Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Happy Place?

Sprocket_4Runner (2).JPG
Sprocket_4Runner (1).JPG
Sprocket_4Runner (3).JPG

For an hour or so this morning, we weren't able to find Sprocket.  Then
we finally noticed him sitting in the backseat of the 4Runner.  He's
always been a car-loving dog, but now he's decided they make great
doghouses too.  What a snob.  Guess we should remember to close the windows, but heck, it's the desert.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sun Day

Another gorgeous and sunny day, with plenty of wind. Working on the designs for our prefab power systems and planning out the week to come. I was looking at Mikey Sklar's blog and Web site and enjoyed checking out his different electronics projects. Thank you John for sharing the link.

Going to do a do a timing belt and water pump on a Dodge Neon today, in the new shop.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Inverter install

We started the day by installing the OutBack inverter, which we recently repaired for our friends and customers.  Installing the inverter took an hour, and programming it (through OutBack's cluttered interface) took another hour, but the stacked inverters worked properly when we were done. As always, we all had a nice visit with with our friends and their dog pack.

On our way back to HQ, Arick and I stopped by John Wells' Field Lab to see his completed roof and other new additions to his setup.

Field Lab Roof
We had a great conversation about what we have been doing and what our plans are for future projects.  It is always lots of fun to talk about ideas with other idea-people.  Innovation never rests!

Later in the day we had supper with another Very Important Person, Beechie who has run a mechanic / tow / recovery service out of the Terlingua Ranch for the past 12 years. We showed Beechie our shop spaces and the various other projects we have going on, then Sara fed us all spaghetti and garlic bread.

It was also my Mom's birthday yesterday, so I want to say Happy Birthday to her one more time.  We love you, and all of West Texas misses you!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ferro-concrete wall and Case loader reclamation

Our first real ferro-concrete wall, for the chicken fortress:

Fero concrete wall
Fero concrete wall

Tim Dean's 1970s era Case loader is a beast of a machine! Supercharger worked amazingly well, but there were no brakes going down Yellow Hill.

Case 850 Loader
Case 850 Loader down the hill

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The search for over 100 MPG

We do a lot of talking and thinking about super-fuel-efficient automobiles,  and have often contemplated building one. Well the time is now! I think we are ready to design and then build a vehicle.

This vehicle would capable of entering a competition like the Progressive X-Prize. This is nerd-dom at its best. One of the past winners of the Progressive X-Prize is the Edison2 an ultra-light, aerodynamic, and highly-efficiency vehicle.


Here is a little bit of insight into the vehicle ideas we have been tossing around:

Layout: Three or four wheeled with narrow, low rolling-resistance tires.
Seating: 2-4 adults
Safety: It will be road legal and conform to required safety standards. 
Efficiency: It will be tested for real-world efficiency and MPG. 
Body: would be fiberglass or carbon fiber, with an aerodynamic tear-drop shape.
Chassis: Chrome moly steel skeleton built to incorporate the propulsion, steering and suspension systems, and attach to the body.

Propulsion System:

  • A small economical diesel engine which can directly and indirectly power the vehicle.
  • A feature to cut out the engine when vehicle is braking or stopped. 
  • An electric drivetrain compatible with both plug-in EVs, or a fully hybrid-only system.
  • A Li-Po or NiMH battery pack, which will be modular so you can easily increase or decrease the capacity as needed. 

We have also put some thought into other energy storage techniques, such as flywheel technology. One of the main drawbacks that I can see is that in order for flywheels to provide usable power, it needs to be extremely heavy and and spin at low RPMs (revolutions per minute). Alternatively, it could be lighter if it spun at very high RPMs in a vacuum, but that would increase the cost and complexity of the system one hundred fold.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Telephone Sanitization

January: named for Janus, a god who looks both ways in time, so to speak.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and I know more than a few people are very glad the days will now be getting longer again.

We are back from our vacation in Florida and feeling refreshed (and well fed --- mmm, sushi! crabs! fried bass!).  Casey will be welding again tomorrow and today I am catching up on house chores. It will be nice to start off the new year extra fresh (though cleaning has it's own hazards, especially when the desert puts a hurting on all your clothing), and we have lots of fun, productive projects coming up in the months ahead.

The first day after we got back home, the dogs were still a little mad at us for leaving them behind, but they are over it now (we did bring back a couple new toys, after all). 

Arick took good care of them both (read: spoiled them the whole time) and we really appreciate his help as well as Kathie & Bob's hospitality.  Without them, we couldn't have taken any kind of vacation!

Thanks are also owed to Courtney & John for making sure we had every opportunity to widen our pallets and watch the "speakies" in surround sound.

Thanks also to Arthur, for helping us with our video on wind turbine blades and for donating so many blades/parts for our wind power experiments!

And to everyone else, too many wonderful people to name here, who helped make 2011 such a wonderful year.

Thanks for reading, and now I must get back to laundry!

Laundry 2012-01-07 004.JPG