Glenn Herbert wrote:Your layout and reasoning looks good to me, given the constraints you have to work with. The one real change I would suggest is to eliminate the longish bent duct routing, and add another half barrel at right angles to the original set. Cutting the end of a half barrel to fit the side of another is not that big of a deal, and plenty of screws will hold the assembly together securely.
Thanks Glenn. I thought about adding another half barrel at 90 degrees to the rest, but I wasnt sure if having a turn in the stratification chamber would cause short circuiting of the gasses, or other problems. It's good to hear that someone else has done this with success.
When running the chimney horizontally out the wall, do you need to provide somewhere for condensation to drain out, or does it just run back down to the clean out at the bottom?
Hi permies. I'm planning to build a 6 inch rocket mass heater inside of a barn here in the sierra foothills. I'd like to run my ideas across all of you here on the forum, and then I'll likely document the build here as well. I've built one other 8 inch system, pretty much just following the layouts and directions in the rocket mass heaters builders guide, which I'm using to help with this one as well.
Some pertinent information:
We are at about 2700 feet with a mild climate, average winter low around 32f, sometimes down into the 20s.
The building is an uninsulated barn, with old board and batten siding with holes everywhere, definitely not air tight. It's about 2100 square feet, including the stalls on the perimeter, but we would really only be aiming to heat the large center room which is about 600 square feet.
We are turning this center room into a shared community space, and we would like to have a warm place to spend time together. I'm thinking to go with the heat the people not the air strategy since the building isn't insulated, thus the RMH.
I'm planning to go with a 6 inch system, primarily because we already have most of the triple wall insulated stove pipe for the exterior chimney, and that stuff is quite expensive. I'm also considering using a bell stratification chamber in the mass bench, made out of 55 gallon barrels cut in half lengthwise, since even single wall stove pipe is expensive and I already got some barrels for free.
The placement of the heater core is pretty much limited by the doors to the outer stalls and the easiest place to get a chimney outside. There is small gable end wall between a higher and lower section of the roof, about 3 feet tall. I'm thinking I can run the chimney pipe either horizontally or diagonally through this end wall, high up near the peak of the roof, and then 3 feet above the ridge. I know that's not the ideal chimney, but I would rather do this than punch a hole through the nice metal roof I just installed. Given that the building is so full of holes, I'm not too concerned with a competing chimney effect, and I'm bringing the exit flue up right next to the barrel to help pull the gashes up and out.
Even though the room is quite large, about 20x30, because of the doorways there is only a 7' x 10' corner in which to build the core and bench. You can see in the sketch ups below the configuration I came up with. I positioned the core where it is in order to get the 30 inches recommended clearance between the barrel and the plywood walls. I'll probably still put up a heat shield.
Is there anything you can see wrong with this design? There's some pictures and sketch ups of the heater below, and the sketch up file itself if you want to look closer. Thanks for your input!
I have seen this done in California. A cob builder by the name of Bonnie (sorry, don't know her last name) lives in a cobverted yurt structure near Los Olivos. I think they cobbed right over the lattice structure and then built a new roof over it. There were some other rooms built on to it and the roof covered everything. I don't know much details about it, but I do know it is possible.
Hello again permies. I've been back at the Ant Village for a few days, and work is moving forward on my house wall project. There will be more videos to follow on that, but for now I'd like to give you a look into what I was doing for part of last winter, a permaculture design and installation in the desert of Phoenix, Arizona. It was a great experience and turned out well, but was also a major motivation for me to pursue more education and skill building in permaculture landscaping, so I can do this sort of thing better and quicker. So starting June 12th, I will be attending the ecological landscaper immersion at the Permaculture Skills Center in California. I am very excited about this very in depth training, and the opportunities that will arise from it. If you would like to support me in this journey, I have a GoFundMe campaign going right now to help pay for tuition and expenses: https://www.gofundme.com/sendjessetotheeli
sam schuschke wrote:im looking to get in touch with some ants to see if there is possible help needed, im trying to get involved as much as i can being based in the flathead valley this summer. i have never been to the lab yet so im trying to find a way to sneek around this 100$ gapper fee, soooooo if any ants have some needs that i may be able to help with please get at me!! thanks
Hi Sam. I will be doing a project on my ant plot over the next couple weeks, see you possibly about it under the "Jesse's ant Village videos" thread. I would be happy to waive your gappers fee in exchange for some help with this project. I will be leaving again by the end of May, but I you get out here and show that you are willing to help out, I'm sure the other ants would be happy to welcome you back anytime.
