Turquoise Energy Ltd. News #130
covering March 2019 (Posted April 5th 2019)
Lawnhill BC Canada
by Craig Carmichael

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

Month In Brief (Project Summaries etc.)
 - Finishing the solar PV system infrastructure - 36 volt HAT Plugs, sockets, wall plates and driving any lower voltage appliances from 36 volts - Thermal Pane Window disassembly & glass cleaning - Gardening and greenhouse.

In Passing (Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)
 - The Value of Social Ratings - Self, Other and Together Interest - Climate Disasters, Chapter One - On and Off Beefs - More on Recycling Plastics into Valuable Products,  Recycled Transparent Plastic for Greenhouses? - ESD

- Project Reports -
Electric Transport - Electric Hubcap Motor Systems
* Ground Effect Vehicle (R/C Model): Beginnings

Other "Green" Electric Equipment Projects
* "Off Grid" (etc): 38 (33-45) Volt DC "HAT" Plugs & Sockets ...and other 40 volt components.
  - Instructions for making plugs, sockets, wall plates (with 3D printer) - Revised HAT plugs and sockets - Wall Triple Outlet & Cover - 36-40 V DC System Breaker Box - Special Duplex Outlet with Switch - Hole Caps and Glands with 3D printer - Power Monitor - Anderson Connectors (70 Amp) - More Wall Plates - Weak NiMH Battery Repairs
* Disassembly and Cleaning of Thermal Glass
  - Disassembly: "Success by 1000 Cuts" - Cleaning: Magic Baking Soda

Electricity Generation
* My Solar Power System - Crappy Alligator Clips! - Energy collection readings for March - Winter Solar Panel Reflectors? - All the Angles - Power Outage Power From Grid Tie Inverters? - For America to go 100% Solar...

Electricity Storage - Turquoise Battery Project (Mn-Zn, Ni-Zn or Pb-Zn in Methyl Hydroxide electrolyte) (no reports)

March in Brief
   The weather continued on from February, sunny and right around freezing without let up. In late afternoon on the 8th it clouded over. On the 9th it stayed cloudy and the temperature broke +5°C for the first time since January.
   I monitored the solar panels daily all month. Often they still collected around half as much through the clouds as in the sunshine, but occasionally they were quite low. The 10th in particular had rain and heavier cloud and the collection went to under 10%; .8 KWH instead of 8+. As spring progressed, total daily energy collection rose from 8 to over 12 KWH per day when it was sunny. Power hit 1.95 KW at noon on one sunny day. The mornings lengthened, but afternoon cutoff stayed at around 4 PM (PST) owing to tree shadows. It's somewhat irksome to see that the sun is still in the sky, but behind the trees. for the garden as well as the solar. ...cut down the forest to the west of the house? But there is only one row of nice spruce trees, near the house. Behind that is just thin, densely packed alders because it was all clearcut in the 1960s. No sign of sustainable forestry in that!

   Naturally I wanted to get on with the new battery development, the ground effect vehicle, the reluctance motor and controller for electric cars, HE ray energy, and maybe a large VAWT (must wind new stator coils for higher generator voltage at lower RPM) and a CNC garden digger-upper, and solar panels on my electric Sprint car and Miles van vehicles. Not to mention milling more of my spruce and getting the greenhouse up and beds dug and vegetables planted. As a precursor to some of that and to plastic recycling, I wanted to get my CNC router/drill/plasma cutter up and running.

   But having started in on the solar power and some home infrastructure for it, it seemed advisable to finish that to a relatively completed state.

What had been done in previous recent months (see previous issues) was:

* I argued that 36 volts is the best voltage for a DC power system for RVs, boats, off-grid homes, etc. The logic was that it's about the highest "human-safe" voltage, wiring only needs to be 1/3 as heavy as for 12 volts, and it's a good "in between" voltage, being about 3 times 12 volts and 1/3 of 120 volts. (One recognizes that this an unregulated "nominal" battery voltage.) Cheap DC to DC down converters can turn it into 12 volts as needed - or any other lower voltage like 5, 18 or 24.

* 4 (last summer) and then 6 more (total 10) solar panels were installed in two roof sites, providing 1.6 and 1.2 KW nameplate capacity - or 1.2 + .9 = 2.1 KW with the 75% "realism" factor. (Owing to the low angle of the roofs, collection may not even hit 75%. It's over 60% now.)

* The 10 amp programmable DC to DC converter/charge controller was connected and programmed to provide 41 volts to charge a 36 volt DC system. (I've been calling it "38 volts +/- 15%" but that's probably just confusing and I should stick to calling it "36 volts" like everybody else. But really by the time three 12 volt NiMHs or lithiums are down to 36 volts, they're largely drained of their energy.)

* Three 12 volt, 100 amp-hour NiMH batteries made up of "D" cells gave some storage capacity. But two of them, and especially one, seemed surprisingly weak. This month I checked them over and replaced 18 bad or weak cells - 13 of 100 on the weakest one and 5 of 100 on the other. One cell was actually shorted, 0.0 volts.

* Plug-in grid tie inverters ensured that excess power didn't go to waste. (even if I was giving much of it to the power company for free)

* I designed and made 36 volt "HAT" plugs and in-line sockets. (Plastic shell designs to be uploaded to "thingiverse.com" for 3D printers.) Lack of standard plugs and sockets has held back development of both 12 and 36 volt systems, so now there are 12 V "CAT Std." and 36 V "HAT" plugs, sockets, wall plates, etc.

* I wired a low cost, compact little adjustable 5 amp DC to DC down converter with a HAT plug to accept 36 volts and a CAT socket to power the more common 12 volt DC equipment. Being well regulated they can power 12 volt electronic and computer equipment that you might not dare to power from an unregulated 12 volt battery system. And being completely adjustable a single stock unit can replace most every "wall wart" 120 VAC power adapter, reducing the headaches for finding the right one. They can be adjusted to 5 volts with a USB socket output, or to 18 or 19.5 volts for laptop computers with a round socket/plug.)

   So... now, ALL KINDS OF THINGS can be powered from 36 volts DC with its much thinner distribution wires than 12 volts would need. And the HAT and CAT plugs and sockets make it easy to connect things up. No wiring - everything plugs in. That is of course once the appliance cord has the plug on it.

   After realizing all these good points, I found the converters I bought ran rather hot driving any considerable 12 volt load, and this month I ordered some similar but higher power capacity units with good heatsinks for twice the price - 5$ instead of 2.50$. That's still cheaper than most AC adapters - or even a replacement AC appliance plug in a hardware store. And there are still other DC to DC converters on which both the voltage and the current limit are completely adjustable - better for LED lights and for charging batteries.

What was done this month, March, was:

* I improved the shells for the HAT 36 volt plugs and sockets a little.

* I designed and made on the 3D printer HAT triple receptacle wall plates for house wiring, and a special duplex one to cover a round hole. They seem to work well and so the specs for HAT plug pins and spacings from last month may be considered final:

HAT Plug Blade Specifications (36 volts nominal, maximum 15 amps)

Thickness: 1.35 mm +/- .15 mm (1.2 to 1.5 mm)
Width: 3.75 mm +/- .25 mm (3.5 to 4.0 mm)
Length: 10.0 mm +/- 1.0 mm (9 to 11 mm)
Pins Center Spacing: 7.5 mm

Negative pin is "in line" (lower pins in image), positive pin is "across" (upper pins).

Just as with 120 volt plugs and sockets, there can be a wide variety of designs as long as the blades/pins matching this size and spacing fit in and connect. See TE News #129 for construction details of basic plugs and sockets with 3D printer printed shells.

I intend to put all HAT connector OpenSCAD designs onto www.thingiverse.com for anyone with a 3D printer. (The CAT 12 volt designs are already there.)

* I assembled a breaker box with "Blue Sea Systems" type circuit breakers for the 36 volt house distribution system. Of course I used the breakers and box I made previously in Victoria, but with modifications. In it I installed:
  - a 50 amp main breaker from the batteries (biggest breaker I had)
  - 6 branch circuit breakers: 40, 20, 20, 15, 15, 5 amps
  - an LCD digital DC voltage, current, power and total energy use meter on the front panel. And for this, a 100 amp shunt "resistor" (.00075 ohm) inside, on the "-" side.
  - a duplex HAT socket with a small switch on one outlet. (on the 5 amp breaker.)
  - One 15 amp breaker went to the wire crossing the house to far end of the (huge) living room, where the triple HAT outlet plate was connected. (Still to do: another outlet in the bedroom and one in the livingroom by the computer tables.)
  - a 70 amp Anderson APP connector, "+" and "-" (on the 40 amp breaker - especially to power the 36 V to 120 V or the 36 V to 230 V AC inverters [2500 W for the well pump]).

* Some Anderson plug cables were made up to connect the Sprint car (11 KWH @ "36" V batteries), the 35 V to 120 V inverter. (Still to do: One APP "extension cord" to connect the car to the breaker box.)

* As mentioned I repaired two 100 AH, 12 V NiMH "D" cell box batteries by replacing bad or weak cells. Then I started delving into the 12 V pipe batteries, finding the good ones and replacing bad cells in others. Then adding them into the system for more energy storage. It should total at least 160 AH, ~6 KWH when they're all done.

* I ordered a 60 amp charge controller. 10 amps won't be enough in an extended power outage since it would take over 16 hours to charge 160 amp-hours of batteries. Just the four old solar panels should do over 30 amps.

   Since I haven't made a high amperage HAT plug and socket yet but didn't want to hard-wire everything together and limit versatility, the 70 amp Anderson connectors were really the only choice for the high current stuff. And they are versatile because the "plug" and the "socket" are identical. This means I can plug in a 36 volt, 1.7 KW inverter as a load (to run, especially, the fridge and freezer, or the well water pump), or perhaps the "36" [AKA 40] volt Sprint car [batteries] either to charge them or to supply the system from them. One might also plug the inverter into the car batteries, completely separate from the breaker box.
   They are also dangerous in that being all the same, one can easily plug in incompatible things. Like a 12 volt appliance into 36 volts -- or one appliance into another appliance -- or even a 12 volt battery into a 36 volt battery. And you can clip the two single pin housings together backward and fry valuable equipment with reverse polarity. They aren't for household use where someone who may not know exactly what they are doing may do something wrong.
   Since no one else had done it, this is why I made the CAT 12V and HAT 36V connector systems with defined voltage specs for house, boat, RV... wiring. I hope 36 VDC will become a standard wiring voltage.

* Later I put a 36 volt panel light on a bracket on the garage wall to light the solar equipment area. I put a HAT plug on its cord and plugged it into the switched outlet on the breaker panel, so putting in the switch came in really handy.

   I had thought to finish the DC power and solar systems up in the first half of the month and then get to battery experiments again, but I was also determined to do a decent job of it and finish each individual part "properly". On the 18th I was still working on various aspects.

   Then I got a small job to make angled mountings and wire up 100 watt solar panels for two tug boats. I didn't even get to that until near the end of the month, when I put one together, a 30-60-90 triangle, with plywood. I took it to the customer's house to make sure it was what he wanted, but he was at sea. It is so now I have to do the rest of the work - the second one, painting the plywood, the wiring on the boat...

A triangular 100 watt solar panel frame.
This might be useful in a number of situations where a panel might be carted around to get the best sunlight.
In addition to being turned during the day to keep pointed at the sun, it can be set more vertical in winter and more horizontal in summer.

   Then I was offered another small installation job at a nearby off-grid house. When will I get to that one?


   In the meantime near the end of the month I was inspired to do just a bit of work on the radio controlled model for the ground effect vehicle, intended to cross open water at aircraft speeds. I cut out the sides for the hulls from 2" styrene foam, and then split them down the middle on the bandsaw. (To my surprise they warped more than any board when split.)


   In view of the vast flooding of the center of America with the vast loss to water of stored grains (and a million(?) drowned calves) and indeed of the high percentage of bankrupt farms which may not reopen for years and then under new ownership, and the inevitable vast crop failures for at least two or three years to come - along with all the other huge global food disasters - I started thinking food might become a priority and worked some on the redoing of the greenhouse. It wasn't much good with half the walls wide open. I planted a few things indoors (but not enough either in variety or in quantity). I bought some chicken feed while it's still available looking ahead to getting a chicken or two. (I also bought extra flour and groceries on "sale day" at the co-op grocery.) I wished I had the CNC gardening machine done to turn some lawn into a small wheat or barley field. And some more fence to keep the deer out of a larger growing area. (Perhaps I should go buy that?)
   And I finally dug up the bulk of last year's potatoes. On the 25th, with the main patch done, I weighed just 12 Kg of small potatoes - red, purple & white skin, white, and purple haida. I might have eaten another Kg or two over the winter, and there were a few soggy, spoiled ones from near or on the surface that had got frozen in the cold a month earlier. And a small patch I hadn't dug up yet. Maybe 40 pounds total? Not a huge crop considering the area devoted to them, but decent considering the very sandy soil. (Some red potatos at one end were a good size. Better variety for the climate? Better spot with a bit more sun? Better soil? I dug a little deeper so as not to cut up potatoes with the shovel, and I was turning up pretty much pure sand. Thinking back, it was mostly sand when we started in 2017. Tom brought several wheelbarrow loads of black organic dirt from the forest when we were starting, and I've added spruce sawdust from the milling operations, eel grass from the beach, and some crunched up clam shells for calcium/lime. I should probably do some more before I plant again. Potatos are easy to grow, but now I hear (on youtube) are heavy feeders to get good size spuds.

