Turquoise Energy Ltd. News #81
  October 2014 (posted November 3rd)
Victoria BC
by Craig Carmichael

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

Features: Aquaponics! (see October in Brief, Other Projects)

Month In Brief (Project Summaries)
 - Aquaponics - Solar Panels, CAT wall socket & LED "clear cracked ice" diffuser - Variable Transmission - Unipolar Motor - Coursera: free university education! - Wind Wave and Tides course.

In Passing (Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)
  - Another "History of Money" video - Let's BE the Government - Population Control - Spiritual Teachers and Students

Electric Transport - Electric Hubcap Motor Systems
* Variable Torque Converter Transmission
* Unipolar Motor & Controller

Other "Green" Electric Equipment Projects
* Aquaponics & LED Grow Lighting Project

Electricity Storage - Turquoise Battery Project (NiMn, NiNi), etc.
* Reason for self-discharge: Oxygen entering cells?
* Next Cell - not very good (so far)

No Project Reports on: Electric Weel Motor-generator, Lambda Ray Collector, Magnet motor, Woodstove/Thermal Electricity Generator, evacuated tube heat radiators, CNC gardening/farming machine.

Newsletters Index/Highlights: http://www.TurquoiseEnergy.com/news/index.html

Construction Manuals and information:

- Electric Hubcap Family Motors - Turquoise Motor Controllers
- Preliminary Ni-Mn, Ni-Ni Battery Making book

Products Catalog:
 - Electric Hubcap 7.2 KW BLDC Pancake Motor Kit
 - Electric Caik 4.8 KW BLDC Pancake Motor Kit
  - NiMH Handy Battery Sticks, 12v battery trays
& Dry Cells (cheapest NiMH prices in Victoria BC)
 - LED Light Fixtures

(Will accept BITCOIN digital currency)

...all at:  http://www.TurquoiseEnergy.com/
(orders: e-mail craig@saers.com)

October in Brief


   Sometime near the start of the month when I was spray painting the Weel generator, I thought to also paint the inside of the iron circpump for the aquaponics with polyurethane spray. That seemed to completely stop the plenteous rust it had been emitting - a night and day difference. On the 4th I set up the aquaponics tank and filled it, then spent more time draining it and fixing leaks.
   Studying some aquaponics videos reminded me that one needs a sump basin to take up the sudden outpouring of water from the drain-down bin. It has to be the lowest point of the system, and the pump pumps water to the rest of the system from it. The fish tank has to drain into it from its surface level.
   On the 10th I drained the tank and installed another bulkhead pipe connector at the surface level for this. I purchased a "13 gallon" rectangular plastic 'bucket' for the sump. It was just the right height - the same height as the fish tank. Later I realized all I had to do was run the pipe from the one at the bottom upward to surface level outside the tank, and also that all lower bulkheads could be "shut off" if necessary without a valve, simply by screwing a plug into the threaded inside end. Water exiting from the bottom is better because it should suck out fish poop, so I changed it. (It does, but only with extra flow - a 'cleanout cycle'.)

   Over Thanksgiving weekend between my brothers Ian (a one-time salmon farmer with a degree in aquaculture) and Stuart (a biochemist, visiting from Toronto) and me, we determined that brook trout might be an excellent choice of fish for my locale. They're actually a species of char, and evidently tolerant of warmer water than other trout. I had previously rejected trout, thinking they'd need water too cold for good plant growth. But there's videos of people doing aquaponics with rainbow trout, so I was probably wrong. OTOH, the trout videos didn't give much info and they didn't seem to show off their vegetables that I recall. But it seems likely there are brook trout in a lake near here.
   I decided to stick with the tilapia indoors with LED lighting plan for this winter, and see if I can find some brook trout minnows in the spring. If so I'll make an aquaponics setup probably with an outdoor "trough" pond in a shady place, and flow the water through plant beds either outdoors or in the greenhouse. The summer tilapia setup would be entirely in the greenhouse. Having two aquaponics systems I'll be able to see which works better after a year or two, or if it's worth maintaining both. or neither.

   On the 13th I 'mounted' a 200W aquarium heater in the fridge/tank and heated up the water from 20°c to tilapia temperature, about 25. I didn't get the half dozen fish until the 19th, after doing more of the plumbing. Contrary to advertising, they were from a tank of 16° water full of algae, and already 6 to 8" long... but they were the smallest fish available from two aquaponic peoples' selections. Many of the rest looked like very good meals already. The next evening, considering that I had no plants growing yet, I went to my brother's and got some duckweed from his pond. He warned me that it was very hard to get rid of. His pond water was also teeming with some tiny 'bugs' that on close inspection looked like very tiny freshwater shrimp. I put them in the tank but all was gone in a few hours. I added some more, and this time saw the fish gobbling up the duckweed - and no doubt they were eating the shrimp. No wonder they didn't seem very interested in the fish food! The only place I could try to keep the remaining duckweed was at one end of the drain-down tank, which I didn't fill completely with lava rock. The shrimp, however, gradually disappeared. I think maybe the water was too warm for them - or else the duckweed wasn't what they ate and they had no food.

The drain-down bed with some duckweed at one end and red lava rock grow media.
The top of the bell syphon is seen as is the hose from the water circ pump,
and aluminum foil to help reflect whatever sun is to be had.
With sprouts now coming up, this bed definitely needs some LED grow lights.

   Later I planted some lettuce in the flooded bed directly in the "freezer compartment" of the fridge fishtank. There was so little light it started growing tall and spindly. I finally got an LED light over it, which was no more than adequate from a few inches away.
   The disadvantages of growing the plants directly over the fish tank started to show: First, the fish could get in and will doubtless eat the roots as the plants grow. Second, I won't be able to close the lid at night when they get taller. Third, I can't have the light on and close the lid. Finally, they're not in the daylight from the window. I'll probably make a separate floating plant bed, on a shelf at the windowsill or even higher up in the window, and move them.

   And I think I'll attach a couple of foot square mirrors on swivel mountings to the window frame, that can aim whatever daylight there is onto the plants - and from above. But as for light, the 1 watt per square foot range of insolation implied by the solar panels' performance in the usual heavy overcast might be fine for vegetation on Ganymede or Titan, but Earth summer garden vegetables will turn yellow and die. (Full sunlight square on is about 100 watts/sq.ft.)