Hello again folks! I am getting ready to return to the Ant Village for a couple weeks to do some more work on my Earth integrated house, and I'd like to invite you to come be a part of the project. I am going to be closing in the walls of my house with a pallets, straw, and cob wall system I learned about from my friend and cob expert Miguel Elliot, aka "Sir Cobalot." Miguel has been using this system to create quick and affordable shelters which he has dubbed "Palletable Cobins." I be using a modified version of his freestanding wall system to fill in and over the timber frame structure of my house. I am happy to share what I have learned in exchange for some help with the project, and host you on my plot. Attendees of the other workshops taking place at Wheaton Labs are welcome to join us in their free time as well, if they want all the hands on permaculture and natural building experience they can handle!
I will be working on the project from approximately May 18th to the 30th. Message me if you would like to join.
Below are some pictures of Miguel's "Palletable Cobins."
Hi Jim. This looks like it is going to be a sweet workshop. I will be returning to the ant village for a couple weeks starting around the 18th, with the goal of closing in my house. I am going to be doing a type of pallets and cob wall system which I learned from "Sir Cobalot" while at Sacred Stone camp. So, if any of your workshop participants are interested in staying another week after your workshop, they will have the opportunity to learn one more type of cob wall system.
Good luck with the workshop, and I look forward to seeing you all again soon.
How does one go about locating an ant who might need a gapper?
Hi Shan. I might have a solution for you. I am looking for someone to caretake my Ant plot for the next year or so, possibly longer, as I will be busy this year taking a permaculture training course in California. I will be back up at the Ant Village for a couple weeks, starting around May 18th, doing some work on my unfinished house. You are welcome to come for a visit and check out the situation while I am there.
I have a plan already for developing my plot, so anything you did while there would have to be in line with that vision, but I would be open to having you stay on my plot and in my house while I am away. This would give you and your boys a stepping stone into the village and a home while you work towards getting your own Ant village plot, or some other arrangement with Paul. It would be good for me to have someone there, looking after things and living in the house to keep it dry in the winter. You would be welcome to plant gardens and/or keep animals, in a way that fits with the vision. Please purple moosage me if you would like to talk further.
Holy crap that's a lot of water! Thank you for the pictures Evan. I would love a bunch more or my plot if you have the chance. I also hope my shed floor stayed above the water, i definitely wont be parking anything down there over winter again. It looks like that berm between Steve and i is holding back the flow and backing it up the draw. It definitely looks like a proper dam and spillway is in order, gotta catch all that spring run off! Luckily, I'm going to get some training in dam and pond building during the ELI course this year.
It looks like your pond is full to the top! So awesome! Time to have some dance parties as it dries out. Im real curious to see how fast it dries up, especially that pond below my house.
Hello everyone. There has been a lot going on in my life since I was last on my plot in the Ant Village. I had quite an experience out at Standing Rock, which led me to the conclusion that there is a great need for people to do big work in their own communities if we are going to steer our culture in a more positive direction. As you know, I am quite passionate about sharing knowledge of permaculture with as many people as I can, and have been working to build my own permaculture design business in order to start building real world demonstrations of permaculture out in the public eye. I've come to realize that in order for me to do the kind of big work I want to do, the kind of broadscale, highly visible permaculture designed landscapes and ecological restoration I feel is so vitally important at this time, I need to get more serious about my own permaculture education and self development. Therefore, I have enrolled in the Ecological Landscaper Immersion, offered by the Permaculture Skills Center in California. This is a very in depth professional training program that is designed to give students a solid comprehension of permaculture design and the landscape contracting business, as well as training in ethical business practices and social permaculture so the students' businesses can have a positive impact on the people and communities around them. Eric Ohlsen, the founder of the Permaculture Skills Center and the ELI, has a similar viewpoint as Paul on moving permaculture forward, in that we need to start taking some of the money that is currently being spent on ecologically destructive practices and companies, and funnel it towards permaculture based businesses that will allow people to make a good living while also having a positive impact on the environment. I was actually signed up for this program 2 years ago, before it was canceled due to low enrollment. So I took the $800 deposit that was returned to me and put that down for a spot in the Ant Village, recognizing that it was important for me to do something big involving permaculture at that time. Now that I have had the experience of being in charge of the large undertaking that is designing and developing my Ant Village plot, it is even more clear to me that I need to build the skills necessary to take on large projects efficiently and professionally. I am very excited to be taking these steps at this time.
