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encouraging physical innovation

 
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@Paul,
Is there a particular threshold of longevity you would like to see? If I said, here this bulb will burn for 100k hours but isn't tinkerable/replaceable would that be ok or still barking up the wrong tree?

Disclaimer, I have no such bulb I'm just trying to clarify if you want the DIY portion or the longevity portion more.
 
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If a light bulb can have a filament that never breaks - then that would be an interesting thing.
 
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Encouraging physical innovation to me means, Seeing someone who is doing some innovating in whatever area scratches their itch and encouraging that innovation. The lamp with the replaceable filament is Paul's innovation, it scratches his itch... So he is the innovator and should probably do the hands on work too, or he should pay someone else to do it if he doesn't want to. Suggesting I spend lots of my precious time on something I might get something for down the road... but probably not enough to pay me minimum wage for my time let alone paying for the materials required... is not encouraging. Paul this is not meant to be a personal attack. It is more of an explanation of why you are not seeing movement in these areas. You have a personal vision. You have a lot of great ideas and you have started a lot of great projects that are proving out these ideas. Don't give up, you are not loosing. People will follow (or not) on their own time and at their own pace.

To be perfectly honest light bulbs can last long enough if built properly, that it is better to replace the whole bulb. It is (in my opinion) not worth playing with. It is not worth buying any materials and experiment. I may try seeing if it is possible to extend the life of currently available bulbs... but really, the filament seems to be the most costly part of the bulb to produce. The casing that we want to keep seems to be the least costly part to make and the easiest part to recycle into other useful things with very basic tools (like prehistoric methods).

In my opinion, there is a lot of innovation going on among the people who read and post in this forum. They are innovating where their vision is... which is exactly right and exactly the way it should be. There are a lot of projects that are in parallel with other projects, duplicating efforts and such, but so what? These are the things that are fixing peoples itch.

What I do see as a problem... There are a lot of projects in these forums. As the forums grow, these projects move down the list and off the main page. People often ask anew questions that these projects have answered. I have tried using search to quickly find these old threads I may remember to help with these questions, but it is not easy or seamless for sure. It would be nice to have a project index. Something that separates the project threads from the question and answer threads. In software bug reporting (say on Launchpad) they use tags on each bug make it easier to search through. Maybe when starting a new topic one of the fields could be a tag that says this is a question, project, whatever other tags would help searching.
 
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K Nelfson wrote:

David Livingston wrote:Think of a light bulb as a very slow fire in a vacuum or inert gas



Yes. That's the problem. Repairing a bulb is possible, but requires a vacuum pump and/or gas supply and a filament. Is this bulb a better solution if most people would also have to buy a good vacuum pump and other tools for repair? A a light-bulb repair shop is the solution but I don't know how well that will work in the USA. We have to consider the whole picture...



Hey Paul, I have 3 ideas to throw out on this topic:

1. Regarding old tech, I saw a reusable light bulb on "American Pickers" and they said it was standard in the Navy back in the day (WWI maybe?) The bulb was of mold blown soft glass, the base was a machined piece of brass like a modern base and the filaments were available to plug into the contacts in the base. The bulb was then screwed back onto the base and I'm assuming they used a vacuum pump and/or a tank of inert gas to fill the bulb up with, but this wasn't addressed. So You may be able to contact them and see if they have more info for you. Their site is antiquearchaeology.com You could also search on youtube and see what you can find there.

2. OSE (Open Source Ecology opensourceecology.org ) is a group that does what you suggest regarding putting up an idea for development and linking it to a kickstarter type campaign. I'm pretty sure I've seen them mentioned on this site before so you're probably familiar with them already. They look for developers and then fund it once they have a developer/development team. They may have something already in development so you might check with them about it. One thing I know they and many others have developed is a 3D printer and that leads to my next idea...

3. How about using a 3D printer to make LED's? You would need to make the diode first and then use the printer to encase it in plastic so that would be another process, and not one I'm familiar with so it would require some research. LED's are super efficient, using about 10% of the juice an incandescent uses, last about 30 times because they're way more robust physically and can take vibration, shocks, and be exposed to moisture without blowing up. They can also be made to give off whatever quality of light you want (bright white, soft white, amber-ish 'natural white', as well as any other color you may want including red hued light for flowering and blue hued light for vegative growth if used in a green house) They can also be arranged into many different coverage configurations like strips (under counter,drawer, workbench, walkways etc), grouped together to form a "bulb" or in a circle, spiral, etc. The tiny bit of plastic involved, plus no need for a vacuum pump and tanks of industrially produced inert gasses would decrease the expense and time and only create a little plastic waste that may be able to be recycled or reused in the 3D printer. It seems to me that producing a filament and producing a diode are about equal in terms of toxicity but the LED is a more technical piece of kit since it involves a semiconductor and a manufactured structure to house it in. The guys at OSE are really tech savvy so maybe they could design a machine to make LED's and put the plans out for everyone to build for themselves.

