Turquoise Energy Ltd. News #115
covering December 2017 (posted January 11th 2018)
Lawnhill BC Canada
by Craig Carmichael

www.TurquoiseEnergy.com = www.ElectricCaik.com = www.ElectricHubcap.com = www.ElectricWeel.com

Features: A Decade in Review

Month In Brief (Project Summaries etc.)
 - Internet - Shrinking World - Carmichael Mill ("Bandsaw Alaska Mill") - Battery Lab & Nickel-Nickel Batteries - Hybridizing the Toyota Echo... Wait, how about the Miles truck?

A Decade in Review
* What's been done?: Listing the projects

In Passing (Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)
  - Sea Foam is natural (Ooops!) - Cryptocurrencies - Fraud in the Stock Market? - John MacAdam - Carmichael Projection World Map & Virtual Reality

- Project Reports -

Electric Transport - Electric Hubcap Motor Systems
* Ground Effect Craft: Fixing Lateral Stability Problem

Other "Green" Electric Equipment Projects
* "Carmichael Mill", a "Bandsaw Alaska Mill" - Meat cutting band is better(?) - Building It, continued - Home Sheet Metal Tools - Motors and Duty Cycle - Drive Belts
* Power Supply: Photos Simplify Repair. But is it worth it?

Electricity Generation
* Tiny Solar Cells (purchased)
* A couple of VHE Ray Energy Notes

Electricity Storage - Turquoise Battery Project (NiMn, NiNi, O2-Ni), etc.
* Another round with Nickel-Nickel chemie: in oxalic acid - Battery Lab - Chemistry - electrolyte - Building a Cell - Expectations: The Reactions - Testing & Observations - Conclusions - Next Electrolyte: Potassium Oxalate? - Cell with KH(C2O4)? - Positive Electrode Characteristics (seemingly Favorable: with slightly lower voltages)

December in Brief

   Here's another late newsletter... so much to do, so little time! I spent a couple of weeks in Victoria with family for Christmas, which definitely ate into December's project time. Then at home there were things to catch up on. Then after 10 years, it took quite a while to look through the TE News indexes at all the tables of contents just to find and list all the projects - successful or unsuccessful, one time or ongoing, and finished, unfinished, barely started or just envisioned. (My multi-millions "dream list" budget that would really get things going will come next month.)


   My friend Tom, having moved to Skidegate, managed to get internet via a radio link from Gwaii Communications. (My place is out of range of their system.) I visited him a lot to use it, and especially I left a computer there for well over a week and got my bitcoin wallet updated after 7 months off line. Then I sold the last of my bitcoin at what seemed like a great price, just before it doubled again and more. People in China have been getting into it in a big way, and there are 1.4 billion of them. And there are many others as well, especially in those lands where the local currencies have been proving most untrustworthy.

   I finally figured out a means to get basic internet at home and got it working in late November or the start of December. In October(?) I asked my next door neighbor, thinking he had satellite internet, if he would share it via WIFI in exchange for splitting the monthly charges. It turned he just had the satellite dish left over from when he had had it, still mounted on his house. I bought the dish off him and phoned to ask about getting satellite internet installed (now that I had one of the costly pieces). Somehow I got no reply to my message.
   In the meantime, I aimed the antenna dish two acreages over and put a WIFI repeater in its focus. I found I could pick up the closer of this person's two satellite systems. I had internet!... sometimes... If the WIFI gods were smiling. But at least sometimes along with everything else internet does, I could search and order things on line from home again and do research on line again. In mid December I was in pursuit of chemical information in attempting to make nickel-nickel batteries.
   After Christmas I put the dish in a new location and it seems to be working better. I also discovered one of my computer tablets was frapping out and saying it was off line, which of course I had been attributing to loss of signal at the repeater.

Shrinking World

  When I worked for the federal government ministry Transport Canada in the late 1970s, electronic technicians were still often posted at isolated northern posts to maintain equipment, and one got "isolation pay allowance" for working at one. I think Sandspit airport was one such place. And even in Victoria, a fair size city, electronic components could be hard to come by. (Someone tells me one can still get income tax advantages for living in a "semi isolated locale" such as this one, including for moving to one for work. If I can write off my moving expenses I will certainly owe no income tax for 2017!)
   Today with the internet, one is much less isolated in "out of the way" places than in those times - which were doubtless better than still earlier times. From anywhere electronic parts can easily be ordered on line from several major sources who will have everything in stock. But I've done that before. I really felt less isolated when I started ordering mechanical parts for the bandsaw mill. I started out very apprehensive about being able to get them. Then I went to PrincessAuto.ca and found I could get everything on line that I could at their store in Victoria, and probably more as the mail order depot was less likely to be out of stock on any item. It would arrive in a week or so by mail (as fast as any mail gets here). I was however glad that I had seen all those actual parts in their Victoria store and knew just what they were and what to order. I also know there are other common mechanical parts that they don't have, and when I need these they may be harder to track down. (Small ball bearings, for example. I didn't find a Canadian source and finally had to order some from VXB bearings in the USA again. But then I found some more at "Mac's Auto Electric" when I went to Victoria for Christmas.)

   If ever practical ground effect craft are made and put into service, such vehicles (unless supplanted by something even better like anti-gravity flying craft) could make mountainous coastal areas and isolated islands, such as abound in northern BC, still more accessible.

Carmichael Mill ("Bandsaw Alaska Mill")

   I explored and ordered "meat cutting bands", which proved to be substantially thinner than "wood cutting bands" (and seemingly much resistant to rust), and hence should cut more easily, giving perhaps 3 HP-like performance from a 2 HP motor. This could make considerable difference in the viability of the plug-in electric model. To my surprise the price was similar, and I started wondering why they make the thicker "wood cutting" ones at all.
   I worked on it until the 9th and the assembly was well underway.

   Then I went to do small ball bearing races as little guide wheels. I needed 6 and had 3. They didn't arrive and didn't arrive (and in fact came after the new year). It got a little frustrating. I did get the meat cutting bands and I put one on.

   The next question was a motor. I had meant to just mount the Ryobi skill saw on top, but a company on line was advertising BLDC motors that sounded suitable. These would give the most mechanical power from the electrical power available in a wall plug. It sounded like it might cost 500$ or so, and would be worth waiting a bit for. I wanted to give the new saw all the best advantages I could since I not only want to try it out, but actually put it to work milling some spruce lumber, and if possible attract investment to make and sell them. Best not to needlessly make it look underpowered.
   But they didn't reply and I started considering whether to take my own Electric Caik BLDC motor off the outboard and put it on the saw. (I don't want to spend time making another one - unless I can see how to improve the cooling for higher and sustained power.) It could (for a time) put out as much power as any plug-in motor, using 60 amps from a 24 volt battery. That could be advantageous if one wanted to cut where no power was available. (Or a generator could work too, and unlike the gas chainsaw it could be placed downwind at a distance from the miller.)

Battery Lab & Nickel-Nickel Batteries

   On the 10th, waiting for parts to continue the mill, I started setting up my battery lab in the small laundry room. It was cramped but it would have to do. I had to store a lot of whatever I wasn't immediately using on shelves out in the workshop.

   I decided to pursue the "nickel-nickel" battery chemistry again. This time I would try oxalic acid as the electrolyte. It seemed to work for a nickel-zinc test cell long ago, and potassium chloride didn't work with a nickel negative side. So, instead of "lead-lead" in sulfuric acid, it would be "nickel-nickel" in oxalic acid.
   But the experiment showed the oxalic acid unexpectedly attacks metallic nickel spontaneously, and while the reaction product isn't soluble, it does separate from the metal plate and precipitate out. Perhaps instead of the acid an oxalate salt could be used - potassium hydrogen oxalate or potassium oxalate - both of which are said to form alkaline solutions. These can be made from oxalic acid (I had to order more), and potassium hydroxide (which I have lots of). In alkaline solutions I expect the nickel is less likely to react spontaneously than in acid. On reading a research paper it looked like adding still more KOH would give a mix of KC2O4 and KOH for a pH 14 alkaline battery, where the KC2O4 just might render metallic nickel oxidizable in the KOH. This formula also might make a good electrolyte, so there are several things to try out.

   Somehow creating a new and better battery chemistry and making better batteries (and ultimately production) has always seemed to be just a hop, skip and a jump away, but so far I haven't hit a magic combo with everything right. I am rather optimistic about oxalate, however. It seems like just the right ion. It lowers the reaction voltage of a nickel positive electrode just a little, quite possibly just enough to solve my "bug-a-boo" self discharge problem.

The cell and electrode plates after adding electrolyte and
attempting to charge it for a while.

Hybridizing the Toyota Echo... Wait, how about the Miles truck?