The ELI program, although certainly a bargain considering the scope and quality of instruction, is quite expensive. So I have set up a GoFundMe campaign to help raise funds for my tuition. You can see the campaign and watch a video message I have recorded about it here: https://www.gofundme.com/sendjessetotheeli
I have also been producing videos and doing projects this winter as I have been away from Wheaton Labs, although I don't post them here because they don't really involve Wheaton Labs or the Ant Village. Right now I am working on a permaculture design and installation for my cousin in Chandler, Arizona. Its a completely different climate down here in the Desert Southwest, but the principles of permaculture still apply, shaped by the context of the environment and people involved. Here's the first video in the series about this project. You can find the rest on my Youtube channel, OneHeartFire.
I've been watching this quite entertaining youtube channel with a Canadian fellow doing all sorts of nifty experiments in his shop, and I thought this video might spark some discussion among the RMH crowd. Essentially he is pyrolyzing regular old wonderbread and turning it into a highly insulative "carbon foam." He does some heat testing with a thermocouple and an acetylene tourch, and the results are pretty dramatic. Could this be a way for permies and homesteaders to create our own low cost refractory insulation? I do imagine it is quite fragile, but the process is so simple, and the raw materials are non-toxic and widely available.
Even if Brad Lancaster is unavailable to visit personally, I highly recommend visiting the dunbar springs neighborhood where he lives and works, and just take a walk around. I did just that a few days ago and it was great to see permaculture being adopted on a neighborhood wide scale.
In preparation for my upcoming permaculture design project near Phoenix, Arizona, I visited my friend Diane to learn about how she manages to grow a nice vegetable garden in Phoenix, despite the challenging climate and conditions. In addition to the veggie garden, Diane and her husband have created a beautiful oasis in their backyard with many desert appropriate trees, shrubs, and cacti. This environment attracts a great number of local wildlife, including many small birds, and has even become a favorite hunting ground for several birds of prey.
Here's a video about what has happened to the backyard where I had one of my most successful gardens three years ago. Besides three of the beds being turned into one large raised bed, nothing has been done with the backyard in that time, nothing has been planted, and there has been no irrigation. Still, some of the things we planted and let go to seed are still to be found in the back yard, along with several yummy weeds!
Growing your own fresh greens doesn't have to take a lot of work and care, as long as you are willing to widen your perception of what your garden should look like, and what you put on your plate. Many of the "weeds" you will likely find growing all on their own in your back yard are completely edible, nutritious, and delicious. In this video I give a short tour of the edible greens available in a southern California back yard, growing all on their own despite the fact that there has been no work done to the garden in over three years. By introducing some cultivated varieties and letting them go to seed, you can have your favorite greens popping up all over your yard every year without ever having to plant again. By planting perennial vegetables and herbs, you can harvest every year with very little work, just by letting Nature do what she does best.
I'v been holding off on releasing this video in hopes that I could obtain some pictures or video of the heater in action at Oceti camp, from my friends still at the camps. This proved to be challenging due to the weather and other conditions, but I was able to provide a verbal update at the end of this video, and the heater is now in operation and keeping people warm.
Julia Winter wrote:I need more! What happened next??? Did you finish the pebble style RMH? Did the cob RMH work? Did you all have to move??
Sorry Julia. Ive been waiting on an update and some pictures to finish off the last video, but i think my friends out there are having challenges getting them to me. Im just going to put out what i have in the next two days. But yes, it was finished and is being used as far as i know.