I don't have the time or inclination to do a project like this now, but those are a few ideas to consider if this is something you're interested in.
 
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It isn't the reward that needs changing here for whole new inventions, but the culture, if you want to foster inventors who think way outside the box.

Take a quick browse through say the biodynamics categories, or a recent conversation I had about water. People arguing about things, defending their skeptical viewpoint when they have no experience. This is common technology thwarting culture, and more of a status-quo sustaining one.

The modern worlds paradigm believes it is ok to ridicule new ideas, and that proof must be given of concept, but on the contrary, no proof must be given to substantiate ridicule. There is always enough status quo to chime in.

What if lightbulbs don't need a vacuum? What if there is a filament that has never been tried before and it makes no sense to use? What if you just need to stick a carrot inside a pumpkin and you have a 1000megawatt light? These may be, and probably could be completely ridiculous ideas, but I know for myself that when I am throwing ideas around I don't continue talking or offering ideas when they are met with ridicule.

Any real inventor knows that only once the noise has settled and the dust has cleared can the truth be seen. But when not given the chance to create the noise, for fear of being mocked, you'll only ever stick with what you already have.

Just like in growing a garden, you don't change the sun to change the light (the reward), you change the conditions mostly underneath with the soil (the culture). The sun remains changeless.

That is just my 2 cents. I'm new here, I appreciate all the help from the experts in permaculture who are perfect. But being an expert also has trappings, such as thinking you know everything, and this mindset is closed to change.

You will find people inventing a new lightbulb where its ok to talk about things that don't exist. Where it is ok to delve into research of people like tesla, and schauberger without being thought of an extremist who has no clue about the facts of life.
 
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I would be interested in other ideas Paul has. Just because This idea does not appear to ne a winner does not mean the others Will not be.
Incidently the inventor of the light bulb was Swan not Edison http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Swan

David
 
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Part A - Innovation vrs Development

True, Swan invented the bulb but Edison invested the time and money in honing the ideas.

There are two fairly distinct phases to the inovation process:

The new idea
Honing to get a finished product

When Edison was honing the design of the lightbulb he literally ran a factory of innovation - hundreds of men in factory/lab conditions worked for years on variations of different possible bulb designs until he came to the one that worked. He invested huge amounts of money into it, in the hope that he would have a huge market (he was aiming to electrify every home in the USA and lighting was part of the whole package of power generation/distribution and use).

Honing is expensive and time consuming for the most part. It requires many many iterations of an idea with small incremental improvments towards a finished product.

I just spent time (too long!) reading the wikipedia articles on Edison and the history of the lightbulb. There were hundreds of people working on different light bulb styles at one point and patents were issued based on different variations of the technology. Bulb development certainly didn't stop with Edison either. This long process was all about honing the idea once the concept of a glowing hot wire was estabished.

One snippet popped out at me though.

Incandescent arc lamps
A variation of the incandescent lamp did not use a hot wire filament, but instead used an arc struck on a spherical bead electrode to produce heat. The electrode then became incandescent, with the arc contributing little to the light produced. Such lamps were used for projection or illumination for scientific instruments such as microscopes. These arc lamps ran on relatively low voltages and incorporated tungsten filaments to start ionization within the envelope. They provided the intense concentrated light of an arc lamp but were easier to operate. Developed around 1915, these lamps were displaced by mercury and xenon arc lamps.



There is no more info in the article, but it does show that there are other ways to produce light that don't need to be a conventional incandescent bulb. Keep the brief wider and you open up options.


Part B - Engagement with the problem

problems: pollution and sickness
possible solution: a light bulb that consumes less materials thus reducing the pollution problem. A light bulb that generates a light that improves general well being over other offerings.
I would like to see a repairable light bulb. Perhaps a lightbulb that comes with 30 filaments and will then last 200,000 hours. And all of the components are simple and understandable. Disposal is clean and simple.



Paul - your statement of problem/solution is being coloured by your preconceptions of what you, personally, would like to see as the solution. Perhaps the solution is a non-standard alternative that isn't a simple variation on the theme of incandescent bulbs?