Solar PV

   On the 7th I installed one of the two solar PV panels on the 45° slope west facing house roof to extend the solar power into the evening. To catch maximum sun all day, my ideal would be an arc of panels tilted north-south by the angle of the latitude, ie flat at the equator, 35° (facing towards the sun) at 35°, etc. In the east-west direction, the east end panel might be also tilted, eg, for 5 panels: 60° towards the east, the next one 30°, then level, then 30° and 60° west. Practicalities supervene. I have the south and west slopes covered. One panel on the east slope could help cover early morning, but it'd be a bigger project to get one up there safely.
   I intended to put up the other panel, but I couldn't find the angle bracket pieces I'd cut to mount it. I kept thinking they'd turn up somewhere, but finally on the 30th I cut another set of four, drilled the holes, and screwed them onto the collectors. On the 31st there was a sunny break and I put it up on the roof. Seeing where the shadows were trending, I mounted it a little higher than the first one. (Some cherry tree branches are going to get clipped.)
   I had disconnected the panel from the lower roof and I wasn't going up in the ucky attic (full of fiberglass dust etc) twice, so I hadn't connected the first panel and neither of them was doing anything useful. In the typical west coast overcast weather the four south facing panels weren't doing much either, and the auxiliary battery charger was often taking much of the load of the peltier fridge and the new LED 'flat box' grow light for much of each day. The two new west facing 250 watt panels will rendered some assistance in the afternoons now that they're hooked up as of November 1st & 2nd. (I had to go up twice after all.)

   Then there were a couple of little 12 VDC power projects, both done in a day:

CAT Standard 12 VDC wall outlet in standard electrical box,
powered from solar PV system and installed for use with the aquaponics setup.
(Later the remainder of the pre-existing hole in the wall was covered.)

LED light" Previous diffuser was replaced with "Clear Cracked Ice" diffuser plastic for use as plant grow light.
(I think this type of diffuser might be good for space lighting if the light is mounted on a fairly high ceiling.
It breaks up the worst of the intense point source LED light, but less effectively than the translucent version.)
I'll be making more of these with the 450nm blue and 660nm red LED emitters especially suited for plant growth.

Battery Development

   I'll mention in passing that I put together another cell, with the more conductive carbon black, on the 23rd. It hasn't performed well, probably largely because the posode was too thin to be held properly compressed in its space. I wasn't able to put much time into it. I'll have to get back to it next month.

Variable Torque Converter Transmission

   I eked out a little time to work on this, and made the mid-shaft section that couples the variable planetary gear output (ring gear, with a spline socket center) to the input rotor of the large centrifugal clutch. I first got one half made from regular 1" shaft, then I realized that, the new shaft being short, I could use the original splined shaft that came with the gear set. I had to cut it in two places, turn the non-spline end to 7/8" O.D. and make the bushing hole again, but the result was pretty much ideal - much superior to milling one end of a round shaft to a pentagon shape to roughly "fit" the spline socket.
   After I got that cut to length, I set the motor on its 3 inch "stand-offs", marked out the holes, drilled, and then threaded them. Shaft alignment seems pretty good - cetainly better than with my previous configurations.
   The view shows the assembly without the centrifugal clutch disk & drum, which mount on the black bushing and on the shaft next to the chain, respectively. The large pulley is the slipping gear of the torque converter, to have the tensioning rope from the 'gear shift' lever wrapped around it.

Unipolar Motor

   With the promise of at least a better motor and controller, and even better, the probability of it doing more with less energy, I set to work on the unipolar Electric Caik motor and the controller, to be tested as an outboard motor. Changes to the 'regular' bipolar BLDC motor are a unipolar magnet rotor and an optical interrupter rotor position sensor system. The more common hall effect magnet sensor system would be tough to position and adjust properly without clear and obvious north-south magnetic field transition points. I made the rotor and created a small interrupter drum (slots yet to be cut) for the optical system from a suitable PVC plumbing pipe fitting.
   I balanced the rotor as best I could anticipating that I would run it at higher RPM's than previous rotors - and attain higher boat speeds.

Above: Unipolar Magnet Rotor - four magnets... with the new thru-slot radial epoxied strapping wrapping
that should be safe for higher RPM.s (3000 instead of 2000?)... and four large spaces between.

Drum fitting (to be slotted) on shaft for optical rotor/magnet position sensor system.

   I also did considerable design work in the last week on an MC33035 based unipolar BLDC motor controller and the PC board for it. The motor won't run without the controller! Of course some creative design (and a CMOS 4000B logic NOR gate chip) was needed to allow CRM instead of or in addition to PWM, but at newsletter time the schematic is mostly complete and the board layout is largely figured out, but much trace routing and some layout logistics remain.

Coursera.org and "Wind Wave and Tide" renewable energy course

   I started taking a course from University of Toronto via www.coursera.org , "Wind, Wave and Tide", about generating electricity from those sources. Coursera.org allows anyone to take courses or even get a university education free, on-line, from their home computer. It features many world renowned lecturers.
   While I have my "Diploma of Electronics Engineering Technology" and a number of sundry courses [far] behind me, this is the first course I've ever taken from a university. And actually, I'm only doing the lectures and 'practice questions', not sitting for exams and labs to get the certificate. But I now largely understand what drives the world's winds! It seems that Savonius VAWT rotors that I've been considering making don't make particularly efficient use of the wind - only about 60% of a propeller type. But that's not bad, and they're better at low wind speeds and in gusty or variable winds that keep changing direction.

   I came up with the idea to make a darieus-segment sort of VAWT with auto-pivoting blades, that would self-start. Then I found on youtube that Alex Erauw (Belgium) already has a savonius-darieus hybrid VAWT that turns 3 times faster than other savoniuses, or in other words almost 3 times the wind speed. Perhaps it extracts more of the available wind energy, and it appears to have fixed blades - simpler than my idea. If so it achieves what I was after. But the video didn't show the airfoil details clearly, and he says they're pretty critical. Then another video also from Erauw shows a fixed position 'wind funnel' structure with four openings (Open to "the four winds"?), that he claims doubles the wind speed going into the turbine. Wind power is proportional to the cube of the wind speed, so this would be extremely valuable in low average wind areas. It would appear Erauw is at the forefront of vertical axis windplant design - when I see an interesting design on youtube it usually turns out he made it.
   But another design from Germany shows a wind shield aimed by a vane, shading the 'lee' (counterproductive) side of the rotor - just such as I proposed some months ago. The wind shield could probably be combined with the wind funnel as a pivoting funnel-shield. On the other hand... whatever the design it has to stand up to whatever wind comes at it when there's a gale, and the simpler designs with the shortest shafts are most likely to stand up without making overly heavy constructions. And a larger but simple turbine, even if it doesn't make optimal use of the wind, will provide as much power as the optimized but smaller one and maybe for less cost. It's like the ideas to have solar panels track the sun: it's now cheaper just to buy extra panels, and fixed mountings are more robust, safe and trouble free.
   Of course I'll have to leave VAWT construction to some later date when I have more time. And I should look at this week's segment of the course, which evidently covers practical siting and design costs.


