Sunday, October 23, 2016

Building a Miniature Rocket Mass Heater

With winter coming one of my biggest concerns is staying warm.  While remodeling my RV I had plans for building a small rocket mass heater and I build an aluminum enclosure under the counter where the old broken propane furnace used to be, but I never finished the project until today.

I spent a lot of time studying rocket mass heaters online and looking over images like this one:

I ran into a lot of very large rocket mass heaters, but I couldn't find any small designs that would fit in my motor home, which makes sense since the whole purpose of it is to heat a very large mass....

However, I did find a lot of design ideas online and on youtube for very small rocket heaters (which are very similar to the first stage of the rocket mass heaters. So, after a lot of thinking and staring at bricks and stove pipes and an old pot I bought at SAVERS for $12, I finally built the damn thing.

Yesterday I drove 160 miles to Lowe's and bought 13 bricks, one 16" by 16" patio slab and, 8" by 16" slabs, a half cinder block, and an 80 lb bag of mortar.

I first checked the fit of my brick setup without the mortar:

It seemed okay, so I mixed up some mortar and put it all together:

I added some rocks from the desert outside.

Now I just have to wait a few days for it to cure and then I can test it out.
I'm still trying to figure out the best way to handle the exhaust pipe, for now it just sticks out the side, but I think I might make it run under the counter with a coil of copper tubing around it for warming water. I'll have to do some tests to see how hot it gets first.

Then I went for a drive, admired the sunset, cooked some chicken soup and started preparing lessons for my students tomorrow.
The color in this sky just makes life worth living at least one more day : )

And my chicken soup makes life worth living until the end ; )

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Storage, Solar Power, and Winter Preparations

I needed some storage space and a good place to mount my solar panels where they would be protected from the wind and snow. So, I bought an old utility trailer on KSL from a nice man who was kind enough to deliver it for me (probably because I payed him to). 
Mounting the solar panels what challenging because they are heavy. I bought some off the shelf hardware from Lowe's and installed the two on the right by myself.  That was a pain in the ass. Fortunately, I had a good friend there to help me mount the other two.

I bought two Might Max batteries from Amazon and a pure sine inverter. I didn't have anywhere better to put them so I just hooked them up on the floor.  Then I remembered something: I had just moved out of my old apartment and I needed to sell this old laptop cart that I bought for my classroom but my school wouldn't let me use it.... Instead they called me insubordinate for offering to donate and maintain a mobile computer lab. Weirdos. Anyway, I had this idea:
I took out all the laptops and I'm going to give them away to needy children... or sell them on eBay--whichever comes first.  I then removed the laptop dividers and converted it into a power box.  I cut the plug off of one of the power strips at the back and wired it into the output on my inverter.

It has room for two more batteries which I will purchase as soon as I get the money.
I wired the batteries and inverter together with cables I made out of welding cable.  It's the best quality cable I could find with the lowest resistance.

Then I wired an RV power outlet onto the front of my trailer and plugged in my motor home.
I have the power!!!

After that I microwaved some beans and ate them because I was hungry.
Electricity makes beans taste better.
I also started making some preparations for winter. I poured about a 7th of the water out of my storage containers to prevent any cracking in case they freeze. 
 I store my water under my couch.
Which pulls out into an extra bed.

 I finally moved my good mattress into the loft. It's so cozy.

 After spending the night in my RV I was pretty cold. Then I realized what I could do with those nifty foam sheets that came in my solar panel boxes: window insulators!  I was excited to see how well they keep the heat in and drafts out and how much light they still let in.

I'm not Mormon, but I love (to hate) BYU.

God sure knows how to cook up a planet.

I own this piece of nature.... How does that make any sense??? Who can own a rock? Who can own a tree? Hold on, I don't have any trees yet.