   The last parts I thought I needed arrived in early December. But as I thought about hybridizing the Toyota Echo I decided to exercise the better part of valor and chickened out. It was currently my only road vehicle and it was a long way to anywhere by bicycle, and to make it all work there were a lot of parts to install and wire up, besides just the motor and transmission parts.
   That didn't mean abandoning or further delaying the project and its main intent. If I did the Miles truck instead, it was already electric and all that was needed was the basics: move the motor, install the transmission stuff, and remove the original transmission and drive shaft. I could work on it at leisure in the garage without worries about getting places in the duration. I hoped to improve the power and substantially improve the range of the truck with this new configuration, and hopefully it would be fit for the lightly trafficed highway here even if it would slow down going up hills. Then I would have both a small car and a small electric truck.
   The two electric drive parts that had been destroyed in the Swift fire were the meters above the dash. I was passing by Canadian Electric Vehicles during my Christmas holiday. We determined I didn't need one of them because of a meter I had that would do the job (it had come with the Swift but hadn't been installed). The other one was over 400$. Yow! Since I wanted it and wouldn't be passing by again, I bought it anyway. But I wondered if I needed a sanity check to spend so much on one little part.

   On the 18th I was still waiting for bearings for the bandsaw mill, and then for oxalic acid too. At least, I couldn't find my tiny bottle of it. I may have already, before I moved here, mixed the last of it into the solution I was using, now virtually empty. Then everything had to come to a halt anyway because I was going to Victoria to see my family for Christmas, departing here on the 20th and returning on my 63rd birthday, January 1st.

A Decade in Review

   I first visualized and started in on the car hybridizing projects in January 2008, so December 2017 completes an entire decade. The objectives when I started were a wheel motor to mount on the outside of a car wheel, a motor controller to run it, and some sort of as yet undefined new battery chemistry that would be cheaper to produce and better than lithium for electric transport - preferably with indefinite cycle life. I incorporated Turquoise Energy Limited in March to help pursue these projects and then hopefully commercialize the results. Without any real timeline in mind, I initially thought developing such things might take a year or so. While I made an "outside the wheel" motor and controller that (barely) moved my car by October, I gradually started to realize that it was going to take substantially longer to develop tried and tested products that were reliable and safe beyond being (at least, I hoped) "cutting edge" conception prototypes. I started thinking in terms of three to five years. Little did I realize I was in for a dazzling decade long string of novel and exciting "green energy" projects, but always on a shoestring budget and with only glimmering hopes of ever commercializing any of them.

   At this point, there have been so many projects - successes, failures, and those taken to various stages of completion or incompletion short of definitely fitting into one of those categories, that I will here simply list them, sometimes combining multiple segment projects into one title. The projects seemed to need some basic explanations, but for so many projects, the list started to get really long by the time I was half done, in time spent as well as words. I decided to save most of the descriptions for the newsletter indexes, and I'll have to refer the reader interested in a particular title to those (once I've done them) as well as to the newsletters themselves.

 - Ocean Wave Power (the original project started in 2006)
 - a small Pivoting Blade Electric Sawmill (built and cutting hardwood lumber in 2006)
 - Electric Hubcap axial flux BLDC 'pancake' motor. More than any other project, this evolved from "golly it works", first into a highly efficient motor, then into a safer, more reliable unit that might actually be approaching one that could be produced and sold. Later, new types of motors with amazing promises started to cross my path, and I started diverting efforts into them.
 - 'Turquoise' BLDC Motor Controller, for the motors.
 - 'Turquoise Battery' (chemical ideas initially only vaguely defined). Ni-Mn; Ni-Ni; Ni-Air; nickel-manganates "+" electrode. Trying to create a viable new battery chemistry has been an ongoing project throughout, and a number of promising developments have taken place.
 - Some lead-acid battery explorations: sulfate salts & "pulse charging".
 - A Variable Torque Converter/Transmission (only the objective was defined - it sounded simple enough!). Like the new battery chemistries, this has been an ongoing focus and many novel ideas have been tried out over the years. Some of them are undoubtedly improvements, but my constructions to date have not been robust enough to put a car on the street with.
 - EV Fan-Heater(s) to defog windshield quickly (nothing very special here)
 - Micro- or nano-crystalline coil cores
 - Nanocrystalline titanium dioxide borosilicate "pebbly textured" Solar Cell Cover Glass Project to collect more of the light (Cores project above morphed into this, plus a couple of new ideas for dye sensitized solar cells!)
 - Electric Outboard motor project with Electric Hubcap prototype motor. (Later changed to Electric Caik motor outboard.)
 - Pulsejet Steel Plate Cutter (Probably a good idea for CNC cutting, but I didn't finish it.)
 - Giant "Electric Weel" motor project, perhaps to drive car wheel(s) without gear reduction (as built with similar techniques to "Electric Hubcap" the case was too flexible - and it didn't work well as a generator.)
 - I bought a Chevy Sprint, at first intending to do just a 'regular' conversion to EV to drive electrically. But soon I started trying to apply my torque converter ideas instead so it would have better range, and have never yet got it on the street.
 - LED space & grow Lighting projects. (Globe lights, lamps & flat panel lights - started in 2012 when LED lighting was virtually unavailable).
 - I dabbled in 'magnetic drives' but failed to make anything very interesting or that powered itself. (I'm not convinced it can't be done.)
 - I came up with a way to use magnets with the Earth's field to orient and accelerate an orbiting spacecraft, but didn't convince anyone to put them on a small satellite that was being made.
 - I put up some solar panels and made a 12 volt system. In that project, I came up with a line of 12 VDC plugs, sockets, wall plates and more for any sort of 12 V wiring. I called it the "CAT standard" - Connectors based on AT fuses.
 - I also made a "super insulated" peltier module shallow chest 12 volt fridge, about 4 cubic feet.
 - I then dabbled with magnetic refrigeration using gadolinium - thought I had a better, simpler design - but then figured better peltier modules would soon be made and make it obsolete.
 - I made custom plastic cases (3D printed) to hold 10 D cells, which in NiMH makes a 12 volt battery.
 - I conceived a CNC farming or gardening machine. (But haven't made it.)
 - The Electric Caik motor extended the Electric Hubcap motor family down in size instead of up, with 2/3 of the internal power components and running at 24 volts instead of 36. It was originally conceived for electric motorbikes, but the prototype ended up running the electric outboard.
 - A bicycle wheel rim motor was conceived to power bicycles and also using 6 of the same coils, but was never built.
 -  I put together a "Reprap Pro" 3D printer kit and got it printing.

   And all the above, with various overlaps in the narrative and project time spans, covers the first five years, as detailed in Turquoise Energy News #1 to #59.