   Here's my hard luck story with yukon yellow potatoes. (What, you don't care? Well, just skip to the next heading.) The stores were always sold out when I happened along. "Oh well, next year." In 2016 in exasperation I finally bought some at a grocery store, but predictably they had been treated not to grow. Finally some of them started coming up toward the end of the summer, and I hoped for at least a few small but good seed potatoes for the next year. But a deer came along and ate the tender late stalks, especially picking them out.
   I finally found some yukon seed potato in spring 2017. (As I recall I was barely lucky even then - it was the last bag or one of only 2 or 3 left.) Why are they SO hard to get? I brought them up to Haida Gwaii with me. Tom and I planted them. But in fall 2017 as he harvested, his wife Tess cooked them all up (in preference to all the other varieties) and we had eaten them all before I realized there were absolutely none saved for seed or still in the ground. So I had none in 2018. AWRG!

   But having thought of it, I put yukon seed potatos on my shopping list. There were LOTS at "Funk It", the garden store. I got some, and then at the health food store they had yet MORE - and also "french fingerling" seed potatos (and other unusual varieties). These are reputed to be sweeter than most, so I got some of them too. So this year I'll have white, red, purple with white eyes & white flesh, purple with purple flesh haida, yellow fleshed yukon and french fingerling. Not actually being a big potato eater I decided to try and recoup some of the 25$ or so I had spent on seed potatos by taking several 1 Kg bags of my small harvest to someone to sell at the farmers' market. But she didn't answer my message and it turned out she hadn't done the market that week.

Take Apart of a Sealed Window

  Somehow related to planting... I tackled an interesting and perhaps unusual project on the 31st. A thermopane window sitting in my basement was just the right size for the greenhouse I've been putting together. It was fogged on the inside, and anyway double glass doesn't let as much light through as single. Plus, it was just right for that whole wall section if there were two of it. So I looked on line for sealed window disassembly instructions. To my surprise there weren't any. It seemed no one ever does it. I guess that explains why you can get them free or cheap if they're fogged up inside.
   I did it before, years ago, with somewhat unsatisfactory results. I sawed through the aluminum edge spacer with a jigsaw to get the panes apart. Trying to get that awful aluminum oxide off, I somewhat scratched the glass with "scotchbrite". It was better than the fog.

   This time I came up with much more satisfactory means both to open and to clean them [baking soda], which are written up below under "Other Green Projects". I have also done a video which I'll upload when the internet is working a lot better than it is right now. (They're the two panes next to the door of the greenhouse below.)

   I finally got the greenhouse almost as sealed up as I wanted it to be on April 3rd. Last year I grew nice greenhouse tomato plants that got almost no tomatos, and those few very late. This year I hope pollinating insects can get in and out, while inside it still gets warm in the sun. I put in a first row of peas by transplanting some that had fallen last year and had now taken root here and there and grown a few inches. (I don't know what variety(s) they are, but they're bound to produce sooner than seeds I start now.) Now to do a bit each day or two until it's all made into beds and planted. Fresh peas! Tomatos! Cucumbers! Asparagus!

Oh wait... first the wall inside needs to be painted white so it doesn't absorb half the light. (Half done as of newsletter final edit. Ran out of white paint.)

At the other end, I used a scrap shower door and a couple of small windows that open.
(Yes it's a two-door greenhouse!)

When I've found more windows I hope to match the two halves of the greenhouse at the front and
eliminate some of that shady "Solexx" plastic. Plants grow huge leaves in there trying to get enough light.

A row of peas - pretty good for "just [trans]planted yesterday!"

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

The Value of Social Ratings

   Not to be confused with the now defunct "Social Credit" political party in Alberta and BC, it seems China is now creating a "social credit" scoring system to rate each of its citizens. This would appear to be more of an onerous "social debit" system, since people scoring lower, with black marks against their name, are being denied basic services like transportation. This will make life unlivable, which can only end in some kind of blow-up and change of government. There's a North American "no fly list" too. You don't even know if you're on it or why, or who decided you should be on it, until you try to take a flight and can't. And there is no appeal process.
   And of course, much is being made in the west of government and corporate data collection on citizens from their on-line activities, telephone conversations, GPS tracking, public area security cameras with facial recognition software in city areas, and so on.

   But there are benefits to fairly rating people based on their deeds, too, provided such ratings are not used to destroy liberty and opportunities - to make people unequal. And they may start to outweigh the problems. In the past, a person's reputation was important. In the modern world before the internet, there got to be so many people that one inevitably deals a lot with strangers, whose reputation is unknown. If one's misdeeds and lies started catching up with one, one could always go somewhere where they weren't known and begin the same shady lifestyle again. Things are changing.

   On eBay and Aliexpress, customers rate merchants in accord with how they feel they've been dealt with. Those who don't represent their products realisticly or who give poor service, will pretty soon have some low ratings. One can imagine that they soon will not get much business any more.
   Imagine if you could look up such ratings for the used car salesman who is trying to sell you a car. You could see if he presents things honestly to customers, or if people feel they had been "ripped off", or pressured into a poor choice or sold a "lemon", and would rather never deal with him again. Might that be helpful? Might he himself be more inclined to honesty?

   Now imagine you could look up ratings of those running for political office. Today we can usually only hear the propaganda media's opinion of what those running stand for. We don't get to hear the candidates' platforms, and rarely even to hear them speak, except perhaps a for brief sound byte taken out of context for purpose of furthering a preset narrative - often of making the establishment's choice candidate sound noble, or of "demonizing" some upstart "not in the club" who thought he could make a difference if he was elected to that office, and that he had a realistic chance at it.
   With a good rating system that can't readily be "gamed", we would start finding out the reality behind the façade, the upbeat - or downbeat - "public image" that we are being presented with. Do they mean it, or is it just hypocrisy? Does their track record say they try to keep their promises? Do they treat voters with disdain once elected? Have they taken favors from big corporations? Are they on the board of one? Do they have other conflicts of interest? a criminal record? do they intimidate others or pull dirty tricks to make opponents look bad? Have they ever done anything worthwhile for their society and community? Are they honest and forthright in their dealings? Are they a team player with real leadership qualities? Do people who know them like and trust them?
   Here is an opportunity to know more of the real person, in order to start electing those who are sincere, honest and capable. Unlike today, those who are crafty and designing, and in it for their own power and self-serving personal gain, will be found out and won't get the votes. Could Hitler have won the votes to gain office in 1933 if it had become widely known that Goering had said something to the effect that "We're having a hard time getting into office, but once we're there, the only way we will leave it is when they drag out our dead bodies."? The public only heard what the Nazis wanted them to hear, on the radio. Today we have means of "peer to peer" communication, and if and as we start using it, a lot will change.

   Then again, today people fear they may be dragged into court and impaled (or at least fined) for minor infractions that formerly meant little and were forgotten minutes later, but which will now inevitably be detected and permanently recorded by computerized spying. Will one start being persecuted for small indiscretions or mistakes of long ago... because one has now developed a political agenda different than those presently in power? for having a new product that would disrupt an existing major business or "status quo"? Today these are real concerns.

   But who really has the most to lose? We have the incriminating e-mails even of "top" people like Clinton and Podesta, Comey, Wasserman-Schultz: the top ranks of the FBI, the CIA and the "Democratic" party, and so on, all in on plotting child sex trafficking, murders and treasons. Before the 2016 election they all thought they were in an "elite" club, always in power and "above" the law. To these "despicables", the public were just "deplorables" to be lied to during elections and then ignored. A billionaire with his own security force and resources crashed their party.
   Since then they've tried everything to cover their tracks, but when their e-mails were sent they were recorded by those same spying agencies the public so much fears. Their cell phone conversations may also be of record and might be of great interest to the courts. Even the plottings of 2001/9/11 are belatedly coming under court scrutiny. We will see whether and who is brought to justice - or not - but notice is given that from now on it will not be possible to sweep ones' nefarious activities under the rug to be forgotten by everyone in a few weeks. The black stains on the records of the bad actors are increasingly coming into the light.
   Since that election the spate of "retirements", "not running again" (for senate or congress, etc.), firings and resignations has evidently been astonishing, along with many charges being brought to bear of pedophilia and child trafficking that was formerly kept well hushed up. "Democrat" lawyer Michael Avenatti, who apparently still thought he was above the law, has been arrested for trying to blackmail the Nike company. Hopefully people of such ilk are now at the very least becoming unelectable, and unemployable in high level positions.
   It seems inevitable that more and more of what we do and who we are will be recorded and known. But for this very reason, increasingly we should start to have have reliable, understanding people in the high positions that corrupt sociopaths occupy today. Then the public will have that reason to celebrate, and little to worry about.

Self, Other and Together Interest

   "Self interest" is a common term. "Other interest" is less common. We may often speak of "altruism" with similar meaning. There's also "mutual interest". The usual connotation of "mutual interest" is still limited to it being "your and my interest". But not other peoples' interest. "The public interest" is often used by politicians. Usually it's used to deny consideration to a smaller group that is being harmed by an act that supposedly benefits the majority.

   A new term is "Together interest", which includes both the self and others. Perhaps it may also be expressed as "Realism". "Together interest" is a more general idea that it is in everyones' interest - not excluding others, not excluding the self. The concept has also recently found expression on the internet as a new term "WWG1WGA" - "Where we go one, we go all."
   What is in the true interest of everyone is usually also in the interest of the individual, and what is in the true interest of the individual is usually in everyones' interest.
   "Together interest" is in accord with the seven core values starting with equality. It seems to me is a valuable philosophic concept towards establishing and maintaining social stability and sustainability.

Climate Disasters, Chapter One

   The prologue is evidently over. The much anticipated climate disasters are upon us in force. Without disregarding the many other "record", "once in a thousand years" and "unprecedented" weather events and local or regional disasters around the globe, it would be hard to overstate the magnitude of the colossal catastrophes that have taken place this month in Mozambique and in the center of America.

   In Mozambique the floods have made almost a clean sweep in many areas including major cities. roads are destroyed. the power is gone. the homes and buildings are gone or badly damaged. Mozambicans are going to need help on a gigantic scale that is probably not going to be forthcoming from South Africa or any other quarter. What will happen to all those people? Many are likely to start migrating. especially if it happens again when some have started rebuilding.

   In America, the crop losses alone from the "bomb cyclone" that rampaged through the heart of the country's agriculture are staggering. 6.7 billion (was it?) bushels of stored wheat, soy and corn grown in 2018 have been flooded out, ruined. This is half of America's food crop production and the source for the whole "just in time delivery" supply chain. The land won't be dry enough to plant this spring with continued inundation projected into May as the heavy snows melt and make their way down the swollen rivers. So that's two years of half of the USA's crops lost. Owing to top soil damage - what hasn't been simply washed away - it may even take several years for some land to be restored to good productivity. What are Americans going to eat in the meantime? (Evidently a million calves have drowned, and what food is there for the rest of the cattle. Australia's gigantic flood in Queensland also drowned staggering numbers of cattle, while elsewhere the drought is ruining Australian agriculture.)
   And who will farm it? For some time now most farmers have increasingly been the elderly, and they have been pressed to the limits by previous disasters of recent years. With this new calamity many are now bankrupt. It sounds like only half of them are likely to even try again in spring 2020 - if nothing else happens by then. Then too, much infrastructure has been destroyed. Major highways, roads and bridges have been washed out and some have no way to drive anywhere. No doubt power outages are widespread with many and major repairs required to restore it. A week later further drone footage by a Nebraska resident [youtube channel "farm dad word barf" - where do people get these names?] showed the water had receded a long way, but the prospect remains for much curtailed crop production for the USA this year.

   Once the mass of the general public realizes what has happened, it may be too late to start storing up some food that keeps. It either won't be available or it'll cost too much. Will the price hikes be coming in weeks, or will they take months to filter through? There can certainly be no doubt they're coming. And then, will the high prices kick off unrest as people already stressed can no longer afford to eat? And will rising food prices kick off hyperinflation and the death of our "pyramid scheme" debt-based money system, created by bankers to make bankers rich? And will the generally deteriorating conditions help kick off a sudden pandemic that kills billions of people in a matter of weeks or months? WHO and CDC have already been telling us a pandemic is a matter of "when" not "if". And how many more devastating climate and geological disasters may we expect in the next decade or two or three? I am certain this is only "Chapter 1" and more is in store.

