Thursday, June 30, 2011

The New Generator Gets Put To The Test

This is the same engine as in some of my other videos. I have installed it in my older generator, the original engine of which needs to be overhauled.
Earlier in the day in which I shot this video, a storm came though and my electricity went off. I didn't have a proper fuel tank nor cooling system on the generator, so I scrounged a fuel tank from a riding mower, connected the generator to the house wiring (after shutting off the main breaker, of course), and used my cordless drill to bore some holes in this aluminum cookpot. I bolted the pot to the engine as a cooling hopper, filled it with water, and started the generator.
It powered my lights, two air conditioners, TV and satellite receiver for several hours. I had to check and top off the water in the hopper about every 15 minutes.
I had the breaker for the 4,500 watt water heater off most of the time, but at one point I took a shower and then shut down one of the air conditioners, switched on the breaker for the water heater, and let it run for a full cycle so I would continue to have hot water.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rights Under Assault in Texas

We see it every day, and most people just accept it if they don't outright support it: the entire culture, among local government types, of ignoring our rights. Some of them do it with the attitude of "yeah, we'll pretend that you have rights, if you want to play it that way," while while pulling out their bag of tricks to punish you for "playing it that way." Others brazenly ignore our most basic rights as if they didn't exist, secure in the knowledge that they will get away with it, no matter what.
Here is a guest post by Sharon Secor about her difficulties with Texas' misnamed  Child Protective Services, who have a problem with Sharon's intent to homeschool her children:

Please Help Us Protect Our Rights

Yet again, in what appears to be becoming an annual event, I am forced to defend our most basic rights. I hope you'll take a couple minutes of your time to assist.

Long-time readers and friends already know the background of this situation. For those who do not, I included that information and links to further details. Thank you for taking the time to read and, hopefully, send an e-mail or make a phone call.

Here is today's CPS e-mail exchange:

I sent an e-mail to Anthony Ramos:


From: Sharon Secor

Date:Mon, Jun 13, 2011 10:03 am
Good Morning Sir:

I am respectfully requesting that you e-mail me a copy of your allegations. I thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Sharon Secor, Freelance Writer

His supervisor, Leticia Garcia responded:

RE: Allegations



Date:Mon, Jun 13, 2011 5:27 pm

Ms. Secor, Mr. Ramos is out today. This serves as a response to your request. I am unable to provide you with the written allegations either by e-mail or regular mail. The investigator, Mr. Ramos will need to meet with you personally to provide you with this information. Please let him or I know as soon as possible when you can meet with him to discuss the reported allegations. Your cooperation is truly appreciated.

Letty Garcia
Unit QO Supervisor
Region 10-Marfa

My response to her, which I also forwarded to their legal department:

Re: Allegations

From: Sharon Secor


Cc:  JAMES.BJORUM@dfps.state.tx.

Date: Mon, Jun 13, 2011 8:40 pm

Ms. Garcia:

Let us not be disingenuous here. You and I both know that under Texas law, it is my right to have a copy of your allegations. A right stands on its own. It is not a privilege to be denied.

In addition, a right is not a bargaining chip. I have a right to a copy of those allegations, meeting or not. Those are two separate issues.

Perhaps you are not responding with a lack of candor. Perhaps your response stems from a lack of knowledge, rather than a deliberate effort to deny me my rights under Texas law.

Because I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt on this point, I've done you the favor of forwarding our conversation on the matter to your legal department so that they may enlighten you on the subject.

I shall look forward to seeing your spurious allegations against me.

Sharon Secor, Freelance Writer

Friends and Readers, Readers and Friends... Please feel free to use the above contact information to remind these people that they are bound by law to respect the rights of my family and myself. It has been my experience that these sorts of people are more inclined to do so when they know that others are watching.

