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my "i have tons of crazy ideas" thread  RSS feed

 
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So i always have tons of weird crazy ideas come to me and i thought i might pop in and list them as i think of them. Maybe some people will pop in and see it and say its a great idea... maybe people with some more know how on the particular one will say its not very plausable and why... maybe some people will see things here and one project will catch their fancy and they will start experimenting with it! (:

** solar RMH heating, hook up one of the solar heater boxes with the soda cans etc and pipe the hot air into a RMH style bench. I have a thread with more detail on the idea in the solar area of the forum.

** permies approved breed chicken, dual purpose breed that would be bred specifically for hardyness on a better than organic mostly/all free range diet. I think a great way to start this would be to gather all the permies who have chickens and are raising them organic or better, free range, etc. And buy fertile eggs from their flock (or from what they consider the best of their flock etc). So you could start with a good spectrum of genetics to play with and hopefully between them you could cull down to the best of them to breed from there. With a foot up by starting with eggs from already permie-raised flocks.

** someone from the lab said in a podcast they want to get into meat rabbits permie style. I have had meat rabbits, just had to get out of em for a while to save up, and i would love to work with someone on this. Its much easier working with someone else. I know all about the rabbits i just need someone who is more into the helping figure out how to feed them permie style (without them escaping and feeding wildlife). I have ideas but not enough money to put toward this.

** meat guinea pigs. I had to sell out of mine due to some personal things come up and the animals werent what i wanted to go forward with. I have sourced someone who will sell me actual peru meat bred cuy and the one guy in the US with large pet type guinea pigs i would like to play with a crossbred line.
The problem is... again i dont have a spot to do it and it cost money. The US guy i could get on my own once i had a setup but the peru ones to import will be over a thousand dollars.
I would really love to work with this though!

** goats... i know goats are pretty un-permie because they are hard keepers and as Paul ranted a bit in the last podcast about them. My family raised milk goats and i adore them... the little hoofed terrors they can be... lol. I have an idea for breeding a line of dairy X nigerian/pygmy that would be smaller than standard, but with better milk production than nigerians or pygmies, and be dual purpose and still make good amount of meat on plate bound wethers. And also a line that would hopefully be less fence terrors.
I am used to hand milking and all the work for them and know how to make cheese, butter, yogurt and would like to expand my knowledge in this space as well


I know theres more ideas but this is a start of them for now.
 
pollinator
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All of your ideas are plausible and can be done. To make things work, you will need to figure out how to integrate the connections and needs of the animals into the connections and needs of the system. I liked how Toby Hemenway in gaia's garden talked about the difference between form and function permaculture. The former's goal is to imitate nature and latter's goal is to behave like nature (i.e. making connections). He also made a good point that animals for necessary for regulating ecosystems. One way toby hemenway taught in his book for establishing connections was to list all the needs and functions of the organisms, and your goal is to make all the needs of each organisms become fulfilled.
For example:
-Goats
-needs: water, oxygen, shelter, and food
-functions: milk, hair, soil compaction, entertainment, companionship, feces, and urine
Here the goat s a dynamic piece of your ecosystem. The milk and hair provide food and clothing for the humans. The soil compaction creates microclimates and encourages species diversity. The entertainment and companionship add fun to the lives of the humans. The feces and urine contain valuable phosphorus and nitrogen for plant growth. The digestive tract of animals is good for helping seeds germinate.
I highly advise watching this video by geoff lawton about cell grazing because he demonstrates how animals can be a vital part of ecosystems and proper grazing techniques:
http://www.geofflawton.com/fe/63637-cell-grazing
I also advise watching Geoff Lawton's video about goats because it proves that goats can be tools for healing:
http://www.geofflawton.com/fe/60564-reforesting-with-goats
 
kadence blevins
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Thanks for those links. Tryin to watch em bits at a time whenmy cell allows it to load *eyeroll* but definitely cool.

** another thing i have ideas in.. there was talk in one thread about alternative beds/bedding. I have ideas for handmade hammocks, bedding made specifically to work well with hammock sleeping, maybe a hammock thats an all-in-one kind of like hammock cocoon thing so you dont have to worry about blankets falling etc, some padding to use in a hammock or a nice thick hammock for winter,...

** sheep; fiber, milk, meat... i have not had sheep before but i have lots of ideas to work them in a paddock shift etc and they would be hopefully eventually 100% grass and hay fed. And until then at least be like 70% grass and hay fed and 30% better than organic grain/sprouts/etc feed raised myself.
The sheep would supply me with fiber for my handspinning plus my next idea...