   And we need to remember that except for volcanos and earthquakes, these problems are almost entirely man-made, including the weather and sea level rise and all that these changes entail, via a century and more of burning fossil fuels (esp. coal) and lately, misguided and huge geoengineering projects. And even more, we have permitted the "population bubble". There are simply far more people on the planet than can have a good quality life and grow into their full potential - almost four times as many as just 100 years ago.

   When the appearance of "normalcy" begins to vanish - and for many it already has, the world will never return to "normal" as we have known it. Disasters other than continued sea level rise will start to wane after 2 or 3 decades with the end of the geoengineering programs and population reduction, but things may not settle down socially for 1000 years. In that time people will be building a new world and a new, and this time sustainable, civilization. from the local community level up.


   Here on normally soggy Haida Gwaii we seem to have an unusual problem - dryness, not to say drought. It started last summer and there hasn't been much rain this winter or spring. On the 27th I lit a pile of branches I wanted to burn for fear there would soon be a burning ban. While I was away for a couple of minutes gathering more branches, the grass caught fire around my fire and it started spreading. It went out easily when I played the hose on it, but I'm glad it didn't have a few more minutes to spread! I've been burning daily since, as those piles may themselves become a fire hazard if it's dry enough. (They are, at least, shrinking.) I suppose we'll get our disasters here - perhaps not in the form of an earthquake, volcano or tsunami but instead a forest fire(s), like so much of the BC interior has been having (not to mention California). One here might well threaten my house. (Gosh, should I take out my row of spruces that edges the forest beside the house?)

On and Off Beefs

   When most every appliance had a power switch, it was pushed one way for "off" and the other way for "on". There was no question about whether an appliance was "on" or "off".
   Whose crazy idea was it to replace the power switch with a single button that reversed the state every time it was pressed - even when there is insufficient feedback to know which state one has set something to?
   Often there is some sort of display, but even then one can't just go turn something off without pausing to make sure that is what happened when the button was pressed. Even then it may be unsure because some devices don't respond fast enough, and it may come back on once your back is turned.

   Worse is when there is no feedback, or it is too slow. Such as with sound and video players. I've often tried to pause a youtube video during a dropout, only to have it start up again after I've walked away to do something. Then I have to come back and hit the play-stop button again, and back up to get to what I missed. Or even the video plays to its end while I'm gone. The button shows "||" [pause] when it's playing and ">" [play] when it's paused, too. But after a couple of presses, the button stops showing the actual state. WHY is it the same button for both? We pay for data/bandwidth here!

   Another case is new cars. One button to start the car. The same button to stop it. But the button does different things at different times. When my Nissan Leaf is plugged in, it takes two presses to get the instruments on - when all you want to do is see how much longer it'll take to charge. And then they don't go out like usual when you turn it off. Since it doesn't appear to be off (I'm still not sure it really is), you hit it again and go around in a vicious circle, to the point I'm not actually sure how many times I'm supposed to hit it. I only know it's off if it doesn't start beeping at me when I open the dorr to get out. And a car I rented kept starting the engine again when I was trying to turn it off. I've always turned off the key first to get the car to stop polluting, then put it in park. Not with a new car! The one I had wouldn't turn off. Hit the button again and the engine restarted. No, no, it wanted you to put it in park before turning it off! Why? electronic automatic gearshift: if you turned it off, you wouldn't be able to put it into park!
   I have no doubt that these modes would be much less confusing if there were separate "on" and "off" buttons. Then at least there could be no misinterpretation of what the user wants to do.

   Then there's the telephone "mute" button. There is no feedback. In long conference calls, I eventually lose track of whether my mute is on or off. Then either everyone is listening (unknown to me) to my coughs and rustlings around, or I have something to say and some "rude" person breaks in right while I'm talking - because I'm not being heard. (And occasionally someone else is making distracting noise, probably thinking they're muted.) Many times I'd like to press a button again to confirm being muted or live. What insanity that the same button goes between mute and unmute, with absolutely no way of telling which state it's in! And the conference call system we use does exactly the same stupid thing - "4*" both mutes and unmutes your line, again with no way to tell what state it's presently in.
   (Having written this, I took a look at the phone. The display says "mute on" or "microphone live". Since the phone is up to my ear when I'm on it, in 3 years of occasional conference calls I've never seen that before. If I take it away to look, I'll miss something. My complaint stands.)

   And as long as I'm here... Why won't video players - even video editors - let you go forward or back frame by frame? Sometimes something valuable is caught in just one or two frames, and it can be not just frustrating but impossible to pause at just the right spot. Often it ends up playing a little farther - or just playing on - just when you finally hit "pause" in exactly the right place! Videos are played frame by frame anyway. Just how hard could it possibly be to let the user page through them?

More on Recycling Plastics into Valuable Products

Plastic Building Materials - Tiles Etc.

   On the 3rd, the day I sent e-mails saying TE News #129 was posted, with its ideas for plastic recycling, my friend Tom told me about a Russian youtube video about making patterned tiles from recycled plastic. I searched youtube for "making plastic tiles" and got dozens, maybe even hundreds, of results for recycled plastic floor tiles, roof tiles, paving tiles, decorative tiles, extruded plastic slabs, plastic cubes, plastic bags into decorative blocks, and on and on and on.
   It's being done in India and Africa - people all over the world are realizing the potential of a valuable raw material. Just go onto youtube to get almost countless ideas on what to do and how. That's what I'm going to do, because...

   ...that seems like a perfect - and free - material to to use for floor tiles - and maybe other parts (ceiling tiles?) - if I should ever decided to turn the roof over the trailer into a building.

   A major caution in using plastics as building materials is to consider fire safety. Will they, for example, burn if a match is dropped on them? (I doubt it, but I will certainly experiment before constructing anything! If plastic tiles ever did get burning, look out! What would it take to ignite them? wood embers? a propane torch?) I wouldn't use them on the roof of a building that has a woodstove for fear sparks and hot stuff from a chimney fire might ignite them.

Info On Line

   One youtuber whose channel especially attracted me is DaveHakkens, of PreciousPlastic.com. In the past 5 years he has done an entire excellent, professional series of videos on recycling plastics, going into all the details of types of plastics and how to sort and separate them, types of machines and how to make them, and various techniques and molds.
   (We learn that some plastics float, some sink. Some float, or float better, in salty water!)


   As I had surmised, the first piece of equipment in the series is a shredder, and he has instructions for making one. There's CNC files for cutting out some of the shredder parts including the rotating cutters with (eg - ready for this?) a CNC plasma cutter. (I'm abandoning my 1991 CNC driver box, which turns out to have only two stepper motor drivers. To replace it I've ordered a "Gecko Drive" quad stepper motor driver to get started on this project.) Another homemade shredder in video by someone else seemed pretty "Mickey Mouse" compared to Dave's. One can see Dave's will last and last, and does a better job. Various sieves can be attached to keep bits circulating until they're small enough to fall through.

Extruder and Molds

   While I had been content to think of pressing plastic into blocks in molds, Dave has instructions for a homemade plastic extruder and shows homemade molds for extruding into to make various forms. (He does do some welding to make these things.) An interesting feature was a threaded pipe fitting on the output of the extruder. Every mold to use it had the matching pipe fitting welded to it for the plastic to come in through, and for use it was screwed into the extruder. Of course the pipe fittings attach the mold securely to the extruder.

   He had long steel tubes for extruding plastic beams and rods into. (His were different lengths with an end on the tube. (I question that one needs an end on the tube. If the tube is long enough for the plastic to cool and harden some, couldn't it just extrude continually and then the product be cut to any desired length? I suppose I could check out his forum and ask if it hasn't already been discussed.)

Other Plastic Working Tools

   I could see there were other videos on vacuum forming, blow molding and other techniques. Doubtless he showed how to make these tools as well as use them. His web site and videos appear to be a gold mine of info on plastic recycling.
   I found out that a friend now living in Queen Charlotte had been involved in the recycling business in a big way in prior decades and knew a lot about it. He showed me a simple device he had made to extrude 3D printer filament.

Reuse Before Recycle: Transparent Plastic for Greenhouses?

   Last winter I purchased seven "corrugated" 2' x 10' polycarbonate sheets for my greenhouse roof and they were well over 500$ on this island. I was looking at some transparent food containers, PETE and PS, and wondering about making them into plastic panels or sheets for greenhouses. Would it be hard to do? How long would they last? I mentioned the idea to someone and he asked if I meant to re-melt them or to use as-is. That gave me the idea to just cut some flat pieces out and use them as-is to fill in some narrow gaps. All I needed for that was scissors and a stapler. And in a couple of years one question would be answered: Would they last? If they ripped in the wind in the second year, it wouldn't be worth making and installing PETE or PS panels. But if they were still strong, it might be. Perhaps one would last better than the other?
   On looking them up, it seemed PETE needed more heat, didn't hold up well in sunlight, and in fact turns markedly yellow. PS lasts well and melts at a lower temperature. It sounds like clear PS food containers are the plastic to start with.

   I remembered back to when I was 4 or 5, and my dad and his brother and a friend decided to make polyethylene tents for ice fishing. (I'm sure in 1959-1960 PE was a pretty new thing.) They took mom's iron and (IIRC) put some aluminum foil over the hot part. They cut the PE and overlapped it where they wanted seams. Then they put cellophane over it and ironed it. The cellophane protected the plastic and the iron, and the seams were melted and fused.
   What would happen if I cut the corners out of the PS packages so they would flatten out, overlapped any voids thus created, and ironed them with a cellophane barrier? Could I melt them down flat and have the seams melt and join? (preferably "seamlessly?") I had some cellophane, so that was easily tested.
   It worked, but badly. The polystyrene softened and flattened out as it got hot, but it also shriveled quite a bit, leaving holes and generally looking really ugly. One could fill the holes with another piece, making it even uglier. And the fragile cellophane stuck just enough that it was soon ripped into pieces too small to guard the iron. Clearly another technique would be required, probably involving a complete melt and re-extrusion. Substantially thicker panels would surely be much better anyway.

...or maybe press some between two sheets of aluminum in the oven?

   (Cellophane is clear too. Could thick and hence durable panels be made of cellophane? Or would it rip almost as readily as the thin sheets? Well, even if that works it's not going to recycle much plastic!)

(Eccentric Silliness Department)

There was a hurricane outside, but all was comm at the radio station. It was also.com at local websites.

Swiss chard should be eaten raw, boiled or steamed, not charred. It's already chard.

What's with the word "palindrome"? Shouldn't it be "palinnilap" or something?

Why does "touch" end with "ouch!"? Not everything you touch is hot or sharp.

Those who plant light bulbs will surely have a brilliant garden.

(Alternative: Those who plant light bulbs aren't very bright.)

Why do they want Maduro out? Hmm, the last thing the US did in action in Syria was steal the gold, just like from the basement of the world trade center, and from the Ukraine and from Libya. Maduro tried to withdraw some of Venezuela's gold from the bank in London. They asked what he wanted it for! That's none of their business. They're stalling. Maybe they're trying to oust him with a coup before they have to admit they sold Venezuela's gold with the rest and that the vaults are empty?

Some write memoirs. Here's a couple of stories from the 1970s.

You know you're in good hands (1976?)...
 Fishing Boat: "Mayday! Mayday! I'm sinking off the northern tip of Cormorant Island!"
 Alert Bay Coast Guard Radio Operator: "Cormorant Island, where's that!?!"
 (Alert Bay is on Cormorant Island.)

   Some bureaucrat in Ottawa noticed that this same Alert Bay Coast Guard Radio station didn't have CW (morse code radio communication - 1978?). And, for such stations, the rules said radio operators were supposed to only be rated RO-1s instead of RO-2s. But it was hard enough to get people to want to move to isolated small island Alert Bay without asking them to take a pay cut too. Not very fair to get different pay depending where one got stationed, when the job wasn't that different. (The radio operators, it seemed to me, already did the most work for the lowest pay of those I worked with and around.)
   This was after I had moved to Victoria. My supervisors decided to correct the situation as fast as possible by sending a young electronics tech (me) north in the van to install a CW transmitter in the transmitter building at Alert Bay. It was an old 6 foot tall, 19 inch rack vacuum tube unit that had been removed from Tofino. As all suspected, I didn't have enough time for all the travel first to Tofino to pick it up, then up to Alert Bay to get it installed and working, and then to return. But they had anticipated that. I got it set in place in the transmitter site, but I didn't get much farther than that before having to get the ferry back out and then head home.
   It was enough that they told Ottawa, "Oh yes, that was just an omission. There is CW at Alert Bay."


