Rethinking the Environment 

The recent US election upset has caused no small alarm amongst serious environmentalists in light of the electee’s past statements as well as his cabinet selections. Perhaps because I am only a mere sympathizer, I can allow myself a sense of cautious optimism in a few rays of light amid the heat emanating from the Trump phenomenon.

First there is there is the man’s appreciation for both natural (as well artificial) beauty. No bird killing giant airplane propeller wind generators ruining my ocean view. Hopefully, this not-in-my-backyard attidude will extend to the nation as a whole when Mr. Trump becomes president, and a resurgence of vertical-axis generators will be forthcoming.

Secondly, when Trump says he wants clean air and water with little publicity attending the statement, I tend to think he means just that. Likewise for utterance of the phrase “clean coal” (more on that later).

Lastly is the man’s stupendous ability and desire to negotiate trade deals that could potentially bring a worthwhile portion of the world into doing there part while the US functions with one hand behind its back, especially nations spewing far more pollution than us, whether their contributions be total, per capita, per gdp, per area, etc.

But who really knows how environmental and energy issues will play out in this radical new setting? Such unpredictability should bring a lot of voters out of the complacence that usually follows the success of a “green” canditate. For example, higher mpg mandates for new vehicles may sound progressive on the one hand, but these can be, and usually are, negated by the newfound profusion of single occupant cars on the road at the drop of a hat for more miles driven, with new technologies encouraging life in the car.

On the collective front, global warming alarmists need to come to grips with how much their storyline has become as absurd as “a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese”. First and foremost here are the phrases “global warming” which sounds benevolent and for many is desired; and “climate change” which has been rightfully pointed out by deniers as having always been so. The real danger of increasing world temperatures lies in the increase of thermodynamic entropy which essentially means greater unpredictability of weather patterns and less usability of energy sources available. Global entropy is a very serious threat.

Power plants must breath also, and do so less efficiently when they exhaust into a hotter atmosphere – thus requiring more fuel, be it fossil or nuclear fuel. To appreciate the equivalence requires refining the understanding of the atmospheric CO2/temperature correlation. It is more the violence of kinetic carbon exiting smokestacks and tailpipes than its heat trapping attributes that produce the well recorded results.

Thus much demonized CO2 (plant food) is not required to goose up local and world temps. The megatons of nuclear plant waste heats spewed hourly make their contribution too, and in both plant types, water vapor is the prime heat trapping agent. Should we be denigrating H2O?

Regarding coal, environmentalists need to acknowledge its essence as stored solar energy. By this characterization however, coal (and other fossil fuels) should be the alternative fuel, especially in light of the storing process having transpired over millions of years. To make coal the alternative backup, it should be refined as much as oil was in its pre-cracking days. Nitrogen, mercury, and sulfer – all valuable substances in their places – should be mined out before coal is burned.

A century ago, such impurity elimination used to be the meaning of “clean coal”. Recent efforts made in this direction have enjoyed some success, but the cost of doing so has posed a barrier, which is the whole point – to put coal on an equal footing with what are now regarded as alternative energies, especially real time photovoltaics.

For a fuller development of these thoughts on energy by the author of Geocentric Design Code, view and/or download this 14 page essay.

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The All New Improved Code PDF

Alas, the expanded version of the code’s stark and comprehensive technical expression – its universally accessible and printable PDF – is finished. I have been working on the expansion (from the 70 page version) for 3 years, and more intensely so since May.

The PDF grew from 70 to 92 pages with more steps for understanding and added material corresponding to new insights and applications. The 7-part organization is still the same with each part growing from 10 to 13 pages.

In them, there have been minor changes to the code here and there, nothing major, such that if you applied a pre-altered code concept, you would not be wrong – just unnecessarily burdened. I think the changes make the code easier to grasp, use, and grow.

The seven 13-page parts are linked from their corresponding pages and here: Orientation; Cube-based Abodes; Rolling Transport; Polytechnic Integration; Ground Design; Wheel Extrapolations; and Extra-topographic Guidelines. The full 92 page document is posted on the Internet Archive.

 

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Floating Code

All that remained to complete the geodesic dinghy was to secure some hardware, primarily the oarlocks’ side mounts, and a paint job.

geodesic-dinghy-paint-scheme

Because the boat is viewed in an experimental light as a prototype, I avoided height-priced marine paint in favor of Valspar’s extreme weather primer/paint (fog gray) on top of the fiberglass brushed onto the plywood hull’s outer planes. The deep blue inner planes were set off by white structural members to accent the skeletal geometry.