I'd also question your statement of the problem "pollution and sickness" - everyone has different perception tolerances and thresholds for these. Many people would be quite happy for a level of "pollution" that others would find intolerable. I think you would probably agree that you personally are on the less tolerant end of that spectrum, even for the people who frequent these boards. You may be struggling to get traction on this particular idea because it doesn't resonate as strongly with others as it does with you personally.

In my research today I stumbled on this gem relating to the mercury in flourescent bulbs...

In areas with coal-fired power stations, the use of CFLs saves on mercury emissions when compared to the use of incandescent bulbs. This is due to the reduced electrical power demand, reducing in turn the amount of mercury released by coal as it is burned.[74] In July 2008 the U.S. EPA published a data sheet stating that the net system emission of mercury for CFL lighting was lower than for incandescent lighting of comparable lumen output. This was based on the average rate of mercury emission for U.S. electricity production and average estimated escape of mercury from a CFL put into a landfill.[75] Coal-fired plants also emit other heavy metals, sulfur, and carbon dioxide.

Wikipedia article

So in my circumstances (on grid, coal power generation) I'd be overall better using compact florescents than incandescent bulbs - unless, of course I'm ethically happy with the idea of mercury pollution somewhere else due to my consumption of light. I don't often break bulbs (in fact I can't remember ever having a bulb break open) and I'm happy to put them in a dedicated waste stream for proper processing when tehy reach the end of their lives.

I don't want to derail this discussion by getting too drawn in to the merits of different bulb types - I guess what I'm saying is that this particular brief came loaded with baggage that actually restricted innovation and broad appeal. If you want to get lots of people involved in these projects and have a really broad base of interest from the permie community you need:

  • projects with broad application - something that meets a need that lots of people have (eg cheap and efficient heating --> rocket stoves. Most people will tolerate compact flourescent lights so it is at best a niggling want rather than an outright need) If people can see an immediate benefit to themselves they will be more emotionally invested in a project and more passionate about it's success.
  • Doesn't need a huge workshop of resources to complete, or tools beyond those that a usual homestead would have. (vacuum pumps for example)
  • Projects that don't have 150 years of industrial scale research behind them - we can't meaningfully compete on that playing field.


  • OR

  • You need to offer enough money as a bounty to attract professional innovators


  • This post ended up rather long. I guess one possible way forward is to let the direction of innovation come from the community. You could put a list up of your personal project ideas, and let other people add their own and vote to choose what gets done. You will get a better idea of what projects have sufficient support to gain traction within the broader community and can use that knowledge to suggest what prizes/bounties you offer.

    Ultimately if you don't have broad community support elsewhere you will need to either pay for the idea to be developed externally or bring the project "In house" if you, personally, want it completed.
     
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    I know light bulbs were just one example of what the thread is about but I missed the original thread concerning that project... I've got to think that would be more of a doomsday prepper project than driving innovation. I'm envisioning mason jars with helium in them to displace the oxygen, or something like that. Epoxy sealed terminal strip inside the lid maybe? There probably are ways around the roadblocks, such as not having vacuum pumps. My brother once repaired my auto air conditioner by using the engine's vacuum to evacuate the system. It's an interesting project to think about, and no doubt an insurance salesman's nightmare.
     
    paul wheaton
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    Rob Irish wrote:
    Take a quick browse through say the biodynamics categories, or a recent conversation I had about water. People arguing about things, defending their skeptical viewpoint when they have no experience. This is common technology thwarting culture, and more of a status-quo sustaining one.



    If you ever see a post that discourages innovation, please click on "report to moderator" and we will remove that post.


     
    paul wheaton
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    Michael, apparently you have not read my articles or watched my videos on the topic. here is the video:



    Please pay particular attention to the part about the EPA data sheet.

    your statement of problem/solution is being coloured by your preconceptions of what you, personally, would like to see as the solution



    Absolutely. I set up the candy, so I get to pick what the candy is for.

    At the same time, we have thousands of threads that do not narrow the scope.

     
    paul wheaton
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    Bill Ramsey wrote:I know light bulbs were just one example of what the thread is about but I missed the original thread concerning that project... I've got to think that would be more of a doomsday prepper project than driving innovation. I'm envisioning mason jars with helium in them to displace the oxygen, or something like that. Epoxy sealed terminal strip inside the lid maybe? There probably are ways around the roadblocks, such as not having vacuum pumps. My brother once repaired my auto air conditioner by using the engine's vacuum to evacuate the system. It's an interesting project to think about, and no doubt an insurance salesman's nightmare.



