Journal: October 1st, 2010

I just had a delicious meal of turkey burgers with a side of corn on the cob fresh off the garden. The burger, a turkey cheese burger to be precise, was quite epic. I used smoked gouda cheese, and for fixin’s, had cucumber fresh off the vine, onions, and avocado. Mmmm.

A few years ago, I stopped eating beef (save for the occasional lapses) for environmental reasons, and started making turkey burgers whenever I felt like having a burger. Rather than buy pre-made burger patties, I make them from scratch, since it’s so easy (and much cheaper). The basic “recipe” I use is as follows:

  • 1 ~ 1.5lb ground turkey
  • 1 ~ 2 slices of bread
  • a bit of milk (dairy, or soy/almond/donkey milk)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 – 1/2 finely chopped onion
  • seasoning to taste
  • a bit of oil

I first tear up the bread in a little bowl, and pour in just enough milk to soak the bread and make it soft. The bread-milk mush then gets mixed into the ground turkey and all the other ingredients in a bowl. Make patties, then cook in a pan or grill. When grilling, it helps to make the patties before hand and freeze them. The frozen patties will retain their shape longer, while raw patties might ooze through the grills before they’ve had a chance to cook and harden. Ground turkey by itself tends to be leaner than ground beef, so you need binding to keep it from falling apart, hence the bread, egg and onion. I’m sure there are other bindings that could be used, and if you could find fatty ground turkey, that might not be necessary either.

***

In other news, I’ve resumed work on Hut 2.0 after a 3 week hiatus which was spent mostly in San Francisco. Now, I’m back, and the weather’s cleared up nicely, so I’m making slow but steady progress again. I’m still working on the roof, and over the last couple of days, got some OSB sheets up. Before I could get to the roof, I had to put up some scaffolding, which consists of four 2x4x16s nailed onto my 4×4 posts about 3 feet below the eaves, with a 2x6x16 laid across the 2x4s parallel to the eaves about 2 ft off the wall. The hardest part of it all is getting the OSB up there. Each sheet weighs probably 40lb, is 4 feet wide and is longer than I am tall, so it’s a bit unwieldy to say the least. I got one sheet up by brute forcing it up the ladder and tossing it onto the rafters. But that required me to go up the ladder without my hands, the board resting partially on my head and shoulder, then heave it with all my might over the eaves onto the rafters (I’d attached stoppers to the ends of a couple of rafters to keep the sheet from sliding off, once I got it up there). I did it once, but didn’t think I could do that again, much less 7 more times. Fortunately, once I had the scaffolding up, I found that I could toss the boards onto the scaffolding, and avoid the part where I climb a ladder practically blind and handless. Unfortunately, due to the size of the boards and the height of the scaffolding (over 8ft from the ground), I can’t exactly see the scaffolding when I’m behind the board and trying to lift it up. So I just have to toss it up with a heavy oompf, then step away in case the board fails to land on the scaffolding and decides to come back to earth.

Yup. I’m having fun.

In related news, I decided to change the location of my door, based on something I read in an architecture book. According to my original plan, my hut was supposed to look something like this (looking down from above):

  ------------------
  \                 |    \ = door
  |                +|    + = ladder to loft
  |                 |
  ------------------

The problem with this layout is that, if I wanted to keep a clear path between the door and the ladder (so that I could get down from the loft and out the door in a hurry, if I had to), that path would traverse the length of the hut and kill a lot of space.

Instead, I decided to do something like this:

  ------------------
  |                 |    \ = door
  |                +|    + = ladder to loft
  |                 |
  ---------------- \

The door is now right next to the ladder, which solves the oh-shit-get-out-quick problem, and also leaves the rest of the space completely open.

Speaking of emergency egress, the loft is actually open on both ends. While the ladder will only be on one end, I could in theory also climb off the loft on the other end, and go out a window, if, for instance, a big bad wolf was blocking the door.

***

I’ve run into power issues. Again.

My 100W solar panel, mounted on the solar tracker, is generating enough power to more than cover my needs. But, this time, it’s not that I don’t have enough power, but rather, I don’t have enough AC power to recharge the 18V batteries that run my circular saw. I’ve been plugging the 18V wall charger into a 200W inverter, which in turn was plugged into one of my 12V batteries (which in turn were charged from solar panels). But my 200W inverter inexplicably stopped working recently, leaving me only with a 150W inverter. The 150W inverter will run the 18V wall charger if it’s plugged into my car with the engine running (probably because my 40 Amp alternator provides more than enough 13 Volt power), but not off my 12V battery even when it’s full AND my solar panel is pumping in an additional 5 Amps at 13 Volts (seeing how the charger is rated at 2 Amps @ 120 Volts, or 240 Watts, I guess that’s not surprising). So, basically, I can’t recharge my saw batteries unless I run my car engine for the hour or so it takes, and that’s not an acceptable solution.