In mid November, a few of us from the Ant Village traveled to Standing Rock, North Dakota, to help support the water protectors demonstrating against the Dakota Access Pipe Line. Our general goal was to help with winterization efforts at the camps, but specifically we planned to build a rocket mass heater. Rocket mass heaters are a perfect solution for the problems of a great need for heating, limited firewood, and the low air quality due to numerous conventional wood stoves and open fires spread around the camps. Also, we hoped it would present a big opportunity to tell, and show, many people about how rocket mass heaters work, and can serve as an alternative to heating our homes with fossil fuels, as we recognize that the best long term solution for stopping the oil pipe lines is to drastically reduce our own consumption of fossil fuels. We packed up my truck with winter camping gear and rented a small trailer to carry the rocket mass heater supplies, then we set out towards North Dakota for what would turn out to be an incredible journey and experience. This is part 2 of that journey.
Hi Paul. Berms are awesome!! I had to put that here. So anyway, one reason that those sunchoke plants on top of your berm are doing so well even though we might think that there is not much moisture there, is because there actually is moisture there! The reason that there is moisture there, is because of evaporation off the surface of the berm (which has a large surface area) and evapo-transpiration from the plants. These evaporation processes creates a capillary draw from the water rich soil particles within the berm's center and under the base of the berm.
Thank you Roberto! Though I am well aware of the extra water that seems to exist in berms, I have always been a bit perplexed by the mechanics of it. Your explanation makes a lot of sense. Berms add more surface area to the land, more soil/plants in contact with the air, more evaporation, and so more water is drawn up from down below via capillary action. Its like the berm is its own air well, not only pulling more moisture out of the air via condensation (aka dew harvest), but also pulling water up from the water table when conditions are dry! I am also quite pleased by the fact that you can turn 1 acre of flat growing surface, into almost 2 acres of growing surface by building berms all over it. My plot in the Ant Village will have almost no flat surfaces by the time I'm done with the earthworks.
If this is the wrong place or if it is inappropriate, please re-post or delete.
There was someone who came to Standing Rock and taught classes on how the tribes could test their own water, since the States refuse to share their testing results with the tribes. I imagine the Health Ranger has already contacted the Standing Rock tribe, but I think they would be the ones to share this info with.
In mid November, a few of us from the Ant Village traveled to Standing Rock, North Dakota, to help support the water protectors demonstrating against the Dakota Access Pipe Line. Our general goal was to help with winterization efforts at the camps, but specifically we planned to build a rocket mass heater. Rocket mass heaters are a perfect solution for the problems of a great need for heating, limited firewood, and the low air quality due to numerous conventional wood stoves and open fires spread around the camps. Also, we hoped it would present a big opportunity to tell, and show, many people about how rocket mass heaters work, and can serve as an alternative to heating our homes with fossil fuels, as we recognize that the best long term solution for stopping the oil pipe lines is to drastically reduce our own consumption of fossil fuels. We packed up my truck with winter camping gear and rented a small trailer to carry the rocket mass heater supplies, then we set out towards North Dakota for what would turn out to be an incredible journey and experience. This is part 1 of that journey.
While we were helping out with the winterization efforts at Standing Rock, Evan put on a demontsration of how you can build a simple but effective rocket cook stove out of nothing more than some used soup cans, some mud, and a bit of inexpensive perlite insulation. Tin snips, pliers, and a nail for poking holes are the only tools required. These little stoves are great for cooking or boiling water, and use a surprisingly small amount of wood for a large amount of heat. Just one more example of how simple do it yourself technology can help move us away from dependence on fossil fuels.
Lots of good advice on the above two posts. There are a few people/groups here building rocket mass heaters (of various knowledge and skill levels from what I have seen, but I'm new to this as well). A ready made, ready to go rmh would be the ideal thing to bring here, as building with cob has its challenges in the cold, and there are some restrictions on digging. That said, I'm planning to start building our rmh tomorrow. I put the word out for a large space in need of a heater, and a friend of mine here connected me with a schoolhouse in the Oceti camp. I've got all the materials I need, except for the cob which will have to be trucked in from a source not on army core land. I don't know of any contact person, as there are lots of different camps and groups working on their own winterization projects. I would say, if you are going to come and build something, have everything you need with you and plan to stay until it is finished. Once you are here, you can just ask around for a place to build it, of course, making sure it is OK with the elders first. If anyone wants to find me here they can ask the folks at the strawbale schoolhouse at sacred stone.