Here is an excerpt from my recent letter to Governor Perry. It explains the situation, a bit of background (which can also be found by scrolling through the blog for anyone interested), and my position on the matter:

"My family has had to contact your office regarding Brewster County DFPS caseworker Anthony Ramos twice before and due to his continued harassment of my family, today I am forced to contact you again, requesting any assistance you may be able to provide in aiding me to protect my children from this man. As I have discussed with your office before, Ramos has had numerous complaints against him for multiple instances of abuse of power and intimidation.

Last year, I successfully resisted his unconstitutional demand that I present my children for inspection with the help of your office and other concerned parties. During that incident, you requested that Anne Heiligenstein, Commissioner of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, look into the matter. On Friday June 3, 2011, Anthony Ramos contacted me again, demanding a meeting, claiming a report was made. However, last year he contacted my brother, David Secor, stating the same thing, despite the fact that his partner, Azucena Carrasco, said specifically there was no new report or complaint, but that they were hoping to wrap up loose ends in the prior year’s investigation, which was unfounded and closed 4/17/2009.

Please note that in 2009, I was investigated and cleared (Ramos signed the 2009 letter himself, I have it still in its original envelope) in absentia, the fact that I wasn’t even a resident of Brewster County at the time adding a truly surreal element to the situation. I have never seen this man face to face and until our telephone conversation of June 3, 2011, I have never even spoken to him before. This is a very small community and everyone, including our local deputies, knows that I do not neglect or abuse my children. However, due to Ramos’s past and continuing behavior, I cannot trust this man to behave in a professional, fair manner.

Furthermore, as a full-time writer, I am particularly invested in the concept that words mean things. The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution and Section 9 of the Texas Bill of Rights state unequivocally that “no warrant to search any place, or to seize any person or thing, shall issue without describing them as near as may be, nor without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation.”

The Texas Bill of Rights offers further protection, stating in Section 29 that “PROVISIONS OF BILL OF RIGHTS EXCEPTED FROM POWERS OF GOVERNMENT; TO FOREVER REMAIN INVIOLATE. To guard against transgressions of the high powers herein delegated, we declare that everything in this "Bill of Rights" is excepted out of the general powers of government, and shall forever remain inviolate, and all laws contrary thereto, or to the following provisions, shall be void.”

The highest courts in the nation have affirmed that the protections of the Fourth Amendment do extend to child abuse investigations, with one notable case being Calabretta vs. Floyd, which also addresses intimidation and coercion techniques as being forbidden and unconstitutional. It has also been established judicially that each of my children has her own Fourth Amendment protections. And, it is very clear what the Fourth demands prior to searching any place or seizing any person (including for involuntary questioning or ‘interviews’) – a warrant based upon probable cause and supported by oath or affirmation.

Ramos is not excepted from this demand and the abridgement of that protection is forbidden in the state of Texas by the simple, direct words of Section 29 of the Texas Bill of Rights. To my mind, the issue here is a simple one – do the federal and state constitutions mean what they say or not? As the highest laws of the land, I believe that they do. And, I hope that you do too."

So, basically here we go again. I am rapidly collecting information and extend my deep gratitude to those who have already been so helpful to me in that arena. As I contemplate my various options, I welcome input in developing my strategy for managing this situation. I shall look forward to hearing from those who choose to share their experience, expertise, ideas, and suggestions.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Smart Phones for Survival

I have written in the past about the usefulness of smartphones, but have never really taken the time to write anything comprehensive about the subject. Recently, Kelly H. posted a good article at Survivalblog about this concept. Here is an excerpt from the article, listing some useful smartphone apps for the survivor:

The “All-in-One’s”
An Application I draw on time and time again is called “U.S. Army Survival Guide” and it is exactly what it sounds like. This App contains the entire Army survival guide. It includes illustrations and diagrams and is broken up into 23 chapters including a full glossary and appendix. It offers basic to mid-level survival tips, ranging from Shelter construction and trapping, to starting a fire and how to stay hidden. It’s always better to know this information off-hand but as a reference, this is the app you want.
Another infinite possibility app is “Google Books”. This allows you to purchase and store an e-book on almost any subject you can think off. A quick search for survival books netted me hundreds of results. What this offers is the ability to download almost any book that you might already own and to draw on it when needed, or even just to learn more techniques when the time comes. Lugging around half a dozen books can be taxing on both space and energy, especially if survival requires being mobile. Beyond survival purposes this is a great way to keep your mind off any situation you might be in.  E-Books are a great way to utilize multiple SD Cards. With the almost infinite library of information at your fingertips, you can store thousands of books and guides.
An e-book might be too much information to quickly draw upon. For this reason I also use an app called “WikiPock” that can download specific Wikipedia entries that can be viewed at a later time. You can be as specific or generic with this information as you want to be. I have several entries ranging from hot wiring a vehicle to greenhouse gardening. As phone storage improves I wouldn’t be surprised if you could soon download the entire English language Wikipedia to your phone. An uncompressed ‘wiki dump’ is about 27 gigs - compressed comes in at about 6 gigs.
There are about a dozen or so free and proven off-line map applications. What this offers is the ability to store and view maps from anywhere in the world without data coverage. The basic principal is that with a little common knowledge of navigation you can find your way. I use an app called “MapDroyd”. I was able to download a vector map of the entire United States at any detail – there are maps for almost any country. A physical map is still going to be your most efficient way to find where you are. But, with these Apps you aren’t limited by size and scope.
Keep in mind this isn’t a topography map. There is an app called “BackCountry Navigator” for topography but costs about $10. Also, without GPS or cell-tower connection you won’t be able to automatically pinpoint your location – this is why basic navigating skills are just as important.
Some offline maps offer tools such as address searching or point A to point B directions. Feel free to experiment with different apps to find the right fit.
Like the other apps, this area of survival has a lot of options to choose from. The Army Survival Guide App also has an entire section devoted to first aid and medicinal plants. For my purposes I use an app called “iTriage”. It has a number of tools to choose from, but is most effectively used as a way to diagnose symptoms. A good guide or reference book is still your best bet for getting detailed information and instructions – both of which can be found with Google Books.
Tools & Miscellaneous
KnotsGuide  - A knot tying reference App with color photos, step-by-step instructions, and recommended usage for each knot. Can’t live without this.
ElectroDroid – Especially useful for TEOTWAWKI scenarios, this App is a great way to learn how electricity and circuitry works, and how to get it working.
Scanner Radio – This App requires a data connection, but allows you to listen to the dispatch radio of almost any city in the country. Get direct information before hearing about it on the news.
Flashlight – By no means a replacement for a sturdy flashlight, but this App is a good backup or tent light. It utilizes the ‘camera flash’ led on most phones when taking pictures.
Google Translate – Need to speak to someone in a different language, or read the warning label on a foreign-made package? This app allows you to type or speak almost any language and translates it to text or speech, especially useful if traveling.
Camera or Video – Your phone’s basic camera or video function is incredibly versatile. It is a way to remember where you started a trail, or to reference a certain plant or building. The ability to keep photographic record is invaluable.
Games – Surviving is not just about keeping your wits, it’s also about maintaining your spirits and fighting boredom. Games are an easy way to take a break from the situation you might be in. It’s not going to get you out of it physically, but mentally it might make a difference.

There is more to the article than just this app list, so be sure to read it in its entirety.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Induction Generator Load Test