   The new "5G" cell phone system is supposed to be much faster than the present system. This is a very exciting prospect. If I can get people off the phone in half the time, I can get more done!

   (But I must remark that 5G is powerful enough in the millimetric (...why is it called "micro"wave?) band to raise substantial concerns for the health of  birds going by and people living too close, and yet no health studies have actually been done on it. For the whole world to be the guinea pigs in this is not comforting. Human adults can probably take it if the antenna isn't right outside their window. But where are the studies on chickens or whatever, showing that there are no adverse effects on the offspring after 3 or 4 generations of exposed chickens and embryos? The last thing we need is damaged children being born - something like the thalidomide crisis all over again, or young children becoming damaged as they grow.)


   AHA! I've found the culprit! Evidently it was the great inventor and experimenter Benjamin Franklin, who got it wrong. He ascribed one direction of electrical charge as being "negative" and the other as "positive". What he didn't know was that the direction he arbitrarily assigned as being "negative" indicated an excess of electrons rather than a deficit of them. (The more money in your bank account, the more negative your balance. ...say, is that the trouble with the financial system?) Would we then say that the Franklin Stove, the forerunner of the modern wood stove (and still produced up to about the 1960s?), was Ben's "most negative" contribution to improved quality of life?


Evidently the name "Witch Hazel" has nothing to do with Margaret Thatcher et al. Wikipedia indicates that it only got the "w" in later times, replacing "y" or a vowel in some Gaelic word. In view of its purpose then, might it not be prudent to drop the "w" and call it "Itch Hazel" instead? One would immediately get the idea it's for skin care. (Now as for that second word... is it derived from hazelnut trees or some relative thereof?)

Which word is out of place?: Sing, Sang, Song, Sung. (Well, three are verbs, one is a noun.)

"Odd" has only two sounds in it, but three letters. That may seem odd, but it couldn't be spelled "od" because that would be even.

   "in depth reports" for each project are below. I hope they may be useful to anyone who wants to get into a similar project, to glean ideas for how something might be done, as well as things that might have been tried or thought of... and even 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 partly 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 and dead ends.

Electric Transport

Ground Effect Vehicle (R/C Model): Beginnings?

  Mentioning how great it would be to have ground effect vehicle coastal/islands/ocean transport to someone inspired me to do just a bit of work on it. I marked out and cut the side profile for each hull from 2" extruded styrene foam. According to the plan the hulls should be 4.5" wide. And I actually did want hollow space in them for batteries and electronics.

   I decided to split them with the shop bandsaw and put 1.5" wide foam on the bottom between to make them into the two sides for each hull. Much to my surprise the foam warped worse than any wooden board when it was split down the middle. It'll take some stiff clamping to straighten them out when the bottoms are glued on!

   The ducted fan on the coffee cup is the approximate intended position, about at the front of the wing and vertically in the middle, blowing some air under the wing and some over.

   The hulls top shape of course matches the upper surface of the special wing profile designed to provide good ground effect lift with maximum stability.
   In an aircraft there's usually a heavy spar toward the front of the wings at the center of lift that provides much of the strength. But if this wing has more suction lift toward the rear as well as compression lift more front to center, should that be broken into two or three smaller spars?

   Rather than aerodynamic considerations, the width (the length of the boards) is 2.5 feet in the 1/4 scale model, making 10 feet in the full size version, which (I believe) is maximum legal regular trailer width on the highway. The length of 4 feet (16 feet) was chosen as making it a good profile with the 10 foot width.
   I think the length and width of the hulls should provide sufficient buoyancy. The wing length is about 3.125 feet (12.5 feet). Since there will be 7 feet between the 18 inch wide hulls, there's 87.5 feet of wing area. I believe that should be a good value - but it's a good reason to build the model first and run it with various weight loads to see how well it works before attempting a full-size human carrying craft.

Other "Green" Electric Equipment Projects

"Off Grid" (etc): 36 Volt DC "HAT" Plugs & Sockets
...and other 36 volt components.

Use of 36 Volts as a House Distribution Voltage

   I've discussed before (if not ad nauseum) what makes "36 volts" (or a few more) seem to be the best compromise DC distribution voltage for off-grid home (or RV, boat, etc).

   My optimism that 36 volts may eventually be adopted as a standard inside distribution voltage has recently increased with two factors:
   The subject reminds me of the fight between DC and AC power distribution at the beginning of electrification. Once the diode had been invented to convert AC to DC, the battle was over because AC could be converted to DC for appliances (electronics) that needed DC. Once we had reliable DC to AC inverters, it became still less of an issue. Now we have small, cheap, adjustable DC to DC down converters to readily get 24 or 18 or 12 or 5 volts from 28 to 40. And that's well regulated voltages for computer power supply, etc, not a raw "somewhere around there" battery voltage as with a 12 volt battery.
   Now the 12 versus 24 versus 36 versus 48 volts and higher issue can be argued along lines of distribution wire sizes versus safety.
   Presently 12 volt appliances are next most common to 120 volts, but with standard HAT type appliance plugs, sockets and wall receptacles to facilitate adoption of 36 volts, that may easily become preferred, and certainly preferred over 24 or 48(+) volts. (I recall a major auto company (Ford?) had created a 36 volt gasoline car maybe 20 years ago. It seemed curious at the time. They thought it would be better than 12 volts probably with reasoning similar to mine. But apparently it never got onto the market. A pity!)

   About mid month I noticed that with the 12 volt "night-light" on "high" (a whopping 10 watts or so) the little DC to DC got pretty hot. I ordered some beefier adjustable DC to DC down converters with substantial looking heatsinks. They were something like double the price - 5$ instead of 2.50$ area. Double insignificant is still not very significant.


   Before delving into the diary of the development, here are some instructions for making the sockets and electrical box wall plates. Also and for the plugs, see the illustrations in last month's issue, TE News #129.

Socket "Hairpins"

1. Flatten a piece of #14 AWG (or #12?) with a hammer on some sort of anvil.
    This "work hardens" it as well as flattening it, making it somewhat springy instead of limp.
2. Cut it into pieces about 44 mm long. If you're going to squeeze the wire in (6), make it 40-42 mm.
3. Bend the ends over a little, about 4 mm long. This will end up as an entry for the plug blade.
4. Bend it around a pair of needlenose pliers until the ends meet - the "hairpin" shape.
5. Squeeze it just a little more with the pliers so there's a good spring tension when a 1.25 mm flat blade is inserted.
6. Solder the wire into the inside of the fold.
The '-' wires have to do a 90° bend right where they attach, best done before soldering. You can squeeze the hairpin turn around the wire to help hold it, but be careful solder doesn't flow down the pin and close the gap.
7. Insert both/all hairpins into socket.
Close socket and screw it together or screw plate rear cover on. The hairpins & wires should be slightly loose. If they're tight, they can hold the rear cover off its seat or cause bad connections. They can be trimmed a bit shorter if necessary.

Now back to the month's sequence.

Revised HAT plugs and sockets

   On the 5th I went at the revision to the shell design (not to the HAT connection specifications themselves), to make more room for the wires inside the shells. I decided to keep the 7.5 mm pin centers spacing. I printed a socket, then a plug which looked good. The socket had a misalignment so I went to reprint it. Try as I might I couldn't get a good print. The piece kept coming loose from the bed. It was like when I had first got out the printer in February and couldn't get it to work.
   I tried again on the morning of the 6th with the same results. Suddenly I realized: I had put a new spool of plastic on. I had thought it was PLA but it must be ABS instead. That explained everything. ABS needs a higher extrusion temperature, and a much higher bed temperature to stick on. I must have had ABS when I first tried, too, and then for some reason I must have changed spools and got PLA, and that's when it "mysteriously" started working. The first plug and socket that I successfully printed were red PLA, which as I recall was not the color originally in the printer. Now I wanted white and changed spools - obviously back to ABS.
   I should have paid more attention when I was buying them that the spools weren't labeled. I could have labeled them then because I knew what I ordered each time, but now they were all in one big box. Printing ABS on the RepRap is a little frustrating because the bed barely gets hot enough - usually not even quite up to the 110°C setpoint, and only very, very slowly. Then I remembered that putting a sheaf of paper on the glass helps it warm up quite a lot. (Heating paper indoors - yow!) If it's not hot enough, the piece comes off during printing. And the printer immediately turns off the extruder and bed heat when a print finishes, so if you're not right there to turn it back on, it makes for another lengthy delay before the next print - before each print.

   Perhaps the new printer will do a better job of ABS? In the meantime, it's too much trouble to figure out the software for the moment. I just want to make some things, so the old printer it still is!

   I put on a print of 4 plugs, and made 5 plugs and 4 sockets total by the 6th. I can doubtless design better looking plugs and sockets - and better CAT plugs and sockets - but for now these work fine.

Wall Triple Outlet & Cover

   Next the wall plates! Duplex? Triplex? Quadplex? Hexplex? Nineplex? The only trouble with getting carried away is the need to make contacts and wire all those sockets. Other then that, putting more than two in a receptacle could, if one had enough devices needing power, save a lot of power bars. Maybe a triple outlet would be a good place to start? I got that made on the 8th. It just took a couple of tries to get everything reasonably optimized, but before that it took several hours defining every detail before trying. Then each print took over an hour. So I only made one good one.
   I looked at it and thought it would be very easy to get the plus and minus wires reversed. In fact, it would be a natural because the shapes were opposite to the front: the 'plus' was in-line and the 'minus' was crossways. I decided to to modify the design with indents in the plastic: "-" and "+" signs on both sides of each socket.

   The next afternoon I wired up the one I'd already printed. I couldn't get the wires in and had to turn the wire holes into slots with a hacksaw.

At last it was all together and I connected it to the (disconnected) across-the-house line that was to be 36 volts instead of 12. I plugged the DC to DC converter into it to check the fit. Then I went in the garage and connected it the power. I went in the house and instead of a working unit with a lit LED, there was the smell of fried electronics. It was the DC-DC, which I hadn't unplugged. I checked the wiring for reverse polarity. Nope. Nope. Aha! It was the wall plate itself. I had fallen for the very trap I had envisioned and put the pins with the red and black wires attached in the wrong holes!

The wall plates fit on standard "1110" type electrical boxes.
(The one that's actually in use so far is behind furniture and anyway just hanging in the air.)

36 V DC System Breaker Box

   But the wiring problem reminded me there was something that should take precedence. There wasn't a single fuse or circuit breaker between the batteries in the garage and the lamp plugged into the DC-DC converter.
   The simple thing to do would be to install the same breaker box I had used in Victoria, and which I still had and indeed now had lying on the garage floor under the solar equipment. If it was to be used for 36 volts instead of 12, it needed a few small changes. Most notably, the 0-15 volt analog panel voltmeter would have to go. (Why did I get that anyway?)

   I had originally thought to put all the electronics in the breaker box. Now the solar panels went to the programmable DC to DC converter/charge controller and then to the batteries. It seemed simpler to now just connect the breaker box to the batteries. The only "extras" I put into the breakers box itself were a power monitor, an 70 amp Anderson "APP" connector to the 40 volt main, and a HAT duplex socket with an ON-OFF switch on one. I'm sure the box is twice the size it needs to be to easliy fit everything.

   So: the 36-40 volt battery connects (-) through the current measuring shunt to the main grounding block and (+) to a 50 amp circuit breaker. This breaker's output goes to the main "bus bar" that all the rest of the breakers connect to. There are presently 6 breakers connected to that: 40, 20, 20, 15, 15, 5 amps. The 5 amp one goes to the front panel HAT connector. The 40 amp one goes to the Anderson connector. The rest are left for house circuits.
   On the 11th I finished wiring the front panel stuff, and mounted it on the garage wall. I plugged in the 36 to 12 volt converter and a lamp with a 12 volt "corn cob" 'bulb', and the display showed it used about 4-1/2 watts. I hooked up the wire to the livingroom as a 15 amp branch circuit. Then I plugged in the 12 volt adapter in the livingroom. Then I plugged in 3 different 12 volt lamps sitting there, and found their wattages. I had set the DC-DC to 13 volts, and I found two 12 volt lights operated at far above their rated power: My homemade lamp was 3.2 watts on "low" (my night-light), but 20 watts instead of 10 on "high", and a 15 watt flat panel was 30 watts. (They did however give lots of light!) Only my own flat panel with the current control circuit ran at about its rated 11 watts, and probably would have even up over 15 volts. (Perhaps I should set the DC-DC to 12 volts instead of 13? But "12 volt" lithiums would put out 13, as would well charged NiMHs. Later I set it to 12.5 V and my lamp drew its rated 10 watts.)