** wool mattress... i super love this idea and have many ideas floating around my brain of different mattress designs. Different sewing/making designs and different ideas of wool processing for stuffing.
Plus i am playing with this awesome way of washing the wool where you actually like ferment the wool and pull it out and rinse it and its nearly all clean. It takes the natural sheep sweat and all that cleans the wool while on the sheep and uses it to clean the wool. So instead of one batch of wool needing X gallons of water and X amount of soap and 3 hours of my time... with this method i use 1/4 the water, about 1/8 the soap, and 1/3 the time!
 
steward
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** permies approved breed chicken, dual purpose breed that would be bred specifically for hardyness on a better than organic mostly/all free range diet. I think a great way to start this would be to gather all the permies who have chickens and are raising them organic or better, free range, etc. And buy fertile eggs from their flock (or from what they consider the best of their flock etc). So you could start with a good spectrum of genetics to play with and hopefully between them you could cull down to the best of them to breed from there. With a foot up by starting with eggs from already permie-raised flocks.


I think that this is a great idea. Today's hatchery chicks are being mass produced with piss poor industrial type standards. And, I suspect that in the near future the USPS is going to stop accepting any living animals as "mail". When that happens, raising chickens will no longer be sustainable unless you have your own breeding stock, or a nearby neighbor that does.

Actually, it will become more sustainable because if chicks are no longer accepted in the mail, people will need to get their chicks from local sources. If you have extra dozens of chicks to sell, you now have a new income stream. Even the local seed & feed stores that sell chicks each spring are usually buying from the big mail order hatcheries. Most of the people advertising on Craig's List are also buying from them. They order 100, keep a dozen, and offer the rest on CL to offset their costs. If everybody is cut off from the mail order birds, you may be the only game in town. Prices will skyrocket - good for you in two ways: 1) you can charge more for x week old chicks, and 2) since they are so expensive, many of the urban folks will decide not to raise their own chickens, which means that there will be more people buying eggs instead of growing their own.

There will become a day when if people want to buy live birds, they will need to do it from the local farmers. Be ready for that day before it comes. PETA would like to see the USPS to stop mailing chicks, and so would the egg industry. It is just a matter of time.

As Kelly Klober says, "Don't get into chicken breeding unless you like chicken salad." If you want a vigorous flock, you do need to cull for the best.
 
kadence blevins
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Yup "breed the best, eat the rest" for all animals.
 
kadence blevins
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** pigs.. i think i would start with a smallish sow and a big potbelly or kunekune boar. Maybe both potbellies, as they are fairly easy to find and i wont be feedin a ton of people. This way less investment before i find out if i care to raise them.
If i did end up well with them i have ideas on a nice line crossing pot belly, kunekune, red wattle hog. If i got into that.

** a seriously simple, no fuss system for guppy breeding to use as chicken/etc feed and especially a nice boost through wintertime. I have several ideas already doodled out and all just would have to actually put it together and see if it worked no.fuss.

 
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Like your ideas. I was very interested in your thoughts about washing the wool.
Years ago I had an idea about washing the wool while ON the
body of the sheep.
Is this what you were talking about?
Iam also interested in your mattress . bedding thoughts.
Back in the long ago day, people did use wool for bedding,
Not sure how it was kept from clumping when washed,
Or maybe it was never washed? (back then they had different
ideas about hygene.
Was thib=nking about using a pattern of smallish sized " pockets to
hold the wool so that it might not clump as much?
I was thinking about making quits made out of rabbit pelts.
Don't have rabbits, or the money to buy the pelts that are ready to use.
 
kadence blevins
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Thanks karen. No theres not a way to wash the wool on the sheep without just felting the whole sheep (not good for the sheep or if ya want the wool).
What i said about is called "ferment fleece method" or "suint method" etc. You take a bucket, add nice dirty greasy wool, top off with water, cover with a cloth to keep bugs out, wait about 4-12wks stirring a bit once per day. Once you get a nice suint going you can reuse the water for several fleeces.

How it works is the sheep make oils/sweat that is on the fleece as it grows. The grease, lanolin, helps shed the rain. And sheep arent the smartest and get rather dirty, so nature set things up so that when dirt gets in the fleece, the sweat and dirt and lanolin combine and actually works to keep clean.
There are others who are better at explaining this, i'm sure, but thats my understanding.

So the suint takes advantage of this natural cleaning and makes sure all of the wool is surrounded and in time it cleans the fleece with very little input from me.
Then once its done i just have to haul out the wet wool from the suint, rinse it, and give it a gentle wash to get rid of the smell of the suint.
 
kadence blevins
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Rabbit pelts make great blankets and mitten linings and boot/moccasin linings.. but unless ya tan em yourself its not much good unless ya have extra money to throw at people selling done pelts. The other catch is good rabbit pelts are from 6+month old rabbits.. meaning keeping plenty of rabbits long past the average 8-14wk butcher size.


