Canned Heat II: The Jig

Canned Heat I was published several months ago. To catch you up to date includes 2 flocks of chickens decimated by an 11 year old dog and a summer garden.

We finally got the chicken/dog issue straightened out. But the fact that chicks were sharing my work space and I wasn’t going to run power-tools and use chemical sealants around them, meant the Mister saw no need to make a jig if I wasn’t going to use it immediately. The upshot is, I am just now getting around to the 2nd phase of the project.

So after cleaning the cans I set up a jig on the drill press to take out the bottom of each can. Initially this consisted of a board bolted to the table on the drill press with a groove routed out.

After a couple of tests, in which I realized how much torque (twist) the hole saw created I had to figure out how to keep the can stable while the saw was cutting the bottoms. I hit upon this configuration:

This was held onto the table with 2 vice grip clamps. The Gorilla Tape helped to fill the space to create a snug fit, but was slick enough to allow the can to be inserted and removed smoothly. The bevel in the back allows the can to fit, as the hole saw was long enough to interfere with placing the can into the jig.

Note the sheet-rock screw. I found that if you put the screw inside the can opening and twist it until the side of the opening touches the screw, you simply have to hold the can down. This means you don’t have to squeeze the can to prevent it from spinning and you avoid crushing the can.

I used a 1.5″ bi-metal hole saw.

Please wear gloves and safety glasses. Drilling creates a lot of metal shavings. They are sharp and small and would not be pleasant under the skin.

Next, I needed to cut the tops to allow more air flow. You don’t want holes that are as big as the can, nor do you want them to align perfectly. Large, perfectly aligned openings, allow the air to move through too quickly for the air to make much contact with the warmed metal . So using a tin snips and cutting the top into a series of tabs will allow you to bend some of the tabs. The bent tabs create baffles, which creates turbulence in the air flow. This turbulence causes the air to touch the warmed metal more often, resulting in warmer air.

Next you will want to push some of the tabs down. Please don’t use fingers. I use an old stand by that you probably already have on hand: an inexpensive can opener.

So, all that done, I needed a jig to hold the cans in place while the adhesive cured.  I’ve seen people use angle iron and other types of contraptions, but the main idea is the keep the cans stable and in line while the sealant sets up.

And, although I love the Mister, he has a tendency to …*ahem* over build things. (At least in my humble opinion) And the jig for the cans was no exception. All I needed was two 2×4’s joined to form a right angle. But nooooo….. I got a fancy jig instead. One that took a lot longer to build, but I’m not sure works any better. But, at least he got the job done. Sometimes that’s all you can ask.

So we’ve jumped ahead a bit with this picture, but I just wanted to show you the basic idea.

I’m using a sealant for roof flashing. It is U.V. and heat resistant. It takes 24 hours to cure before painting, hence the need for a jig to held it in place. I’ve found it best to apply sealant to several cans at once, then place them in the jig, making sure that the cans are seated one atop the other and in contact with the sides of the jig. Use enough to adhere the tops and bottoms together, but not so much that you have to do a lot of clean up after the sealant dries.

I can do about 1 1/3 stacks a day. So, in less than two weeks I should be able to the 16 stacks needed for the heating unit.

I’ll try to be a little more timely with the next part of the project. Stay tuned.

Guy Logic in Tool World

So I’m assembling a new drill press today and run into a perfect example of Guy Logic.

I’ll skip over the part where they assume I’ve assembled a drill press before and leave out helpful explanations and steps. Because, in my experience, the people who write tech. manuals couldn’t have possibly assembled the items they are writing about themselves. So there’s no point in bitching about the universal constant of half-assed assembly instructions.

I’ve gotten about half way through the assembly and everything is coated in machine oil, including my hands. Each of the plastic bags wrapped around each individual of the parts is coated, the machine is coated; I could give the Terminator a full-body massage and still have greasy hands.

I secretly believe machine oil is like some sort of pheromone for men. Either that or they believe it works that way on the women who smell it.

“Oooooo, he must be handy. He smells like greasy nickle soup. Hey, baby, I’m sexually available.”

So, I’m reading the directions and trying to keep the machine oil off the instruction manual – because I’m prissy that way- and come to the part where I am supposed to prepare the head assembly before putting it onto the base. The directions read:

Place the head assembly upside down on a level, flat surface.