   I had intended to get the body hole drilling templates done on the Electric Weel motor/generator, but didn't. In November I'll also be doing a revised one for the Electric Caik (unipolar edition), so maybe I'll do them both then, since they both need similar spreadsheets, G-code setup and CNC drill-router work.

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

   I looked at a number of movies on youtube about the state of affairs on the planet. One I thought was especially interesting was The Impending Collapse of the Global Economy. It was more an in depth history of money of the USA from the times leading up to the American revolution on. It seems there were a lot more well organized, well funded manipulations and political murders by greedy banksters over the decades than one would ever suspect.
   As the movie repeatedly pointed out, it seems clear that an agency of government, hence responsible to the people, should be the issuers of a nation's money supply and that nations shouldn't incur debts. Banks should never be allowed to lend out more money than they have on deposit.
   The quantity of the money supply, and its original issue as credit rather than as debt, is the critical point, and if issued by greedy private interests, they create easy credit, then dry it up to create depression and crises and buy up peoples' assets at low cost. However, when governments try to start printing money presidents get shot, credit from banks suddenly dries up on orders 'from the top', and normal mortgage and loan renewals are denied, to rapidly create mass foreclosures, business failures and deep depressions in the economy - which the public is then led to attribute to the printing of money by the government instead of by a private central bank.
   If people don't understand what's happening and support to the hilt proper ways of doing things, if politicians are easily swayed or too timid to act, will the parasitic plague of banksters continue killing presidents, bribing elected and civil service officials, stealing peoples' farms, houses and pension funds, and swindling everyone double through inflation and sudden money supply or credit contractions? Electoral system changes and referendum calling ability by the populace are some of the answers.
   One sees time and again the public winning some big fight, and the vested interest party coming back after it seems to be all over, on some modified tack, and having worn the public out, they eventually get their way. Here in Victoria a manipulative lawyer wanted to make a "mega-yacht" terminal in Victoria Harbor, a harbor that is really too small for current needs. Organized public outcry stopped the project. Now, two years later, the instigator has moved the project a couple of hundred yards down the shore and rapidly started building it without anyone knowing it was coming. No doubt he quietly got some sort of permit from someone without any publicity or hearings, perhaps by misrepresentation, to sneak it by to be presented as a fait accompli. The pile drivers can be heard working furiously. The banksters fought several times to gain control of the US money supply, from the days it was a colony onward, finally losing it only to come back and try again a few years later. The repeatedly bashed population and string of murdered presidents gave up in 1913 and the "Federal Reserve" (privately owned bank - not federal and with no reserves) has more or less ruled the USA ever since.
   If any such projects affecting the public might have to pass a referendum called whenever and wherever enough people demanded it, before it was started or yet still after it was in operation, the proponents would at least have to try to make a good case publicly, and bad plans such as private control of the money supply would be stopped dead in their tracks every time they raised their ugly heads, until the greedy give up and accept their equality with others.

   Then again, we could also change the whole money thing. It's said that on some planets, there is no money. Instead what is controlled is what people are allowed to own. The 'richest' are permitted up to four times as many possessions as the 'poorest'. Excess can be confiscated. This works because really everyone has plenty, and the population is controlled to prevent development of scarcity. There are "trusts" rather than private corporations. No way would these societies put up with a few people controlling most of the wealth. Of course, such developments may be premature here... or not. I'm not sure how this would work on Earth in regards to, say, art collections or manufacturing and farm land or collective properties, but it sounds like a great idea worth exploring.

   Listening to videos and drawing conclusions, unfortunately usually negative, about how things are being run and how they're working out, is one thing. But figuring out anything productive to do about them is another matter. But at some point recently I had a brainstorm: start an e-mail discussion group to talk about anything of interest in my muicipality, Esquimalt BC Canada. On the 15th I started the group "Esquimalt Online", Esquimalt@yahoogroups.com , and, an election being on with candidate posters up everywhere, I made a poster for the front boulevard: "Esquimalt Online" - Join the Discussion - and instructions for joining. That didn't seem to get anyone joining and I decided it needed more explanation. As I wrote on the 17th:

Our institutions of governance, set up in simpler times and without provision for change and progress, are today archaic. We have the internet for rapid communication, a more educated population, and many conflicting ideas - some pushed by special interest groups - of what it might be good for a municipality or other government to do or not do. Yet we have almost no input and increasingly we are being controlled by out of touch governments instead of controlling them for our own collective benefit. We have the right and increasingly the need to participate in decision making processes, and to not have all governing power be concentrated into few hands with little public input.

We need a vehicle whereby the peoples' representatives can be informed by the people collectively what we want them to do, or to not do; what bylaws, regulations, policies, and public works we want or do not want.

   At a "meet the candidates" meeting, I gave out 1/2 page pamphlets, on the above lines. A number of people said "Great idea!", but still no one signed up. I think the idea and implications of actually being able to run a government instead of being run by it is too different for people to immediately grasp. I shall persevere. Next sign was to be something along the lines of:


    of Esquimalt!

    In 1.s we are ignored.
    In 10.s we have a voice.
    In 100.s, if we have a consensus,
       what we say we want, will be done.

  Join Esquimalt Online today!
e-mail to: esquimalt-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

   I thought this e-mail discussion group format had the potential to be "version 1.0" of the governing vehicle.

   But someone told me there are already discussions going on on facebook. Not being a social media fan so far, I haven't done facebook. I signed in once and now get daily spam from them. But I'll join if facebook is at last unmuzzling Esquimalt's "silent majority". If it's working, great! If it doesn't seem to be what's needed, I should at least be able to advertise the e-mail group there.

   I sometimes wonder why no one of authority has taken up the conversation about global overpopulation since it was realized the "population explosion" was approaching, in the 1960.s and 1970.s. Then I think: if people were admonished to have fewer children, the more socially responsible and intelligent would probably realize that was right, and would have fewer children, while the irresponsible and unthinking would carry right on having large families.
   Thus, the most desirable genetic stocks would selectively be reduced and eliminated from the population while the least desirable would proliferate. This would be a disaster for civilization. And this in fact does appear to be happening. At least, the 'developed' nations have birth rates well below replacement levels, while other groups in already overcrowded "third world" lands continue to proliferate, and the overflow is continuing the undesirable population expansion and flooding into the 'developed' lands, changing the character of their populations. The ancient Greeks seemed to be a more capable people than the modern ones. What will the species as a whole be like in a few thousand years if this should continue?
   Yet, enforcing size limits on all families would gain little traction in today's world*. How then can responsible people even attempt to address the question?
   Under these conditions, the population growth continues, putting increasing pressure on the world's land and resources until pandemics and a collapse are now inevitable. Ebola seems to be new, but hemorrhagic fevers were probably part of the "black plagues" of some centuries ago, and we still don't have 'antibiotics' for viruses.