I ended up coming back to the Ant Village earlier than expected, as I was heading out to support the water protectors as Standing Rock in North Dakota. A few of us from the village worked together to build a rocket mass heater and bring it out to the camps to install in one of their winter structures and help keep the people warm while using far less firewood. I set up a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for the materials and a trailer to bring it all out there. Here is the link: https://www.gofundme.com/rocket-mass-heater-at-standing-rock
While I was in the village, I thought I would film a tour of the houses that everyone has been working so hard on, as I know that there are lots of people following the Ant Village that are itching to see the progress.
Thank you Skip. One of the things that inspires me most about permaculture is the fact that is a solutions based method/practice/movement. I think most people are reasonable aware of the problems in the world, but they just tune them out after a while be a use they don't know what to do about them. Standing rock is bringing an incredible amount of people around to the awareness that something must be done to end the oil economy, what is really exciting is the opportunity it has created to expose a huge audience to the solutions that permaculture offers. There will be more to come in this space soon.
This isn't an Ant Village video, but I felt like I should share it here as what I'm talking about fits in well with what Wheaton labs and all of us in the Ant Village are working to promote in the greater world. To paraphrase Paul, we can't just spend all our time getting angry at bad guys, we need to learn how to do good things in our own lives. I feel like there is value in balancing the two.
With the house buried and closed up for winter, I was able to take advantage of having the excavator on my plot to do some major earthworks that I have been planning for a while. I very roughly shaped in a couple of jump lines for the future permaculture bike park, keeping in mind the water collection aspects of these features and how they will interact with the growing areas and hugelkulture berms I build up at the same time. Again, the toothless excavator bucket made it difficult to dig as I had planned too, so finishing these jump lines will take a considerable amount of hand digging, much like I have done in the past with my friends at our local bike jumps in Orange County, CA. Hopefully I can get a good crew of volunteers next summer to help build out the bike park portion of my project. Once the jumps were piled, all that was left to do was create a dry storage space for the winter, as my large tarp has become full of leaks after being out in the sun for so long. I decided to finish the skidable platform I started last year by installing a shed roof made primarily of recycled pallets. On top of the pallets I installed what we have been calling a mulch roof here in the Ant Village. It is a quick and simple roof that involves a tarp layer over the roof structure for waterproofing, covered with enough mulch (mostly Douglas Fir boughs) to keep the sunlight from reaching the tarp and degrading it. This roof also serves the purpose of making the structure visually blend in more with the forest.
Once I finished the huge project of getting my earth integrated house buried, I was ready to take a break from working on my Ant Village plot and head back out to California to see my family and friends. But first, there was a few things that needed to be done before I would be ready to leave. A rainstorm was on the way, which pushed me towards getting the underground tarp layer of my insulation/watershed umbrella completely sealed up and ready to withstand the winter rain and snow. This included installing some window sills made from some of the pine slabs I had milled up with my chainsaw mill. Also, since I had the excavator on my plot already, I decided to go ahead and start building some bike jumps, starting the permaculture bike park aspect of my design, which I am really excited for. To do this I had to move an unfinished skidable structure that was in the way, as well as cut down all the conifer trees that were in the path of the jumps, turning them into hugelkuture beds that will grow food in the future.
paul wheaton wrote:I get the impression that Jesse is not sticking around this winter because he needs to earn some coin. Is it possible that the vicarious observers here could come up with a job? Maybe a deep roots person would like to have some work done on their plot? Maybe more support for jesse's patreon stuff?
I am indeed working at the moment to try and save up some coin. I would like to have an emergency fund saved up so I am not left high and dry like last year when my truck broke down, I'm still recovering from that really. I had this job lined up before I asked Paul for clarity on the dates for winter, I also committed months ago to helping with a gathering on the 15th here in california. My plan was to get my house buried by the end of summer, and work into the fall before returning to the Lab for the winter deadline, which I falsely assumed would be closer to the actual calendar dates of winter. Two weeks ago I was working all day with my shirt off. Anyway, when I left a couple weeks ago it seemed pretty unlikely that the challenge would be happening this year, as two of the ants had only just started building their structure. I guess I need some clarification on what "living in their structure over winter" means. Does having a half finished structure at the start of winter (oct. 15th) count?