As promised on the no-load vid of this induction generator, here is a video of the first load test. I have both a 120 volt and 220 volt connection; the 120 is powering the light bulb (which is 100 watts; these will soon be outlawed so stock up) and the 220 is powering a heating element from an oven. As you can see and hear, the single belt and lack of a belt tensioner is the limiting factor. When I switch on the heating element, the voltage drops to 160 or so, with a corresponding dimming of the light bulb. But when I shove the 2x4 in there to tension the belt, the bulb brightens again and the high voltage rises to about 210 volts. At this voltage, the current into the heating element is about 7 amps, which equates to a bit under 1500 watts. Add the 100 watt light bulb and you get almost 1600 watts, with no sign of any problems.
I ran this setup with both loads connected for about 20 minutes. The water was boiling, but that's ok. I didn't want to run it any longer without a larger cooling hopper, though.
One thing I neglected to check during filming was the frequency. I remembered to check it after I had put the camera away but while the generator was still running, and I found that it was only 54 Hertz. So I increased the speed of the engine, reaching 58 cycles and 218 volts under load into the heating element. Because I was checking the frequency with the same meter I had been using to monitor the amps, I didn't get a current reading at that voltage. But it was definitely increasing its power output, because I could not reach 60 cycles. When I increased the speed beyond the 58 cycle setting, the single belt reached its limit and started slipping even though I had pounded a short chunk of 4x4 between the motor and generator so it would hold tension.
So why am I out here messing with this thing in 100 degree weather (literally. I was gonna say something like it wasn't really that hot, it was only 98 degrees; then I went and looked at the thermometer to get an accurate reading, and it is 102 degrees outside)?
Because the electricity was off when I was shooting this. It was off when I woke up this morning, then it came back on for about an hour, then went back off again. Typical day here. So I really need to put this engine on the 7.5 KW generator that is sitting beside it, because I need a generator that can run the air conditioner, refrigerator, deep freeze and all that stuff, and the engine that is currently (no pun intended) on the generator needs a rebuild. So I needed to get this experiment out of the way to free up that engine. Don't worry though; I am sufficiently pleased with the outcome of this test to want to do some further testing and use it for some practical applications as well; just with a different engine. I have a little 6.5 hp Kubota diesel engine that is not currently employed...

Generator From Electric Motor

Here I have a 208/220V; 440V, 5 horsepower 3-phase motor that I am experimenting with converting to an inductive generator, powered by my Changfa S195 Chinese 12 hp diesel engine. I'm learning here; I have never done this before. In both clips, the motor is wired for low (208/220) voltage. That means it is wired Wye-Wye (two sets of windings paralleled), whereas it would need to be wired Wye (both sets in series) for 440V. Does this mean I could produce 440 volts with this setup? Undoubtedly. Rectify that to DC and power the plate circuit of a tube linear amplifier without the big transformer normally required. Add a small transformer for the low voltage stuff, and this would make a good power supply for a legal-limit ham radio station.

So anyway, in the first clip I am using only one capacitor, and it is the only capacitor I could find in the microFarad range that was rated for high voltage AC. It has nowhere near enough capacitance; I think it was 0.75 uF or something like that. As you can see, it didn't work.
Digging around in cyberspace, I found reference to C-2C wiring for this specific purpose. Unfortunately the guy who was describing it didn't have a firm grasp of what he was describing, having simply followed someone else's directions. Thus, although it would seem that "2C" would imply double the capacitance of "C", the narrative did not leave me with a feeling of confidence that that was what he meant. Not disrespecting the guy or anything, just telling it like it is.
So I searched further and ascertained that, indeed, 2C means 2C and not merely C2. I found other stuff about it too, which gave me the confidence to actually spend a bit of money.
Basically, it works like this: imagine a delta-wound, 3-phase motor. There are of course 3 legs to which the power connects; L1, L2 and L3. L1 and L2 will be the output. C, the first capacitor, connects in parallel across L1-L2. 2C connects in parallel across L2-L3. Nothing connects across L3-L1.
2C can be either a single capacitor of double the value of C or, as you see here, two caps of the same value as C, connected in parallel.

So I went to everybody's least favorite online auction site and bought three identical, new, 55 uF 440V motor run capacitors. As you can see, this works; at least as far as producing voltage. Stay tuned, because next I plan to load it with some heating elements to see

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Simple, Free Electricity and Fuel

by Mark Crush
Air-cooled diesel engine powering a transfer pump.