   Even after such a collapse, putting limits on family sizes will be a hard sell -- but such a hard experience as the world will have passed through will make the vital need for limiting population understood much more clearly than it is today, and I trust people will then bite the bullet and enforce such a measure to prevent a similar future calamity. At the same time, hopefully the obvious desirability of having more people who are more capable and spiritual will be worked into the equation.

* China's one child policy is an important exception, the one such plan in effect. Problems notwithstanding, it has doubtless had a big impact in reducing family sizes and slowing China's population growth. China had 1/4 of the world's population in the 1960.s, and today (notwithstanding China's rise from "3rd world" to economic stardom, and further population growth) it's closer to 1/6th.

   I usually take pieces of what I find and put it into my own words. I don't think I could do this quote justice:

"A true spiritual teacher knows that there really aren’t teachers and students. All are involved in the same learning process, sharing the lessons and the understandings, to together achieve the goal of perfection. Every soul you meet on your path is your teacher and your student because the goal of the ages – perfection and the likeness of the Father – is a goal that can only be achieved in collaboration, since all are part of God and all are one. The actions of one human being may be outstanding. The actions of humanity working in harmony under the guidance of God can achieve the impossible, even turning a backward material world into a kingdom of true perfection and beauty." www.1111angels.net

Daily Log
(time accounting, partly for CRA - SR & ED purposes)

   1st to 4th: Worked on TE News #80. Spray painted Weel generator & inside of the iron circpump for the aquaponics with polyurethane spray. Then I set up the aquaponics tank and filled it.
5th: The compression fitting leaked so I replaced it with a bulkhead pipe connector.
6th: That leaked a little so on the 6th I drained the tank with the pump and tightened the nut a little more. That seemed to cure it.
7th: I installed one of the two solar PV panels on the 45° slope west facing house roof to extend the solar power into the evening.
8th or 9th: except studied some aquaponics videos.
10th: I drained the tank and installed another bulkhead connector, this one at the surface level. Purchased a "13 gallon" (US or Canadian gallons?) rectangular plastic 'bucket' for the sump. It was just the right height - the same height as the fish tank - except that it was 1/8" too tall to fit under the table where I wanted to put it. I unscrewed and broke the glue on two side supports of the table and ripped 1/4" off them, then screwed them back on. The bucket now fits under those two sides: It can be pulled out the front or the table can be pulled away to the right. I then went to look at aquaponics plumbing diagrams.
(Thanksgiving weekend: discussion about aquapoincs)
13th: I 'mounted' a 200W aquarium heater in the fridge/tank.
14th: I tidied up some construction/finishing details around the greenhouse door, then spent the afternoon shopping for supplies, including a centering drill bit for the lathe. In the evening I drilled a centered end hole for the bushing in the 'in between' shaft for the variable torque converter transmission, which I'd cut to length and faced square the previous day.
15th: made splined shaft for the variable torque converter transmission (see report). I didn't get the keyway done for the rotor's "H" taper lock bushing, and I left the hole slightly undersize. The next morning (16th) I attempted to mill the keyway, but found the end mill to be dull. I bought a new one and while I was there I looked for a boring bar to ream the hole to precise size, but the store didn't have one. On the way home I picked up a couple more pipe fittings for the aquaponics. I phoned another store. It had boring bars, in sets, and I bought one.
   The new end mill didn't work any better than the first one, immediately starting to get dull. The shaft steel was too hard for them!
16th: I put together some of the pipes in the aquaponics system. I came up with the idea to aerate the tank using a pipe with the end closed off and some tiny holes drilled in it for the water to spray out of, instead of the garden hose sprayer. I made this and it seemed to work well, but the top pipe hole in the tank was a little low down, so some fittings - or a bend in the pipe - would have to be used to raise the holey pipe up above the water level. Surprisingly, the #56 drilled holes seemed a bit on the large size. I had thought they'd probably be too small.
17th: I visited AGO and asked the machinist about the key slot milling. He said I needed a carbide toothed end mill. I hadn't looked for those at the store the previous day since I didn't know there was such a thing. I wasn't sure I could get one, so he loaned me one. I was also given some coolant to keep squirting on the tool as it slowly cut, at "under 900 RPM". Then people kept visiting me all afternoon, one after the other, and I had to go out in the evening, so I still didn't get at milling the slot or the hole.
Also 15th to 18th: I worked on starting a new e-mail group, "Esquimalt Online", to discuss municipal issues. Since this isn't directly related to energy issues, I've put it in the "In Passing" section.
18th: got the aerator spraying properly.
19th: Business breakfast; had to buy parts; finished most of the plumbing; In the evening I went out of town to where the tilapia were for sale and bought six.
20th: I got the shaft finished and tried fitting it onto the transmission. It didn't quite fit and I cut 1/4" off the end. In the evening I went to a pond and got some duckweed with tiny 'shrimp' and tiny snails.
21st: Fitted gear and taper-lock ("H") bushing to the center shaft, and the Electric Hubcap motor to the transmission housing with the shaft in place; measured up where the shift (tension) cable might go.
2nd, 23rd: Put together a Ni-Ni battery cell. Made bell syphon for aquaponics and got it working.
24th: Fixed some broken links on the web site and re-uploaded the motor controller making manual, which had somewhere got deleted. Finished bell syphon housing and added some lava rock to plant bed. Battery isn't working well or holding charge (see report).
25th: Put lava rock in aquaponics drain-down bed, made new housing for bell syphon and adjusted, cut slots in rotor for making improved & unipolar Electric Caik motor.
26th: Made venturi in lower pipe to improve bell syphon (successful). Prepared Caik rotor and mounted magnets on it. Went to a 'suppressed propulsion systems' meeting.
27th: Balanced Caik rotor. Read about a new monopolar motor being made in Brazil. Did much e-mail about projects.
28th: Worked on Unipolar motor controller schematic & PCB layout. Tried 5m LED RBG strip light for growing plants. It wasn't very bright.
29th: Wired 12v house circuit from solar panel. Reconstituted 2nd LED light with new diffuser. Trace in light's PCB burned out - repaired. Found PVC plumbing part that can work for drum style optical slots for Unipolar Caik motor, drilled and hacked it to fit on shaft. Worked on controller schematic and PCB.
30th: Installed mounting brackets in second solar panel.
31st: Put up 2nd west facing solar panel.
Nov. 1, 2: Wired in the solar panels.
Nov. 3: Worked on unipolar motor controller circuit design, finished this newsletter.