    I think that this path is something where if there is some progress, it can lead to something more significant. In time.

    I think 99% of the negativity directed to the incandescent light bulb is a marketing ploy for the greater profits to be found in other lights.

     
    Michael Cox
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    Thanks Paul, I'd seen some of the threads in the forums but not that video or articles. Another example of the complexities of systems and unintended consequences. I liked your test of cycling CFLs and other lights. I presume that the failure was due to the ballast mechanism rather than the light generating properties of the gas itself.
     
    Len Ovens
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    Michael Cox wrote:Thanks Paul, I'd seen some of the threads in the forums but not that video or articles. Another example of the complexities of systems and unintended consequences. I liked your test of cycling CFLs and other lights. I presume that the failure was due to the ballast mechanism rather than the light generating properties of the gas itself.



    As I understand it, there is a coating inside that determines the number of bulb starts by it's thickness. In other words, manufactures can decide how many starts the CFL will have very easily, without affecting the rated hours of life. I have some very old CFLs that get turned off and on frequently and have lasted well... in fact better than most of my newer ones which seem to mostly have been replaced once. I guess once the more profitable bulbs have made the cheap ones obsolete, the life span of the newer ones can be decreased.

    BTW:
    - lowering the voltage on an incandescent lamp by 5% will more than double it's life.
    - lowering the voltage 5% gives 20% less light. (5% less voltage means the power used is less than 95%, but not 80%. so the efficiency also goes down as the colour temperature shifts towards infrared... AKA heat)
    - lower "design voltage" lamps can be brighter and/or last longer for the same wattage (due to thicker filament).
    - Early carbon based filaments were able to last 1200 hours.
     
    David Livingston
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    Len
    Are you suggesting that the manufacturers of light bulbs deliberatly reduced the Life span of the bulbs so that the public would have to buy more ?

    David
    ( am looking for the irony button )
     
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    If you have a lot of things that you'd like to see innovations made on, just make a list of ideas public and let people pick through them. They can run with it and report back with data. Then maybe somebody else picks it up and runs with it for a while. Before long, you're innovating!

    When I was in school, good teachers would give a list of 50 essay topics to the students and then allow them to choose 5 topics to attempt to write essays on. The point was that the teacher had a bucket full of questions and the students natural gravitation towards one or more of these questions gave a higher success rate on outcome of the assignments. I feel like it kept more students engaged in the class and we all could learn from each other because we all were working on slightly different things at the same time. Any way...

    This was good for me because I can be really into a project one minute and then drop it for a week. Longer if I'm not interested. I hate work is the point. But if it's something I'm interested in, I'll work my nuts off to do an A+ job.

    If you just throw all your questions or innovation queries in a heap and let us pick through them, you'll see what works and what doesn't. If you have a bucket full of things you want to see innovations on, Dump it all out on the table and let's get a look at it. What have you got to lose? Don't worry about giving prizes. You may be able to barter something else out later. It's not about the money for some people. And pre-announcing a prize may actually be a turn-off to some people.
    I could be way off though.
     
    Len Ovens
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    David Livingston wrote:Len
    Are you suggesting that the manufacturers of light bulbs deliberatly reduced the Life span of the bulbs so that the public would have to buy more ?

    David
    ( am looking for the irony button )



    Even better, the measured "life span" is still just as long, In practice, where the user turns lights off when not in use, life is significantly reduced. The average person is not going to remember when they last replaced any particular bulb... If anyone complains, any lamp off the shelf will last as long as claimed on the package in a "turn it on and leave it on" test. Kind of like having a car that was good for 200000 miles only if it was left running, but it will only start 100 times.
     
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    Paul Wheaton : Look at he way they run contests at Instructables.com Big AL !
     
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    Michael Cox wrote:I'd also like to see some biochar related work - I've made lots of batches and my repeated conclusions are that for the time it takes to manage a small burn it simply isn't worth it. However if you could couple this with a device that is genuinely useful that made biochar as a biproduct you'd be on to a winner. Perhaps a nice outdoor kitchen design?



    At the Draw, a permaculture community in northern Wisconsin, they've built biochar production into the sauna stove. You can reach Nathaniel, the designer and builder, through their website: http://www.thedraw.org/
     
    Jerry McIntire
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    I am also looking for a list of innovations people would like to see. Let's start one! I've included problem statements for those designers who want a proper start.