 - I tried making an evacuated tube heat radiator for the fridge. Such a device transfers heat much more rapidly than copper or aluminum, which might render a fan unnecessary. I couldn't get sufficient vacuum in the tubes.
 - I bought some thermoelectric generator modules (pretty much the same as peltier modules, but instead of electricity in, different temperatures out, different temperatures in generate a voltage. I investigated using these for a woodstove thermoelectric generator.
 - I thought that with peltier modules one might make a house or electric car solid state heat pump using less electricity than with radiant heating. If one could achieve a coefficient of performance of 1.0, and add that to the heat directly radiated by the electrical inefficiencies, one might get double the heat. Attaining good results looked less and less promising.
 - I got an electric converted Mazda RX7 EV and tried mixing battery types in it, charging each 12 volt section separately. Worked well.
 - I got a setup working to program TI's MSP430 line of microcontrollers in assembly language. I conceived of several uses for microcontrollers.
 - I started investigating "bladeless" Tesla Turbines as well as vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT.s). It seemed to me possible one might put together a better VAWT, quiet and with the moving parts all inside a housing, with the Tesla system. I took (not for credit) a "coursera.org" course on "Wind, Waves and Tide" power from University of Toronto an learned much about Earth's wind systems.
 - I made an axial flux "switched reluctance" motor ("ARM" motor) and a new type of "simpler" motor controller for it with only 3 drivers (low side only) instead of 6. With solid steel rotors and almost no back EMF, reluctance motors can turn at fantastic RPM.s safely and easily, eliminating all need for variable gearing - a fixed reduction will do fine. I didn't get it running very well (motor controller needs work) before more promising new ideas started pouring in.
 - After starting on the ARM motor, I heard about a "transverse flux" BLDC motor. One coil per phase is wound around the entire stator - so simple! It looked even more applicable to the reluctance motor type than to PM motors.
 - If seemed "Bedini" (or should it be "Houdini"?) unipolar motors somehow got more out than was put in, a "Coefficient Of Performance (COP) greater than 100%. It also seemed there were "Zero" motorbikes that got fantastic range from their batteries, which seemed to indicate it wasn't just hot air. It seemed short pulse driving was the key, which would require more changes to a motor controller to accomplish.
 - Then I heard of the idea of "electro-permanent" AlNiCo permanent magnets. The motor controller would pulse the coil once to "permanently" magnetize it, so the rest of that part of the cycle would be two permanent magnets attracting or repelling each other. At the correct points of rotation, pulses would magnetize, demagnetize or reverse magnetize each coil. This seemed to have tremendous potential for using less electricity to run a motor. (Perhaps the Bedini made use of this.)
 - Before I built anything using that idea, I heard about "permanent magnet assisted" coils. Here there is a permanent magnet and an electromagnet in each coil. If no current is applied, they short magnetically through "keepers" and there is no external magnetism to the rotor, but if the coil is energized to the same strength and polarity as the magnet, they add together and the field is doubled using the same amount of electricity. This seems to be a really neat trick for cutting the electricity required in half. I planned how to convert my reluctance motor to this system since it was readily applicable. I didn't get that done either, but it holds tremendous promise.
 - I added opposite polarity magnets to the "unipolar" BLDC motor between the other magnets, giving it 4 magnet poles where a regular BLDC rotor would have 2. This enables it to be run from the (more reliable?) "unipolar" motor controller instead of a regular BLDC controller. I called it the 4:3 BLDC motor.
 - I delved into aquaponics (with LED grow lighting), in which fish eat fish food and their waste is pumped out to feed a vegetable garden, which sends clean water back to the fish pond. For minimal input one gets both fish and vegetables. It has great potential for feeding people form a smaller space.
 - I found there is a much higher top end to the electromagnetic spectrum than gamma rays, identified in 2007, which appeared to be how various people have pulled "free energy" out of the air, starting if not with Nicola Tesla then with Thomas Henry Morray whose energy machines in the 1930s or so have many testimonials from knowledgeable people and government officials, and who recognized this higher frequency band as being the source of the energy. When scientists identified them in 2007 they were calling them "Very High Energy Gamma rays" or "VHE gamma rays". Since it is far beyond the gamma ray area of the spectrum and the effects are qualitatively different, I felt this was a misnomer and I started calling it "Lambda" rays. But I could go for "VHE rays" without the word "gamma" attached. (The space scientists seem to have never entertained the idea that real energy can be had from these "Very High Energy" rays.)
 - Having recognized the energy source and some basic principles for generating electricity from the rays, I started trying to do so. I have worked on it at 3 different times and I expect I'm not so far off from good results, but I seem to keep getting diverted by other projects.
 - I also briefly looked into atmospheric charge energy, but in a couple of experiments it seemed less than promising.
 - Converted a car alternator into a PM alternator by replacing the rotor coil with a big NIB ring magnet.
 - I designed an improved version of the Piggott virtually frictionless PM alternator, and started to build one. It can have much higher power than Piggott's by virtue of much better internal cooling, and multiple units could be made in one case on one shaft for still higher power.
 - I discovered ground effect craft, which fly just over the water at aircraft speeds using far less fuel. I looked at various types and came up with a somewhat new design that has some 'hovercraft' like attributes that would get it off the water at low speed with its ducted fan blowing air under wings with air flaps, the flaps folding up with conversion to aircraft lift as it accelerates. Symmetrical wing profile improves longitudinal stability and an extra forward 'shark fin' provides better lateral stability. Such craft could better open up many islands and mountainous coastal regions that are presently difficult of access, such as the BC northern coast, Alaska, Norway and interconnection of island chains such as Hawaii, Canary Islands and so on.
 - I came up with new ideas for river or tidal flow power using floating platforms, and a couple for ocean wave power with oscillating water column buoys.
 - Finally, in milling up some trees with a chainsaw Alaskan mill, I came up with an idea for a bandsaw Alaskan mill. Since this had immediate valuable application for me I started making one and I should be testing it in the next month or two.
 - To flourish, plants need LIGHT, not just light. Over Christmas while in Victoria, I bought 48 LED light "bulbs" in two boxes, one of 5000 K ("daylight") and one of 2700 K ("orange" IMHO), and five "bathroom" fixtures of four light sockets each: 20 lights. This, along with a 1' x 2', 6500 K, 30 W flat panel light, I made into a 200 watt LED "grow light" stand for growing seedlings and probably whole vegetables indoors. But in this I'm impinging on 2018.

   As to the many "incomplete" or "didn't build it" projects or project ideas... well, there's only one of me. Imagine what could be done with a person for each project, or still more with teams of people to build and commercialize them in a big way.
   Before and during World War Two governments spared no expense on research and development just in case something might give them an edge, and tremendous technological breakthroughs were attained: sonar, radar, radio navigation systems, jet engines, space rockets, television, the digital computer and (unfortunately?) the atomic bomb to name some prominent ones. These set the stage for a materially better world.
   Governments then turned to rebuilding shattered infrastructure and stopped funding most R & D - especially "D", development. With no programs of social sustainability to set national goals and priorities, promising new developments and developers were pretty much left in the lurch. The budgets to do great things were modest in terms of national budgets, but except for less capital intensive ventures where profits also glittered on the horizon, many possibilities for valuable advances have since been thrown under the bus. (A major exception to this trend were the Russian and American space programs. Governments pursued the goal of sending men to walk on the moon with great vigor and expense until it was accomplished almost 40 years ago. At least in the west they have set few worthy national R & D goals since.) Government funding of R & D, with no clearly defined national goals or directions by which to measure progress, sees little in the way of integration of inventive projects into society and into the economy.
   (As I think about it, I think I would call my company a D & R company. Development of ideas is primary, while "pure Research" is what is often required in order to develop ideas into products.)

   Increasingly as I went along I made comment in Turquoise Energy News on social issues that seemed to be hobbling and hampering attainment of clean, renewable energy and electric transport on any sort of commercial basis. As my understanding of these problems grew, ideas evolved to the point of my doing a large write-up with about a dozen proposals for how we might better place the direction of governance into the hands of the people - and especially those of the people who take an interest in such things and who have ideas for things that they think the majority would like to see done. This may be found as http://www.HandsOnDemocracy.org .
   One of the earlier ideas was for a government "Department of Progress", which would define and attempt to clarify what society desired to become, and then oversee the work required to attain those goals, whether by funding inventors and product development or by testing out and recommending to the legislature democratic and other social reforms that would improve society. Put another way, it would turn government into a "learning institution" that can evolve and adapt as society evolves and changes.
   This might be a potential application for Daniel Raphael's writings about "the seven core values of social sustainability" and "Planetary Management", implementations of educational segments of which are now in formative stages. The problem of "constitutions are fixed while society continually changes" were already noted by the early 1800s. With impassioned and cogent arguments and the possibility of a "French Revolution" looming, the UK's Reform Act then to give most men the vote (instead of just the few wealthy landholders) passed by one vote in the British parliament, but nothing was done about the problem of institutions being static in general.
   "Social Sustainability" as explained by Raphael, will keep family values and the various institutions of society in line with evolving needs generation after generation in perpetuity. This is quite a new concept compared to physical or technological sustainability, which has been increasingly recognized as a need for at least half a century. Social sustainability is the only way to prevent civilizations from rising, peaking, declining and finally failing as every one has done so far. Today we head for the failing point for our present civilization with a rising crescendo of increasingly serious crises which are mostly being created by humans and overpopulation.
( https://sites.google.com/view/danielraphael )

   But back to technologies for the future... I am about to tackle the perhaps whimsical task of figuring out how much money I could productively put to use and in what areas if I somehow "won the lottery" or some philanthropic multi-billionaire decided to put some of his wealth toward improving the future of the world by investing in me to build teams to develop and commercialize some of these projects.

In Passing
(Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)

Sea Foam is natural (oops!)

   After I wrote last month thinking foam on the beaches was probably man-made pollution, someone wrote and said sea foam is a natural occurrence. I asked a long time resident who lives by the shore, and she said the winter sea foam and "foambergs" I wrote of have been happening for 40 years since she's lived here, and that some years there's been more than this year. So it would seem I was jumping to conclusions. (Not like me to jump to unwarranted conclusions, oh no!)
   Of course in rather shallow, choppy Hecate Strait there's also "sponge reefs", apparently extinct since dinosaur times everywhere else on the planet. (Ahem. Were all those paleontologists jumping to conclusions when they claimed they were long extinct?) Bits of sponge ("crystal sponge"?) wash up on the beach here in summer. So it's a somewhat unique environment.
   And after writing I noticed thick foam in a creek. It's brownish when it dries out, and a neighbor said one alder leaf will turn a whole bucket of water brown. So my next theory is that alder leaves and other organic material from the swampy parts of the island decay and make their way to the ocean in the rains where the brackish water with its, um, nutrients, is churned up by the waves into foam. A distinct line separating brownish runoff water near shore from clear ocean water farther out is sometimes visible during rainstorms.
   Hah, maybe the sludge from the swamps of Haida Gwaii provides the nutrients that grow the sponge reefs?