Electric Hubcap Motor Systems - Electric Transport

Planetary Gear with Clutch Torque Converter Transmission Project

   Full as the days were, I really wanted to move ahead on this and get the Sprint car going. I made some progress but didn't get it finished before deciding the unipolar motor was probably even more revolutionary and should be built ASAP.

   I was putting together the case width extension with the motor "standoffs", and I thought to line the motor up I should next make the mid-shaft, a 3" extension coupling the variable planetary gear output and the large centrifugal clutch input rotor. I cut a piece of 1" to length (3.25") and did a center hole in one end for the bronze bushing, but I've never liked having to cut a pentagon cross section shape - the one thing I can make that will fit (if "fit" is the word) in the planetary's 25-segment spline socket. The previous pentagon was a little crooked, tho done as carefully as I could with the angle grinder. This time I had the milling machine and could ensure flat, square faces, but I still didn't like the arrangement. It seemed too likely to wear out and start slipping.
   Then it occurred to me that I could use the original splined shaft that came with the gear set. It couldn't have been used (as the longer output shaft) in the previous configurations, but now it was a short mid shaft. I spent the 15th and 16th cutting, turning and milling it to be what I needed. It wasn't an inch diameter, but the requisite uneven sections turned down smoothly on the lathe for a 7/8" I.D. "H" taper lock shaft bushing for the clutch rotor.

   In spite of the progress, the intriguing potentials of the unipolar motor diverted me from the transmission towards the end of the month.

Transmission Assembly, without centrifugal clutch rotor disk and drum.
(The disk mounts on the black taper-lock bushing on center shaft and the
drum on the output shaft beside the chain sprocket, fitting over the input disk.
Big slip pulley for controlled slipping of planetary gear torque
converter is seen at center; yellow Electric Hubcap motor at left.)

Unipolar ('monopolar') Motor & Controller

Revolutionary potential

   The point about simpler, cheaper, inherently more reliable motor controllers wasting half the energy (and so getting half as warm) compared to typical bipolar BLDC motor controllers decided me that unipolar is a better configuration - at least, well worth trying out.

   But then there's the other point: John Bedini's 'monopolar' (unipolar) motors seemed to get more energy out than expected; seemingly even more than went in. They amazed a good number of educated people, which tends to suggest the unexpectedly high performance is more or less proven. Then there's Troy Reed, who said in a 2011 youtube video he "can drive around all day" in a converted car with his new motor, which seemed to draw considerably less current on the road than most... but he didn't explain what the motor was. (It's said he was assassinated in 2012. I was unable to verify this in a brief search.) Then there's the rumored new Japanese e-bicycles from about 2012 that get a couple of hundred kilometers range instead of tens of kilometers, apparently with unipolar motors.
   Such monopolar motors should certainly be good at reclaiming remaining coil 'flyback' energy as the coils are switched off, and obviously unenergized coils can generate electricity as the magnet approaches them, perhaps reclaiming other energy. Plus there's the lower iron losses, and lower motor controller losses.
   If none of this proves to make any major difference, unipolar still looks like the way to go. If it does, the potential is revolutionary. We might start seeing cars having ranges of 500 kilometers on a charge, with no more battery watt-hours than cars getting 100-150 Km or less today. It would make a number of things much more practical than today, such as electric commuter trains without overhead wires, solar electric boats, and electric ferries.
   This was my thinking until on the 27th an e-mail arrived about a new motor, that appeared to provide still more evidence that it's all true and works better than regular motors.

The new Keppe motor is described at keppemotor.com/about/faq.html . They feel their motor is so good they're calling it "new physics" principles. It gives the following performance chart:

   The performance improvements appeared to be broadly in keeping with the previous claims and rumors. Again the motor controller - and in particular, power pulsed on and off in resonance with the coil resonant frequencies - plays a key part.

   On reading further, I discovered a major error in their claims. They noted that while an AC motor might be efficient at rated load, it still drew a lot of current even with no load. This is observable with an ampmeter, and it confuses a lot of people. But the AC current with no load is almost 90° out of phase with the AC voltage, and simply multiplying volts times amps doesn't give watts. The volt-amps may be high, but the actual watts of power works out to a low figure for an idling motor. (Multiply the volt-amps by the cosine of the phase difference to get watts, IIRC.) So it would appear they are overestimating the power consumed by other motors. This doesn't necessarily negate all the savings or say their product isn't good, but it does bring the amazing claims more into line with "normal physics" reality.

   But I had already decided I would simply have to do a unipolar rotor for the Caik Outboard and get the project moving, this month, even before finishing the variable transmission, and I had started work on it.
   So far the Keppe motor is only made in small sizes - fractions of a horsepower, and I know of no other unipolar motors in production at present. Unless someone else jumps in before I finish, I may have the only multi-horsepower sized units. It seems like an excellent track to be on!

Unipolar Motor Construction

   On the 25th I milled slots in the last remaining waterjet cut Electric Caik rotor blank for the radial magnet strapping (or 'webbing'). (I forgot about the "ready made" '7.8" brake rotor' from Princess Auto. I could have equally used that.) Since it's to be unipolar, there'd only be 4 magnets so I did 4 slots just over an inch wide. I had planned to drill a starting hole and make the slots with a jigsaw, but having just milled the key slot for the transmission, I thought of milling and of how much cleaner a job it would do. Since I used a 3/16" end mill bit (my smallest), that's the width of the slots. Anyway it leaves lots of thickness for two layers of strapping. (When I did it, the strapping only overlapped on the back side - I didn't double it through the slot. But I used 1.5" wide strapping instead of 1".)
   I considered using 2" x 2" magnets, but I have just 7 of them, and if I save them for a larger motor needing 6, that motor will probably have more torque, whereas the problem with the Caik outboard is getting enough RPM, not torque. And the Caik's rotor being so small (7.5"), curved arc magnets would be a lot better if a larger size is to be used. Putting two magnets side by side is almost impossible because they repel each other so strongly. So I sized them for very strong single 1" x 2" x 3/8" magnets... which I have lots of.

   The next day I scraped the paint off the rotor where the magnets and strapping were going (see the magnet loosening problems of the first Caik motor rotor in issues... about maybe January 2013), sanded the rotor and the magnets so the epoxy would stick well, and mounted the magnets with the new configuration, presumably safe for another 1000 RPM (Caik to be rated 3000+ RPM instead of 2000+) or better. I used 1.5" wide strapping and had only milled 1" slots, so I cut 1/4" notches in the strapping. When things were half set and flatness on top of the magnets was assured, I slipped aluminum brackets over the magnets to push the strapping down over the sides of the magnets.

