Thursday, 18 November 2010

This is a design I sort of threw together one afternoon thinking about the absolute easiest and cheapest way to make a greenhouse, ideally for farming in cities and favella type environments.

It's just three tripods together in a triangle, wrapped in some ultra cheap plastic such as transparent mulch film, which some farmers throw literally kilometres of away each year.

It's arbitrarily scalable, the one pictured would have a 110 m2 footprint, giving about 320 m2 growing area. It'd also tie in well with aquaponics and similar.

I'll have a look at getting a working group together here in Perth, leave most of the work with them while I get on with the solar thing.

It'll largely come down to what land can be found, but as the thing will be somewhat moveable, getting kicked out won't be such a big issue.

Updates on this will appear on

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

A few components still missing and a bit hacked together, but pretty much working.

Cute, no?

Unnecessary distractions 2: The Spoon Fork.

In Malaga my wallet was stolen at a market where I was wanting to, interestingly, buy a new wallet. (But then couldn't because I no longer had any money).

They made off with €50 and a couple of cards, but what I missed the most was a little folding plastic spoon I'd got with an icecream in Australia.

How one is meant to travel without a spoon remains unclear.

So, finally, I got around to making myself a replacement. Hence:

the spoon fork.

(Not a spork!)

Unnecessary distractions 1: The Solar Shower.

There were a couple of reasons for building a solar powered shower at the Traumschule when I showed up for the skill sharing camp in March; it'd been something I'd wanted to learn for a while, the only existing shower they had was a cold hose in the basement, and it was the north of Germany, in March.
Generally if the only way to get clean involves water slightly above freezing, I just won't get clean. The other people there didn't seem to mind too much, but Germans, like Scandinavians, are insane.

Most of what you see here was built in about two weeks, but wasn't actually finished until October, and not by me. I had an epic struggle with first the bends for the copper tubing (below) and then the water tank, which simply would not stop exploding, often spectacularly.

(I wasn't aware the water pressure was 5 bar, or twice that of a car tyre. That kind of psi simply will not be contained.)

In the end we went with a non-pressurised system using a toilet cistern. It worked pretty good and we still got a good rate of flow from the shower head.

It all works off a simple thermosyphon principle, where the water circulates itself through the heating panel due to the fact that hot things rise.

The actual metal panel we ended up using was donated to us, but not before I'd spent longer than intended trying to make this one. We had a bunch of old copper pipe, but I had massive problems joining it together.

The proper way is to get copper elbows and solder the whole thing, but we didn't have the money or soldering setup for that, so I had to try to make do with plastic hose, which kept going soft and collapsing when it got hot.

Finally the solution was to use two types of hose, one inside that other. The outer hose is the right diameter to fit snugly over the copper, with ridged washing machine hose inside to keep it strong and evenly curved.
However, shortly after coming to this I decided I really had to get back to the solarflower, and then we were donated the other panel anyway, so it never got finished.

But it's a good way of doing it.

Then a month later we discovered a full industrial grade water heating panel just laying around in the basement which made all of this unnecessary in the first place.

Inside the shower.

It was a fatal accident waiting to happen, but I was quite proud of that little structure.
The inwardly sloped roof is so you can shower in the rain. Didn't really work, but looks pretty.

You can click on all these images for larger versions, and if you want any extra details on the shower's design and construction, just ask.
It's very simple and worked surprisingly well.