In other words, take it out of the box, remove the greasy plastic wrapping and put it upside down on the table. But then I see a note at the bottom of the instruction series:

NOTE: This tool is heavy. Get help when needed.

So, what your sayin’ there bud is I should pick up a bulky, unwieldy, machine part featuring a slick, plastic hood with my grease-coated hands and hey, take care, it’s really heavy and flip it over to put it on the table.

And truly it is a heavy bastid. But the only tools they claimed one would need are a mallet, an adjustable wrench and a Phillips head screwdriver. There was nothing about an extra set of hands, attached or not, to a beefy grease-monkey.

If there were, I would have picked one up at the hardware store on the way home.

Canned Heat: a solar project.

I ran across an interesting company out of Canada a few weeks ago. They recycle aluminum cans to make efficient low-cost solar heaters.

I thought the idea was brilliant and worth trying to see what the process might entail. This is a perfect project to try with students. And fits perfectly with the Boy Scouts Environmental Science Badge.

But before we start explaining how we went about it, I want to thank Diedra Hicks Iredell County Cooperative Extension and the students of Mitchell Community College, Statesville for their invaluable assistance with this project. But not so much FreeCycle of Hickory.

I’ll be updating this post as the project progresses, so check in periodically.

Step One: Kick the Cans

But don’t dent them. If you take the opportunity to view the video clip from the Cansolair website, you’ll see rows of unblemished aluminum cans. They can have minor flaws, but it is better if at least half the can is smooth.

So collecting we went. In addition to being a good lesson on renewable energy and recycling, there is something to be learned from cleaning up discarded cans from the woods and road sides.

If you decide to go can hunting, latex or polypropylene gloves are probably a good idea. The worst I’ve found is that folks sometimes use cans for spitting tobacco. But there is always a fear of other unknowable ickyness when you poke around outdoors.

240 minimally blemished cans seems to be the magic number. This isn’t too hard when there is more than one person on the job.

Once you have your cans, they will need to be cleaned. You don’t want mold or the smells of soda or beer in the air exchange. A little bleach in a tub full of hot water should take care of the average soda or beer can. Soap will help with those that are a little more grungy.

You’ll need to de-tab the cans. This can be done before or after washing and is a nice mindless chore while watching TV or sitting around. And, bonus, we can donate the tabs to Sharon Elementary School can drive along with the unusable cans we’ve collected.

There are a lot of urban legends about charities accepting tabs, but for the most part, they aren’t true. We’ll pay it forward through the Sharon School student can drive instead.

117 de-tabbed aluminum cans

So here are our cans in the wash mode.

And this shows you how little I know a about canned beer. I didn’t know there was such a thing as Bud Dry. According to the Mister, this one verges on being an antique.

Dry, Bud Dry

Tonight the second batch sits soaking in the tub. We’ll get those dried tomorrow and ready to drill out.

See Canned Heat II for more.

 

Mike Rayburn @ xNASA: a TED Talk

Doom and Gloom: Sunspots, Volcanoes and Earthquakes. Famine, Disease and Pestilence.

Sunspots, Volcanoes and Earthquakes

The problem with being merely human is, compared to the vast scales of planetary time, we are but brief and oh, so vapid bubbles. Our capacity to glimpse and somewhat comprehend the eons that have proceeded us, for the most part, only serves to frustrate and confuse.

It is precisely because our brains, and by extension our minds, are geared with pattern recognition and pattern synthesis as built in survival mechanisms, that we valiantly strive to “make sense” of our world, our universe. Some make sense of their world by becoming artists, archeologists or doctors. Others become psychologist, biologist or astrophysicists. And some, eschewing any attempts to understand, keep it simple by “leaving it to god”.

Others leave it to god, but hedge their bets with virgin sacrifices. This, if you think about it, has more in common with the scientific contingent. Reducing action to a simple experiment: A “What happens if ?” question. Where the scientist and the priest will sometimes differ, lays in which needs a definitive outcome. And which will keep trying to prove their ideas wrong in order to obtain a repeatable result.