Special Duplex Outlet with Switch (as seen on breaker box, above)

   Removing the analog meter from the breaker box plate left a 2" diameter round hole. I thought of making a new plate and tossing that one, or making a sheet metal plate to cover the hole. Then I thought that since I wanted a 36 volt HAT socket outlet on the breaker box anyway for convenience, I would simply make one with a round shape and use that hole. I spent over 2 hours at it, but the print worked on the first try, and I had improved on the design with the aforementioned wire slots. In doing this one I also made it easier for future wall plate designs to place individual outlets anywhere on any plate.
   When I went to wire this socket on the 11th, the positive side was fine. But I had a very hard time fitting in the negative wires. The negative socket "hairpins" made the soldered wire come out in-line, and so it needed to be bent 90° in a very small space to come out the side. The wiring spaces needed to allow for this with space on the end and offset wire exit slots. On to "receptacles version 4" and another day of development! (Done.)

   The switch proved to be very useful. Later I mounted a panel light on the wall to light the area better. If I had put a switch on it, it would have been too high up to reach. So having the switch right by the plug proved very convenient.
   (It was a 24 watt panel, but I put in a resistor that was a bit large and it used about 10 watts. It's pretty bright at that.)

Hole caps and glands

3D Printed glands and hole covers.
(The top left one is covering a larger hole in the top of the box.)

   For ages I've bought plastic caps and through-hole glands for wiring boxes. They never seem to come in the right sizes and you never have the right ones, or enough of the right ones, for whatever you're doing. So you leave holes with no caps on them,  or stuff wires through the bare metal holes with their sharp edges, meaning to come back later and, by clipping it somewhere, flex a gland over the wire and then into the hole.

   I decided to do the breaker box up right. There were holes with no circuit breakers in them. Enter the 3D printer and the brain. Having done things one way all these years, it now occurred to me to try the 3D printer. It was just the thing! I spent some hours at it, but I covered all the holes with caps or glands. (which are almost the same thing as far as the designing goes.)
   At first they were too small and loose, then with tiny adjustments they fit tightly and were hard to put on. Then I put two slots in the edge and they were easier. I did 3 different size holes. I just used one design file. I put the figures to enter for 15, 16 and 18 mm holes in as comments below the actual "Open SCAD" design program. At first I printed one at a time, then I made a change to have it print four at once.
   13 holes covered or fitted and I even have 10 left over - more than I would usually buy. and virtually for free (not counting my time). Nevermore will I be hunting in stores to find glands or caps that don't fit right anyway! Yay!

Power Monitor

   I wanted to be able to see the voltage and current being used. I wanted to do it with an LCD display monitor that didn't itself use any appreciable amount of power. I had already bought several off AliExpress.com . There were a 100 amp and 500 amp with separate shunts for measuring the current, and two 20 amp units that seemed to have internal shunts. They all looked identical but had different model numbers.
   I mounted the 0 to 100 amp unit on the breaker box. Its 100 amp/75 mV (750 micro-ohms) shunt went down at the bottom of the breaker box in line with the battery negative terminal.
   When I powered it up it showed all four things at once: voltage, current, watts, and watt-hours used. I thought it would be micro-power and that's why I had wanted LCD, but I was momentarily annoyed that the display was backlit. However pressing the one and only button turned the blue backlight off and on. I thought that if you held the button down longer it would reset the amp-hours. Instead it went into some sort of setup mode. I have no idea what that's for, but a voltage number went from 90 to 91 to 92 with successive presses. Then I held it down several seconds and it said "Pass" and went back to normal, and the readings didn't seem to be affected. I think I'll just avoid doing that again! The watt-hours will just have to be counted from wherever they left off. (I found some instructions later, but they seemed confusing. It was for setting "voltage alarms" - on a unit that makes no sound. All it does is blink.)

Anderson Connectors

   Since I haven't made a higher current HAT plug and socket yet, 70 amp Anderson connectors were really the only choice. And they are versatile because the "plug" and the "socket" are identical. This means I can plug in the 36 volt, 3 KW inverter as a load (to run, especially, the fridge and freezer), or perhaps the 36 volt Sprint car [batteries] either to charge them or to supply the system from them. One might also plug the inverter into the car batteries, completely separate from the breaker box.
   They are also dangerous in that being all the same, one can easily plug in incompatible things. Like a 12 volt appliance into 36 volts -- or one appliance into another appliance -- or a 12 volt battery into a 36 volt battery. They aren't for household use where someone who may not know exactly what they are doing may do something wrong. So far, all the things I want them for are 36 [nominal] volts.

The items with Anderson connectors are:

1. The ["36 volt"] solar batteries
2. The Sprint car ["36 volt" batteries]
3. The battery connection into the breaker box. I can use either set of batteries to power the system.
    It goes through the power monitor so I can see supply battery usage - voltage, current and watt hours.
4. One on the front of the breaker box via a 40 amp circuit breaker.
5. The 36 volt to 120 VAC inverter. (fridge & freezer etc. during power grid failures.)
    I can plug it into the breaker box (house system) or directly into the Sprint (or either) set of batteries.

    (Hmm... Rats, it'll take an Anderson-both-ends extension cord to get from the car to the breaker box.)

 I'll also do the 36 volt to 230 volt inverter when it arrives.

More Wall Plates

   The back cover of the HAT receptacle plate was re-done with wire slots instead of holes. (above - "Special Duplex...") On the 12th I shifted the "-" wire slots over in the design files because I had found it very hard to fit the wires in.
   I went to print the new wall plate, but the printer started messing up during the print. Observation showed that while it had started right, the right hand side of the gantry had risen up, So it was printing higher, into the air without touching the previous layer. It's never happened before. One expects that if something is going to slip, it will slip down, not up. It didn't happen again. This wall socket still had a couple of things to improve. Somehow it was all I had got done that day... but I returned to the chase late in the evening and made the modifications, and then did a print starting around midnight. What a night owl I've become!

Weak NiMH Battery Repairs

   TE News from October 2014 says My two "newer" NiMH "D" cell "box" batteries were made then and so are 4-1/2 years old, and they were part of the power for the RX7-EV car for a while. But were they really as weak as they seemed to have become? Measuring them individually disclosed that the even older one held voltage longest under load (13.0 V). The middle one was in between (12.6 V). But the bottom one was absurdly short lived (11.0 V so I shut it off). If one, and the oldest at that, was still "pretty good", maybe there was more hope than it had at first seemed?

   On the 16th I disconnected the lowest one and took it inside. It was composed of two 50 amp-hour boxes, each holding five rows of ten "D" cells. I disconnected the two boxes and connected a "self powered" LED voltmeter (they do draw some small amount of power) to each. They started at 13.2 volts. After 3 (?) hours one was at 13.0 and the other was down to 12.8. I took the lid off the low one and un-soldered one connection point in each row to separate the five rows. Then almost immediately I checked the voltages in each row. Some were substantially different from others. I got the impression that the problem wasn't that the whole battery was weak, but just that some few of the cells were probably dragging the voltage of the whole thing down. I decided to leave it overnight and see if any went notably flat. I still had 100+ more "D" cells in a box, so I could just replace the weak ones.
   In the morning (17th) 3 or 4 cells seemed to have gone quite flat, reading around .4 volts. Another 3 or 4 seemed weak and were somewhat low voltage. I replaced 7. Without any charging the voltage was up to 13.2 again. It seems obvious that the bad cells were dragging down and discharging the whole battery - regardless of whether or not it was supplying a load.
   Obviously disconnecting rows to be able to check individual cells was the thing to do. I didn't have to wait long after disconnecting in the other 50 amp-hour box to find that it seemed to have 6 bad or weak cells. Total 13 out of 100 - and 130$ at 10$ each. Replacing individual bad cells (after 4-1/2 years) somehow seemed a lot better than saying "Well, that 1000$ battery is shot." and throwing it out. Especially as I already had the replacement cells. And in spite of it taking a couple of hours.

  Note: Someone once told me that if NiMH dry cells were overcharged, the ones facing up (+ side up) fared better. But I think all of the ones I replaced were "+" side up. The ones pointing down apparently lasted better.

   I decided to check out the other battery that wasn't as strong too. (Things in general have been getting more reliable and longer lasting over the decades, but it seems there's always something that needs fixing!)
   I tackled it on the evening of the 17th and the morning of the 18th. One box was great - every spot read almost exactly the same as every other parallel spot in the five rows of cells.
   The other box actually had a shorted cell, the only one of all of them that read 0.0 volts. That would have been stressing the other nine in that row and dragging the whole voltage down. I think I replaced 5 in all, but there were 2 or 3 that might have been okay just with a bit more charging - they weren't that far down. Since I had lots, I replaced them. I didn't want to have to take it out and open it again! I put it back in place and connected it. Then I changed the jumper cable connection from the batteries to the breaker box to having proper connections ending the wires, and with Anderson connectors so you could unplug the breaker box. Now I can plug in the Sprint car [batteries] instead, either in a power failure to supply the house, or to charge the car from the solar panels. (I'll need to make up an Anderson extension cord to reach the car.)

   All those idle NiMH batteries and loose cells have been just a nuisance because one must get them out and charge them every few months to keep them from going bad. Connecting the bulk of the batteries to the solar has at last given them some new employment. I had 21 or more tubes of 10 cells, which I had charged one at a time from the solar. When I disconnected the weakest battery, I split the next two-box unit into two 50 amp-hour batteries. Then I made up some short jumper connections and tied 5 of the tubes together, and connected them to one of the boxes to make it 100 amp-hours again. And some more to the other that made it 110. There's some more put into use!
   Since I'm not doing much else with them, I might as well replace any weak cells in the pipes  (it looks like there are a lot, too, making a lot of weak pipes) and connect them all as well. That should get it over 170 amp-hours. Adding the Honda hybrid NiMH cells as another 36 volt set should bring it to at least 210 - over 8 KWH at '38 volts' nominal.
   Then, both the NiMHes and the lithiums in the Sprint sit at about 40 volts and will charge if brought up to 41 or 42. They could be connected together. (This time I know the DC to DC charge controller isn't doing anything strange. It's a steady voltage that already works with NiMHs.) If I do swap in the Sprint lithiums when the NiMHs get low, that would make it 520 amp-hours - around 20 KWH. That should carry over a couple of rainy days if one is careful.
   Unfortunately the Nissan Leaf has no connection from which one can draw its power, at any voltage. It has 24 KWH, which would cover a fair power outage - as long as you didn't need to drive anywhere. (New Leafs have 40 KWH.)

2500 Watt, 36 to 230 Volt Inverter

   I was still concerned that during a power failure there was no water. Once the pressure tank ran down, the 230 volt pump wouldn't run. For this purpose alone I finally found on Aliexpress and ordered a suitable inverter. Here again the advantage of a higher voltage shows, since 6 amps (peak/max... I think) at 230 volts is 35 amps at 40 volts, but it would be 115 amps at 12 volts. 35 is bad enough - a 2500 watt 12 volt inverter would need quite heavy wires. (I could have got a used 1700 watt 36 volt to 230 volt inverter, but I finally decided that would be a little light. I've discovered more than once that motors tend to overload inverters and not start even when the specs say they should work.)

More Better LED Lighting

   It looks like I'll be doing some solar installations for others needing - in fact as the main objective - LED lights.

   Having obtained some of the flat 12 volt "cob" light plates that Jim Harrington showed me at Christmas, I originally intended to
put 3 together in series and make 36 volt lights. Now I think I may use the DC to DC down converters to run them individually as 12 volt lights. One can adjust to (eg) 11 volts for low battery drain and cooler running or up to 12.5 or higher for maximum power and brightness. Then I'll probably put them in glass or plastic "globe" diffusers, which I have a lot of. As lamps, its a benefit that the light will come out one side instead of in all directions, so they can be aimed for best lighting for reading or whatever. I'll need to get more of the DC to DC converters.

Disassembly and Cleaning of Thermal Glass

   I kept looking at the "refuse transfer station" for glass for the greenhouse. I wasn't getting enough. There were some thermopane window units in my basement, and one of the sliding windows was just the right size. Being double pane, it could make two - just what was needed. So I looked on the web for instructions on how to take apart thermopane windows and clean the aluminum oxide off them.
   To my great surprise, there weren't any! There were instructions for replacing them, or for hiring a professional to get moisture out of them "for half the price of replacement", before they fogged up with aluminum oxide. After they got the oxide, you might as well throw them out, it was said. That seemed absurd.
   I've never thought highly of thermal glass, thinking it was quite a lot of trouble to go to - and trouble to make for the future when it fogs up - for just a little better insulation. Now that I look it up however, I see thermopane with argon gas is supposed to be quite a bit better than simple double pane, with R value 3 and better instead of 2.1.
   But for the moment I just want single pane greenhouse glass.