   To balance the rotor for the anticipated higher RPM.s (27th), I mounted it on an axle and put the axle between two parallel, level straightedges. In theory it would naturally roll until the heavier side was down, and a little of the leftover epoxy (kept in the freezer overnight and not quite set yet) could be brushed on the top side for weight until it showed no preference of orientation.
   In practice, the shaft wasn't quite round and the rotor would sit one way up or the opposite. I found a better shaft, which wasn't perfect either, but by rotating the shaft inside the rotor center and trying 2 or 3 times gave a fair consensus that one particular side was lighter, which I marked with a felt pen. I put on the epoxy without gaining too much. Then I stuck a couple of short pieces of PP strap in the epoxy between magnets, one on the back and one on the magnet side, still without getting a balance. It was better than it was initially. Then I sanded a bit off the double-layer of strapping on the back side of the two 'heavier side' magnets. I don't think it's perfect, but it seems pretty close now. It may change a bit when matched with a shaft that has key slots and a key.

   The second challenge to making the motor is the optical sensor system for the magnet positions. A slotted disk or a slotted drum has to mount on the motor shaft and spin with it, and three LED and phototransistor pairs have to be positioned on opposite sides of those slots. The drum type is superior for this application because the shaft can be inserted from the rotor end and won't hit the optical components, which have to be installed first, on its way past.
   Having been working with plastic plumbing fittings, I thought that there might be one that would work as a drum. I went to Rona and found one: a PVC pipe coupling with 1.5" pipe glue-on on one end, and .75" inside threaded at the other. The .75" threaded pipe fitting is in fact just under 1", and I drilled it out with a 1" drill to fit over the 1" motor shaft. The 1.5" end has a rim about the right diameter to cut the slots into, and have the phototransistors inside the rim (still clear of the shaft) and the LED.s outside, on a flat circuit board on the inside of the stator end cover. The threaded end was too long and I cut it shorter with a hacksaw. Then I drilled in through one side and tapped it for a long 1/4" set screw to clamp it onto the shaft. This same fitting should work for all Caik and Hubcap motors with 1" shafts.
   The next job will be the optics circuit board. And after all this time but having switched to hall sensors until now, I still haven't identified proper part numbers for optical couplers to use with interrupter slots - I've used ones from old computer mice, but I threw the rest of the old computer stuff out a while ago since I hadn't touched it in years and needed the space.

Unipolar Motor Controller

   I hadn't worked on this since September. On the 26th I showed the ideas to a couple of people, one of whom mentioned part of Bedini's key was to pulse the motor on. The next day on reading the Keppe motor material, it appears it also pulses the motor, at a resonant frequency. I had my circuit in mind, with an in-line coil to transiently store motor coil energy, but I hadn't considered this resonance idea, which could attain the maximum magnetic field with the least electrical energy. Now I began to realize that the PWM frequency might be a key to this, so I decided to incorporate a variable PWM frequency control in the design. (I hope the optimum will prove to be a relatively low frequency to minimize switching losses.)
   The CRM could be separate from that (PWM-on AND CMR-on = CoilsEnable-on), to ensure maximum currents didn't exceed ratings. But the controller is so much simpler and more fault tolerant that I expect good results from the first design.
   I got back to the circuit design and PC board layout on the 28th and did some work on it every day after that. After trying out a couple of layouts, I started to realize that the way the Kelly Controller laid out the coil drive transistors was very good. It seemed counter-intuitive that they weren't bonded to the heatsinks, but only to aluminum bars that stuck out the ends as terminal posts, to which the power wires were attached. But the heavy copper power wires should themselves be good heat sinks, carrying heat away from the transistors and even from the whole controller.

   I'm not sure I explained the commutation sequence very well last month, and a picture can be worth many words. So here's the sequence, in a diagram.

"Green" Electric Equipment Projects

Aquaponics & LED Grow Lighting Project

   I worked away on this project up until mid month, gradually getting the plumbing set up for the tilapia and plant bed in the upstairs battery lab. I got the aquaponics part done, but didn't get to the LED lighting.

   On the 14th I also realized that I could have used the lower opening in the fish tank after all and not made an upper one, just by bringing the pipe up vertically outside of the tank to its surface height, before turning it horizontal to drain into the sump tank. In fact, that's probably a better arrangement because it'll suck up fish poop from the bottom of the tank. Furthermore, since the bulkhead connectors are threaded on both sides, instead of having a valve for the (hopefully) rare occasion of shutting off the water in the fish tank or sump tank, I can just screw in a pipe endcap on the inside. The only disadvantage is you have to get your hand and arm wet to do it.

    On the 16th I filled the sump by pouring water into the tank and watching it pour out through the overflow from the bottom. It poured more slowly than I expected, the level in the tank rising an inch before there was a lot of flow. I think I'd use 1" pipe instead of 3/4" next time.
   I didn't want to have to add a separate air pump, and while putting together some piping from the pump, I came up with the idea to aerate the tank using a pipe with the end closed off and some tiny holes drilled in it for the water to spray out of, instead of the garden hose sprayer. I made this and it seemed to work well, but the top pipe bulkhead hole in the tank was a little low down, so some fittings - or a bend in the pipe - would have to be used to raise the holey pipe up above the higher water level. Surprisingly, the #56 drilled holes seemed a bit on the large size and the spray a bit coarse. I had thought they'd probably be too small. (18th) I tried heating up the aerator pipe and bending it so it would be higher up, but it wasn't enough. So after a couple more trips to Rona for fittings that somehow still weren't in the growing pile of them, I put in a threaded elbow that I sanded down the corners of so it would turn past the wall of the tank, aimed it up a bit, and screwed the aerator into that. At last everything seemed to be working except the bell syphon for the drain-down plant bed. I did a couple of little experiments with that, and found that with the sump bucket being only 50 liters and the fish tank filling fuller than expected, there wasn't a lot of water left in the sump to fill the drain-down bed, which was around 100 liters. Yet if I filled it fuller, it might flood if the pump shut off and everything drained down. Estimating that the bed could fill twice as full once the lava rock was in it, that still made for only a 6" bell syphon height and maybe 7.5" bed depth in the 12" tall container. I'll put a compression fitting at the sump's entry from the fish tank water. That way I can add a few more liters of water and allow the sump to fill a little above the hole if it's completely drained down - which won't be the case in normal operation. Next time I'll use a sump tank with more capacity - at least the same as the drain-down beds or in this case 100 liters (~25 gallons).