As to the mattress.... yes anyone in the good o days who used raw wool to pack mattresses with could be easily spotted because they would smell of sheep. Good fleeces wont stink of sheep (unless ya have a strong sniffer or dont like the smell at all) but packing several fleeces raw into a mattress and sleepin there each night plus ya took a bath maybe once a month to once in several months.. ya they are gonna smell sheepy and the dirt and stuff in the fleeces is going to shorten the otherwise lifespan of the mattress and maybe the mattress shell material as well. Sheep do have mites and all they can get so i imagine they were sometimes used straight raw and later those people regretted not doing it right the first place.. be it from smell or itch.


As to the methods... yes my ideas are leaning towards pockets or sections in the mattress. The reason i lean to using long tubelike sections to stuff the wool in is bc ya could have a zipper or buttons on the end to close it and when ya need to pull it out to replace or fluff and restuff etc it is easily accessible. Rather than sewing lots of smallish pockets stuffed with wool and sewing those together like a quilt... which then its all sewn in and ya have to toss the whole thing or snip open each pocket and sew back up. Then take into consideration the amount of sewing... especially in the old days before sewing machines or likely not having money to buy one. ((Just side note i freakin **love** me some treadle sewing machines! Not used one before but i just adore them.))
 
kadence blevins
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Another thing i want to do...
I dont think i put this yet but i spin yarn and crochet and knit and some weaving.
I would love to be able to make some husp-friendly clothing and i believe i could setup workshops for this sort of thing. I am in several groups that have alot of the big people for this stuff and its a friendly bunch that i could likely find people to do workshops that are much better at this all than i am currently. ((Workshops at The Lab, pauls place. I am very keen on getting out there as a gapper.))

As to that i really believe that those type workshop could bring in more of the permie women... ahem which has been pointed out the lack of women at events etc and the lack of ladies at the lab.
 
Karen Crane
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The stuffed pocket idea I talked about for a mat tress
was not thinking to open up pockets to wash or fluff but
wash as is and if it is done right I hope will not bunch up.
How about weaving the wool ( as well as knitting it?
I saw some really neat woven blankets that were soooo soft !
The wool from the morino sheep ( think that is the breed)
is really soft and knits and iw woven for allkinds of garments.
Like you I have a ton of ideas......
mind is willing........ body refuses!
 
kadence blevins
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Ya just sleeping on it will cause it to felt up. Washing it you would need to pull out all the wool, wash it, restuff. Different wools have different tolerances to how easy they felt but they would pretty much all felt when smushed in a matress and washed. And that would be one heck of a job to wash all together!

Woven mattress.... hm... ya thats alot more work. Ya have to get the wool into a workable form to weave it. Either like roving or thick yarn. Roving would be quite an expensive wayto go. And if ya wanted ya could spin it up and weave thick blankets and use several as a mattress.. but like i said thats alot more work. Then ya would have to get the fleeces, wash em, card them, spin it all, ply it all, weave it. Thats probably a couple hundred hours of time i would guess.

The better way to go for blanket effect would just be thick felted layers. Think larger saddle pads like used for horses etc under the saddle. Problem with that would be pretty firm/hard so anyone needing/wanting a soft mattress is gonna quickly turn that down.
 
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** permies approved breed chicken, dual purpose breed that would be bred specifically for hardyness on a better than organic mostly/all free range diet. I think a great way to start this would be to gather all the permies who have chickens and are raising them organic or better, free range, etc. And buy fertile eggs from their flock (or from what they consider the best of their flock etc). So you could start with a good spectrum of genetics to play with and hopefully between them you could cull down to the best of them to breed from there. With a foot up by starting with eggs from already permie-raised flocks.



So, I've sort of been working on this for a couple of years now. I started with a hatchery flock of a non-standard breed, figuring they might be a bit less messed-around-with. I culled those who didn't cut it in an uninsulated open-eave shed with no supplemental light or heat (with windchills down to -17f more than once), and the next year I added a few birds from local flocks who had come through the winter well, also without any supplemental heat or light. I've done this every year for the last four, culling any bird that doesn't THRIVE in essentially a 3-sided shed over deep litter, any bird that isn't a good mom, any bird that doesn't forage well, etc. I had, this spring, a pretty fantastic flock of hardy, actively foraging, self-replicating mutt chickens that would eat snow for moisture when their water froze in winter. This year's plan was to work on meat characteristics and stabilizing the color (a gorgeous deep pewter grey with copper-and-cream lacing on hackles and saddles, with beards, small combs, and lightly feathered feet).

