In Podcast 293, Paul, Rick, Jason, Steve Heckeroth, and Stuart Davis summarize the week long solar workshop that just took place at the laboratory.
Paul starts off by talking about the skiddable bee hut that teepee dwellers, Tony and Emily, finished this week. He also announces that Tony and Emily are leaving so they are looking for someone, preferably a couple, to live in the teepee and continue experimenting with the rocket mass heater.
Paul and the crew then start in on talking about the week and note that the weather was less than ideal. They thought the week before solstice would be perfect for lots of solar projects but forgot that June gets the highest rainfall of the year in Montana. So, the first two days ended up being a lot of indoor presentations.
Paul takes a second to boast that after a disagreement regarding CFL's, Steve has finally agreed that he too likes LED lights much better than the alternative.
One of the first presentations was the How To for the electric tractor by Steve Heckeroth. He presented his newer model which has 48 volts, a loader, a PTO, 3 point hitch, 2- wheel drive, and 24 horse power. It also has the ability to have 2 swappable battery packs along with the fixed one underneath the seat.
Another project they worked on was the House Backup Power, a concept Steven Harris brought onto the scene. Basically, it is a set of batteries that gets all charged up so that you can use them when the power goes out instead of a noisy, expensive generator. Someone else notes that Steven uses this in combination with emergency power from the back of a truck.
Paul takes a second to mention the land next to theirs got bought by friends of his who want him to manage it. They want to do some deep roots stuff there and are offering two acres for $8,000 in the first section and two acres for $16,000 on any section. They are very "pro-child" and would like to have families living here. Check out if this offer is still available here.
The guys take a while to discuss huckleberry pie, their all-time favorite pies, and other Missoula treats.
Then they begin discussing the Heliostat, which is currently having some problems. The idea is that no matter where the sun is, it will keep a certain spot illuminated as long as the sun is out but it is having some problems at the moment.
On to the "Tale of Two Poopers", as Paul titles it. He talks about one pooper that took them 3 months to build that had some problems and compared it to the new one that only took 2 days to build. The second one has a solar element in having one solar panel, a battery, and a fan so the air pressure is lower where the poopy bits are and the air pressure is higher where the people are. This design has been very successful.
They talk a little bit more about composting toilets, Steve's awesome stump outhouse, and how they have been letting the poo from the laboratory's pooper hang out in a sealed bucket with some black soldier flies. It should be done soon.
The last project they talk about on this podcast is Tim's truck. It is another idea by Steven Harris, just a little beefed up. Basically, it is a big toolbox that has batteries, a charge controller, and an inverter in it with wires that run up to the alternator. The theory is that when you have excess electricity, it charges the batteries in the back of the truck. So you have a generator and a bank of batteries for electrical use. Tim has a 3000 watt inverter.
The guys get a little bit into discussing the energy it takes to charge the batteries before the podcast ends.
I'd like to draw your attention to THIS excellent post, particularly to the segment about BSFL.
I'm not sure it's a good idea to prevent Soldier Fly larvae or adults from being able to get in or out. Feels to me like a particular kind of cruelty, akin to a CAFO. Furthermore, I think sealing it will prevent them from breeding, which they seem to only be able to do in direct sunlight.
The larvae will stay in the container on their own, only crawling away when they get to the final stage before pupating, and don't need to be locked in. Adults prefer to oviposit directly above the food source, and will be unable to do so if the container is sealed shut. (In other words, adults on the outside cant lay eggs inside, and adults on the inside won't have eggs to lay, as they won't mate without sunlight.)
Therefore, this population has a deadline and is counting down, unable to replenish their numbers.
One question that came up in the podcast was the lifespan. Adults live between 5 and 8 days, spread no diseases in that time (having no need to eat, they do not fly from the trash can to the dog pile, to your plate). They only live long enough to mate and die. The females also oviposit before dying, usually between 500-900 eggs at once, which is one reason why BSFL are such a great feed source for chickens, fish, etc.
Before reaching adulthood, they can live somewhere between 30 and 90 days. I'm not sure exactly what the numbers are, but I know that it's flexible, and that some people overwinter them in the fridge to slow their metabolism and prevent them from reaching the final instar (stage) of life as a larva.
These creatures are incredibly fascinating, and anyone who doesn't know about them is doing himself or herself a disservice.