Sunday, October 30, 2011

Big Cat Scat

Mountain lions are also called mountain cats, catamounts, cougars, panthers, and painters.

Monday, October 24, 2011

El Paso

Kathie is flying in to El Paso this Tuesday and various people in our group needed items that were not available locally, so we decided to turn it into a dual-purpose trip. 

Arick and I headed to El Paso today, ready to search for some hard-to-find items: windshield, roll bar, welding gas tanks, and most of a kitchen, to name a few. So far so good; we got the Tracker a roll bar and made a trip to Harbor Freight. We'll see what tomorrow has to bring.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Simultaneous Sunset and Moonrise


The parallel problem

When it comes to living of the grid batteries a key part of the experience. We find many cases where they are the incorrect size, type and interconnections (wiring).

The problem we see all to often are massively paralleled battery banks, these setups are ether not working properly or soon to be. Here is an example of what happens: lets say we have a bank of 10 six volt batteries on a 12 volt system. First off that allot of battery cables and potentially bad connections, that off the bat eats into system efficiency. The main problem is keeping the bank balanced  even brand new bateries vary one from one to anther

Lets say I need 5KW of storage for a 24 volt system. First we need to convert to Ah (amp hours) 
5000 watts/ 24 volt= 208.3Ah using the 50% rule for discharging batteries I would need 2X208.3Ah=416.6Ah. So I need a lead acid battery that is 416.6Ah at 24 volts, unfortunately this size is not readily available and this is the case most of the time, so we need to build a bank of batteries. 

So we will search with 416 or greater Ah's in a 6 volt battery, Trojan makes a 420 Ah 6 volt the L16p-ac. Then we will wire four of these in series for 24 volts

Parallel Inverters


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Coop Upgrades

Ain't nuthin gonna dig under that door again!

IMG_0455.JPGYou gotta love McCoy's "as-is" discount materials!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ferrous Concrete Countertops

Concrete counter-tops are a great alternative to slab, tile, or composite counter-tops.  They are relatively cheap and can be easily customized for any kitchen.

A few years ago, Casey's brother-in-law poured his own counter-tops in a monolithic pour, and the results are breathtaking.  For our own counters, we decided to try something we haven't seen anyone else attempt: ferrous concrete counter-tops.  

The term 'ferrous concrete' or 'ferro-concrete' literally means concrete with iron in it.  Actually, almost all concrete pours have some metal incorporated to add strength, but in our niche, 'ferro-concrete' usually refers to a specific building technique.  This method relies heavily on slip-forms and a very high metal-to-concrete ratio to build thin, freestanding structures, and also is utilized by many to encapsulate wooden structures within a stucco shell.  The stucco shell is basically what we are using to create our counters, but we are using three layers of increasingly fine material and hope to have a very smooth finished surface.

We began by building very strong and well supported counters out of lumber and plywood, and then stretched stucco lath across the top and over the edges.

Once the lath was firmly secured with screws, the first coat (aka the 'scratch' coat) was troweled on.

The first layer is worked deep into the lath, smoothed out, and then scored. We then let the concrete dry slowly, dampening it as necessary with a spray bottle.  The more slowly concrete cures the stronger it is and less likely to crack.

After the first layer had a couple days to cure, we added the second layer, which was mixed with an acrylic fortifier to help it adhere to the first layer and make the whole counter more impervious to water.  

The second layer is where we worked out the humps and valleys, built up a lip along the edge, and created a straight and smooth base for the finish coat.

All in all, it is very messy and time consuming, but extremely rewarding and cost-effective.  Stay tuned for pics of the finished counters.