And then I moved, and left the birds in the care of the new tenants (who wanted some of my second-string breeders to start their own flock) at my old house while I got a coop set up at my new place an hour or so away. I told them to call me over ANYTHING weird with the birds, and I would do my best to walk them through responding to it, if necessary to respond at all. Didn't hear a word for two weeks, got my coop set up, and went up to get my birds.

They were all dead but one. A hawk or fox had taken all of them over more than a week, and the new tenants didn't feel it was worth bugging me over four years of work down the gullet of a fox. I found the piles of soggy feathers where they had taken my prized hen, Rocket, and the pile that had been Blue Penny, the pullet who I had hoped to hatch every single egg from this year. Of the rest, there was no sign except a very traumatized Black Mottled Java who had so thoroughly bonded to the feral ducks that I watched her try to follow them into the pond.

I raced home and put the last 11 eggs I had collected from my flock into the incubator and crossed my fingers. Two days ago, I got 5 chicks (which, for the fact that the eggs had been sitting on the counter for almost 3 weeks, not turned or kept in steady temps at all, is pretty freakin' miraculous.) Time will tell how much of my genetics I've managed to salvage - with my luck lately, I just hatched 4 roosters and a worthless hen - but they did annihilate a full plate of fine-chopped kitchen scraps their first day out of the egg, so I have some hope.

I will need to add some fresh blood, though - 5 birds is not enough genetic diversity to be getting on with, I could hack it for a couple of years but it'd be really chancy after that. Who thinks I should start a thread "Send Me Your Hardiest Eggs" and I could make it a permies project instead of a personal one?
 
kadence blevins
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How terrible ): you should definitely try startin a thread for a good start up! Sounds like you have a good know how of what to go for.
 
pollinator
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kadence blevins wrote:So i always have tons of weird crazy ideas come to me and i thought i might pop in and list them as i think of them. Maybe some people will pop in and see it and say its a great idea... maybe people with some more know how on the particular one will say its not very plausable and why... maybe some people will see things here and one project will catch their fancy and they will start experimenting with it! (:


Hi Kadence. I have 'tons of crazy ideas' too. So I like your thread
My ideas are different from yours. Of course, every individual has his/her own 'crazy' ideas! I think it's part of Permaculture to share ideas.

Here some of my ideas:
- writing and illustrating a childrens' book, for children about the age of 10, on permaculture. A story helping them start their own little permaculture garden.
- organising activities in my neighbourhood: first a clean-up-action in the park, and then starting a permaculture food-forest there, growing fruits and vegetables between the trees and shrubs already in the park. I know two others living nearby who want this too, we will try to start it together.
- I'll try to sell my products (art and all kinds or things, mostly hand-crafted from natural materials, upcycling and recycling) at a booth this summer when there's a fair called "Montmartre in Meppel". But I won't price my products, my motto will be 'what is it worth for you?' So 'clients' can bid and then I can sell it for that price, or not ...
 
pollinator
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I want solar things because it is not so cold here, but enough to make you want some more heat, and I have decided that even a wood RMH "eats" the wood I would put under the ground for CO2 at the right place!

I want meat cuys, because I have the pet type, and they are just so small!

And I would love mini-goats too....
No goats are not anti-permies, as here a cow is a crazy solution!
 
pollinator
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What a fun thread! I am awash in weird ideas!

Let's see, I made a wool mattress thingy! I have severe pain issues, and my bed was killing me, so I found some wool cheap (washed, then packed into pillowcases and hung from the rafters of their garage for about 10 years, I'd say anything that was ever in there is dead) me and my mom picked through it, fluffed it, took out all debris, then hit it with a leaf blower in front of a grill, to remove any dust. I then arranged it into pillowcases, pinned them shut, and put them into a modified futon mattress cover. What I have is a mattress thing about 4-6 inches deep on top of my existing mattress, with sections that I can modify easily, taking the stuffing in or out and fluff as needed. What I also have is for the first time since 1996, SLEEP!! I have no spasms, cramps or numbness at night any more!! WHOO HOO!!! Until you have averaged 4 hours of sleep a night for 20 years, you don't know how good it feels to sleep 7 or 8 hours without waking up screaming!