   Once upon a time, long, long ago (before the internet) and far, far away (Victoria), I cut a thermopane patio door glass apart, cutting up the aluminum spacer around the edges with a jigsaw. (I made two big skylights for my back porch.) I later took a different window apart to clean the inside. I don't remember, but I probably did that one with a jigsaw too. I do remember the glass being darned hard to clean, and I ended up scratching it with scotchbrite. The end result was hardly satisfactory - but a lot better than all clouded up with oxide. I made a wooden spacer and put it back together around that.

Disassembly: "Success by 1000 Cuts"

   So this time I decided to experiment - and as I did, to do the video about it that I hadn't found. Even if I was unsuccessful maybe some people would comment with better ideas? (I haven't uploaded it to youtube yet because the internet is working very badly here lately. I can hardly wait for that fiber optic hookup!) After removing the aluminum outer frame and rubber gasket, I stuck a thin exacto knife into the goo in the slit between one pane of glass and the aluminum spacer. I had the theory that getting the glass off the goo would be like peeling off a sticky label or tape. If one pulls quickly, the label rips. But if pulled away slowly the glue releases and the label will come off in one piece.
   The blade was just marginally wider than the goo, and pushed on the window a bit. Then I got another exacto knife put it in a few inches away. Then I stuck in a utility knife blade, a little wider yet, between them. And then another farther over. With 4 or 5 narrow blades in the slit, the goo started letting go of the glass and a gap formed over to the corner. Then I put in a thin jacknife and then worked around the corner with the thinner blades. Once the corner was open there was a wider gap.

   So then I stuck in a little piece of thick sheet aluminum, wider yet, and moved the other blades along the glass.

   Then I put in the jacknife and started pushing it along slowly, separating the goo joining the aluminum and the glass and lengthening the slit. It got easier and faster as I went along. When I came to the first corner, a small triangle of glass broke off, about .4" x 1.5". I was prying too hard or going too fast approaching the corner when the second edge's seal hadn't been broken yet. It was still usable (and of course so was the other pane), so I worked the corner open with the two exacto knives and then continued down the second side, sticking in the pieces of sheet aluminum as I went. It got easier and easier. Near the bottom of the left side I turned the glass 90 degrees so it was the top, and more carefully loosed the third corner.

   When I got to the bottom of the third side, I just swung the whole pane down slowly to release the last, bottom, side. Some goo held on tenaciously for several inches before gradually letting go.

   So... it's not that hard to do. Just find enough skinny blades and things to keep sticking in to get it started. Be gentle and slow and take care at the corners.

Cleaning: Magic Baking Soda

   The window units are supposedly sealed, and inert argon gas is injected. Eventually air and moisture get in (making the "R" value what?) and the moisture causes aluminum from the edge spacer to oxidize. Somehow the molecules vaporize and get transported onto the glass.
 Glass cleaner didn't work. Paint thinner didn't work. Acetone didn't work. Methylene Chloride didn't work. Baking soda and a soft cloth worked, with quite a lot of wiping. It initially felt grimy, but as I scoured it started to feel like clean glass. After I used regular glass cleaner too and dried it off, it looked quite clear except under close examination with the light just right. If I had been reassembling the thermopane instead of using it as greenhouse glass, I'd have gone over it some more.
   Later it occurred to me that Comet or Ajax would probably have worked somewhat better and faster than baking soda.

   I ended up with a 15 minute video about the take-apart. I decided to do a separate one about the cleaning but I haven't made it yet. Anyway, just knowing about the baking soda is the main thing - anyone can scrub.

   As far as I was able to find out, to disassemble and clean thermal glass is something that just isn't done. Throw it out and get a new one! But it doesn't seem that hard to do. Then it could be reassembled - and if one wanted to go to the trouble, probably even refilled with argon, too, to get the extra "R" of insulation value back. (Welding places have bottled argon. Good luck!)
   Myself I'd probably just put the window back together without any "stickum" on the outer pane. Let it breathe instead of fogging up, and also next time it's dirty it'll be much easier to clean.

   One should wear gloves for much of this - the edges of cut glass are sharper than a knife. Somehow I didn't most of the time and I didn't cut myself. Dexterity yes, but I probably beat the odds too, to not get a couple of nicks and slices working around the edges, and wiping the glass near the edges to clean it.
   But fate wouldn't let me get away unscathed. In putting the pieces up on the greenhouse, I made some aluminum clips to hold them on. One clip was spinning with the screw and so stopped the drill/screwdriver and I grabbed it to hold it. But it was like the aluminum had attached itself to the screw, and on the next twist, the drill drove it right into my finger making quite a deep cut. (Curtailed my heavy lifting - moving dirt next to make a bed - for a couple of days. A bandaid let me type okay.)

   When the glass was up on the greenhouse, from where I first looked it looked like there was no glass there. Yes, the birds would fly right into that!

The disassembled thermopane panes are next to the door.
The bottom pane was clear. I left the aluminum strips
around the edges, still attached by the black goo.
The top pane is the clouded one that I scoured
[almost] clear with baking soda.
(They looked so good I soon cleaned the other glass windows.)

Electricity Generation

My Solar Power System

The solar power equipment: Top is wires from solar panels. Two 1 KW grid tie
 inverters, 36 VDC breaker panel with several features, green 10 amp NiMH 36V
 charge controller (it's "hanging out" because it has a noisy fan and my bed
 happens to be on the other side of that wall. If it's attached, the sound
 penetrates through the wall. I'll be replacing it soon anyway.)

   There seems to be some overlap between projects here... I'm generating solar power with the panels, then converting it either to grid power or to 36 volts DC, and from there it goes to the "36 volt" house distribution system in the making. There's not much to say about the grid here. I'm writing about the 36 volt system under the Other "Green" Electric Equipment Projects heading, above.
   Now the solar panels are up and their connections are in place, so there's less to say about installing them, but I have some remarks on operating them and their potential. It's free energy, but by no means continuous. If this is "the" energy to use as it has been becoming in recent years, it would be nice to have enough cheap batteries to save up power, ideally not only overnight, but from a good week or two for a bad week or two.

   As a general observation, if all you need is a light at night and a means to charge your cell phone, not much is required. To power a whole "regular" house from solar instead of from the grid, ten solar panels and a few kilowatt-hours of batteries is not trivial except in midwinter, but it's pretty lightweight. You won't be driving the electric car every day. 20 or 30 panels and 15 to 30 KWH of batteries would be more satisfactory. (Counting the Sprint car as an 11 KWH backup battery I guess I actually have about 18 KWH. I may get more panels.)
   Also a means for powering the house circuits - hot water tank, well pump and so on - would make it all much more practical than extension cords, even if one had to be very careful what was turned on so as not to overload inverters or drain the batteries too far.

   I decided to continue taking daily performance readings from the 1.6 KW of panels on my house roof and 1.2 KW on the trailer roof. One observes March is the month of greatest transition from low winter sun casting long shadows to higher summer sun and shorter shadows. My roof slope (in both locations) gives best angles for solar panels in summer. (see readings below. Note: I've shown all times in PST, clocks 48 minutes ahead of the sun, and ignored DST, an hour and 48 minutes ahead. Since I don't consider that a day ends until midnight, there are occasionally times as late as 24:47 PST (25:47 PDT)) After reading it daily last month, somehow I forgot about the house meter for a few days. And as can be seen it would have been very desirable to check it twice a day to better pinpoint where the power was being used, but until near the end of the month I only occasionally thought to read it more than once. It usually didn't move much during the day when the solar was working, exceptions being for charging the car (Nissan Leaf EV, 3 KW), hot water and the clothes dryer (probably both 3.6 KW), which used electricity faster than the sun on 10 solar panels (under 2 KW) could make it. Much more power was used at night for heating my bedroom. (I'm certainly glad I don't heat the whole house all day with electricity! Firewood from your own acreage is dirt cheap. It grows on trees.)

   The house meter wouldn't run backward: I never saw it go down even when the solar was producing well and nothing special was running in the house. So it would be ideal to do power hungry activities during the day (if sunny) when the solar power would be used before grid power. The tree shadows from 11 AM until 1 PM (read about 10 AM until 12 solar time - or 12 until 2 PDT) were a nuisance. Once again we see the great value electricity storage capacity would have...  such as cheap, reliable, safe, efficient and long lasting batteries would bring.
   A few times after driving I waited until the next morning to charge the car from 10 until 11 then turn it off, then on again at 1 PM. But that was going a long way for quite small savings. What if I needed the car and it wasn't charged? If I had to drive the gas Toyota Echo somewhere instead it would certainly nullify any savings!
   It did occur to me that charging the car took 3 KW while the solar supply delivered less then 2 anyway. But near the end of the month it occurred to me that I could plug in the the car's 120 volt slow charger, which I thought drew 1 KW. The solar could supply that. But I put a power meter on it, and found it actually drew 1.5 KW - the full maximum allowed load on a regular 15 amp circuit. Even with this slowest charge, it could only be charged by solar alone when the output was good on a sunny day. And then most other loads would have to be supplied from the grid. Still, if one didn't need to go anywhere for a day and not much else was running, it could be charged virtually for free.

   On the 27th I discovered to my great surprise that the meter apparently had run backward, because it had gone down by 4 kilowatt-hours. 11 were made that day, so I guessed only 7 were used notwithstanding having had a bath. But the next morning the meter seemed to be sitting stationary as usual. I was sure I wasn't using any appreciable power and the sun was shining. Perhaps I had recorded the meter as being 65252 in the morning on the 27th and it was actually 65242? That would explain it. 252 would also have indicated a surprising amount of power having been used overnight on the 26th-27th. It seems most unlikely that there was just one occasion when the meter would have run backward. So I decided it had to be a typo (or I mis-remembered the number on my way into the house). I changed it to 242.
   I was confused for a day. I'm not sure whether to be annoyed or relieved. I get no credit for the power I send out, but if the meter was running backward in the summer, the power company would obviously discover it and probably bureaucrats in their head office in Vancouver would have a fit. Savings on the power bill is a bonus, not a main objective.

   As the ides of March approached tree branch shadows that had shaded the collectors on the house roof got lower and started passing just underneath instead. Then shadows came just from the thinner tops of the trees. The 6 panels on the house (@1600 W) finally started producing almost as much electricity per day as the 4 on the trailer cover (@1200 W). And peak power rose. On the 12th (when there was a bit of sun at midday) I noted much the highest power yet, about 1950 watts peak - almost 1150 at the house and over 850 at the trailer. By the 20th 'shadow time' hours narrowed to 11:20 to 12:40 - 80 minutes instead of 120. By the end of the month the shadows were below the top row of panels entirely, and power produced by the house caught up with and passed that from the trailer. Obviously in the first week of April, the tree shadows would go below the house roof entirely through the summer until early September.
   When the clouds rolled in after the 12th total power was reduced, but the trailer started outproducing the house by a wider margin again. First I thought perhaps the new "Q" panels really did have much better lower light performance than the old panels. OTOH, when there was little sun a larger percentage of the power at the house was going into the DC system instead of into the grid. It didn't seem like a lot being used there, but the solar power meter on the charge controller is powered by the solar panels and it resets to zero every night. So it's hard to estimate the amount of power going into the batteries. (Battery charging currents became lower with the repaired batteries.) But neither of those was the actual reason.

Crappy Alligator Clips!

   On the 18th I found the real problem: one of the alligator clips connecting two of the panels to the inverter had burned off the wire on or after the 12th and those two panels [500 W] were no longer contributing. And it was the one touching against the wall. My precaution of putting up the gyproc panel on top of the cedar wall may possibly have saved the house from a fire or even burning down, and it only went just high enough above the inverter. OTOH my alarm bells might have gone off just putting the clip up against the cedar in the first place and [I hope] I would have positioned it a little differently to keep it away.
   Still lacking a suitable terminal block mounting, I came up with a new arrangement with two 1/4" bolts hanging in midair to attach some of the wire lugs to. I wrapped them with tape to avoid shorts. (Not exactly ideal either.) It was sunny and when I turned on the inverter the power out went up to over 1000 watts. Full power again!

