halifaxearthtech: photo by Lykaestria from Wikimedia Commons (Energy)
I found a sattelite dish last evening. It must have blown off someone's roof. At any rate it looked like it had been sitting outside in the parking lot a long time. This was an exciting find, because sattelite dishes are parabolic in shape, and are designed to focus radio signals from tv sattelites onto a reciever, which translates the signal into something a television can interpret.



A sattelite dish is a three-dimensional parabola, and it can also focus the sun's rays onto a point. These are already being made to function as stoves. There are already tons of blogs about this within a search of seconds.

This guy is enjoying melting My Little Ponies in a collector made from a very large dish, being used in California in high summer. This blog illustrates an interesting fact that dark objects will cook faster than lighter ones. Hence a marshmallow will take a long time until it starts to singe, and then as it gets darker will burn more and more quickly.

http://www.cockeyed.com/incredible/solardish/dish01.shtml

I became skeptical of the potential of a little collector in March in the far North but I had to try.
This kid made something he colourfully calls the Solar Death Ray: power of 5'000 suns. This sattelite dish is only slightly larger than mine.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtzRAjW6KO0

And Myth Busters also covered this in Archamedes Death Ray

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emX8KGc8xPo

This company is in Nova Scotia and uses two parabolic mirrors to melt small quantities of metals. They are looking for investors

www.lunenburgfoundry.com

So last night, instead of putting together a workshop I'm supposed to deliver today, I spent the night cleaning the grime off of the dish and fixing it to a base. I'm sure the attendees of a workshop on food forests will appreciate the importance of immediate gratification given this opportunity for passive solar technology.




This one has some nice adjustability


When the dish was immaculate, I glued on strips of aluminum foil. I'd already started this process by the time I learned that little mirrors would work better by creating a more highly reflective surface.



It must be said that concentrating the rays of the sun can set things on fire and blind you. If you think that a fusion reactor several tens of thousands of times the size of the earth doesn't have the potential to harm you if underestimated, I am not responsible for any repercussions.

Then I waited till the earth turned Halifax toward the sun again.
Today is a hazy day. The sun could be concentrated into an area the size of a tennis ball. When I placed my hand in the focus it became warm.

I also need to build a more robust food-holder. I've taped on the original plastic antenna to remember where the focus point is located.

This is a sun-finder, really a section of pvc pipe with two holes drilled 180 degrees apart. When you can see the sun shine through both holes, you know the sun-finder, and anything parallel to it, is pointed toward the sun. It is near the time of being equinox, and we are near the 45'th latitude, so the sun is about 45 degrees from the horizon at noon.



I think my next attempt will be with mirrors. I am finally becoming somewhat proficient with the glass cutting knife, or I might just purchase and dismantle a disco ball. Hopefully by summer I will be nearer my goal of bringing Halifax to its knees boiling water for coffee or tea.
halifaxearthtech: photo by Lykaestria from Wikimedia Commons (Energy)
It finally looks winterish in Nova Scotia. In spite of a few very late very warm days into the double digits, we did have a white Christmas, and now the lakes are thickening up and it looks like we might even be able to skate on them this year.

On my locavore diet I find I need to supplement my vitamin c with some orange juice a couple times a week. Greens are scarce, I failed to harvest dandelion roots before the ground froze to force grow in the dark in my basement. I am making do on cabbage, sprouts, kale chips and some pricy greenhouse greens and some imported things, as well as some peppers I froze earlier on. The frozen berries are long gone and I am into the jams and syrups. I am planning some cold frames to start spinach as early as possible in late February, after the day length is greater than 10 hours according to Niki Jabbour. My husband and I went away for the holiday to spend time with family. We both felt much healthier after returning to our diet of root-cellar local, seasonal and organic vegetables and dry goods: flour, rice and beans. Ah well, Christmas is also a time for excess!

We are also thinking of ways to bolster the growing and house-heating power of our south-facing porch. It already heats the house a bit especially on sunny days but desperately needs to be insulated and have proper windows installed. These days I am building a rack which will hold bottles filled with water and painted black: thermal mass to capture solar heat and distribute it slowly throughout the night. The ultimate goal would be to have that room not freeze at night so we can grow plants in there year-round.

Winter is a time for planning, reading, administering and building. Winter is also a time to build soil. The city is always fileld with the raw ingredients of compost: horse manure from the Bengal Lancers on Bell road, grinds chaff and burlap from cafes and coffee roasters, and right now, christmas trees. This is a pile of chopped up christmas tree in my backyard that I am hoping can eventually become mulch for the native garden beds I am planning for my front yard.

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