    Wing insulation for building foundations to keep the soil dry beneath, insulation that is low-cost and not foam. (Problem: wing insulation keeps the ground dry making it a better thermal mass under a passive solar building, but expanded foam sheets are typically used and they are expensive and have rather high embodied energy.)

    Simple window insulation that would double or triple R value and can be removed and replaced daily without shredding or much work. (Problem: passive solar homes in cold climates lose too much heat through large glazed areas during the coldest, long winter nights.)

    Composting toilet designs that fit the code requirements for vault toilets but rarely need to be emptied. (Problem: commercially available composting toilets are expensive, bucket toilets have to be hauled daily and aren't allowed under the Uniform Dwelling Code where it applies, vault toilets are usually emptied by commercial haulers.)

    Urine diverters for composting toilets. (Problem: urine, with its high fertilizer value and ease of handling and application, saturates and causes unpleasant smells in composting toilets so that they need to be emptied more frequently or use energy to evaporate the urine.)

    Design houses that require very little time or money to keep at a comfortable temperature, and are not expensive to build. (Problem: existing houses are much less expensive than new in this area, but they are extremely inefficient with energy.) Wofati? And where UDC requirements must be met?

     
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    Jerry McIntire wrote:
    Simple window insulation that would double or triple R value and can be removed and replaced daily without shredding or much work. (Problem: passive solar homes in cold climates lose too much heat through large glazed areas during the coldest, long winter nights.)



    I have honeycomb shades and they work great. When the shades are pulled all the way down, frost builds up on the inside window because the heat stays in the room.
    http://www.cellularwindowshades.com/icy_window_cure.html
     
    Len Ovens
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    Jerry McIntire wrote:I am also looking for a list of innovations people would like to see. Let's start one! I've included problem statements for those designers who want a proper start.

    Wing insulation for building foundations to keep the soil dry beneath, insulation that is low-cost and not foam. (Problem: wing insulation keeps the ground dry making it a better thermal mass under a passive solar building, but expanded foam sheets are typically used and they are expensive and have rather high embodied energy.)



    A big yes for this one. The other part that should be mentioned is the sealing layer which is also commonly plastic. I think if the sealing layer could be solved, that would make a big difference. In fact the insulating layer may be less important if theory is right as it stops the water from being able to absorb heat all the way through the mass. If the water was still allowed to absorb heat from just the part of the seal it touches, That "coolth" would only move at 9inches per month anyway. not at the rate water infiltrates. I don't think a study has been done as to the difference of with and without insulation.

    There is another idea for someone who has a big patch of land free (bigger than my city lot)... test what effect the insulation has or doesn't have. All that is required is a big sheet of plastic and some hay bales and maybe more plastic to keep the hay dry. This would be probably a three year project to allow the ground to get fully charged.


    Simple window insulation that would double or triple R value and can be removed and replaced daily without shredding or much work. (Problem: passive solar homes in cold climates lose too much heat through large glazed areas during the coldest, long winter nights.)



    I would add to this as well, or maybe it is a separate issue. Study how much difference outside reflectors make to window heat loss. I have noticed in the "underground house" build and the WOFATI, there is a windowed wall that faces up hill and normally a courtyard is there with a retaining wall. I have wondered how much that retaining wall reflects heat back into the structure. Could this effect be improved without affecting the view or solar collection of the window?

    I don't know how to properly measure this. But it seems to me even the most insulating (almost said insulting) window don't do very well. Rather than using multilayer windows that cut down solar gain, maybe there are some other things that would work better.

    Anyway the whole area is window heat loss/gain.


    Composting toilet designs that fit the code requirements for vault toilets but rarely need to be emptied. (Problem: commercially available composting toilets are expensive, bucket toilets have to be hauled daily and aren't allowed under the Uniform Dwelling Code where it applies, vault toilets are usually emptied by commercial haulers.)



    Well bucket toilets are allowed... so long as there is at least one code happy solution around. Setting that code happy solution to cost less and double as a place the bucket can empty into would be great. These things fall under "making loop holes" in code and may vary from district to district. In general code deals with the build of the house, not the use. Once the house is built with a code solution, the resident can use a non-code solution provided it does not generate complaints such as bad smells, etc. Finding a code solution that is not costly and can serve some purpose we do want, if not that intended, would be good.

    Definitely a good area to study.


    Urine diverters for composting toilets. (Problem: urine, with its high fertilizer value and ease of handling and application, saturates and causes unpleasant smells in composting toilets so that they need to be emptied more frequently or use energy to evaporate the urine.)