   I knew I didn't like using alligator clip leads for anything where high currents would flow! It's not the alligator jaw itself that gets a bad connection, it's the wire inside, to the back of the clip. They're all SO cheaply made! The alligator jaw is thin metal, but they use it as a crimp connection. It's not thick enough to hold its shape against pressure and keep a good connection. And on some the insulation on the wire isn't even stripped back properly before it's crimped. I would gladly pay extra for jumper test leads that were properly soldered on or otherwise had good connections, but nobody sells them. Since the join is under the rubber hood, the customer doesn't see it, especially in the package in the store, so there's no advantage to the manufacturer to do a good job. I often pull back the rubber hood and solder them... but usually not until it's had a problem. I don't know how many times I've had trouble with some experiment only to find it's a bad alligator clip lead. The crimped-in unstripped insulation keeps the wire from falling off the clip (even if you pull on it) so you think it's still connected. Once or twice I've repaired them all with solder as soon as I bought a bag of them. The insulation in the join burns and stinks when you solder. But even solder isn't perfect. Often the wire is so thin and cheap it breaks off anyway. So now you've changed the wire and soldered the joins. All that's left of the original manufacture is the two end clips. (The longer, heavier clip leads I used here had thick enough wire. The crimp connection to the clips was better than most... but obviously still not adequate!)
   I've probably made too much of this, writing it up in such detail, but it's always been a beef of mine. And wouldn't that be a classic case of domino effect? Can't fit proper connectors, so connect with alligator clips. Cheap clip lead with hidden defect gets hot, burns off, and starts fire that burns a place down. I'll bet it's happened.

   With the two panels restored and the reappearance of sunshine, overall production reached new highs. And with the shadows on the house roof from the trees decreasing, on the 19th the house (finally) definitely overtook the trailer in production. I didn't see 1100 W (house) or 850 W (trailer) again, but on the 24th it was pretty much sunny and the total production for the day finally broke 10 KWH, which was more than half of what the house power meter said I had used since the previous day.

--- Solar Power to Grid --- (times shown are all PST - 48 minutes ahead of the sun. [PDT is and hour and 48 minutes ahead.])

Date House - Trailer - KWH Solar [house electric meter] (sunny unless otherwise indicated)

March 1st - 25.22 - 28.68 - 6.32 [64548 @ 11:30 AM & 2:30 PM; drove 87 Km before 2:30 PM, plugged in car. 64558 @ 6 PM... unplugged car: Why not let it finish charging in the daytime tomorrow!] Sunny all day. (The 1000 W panel set was mostly unplugged from the grid for the hot water tank experiment.)
2nd - 27.70 - 30.78 - 4.58 [64589 @ 1 PM; 64595 @ 4:30 - Drove to Charlotte, so charging car again from ~3:00 PM.] - Cloudy early AM (was little point waiting to charge car?), patchy cloud later AM, cloudy PM
3rd 31.67 - 35.11 - 8.30 [64624@12:30; 64627@17:00] - sunny all day
4th 35.61 - 39.37 - 8.20
5th 40.80 - 44.48 - ----- (Oops, I didn't read until 11 AM on 6th)
6th 44.04 - 47.98 - ----- (average 5th, 6th: 8.52)
7th 48.29 - 52.27 - 8.54 [64745@11:30AM; 64750@17:30 - charged car, probably took ~8 KWH:4 solar + 4 grid.]
8th 52.31 - 56.37 - 8.12 [64776@15:00, 779@16:00, 790@19:00] charging car from 14:00 (~13 KWH, ~3 from solar). part cloudy from ~15:30.
9th 54.19 - 58.40 - 3.98 [64842@18:00] Cloudy all day. [66 KWH used?!? Let's see... car 85 Km, bath...?]
10th 54.50 - 58.90 - .81 [64852@18:00 PST] Clouds and rain. (Here's a "worst case" day - for March!)
11th 56.90 - 60.82 - 4.32 [64872@18:00] AM clouds & rain, PM mostly cloudy [Bath accounts for 10 KWH?]
12th 60.10 - 63.48 - 5.86 [64893@15:30, ] Off and On Rain, Clouds and Sun. Power hit or almost hit 1950 W at one point.
13th 62.25 - 65.76 - 4.43 [64931@19:00 still PST] Clouds & some rain. Car charging (60 Km). Bath.
14th 64.21 - 68.30 - 4.50 [64961@18:30] Clouds & some rain. Car charging (55 Km). Laundry
15th 65.53 - 70.09 - 3.11 [65000@20:00] Clouds & Rain. Car charged (86 Km).
16th 67.09 - 72.59 - 4.06 [65013@12:30, 65015@18:00, 65024@25:30] Cloudy. Bath-evening. No drives.
17th 67.95 - 73.87 - 2.14 [65040@20:00] Clouds, fog. Cloudy west coast... disappointment is to be expected.
18th 72.18 - 78.49 - 8.85 [65063@10:00, 067@17:30, 072@24:00] Sunny. [Bath at 3 PM. No drives.]
19th 77.46 - 83.17 - 9.96 [65080@11:30, 088@18:00] [Drove to QC 60 Km, back before 3 PM]
20th 81.38 - 86.21 - 6.96 [65102@14:00, 107@17:30, 112@24:30] Pretty good for light cloud & chemtrails all day! [20 Km drive, back by 2PM]
21st 84.58 - 88.74 - 5.73 [65127@20:30] Light cloud. Laundry x2 AM. Charged car (60 Km; 9 KWH) late evening/night.
22nd 87.55 - 91.28 - 5.51 [65150@12:30, 158@21:30] Moderate overcast. No drive. Bath.
23rd 92.25 - 95.11 - 8.53  [65175@16:00, 179@19:30] Moderate overcast with sunny breaks. Drive 55 Km back 2PM.
24th 98.02 - 100.11 - 10.77 [65190@10:30, 197@19:00] sun, occasional clouds. Chj.car 40 Km.
25th 104.17 - 105.06 - 11.10 [65209@10:00, 211@19:00] sunny. went nowhere, did nothing powerwise. I'm sure the power co. got most of it, to sell to my neighbors!
26th 110.15 - 110.11 - 11.03 [65223@10:00, 229@18:00] sun. drive 55 Km. Power tools?
27th 116.24 - 115.04 - 11.02 [65242@10:00, 248@20:00] sun except short cloudy period AM.
28th 122.70 - 120.17 - 11.59 [65260@10:00, 263@18:00] sun.
29th 127.68 - 124.01 - 8.82 [65275@9:00, 287@16:30, 298@20:30] sunny then fog. 85 Km & car chj (~14 KWH), bath.
30th 134.67 - 129.35 - 12.33 [65310@9:00, 315@18:00] sun. House meter didn't move from 9:00 AM 'till I plugged in car @15:30 (55 Km). Turned car off at 17:00.
31st 141.41 - 134.61 - 12.00 [65331@9:00, 334@19:00] sun. Turned car back on with 1.5 KW/120 V charger to finish from solar.
April 1st 148.59 - 140.16 - 12.73 [65349@9:30, 351@20:00]
2nd 154.98 - 145.04 - 11.27 [65361@21:00] thin chemtrails, clouds later PM. Charged car @1500 W from solar after 55 Km drive previous day.
3rd 161.62 - 150.27 - 11.87 [65371@9:30, 378@19:30] more of same slight overcast.
4th 163.66 - 151.92 -  3.69 [65405@19:00] rain AM, cloudy all day.
5th 166.61 - 154.21 -  5.26 [65442@20:30] clouds & rain. (bath, 85 Km drive & charge.)

Total KWH produced for the month March 1 to April 1: 234.85 KWH.
Total KWH consumed from grid for same period: 801 KWH.

   So I made about 30% as much as I consumed. And the total amount used is greater than what came from the grid, because in the daytime, consumed power coming from the collectors is not added to the meter. (My only financial savings) OTOH, I obviously sent power to the grid on many days (free power for BC Hydro), and then used considerably more power from the grid after the sunny part of the day ended (full price to me).
   Apparently to break even in March, I should have had more like 30 solar panels than 10. Wow! That's not going to happen. It would mostly give more free power to BC Hydro during the day while I bought just as much from them at night. A big battery system with cheap new chemistry batteries - and a means to employ them automatically - could of course change the picture. But we know the winter months are solar "losers" around here. Just counting from mid month as the sun was getting stronger, March 16th until April 1st, the figures improve with more solar and less consumption:

149.07 KWH were made from the 16th to April 1st.
336 KWH were used.

   Here production was up to 45% of consumption. Not until April second was less power drawn from the grid than the panels made that day, and then only because of quite low consumption as well as good production.

   I noted a few other things over the month:

   In mid afternoon on the 25th it occurred to me to check the upper versus lower panels at the house, by turning off the lower ones. This was after peak production which was about 1050 W at the house and 760 W at the trailer. If 75% of rating is the 'realistic' maximum, by month's end it was heading that way, being well over 60% at midday. It read:

All house panels together (~1610 W rated): 985 W
Top row (four, ~1000 W): 600 W - 60% of rated power (by turning inverter of bottom pair off)
Bottom row (pair, 610 W): 385 W - 63% of rated power (Bottom Pair = All - Top Row)
Trailer single row (four, 1220 W): 690 W - 57% of rated power.

   Then I noted that all the panels were coated with tree pollen. On the 27th I went up on a ladder and sprayed off the house panels. Immediately before I read 900 watts. (the lower ones were in shadows) Immediately after it was about 930 watts. Okay, a little over 3% improvement. After 10 minutes it was 950, but as the shadows were moving it was difficult to ascribe the cause. However, at solar noon it was doing 1110 watts instead of "the usual" 1050 as of late. I suppose a good rain would have done pretty much the same thing.
   The trailer roof was a long way to extend a hose, so I didn't. But an hour later it occurred to me that if I did, generation might hit 2000 watts. I put together three 50 foot hoses, got the ladder and tied it on, went up on the roof, and sprayed them off. Trailer production went up from 760 to 830 watts. 1110+830= 1940 watts. Not 2000. Oh well, what's in a number? It's good production.
   The next day [28th] the power from the house was only 1000 watts in early afternoon. Even less than the day before, before cleaning off the tree pollen. That seemed odd. Then it hit me: it was also warmer out. To check out the theory I went up the ladder again and sprayed the 6 panels. Sure enough, the output increased to 1100 watts. The main increase wasn't from eliminating the pollen, it was from the cold water cooling off the panels! I don't think spraying the panels to get 10% more production is something I can make a habit of.

   The chart is a bit of a mish-mash as far as power usage. Because the power meter to the house won't run backward when power is being sent out, the totals don't add up to reality. In general I made power during the day, and presumably simply sent much of it to the grid for free without being able to tell how much, then used power at night and got charged for it. ("Smart" meter - Grr! a mechanical meter would simply have run backward.)
   Nevertheless, the month's figures again disclose that in spite of increasing solar production, I was at first only producing around 20% as much as I used except on sunny days when it might be over 30%. But toward the end of the month with decreasing use for heating (burning less firewood too) and further increasing production, it was getting closer to 40% or even over 50% some days. Of course, in a "grid down" situation all electric heaters would be off, as would the hot water tank. With minimized use, and with inverters for essential 120 volt needs (fridge, freezer, misc.) and the 230 volt water pump inverter, I'm sure I'd get by. Except maybe in December.

   In figuring out how much the car would use in charging, I finally noticed there seemed to be a discrepancy. It seemed to me it was using more than expected. If one drives 85 Km and the gauge says it got 6.6 Km per KWH, 85/6.6=14.8 KW. But on April 5th I was flipping through readings on the dash and it said somewhere around 25% - 23 or 27 or something: "Battery charge 25%". If the batteries are 24 KWH and you've used 75%, that's 18 KWH. Also "6 hours to charge" (at 3 KW). I'm not sure, but I think 18 KWH seems more in line with what's actually being drawn from the house. I could be wrong.

Winter Solar Panel Reflectors?

   Someone tried adding reflectors to four different 100 watt solar panels [on youtube], on the left and right, taking measurements to see what would happen. (His cheapest polycrystalline panel gave the highest output in all conditions!) He got around 15 extra watts out of all of them at first, then after 10-15 minutes they got hotter and lost half their gain. A cooling fan hardly helped at all - a watt or two better. (Apparently he should have tried cold water.)

   The panel manufacturers say not to use reflectors. The extra heat is more than they bargain on in writing the specs and designing for longevity. But I'm sure the objection would only apply when the power is at or near full. Here, in December when the sun is only 14° above the horizon at noon, and the panels are only tilted maybe 20°(?) toward the south, the light angle is quite oblique, and the weather will certainly not be hot. If one put reflector sheets above the panels to reflect back onto them (almost upright and in fact leaning back over the panels by some angle), one might well collect even twice the sunlight or more, depending on their size and angle. Twice not much is still not much, but if the grid is down in December every bit might count.
   Panels mounted vertically on a wall would be a much better angle in winter, but shadows then are so long that even the roof gets a lot of shadow, and anything lower than that may be almost worthless.

   Perhaps a better plan would be to re-mount the panels at a higher angle instead of flat against the roof. Then they would produce more most of the year and especially in winter. But in cloudy winters at high latitude solar will never be a big producer. And they would have to have very sturdy mountings so they wouldn't get ripped off in the high winds we occasionally get around here. That's why I put them flat on the roof in the first place. Ditto reflectors would have to be very well mounted.