The bit about using the solar heater things to run through the thermal mass of a  RMH: I'm doing that in the house I'm building, I'll tell you if it works! Certainly should. I'm designing my solar thingy a bit different than most, not using aluminum, using steel food cans. I spent most of my life in the desert. Give me the choice of picking up an aluminum can or a steel can out of the sun, bare handed, I'm taking the aluminum one, it's not hot. The steel one is, I guarantee it. Many years of burning my hands on things backs me up. So steel cans, cut lengthways to make curved pieces, that will be stacked by size into kind of a radiating fins type thing kind of like  ((U))   open to the sun, run in lines at a diagonal to increase turbulence, under glass. I suspect it will be way more effective than non-turbulent aluminum tubes, and that works well already, amping it up can only help. The heat will get pulled into the house, some will just hang around where it comes in, some will go to the air handler in the basement which flows air up though a thermal mass wall, which the mass heater is part of. We shall see if I'm right about how it works, I think I am. I haven't heard of it being done, but most people seem to focus on one heating/cooling system or another, not multiple input thermal mass walls in their home.

C Kelley: Definitely need to get eggs sent to you to breed with! That's awesome!!


 
Xisca Nicolas
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"Gardens in my mind never need water; castles in the air never have a wet basement....
I'm working on making my basement water the garden! Wonder if I can make ticks pull a plow...."



Tahiti post cards are below 100% air humidity, do not have high sidewalks, and you do not see mosquitos and anyway if you would, they would not pick you... Wonder if I can make mosquitos turn a turbine for electricity...
;)

Pearl, I would love to understand your solar heater, as now I dont want RMH, I keep wood for burrying/compost! Enough C in the air, i want carbon all in the soil! Do you wrote about it or post images in the solar forum?
 
garden master
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Pearl Sutton wrote:What a fun thread! I am awash in weird ideas!

Let's see, I made a wool mattress thingy! I have severe pain issues, and my bed was killing me, so I found some wool cheap (washed, then packed into pillowcases and hung from the rafters of their garage for about 10 years, I'd say anything that was ever in there is dead) me and my mom picked through it, fluffed it, took out all debris, then hit it with a leaf blower in front of a grill, to remove any dust. I then arranged it into pillowcases, pinned them shut, and put them into a modified futon mattress cover. What I have is a mattress thing about 4-6 inches deep on top of my existing mattress, with sections that I can modify easily, taking the stuffing in or out and fluff as needed. What I also have is for the first time since 1996, SLEEP!! I have no spasms, cramps or numbness at night any more!! WHOO HOO!!! Until you have averaged 4 hours of sleep a night for 20 years, you don't know how good it feels to sleep 7 or 8 hours without waking up screaming!

The bit about using the solar heater things to run through the thermal mass of a  RMH: I'm doing that in the house I'm building, I'll tell you if it works! Certainly should. I'm designing my solar thingy a bit different than most, not using aluminum, using steel food cans. I spent most of my life in the desert. Give me the choice of picking up an aluminum can or a steel can out of the sun, bare handed, I'm taking the aluminum one, it's not hot. The steel one is, I guarantee it. Many years of burning my hands on things backs me up. So steel cans, cut lengthways to make curved pieces, that will be stacked by size into kind of a radiating fins type thing kind of like  ((U))   open to the sun, run in lines at a diagonal to increase turbulence, under glass. I suspect it will be way more effective than non-turbulent aluminum tubes, and that works well already, amping it up can only help. The heat will get pulled into the house, some will just hang around where it comes in, some will go to the air handler in the basement which flows air up though a thermal mass wall, which the mass heater is part of. We shall see if I'm right about how it works, I think I am. I haven't heard of it being done, but most people seem to focus on one heating/cooling system or another, not multiple input thermal mass walls in their home.

C Kelley: Definitely need to get eggs sent to you to breed with! That's awesome!!




Pearl, I think you'll find aluminum cans work better.  You don't want the cans to hold the heat.  You want material that heats fast and sends the heat back out fast, is the way I understand it.

Just to elaborate a bit on that idea, if the temperature in your collector gets too high, you lose much more heat out thru the glazing.  Your temperature out of the collector is best at about 120 degrees.  Hotter than than, and you don't have enough air flow, and so lose a lot more of your heat back out thru the glazing.  Aluminum loses it's heat to the air flowing thru the collector much easier, and so gets pushed into the room being heated more readily.
 
pollinator
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Hmm, crazy ideas... My current crazy idea that I really want to try is to build my own beaver dam. I have been reading up a lot about how beavers build their dams and while I can't find any example of someone building a beaver dam it does seem possible. There are things called beaver dam analogues which are basically woven fences with a mud/rock base and installed into a stream/river. I built a series of these as part of my restoration job at a site where we removed a culvert connecting two wetlands. Since beavers had made a series of step down dams/ponds below the culvert we continued that pattern using the analogues. Worked well and has resulted in a series of shallow ponds where there used to be a culvert. But they don't work as well as a real beaver dam and don't have the same look/feel to them. I really want to build my own beaver dam that mimics the functionality of the real thing. I have a seasonal stream flowing through my property and I would love to make a series of beaver dams on it to create a series of ponds and hopefully have year round water instead of just a seasonal stream. Most of the dams would be small (2 feet or so tall) but I'm thinking about building one big one that would be between 4 and 6 feet tall in the middle. Likely a crazy idea - but could be fun and I can start small and see if I can get a 2 foot high dam to survive!
 