   Bitcoin transactions have been slowing down. Occasionally transactions can take as much as days instead of under an hour.
Some of the bitcoin programmers proposed the solution of increasing the block size so each block could handle more transactions. The majority refused to accept the change, and bitcoin is a democracy. That means bitcoin can't adapt and has become unsustainable. The developers who saw the need for it to adapt created "bitcoin cash" from bitcoin, and whoever had 1.234 bitcoins on August 1st now also had 1.234 "bitcoin cash". (At least theoretically. I still haven't figured out how to get mine.)
    I sold my remaining bitcoin at a staggering 10,250$. And in about 3 weeks the price doubled again and then went up further! (If only I had kept all 24! But I used them up when they were 700$ to 1600$ financing my move to Haida Gwaii.)
   It appears "Etherium" is being considered or adopted by some large businesses in their programming, which should make it a "rising star" as some have said. Last January I could have bought some etherium for under 10$. Earlier in December it was over 600$, and now (Jan. 10th 2018) it's about 1600$. I bought some after I sold the bitcoin, but after seeing other "alt coins" do not much and expecting etherium was just another fad, I missed a huge chance there last spring. I bought some cheap "Quark coin" last winter instead and it appears to be a dead horse. (Well, I should check it before I say that - I haven't done so in months.)
   Not having had internet all these months, these things got ahead of me.

   I bought a "Ledger Nano S" hardware "wallet", a USB device with its own little LCD display, which is supposed to be very safe against theft by hacking because it's all done internally and not in the computer. It can be used to hold bitcoin, bitcoin cash and etherium. and probably others. You write down 24 words it gives you and you can recreate the wallet from them if you lose it or it quits working. (So can somebody else steal your cryptocurrency if they get hold of your list of words!) Then I lost the "wallet". Probably I put it somewhere "safe" before I went on my Christmas holiday. Now I can't remember where I put it and I've searched for it. To all intents and purposes it appears to be gone.

Fraud in the Stock Market!

   Certain members of the alternative media have been saying for some time that stock trades are not being properly cleared and registered. They say that if you don't hold the actual piece of paper saying "1000 shares XYZ", you don't own it, and not to buy unless you can get it. But the brokerage through which you purchased the stock probably doesn't have the actual printed shares either. In fact a company that is supposed to register all shares in New York is completely overwhelmed by all the trades, especially computer handled high frequency trading and "front running" of stock purchases.
   The front running entities purchase high speed fiber optic links to the big Wall Street stock exchanges. If you decide to buy 5000 shares of stock "X" and send a signal to the exchanges, the first transaction of, say, 100 shares gets transferred into your name. With their faster than lightning connections, the front running company's computers then buy the rest of the available shares in milliseconds, and raise the price a little. By the time your broker's computer has connected, you are forced to buy the other 4900 shares at a slightly higher price, which is profit to the front running company and loss to you. There are no laws against it. How can the clearing agency keep up with that, with thousands of transfers of ownership and double transfers or more going on every second?
   It gets better. A company trading shares delays sending in the registration for shares sold, and so "still holds" shares it has theoretically sold. Then perhaps it double sells them. Enron and Bernie Madoff move over!

   Now companies are taking advantage of "free money" (practically zero percent interest rate loans) to buy back their own stocks. As they buy the price goes up, so they're "making money" for their (remaining) shareholders - more than by their actual business operations. Now combine that with the above double selling: It has been reported that one company has now purchased back all its outstanding shares -- only to find their stock still trading briskly on the exchange the next day!

   Of course, the stock market is full of scams so that many people who think they might do well lose money in it, even as the DOW ascends to ever higher new highs. Here's a great example from last spring. One person who thought his stock market investments were doing pretty well, on "shorting" a stock, overnight lost 140,000$ from 35,000$ invested, because of a single transaction of well under 35,000$. He didn't know it was possible to lose more than you had invested. He had to sell his and his wife's retirement savings to pay it. The head of the company he shorted had just announced something along the lines of "Well, doesn't look like much future here. I guess we'll be winding down operations and closing down in the next couple of months." Would any company really admit (let alone proclaim publicly) it was worthless and going out of business, prematurely and to everyone? It stinks! After all sorts of gullable investors had heard this and "shorted" the stock, by some "miracle" a major corporation invested heavily in the company and suddenly the future looked bright. Instead of going out of business, the stock jumped [something like] 1000% overnight. Bad luck for the shorters? Maybe call it "outsider trading"!
   Knowing what had publicly been said, if everything was "on the level" the "angel" company that "invested" in it could have bought it for a song and then invested when it was theirs, so the action made no business sense -- except in collusion, as a means to grab fortunes on the stock market by duping people into shorting the stock. This little caper probably didn't even rate a blip on the "major new fraud every 4 days on Wall street" radar, but it doubtless extracted life savings from a lot of unsuspecting, hard working people.

   A society increasingly based on accumulating massive fortunes by an organized so-called "elite" via theft from the majority cannot last. The seeds of revolution have been sown. May it be a non-violent one that leads to progress, social stability and for the future, social sustainability!

John McAdam

   Around 1790 England had a few left over Roman cobblestone roads, but everything else was dirt (i.e. mud) roads, and travel anywhere was slow and laborious. John McAdam discovered that if road surfaces could be kept dry, they didn't form ruts and mud. And that crushed stone and a layer of gravel would be compacted down by horse's hooves and carriage wheels to form a hard, dry, durable surface. This must have been less intuitive than we would think today - apparently no one had tried it before. So it would seem he invented the gravel road. Cheap and easy compared to cobblestones. Soon roads crisscrossing England and Southern Scotland had been "macadamized". Travel time from London to Edinburgh was reduced from 10 days to less than 2, at speeds of up to 15 miles per hour. Later asphalt was added, making them "tar-macadam", or "tarmac" for short.

[Source: How the Scots Invented the Modern World (page 280)  by Arthur Herman, 2001]

Carmichael Projection World Map & Virtual Reality

   I hit on this new type of world map one day long ago, when peeling a mandarin orange. It has the least surface distortion from projecting the sphere of the world onto a flat surface of most any projection.

   It does suffer from a few faults:

- finding most anything other than the north pole and the south pole
- figuring out what you're looking at
- figuring out where any two map edges meet
- figuring out how to get from point "A" to "B" if they're not visibly in line with each other.

   Okay, so really it's dumb and totally useless! Go on line and use Google Earth. Better still, with the "virtual reality" goggles version you can pick a town or area and view it in 3D from any angle or height and facing any direction. There I was at a village in the Alps, as if I was really there hovering over it. Later I went to an Italian town (sorry, I forget the names) and looked at a couple of interesting old buildings, then went down ("street views") actually inside the municipal art gallery and saw the paintings on all four walls of a room. It was the stuff of far out science fiction, now techno avant guard (my nephew James), tomorrow it will be commonplace.

   The rest of the newsletter is "in depth reports" for each project. I hope these will help anyone who wants to get into a simliar project to glean ideas for how something might be done, as well as things that might have been tried or thought of... and often, of how not to do something - why it didn't work or proved impractical. Sometimes they set out inventive thoughts almost as they occur - and are the actual organization and elaboration in writing of those thoughts. They are thus something of a diary and are not extensively proof-read for literary perfection and consistency before publication. I hope they add to the body of wisdom for other researchers and developers to help them find more productive paths and avoid potential pitfalls.

Electric Transport

Ground Effect Craft: Fixing Lateral Stability Problem

   This is just a quick design thought; I doubt I'll be resuming work on this in the near future. As I noted, one radio controlled 'catamaran' shaped craft especially had tended to fly diagonally whenever it turned, and even to some extent in straight flight. I also recalled Bruno mentioning that the catamaran shape had poor lateral stability without outside-the-hulls wings. Plus, ground effect craft have trouble with turns anyway. On a regular airplane, lateral instability is easily compensated for by using the ailerons to bank the craft into the turn. On the low-flying catamaran ground effect craft, banking is apt to dip one hull into the water. So it's better if it is able to turn without banking very much; indeed, to stay relatively flat and turn without ailerons at all.
   I gave this some thought, and decided the way forward would probably be to put a vertical "fin" sticking up from the front of the wing at the center - maybe 25 square feet for my small craft. This forward fin would force the craft to stay properly oriented, or to say it another way, to quickly and accurately change course to wherever the rudder/tail fin at the back points it.
   (And you could shape it like a shark fin and paint teeth and eyes on the bows!)

Other "Green" Electric Equipment Projects

"Carmichael Mill" - a Portable Bandsaw "Alaska Mill"

A Better Cutting Band?: Meat cutting bandsaw band has less bone

Meat Cutting Bandsaw, exit guides detail
The wheels on this saw had a ridge on the
back edge, so no rear guides were required.
  For some strange reason I had bought a meat cutting bandsaw a couple of years ago. It was just some hunch that I would need it, when I had no earthly reason at the time. I hadn't even thought of it when I wanted bandsaw parts for the mill. It was still stashed in the shipping container. When I did think of it, I remembered that meat cutting bands seemed to be even thinner than regular wood cutting bands, and seemed to be made of stainless steel (or something) instead of rust covered blue steel. On the 3rd I measured the bands to verify this impression. Wood bandsaw band: .9 mm thick (1+ mm if rusty). Meat bandsaw band: .5 mm. What about the actual cutting thickness, with the set of the teeth? It was harder to measure that, but the wood saw seemed to be around 1.2 mm and the meat one about .75 mm. It would have less kerf, make less sawdust. And the clearance behind the cut? Wood saw: 1.2 mm - .9 mm = .3 mm; meat saw: .75 mm - .5 mm = .25mm. So, the meat saw had almost as much clearance as the wood saw. Should it not cut wood just as well?