Getting it to the water was the next big challenge. To meet it, two 2” x 4” racks were built to set on the top of my father’s Jeep Cherokee. My brother and I then carried the boat’s nearly 100 pounds almost a hundred feet like a large sofa around a variety of obstacles. Once in position, my next worry was allowing all the boat’s weight to rest temporarily on its stern edge before tilting onto the back of the Jeep. But it stood, and with my dad’s help, we 3 wrestled the boat into position upside down on top of the Jeep for about a half hour. Once lashed down with the bow to the front, the boat fit the angles of the Jeep like it belonged there. Even so, the 12 mile trip to the water was driven slowly, going 35 mph in a 55 mph speed zone to the landing area characterized by lumps of sand covered with ice-plant.

With the boat intact at the water’s edge, my biggest concern was the obvious: would it float –without leaks. The layer of fiberglass that I coated the plywood with was stretched thin due to the misfortune of having to make do with left-over hardener because someone had lifted the one that was supposed to be included with the newest can of resin I had just purchased. But after securing a line to the boat’s twin bow eyes and pushing it off, it not only floated but did so beautifully. From one perspective, the gap between the side panels and the waterline created an infinity pool-like illusion of being suspended on a layer of air over the glassy water’s surface.

geodesic-dinghy-launch

The next test was to get into the boat, push off and see if everything held. For the next few minutes, I inspected every panel and seam more than half expecting a small breach somewhere, but not a drop!

With this crucial test passed, the next test was to determine how effectively the boat moved with temporary makeshift oars. My chief concern was the oarlock positioning, and I soon discovered that, while not perfect, the boat was both easily propelled straight in a desired direction and turned to another with the boat’s simple geometry having just enough complexity to supply a plane angled to allow a path for water to get out of the way.

geodesic-dinghy-in-motion

During these initial tests, my technical advisor and I recorded measurements of how the bow and stern sat in the water. Of course the next worry was to see what happened with a passenger sitting on the stern seat. I had made a rough estimate that the volume of the water displaced by the weight of the boat and 2 people would equate to the bottom edge of the side panels. This turned out to be close on the average (about an inch above the bottom edge), but the boat was naturally tilted to where there was only 5-6” of freeboard above the lowest point of the stern region. Even so, water was not gushing into the boat, but I wouldn’t want to tempt the situation in anything but mellow seas. The important thing with 2 people in the boat was that it still didn’t leak.

The waterline readings and the rowing test results told me that the rowing seat and the oar locks should be shifted about 4-6” and 2-4” forward respectively.

needed-prototype-geodesic-dinghy-adjustments

I would also increase the contribution of the hexagonal expansion of the central section about 2-4”, and decrease the stern section dip from 4” to about 2 ½ – 3”. Beyond this, a healthier layer of fiberglass would make for more worry free use and extreme weather paint for the inside also be much better.

geodesic-dinghy-resting-place

All in all I am generally satisfied with the outcome. Some future testing remains: A receding tide prevented determination of how well the boat rowed with a passenger. Aside from this, I am looking forward to what it is like to camp in the boat at anchor and transporting a bicycle on a yet-to-be constructed rack.

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Geodesic Dinghy

An idea for a small code-guided boat I had dreamt up and put aside for a possible future recently found development opportunity with the coincidence of time, place, and tools to at least build a prototype.

As first conceptualized, the vessel’s intended function would be to transport needful things between the shore and a hypothetical larger live-aboard boat moored nearby or perhaps as far as a day and a half’s rowing distance away. More specifically, it would have to be capable of carrying a week’s supply of fresh water and groceries, laundry, garbage and sewage, a 20 lb. propane tank, camping gear, and a bicycle – or a passenger.

To design such a dinghy, the code’s transport template was drawn upon with heavy reliance on the hexagonal expansion (HXP) comprised of alternating triangular prism geometry.

geodesic-dinghy-top-and-front-views

Although such an application rendered the term geodesic inaccurate in relation it’s technical and popular (dome) meanings, the departure might be reconciled by viewing 2 lines of continuous sphere centers, around which the boat is structured with bode geometry on either side of the flat HXP “keel” – with those lines pointed in the direction of motion.

motion-line-of-geodesics

Because the boat would be operating in very shallow water over flat muddy bottoms, I decided to employ the template’s triangle down option with its relatively flattish (19°) chines. For overall size, a simple 8’ long by 4’ wide by 2’ high (at the highest point) was sought. An HXP seating structure draws upon bode geometry angles for bracing, is one foot high for stowage, and is broken up aft of the rowing seat for ease of boarding.

geodesic-dinghy-side-view-and-seating-structure

Because the contours of the triangle-down geometry dipped at bow and stern, the former will be covered to guard against splash, and the latter raised for passenger safety and comfort.

