This Book Can Give You Power

Solar Panel School

Oil prices are rising again and oil is yet again at the centre of international conflict, it’s time to get off of oil. Sustainable energy is peaceful energy. Solar power is one such renewable energy source that can work anywhere the sun shines. Setting up a solar rig can be a challenge and intimidating for the average person. A freely available book, To Catch The Sun, provides the current knowledge you need to setup solar power generation of any size.

This is a book for people looking to build a better future together, that includes:

  • Inspiring stories: Real life accounts of building solar power in communities.

  • Technical details: Straightforward descriptions of solar components and diagrams of systems, replete with real examples (many from the systems described in the stories).

  • Math and science: Easy-to-follow math that allows readers to size small photovoltaic systems for all types of environments and uses.

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Thanks to Trevor.

This Cheap Box Helps to Keep COVID at Bay

Covid-19 Transmission graphic

The desinergs of the Corsi-Rosenthal box wanted to do something to help places deal with COVID-19. As we all know, the virus is airborne and spreads easily in interior environments. With this in mind, Richard Corsi, and air quality expert, and Jim Rosenthal, CEO of a air filter company created a simple box made up of filters and a single box fan. This cheap air cleaning box can be built at very low cost (filters and a fan) by people with no building experience.

Instructions to build the DIY box fan filter can be found here.

Within days, tinkerers and air quality engineers alike were constructing their own Corsi-Rosenthal boxes and sharing the results on social media. A vibrant conversation emerged on Twitter, blending sophisticated technical analysis from engineers with the insight and efforts of nonspecialists. 

By December, hundreds of people were making Corsi-Rosenthal boxes, and thousands more had read press coverage in outlets like Wired. In different corners of the world, people tweaked designs based on the availability of supplies and different needs. Their collective improvements and adaptations were documented by dedicated websites and blogs, as well as news reports.

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Does Everyone Have a Victory Garden?

Since at least 2008 we’ve been championing that people with land should plant a food garden. The best time to start your garden is today, the second best time is tomorrow. Being stuck at home to slow the spread of COVID-19 has inspired people to start growing their own gardens – great! Interest in gardening has grown this year and this means (very) local produce for more people. Gardening is fun and a great way to better understand food you eat, give it a shot!

For a city boy like me, born and raised in Brooklyn, where I had spent most of my adult life, this was all very new. Once you get your hands in soil—really get dirty with it, feel it under your fingernails—there’s a change in perspective, and you’re someone different. You’ve opened the tiniest of windows onto the ecological reality of the forces that sustain human existence, the biogeophysical relationships of water, sunlight, air, earth. Quite suddenly, what seemed mysterious quotients—say, the balance of phosphorus, nitrogen, carbon, and potassium—become commonalities of understanding and, eventually, of wisdom. The plants that depend on all those factors in harmony rise up, or they don’t.

It’s hard to express the pride and lovingness and delight in seeing a plant germinate, and grow tall and hardy, and then flower and put fruit out. When the crop came fresh and healthy last summer—there wasn’t a hint of blight, and no insects attacked it—I felt a bit like Viva and I had brought green babies into adulthood. We will never not do it again.

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Dead Laptops are Fantastic Sources for new Projects

E-Waste continues to be a growing problem in our waste streams. This is unfortunate since it doesn’t need to be this way as people can use computers for longer, or, use the laptop for parts. In the video above you can get some really neat ideas for DIY projects all from reusing parts from a dead laptop. Some are practical like reusing the hard drive while others are more for fun. Either way, it’s worth a watch.

How to wire up laptop screen backlights: DIY Secondary Screen (from laptop screen): Dual Screen Laptop Project: DIY Smart Mirror: CCTV from laptop webcams: Media PC project:

Build Your Own Wind Turbine

Off the gird living just got a little easier thanks to inventor Daniel Connell who has put instructions on how to build a wind turbine for $30 online. It’s not the most efficient and powerful generator out there but anybody with basic knowledge of drills can build it.

Creating something that can deliver a few hundred watts–enough to pump water, say–might not be that difficult. Daniel Connell, who’s drawn up a blueprint to show you how, swears that anyone who “can cut paper and hold a drill” can manage it.

“I’m hoping the animation is such that nothing needs to be left to the imagination of the person following the tutorial,” he says via email.

See Connell’s 52-step tutorial here and his animation below. It basically involves creating a template from paper, cutting aluminum into shapes, then bending and riveting the vanes to a bike wheel. The rest, as they say, is details.

Read more here.

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