My 18V batteries should be good for another day or two, but after that, I’m going to have to go to town and buy either a car charger, or another inverter. Last time I checked, a car charger for the DeWalt 18V batteries cost over $100, so an inverter would actually be cheaper, and in some ways, more versatile. The car charger would be more efficient, since it would eliminate any inefficiencies incurred by the inverter, but then, I have a surplus of power right now (and a shortage of money), so I think I’ll just get a cheap inverter.

17 thoughts on “Journal: October 1st, 2010

  1. I have heard that using MSW (Modified Sine Wave) inverters is bad juju for DeWalt batteries. Kills ’em from what I hear.

    Has your experience been otherwise?

    Perhaps that explains the inverter dieing on you?

    • I just did some quick research, and it seems like MSW inverters can fry some electronics, including battery chargers. Seeing how it was the inverter that failed, and not the charger, I don’t think that’s what happened. The one source I found specifically mentioning DeWalt and MSW said that it should be ok. So far, I haven’t had a charger (or anything else) burn up on me, so I’m not too worried.

  2. I sympathize with your frustrations over mixed voltages. When I selected my cordless tools I took this into consideration. I bought (eBay) some second hand sets of 14.4V Ryobis and they can charge directly off the car (no charger), or I frequently use a rebuilt 12V deepcycle ($20)at the site with jumpers to the tools giving infinate life.

    You might be surprised that 18V tools will often work satisfactorily at a somewhat reduced output level on lower voltages.

  3. A dream Wowweee! That turkey burger sure looked scrumpdelious! How did the corn tas
    te? did you have much? We had the last of our sweetcorn about 2weeks ago. I’ll have visions of that turkeyburger for awhile. #2 is lookin’ good. Thanks for sharin
    g, Sa
    ndy sorry, having trouble with my pc……Iowa City,IA

  4. The general rule is don’t charge NiMH on modified sine, at least on most average chargers. I killed about 6 laptop batteries a while back before I found out. I also read somewhere on my dewalt tools to not use the charger with an inverter… A true sine inverter is $900 if not more but the dewalt charger may just be smart enough to deal with modified sine. Any way to [safely] charge directly off the panels? Most panels output ~21-24v at full sun.

  5. I think one thing you should re-consider is the insulation, its one area you should not cheap out on, for both heat and cold, even if it takes a year to save up and do it right.

    Secondly, I kind of like the look of the scaffolding and got thinking it wouldn’t cost that much more to have a nice deck area off your loft area.

    • I used to make stuff with hand tools when I was a kid… I work too slowly as it is, I think ripping sheets of OSB by hand would slow me waay down. It’s still a good backup option though.

  6. Why not bolt a pulley to a rafter at the peak and haul the OSB sheets up that way? Or skip the pulley and snub the rope around a bolt. Or a big nail.

    When you’re moving heavy stuff with nothing but your own muscle power, you need to buy some rope, learn a few knots (bowline, sheet bend, and rolling hitch or anchor bend — and the trucker’s hitch, which creates a simple “pulley” system out of nothing but rope), and get a couple of strong pulleys. People have been amplifying muscle power for thousands of years with that stuff. It’s the perfect technology for what you’re doing out there.

  7. Getting hurt out there without communications could have serious consequences. How about hoisting panels up from the ground with a rope thrown over the house? Tie it off and climb up to position and secure.

    On power, I’m using a 90 watt panel through a 30 amp controller to a single type 27 deep cycle. From there a (rather cheap) 1500 watt inverter makes AC. The worst consequence I’ve had so far is noise on radios. No failures from this yet, including the battery charger. Cold weather problems: dead batteries can freeze, destroying them. And snow blocks the solar panel. Sub zero temps didn’t damage my panel.

    Regarding heat, I’ve found a mil surplus tent heater that should work great for me. These Hunter SHA units can burn kerosene or diesel, wood or coal. It needs no power, the liquid fuels are gravity fed. At only 17 x 17 x 9 inches, it resembles a desktop computer. It even includes the chimney. They cost the government almost $1400, cost on Craigslist is $225. Here’s a link to the manual: http://www.tpub.com/content/heaters/TM-10-4520-261-12P/ . Arrived in new condition, even had an instructional video and manual.

    You might want to cut some insulation for the windows. Duct tape it in place during the winter. Also a skirt of insulation will keep the cold air from going under the hut.

    • Thanks for the tip on the heater. Sounds like a compelling option, especially with the range of fuels it supports.

      I’ve thought about covering up the windows in the winter, but hadn’t thought of the skirt idea.

  8. Good thinking on moving the ladder. Emergency egress is surely a factor, but I think if you built the two options side by side, you’d be astonished how much roomier the new configuaration is (both effectively and psychologically).

    The space opposite the door (on the same wall, on the other side of the ladder) might be good placement for the heating unit for similar reasons.

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