In times of heightened stress and uncertainty, it seems the desire to create order out of chaos becomes even more acute. If we were all roaming the savanna, keeping a wary eye out for cheetahs stalking in the tall grass, our actively engaged minds wouldn’t have time to parse out the minutia of conspiracy theories or end-time scenarios. Cheetahs are sometimes useful that way.

As a species, we have been both blessed and cursed with the ability to invent time-saving processes and devices and implement them on a massive scale. And after all those processes and devices are firmly in place, what we are left with are active minds and a lot of free time. Here is where the Brain Squirrels tend to show up.

Brain Squirrels are a side effect of attempting to solve problems and create contingencies with too little useful information. We end up running round and round in our heads, trying to make pieces from different jigsaw puzzles fit into a seamless whole; taking a piece of information here, a bit there with no regard for relevance. The end result is either a shoddy conspiracy theory or a series of valid questions we could do little about, even if we understood the problem and its answer completely. Why our weather is outside the norm. Why earthquakes happen. Why are there droughts and crop failures and starvation and so on.

Sometimes though, if you sort through enough muck, you will find something useful. Something that allows you to mark an idea off your mental checklist and ponder contingencies based on known quantities, instead of hapless conjecture.

So while I was poking around after the earthquake in Haiti, I made a few discoveries.

Some people believe there is a link between the sun and our climate. No, I’m completely serious. Stop rolling your eyes. Yes, we are all aware that the sun warms the earth. We are also aware that the lack of sun cools the earth. But this idea is more subtle and more difficult to prove directly due to the aforementioned fleeting lifespan. We simply don’t have enough long term data to make a firm case. And, as yet, the causal link has not been discovered. So bear with me here, while keeping in mind that I am not arguing a case for or against human induced climate change, but am exploring the idea of links between solar activity, volcanoes, earthquakes and climate variation on Earth.

Climate Change May Trigger Earthquakes and Volcanoes. New Scientist

Evidence of a link between climate and the rumblings of the crust has been around for years, but only now is it becoming clear just how sensitive rock can be to the air, ice and water above. “You don’t need huge changes to trigger responses from the crust,” says Bill McGuire of University College London (UCL), who organised the meeting. “The changes can be tiny.”

Among the various influences on the Earth’s crust, from changes in weather to fluctuations in ice cover, the oceans are emerging as a particularly fine controller. Simon Day of the University of Oxford, McGuire and Serge Guillas, also at UCL, have shown how subtle changes in sea level may affect the seismicity of the East Pacific Rise, one of the fastest-spreading plate boundaries.

So science generally accepts that changes in the climate have effects on volcanic activity and on the tectonic plates. If tectonic plates are affected, it seems reasonable to assume that earthquake activity is also considered under that heading.

Right now, we are in a period of increased earthquake activity where quakes have a much greater total strength:

copyright D. Lindquist dlindquist.com

 

And increased volcanic activity worldwide:

copyright Michael Mandeville

From: Global Volcanism: Volcanic Activity

It is understood that volcanic eruptions spew micro-fine particles and other detritus into the atmosphere. This creates a sort of sun filter, cooling the earth by deflecting solar radiation and heat.

That would, at least in part, account for the arctic cold snap covering the Northern Latitudes.

What might account for the rest? Sunspots. Or more accurately the lack of sunspots.

Sun SpotsThe Blank Year NASA.gov

Note the inverse relationship between the charts further up the column and the one shown here.

According to them that study our friend the Sun, we are right at the bottom of what is known as a Solar Minimum. A Solar Minimum is defined as a time in the Sun’s regular cycle with little or no solar activity.

From the site:

The longest minimum on record, the Maunder Minimum of 1645-1715, lasted an incredible 70 years. Sunspots were rarely observed and the solar cycle seemed to have broken down completely. The period of quiet coincided with the Little Ice Age, a series of extraordinarily bitter winters in Earth’s northern hemisphere. Many researchers are convinced that low solar activity, acting in concert with increased volcanism and possible changes in ocean current patterns, played a role in that 17th century cooling.


NASA scientists have also noted that the more calm the Minimum, the more quickly the Sun’s systems return to an active state. In addition there are a larger number of strong disruptive events, like solar flares.