   More panels because I'm not making as much power as I'm using? because of winter? or add winter reflectors? make "off-roof" higher angle mountings? How much farther do I want to get into this? One more panel on the house just to hit 2000 watts midday production? It's already more solar than I had intended to do by about 4 panels. I think I'll just call it "done" for now. At least until the grid is actually down in winter - then I'll panic! It is doubtless lowering my power bills just a little. Maybe by next winter I'll have HE ray energy working or something? Or maybe I can run a few things off batteries at night besides a light or two and get more cost benefit from what I have?

All the Angles

   Just what angles were the roofs, anyway? I took a 24" long level and a ruler up to the house roof. I measured the drop as 6.75" in 24".

Arctangent ( 6.75/24) = 15.7°. That didn't seem like much slope - surely it was steeper than that?
Arctangent (24/6.75) = 74.3°. Well, that does add up to 90°.
I did a reality check with the level and a protractor. Sure enough it seemed right.

Then the trailer. The protractor said about 15°.
By measurements: arctangent (6.6"/24") = 15.4°. Almost the same, as I had thought they must be by appearance.

* Location is 53° north + the sun is 23° north at summer solstice.
* That would mean the sun gets as high as 37°+23° = 60° at noon on June 21st.
* With just 16° roof slope, the panels point almost up: 74°. 74 - 60 = 14°
* So the roofs are 14 degrees too flat for the sun to hit square on even at noon in summer.
* But cosine 14° = .9703; still 97% as much sunlight. at noon. on June 21st.
* Then there's the sun on December 23rd: 37°-23°= just 14° above the horizon.
* With the panels facing 74°, 74-14=60. I don't need the calculator for this one: Cosine 60° = .5.
* The maximum possible power at noon at winter solstice is just 50%. And the days are pretty short with lots of shadow.

By gosh I'm far north!


Power Outage Power From Grid Tie Inverters? (EXPERIMENTAL)

   Normally, if the mains shuts off, the grid tie inverters shut off. What if the power was out for a long time, as would happen here if there was a sufficient interruption in fuel deliveries?
   One can gain a lot from the DC system and regular inverters. But what about the grid tie inverters on sunny days? Only 4 of my 10 panels connect to the DC system, which in any event (so far) only charges at 10 amps/400 watts maximum. A very long power outage might be considered an emergency situation where one might try this to get 120 volts supplied "directly" from the solar panels (not via batteries) while the sun is out. I'm thinking one would use a pure sine wave inverter, perhaps 1500 to 3000 watts - or higher. Disclaimer: it is an EXPERIMENT I have NOT (yet) tried myself and I will take no responsibility. If anyone tries it it is at their own peril.

...And as I think about it, I think it would be better if possible to try it with a bunch of extension cords and 3-outlet splitters and not connect it to the house wiring at all, assuming you have plug-in grid tie inverters that can be unplugged and moved to another power outlet. (For a grid tie inverter, should it be called a power inlet?)
   IF nevertheless you're connecting to the house, carefully observe steps 1 to 5.


1) VITAL! Shut off the main breaker to the house to isolate the house from the regular power grid.

2) Turn off all grid tie inverters.

3) Shut off all 230 volt breakers powering anything that might come on (like the water heater.) Turn off all electric heat.

4) Also shut off all 120 volt things that are turned on, and all 120 volt loads that could come on automatically. (Fridge and freezer come to mind. You'll want those to run while the sun is shining, but you want to start them separately - starting them together and at startup would probably overload the system.)

5) Plug a pretty hefty pure sine wave inverter into an outlet as if it was a grid-tie inverter. (Don't turn it on yet!)

6) The inverter, the grid tie inverters and all the loads you want to run must be on the same side of the line, eg, both on phase A:
  ----   120 (phase A) }\
  ----   Common           | 240 V
  ----   120 (phase B) }/
    It will probably take a little figuring out or discovery get get the inverters and desired appliances all on the same phase.


7) Turn off the grid tie inverters. (And the pure sine wave inverter)

8) Connect together the pure sine wave inverter (don't turn it on yet!), the grid tie inverters, and appliances you wish to run with extension cords as required, and 3-way splitters and or a power bar(s). There is thus only one, 120 volt line for everything, and no other phase and nothing 230 volts "half connected" to worry about. (Ideally, plug a power bar into the pure sine wave inverter, everything else into the power bar.)


9) Plug in a power monitor or connect a voltmeter in a way that you don't have to hold it connected. Set it to 200+ AC Volts to show the voltage on the line.

   At this point, the system is ready to be powered up from the pure sine wave (PSW) inverter, which is itself powered from the DC system (or any other battery supply). It is presumed that the experiment is performed during daylight.

10) Turn on the PSW inverter. Check the voltage with your separate meter - don't trust the inverter's meter.

11) Turn on a significant load but one the inverter can handle - perhaps a 250-750 watt electric heater or some incandescent light bulbs. Note the AC voltage and the amps/watts draw from the DC system. (If you have tied into the house, hopefully nothing else is turned on.)

12) Turn on a grid tie inverter. It should come on because it will sense "power is on" - from the PSW inverter, and synchronize to that inverter. Watch the AC line voltage and be ready to turn it off again quickly. This is where it gets hard to predict what will happen. It may depend on the brand and model of grid tie inverter. If the grid tie inverter is monitoring the line voltage, it should only put out enough to bring it up a few volts. This is what we hope for. If however it simply assumes it has a "limitless" grid to feed current into and pumps in all it can supply, it could potentially cause too high a voltage. Also be aware of any strange noises, especially from the PSW inverter.
   This is potentially very dangerous for your PSW inverter. However well protected it is against overloads, it won't be expecting current being supplied from an external source feeding back into it. I don't know what will happen.

13) My grid tie inverters start putting out current gradually. If this is the usual case for all types, there should be sufficient warning that an overvoltage situation is developing.

14) If turning on the grid tie inverter hasn't caused any problem, check the draw from the DC system/battery. It should have dropped since the grid tie (from the solar panels) is now supplying (hopefully) most of the load.

   Perhaps the "base load" some load should be left on to prevent the grid ties from creating an over-voltage situation by pumping too much in to the limited circuit. Or it may be that only what it is intended to power needs to be on, and (ideally) it doesn't matter what turns on and off. I'll say it again: I haven't tried it and so I don't know for sure what would happen.

   If all is in balance, much or most of the power should come straight from the solar panels via the grid ties. 1/2 of the 120 volt house circuits should be live if tied to the house. The batteries and DC system shouldn't be working very hard. Of course, this would only work when the sun is out. The less solar there is, the more the PSW inverter and the battery will be taking the load.

   Again, although my original idea was to power up the house circuits, it would surely better be tried completely separate from the house circuits with extension cords and a power bar and any needed splitters.


   Once again: I have not (yet) tried this experiment myself and I take no responsibility for whether it works or for whatever happens. If you do it, it is entirely at your own risk and the risk of your inverters and appliances. and House! Keep close watch over it starting it up, starting up an appliance, and while it's running! Remember to turn loads off if it gets cloudy and toward the end of the day.

"Portable"? Solar Panels

   Someone asked me to do a couple of 100 watt solar panels to sit on the top deck of his two tugboats and point at the sun. It turned out he didn't want them mounted in any way, just to sit up there and charge the battery when the vessel isn't in use. I guess he'll set it aside somewhere when the boat is in use. I ended up making a mounting out of plywood to form a triangle so that it could sit at a 30 or 60 degree angle.
   Perhaps this might also be of use for any small solar setup where there isn't full sun, or where it might be needed to set up a small panel temporarily? Camping with a thermoelectric fridge?


For America to go 100% Solar

   Australia seems to be well ahead in the solar game. The place is ideal: lower latitudes and lots of sunshine. The mild climate means they don't need much heat, so electricity usage during the night would be quite low. The power companies in the large eastern Australia grid complain that there's excess power in the day when it isn't needed and then by suppertime their generators have to run full bore. Obviously they need to be able to store the power for at least a few hours. It sounds like a good place to pump water up a hill in the day and have it run a generator in the evening.

   A 2016 video from Australia, "Battery Powered Homes" (apparently an episode of a TV show called "Catalyst") was providing the individual solution to the problem. The first featured homeowner said he got paid 7 ¢/KWH by the utility for his solar... and paid four times that (28 ¢? - ouch!) for power at night. The subject was his 8 KWH lithium battery system. One key was that everything was routed automatically through the system. His daytime power and battery charging came from his 3 KW of solar panels. His evening and night power came from the batteries via an inverter until the batteries got low. Only a small percentage came from the grid. If that seems avant guard now, it would have been even more so in 2016. And in Perth, WA, they were likewise already into solar and batteries in a really big way a couple of years before Puerto Rico got into the act when the hurricane destroyed their grid.

   I note that that first featured system isn't so different from my system in capacity. I have 2.8 KW of panels and a base of 3.6 KWH in my NiMH "D" cell batteries, plus a couple more in random NiMH tubes and the Honda hybrid batteries when they're all hooked up. And if those get low I can manually switch to the 11.5 KWH of lithiums in the Sprint car. (Then there's the 24 KWH inaccessible for house purposes in the Nissan Leaf.)
   What I lack is that computer "brain" and all the stuff to route the power as required. I can run the grid tie inverters and effectively power my own stuff from solar during the day. (assuming the grid power is working.) My DC system can take a limited amount of power and charge the batteries. Heavy use of the batteries and they would take all day to recharge. I've ordered a more powerful charger, 60 amps instead of 10, which will give me a lot more if the power is down. But only by reconnecting all the things I want to run to the 36 to 120 V inverter by extension cords. and the 230 V inverter (on order) for the well pump. In Australia I understand everything is 230 volts. A greater electrocution hazard yes, but it would simplify designing such routing equipment by not having two different phases of 120 volts to deal with.

   Someone else, also evidently in Australia, did a video showing his 6000 watt solar panel system "for $3000". It seemed a bit unbelievable until he started explaining that he got half of the equipment for a very low price from someone who had removed a system, and the other half were "reject" panels from an installer again for a bargain price. 70% of them were perfectly good he said. A used solar PV system is not a deal likely to be found on this island! I note that his latitude must be much less than mine, because where he had his panels propped-up they would all be shading each other up here.


For America to go 100% Solar

   Another video on youtube was about "What would it take for America to go 100% solar?" The presenter went into energy use figures and so on. The potential and actual land use figures were surprising.

These work out to about .5%, 1% and 1% of all USA land area.
(I do note that these plots are serious size exaggerations - 12 isn't that small compared to 25 or 22.)

   The 12 million acres solar figure was projected. The other 47 million acres are actually in use today. That's land now being occupied for all purposes related to fossil fuels and liquid burning cars. It's four times as much land, and more valuable, productive land rather than desert. Apparently if the USA converted to solar, and to electric vehicles, it would reclaim 47 million valuable, productive acres in exchange for just 12 million of desert. Notwithstanding the challenges to attaining this goal, why would in their right mind anyone argue philosophicly against it, and for things which are already wasting land and causing environmental nightmares?
   And never mind all the wars over oil and the fuel companies relieving people of their hard-earned wealth. And never mind how much of that solar power would in fact be accommodated on home and business rooftops, effectively taking up zero acres.

   In another video, a TedX talk that turned out to be advocating nuclear power, the presenter went out of his way to blow up molehills about renewable energy and make no mention of the mountains of troubles nuclear causes. He said how many desert tortoises would have to be removed to accommodate giant solar arrays and the "vast" tracts of desert they would take up. Aw, gee! But, isn't uranium mined in vast open pit mines? - with severe environmental consequences?
   He stressed how hard it is to recycle solar panels, that the "toxic" chemicals they contain are being sent to third world countries for disposal. Really? How many have been recycled so far, and why? Virtually all of them ever made have a long way to go before hitting their decades long expiry dates. And then with the bit of plasticy stuff (and valuable pure silver) scraped off the back, they perhaps will be valuable pieces of framed glass for greenhouses or windows. I wish I could get a bunch of big panes of tempered glass like that, cheap - I'd make a whole much bigger greenhouse out of them!
   There's nothing like people grossly distorting facts to make a case for the unsupportable to put your nose out of joint. Most of the commenters under the video were about equally impressed, deploring what depravity TedX talks could sink to!

   And by the way: all forms of nuclear power create radioactive waste. The whole surroundings of the reaction gradually become contaminated and radioactive. Fusion won't solve it. Thorium won't solve it. I once met an engineer who had been taking nuclear science in University. Around 1990. He said when he realized that there was in fact no way to make it benign and clean, he got out. (I'm not sure yet about so-called "cold fusion" - which generates a lot of heat. If it actually does work as many claim, one suspects it would have the same problem.) So for decades now, recognizing a dead end, the world's bright science, engineering and inventive talent has been finding its way into other areas.

Haida Gwaii, BC Canada