    Doesn't scratch my itch, sorry. That doesn't mean it is a bad idea, if I was a hermit, I would be interested, but with my family the interest is not there.


    Design houses that require very little time or money to keep at a comfortable temperature, and are not expensive to build. (Problem: existing houses are much less expensive than new in this area, but they are extremely inefficient with energy.) Wofati? And where UDC requirements must be met?



    It seems part of this idea is with retro-fitting existing houses... without spending much money.

    These are all great ideas.
     
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    I think the contest is a great idea. I also think that about 0.01% of the people on this list have the skills to attempt it. If the innovation was something about gardening, soil, earthworks, compost, housing, animals, or something that more people are familiar with, you would have received more responses. Most people with the right skills are working 70 hours per week for giant corporations making more than $100,000 per year and spend their time only on booze and expensive dinners.
    John S
    PDX OR
     
    paul wheaton
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    allen lumley wrote:Paul Wheaton : Look at he way they run contests at Instructables.com Big AL !



    link?
     
    allen lumley
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    Joke ? (sending P.M.) Big AL
     
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    All things to all men???

    I don't think so. Permaculture isn't a branch of science, and despite some switched on "bright sparks" in the illuminati of the movement, i see no heads of future Nobel Prize winners raised above the canopy of the food forest.

    We are pretty damn good at light now - a handful of acceptable technologies massed produced are serving us well. LED's are amazing. I bought a 5m (15') strip of the tiny little glow worms to install in my caravan - the light produced was almost nauseating yet it used a tiny portion of my single battery / single panel solar system. I trimmed it back to 1metre. Still too brignt. ok 30 cm - thats 12 inches - this was found also to produce too much concentrated liight so I split it into 3 segments around the 3.5m x 2m (11' x 6') caravan.

    They use so little power that in 2 mins you can hand crank the wattage sufficient to last an hour! I assert there is no need for a better technology.

    Rocket Stoves - a bonza idea, but frankly almost too energetic. Its hard to make a burn core that suits. On the other hand I discovered a real need for a longlasting low energy burn. And good old cow pats became my choice of fuel even though I have heaps of wood about, so much in fact that the innovation of hugelculture saved me adding 15' to planetary warmth of burning them! Cow cakes - Perfect fuel for the easy one pot slow cook required for casseroles and stews that retain the nutrients and make the best of great tasting inexpensive cuts of meat.

    Let's embrace the neat low tech ideas and practices that fellow permies come up with, stuff like the treadle pump that well uses human power, or an old bike retrofitted to run garden irrigation and burn a few calories.

    An uneducated Thai guy in a tiny Thai village near me has won national awards for his micro innovations that fit the needs of low tech villagers - the 15 hour burn of his sawdust stove is perfect for mushroom media sterilization or multi tiered corn cob steaming. Perhaps some permie promotion of these kinds of "DIY" innovations is appropriate, but getting permies to invent vanadium bromide batteries - endothermic salt reactors ??? nah, permies are great but not all things to all men.
     
    Len Ovens
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    John Saltveit wrote:I think the contest is a great idea. I also think that about 0.01% of the people on this list have the skills to attempt it. If the innovation was something about gardening, soil, earthworks, compost, housing, animals, or something that more people are familiar with, you would have received more responses. Most people with the right skills are working 70 hours per week for giant corporations making more than $100,000 per year and spend their time only on booze and expensive dinners.
    John S
    PDX OR



    It is not just skills. From what I have seen in a lot of cases it is money too. There is some amazing talent in these forums, and I have seen some very expensive tools in amateur hands too... Just look through some of the audio forums... gold sputtering onto mylar just to build a condenser mic? I could buy a topend Neumann for the cost of that machine alone, and there is machining too. Hobbyists do have some expensive toys yes, but they are specialized. I have a few myself. I probably have everything I need to test lights. I would have to buy many of the required things to make one though, and to do that would mean I would have to be really really interested in the project. No prize (probably of any size) is going to generate that interest. It would have to generate an itch in me... and then, I still wouldn't care about a prize.

    There are people already in these forums innovating away. Making suggestions about what should be worked on and what direction things should go is not going to change that. Make the right suggestion and maybe there will be a spark in someone and they will grab the idea and run. So making lots of suggestions is worth while. Choosing one project and telling people to all go with that.... $30 an hour please, tools and materials please, contract please. Things I do for a hobby are things I enjoy, working for someone else on their project doesn't cut it.