Right now my house is buried but has no walls, would sleeping in that in a sleeping bag be living in my structure or winter camping? That seems to be the state of everyone's structures at this point, except for Jim and possibly Evan. I have a stove and stovepipe ready to install when I return, which could heat the space while I am building walls. If the challenge is actually going to happen this year, and it appears that everyone is going to be able to stay through the winter and not leave half way through, I would be strongly leaning towards returning before the end of october (using up my two weeks of allowed winter absence) and making a serious go of it. Otherwise, its pretty tough to walk away from the chance to make good money out here, build my design business over the winter, and spend time with my family.
Gary Huntress wrote:Incredible job, Jesse! You da man! I was wondering if you could re-explain your earth tube design. I didn't quite get the whole concept of how it's supposed to work.
Hans gave a pretty good description of what is happening. Basically the house and the tubes together create a convection current that pulls air into the house through the intake tube and out through the exhaust tube. So in the summertime, hot outside air gets drawn through the mass, which will pull heat out of the air and cool it down. By the time the air enters the house it should be nice and cool, close to the temperature of the mass which has cooled over the winter.
This would also work with just one tube, the intake, if I opened the window up high in the house to let warmer air escape. However, with the second tube, the exhaust, up high near those windows, the warmer air will instead be pushed into that tube, where it will start to cool back down towards the temp of the mass while sinking down the downhill run of the pipe, further powering the convection current. This exhaust tube will also help to transfer more heat into the mass over the summer, so that when the cold weather comes the mass has more heat stored inside it.
Now that it is cold outside, that cold air will be drawn into the intake tube and through the mass, picking up heat along the way. So by the time the air gets to the house it is close to the temp of the mass, aka much warmer than outside. This warm air will continue to heat up slightly while in the house because of the south facing windows, or because I'm running a wood stove if its not quite warm enough. This will continue to power the convection current and push air into the exhaust tube.
Now this is where the heat exchange part of the earth tube set up comes into play. The first part of the intake tube runs right next to the last part of the exhaust tube, and the air inside the tubes is running in opposite directions. So that nice warm air from inside the house which is escaping via the exhaust tube will enter the heat exchanger and run right next to the cold air coming up the intake tube, by the time the exhaust air reaches the end of the line it will have conducted most of its heat into the cool air coming up the intake. This means that the heat that was going to escape along with the exhaust air is now being pumped back into the house via the intake air.
This will also happen in the summer time, but with the "coolth" inside the exhaust air being transferred to the intake air.
Of course this is all just an experiment, and this is only how I think it will work. I'm excited to see how it actually works. For a much better explanation with fancy pictures and diagrams, you can read Passive Annual Solar Heating by John Hait, which I based the whole thermal mass/insulation umbrella/earth tube design off of.
Yeah I have a small welder, and believe me,I've thought of that. The challenge is getting power to the welder without using an hour of machine time to get Rex over to the solar leviathan. He moves quite slow.
After working the Summer to get the structure of my tiny house finished and ready to handle the weight, I am finally putting the soil layer on my earth sheltered house. Earth sheltering alone helps to moderate the wide temperature swings of the Montana climate, but I am going a bit further to hopefully minimize the amount of heating I will need to do in the winter, while keeping the house cool in the summer time. I am installing an insulated thermal mass behind and under the house by using the "insulation watershed umbrella" technique described in the book "Passive Annual Solar Heating" by John Hait. Because of the guidelines requiring the use of non-toxic materials here in the Ant Village, I am experimenting with using cardboard as the insulation layer, instead of the polystyrene foam boards recommended by John Hait. This made the burying process a bit more complicated, but overall I think it will work out well. I also had some challenges finding enough dirt within reach of the excavator and the house, due to some very worn out teeth on the excavator bucket. In the end, I found out that burying an earth sheltered house requires A LOT of hand digging, even if you are using an excavator. Hopefully, all of this extra work in the beginning will result in a lot less work over time gathering and splitting firewood to heat the house.
Check out this guy for some inspiration. His Name is Garth and his place is near Joshua Tree, so similar climate as barstow. He's been doing permaculture out there for about 30 years (I think) and the place is pretty amazing. I've had the pleasure of visiting his place and it is definitely a great example of high desert permaculture, like an oasis among the boulders of the high desert.