Pearl Sutton
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Xisca Nicolas: No, I have no drawings yet, and if Todd Parr is right, I may be wrong, so looking up the regular ones might be more useful :) I can find you links to them if you want :) I don't have time or energy to experiment with them right now, I'll update this thread when I have more data.

Todd Parr: Hmm. I can see the logic both ways. I'll keep you up on what I learn, for good or bad, when I get some built. I can see your point, certainly, but years of experience with how things heat up in the desert tells me that in my current climate, more thermal mass in the metal, more fins, and more turbulence will be more effective. I am in MO, so it's not like New England cold, but days like today when it's full sun but under 10 degrees F with windchill below zero, I think my design will just dump tons of heat into the house. I'll probably make a regular aluminum one also, both for comparison testing, and it may fit a different weather niche better, maybe on days the sun goes in and out behind clouds it will be more effective. An experiment!! Those are always fun! :)
 
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Pearl Sutton wrote:Xisca Nicolas: No, I have no drawings yet, and if Todd Parr is right, I may be wrong, so looking up the regular ones might be more useful :) I can find you links to them if you want :) I don't have time or energy to experiment with them right now, I'll update this thread when I have more data.

Todd Parr: Hmm. I can see the logic both ways. I'll keep you up on what I learn, for good or bad, when I get some built. I can see your point, certainly, but years of experience with how things heat up in the desert tells me that in my current climate, more thermal mass in the metal, more fins, and more turbulence will be more effective. I am in MO, so it's not like New England cold, but days like today when it's full sun but under 10 degrees F with windchill below zero, I think my design will just dump tons of heat into the house. I'll probably make a regular aluminum one also, both for comparison testing, and it may fit a different weather niche better, maybe on days the sun goes in and out behind clouds it will be more effective. An experiment!! Those are always fun! :)



Pearl, im all about experimenting 😊 I'm looking forward to hearing the results.
 
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:

"Gardens in my mind never need water; castles in the air never have a wet basement....
I'm working on making my basement water the garden! Wonder if I can make ticks pull a plow...."



Tahiti post cards are below 100% air humidity, do not have high sidewalks, and you do not see mosquitos and anyway if you would, they would not pick you... Wonder if I can make mosquitos turn a turbine for electricity...
;)

Pearl, I would love to understand your solar heater, as now I dont want RMH, I keep wood for burrying/compost! Enough C in the air, i want carbon all in the soil! Do you wrote about it or post images in the solar forum?



Xisca, if you go to builditsolar.com they have plans for passive and fan solar air heaters. They are quite easy to build. Mike Jay also posted the one he built on a building on his property right here on permies.
 
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Another idea for solar heating:  Solar Barn

He uses black window screen as the collector instead of aluminum cans, etc.  The air then flows through the mesh and picks up the heat.  The screen has very low thermal mass.

Easier to build than cans, and no painting.

I was originally going to try building something like this, but I found that just pulling down the heat that builds up under my roof works great and is totally "stealth", plus it didn't require any new materials other than a filter.  I recycled the blower, cord, and duct work from an old gas furnace that quit working.
Well I also added a microcontroller and a couple thermisters, total cost of them was under $2

As for using mass, I don't think it will be very effective. 
Solar collectors that are running at maximum efficiency are typically only a few degrees warmer than the interior air.  The mass already built into the house (floors, walls, etc.) will already absorb and re-radiate some of the heat.  Running the air through a rocket mass will probably not be worth the effort and materials, but that's just an educated guess.

I'd recommend installing the solar collector first and see how warm it's output is, then decided if it's worth trying to connect it to the Rocket Mass Stove
 
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Peter VanDerWal:

  Running the air through a rocket mass will probably not be worth the effort and materials

I'm not running it through a rocket mass heater, but through a thermal mass wall, that has air flow tubes in the mass. Some drawings in this thread of what I'm doing, I didn't detail out the thermal mass wall in them, it's cement blocks with metal pipes run through it, poured solid around them with concrete. Link to Maison du Bricolage It's main purpose to stabilize the internal temperature at whatever heat or coolness we want, minimize fluctuations. So running the heat from the collectors through it heats the wall as it circulates the warm air around.

