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French Press + Vacuum Thermos = Great Coffee!

12 Sep , 2013  

It’s no secret that good hot coffee really helps with the moral and getting projects started or finished. Since we don’t generate enough electricity to run a regular coffee maker, we use a French Press and a old school vacuum thermos.

Note: My spouse gave me the gears for not using clean coffee mug. It wasn’t an oversight, just wanted to show it was strong coffee.

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Small Hanging Garden for Vegetables

3 Sep , 2013  

Here’s an easy way to have a small garden that could hang off your deck or just outside a window. We use it to grow lettuce and tomatoes for salads. It’s our attempt to eat healthy and grow our own food.
Feel free to make suggestions.


DIY Compost Tumbler from Junk

3 Sep , 2013   Video

My folks came out from the east coast for a visit. Thought it would be a great opportunity to tap into their vast knowledge of off grid living. My father suggested we should build a compost tumbler for my spouse. It would be a great idea for making soil and put me in the “good books”.
The overall build idea of the compost tumbler was like a pig on a spit, the entire barrel spins on a pipe. The rotating motion helps turn over the material.
Materials required:
– a 55 gallon, food grade, blue plastic drum. A neighbour was doing a late summer purge and needed the barrel gone. For free! Sweet!
– left over 1″ pipe from the rotating solar panel mount. It was 64″ long (162cm).
– (4) pieces of 2″ x 4″ lumber. (Yes, I used Cedar!) Two pieces were cut to the dia. of the top/bottom of the barrel
– a piano hinge or hinges from a door
– a latch (couldn’t find one, so I used a bungee cord
– (8) 1″ deck screws
– two dead trees for a stand
– an extra pair of hands
– will need a drill and a 1″ hole saw
– some scrap 1″ x 2″ for ribs

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Power generation,Wind Turbine Projects

Build #3 of Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT) from Cedar Wood Siding

14 Aug , 2013  

Build 3 thumb This is the third version of the vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT) made from cedar siding lumber. It’s very close to the Lenz style of VAWTs. These type of wind turbines are fun to build. Lots of room for improvements and coming up with new ideas.
For example:
– the hubs with bearings, came from my portable generator. Had handy grease spout that could easily be greased with a grease gun
– The struts for the scoop (Lenz style) of blades were extended to clear the garage door style generator
– Used boiled linseed oil to seal the wood parts. The stain lasts forever and works great against the sun
– Did a quick test on top of our house, but, nothing really happened. (The motor garage door motor was not hooked up) The wind is quite poor in our residential area. Plus, without the aid of mirrors or a surveillance system, it’s difficult to see it spin when it’s right on top of your house.
– The VAWT was designed to be mounted on top of a tree a off-the-grid cabin
– At the moment, I’ve got the garage door motor on it, but, it doesn’t turn well with the belt-pulley system. The wind really needs to be blowing. I thinking about going the magnet and coil route.
– Had to take it down after 5 days. The neighbours started to ask questions and I didn’t want the bylaw officer give me a ticket.

Aces High and Cut and Run by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a CC Attribution 3.0.

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Buildings and Renovations,Equipment,Food,Other,Plumbing

Pump Water from a Lake to a Cottage (And make your spouse happy with running water!)

8 Aug , 2013  

Had a few questions from viewers on how to get water. Went up this weekend and concentrated on filming footage of the water system.

We occasionally pump water from a freshwater lake to the cabin. Maybe once during each 3 days stay. The cabin/cottage is on a remote mountain lake and doesn’t have access to grid electricity.

The biggest obstacle was pumping the lake water up a 80 foot (24 meter) hill and into 110 gallon (250 litre) water barrel on the roof. The water then travels by gravity feed down through 1/2″ PEX pipe and to the kitchen tap.

Since I could not find a suitable electric pump, decided to go with a gas. Went through two pumps, the first, a 3.5 HP model had problems priming and pumping the water up the hill. It was returned to and picked up a 6.5 HP 3″ water pump. The pump was super powerful and pretty good on gas. Only needs to be refueled once a season (May – Nov). At 3/4 throttle, it will fill the water barrels in 4 minutes.

Went with a 1.5″ PVC pipe. The water flow of a 1.5″ to a 2″ is minimal. It was easier to find fittings for the common 1.5″ PVC pipe. Check with an irrigation or hardware dealer. The overall cost of the project was $293.00.

Would prefer to go with an electric pump, but it was difficult to find a pump that could pump at least 80 feet vertically, run off DC and is affordable. Personally, I would prefer a quieter system, but, for the last 3 years it has worked fine. Maybe when the pump dies, I’ll switch to a torpedo submersible DC pump ($300.00).

But the long and short of it is we now have running water in the kitchen. Much easier than hauling buckets of water up the hill. Plus the spouse is happy too!

The next projects is to install a small pump and a water filter.

Feel free to comment!

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