Saturday, July 1, 2017

Advanced Battery Based Systems: SEI

Last week I took a class. It was on advanced battery based solar electric systems and their connections. I also took a qualifying test for a solar certificate.

It was a good week and I enjoyed it. One interesting aspect is that when you've agonized over building two systems of your very own and lived with them? A class like this is, in large part, review and confirmation of having made the right decisions. I do like and appreciate that.

I'm reminded that I'm lucky enough to make enough money to afford these kind of flights of fancy.

We rented a loft over a barn for a place to stay. It was pretty nice. Had a little kitchen and a clawfoot tub, no shower. We enjoyed the tub thing. It was different, I grew up with a tub bath and only started showering later in life. It was nice to be reminded.

Paonia is farming country. We went out to eat a bit, I learned on the first day to not plan to quickly get in and out of anywhere in that town. They definitely move to the beat of their own drummer. And their drummer is S L O W.

I took the NABCEP Associates  (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) test at the end of the week. It's a certification, sometimes needed to do work on solar here in Colorado. It's a 70 question, multiple question test on safety, design, electrical principles and customer service in the solar electric industry. They give you 2 hours, I needed less than one and was the first one out. We'll see if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I figure you either know shit or you do not. Worrying over it does not good. As is usual, there were some groans when I got up and left at the end of my exam. I'll never get that. It takes what it takes, it just doesn't take me as long to either pass or fail. :D

I'm home today, having driven home after the test yesterday and arriving home at about 10 PM. I've put away my crap, built a dresser and mirror, cleaned up in the house, and fixed Crystal's bicycle with new shift/brake levers and cables and new tires and tubes.

It's time for a shower now, I've feeling sticky. And itchy. And tired. So I'll gently move Griffy (the kitty) to the side and go rinse off and grab another beer.

Life is good. Crys gets home tonight, so tomorrow will be even better.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Paonia

This week we are in Paonia. I'm taking a class from Solar Energy International. It's an advanced battery based solar electric class. The first 2 days are done and it's pretty fun. The rest of the week we'll be digging through learning the ins and outs of various larger system set ups with inverter/chargers and charge controllers along with proper programming for them. I'm pretty excited about that because one of those systems is exactly what we have at home. I feel like ours is set up pretty well, but I'm sure I'll learn a few things about how to get a bit more out of it.

Crystal is running around town, trying to get a little vacation rest, visiting a friend or two and scoping out good places for us to eat. Thus far she's been pretty successful.

Folks are watching the house and we hope that by the time we get back the parts we needed to finish the greenhouse will have arrived so we can get back to finishing that thing over the 4th of July.

Life is good, hope yours is too.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Row 4 is dedicated to Nana.


This is row #4 of 5 rows total that we're installing on the grow dome. We got a day to work on it that was extra when Crys' Nana passed away. 



The top row was 5 sections, and that took the first day. It took so long because it was 19' off the ground and we had to figure out how to cut and piece every single thing on the greenhouse. The way it figures out: row one is 5 sections, row 2 was 11 sections, row 3 was 26 sections, row 4 and row 5 are both 30 sections. Each row took a day. We had some good help on rows 1 through 3 and Crys and I wrestled row 4 by ourselves. Row 5 will probably be by our lonesome as well, and that's OK.


We have to wait to do row 5, the final row. We determined that we needed 3 more 4X12 sheets of polycarbonate along with a different system for attaching the bottom of the panels at the bottom of the grow dome. We got the last 3 panels from Gemplers, and the bottom brackets from FarmTek. We also needed a bunch more screws to finish up. We'll go to a local store and get some nice flashing to go from the bottom of the sheets down and over the knee wall on the outside. That should limit the ingress of critters and keep the rain/snow from ruining the wood. I'll also have to engineer an entry door into one section before it's all buttoned up. After that I'll install the temperature activated vents we bought to put in. Once that's all done we can start building the raised beds for planting. We hope to have it done by the end of summer. And at some point I'll put together a post that lists where we found all the "stuff" it took to put it together in case someone else wishes to duplicate our efforts along with the approximate costs in todays figures.

Alrighty, must be time to go murder some thistle.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Crystal is the BOSS

This weekend we started working on the green dome again. It's been nearly 2 years since I gifted this project to my girl for her birthday. I could fall back on: we've got a lot of projects going on; it was really involved with dirt work and material acquisition; every step of it was an engineering challenge.... but really? We (I) just let other stuff get in the way.

For what ever reason, Crys decided that we should start this last Saturday. I'm so glad she did. We've ended up with a bit of help that's much appreciated on the labor end of the project (Our friend Danielle and Travis, newlyweds from St. Louis that are visiting the valley) and it's making it all go so much faster.

Saturday it looked like this:





And at the end of work on Sunday it looked like this:



We had to take a break Sunday to go help our friend, Ross, with pulling his well pump. It didn't take long and it was nice to help our buddy that's always there for us. It did rather put most of Sunday's work into the long, hot, afternoon part of the day but we all stuck with it.

Doing jobs is fun at our house. Crys is the BOSS on this one because she got it going. She's doing all the measuring of the polycarbonate angles and channels that hold them. I do the chop sawing of the sheets, she saws the channels. We all work at pre-drilling holes in the channels. Travis and I are up hanging stuff and making final custom cuts (because no matter how hard you try there are variations). We'll sheet almost the whole thing, there'll be an 8 triangle plywood "back" wall, and we can't sheet the door opening yet, as I have to engineer that for the door to fit in.

It's going well in a time of the year that is often full, and we hope to have most of the sheeting done by Crys' birthday on Wednesday (though that's pushing it a bit).

We referred to the bit that was on the first day as the Green Dome Yarmulke. Now it's a bit bigger than that and we hope to have some of the next row on tonight.

Stay tuned. :D


Saturday, June 3, 2017

Making an old camper new again.

This is our new/old Bethany Citation 88 camper. It's from 1973. I was 13 that year. I can't imagine how jazzed I'd have been if our family had one of those, we didn't really do the camping thing, mostly we did the hang around the house and work on stuff thing. It's a thing I constantly try to solve in my adult life. We're hoping this helps do that.


So today we set it up. Much of that was trial and error. The front canvas will need a bit of patching and stuff. We ordered a patch kit. If that doesn't work I found a place that will make new canvas that only costs what we paid for the whole camper, but hey, vintage~ . We learned that to make it water tight you do this folding and sliding thing with the edges of the canvas, kinda cool. And I tried the 3 burner stove and the heater (which both work). The fridge is an ice box that you literally throw a block of ice into. I'll look into a nice fridge, not sure it necessary. I'm also thinking about all the cool things I could do with solar panels and such. :D Might as well geek out on the thing right?

I'm constantly surprised and pleased that I have for my partner a woman that looks at this 43 year old camper and sees what I do. I think that's rare in today's world.

Back to work, and the sauna is up to 140 degrees! SO back to work and play.

Under the weather, and the weather is fine.

This Saturday morning is starting in a lovely, slow way. We're having coffee and riding the tubes of the internet while we get going. The chickens (Schickens if you're our 2 year old god daughter) are out and pecking in the dirt. There was a little rain last night so it smells wonderful outside, and I started up the barrel sauna for later today. We'll not share it today, we're both a bit under the weather and no one else should venture into that kind of a petri dish. We had lots of plans for the weekend but, as is often the case this year, stuff came up and some of it will wait. We might still get the 5th wheel cleaned out to move, or the RV ready to sell. We'll certainly experiment with a "just right" recipe for a hot toddy. Mostly today? We'll take care of us, and be glad that we're lucky enough to be able to do so.