    It is not there is something wrong with building a better lamp. It's a great idea. However, it appears there is nobody with who it causes an itch and that has the knowledge and the tools to do it. There are some of us (I'm one) where the idea will futz about in the brain where maybe someday in one of us the "light bulb will go on" and some new lamp will be born. Light bulb? maybe not, maybe it will be a chemical thing... mashed potatoes and nettles. Maybe a burning thing... a rocket lamp (refined from the crude one already invented) or a gasifier lamp (sounds heavy, but might be ok stationary).
     
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    Jean pain plus? What if you ran an extra hose next to the water heating hose? This extra hose would have holes drilled in it so that you could add air and or water to the compost pile. As you can't turn a Jean Pain pile (easily) this would appear to let you simulate turning.

    I don't have access to much composting material currently so figured I'd 'put this out there' for others who may. Cheers...Paul
     
    Mike Leonido
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    Personally I had assumed with the light bulb contest that by the time I applied myself some miracle level tinker-expert would have already completed a much better design.

    Apparently that wasn't quite how it worked out.

    What I know about building a DIY lightbulb after a few minutes on google includes:

    Selecting a proper filament (tungsten wire is reportedly cheap and relatively plentiful).
    Placing that filament in a vacuum of surrounding it with inert gas.
    Running suitable current through the "bulbs" based on the limitation of the circuit/filament.

    For replacing and experimenting the base would need to make a gas tight seal and be removable, the inert gas would need to be cheap and safe, and the current sources would need to be controlled and variable. Never mind that it should probably be large enough to "use" with normal sized human hands instead of nanobots.

    I'm thinking we could start with a ball jar, modifying the lid to allow for (properly insulated) introduction of power with a modular (say, alligator clip) setup to facilitate testing of filaments.


    Any glaring holes in my logic so far?
     
    Michael Cox
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    Precision handling and production of the filament wire is called for - according to one article I read variations in thickness as small as 0.1% in the cross section of the wire can lead to local hotspots and faster vaporisation of the metal. As that spot gets proportionally narrower the local temp rises and it evaporates faster and faster until it snaps away leaving a gap.

    Long duration life times depends on very very high precision engineering in the filament.
     
    Mike Leonido
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    Step 1 would be making something functional and troubleshooting the base and setup.

    I would anticipate longevity would be less than ideal using manhandled lengths of wire for exactly the reasons you describe. This would be the baseline for identifying design problems and addressing them.

    Assuming step 1, baseline success (gas containment and safe illumination) performance, related cost, and environmental impact could be assessed and additional targeted design projects would be launched.
     
    Cj Sloane
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    Mike Leo wrote:

    Any glaring holes in my logic so far?



    Well, it seems that Edison tried between 3000-6000 filaments depending on who you believe. Not sure it's logical to redo all those experiments. The wiki page Incandescent_light_bulb makes for some interesting reading but I'd say it discourages innovation in this space.

    What is encouraging is how far we've come in 100 years. 100 years ago, my grandmother was a little girl living in NYC and she said her father would sometimes give her a nickle to put in the meter for the gas that ran the lamps!!!

    I think the ban on incandescent might inadvertently encourage innovation if people are dissatisfied with their lack of choice.
     
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    I think the idea of building a better light bulb kicks ass - - CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

    To the point of the original post - it's just fundamental marketing. Not in the corporate sense that marketing is often used, but in the true sense of the word: matching buyers/users/participants with products/services/events that they (a) want but can't find or (b) might want but are not aware of. Until a few minutes ago, I was in category (b) with respect to this challenge. I'm not sure the best way to solve the marketing challenge - but here's my anecdote in case it helps.

    I'm running a business, raising 2 kids, and creating an urban food forest, so as much as it would be nice to hang out on Permies "all the time," I only show up occasionally when I have a compelling reason. And I get the dailyish email in my overcrowded inbox - sometimes read it, sometimes not. If I had no other responsibilities, Permies and the Wheaton Empire would be right up near the top of the list (honestly, truly), but for now the expected marginal utility of time spent here is not as high as other things.

    But I do listen to podcasts while multitasking. Today I heard Paul's interview with Diego and signed up to support the earthworks kickstarter, then came over to permies to look at some of the discussion about it. While I was here, I had a weird thought, "Paul talks about Permies a lot, but I don't see him post much. I wonder..." So I checked Paul's profile and found that, yes indeed, he posts a lot. And one of the threads was this one, so I clicked on it, and here I am.