Solar collectors that are running at maximum efficiency are typically only a few degrees warmer than the interior air.

Oh wow. I disagree. It's possible we are using the term "solar collector" differently. In my experience, if they are running that cool, they aren't designed well. Have you ever got into your car on a sunny day and had to wait for the heat to billow out? Solar collectors can easily get so hot you can't touch them. That's why I want to use the steel cans, because they get hotter than aluminum, or screen, and they hold their heat for a few minutes if the sun goes behind a cloud or something like that, so the temperature doesn't have to come back up to hot again every time a cloud passes. Try putting a steel can and an aluminum can out in the sun, pick them up barehanded when they have been out there for a few minutes, then try again when a cloud has blocked the sun for a few minutes. The steel one will still be noticeably hotter. I lived in NM most of my life, and have branded myself on a lot of steel tools, have never burned my hand on a screen or anything aluminum. Possible we are calling very different things by the same name. Possible I'm designing something alien, this happens pretty often :) I have done a lot of solar cooking, and I always use thermal mass (usually terracotta tile) in my cookers, and get excellent results. Solar and thermal mass are excellent playmates!
Edited to add: Possibly the difference is whether the collector is being designed for quick start/instant low heat (which screen or aluminum would be great for) or slower start, longer lasting, higher temperature heat, which is my goal with the steel and thermal mass. Could be two totally different agendas going on here. Might depend on the climate it's being designed to work well in, I'm in Missouri, and there are a lot of bright sunny cold temperature days that are my target use. The windows in this rental, badly insulated though they are, are still cranking a lot of heat on days like that.

If you are collecting heat from under the roof of your house, you have an uninsulated attic space? Those can definitely be a good source of heat! I have noticed that some of the older houses in the area I moved to have their bathroom vents run into the uninsulated attic, often under a metal roof, and I have wondered about just reversing the fan in winter. It's a code violation for those fans to vent into the attic, but a lot of these places are not up to current code.
 
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Pearl Sutton wrote:Peter VanDerWal:

Solar collectors that are running at maximum efficiency are typically only a few degrees warmer than the interior air.

Oh wow. I disagree. It's possible we are using the term "solar collector" differently. In my experience, if they are running that cool, they aren't designed well. Have you ever got into your car on a sunny day and had to wait for the heat to billow out?



The car get's hot because it has no air flow through it, even a small solar powered fan can keep a car much cooler by moving air through it and therefor moving the heat out of the car.
When running at maximum efficiency a solar collect has enough air (or water) flow through it that the delta-T (change in temperature between input and output) is relatively small.  Highly efficient solar collectors transfer the heat out almost as fast as it is collected.

Solar collectors can easily get so hot you can't touch them. That's why I want to use the steel cans, because they get hotter than aluminum, or screen, and they hold their heat for a few minutes if the sun goes behind a cloud or something like that,


I'm not talking the temperature of the collector, I'm talking the temperature of the air/water coming out, THAT is what matters.  Things get hot in the sun when they can't get rid of the heat and instead it builds up. Steel cans get hotter because they have poor thermal transfer properties compared to aluminum.  Aluminum transfers it's heat to the air much better than steel which is why it feels only slightly warmer than the air.
Steel does not transfer it's heat as well, which is why it get's so hot....and stays hot. 
If you make a collector out of steel, the collector will get very hot, but the air moving over it...not so much.  The idea is to heat the air, not the collector, which means you need something that is good at TRANSFERRING the heat to air.
This is why all the professionally made collectors use aluminum.
The collectors made using window screen allows the air to flow over all sides of the screen which means more contact surface to transfer the heat with.  When using can's etc. you typically only have the air flow on the inside of the can, so all the heat being radiated by the outside of the cans isn't going into the air.


If you are collecting heat from under the roof of your house, you have an uninsulated attic space? Those can definitely be a good source of heat! I have noticed that some of the older houses in the area I moved to have their bathroom vents run into the uninsulated attic, often under a metal roof, and I have wondered about just reversing the fan in winter. It's a code violation for those fans to vent into the attic, but a lot of these places are not up to current code.


My attic space is heavily insulated, about 16" of insulation....on the bottom of the attic.  The space between the insulation and the roof is what gets hot, that is where I draw the heat from.  Even in the winter, my attic can get 40 degrees warmer than outside, so if it's 40 degrees outside, it can get up to 80 degrees in the attic. Not supper hot, but if the inside of the house is in the low 60s, it can warm the house up pretty quickly.

