Tom Connolly

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since Apr 20, 2013
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Recent posts by Tom Connolly

My apartment does not stay the same temp all day.  When I leave for work, I turn the heat off and the temps sometimes drop down to 45 degrees F in the winter.  In the summer, without a/c, the indoor temps will rise to 85 F. I am on the 11th floor of a 26 story building - a solar panel placed against the window will generate some electricity but probably not enough for a heat generating machine.  I want to start sprouting sprouts again, on a regular basis.  I have considered putting shelves in a used low profile wardrobe and putting a tray of water in the bottom with an aquarium heater.  Any ideas?  I would like to be able to eat them here - tasty! but my main purpose is to learn how to grow them safely and use them, looking for the day when I am a land owner again and have more options.
1 day ago

C. Letellier wrote:Now the thing you are missing is the temperature change per day the fish will stand without harm.  It is something like 1 degree per day.  The fish will have some temperature range they can live in.  Usually about 15 to 30 degree range.  But if you move the temperature by that much in a day the fish will be harmed or killed.  The amount of change you can have in any given day is a tiny fraction of that unless you want to make the fish sick or kill them.  Of course even if you could swing the full temperature range you are dealing with a really complicated system for it to work and the amount of fluid you can move passively is really small.  Likely not enough to support a single gold fish.  So the answer to your question I am going to say is NO.

Now a no moving parts system is possible under very special conditions.  If you had at least 3X the fall vs your lift height of a constantly running water with enough flow volume it could be done.   Use the falling water to power a Trompe pump to make air pressure so no moving parts there.  Run that thru an airline to an airlift pump and you have a system that will run with no moving parts.  The catch is the amount of height and large constant flow needed to make it work.  If you want to lift say 10 feet then the air pump will need to be at least 15 feet deep.  To achieve the air pressure needed to drive that the trompe pump will need roughly 30 feet of fall.

So far as I know this is the only no moving parts system that will allow true aquaponics.

Now there is a neat you tube video discussing why an airlift pump would be a better answer for aquaponics.  But they are still driving it electrically.  And the ways to make air pressure have more options but they are all complex in some form.  

Right now low voltage magnetic drive pumps are the other pump choice I would be looking at.  The one I got for the solar collector project has no external moving parts.  The rotor for the pump is the armature and it is all inside the pump.  No seals to fail.  It is a neat little pump with very little to go wrong.  And being DC I can run it off solar, off batteries or off AC power with very little trouble trading between them.

Now your other option is eliminate pumping totally, grow plants in the top half and fish in the lower half and fence them away from each other.  There are a number of you tube videos on this type of system also.  Most of these systems are bigger tanks though so one end of the tank can be devoted to letting the fish surface and feed etc.

On top of this, are you you intending to eat the fish as well?  If so, then you will have a much smaller selection of what you put in the tank.  Gold fish are not terribly tasty.  All of the bottom dwellers you mentioned to clean the tank will add to the bio load but not yield anything "delicious" for you.
4 days ago
What did you decide?  Did you pursue this?  Very interested in what you learned.

1 month ago
I have some property in NE Nevada.  The wind blows quite strongly in the evening - it is hot during the day for 5 months of the year - there are all manner of 2 and 4 legged critters that come and go.  I am learning to use a CAD program now for the sake of developing this property.  I would like to build a wall around the property to help me address a number of the issues previously mentioned. I am leaning towards rammed earth or earth bags.  I have looked into natural fences, but I would like something that can be put up in a couple of months.  I would like to run water pipe and electric conduit through the wall - I think rammed earth or earth bags will have enough earth mass to keep water from freezing.  Any suggestions?
1 month ago
Thank you both for your excellent answers! If things work out, it looks like I will be able to build into the side of a hill, so excavation would amount to slicing a part of the hill off, as well as digging a few feet down (this is still slightly up in the air, but land with hills on it has been a high priority on my list for 20 years.  I could probably still work a round structure into the plan, or at least curved walls.  The original idea would have 3 earthbag walls as interior walls, about every 10-12 feet or so, and maybe 3 berms built into the hill, offsetting the interior earthbag walls. I have also thought about some pyramiding half height berms in the front to separate the "yard" into a couple of parts.  Water?  Water???  I wish.  I participate in a forum of people that live in the area.  Some have dug down as far as 12 feet and have yet to find anything that resembles water.  
2 months ago
Undergound...I think i have found a cost effective way to excavate.  I want to build a rectangular building - no, not round - underground house about 5m x 17m.  Round and quaint, stronger than straight walls, but is less efficient use of space - how many beds or sofas have you seen with a round back to them?  This would require come berming - can do some outside but also inside, to make partitions for the rooms.  To make it water resistant, if not water proof...i was thinking, once the walls were in place, to rent a nail gun and shoot 4" or longer nails into the outside, then spray the outside with something like bedliner (for a pickup truck)...put a layer on that is only 1/4" or so, then add some kind of rebar, and shoot it with insulation, then finish it off with a cost of something that will protect the insulation and backfill.  Some of the materials are not very eco friendly..any thoughts?  The roof will be arched, with at least 1.2m of soil on top.
2 months ago
What about using earthbags for the underground house?
2 months ago

Glenn Herbert wrote:The "My Little Homestead" family built a rocket mass heater in one of their earthbag structures.

They have built several, but the rest are not so directly integrated with the earthbag wall.

Thanks!  That is exactly what I am looking for.  I don't know how practical it would be, but I would like to make every third layer of my eb house with a hollow space in the middle and run the exhaust tube through heat up the whole wall.  i wonder if that would destroy the integrity of the wall?
3 months ago
Has anyone combined the rocket mass stove and earth bag concept?  maybe running the heating tube inside the wall, or building a double thick lower section of the wall - maybe 1 m tall - and building the rms in that?

3 months ago
This might be a tricky thing to do...if I were building with rammed earth, if there were some way to stick the stones to the back of the front part of the mold...and then fill the mold and process as usual...I have read a lot of about the different forms of construction - now am reading about how to cover it without using stucco.  I really like the looks of the houses I have seen (different kinds of construction) that use some kind of rock, especially the smooth "river rock" type rocks.  I have also seen rammed earth homes that had a pattern etched into the back of the front frame, that gave the wall a wood grain look.
7 months ago