    Paul - You have a ton of things going on, and some of them (like the light bulb project) are of interest to me, but I only found this by the most tenuous of coincidences - when I wasn't looking for it. I'm not trying to convince you to go "corporate marketing" on us, but you might think about how you could simplify your messaging around the things that are most important. As food for thought - go back and listen to the end of the interview when Diego asks how people can find out about all your projects. Or let me paraphrase: "Well... Amazon for this thing and that other thing, then some future url on kickstarter and I guess we should create a page at permies." Make it easier for people like me to find the things we didn't know we wanted.

    One man's view, for what it's worth.
     
    Cj Sloane
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    Myron Weber wrote: Or let me paraphrase: "Well... Amazon for this thing and that other thing, then some future url on kickstarter and I guess we should create a page at permies." Make it easier for people like me to find the things we didn't know we wanted.



    I was surprised there wasn't a specific thread for Paul's stuff but he may want to direct people here for all things Paul to have a little distance from Permies for his personal stuff.
     
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    I did not read all of the posts in this thread, so I'm sorry If I'm repeating something someone already posted~

    Making a lightbulb is a cool idea and all, but if you really want to get people motivated you have to present a challenge that relates to what people love. I personally buy lightbulbs that use minimal energy that I only have to change 3 times a year, and they're made almost entirely out of recycled materials. You can't get much better than that!

    If you had offered your DVD sets to the person who could present the best up-cycled vertical garden or something, that would be a much more creative, enjoyable, and permaculture-related project that more people could do. (not that energy isn't part of permaculture)

    But hey, I'm not you, paul. So what are some of these things that you want to become a reality?

    personally, I want a giant plot of land where I can gather the a handful of genius designers to build the utopia I've been dreaming about since I was a child. . . . *spaces out daydreaming*
     
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    Gordon Beemer wrote:

    personally, I want a giant plot of land where I can gather the a handful of genius designers to build the utopia I've been dreaming about since I was a child. . . . *spaces out daydreaming*

    I think this is exactly what Paul is doing right now, with his basecamp/laboratory project.
     
    Gordon Beemer
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    Izzy Bickford wrote:

    Gordon Beemer wrote:

    personally, I want a giant plot of land where I can gather the a handful of genius designers to build the utopia I've been dreaming about since I was a child. . . . *spaces out daydreaming*

    I think this is exactly what Paul is doing right now, with his basecamp/laboratory project.



    So, like, I have a tent. Why am I not there? xD
     
    paul wheaton
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    Problem: trying to present permaculture to people. 47% ignore or tune out because they have already done their part to be "green": they bought some light bulbs.

    Solution: explain why what they done really doesn't help anything.

    Problem: argument mired in details.

    Solution: would be good to point to a product that is clearly superior in the aspect of less toxic materials and longer lifespan.


    How the hell did I end up being "the lightbulb guy"? It's entirely because of the stuff above. People ignoring the more important messages because they are certain that they have already done the ultimate in saving energy. "Talk to the hand." I need more stuff in my arsenal of dislodging this horseshit. I can see a path to get there, but it will take a lot of work. I think that if we have a cool thread with people trying, ideas will lead to ideas which will lead to better stuff and so on and so on. The first step is to get some home made light bulbs rolling. Maybe make something in a mason jar. Maybe use one of those vacuum things that are made for mason jars. Then what if somebody actually illuminates their kitchen with it? And what if the power consumption turns out to be pretty light?

    Plus, I just like to think there could, someday, be research into the health effects of light quality.

    And maybe this sort of light adds a certain beauty to a home.

    I think health and beauty are great players in the permaculture world.
     
    paul wheaton
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    So there seems to be a problem where I ask for innovation in a space, and my word that I desire innovation that space is just not enough.
     
    Gordon Beemer
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    paul wheaton wrote:So there seems to be a problem where I ask for innovation in a space, and my word that I desire innovation that space is just not enough.



    I don't know how to make a lightbulb, but what if you lit your house entirely with organically grown permaculture potatoes?

    Combine this:


    With this:


    And make sure you do plenty of this:




    And you might just have something.
     
    Mike Leonido
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    I hope that no one is questioning your hope for innovation or the motives behind your desire Paul.

    I do think in this case the oft-expressed opinion in this thread may be the root: it's not scratching the same itch for most on the forums. For now.
    I think there's a certain element of "but you're reinventing the wheel Paul" too. I've seen that mentioned many times. As if we could ask the light bulb manufacturers to turn over all those decades of research or trust them to do the right thing after all the problems with their current approach.

    With the wheel we want legislatively banned what do you do? Re-invent.
     
    Note to self: don't get into a fist fight with a cactus. Command this tiny ad to do it:
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