24th 3123.44, .58, 19.08, 02.82 => 12.22 [45Km; 96399@20:30]
25th 3130.39, .24, 23.67, 06.32 => 15.28 [96434@21:00] DC usage has dropped, so I guess the battery is charged. That meter says 1751WH or (at 13.35V) 131 amp-hours of charge. 280AH battery. (Presumably then it was 1/2 charged when I bought it.)
26th 3138.42, .11, 29.29, 11.01 => 18.45 [60Km; 96488@20:30] Broken clouds AM, then Clouds, drizzle. Turned Bitcoin miner down a bit - 750W instead of 925W.
27th 3146.98, .05, 35.41, 16.26 => 19.98 [85Km; 96532@21:00] Rain AM, sunny PM
28th 3154.43, .30, 40.72, 20.69 => 17.49 [55Km; 96573@21:00]
29th 3163.97, .14, 48.12, 26.71 => 23.10 [96606@21:30] Cloudy earlier AM, Mostly sunny.
30th 3172.24, .08, 53.59, 31.35 => 18.46 [96639@20:30] Clouds, then fog later PM
31st 3177.69, .08, 57.09, 34.36 => 12.04 [96675@20:30] Another dull day.

June (I am no longer going to reset the DC charging reading daily. It will be cumulative.)

1st 3186.97, .04, 63.23, 39.63 => 20.73 [96715@20:30] hazy sun/light clouds
2d  3193.79, .12, 67.65, 43.40 => 14.03 [55Km; 96751@20:30] Dull. Sprinkles.
3rd 3197.17, .18, 69.72, 45.14 =>   7.25 [90Km; 96798@20:00] Fog, overcast, rain.
4th 3206.09, .25, 76.90, 50.98 => 22.19 [60Km; 96826@21:00] A fair bit of sun.
5th 3210.61, .31, 79.44, 53.14 =>   9.28 [96855@20:30] Overcast. Rain PM.
6th 3219.79, .38, 86.31, 58.48 => 21.46 [96884@21:00] Some good sun in PM.
7th 3224.48, .46, 89.33, 61.04 => 10.35 [55Km; 96913@21:00] Overcast. Rain later PM.
8th 3231.74, .55, 94.31, 65.38 => 16.67 [55Km; 96952@20:30] Mostly overcast, windy.

Chart of daily KWH from solar panels.
(Compare MAY 2022 with April 2022 & with May 2021 but note number of solar panels differs.)

Days of
__ KWH
MAY 2022
(18 solar panels)
April 2022
(15 sol. panels)
May 2021 (11,
12 solar panels)













<= chart ended here until April 2022!
<= In April the solar 2 panels mounted
      on the pole last fall & improved...

<= connections & more grid tie
     microinverters started to pay off.







<= This month (May 2022) the 3 new...

<= panels on the carport brought solar...

<= collection to whole new levels.
Total KWH
for month
547.74 (18 panels
all-time record!)

404.17 (new
all-time record!
Km Driven
on Electricity
934.1 Km
(~140 KWH?)
1054.8 Km
(~170 KWH?)

Things Noted - May 2022

* On the 9th, the first sunny day of May, almost 25KWH of solar electricity was generated while the grid power meter only moved by 14 KWH. (I note again that the "intelligent" grid power meter never moves backward, and I haven't got an "approved", "official" installation, so any amount going back to the grid versus that consumed in the house itself, is not known. Probably no grid power is being consumed now when the sun shines brightly unless the car is charging (it's 3.8KW) or the oven or dryer is on. [I reduced the hot water tank to 120V so it's only 750W instead of 3000.])

* 3 more solar panels in the sunniest place plus 3 more grid tie microinverters sure makes for lots more solar collection! On the sunniest day, 160% over any figure before from March 2019 to March 2022.

* After being so pleased with production, in mid month I traded someone a solar panel for a used Antminer S9 bitcoin miner. I had been trying to get the miner for months, but the owner had to retrieve it from somewhere and he wasn't very motivated. The idea was to run it in the cold months when the travel trailer needed heat to keep it from getting mouldy inside, instead of running an electric heater that heated but made no bitcoins in doing so. Instead the warm months are here. On the 22nd I turned it on. With that running and using 19KWH/day, I will definitely NOT be making as much power as the place is using, even on sunny days. My power conserving mind says to turn it off, but I think I'll leave it running for now. It's heating the house so I don't need to light a fire in the evening. (Now if only its fans weren't so darn noisy!)

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

Month: House system (+ DC system at house) + Cabin system = KWH made [used from grid]

March 1-31: 116.19 + ------ + 105.93 = 222.12 KWH - solar [786 KWH used from grid] (10 solar panels total)
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 (usually) worth reporting. So there's just the 2 grid tie systems: house and "roof over travel trailer" (AKA "Cabin").
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] (1 solar panel moved to DC system only -- 11 panels)
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] (Connected 12th solar panel -- 13 panels total but one goes to DC system only.)
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] (2 new panels on pole making 14 -- but they are mostly in shadows all winter.)
Nov.  -   1-31:  34.69 +  18.92 + 3.82 = 57.43 KWH Solar [1474 KWH from grid (ouch!); 140 (est) used by car]
Dec. - 1-31: 24.00 + 5.22 + 3.76 = 32.98 [1589 KWH from grid (ouch again! Must be the -10°'s); 120 KWH used by car] (New switches allow switching some panels between AC and DC as needed, so all 15 are productively employed.)

Jan.  - 1-31: 32.83 + 20.54 + 4.57 = 57.94 KWH Solar [2556 from grid] Double ouch! Trailer 400W heater, Perry's RV 500W heater, bedroom heat, car using extra power (100 KWH with less driving)... and so little sun!
Feb.  - 1-28: 66.63 + 32.09 + 3.42(DC) = 102.14 KWH Solar [1118 KWH from grid; 130 (est) used by car]
Three years of solar!
March - 1-31: 128.53 + 82.29 + 3.66(DC) = 214.48 [1124 KWH from grid; 160 KWH (est) used by car]
April   - 1-30: 251.29 + 149.87 + 3.01(DC) = 404.17 KWH [911 KWH; est. 170 KWH used by car]
May    - 1-31: 255.01(house) + 6.46(DC) + 140.46(carport) + 145.91(cabin) = 547.74 KWH Solar [933 KWH from grid; 140 KWH (est) used by car; Bitcoin miner using extra power from 22nd on.] (3 new solar panels on carport roof -- sunniest location around -- total 18)

Annual Totals

1. March 2019-Feb. 2020: 2196.15 KWH Solar [used   7927 KWH from grid]
2. March 2020-Feb. 2021: 2069.82 KWH Solar [used 11294 KWH from grid] (More electric heat - BR, Trailer & Perry's RV)
3. March 2021-Feb. 2022: 2063.05 KWH Solar [used 10977 KWH from grid]

Money Saved or Earned - @ 12¢ [All BC residential elec. rate] ; @ 50¢ [2018 cost of diesel fuel to BC Hydro] ; @ 1$ per KWH [total cost to BC Hydro in 2022 according to an employee]:
1. 263.42$ ; 1097.58$ ; 2196.15$
2. 248.38$ ; 1034.91$ ; 2069.82$
3. 247.57$ ; 1031.53$ ; 2063.05$

   It can be seen that the benefit to the society as a whole on Haida Gwaii from solar power installations is much greater than the cost savings to the individual user of electricity, thanks to the heavy subsidization of our power owing to the BC government policy of having the same power rate across the entire province regardless of the cost of production. With a little extra equipment and a battery, solar can deliver essential power in electrical outages.

Haida Gwaii, BC Canada