I remember one of Tracy's great posts, about the famous 271 Detroit diesel generators.  The older two stroke Detroits were great, but they did have one problem: they weigh 2000 pounds or more. They can also be expensive because they are sought after. 
At Drillcat we test many things for missionaries overseas.  Missionaries and people living off the grid need a simple way to charge their batteries that is not expensive.  The problem with gasoline generators is their higher fuel consumption.  With gas prices the way they are, it costs $18.00 for a simple 5 gallon can of gas.  Diesel generators have always been more efficient, the problem is that most of them are large and expensive.  There are a few small, simple diesel engines available, and one of the most common is the Yanmar L100, 10 horsepower air cooled diesel engine. This is a reasonably affordable choice at approximately $1800 new There are also Chinese clones of the Yanmar L100 for around $600. These are a good choice for those on a budget. The 100% Yanmar air cooled diesel will run a full 8 hours on 1-1/4 gallons of diesel fuel. Amazing fuel pincher. We did test the china clone 10hp air cooled diesel engines. They burned 2 1/4 gallons per 8 hours which is still great. Some people are even putting this engine on motorcycles and getting 150 mpg.

The great thing about these air cooled diesel engines is that they are direct injection and have a very high compression ratio. They will start in below 0 weather also. Direct injection means you can actually burn other fuels besides diesel. We have successfully tested and run these engines on straight used motor oil (WMO). The used motor oil must first be filtered through a 10 micron filter. The filtering is only to remove the dirt and debris, and no other processes are needed to prepare the oil for use as fuel. In warm weather these engines will actually run on 100% WMO and even crank easily. In cold weather, you may have to mix diesel or kerosene to thin the oil enough to work properly.
Even though these engines are rated at 10 horsepower, they actually put out more horsepower than this. The horsepower ratings are purposely lowered to pass emission standards for the USA. We have successfully used these 10 horsepower rated engines to replace 15 and 18 horsepower power units.
To use one of these diesel engines to make your own generator, you can use a simple belt to drive an alternator for battery charging, a PMA (permanent magnet alternator), or a standard generator head. The same engine will also drive a transfer pump to salvage waste motor oil, which is how you get free fuel.
Many engines will run on vegetable oil, the problem is everywhere you ask for vegetable oil it is already taken. Used motor oil and hydraulic oil is the solution. Every mechanic shop or oil change shop is a place to get free fuel. These places of business are glad to get rid of the oil. The only thing you need is some way to remove the oil from their tanks. This is why we set up an engine to drive a transfer pump. These pumps transfer 25 gallons per minute or more. Our pump is a gear drive so it works great even in below zero weather.
These engines are not the only ones that will run on filtered WMO. The older Dodge trucks with the first generation Cummins 5.9l diesel engine had a higher pressure pump than the later ones. We have personally tested 1991 and 1992 year model Cummins trucks. They are direct injection and burn the waste motor oil very well; they don't even smoke any more than usual. They actually get 2 to 3 MPG better than regular diesel in fuel mileage. In cooler weather you will have to thin the oil with diesel or kerosene to prevent problems with the injection pump. In hot summer weather there's no problem.
One question that you may ask is, will it hurt the injection pump? So far we have not seen any problems with this. We do change fuel filters regularly. But look at it this way: to get an older 5.9 diesel injection pump rebuilt costs $600 to $800. At $4.00 per gallon diesel and $100 fill-ups, it wouldn't take long to pay for an injection pump rebuild even if you did have issues. Besides the way new EPA standards keep squeezing more and more things out of the fuel, the new diesel fuel is so dry without additives that it used to have, it is actually more dangerous to run than the used oil.
Try a test in your area, there may be hundreds of gallons of free used motor oil which equals free fuel or electricity in your area.

Mark Crush
Master Well Driller
Water project Missionary Consultant
Hands on drill training Instructor
Author - Water Well Drilling Troubleshooting Guide

BTW, if you want one of the Yanmar clone engines Mark is talking about, you can get it here: small diesel and gas engines
This is the company I bought mine from back in 2007, so they are obviously in it for the long haul.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New Bookstore Section: Off Grid

I have recently added a new section to the bookstore. Titled "Off Grid", it contains books about exactly what you would expect: off grid power systems.
Click here to check it out.