Solar Flare

I began by looking at a geology sites on the internet to find some information on earthquake strength and frequency after they Haiti quake. Based on forum postings, the question of earthquakes and sunspot activity comes up whenever there is a major quake. And instead of addressing these concerns, the regular posters flatly and adamantly denied any direct causal link between sunspots and earthquake or volcanic activity in the usual dismissive manner of the pseudo-skeptic.

Since I’m not a fan of flat denial as it has very little to do with critical thinking, I decided to look into the question for myself. After further reading I wondered if the “skeptics” on the geology boards would be willing to admit the possibility of an indirect causal link. A chain reaction, if you will.

I discovered a site with information on a rather interesting theory. On the site M.A. Vukcevic has a formula that discusses the interaction of influence on the mass of the sun from the magnetospheres of outlying larger planets.

http://www.vukcevic.co.uk/

M.A. Vukcevic formula

This chart shows the correlation between the movement of planets Jupiter/Saturn and the incidence of recorded sunspots.

A PDF further discussing his work.

If the Sun’s mass is affected by these planetary magnetospheres, wouldn’t that suggest it is possible that the Earth’s mass, the molten core which helps to drive its magnetosphere would be affected too?

In the end, what I am suggesting is not a simple cause and effect. Instead I’m suggesting like many systems with interlinking chaotic processes, it’s a complex and dynamic cause and effect.

* Reduced sunspot activity due to planetary effects can affect how much heat the Earth receives. This begins to shift weather patterns, which in turn affect the tectonic and volcanic systems of the planet.

* The magnetospheric effects working on the Solar mass are echoed in our molten planetary core resulting in increased volcanic and tectonic activity which results in further change in the planetary weather system.

NASA scientists may not agree with Mr. Vukcevic. I have no idea whether his work is valid or supported. But the scientists at NASA do agree that sunspots, earthquakes and volcanoes are linked in some fashion. At this point they are not willing to forward a hypothesis about the correlations but agree that they are mediated by changes in climate.

Whether this goes toward supporting claims on either side of the global warming vs. global cooling debate is outside my area of interest at the moment.

Famine, Disease and Pestilence

In terms of which aspects of the sunspot/volcano activity are within the purview of my interest I direct you to to:  Nine Meals from Anarchy

“This year is the 10th anniversary of the fuel protests, when supermarket bosses sat with ministers and civil servants in Whitehall warning that there were just three days of food left. We were, in effect, nine meals from anarchy. Suddenly, the apocalyptic visions of novelists and film-makers seemed less preposterous. Civilization’s veneer may be much thinner than we like to think.”

It is certain that the recent Arctic blasts which affected much of North America, has already impacted food security in the United States.

Florida, which tends to be the warmest state during the winter, generally grows tender warm-season crops like tomatoes and peppers. The freeze in Florida has crippled supplies of citrus and juices, along with tender vegetables like snap beans, squash, and peppers,

While this, in and of itself, does not constitute a food crisis, the truth is many people are not the position to afford an increase in food prices. It is more along the lines of “Another straw on the camels back”.

If there is a possible link between sun cycles and an increase in deadly earthquakes, volcanoes or weather changes then we are obligated to explore those ideas. Haitians and others across the globe who have been adversely affected by these terrible tragedies are a stark testament to how little we know and how much we need to discover about our world.

Real Men of Genius

This story exemplifies my assertion that genius is not just creative thinking, but seeing the possibilities and recombining existing things creatively.

And given that it’s a toy Monster Truck remote controlled snowplow, I had to tip my hat to the very funny Budweiser “Real Men of Genius” ad campaign.

Video via Channel 5 in Cleveland

Researchers discover previously unknown body system. Declare it a potential cause for extra sensory perception.

This news story focuses an article, published December 15th, that details how researchers have made an interesting discovery, turning years of scientific and medical dogma on its head.

“In the article, researchers at Albany Medical College, the University of Liverpool and Cambridge University report that the human body has an entirely unique and separate sensory system…”

Researchers noted that: “Surprisingly, this sensory network is located throughout our blood vessels and sweat glands, and is for most people, largely imperceptible.”