   All else being equal, the meat blade should use not a lot over half the power to mill wood. That depended on it cutting straight and not jamming, and on the teeth staying sharp. The teeth just might dull faster, but the fastest dullener is heat, and the mill will have water drip cooling on whatever band it's using. Something not equal was that the teeth were finer, 3 per inch instead of 2.
   I looked at the band guide blocks in the meat saw. They were somewhat different than in the wood saw. The lower ones seemed to be made to deflect meat and bone bits away to keep the band from clogging up - just as I had been thinking about for bark and chips. And they were staggered, the left and right ones at different points instead of across from each other so if a wedge of bone did get in, it could push past without jamming the blade. That seemed like a fine improvement too.
   The aluminum wheels were also different from wood bandsaw wheels. They were small (just ~8.5"), flat rimmed with no tires, with in-line grooves where the blade ran, and had a ridge on the back to stop the band from riding off when cutting, instead of rear blocks near but between the wheels. (That just might run a little more freely, less heat - or keep the band running more straight?)

   The thin band was a very exciting find. Using less power to cut should be like having the under 2 HP motor perform as if it was 3 HP - without any added weight or using any more electricity. It should make the plug-in electric model that much more practical and faster cutting. And the thin blade will obviously bend freely around "big" 10" wheels.

   It seemed well worth trying, and even having on hand for when the mill was ready. The band in my meat saw was way shorter than the 93" wood band. On this mill I can move a pulley in to accommodate short bands, but it wouldn't have much cutting width. It would probably cut boards from a 6" wide cant, but not much more. (With the small wheels, the meat bandsaw had virtually a 10" vertical cutting capacity even with the short band.) But it's the wide cuts where more power (easier cutting) would be the most helpful.
   On line I found Dimar Canada (manuacturer of many saw blades and bands) has them with 3 or 4 teeth per inch ("TPI") and will cut them to any length. There being no shop tool dealers around here I asked about mail ordering two, 93" long, 3 TPI. The next day they sent me a link to a list of dealers in BC that do mail order. I went to Skukum Tools in Victoria, since I had bought saw blades there when I lived in Victoria. I thought they would be costly, but they were about the same price as wood bands. I ordered three, 93" x 3/4" x 3 TPI, .022" thick (.56mm).

Building, continued

   Still on the 4th I went into town and got a bunch of nuts and bolts. Amazing how you can have a big selection and still not have the ones you need! With the angle grinder & zip disk I cut up two pieces of previously welded up 3/4" square steel bracket assemblies to use as arms to hold the band guide blocks. Once cut they had the 3D-"L" shape I wanted without doing any welding myself. I wire brushed the rust off (bench grinder with wire brush wheel) and drilled mounting holes, and fitted them on.
   Next I looked for a way to mount the Ryobi skill saw. At first I thought the best thing would be two "U" bars (more like "["), 3" tall by about 1" top and bottom. Bolted to the main bars the tops would be above the wheel about 1/2", and the four corners of the saw's bottom plate could be bolted along the top. Checking more closely, for the saw pulley to line up with the mill's pulley, it didn't fit so neatly over the two bars, but was off the front one entirely and hanging a good way over behind the rear one. It seemed to defy finding a simple, sturdy solution. Then I realized that a 4" x 5.5" x 4" upside down "U" could form a cover over the whole thing, and that the saw could be bolted to. I also realized that meant the cover would have to be unbolted to get cutting bands on and off. Oh well!
   The Ryobi would be in a very awkward position to hold its switch on while cutting. I had intended to tape the switch "ON", and I looked on line for a pistol grip switch to put in "upstream". It wasn't proceeding very well. I could find trigger switches, but they still needed to be mounted in something. Then I figured if that was the case, I might as well take the one out of the Ryobi and extend its wires. Then re-mount it in some sort of pistol grip, perhaps made on the 3D printer.
   These things now had good plans to be worked out and I retired for the night happy with the progress.

   The 5th started out well enough, as I figured (a) that I should use roller bearings instead of blocks for all 6 surfaces and then (b) how to mount at least 4 of them. I picked out bearings that would go on a 1/4" bolt as a shaft. But I only had 3 and I needed 6. I went into town and at the NAPA store, which had told me they had them, the clerk found one the same. I said I would take 10 and he said they only had the one, and it was 55$. I should have got the bearing number off him. I went on line to Princess Auto, but the ball bearings were mixed in with all the other bearings and bushings in an apparently random order. Every one that said "ball bearing" used the same picture, with no info about the size or anything. With nothing to go on in random order amongst about 270 bearings and bushings, I never did find any close to what I wanted. Chinese stores didn't seem to have any. (They're probably all made there anyway!) That seemed to leave VXB bearings in the USA, which would mean extra expenses. I finally gave up for now and picked some other less than ideal bearings that I already had. By then it was getting late.

   On the 6th I made a 12" x 14" piece of aluminum, bent in 3 places to go over the top to mount the Ryobi saw/motor on. It also doubles as the guard covering 1/3 of the top of the band. Then, finding a piece of pipe just the right diameter, that the motor shaft needed to have around it behind and to support the pulley (the original blade support being unsuitable), I got the small V-belt pulley properly mounted on the motor.
   Then I thought I'd do something simple and make a guard to go the rest of the way across the top of the mill. When I got the sheet metal bender, I'd been tripping over two pieces of acryllic plastic that Tom had brought me from the dump, saying "you can always use pieces of plexiglass." As I was cursing them and wishing he'd taken them somewhere else besides my shop floor, I noted one of them was folded at 90 degrees, and then it occurred to me it might after all solve a problem. I wanted the user to be able to see the water drip and know if it had run out of water while sawing. A guard of clear plastic would do that. I found a piece of 3/16" lexan that might be big enough to cover the rest of the mill if it was heated and bent to the right shape. Lexan is tough and won't crack or shatter if it's hit by flying bits flung off the band.

    No, it wasn't good enough just to bend up some sheet metal and make the guard. That would have been too simple! I had to try another new thing, again something I'd never done before - make folds in clear lexan plastic! I decided to try out a 6" wide piece first to see how it would go. I don't know how it's usually done except that you use heat. I put the lexan in a small "angle irons" sheet metal bender with a piece of paper above and below to keep the heat from being immediately lost into the metal (oh, and to avoid scratches). Then I got out the hot air gun and gently pried up the lever on the bender as I played the gun back and forth to heat the plastic. After a while and then very gradually it bent up. Three more bends and quite a while later I had the shaped 6" piece, and it looked quite good for a first try except a couple of places I guess I'd overheated had bubbled. I decided that I didn't want to try doing a much wider piece than that with my technique. 26" to do the whole rest of the mill in one piece was out. So, still wanting a clear view place, I made some screw holes and mounted it on the mill.

   I had hoped to be able to change the band without taking anything apart, but the piece for mounting the motor on had to be sturdy and held on both sides, and I wouldn't trust the plastic to be mounted on only one side so it got screws on both sides too.
   Originally I was just going to have a guard extend past the band and bend down. But conceivably, one could carelessly grab the guard to lift the saw and get their fingers into where the band was. So I decided just to continue the same on the other half, fully covering the entire top of the saw. These three covers all have to be removed to change bands.
   I took pictures outside before the light faded too much and put in the last screws later. At this point the saw weighed 22 pounds (10 Kg). That seemed to be about on target for 35-40 complete.

Operator's view

Log's view.

Upside down.

8th: I got the band guides done on one end. It was a lot of fiddly adjusting, filing and bending to get all three bearings in line and straight. And when the whole piece is moved left or right to adjust the cut width, it will have to be carefully set to the same angle as it was at when I set it up at the end for the widest cut. If the band doesn't go into the wood straight and level, it will try to cut upward or downward and the mill won't work.
   I started looking to see how the other end might be done better to make it easier. The other end also needed to have the end guide "ski" welded on. It sits below the band. The moving band will pull the saw in that direction until it hits the end guide - or other parts if there wasn't one. The "ski" bent front gets the mill smoothly past bumps in the log or wood.
15th: I took the bearings off the leading side, and and fitted made the pieces with them on the exit side.
   I also got a plastic jar for a cooling water container. Well, with a clear plastic jar the amount of water left is clearly visible, so the clear plastic view port to see the water spraying on the band was probably redundant. But maybe not: it might be seen whether the water is enough, too little or more than necessary, so the nozzle size can be optimized. And of course it's still how to see if the jet has become clogged, which having water in the jar won't indicate.