   Then I cut a piece of 2" polystyrene foam to 17" by 5" and with three holes for 4" pots, for three lettuce or other plants to sit in the fish tank covering the freezer compartment. I filled three hydropnics pots with the porous lava rock obtained early in the summer. Having flooded roots in the water limits what might be grown, but the compartment will keep the fish and light away from the roots.
   With the pump running there were after a while patches of tiny bubbles covering large portions of the water's surface, promising that the fish would be well aerated. The lava rocks in the flooded bed were moist right to the top, well above the water line.
   The next day (19th) I picked up the tilapia (and 3 pounds of fish food). I went went to the appointed house, and found that the "6 inch" tilapia were more like 10 to 12 inches. This struck me as being a bit much fish to start out with, notwithstanding his own crowded tank. The seller said not to worry, a friend had some smaller ones. On the phone I heard "3 inches". We drove there and out of a big circular tank full of algae and covered with wood in a dark greenhouse, he started netting fish. They were 6 to 10 inches by my estimate. How are they measuring these things - the height? After throwing back several larger ones and trying again, we finally got a half dozen of 6 to 8 inches. Sex was pot luck - but luckily with 6 at random there's only 1 chance in 32 they're all the same sex. I forgot to ask how to tell them apart... but there's always youtube. The water in the tank was only 16 or 17°c, and he said blue tilapia could take down to 10° before they'd expire - cooler than nile tilapia (12°). So much for "25 to 30°"! They would eat and do less in colder water. The range now seemed much more tolerant. Since the pail water was cold and I'd heated the system to the recommended temperatures, it took an hour to equalize temperatures before I dared release the fish into their new home, adding and removing a little water from time to time. I kept the algae water for the bacteria and as I had no other plants growing yet. I lowered the thermostat a couple of degrees. They seemed to get on well, and seemed to become more active at the higher temperatures even before release from the pail.
   While at the second house, I asked about making bell syphons for drain-down tanks. His system was pretty close to what I'd planned, but he showed me a flare on the top of the inner 1/2" PVC pipe that he said helped get the suction going, and he had an 8 to 10" x 1/2" PVC pipe sticking out under the bottom that also helped the suction action. As with my plan, he used a bulkhead connector through the floor of the plant bed, a 2" closed end cover pipe with cutouts around the bottom, and a 3" pipe around that to keep the grow media away. And he said that the water flow had to be adjusted so that it worked. Too slow (or too fast?) and the bed wouldn't empty.

   In the morning (20th) when I opened the (almost) closed lid/fridge door, the fish darted around and then all turned sideways and dove through the crack into the freezer area with the floating plant pots 'lid', where I'd thought they'd have trouble getting into. Within a day there was a lot of fish poop drifting around. I reduced the flow to the plant bed, which increased the water flow to the fish tank but didn't seem to raise the level much this time, and the poop gradually started drifting out the outflow pipe and (at least some of it) settling on the bottom of the sump tank.
   The next evening, considering that I had no plants growing yet, I went to my brother's and got some duckweed from his pond. He warned me that it was very hard to get rid of. His pond water with the duckweed was also teeming with some tiny critters that looked like very small freshwater shrimp, and some tiny snails. I put some in the tank but all was gone in a few hours. I added some more, and this time saw the fish immediately gobbling up the duckweed salad with shrimp and escargot. No wonder they didn't seem very interested in the fish food!

   On the 22nd I planted leaf lettuce, counter lettuce and spinach in the 3 pots in the fishtank.
   Within a couple of days, the aerator pipe was repeatedly getting clogged. It was definitely time to get the bell siphon going and put the lava rocks in the plant bin, which could then do some sort of job as a solids filter. So far, the pH of the water was reading 6 or so on my broad pH range 'litmus' paper.

   After expanding the bottom slots on the bell pipe a couple of times and sanding away part of the 'hex nut' fitting in the bulkhead adapter, to let more water get by more easily, the bell syphon essentially seemed to work (23rd), but until I put in the lava rock I couldn't extend the pipe to the desired height, as the required water volume would empty out the sump tank first.
   Later, (26th) I put the lower pipe in the oven and tightened a pipe clamp around it to squeeze a section near the bottom into a venturi. This seemed to help get the suction started without preventing it from stopping once the bed was drained, which a long horizontal pipe had done. It was still something of an adjustment to have it work right, and I ended up with a short horizontal pipe on the bottom after all. I ended up with the water cycling about every 12 minutes. The water certainly pours out when it's syphoning. It created a definite swirling in the sump bucket. If I had bought a cylindrical sump bucket instead of a rectangular one, it would have been a great swirl filter, which is cleaned occasionally by scooping accumulated crap off the bottom at the center.

View with plumbing essentially completed.

The circulation pump, set to "Low" flow.
The cast iron pump emitted a lot of rust until it
was spray painted inside with polyurethane spray.
The intake hose is a special one that won't suck closed,
collapse, from negative water pressure.

Closing the fridge door at night to retain warmth seemed like
a good idea at first... until I realized the fish would need air!

Light: Mirrors (but no smoke) and LED lights (with smoke)

   When the lettuce started sprouting, the leaves pointed toward the window and they were spindly. There really wasn't enough light. Lighting became a focus because they'd die or at least grow poorly unless something was done. (Several leaf lettuce plants sprouted, and just one counter lettuce [similar to romaine]. The spinach didn't come up.)
   On the afternoon of the 27th, I set a mirror behind the plants. There was really no sunlight, but it brightened things up.  In a couple of hours I noticed the leaves were pointed more toward the mirror. Making use of whatever daylight is available may not be very high-tech, but it might change things considerably. Instead of a mirror I can use aluminum foil, and shape it to reflect light toward the plants - preferably from above - during a good part of the day, or make a mechanism to have it follow the sun. I put some foil around the inside of the drain-down bed container and that pretty much used up what I had.
   The lettuce sprouts were growing tall and spindly. They definitely weren't getting enough light. On the 28th I tried a 5 meter strip of LED RGB lights with remote control. I just draped it above the plants, back and forth. But it wasn't very bright. On the 29th the sun came out, and I aimed it via the mirror at the plants, which then pointed towards the mirror. The strip light, which was still on, merely cast a shadow in the sunlight. I finally removed it. But the mirror had to be moved every few minutes to keep the bit of sun on the plants.

   Also on the 29th I planted a few vegetables in the drain-down bed. I'm not holding my breath, but I trust a few things will come up. Usually I understand seedlings are planted in dirt and transplanted to hydroponic beds later.  Putting them right in the beds I didn't have to water them.

