Tuesday, 5 July 2016

10:55 – Back to work on science kits today. We actually did some work yesterday, despite it being a holiday.

Barbara finished watching season six of Blue Bloods last night. It’s a corny, predictable melodrama. Fortunately Tom Selleck has significant influence on it, and his libertarian tendencies keep it from being a typical prog PC propaganda piece. It’s still prog/PC, but not as much as would be without Selleck’s influence. After the final episode, we went from hideously bad writing to good, sharp writing when we started re-watching Veronica Mars. So much of episodic TV is utter garbage that we’re always in danger of running out of things to watch. Fortunately, Barbara is now willing to re-watch good stuff in preference to watching new garbage.

Email from Jen. She and husband, brother, sister-in-law, and two nephews ran another readiness exercise from Friday evening through last night. She didn’t have much to report, because they encountered no real issues. Jen says the first couple times they did these exercises it was pretty much like camping out, but in the house. Now she says it’s not much different from just having weekend guests. She and Claire have been accumulating and testing recipes, and are getting quite good at cooking from LTS food.

They used their generator because their solar setup is still in boxes. They bought four 100W panels, three charge controllers (one MPPT and two cheap PWM for spares), and two high-capacity true sine-wave inverters. After some discussion, they decided not to install them, but to keep them stored in Faraday cages just in case. They do intend to install and test them, David doesn’t want to roof-mount them. Instead, he intends to build frames for the panels that will allow them to track the sun manually in azimuth and elevation. He believes (correctly, I think) that by re-orienting the panels as the sun moves to keep them pointing perpendicularly at the sun he can do better than the typical 300 Watt-hours per day from a typical fixed-mount 100W panel. I told Jen that I wouldn’t be surprised if David’s mount got them 500 or even 600 Watt-hours from each 100W panel on a sunny day.

While he’s in the shop, David also plans to knock together a simple box solar oven from 1X12’s and Masonite so they can experiment with solar cooking. He’s also salvaged a Fresnel lens from a friend’s dead 50″ flat-panel TV, and intends to build an altazimuth frame for it as well. With that and cast-iron pans, lids, and a Dutch oven, he thinks they’ll be able to get heat equivalent to a standard gas or electric stove and oven. I suspect he’s right. A 50″ Fresnel lens gathers a lot of sunlight and can focus it pretty tightly.