16th: The ferry came in in the morning for the first time in several days and I went to the post office late in the afternoon hoping my parts had come in, especially the bearings. But there was so much mail and so many parcels the post office hadn't been able to sort it all yet. Come back Monday! I only got the new, thinner "meat cutting" bandsaw bands. I put one on the next evening. It seemed to run smoother than the thicker, rusty "wood cutting" band, and I adjusted the bearings it did have for the new thickness. I went back before closing time on Monday (18th) and they still hadn't finished sorting Friday's mail! This time I got nothing at all.

While two rollers clamp the band and keep it from twisting,
a third behind it keeps it from coming off the wheel
when wood being cut is pressing against the band.
There is one such assembly to the left of the cut and one to the right.

Home Sheet Metal Tools

   Some may not realize that for cutting aluminum a regular electric wood saw works pretty well. Even my bandsaw with coarse teeth (3 TPI) does well. Finer teeth are better. If it won't fit in that, I use my radial arm saw. Cut slowly and wear eye protection as well as ear. So far I haven't had to resort to a skill saw, and I'm not sure I'd want to.
   Steel is tougher. There are metal cutting jigsaw blades for steel. For sheet metal, use one with fine teeth; coarse teeth are for thicker plate. Cut slowly and put on oil or water to keep the blade cool. But for steel I usually gravitate to using a zip disk on an angle grinder.

   From schools and shops where I've worked, I was originally familiar with heavy floor standing sheet metal breaks to bend/fold sheet metal. At best these are several hundred dollars and they go up into thousands. And they take up valuable floor space.
   There are also benders that have a "V" slot and a bar that pushes the metal into the "V". I've found these only seem to work on the lightest of sheets - maybe okay for miniature furnace ducts or something, but not for chassis thickness material. There are some really small 2-piece ones that fit in a vise (eg, 4" wide). It seems awfully hard to crank the handle on the vise to bend a small piece.

   A rather useful technique I've found for bending metal in some situations, even pretty thick stuff, is to use a large crescent wrench - maybe even 2 of them and sometimes a hammer and a vise. The piece can be put in the jaw of the wrench, which is then tightened on it. Sometimes a second wrench is needed to twist the first one, since the handle is pointed in the wrong direction to get good leverage.

   But to really do typical sheet metal folding at home, the best economical choice is what I call an "angle irons" type, which can easily be picked up and carried. It consists of two long, heavy "angle iron" pieces, with hinges and handles at the ends, and a loose flat bar. The only brand I've seen is "Magnum". They come in 18" and 30" sizes. (Now I see a 40 inch "Power Fist" one in a Princess Auto flyer. Each size is heavier built and twice the price of the next smaller model: ~ 50$, 100$, 200$.)
   At a glance they seem to be missing some pieces. The trick is that you supply your own C-clamps to hold down the clamping bar with the metal to be bent under it. (In order that it not occupy bench space except when I need it, I also C-clamp the unit to the bench instead of bolting it on - as I do with several tools.) Leave room behind the fold point for the thickness of the material, and do the C-clamps up plenty tight, or they'll slip.
   The 30" break did my rather heavy aluminum covers, one of which was 19" long, without much complaint. (Having done no chassis making since I bought it, it is in fact the first time I've used the larger one and I was pleasantly surprised. I think I would recommend it over the 18" one for all but quite light work, even if the pieces won't exceed 18".) If the middle area doesn't bend quite as far the the end near the handle (slight flex in the "angle irons"), it is often possible to reposition the work at the other end and the other handle - or - use a big crescent wrench as an extra handle around the middle where the break flexed most. To do multiple direction chassis folds, use scraps of steel plate to make your own shorter clamping bars. With some ingenuity, it's as versatile as the heavy, expensive breaks if not more so. I made my aluminum motor controller chassies with one.

Motors & Duty Cycle

   Someone mentioned that a skill saw motor was probably only rated to run for short bursts, not for long periods as it will be when milling. I had thought of that too but I cast it aside for the moment and will see what happens when I start using the mill. OTOH it's also probably not very efficient and for that reason too I've also been casting around for other choices. I may try out the 12 amp motor from my electric lawnmower. On the 7th I sent a message to "Transmag.com" who make various BLDC motors that they say are more efficient and lightweight than other types to see if they would recommend one of theirs. I suppose I could use one of my own "Electric Caik" motors, but it runs on 24 volts, and I still have to figure out how to keep it from gradually overheating. And I don't want to divert into making another motor and controller at the moment. (But it might be a good option for doing any milling necessary in the bush where there's no plug-ins, to break down logs into movable pieces.)

Drive Belts

   I thought of using a link-belt, as they are said to be more efficient than regular V-belts. They are made up of short plastic "links" that can be put together (and taken apart again) to make any desired length of belt. There are two or three different belt widths. Then I remembered that long ago I had tried one on my upright bandsaw. It would slip when the going got tough and I had to replace it. The going will always be tough on a mill.
   Then I remembered the belts for variable pulleys, with the "notches" in them. I dug them out and checked. Sure enough, they would bend around a small arc much more easily than a regular belt. And I was using quite a small pulley on the saw motor. Doubtless they were much superior to the regular V-belts. But they were both too short. There's yet another web search I'll have to do, and then I'll order one the right length. Maybe even a small selection of them, and one for my upright bandsaw. Considering how stiff regular V-belts are and how much power they must lose, I wonder why they aren't all made with the notches.

Power Supply: Photos Simplify Repair. (But is it Worth Repairing?)

   On the evening of the 14th I finally replaced the main filter capacitor in my "Circuit Test" 0-30 V, 0-10 A lab power supply. Circuit Test used a 50 volt capacitor that ran at 52 volts. In fact, there were a number of marginally rated parts. But capacitors go bad, and from this low rating and the symptoms, replacing it seemed like the best bet to fix the supply. I got a new 22000 uF, 100 V capacitor a month ago, but it seemed like a dirty trick. The pricey (22$?) part had screw terminals but came with no screws or tabs to connect, and no clamp to hold it down. I had to go out and buy #10-32 x 1/2" screws (I had lots of #10-24s) and a hose clamp. To install it I spent time bending some bits of aluminum to make tabs to hold down the hose clamp and make it a capacitor clamp, and some copper tabs to solder the wires to. Yetch! The rest was unsoldering and removing the old capacitor, mounting and soldering in the new one, and then putting all the wires back in, testing, and putting the case back together.

   One thing I note simplifies electronics (and surely mechanical) repairs these days is the digital camera (AKA cell phone, tablet, etc). When one had a complex device with a bunch of parts and wires to disassemble, it used to be necessary or at least prudent to write down where the nuts, bolts and pieces went and note the color and connection of each wire before disassembly, in order that it might be reassembled without mistakes. Today a picture taken with a digital camera shows it all in its original condition. Words take time to jot down and can later be confusing; the picture is quick to take and unambiguous. There were two white wires with black boots. I noticed in the picture one boot had a bit of white writing on it. I had them backwards, and might not have caught the mistake without that.

   That seemed to fix it. The loud buzzing followed by destructive behavior didn't happen again. But the supply was getting increasingly quirky. For some time the voltmeter hadn't been reading. I hardly noticed because I had already connected a little 2-wire self-powered DVM for more precise readings. But it also did funny things, putting out "random" high voltages until it was turned up to about 2.5 volts, with the higher voltage relays chattering on and off. Well, who would want less than 3 volts anyway? Now it wouldn't put out above 2 amps even on the 10 amp range. And a wire had burned out a trace, and if reconnected it made some sort of short - no voltage could be had, just current limiting. I replaced a shorted diode and it made no difference. I couldn't for the life of me see how it could have worked at all with that diode shorted. By then I had several hours into it. It would likely take several more to restore it completely. It seemed to work well enough for 2 amps or less, but the real solution, apparently, was to spend several hundred dollars and buy a nice, tame, predictable new power supply with digital displays. Sigh! (Next problem was choosing. I found so many on line on the 16th that I didn't pick out one that I liked and wanted to pay for, when most of them were over 1000$.)

   The next day (17th) I decided I should get a small, rather cheap one (200$) that I had seen, specifically for charging single battery cells for those experiments. All along I've been using a cheap power adapter that puts out a varying, unregulated voltage and current, through a resistor that sets the current to the cell. And measuring the voltage across the resistor to see what current is flowing. Suddenly that seems senseless when I could so easily be using a regulated supply to put out a constant current or voltage. But I was too busy to order it.
   On the 31st, while still in Victoria over Christmas, I found and ordered a 16 volt, 5 amp supply from Digikey for just 130$. (I knew it wouldn't be delivered until after new year's when I was home again. It had not in fact arrived by January 11th - ouch!)
   I figured that would do fine for battery experiments. It would display current or voltage (not both at once), but it had an indication of voltage or current regulation. If the voltage stayed where it was set, a known value, I only needed to see the current the rest of the time.
   If I need 30 volts at 10 amps I can either try to figure out the problem or order a more costly supply. Or just use batteries.