   I broke up the second flat panel LED light I had made some time ago and replaced the mediocre diffuser with a clear "cracked ice" style diffuser I had bought. My impression is that the diffuser is just adequate to make the pinpoint LED light sources tolerable as building lighting for higher ceilings. I'd prefer the translucent for wall mounting or lower ceilings. But for grow lighting, clear transmits the most light, which the plants crave. I'll also probably get better results with blue and red emitters than white, and I expect to try them soon. Someone tells me that with stationary LED lights, spots can get burned on the leaves, so any diffuser would appear to be useful even with plants. (So would a light that moves from east to west over the day!) He bought a one foot square, 40 watt, blue and red LED grow light that he said was effective at short range - a foot or two. Let's see... a 7" x 7" square light is 1/3 the area, and is about 12 watts, just under 1/3 the watts. Well! With red and blue emitters, my prospective grow lights should be about on par with these commercial units on an area basis, and at 30$, cheaper for the moment. The fact that mine are 12 volts DC should put them in a slightly different market, tho of course a 12V power adapter is all that's needed to make them 120VAC.

   Then I wired a 12 volt dual CAT socket from the solar panel system in the wall behind the fish tank, in an existing hole that I made slightly taller for the electrical box. (I used one click-lock socket just to see the effect. The flush ones of course look better.) I put the light a couple of inches over the lettuce plants. It still wasn't as bright as the sun. It was the one made with 3.5 volt LED.s instead of 2.9 volters, so it only had 15 emitters instead of 20, and the transistor gets quite hot at 14 volts since it's dropping it to about 10.5, and so has 3.5 volts across it. I returned after a while to find the light out: a trace on the circuit board had burned out. I bridged it with a piece of copper. It wasn't the hot transistor's fault: it was another result of the Samsung CLP-315 color laser printer printing a hatched pattern where it's told to print solid black. I won't use it for circuit boards again! On the 30th, another dull day, the plants at last started to turn up toward the lights just a couple of inches above. The area was certainly the bright spot of the room.

   On November 2nd the light fell into the fish tank. The light kept working and no fish were harmed - a definite advantage of LED.s and 12 volt power! (Of course, if it had been 120 V I'd have been less nonchalant with it!)

Electricity Storage

Turquoise Battery Project

   On the 6th someone in an e-mail said he was getting self-discharge of his batteries similar to mine until he put them in vacuum pack bags. It seems oxygen from the air was the cause of the self discharge, and it's probably the cause in mine, too. I've made some efforts to seal some cells, but they were half-hearted because I didn't think air would filter in and absorb into the electrolyte water fast enough to cause the problem. It also never occurred to me to take note of the relationship between how good the sealing seemed to be and the rate of self discharge. So I'm probably wrong and I'll try much harder to get a good seal. I was of course disappointed to find the lower voltage NiNi cells seemed to have at least as much self discharge as the higher voltage NiMn, but if air is the cause the voltage probably doesn't matter, so it seems likely that it is.

   At any rate, assuming this is correct, the problems with both NiMn and NiNi are simply construction problems, not chemical problems. Making well sealed cells with sheet graphite current collectors has been a headache - they can't be threaded like a bolt and sealed with round grommets. But it's a "pre-production" detail, not a basic research problem any more.
   Perhaps another problem with using round jars for cells is the amount of air already inside the cell, including that dissolved in the considerable volume of water. Maybe I should go back to the thin 3D-printed cells? When I was doing those, I was getting deterioration from using too much manganese oxides in the posode (with little or no nickel oxides) and corrosion of the zinc current collectors, so the cells didn't last. I may have better results if I try that format again with nickel manganate posides and graphite foil current collectors on both electrodes.

Next Posode

   I decided to go with just Ni(OH)2 for the nickel. It's 63% nickel atoms by weight. Using KMnO4 for the manganese (37wt% Mn), and Mn being a bit lighter than Ni (54.9, 58.7), a 50-50 wt% mix should give about 60-40 Ni to Mn, the desired ratio. The desired product is nickel manganates, an insoluble, more highly conductive, and somewhat variable product of Ni, Mn and O or OH. Since excess Mn will form soluble KMnO4 on charge, it might be best to err on the side of excess nickel, which will form NiOOH - the usual non-soluble charge product of nickel electrodes. So I picked the ratio 55% Ni(OH)2 to 45% KMnO4. Into that I'd add 20% (of the at last obtained) conductive carbon black for conductivity and about 2% Sm2O3 to help raise the oxygen overvoltage. So to make 100 grams, the formula becomes:

43g - Ni(OH)2
35g - KMnO4
20g - carbon black
2g   - Sm2O3

   Owing to the bulk resulting from the fluffy ingredients I made 1/2 as much, 50 grams. (The samarium was 1.65g instead of 1.0 because I dumped out a little too much and wasn't putting it back in the bag.) I mixed them up dry as usual in a jar and then added a little Diesel Kleen and Sunlight dishsoap. Then I remembered I was supposed to infuse them into graphite felt first.
   I did what I could, but I the electrode resulting after 7 Mg (tons) of pressure was surely more graphite felt than active ingredients, and the active ingredients were holding the 3 felt layers apart. (to prevent good conductivity!)

   Before assembling I painted the current collector with calcium hydroxide, which I think will add more oxygen overvoltage protection -- but I forgot to paint ferric chloride on the electrode. These things come of working so infrequently on the project, and yet still thinking I know what I'm doing, so I don't double check my own instructions. Also, somewhere I often go into "autopilot" when I'm working and only think about the current detail, forgetting the broader picture.

Next Cell

   (23rd) I put the two electrodes together with a 2 layer macramé cloth separator. When I put them in the jar, I also cut some pieces of polystyrene foam to take up much of the excess internal space, so there'd be less water and air in the jar, since air seems to be what causes the self discharge problem. Then I used silicone RTV glue to seal the terminal slots as well as I could, rather than just sticking some modeling clay over them. I filled the jar - maybe about 50mL of KCl solution - and tightened the lid.

   The conductivity was so low I had to charge it at about 2mA, and still it went up above 2 volts. I decided it must be because the posode was so thin it wasn't filling the box made for it. A new, fatter electrode is probably the answer.

A few days on charge and it held charge more and more poorly. Also salt crept up the 'plus' 3D printed terminal post, showing that 3D printing is "porous" and can't be used where a seal is needed. (Someone at Makerspace "anneals" 3D printed plastic by heating it until it's soft and runs a bit. This might work.)

   Being diverted by other things, I'll have to continue this next month.

Victoria BC