My house is setup so the air in the house vents back up into the attic, so when I blow air down from the attic, the cooler air from the house goes back into the attic to be heated.  Since the air from the house is typically warmer than the air outside it doesn't cool down the attic as as fast as pulling in outside air would. 
Simply blowing air down from the attic and venting the house outside, wouldn't work as well because the attic would cool down faster.
When I circulate the air from the attic down into the house the attic temp only drops 3-5 degrees. 
I start the blower when the attic is 10-12 degrees warmer than the house and the house temp goes up about 2 degrees per hour.
 
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Peter VanDerWal: That all makes sense, thank you! I am still going to try  it. Possibly what I am doing is not best termed a solar collector then. I sometimes hate having to use words because the closest word I can find for what I'm trying to communicate is inaccurate. I'll post data and pictures when I do it, and we can figure out what to call it :D  Possibly I'll call it a mistake. I'll be surprised if that's the case though. 

I have lived in NM most of my life, and recently moved to MO, and I have been baffled in this part of the country by how they do their attics (and I'm NOT building mine this way.) The idea is what you have, insulation on top of the ceiling, with roof over the top. What actually seems to end up happening in most of them is the insulation shifts around due to all kinds of factors (gable venting blowing it around, as they don't put any kind of surface on top of it, animals getting in and rearranging it, etc) and the result is when it snows, you can drive around town and see the snow melting off of the roof in sections, and ice dams and icicles. This starts roof leaks, as well as in summer when it's humid the ceilings cave in a lot due to the weight of excessively humid insulation over just a sheetrock ceiling, as well as from leaks. There has been some really bad construction in this area, I'd have to say. I DESPISE codes, but after seeing how bad the ceilings/roofs have been done, I can kind of understand why they would have them, due to some REALLY bad builders. Sounds yours is done RIGHT. Awesome! And I agree, taking the house air and using it looping it makes sense. The bathroom vents around here that just go up into the attic don't make sense to start with. The ceiling collapses due to damp insulation usually start above the bathroom, as the shower humidity is added to the high ambient humidity that is already present in them. I'm learning a lot about bad building around here!
 
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I thought I'd post some graphs showing how effective the attic heater is.
Just after I set it up I ran a two week experiment where the attic heat was the only source of heating I used in the house.  It kept it warm enough during the day, but on cold nights (below 30 degrees) it would get a bit chilly in the mornings.  That is one of the reasons I added the mini-split heat pump.  It keeps the temps up over night so the house is 65-67 degrees in the morning, MUCH nicer than 55 degrees.





The purple box shows when the blower is running.  You can see in the first graph the dip the attic temp takes when the blower comes on, and also see how quickly the inside temperature climbs (roughly 2 degrees per hour)

 
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Peter VanDerWal:
Oh neat! That is great info!
Why does the humidity in the house jump when you turn on the blower? You are in AZ, is the ambient humidity higher than the house humidity when the minisplit has been running?
What program did you do that in? I really need to update my options for tracking/graphing temperature data.
That is awesome :) I love it that you are tracking this stuff so well, and that you are sharing it, THANK YOU!!
 
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Pearl Sutton wrote:Peter VanDerWal:
Why does the humidity in the house jump when you turn on the blower? You are in AZ, is the ambient humidity higher than the house humidity when the minisplit has been running?
What program did you do that in? I really need to update my options for tracking/graphing temperature data.
That is awesome :) I love it that you are tracking this stuff so well, and that you are sharing it, THANK YOU!!



These graphs are from 3 winters ago, I only installed the mini-split this summer.

Humidity is relative to the temperature, if the total amount of moisture in the air stays constant, as the temperature goes up, the 'relative' humidity goes down, and vice versa.  The air in the attic cools down when it gets into the house and mixes with the air already there.  This causes an increase in the relative indoor humidity.  It's also possible that there is some moisture build up in the attic, it might be at a higher humidity that outside.   I installed a humidity sensor in the attic last spring, but my outdoor weather station broke down this summer and I haven't got around to building a new one yet.

I'm a big data junky so I collect all kinds of data.
Energy consumption:


'
Water consumption:


Etc.

Currently I'm using an opensource program called RRDtool to store the data and generate the graphs.  RRD stands for Round Robin Database. Basically when you create the database you tell it how many data points it will store, then when it fills up it starts overwriting the oldest data with new data.
It's a nice tool, but not really designed for this type of use.  It was originally designed to store 'rate' data, not quantities.  So, for example, it doesn't store how many gallons of water I use, but rather the average flow rate (gallons per second) in 10 second intervals.  This can cause errors in quantity when averaging data.
It also doesn't do things like bar charts like you see above, you have to write some Ugly Code© to trick it into creating them.

I'm debating between creating my on time series database, or just using SQLite.  But it's a low priority right now, so I'll probably keep using RRDtool for the near future.


 
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