Electricity Generation

Nanocrystalline titanium dioxide borosilicate glaze:
"pebbly concrete" glass surface for solar panels

   Some years back I created a nanocrystalline titanium dioxide borosilicate glaze - highly transmissive glass with a very high refractive index. The idea is to grind it into a frit (glass powder), sprinkle it onto a small piece of glass and heat the glass in the kiln, partly melting the frit into it to make a tiny size "pebbly concrete" glass front surface for a solar panel. This should bend light striking from shallow angles into the glass to be absorbed by the solar cells behind the glass, instead of reflecting it off, increasing collection at low sun angles (increasing the hour of daily collection), and collection of scattered sky light (especially on cloudy days) by a very significant percentage. Conceivably each panel might make up to 35% more watt-hours per day.

   When I was originally making the glaze, I didn't realize one could buy solar cells, and it seemed perhaps problematic to try and test it. I let the project drop. But I still have a couple of pieces of the glaze (formula #9) ready to try out.
   Before moving here I ordered a pack of small solar cells, each 20 x 40 mm. I finally opened it and discovered I should have ordered the thin metal strips to connect the cells together and to an external wires with, because there's really no other practical way to connect them. Now those are on order and should arrive some day.
   The wafers are very thin, and I also discovered that they are very brittle. I accidentally snapped one in half with just a little finger pressure. I don't know how 'flexible' solar panels are made and hang together!

A couple of VHE Ray Energy Notes

   Someone told me that some young kid has succeeded in getting 'free energy' and that there is a video of it on Youtube. He will not patent his device. I have yet to find the video.
   I'm suspecting that it's easier to do than Steven Mark was making it out to be because of the wrongly configured MOS gate driver circuit used by several experimenters about the time his e-mail compilation came out. I suspect it was his circuit, and that would explain the difficulties he had controlling his toroidal power units. But somehow I seem to have been diverted once again from working on this seemingly important project by projects of more immediate value. It is frustrating to have so many exciting potential developments almost at one's fingertips and yet be able to attend to so little in any given month.

Electricity Storage

Another round with Nickel-Nickel

Battery Lab

   On the 10th, waiting for parts to continue the mill, I decided to try setting up my battery lab in the laundry room. It was really too small but had a vexingly small ("bathroom washbasin") sink, a ("table height") work counter and some cupboards. An exhaust fan. One small space with leg room where you could sit at the counter. Not much else. The counter was vexatious because the cupboards were right above it to hit your head on when you leaned over it. If not the cupboards, then their doors.
   First I had to empty the cupboards. They had a lot of crap that seemed to be related to washing clothes and cleaning up. (Most of it I must have put there myself, too!) It wasn't enough. Before dark I brought in all the boxes related to battery making and chemistry. They pretty much covered the small floor and I had to step over and between them to get by. Apparently I was going to have to keep a lot of whatever I wasn't immediately using stashed away somewhere else. And from the condensation on the boxes in the shipping container, that somewhere would have to be the shelves in the shop.


   I decided to give up on the nickel-air idea for the moment, since the last efforts (as best I could recall them) hadn't gone very well. The Nickel-manganese cells had seemed to work except for the self discharge from the positive electrode. Nickel-nickel promised better performance, tho at a much lower voltage, and I decided to pursue that chemistry again. That took me back to March 2016 and TE News #98 - it's been a while!


   On checking Wikipedia "solubility table", it turned out that nickel sulfate is soluble in water - just less so than nickel chloride. Also manganese chloride and sulfate are soluble. That didn't stop my Ni-Mn cells in KCl from working... at least not for a while. But they did fail eventually. I belatedly wonder why I just stuck blithely with KCl and did no exploring of electrolytes for so long.

   I made a little table of relevent solubilities in water at 20°c from the Wikipedia table. Copper is relevent because I used cupro-nickel (70%:30%) for the negative current collector sheets.

Oxide or
Copper (I)/II

   Three more that may be of interest for electrolytes are oxalic acid, 13.3 g/100cc at 20°C, rising rapidly with temperature and dropping below 5 at 0°, potassium hydrogen oxalate, 2.5 at 25°, and potassium oxalate, 36 at 20° and rising somewhat with temperature.

   If solubility indicates that an electrode won't work, I don't understand why Ni-Mn should have worked, apparently fine, in potassium chloride. Of course, all the cells did eventually fail, in a month or less. Perhaps they were deteriorating with every charge-discharge cycle. After all, MnO2-Zn cells in ammonium chloride work fine - once. They can recharge once or twice, but losing much capacity and soon getting a hole through the zinc outer shell. Solubility of so many things in chlorides would probably explain most everything else. It certainly explains the liking of battery makers for alkaline cells. Oxalate, then might present a previously unexplored (if not unnoticed) opportunity.
    What were the potential forms of oxalate? Obviously there's oxalic acid, H2C2O4. What about potassium oxalate? That would be K2C2O4. That didn't even seem to exist on Wikipedia. Then in between there's potassium hydrogen oxalate or "hydrogen bioxalate", KHC2O4. It was soluble if only a little and was said to have uses for bleaching, and some medical use. (All these forms are poisonous.) Calcium oxalate is apparently nearly insoluble - not a good choice! (It's the main material of kidney stones - ugh!)

   I decided to try oxalic acid as the electrolyte. It seemed to work for a nickel-zinc test cell long ago, and potassium chloride didn't seem to work at all with a nickel negative side. If that doesn't work well, I can make the potassium-hydrogen oxalate by adding KOH to the acid. The tiny plastic bottle I had from a kid's chem set wasn't going to go far, so I got on line and ordered 500 g from acpchem.com .

   To sum up: neither nickel metal, nickel oxide nor nickel oxalate are soluble, and the same for copper and manganese. I think it would be pretty safe to presume nickel manganates and nickel oxyhydroxide are likewise insoluble. Thus neither electrode should deteriorate through dissolving, at any state of charge or during charge or discharge. It's the acid of choice since all these metals or their compounds would dissolve in most acids. So, instead of "lead-lead" in sulfuric acid, it would be "nickel-nickel" in oxalic acid. The advantage: the atomic weight of nickel is 59 where lead is 207. It's almost 4 times lighter, so more atoms and more amp-hours per gram. A nickel-manganate positive would further improve this over pure nickel compounds - if it worked in the acid.

   I hoped I was on more stable ground with these observations and the choice than with many of my previous battery ideas.

Building a Cell

   Just for a test cell I found a shallow 4" x 6" flat tray (I made some long ago for the first cells) and I cut a piece of cupro-nickel to fit with a tab sticking out one end. I sanded it to roughen the surface. Then I poured some ferric chloride into the tray and etched it for one minute to further roughen it on a crystal/atomic scale. Acidic FeCl3 dissolves out the copper faster than the nickel, leaving a fractally rough, more nickel rich surface at the micro and nano scale. At this point all I wanted was to see if it worked, if it would hold a specific voltage and supply current, however briefly. So I didn't do nickel foam or nickel flakes to really add capacity to the mix.
   Next was a sheet of watercolor paper to cover that, and then... another sheet of etched cupro-nickel with a tab in the opposite corner. I figured I'd keep it simple. If I charged it, nothing would happen to the negative (hydrogen could bubble off from the water), and the positive would oxidize, and some cell voltage would be found. On top of that should be a cover. Later!

   In mixing the acid I noted that it was soluble to about 23g per 100 ml. Not super soluble, but plenty for a battery electrolyte I trust.

Expectations: The Reactions

   What would the reactions be?  The negative side seems likely to have a half reaction similar to lead-acid:

[charged      <==>      discharged]

Pb + H2SO4 <==> PbSO4 + 2 H+ + 2 e-  (-.3 V)

Ni + H2(C2O4) <==> Ni(C2O4) + 2 H+ + 2 e- (-.4 V ...?)

   The positive side is hazier to me. In alkaline solution the nickel goes from valence 2 as Ni(OH)2 to valence 3 as NiO(OH). Lead goes from valence 2 as PbSO4 and becomes PbO2, valence 4. Nickel won't go to valence 4; we need 3. And a hydroxide seems unlikely in acid. But NiO(C2O4) would be valence 2 or 4. What oxidized compound could give it a valence of 3, unless it's Ni2(?)3 ? How about:

O-Ni-(C2O4)-Ni-O ? or else  (C2O4)-Ni-O-Ni(C2O4) ?

If that isn't bad enough, it'll get much more complicated with nickel manganates.

PbO2 + 2 e- + H2SO4 <==> PbSO4 + H2O (+1.7 V)

Ni2O3 + 2e- + 2 H2(C2O4) <==> 2 Ni(C2O4) + 2 H2O

Well, enough of that... at least the last one can't be right.