Well, finally. Good grief. Can we finally drive a stake through the hearts of all those scientists, doctors, laymen and outright skeptics who called these people “crazy”, “malingerers”, “neurotic”, “attention seekers” and worse?

For years, these poor people have been hounded by established science; a system that has been known to close ranks and stifle dissent among its own. The scientists and medical professionals who suggested possible theories supporting the claimants were labeled quacks and frauds. Meaning, if you believed the “crazies”, you risked your career, because you were obviously crazy too. If you wanted to keep your job, you toed the party line.

And perpetuating the abuse: misguided unquestioning followers of scientific dogma, who insist that because science hasn’t proven it, or in their parlance: developed a consistently testable theory, it can’t possibly exist.

People have lost their families, been fired from their jobs, have been denied medical attention, simply because they insisted that they had experiences that no one could explain or prove by any scientific rational.

Over the years, hundreds of thousands of people, including family, friends, scientists, physicians and even disinterested bystanders, reported that these folks were obviously experiencing “something” even if science couldn’t prove it. These reports were dismissed as unworthy of consideration. In other words: anecdotal evidence.

So, after all these years, sufferers of fibromyalgia may finally find someone to believe them and offer some relief.

Wait. What? You thought I was talking about what?

Are you insane!? Those people are “crazy”, “malingerers”, “neurotic”, “attention seekers” and worse! Any scientist suggesting possible theories supporting these woo-woos are quacks and frauds. They are claiming experiences that no one can explain or prove by any scientific rational.

The hard facts are: like it or not, science can’t prove it, so it can’t possibly exist.

You say: Butterfly Wing Scale Digital Image Gallery.

I say: Oooooooo,  Pretty.

Molecular Expressions has a number of microscopic digital image galleries, including this one on Butterfly Wing Scales.

These are thorough examinations of several dozen types of butterfly wing scales. The pages also include scientific information on the life cycles and feeding habits of said lovelies.

Autumn Leaf Butterfly: Wing Scales Highlighted by Interference Patterns

And they offer a number of different views for each type of butterfly listed.

Autumn Leaf Butterfly: Wing and Vein

My only complaint is: too much clicking to get to the good eye candy.

So, for all the other impatient looky-loos, here’s a link to a Google Image Search with the same information.

Cruiser Butterfly: Wing Scales Highlighted by Interference Pattern

For those who like all the non-eye-candy scientific and technical stuff;  say for instance,stuff like: “Cruiser Butterfly larvae feed on the leaves of the plants in the family Passifloraceae, which include passion vines and passion flowers.” I’d stick with the Molecular Expressions page.

Enjoy

Time-states

Now there’s an interesting take on the whole time-space conundrum. If you attach different states to the concept of time (think of the varying states of water depending on energy input: solid/ liquid/vapor) Petr Hořava, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley figures you can clean up some of the messy, intractable problems physics has been having since Einstein decided to marry space and time together.

This article from Scientific American discusses the implications

Los Alamos Astronomers have a WTF? Moment

From Science News:

Well, it seems that our solar system is in it’s own bubble.  Let’s hope it holds up better than the tech/ real estate/ commodities/ stock market bubbles…..

I like it when scientists are forced to liberally reassess their assumptions.  I don’t mean the slight deviations in data or feedback. I mean the “OMG! WTF! We totally weren’t expecting THAT!” sort of reassessment. It keeps them honest.

OMGWTFBBQ!!!!

OMGWTFBBQ!!!!

And it keeps me interested.  Double Bonus.

snip:

The edge of the solar system is tied up with a ribbon, astronomers have discovered. The first global map of the solar system reveals that its edge is nothing like what had been predicted. Neutral atoms, which are the only way to image the fringes of the solar system, are densely packed into a narrow ribbon rather than evenly distributed.

“Our maps show structure and energy spectra that are completely different from what any model has predicted,” says study coauthor Herbert Funsten of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer satellite, or IBEX, discovered the narrow ribbon, which completes nearly a full circle across the sky. The density of neutral atoms in the band is two to three times that in adjacent regions.

These and related findings, reported in six papers posted online October 15 in Science, will not only send theorists back to the drawing board, researchers say, but may ultimately provide new insight on the interaction between the heliosphere — the vast bubble in which the solar system resides — and surrounding space.

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