Stephen B. Thomas

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since Jul 05, 2017
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Former vocational instructor, currently residing at Wheaton Labs as a boot/intern. I make soap and games, grow stuff in gardens, watch classic movies, read anything, and ride my bicycle. Fond of black licorice, b-horror films, metal and punk music, and other repulsive cultural artifacts. Ask, and I will send you a friendly physical letter, no matter where you are in the world.
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Wheaton Labs, Montana, USA
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Recent posts by Stephen B. Thomas

BRK #445

Wandering around Missoula today until the weather became worse. It started off quite lovely, with pink edges on the eastward clouds.

Walking across the bridge on Higgins Avenue, I kept looking down at the Clark Fork River to see all sorts of interesting patterns. Though the entire thing isn't frozen, large patches of it are covered with ice.

I noticed this sign in a business window. Remember that previous post where I lamented not being a sportsball local fan? Well, perhaps it's best I'm not one after all...

I'm always curious about what they're building over at Hellgate High School. This bench was out front.

It also appears that they're doing a major shed-building project. There are several similar building frames in their construction lot at the moment.

An interesting note about their solar panels is on a nearby plaque.

Early afternoon, the snow began falling in earnest, and the town was gearing up for some kind of parade or street event of some kind. These folks were enjoying a horse-drawn jaunt past the post office.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the rest of your weekend...!
2 hours ago
BRK #444

A busy, varied day today.

In the first half of the day, I captured video footage for Paul and the upcoming Freaky Cheap Heat video. We documented the change in temperature over an hour inside the Woodshop. Prep work required that I split several bits of wood into smaller pieces. This helps ensure that the temperature climbs quickly.

The process was extremely satisfying. Not only was the test wildly successful, I had a chance to scratch that "I used to be a teacher" itch while narrating the videos and documenting the process. Here's a photo of the burn chamber of the batch box, which became immensely hot as the hour proceeded.

In the second half of the day, I bought a door!

The plan is to install it in the Red Cabin, providing more insulation (as the current door is an uninsulated metal one, leaking heat out all over the place). Installation will happen next week.

That's all for now. Make the most of your weekend...!
Just yesterday I found out about the "Simple Daily Drawing" website. They provide prompts for each day of the month, encouraging you to fill up a sketch book with your images.

I hope to make some ATCs with these prompts. We'll see how it goes.

Simple Daily Drawing - Monthly Prompts
1 day ago
BRK #443

At night, it's nice to sit down to dinner and admire how well the sweet potatoes are growing.

It's legitimately cold outside these days. There are massive ice crystals forming on everything that sits still.

The view is still lovely, of course.

Speaking of which... Today I was outdoors quite a bit with cleaning-up our sawmill site. There's a large pile of wood off-cuts: triangular, longitudinal slices of a tiny bit of wood and mostly bark, in most cases. I want to clean those up, buck the usable wood to firewood size, then do some sawmill site overhaul. But first, many, many piles that look like this will be moved to various cabins around the Lab.

Came back to Basecamp with enough time to perform a kind of patch-up job on this mattox, whose head is falling off. I'll consult with Paul tomorrow morning to see just how bad of an idea this is.

Oh, and I almost forgot! I dug through a frozen hugel berm with the electric auger today, in order to bury some compost. How did Ruth Stout deal with frozen ground...? Part of me says I overdid it, while another part of me says it's perfect just the way it is.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading, and enjoy your day...!

PS: I hope you enjoyed the Metallica references that Coydon and I had going there for a while...
Well I know what I'm doing with my Friday night this week...!

FYI: Here's a link to the Geophysical Institute's Aurora Forecast page.
2 days ago

Coydon Wallham wrote:Battery

BRK #442

Happy Day of Light to you...! It's one of our Half Assed Holidays. I took a bunch of video footage today of my light-bringing projects - repairing and replacing several of the light posts we made last year - and I'll submit it to the editor soon. I want the solar lights to charge up for a day, then I'll see how they all work tomorrow evening. I think it'll be pretty cool. I want to capture some footage of me running around in the dark like an idiot...

Prior to that, I was researching DC-powered heat sources, and how to hook one up to the current power station up at the Lab. It's a solar-powered battery box, and it turns out that it has no inverter, but a Battery Management System (BMS) instead. Big Thanks to all the contributors to the thread elsewhere on Permies, as you all helped this complete novice begin to wrap his head around the various options and things to look out for.

Here's the interior of the pump house at the moment. I'll check it again tomorrow morning to see how the temperature has fared.

Also wanted to send a big THANK YOU to Nick, who I first met last year at our RMH Workshop, then again this past October for the Fall Fest. What a great guy to have around. Thanks for the coffee and stickers, man! Definitely going to dig into this in the coming week.

Going to turn in for the night. Thanks for reading, and enjoy your day...!
Coffee from Nick "In Spokane" Thomas. Thanks, man! Happy to share coffee with you any time.

More photos of the components: helping me out, but also satiating others' curiosity, I suppose.

Here's the battery monitor, up close.

Here are details from the side of the battery monitor. Not sure if this is helpful or useful at all.

More battery data was available on this device. Looks like another battery monitor? It also still has power so maybe it's wired in-line with the batteries and not in line with the main cut-off switch.

The video I cited in my OP above notes that wiring everything through the main cut-off switch prevents the battery from being drained even when the system is powered-down, like it is now. So were I to build a device like this, chances are I'd do what I could to ensure the cut-off switch controlled access to power for everything.

Meanwhile... Here's a closer view of the Daly BMS:

Thanks once again to everyone for your help, feedback, and guidance. Should you have any additional suggestions - and especially any suggestions on a localized heat source and how to hook it up - please share here.
3 days ago

thomas rubino wrote:So, is this a new system?
Or was it installed and running last winter?
If so, what did they do about freezing then?

We shut off the water last year because the pump house was nowhere near completion then. It's mostly done now, and I only noticed these temperature issues when I was passing by doing other tasks at the Lab.

For now I've done the same thing we did last year and drained the lines, but the hope is that things are in a much better state this season and we'll be able to keep the water running.
3 days ago