For the boat’s skeleton, I used 2×2’s and 2x3s, ripping them at angles that split the total dihedrals between intersecting planes (of which there were 5). In striving for economy of material and cuts, I tried to rip each piece in half for use on either side of the boat but neglected to account for the saw blade width which is significant at these scales.

geodesic-dinghy-framing

This mistake, plus the lumber’s non-perfection, the old ripper’s lack of precision, and an inexperienced operator resulted in a lot of slop. Miraculously however, it all came together. Seated on the stern above is the monarch who has been overseeing the project from her bathroom.

Much of the slop seemed to be absorbed by the rectangles which degenerated into parallelogram. This made jig sawing, ripping, and grinding the plywood sheathing – ½” for the bottom and 3/8” elsewhere – a laborious process, but again it all came together with 1” deck screws. Seams varied from zero to ¼” gaps and were filled with fiberglass resin before laying 4” wide matting into swaths of same. It is inspected below by the old salt who is my technical advisor.

geodesic-dinghy-sheathing

Thus are the critical phases of the project essentially completed. Painting, specialized hardware, and details remain. The next post will recount these along with initial testing to determine if the dinghy actually floats, rows, and bears loads. So far, the project has taken 3 times longer than originally estimated. Because I give myself B+ for design and a D- for craftsmanship, how well the boat will actually do is a mystery at this juncture.

 

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Making a Stand for Homegrown Energy

The availability of inexpensive portable-scale solar panels, batteries, and chargers makes building a structure to support them a worthwhile project. For less than $20 and a couple of spare hours, just about anyone with a small space exposed to a few hours of sun should be able to build their own customized stand to meet some of their electricity needs.

solar-stand-lumber-cutTo make the stand suitable for a particular location, (celestial) cube-based geometry is engaged and the following poses an example of how mine came out. To support would might be characterized as a doll house-sized “roof”, I took a piece of 2” X 8” lumber and chop-sawed it at the angle of my latitude (35°). In making this cut, I could use both sides for the base.

On top of the 2” thick edge, I nailed a 1” X 8” board to accommodate the panel. That is all there is to the stand’s structure which is quite easily moved to and away from a sunny spot facing solar noon for a few hours. Other considerations remain. To harmonize the base structure with its surroundings, I took the safe approach and simply followed the home’s 2-tone color scheme to make it seem like a part of it. For those who possess an advanced artistic sense, a color scheme might be chosen to distinguish the stand in a complementary way.

solar-stand-profiles

But paint is more than just for aesthetics. For the top sun-facing surface around the panel, a color selection is required to counter the ill effects of the low albedo panel because, truthfully, its blackness absorbs (and re-radiates) sunlight just as the much if not more than the popularly demonized carbon dioxide molecule. Luckily the antidote for this is to simply paint the surface around the panel with a high albedo hue to reflect light right back to space.

solar-stand-surface-albedo

Generally speaking, the default color choice for this is (glossy) white. By painting an area white equal to that of the panel, the overall albedo of the stand’s “roof” is increased. This translates to both global and local cooling effects. Regarding the latter, I can confirm a quite a noticeable difference when handling the panel after several hours of exposure. The cooling effect around the panel also makes it run more efficiently. One can fine tune the albedo factor by proportioning exposed area to a desired ratio and/or by tinting the white with softer colors and/or creating a pattern to make the panel less conspicuous and imposing.

My half square foot, 6 watt panel with the corner ear loops cost $50 and the 5000 mAh battery is sufficient to handle my personal lighting needs, as well as being able to charge an AA/AAA battery charger to run other items like bike lights, an mp3 player/radio, and a computer mouse.

All energy sources have their positives and negatives and I believe it is fitting and wise to match each type to its use. In my view, the direct semi-conducting driven process of photo-voltaics should be applied to semiconductor devices – LEDs, computers, TVs, stereos, etc. To do so would take care of a significant chunk of the electricity usage spectrum.

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