Testing & Observations

   When I was ready I added the acid. It seemed to me the top surface of the top sheet took on a bit of a purple tint. I wasn't expecting anything to happen before trying to charge the cell.
   Regardless I put the cell on to charge. Perhaps nothing was soluble, but that didn't seem to stop a purple powder from forming and drifting around in the otherwise clear electrolyte. Perhaps nickel or copper oxide or oxalate didn't dissolve, but seemingly it did flake off the sheet of metal and precipitate out as it formed instead of becoming the surface layer of that metal. And what did the color indicate? If there had been manganese in the mix I'd have been sure it was permanganate. (but permanganate would have tinted the liquid.)
   If it was just forming on the positive electrode it might be redeemed by making it (as planned for later) a compacted powder in conductive carbon black with a graphite (oxide) current collector. If it was forming on both electrodes, it seemed like a show stopper, since nickel sheet was the intended final form of negative.
   The voltage seemed to want to be around 1-1/2 volts on 20-40 mA charge, but decayed rapidly when the charge was stopped. If shorted the cell supplied around 50 mA. I stopped the charge before retiring since nothing useful seemed to be happening.

   The next day (13th) I took out the electrodes and looked at them. Both electrode sheets had a mainly coppery color, which I took to indicate that the nickel was reacting away and becoming the purple powder, while the copper was inert. The solubility table was for compounds, not metals. Nothing was said about nickel spontaneously turning into nickel oxalate. With the low reaction voltage of nickel and its noted corrosion resistance I certainly hadn't expected the negative metal electrode to react during charge or sitting, only during discharge. Later I noted on Wikipedia that oxalate may be "a bidentate chelating ligand" and "many metal ions form an insoluble precipitate with oxalate." That still didn't tell me that the acid would spontaneously react with solid metal.
   The pH of the acid solution (no surprise) was 1 according to my test strips.
   Examining it again in the evening, the purple had dried mostly to a turquoise, and there was some black. Those at least were the color of nickel hydroxide (valence II) and nickel oxyhydroxide (valence III) - and perhaps nickel oxalate compounds of those valences too - nickel oxalate NiC2O4 and (?)nickel oxalate hydroxide NiC2O4(OH). Those at least indicated the expected sort of reactions had been taking place. It may be that the purple was due to combination with the coppery color of the sheet underneath as seen in the liquid. (If there had been manganese in the mix I'd surely have thought it was permanganate. Then again, permanganate should have dissolved and colored the electrolyte purple.)
   There was an interesting statement in Wikipedia [Nickel Compounds] that nickel oxalate "can be formed into various nanorods and nanofibres by the use of surfactants." Nanotubes, nanorods and nanofibres seem to be the holy grail of battery electrode substance making. That sounded more promising than the loose powder initially indicated.

The cell case with paper and the electrodes, top negative, bottom positive
On the left: damp, the paper side of each electrode
On the right: Dry, the outside faces of the electrodes

   Nickel forms many oxalate complexes with other metals, but I hadn't used any of the ones listed in Wikipedia. I did note there's a soluble ion basic to them all, Ni(C2O4)2--, also written (C2O4)2Ni--, which could conceivably dissolve, but the electrolyte remained clear, which was a good sign that that probably wasn't happening. It may in fact be the first time I've had an electrolyte stay completely clear. There was another interesting oxalic "double salt":

K2[(C2O4)2Ni.2H2O].4H2O , structure monoclinic, color green  ; also known as (ready for this?:

dipotassium trans-diaquabis(oxalato-O,O)nickelate(II)-water (1/4)   ; or more simply:

potassium bis oxalate nickel(II) tetrahydrate.

I suppose, ignoring the hydration, that it might look something like: K-(C2O4)-Ni-(C2O4)-K. But what would it do when it oxidizes?

   ("bis": "a molecule with two complex ligands co-ordinating around a central atom". The oxalate ion has two ligands. Also, similarly to the K2[... there's NA2[... and Li2[... , each with different hydrations) We see from the formula that there's just hydrogen, oxygen, carbon (as water & oxalate), nickel, and potassium. Potassium can easily be added to the acid as potassium hydroxide. I got the feeling that there might be some sort of key here.

   These things bring me back to the idea of compacted powder electrodes with chelating the cations, eg in the Sunlight dishsoap (a surfactant with sulfonates), so they stay put regardless of the state of charge.

   But why would the negative side have reacted at all without delivering electrons to an external circuit? The top sheet (the one I could see) seemed to start turning purple as soon as the acid was added. Nickel and copper were both supposed to be insoluble in oxalic acid. The zinc electrode in my test cell long ago eventually got a light whitish coating, but that took a week or more.


   How could it work if the metallic nickel was spontaneously eaten away by the acid, forming a loose precipitate of [presumably] Ni(C2O4)? Whatever might or might not be done with the positive electrode, this was a show stopper. However, the non-solubility of the oxalates and oxides of the metals in question still makes oxalate look like a promising anion. Potassium hydrogen oxalate is only soluble to the tune of 2.5 g/100ml, which seems pretty thin for an electrolyte.
   Wikipedia didn't have an article on potassium oxalate; the name redirected to "oxalate". This caused me to dismiss it in my mind as being something that for some reason probably wasn't stable or usable for anything. It was therefore a bit of a blank, but now it seemed to be the obvious thing to check out next.

Next Electrolyte: Potassium Oxalate?

   A web search led to various tidbits showing that potassium oxalate monohydrate seems quite available, not to say common (eg, "25 Kg bag"), and that it is pH 7 to 8.5 when dissolved. It's also much more soluble (36 g/100 ml) than the acid or the KH(C2O4) version. (I also thought of sodium oxalate, but it's only 4 g/100 ml soluble.)

   One would expect that to make it, I would take the acid and add twice as much molar weight of potassium hydroxide:

H2(C2O4) + 2 KOH => K2(C2O4) + 2 H2O
(90 g) + 2*(56 g) [=90 g + 112 g]

   If I mixed it right, the pH should be 7 to 8.5. One would think the slightest imbalance would make it either very acid or very alkaline. But Wikipedia said solutions of KH(C2O4) were alkaline. So it may be alkaline even if I don't add enough KOH. (Not to be forgotten it's also quite poisonous and irritating to skin, eyes and mucous membranes. Wear gloves and face (or at least eye) protection.)

   But it gets more complicated when one considers the electrode reactions. If nickel metal is to turn into Ni(C2O4) during discharge, that's going to use up oxalate from the solution and leave excess K2, which will form 2 KOH + 2 H+. If it gets too alkaline nickel will stop oxidizing. Alternatively if one put in potassium hydrogen oxalate, the KH(C2O4) should turn another oxalate ion into K2(C2O4) + H+. At the other electrode, something like Ni(C2O4)OH would lose the OH- to combine with the H+ and make water. (or what would happen with nickel manganate?)

Cell with KH(C2O4)?

   Everything seeming too complex to be sure what would happen, so the thing to do might be to make new electrodes, mix some KH(C2O4), and try it out. Then I decided to try just sanding the present electrodes to expose more nickel surface. Then I was using the wire brush on the grinding wheel for something, and I tried that instead. It took it back largely to its nickel color and also left an interesting rough textured surface at a fine scale, especially where pressed "too" hard and locally heating the metal surface up. Perhaps it melted away the surface copper?

Positive Electrode Characteristics

   I found an experiment on line (m.jes.ecsdl.org/content/161/12/H787.full) where researchers were trying to measure the surface area of nickel electrodes. They used oxalate in alkaline media in this. The graph seems to indicate that a positive electrode oxidizes strongly with oxalate where a nickel metal electrode wouldn't just with KOH (at about +1.4 volts on the graph). These points are also .08 volts lower voltage than nickel hydroxide in straight KOH. (Since all my cells have been having a problem with self discharge in the positive electrode, this slightly lower voltage just might make a big difference, suggesting that this might be another good reason to try oxalate. The voltages shown in the graph are measured against a "reversable hydrogen electrode" instead of a "standard hydrogen electrode" and are much higher to the "+" side than the +0.48 volts usually shown for nickel [oxy]hydroxide in alkali.

   Note that K2C2O4 was used rather than H2C2O4. It is therefore an alkaline solution. My intent was to add only enough KOH to convert the H2C2O4 to KHC2O4 or K2C2O4, with no KOH remaining. But it might be that "best balance" would be more strongly alkaline. The best ratio of KOH and H2C2O4 used in the electrolyte might be almost anywhere.

   On an interesting note, it is said that nickel metal at pH 14 uniquely of all metals "will not oxidize". But this seems to be an oversimplification of the actual case. The article indicates that a thin hydroxide layer forms on the surface of the nickel, but it doesn't come off, preventing deeper oxidation, much the same way as aluminum in air always has a thin aluminum oxide film on it. With the oxalate it seems much more oxidation takes place when it hits the reaction voltage, +1.4 volts.)
   The small current bump shown as about +.3 volts of rising voltage may represent the potential at which this layer starts to form, with slightly more penetration ongoing until, in oxalate electrolyte, the rising voltage reaches the main +1.4 volt level of general conversion to (?)oxalate-hydroxide. The distance between the -.3 volts and the +1.3 volts would indicate the potential of a nickel-nickel cell, about 1.6 volts. It might be considered 1.5 or 1.4 volts under load. Or given the gradual curve, it might be .1 or .2 volts lower.

Haida Gwaii, BC Canada