It Really Works… Introducing the Bicycle Generator.

For the past few months, I have been trying to build our own bicycle generator.  Soon it became a sort of obsession as I tried to take an old exercise bike and convert it to a human powered generator.  These past few weeks, I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.  With help from a follower of this website, author of Random Thoughts [of an engineer] who pointed me in the right direction.  A bicycle generator, producing 6 Volts cannot charge a 12 Volt battery.  The Volts are like force and force the current Amperes through the system.  A 6 Volt generator couldn’t push its way through a 12 volt system.   It would be like a snowball trying to push back an avalanche, well maybe not that extreme, but since it’s winter, I needed a winter simile.

I tried to use a 24 Volt alternator, but that too failed.  The physical human force to power it was beyond our physical limits for any measurable amounts of time.  I tried using a small DC charge controller which could not be integrated into the system.  I debated buying a DC booster and went with an extra DC motor added in series instead.

Unfortunately, I have little to know knowledge of electronics. However, I plan to do another post and video about the deceptions on the Internet concerning these so called bicycle generator plans, and how people believe certain laws of physics don’t apply to them.  That is fine if people want to create their own religion, but please don’t put blueprints on the Internet and claim they work when they don’t.  I wonder if the authors who wrote the bicycle generator article actually built the bike. Hopefully,  they’re not spreading false information because they want a “blog article” paycheck even if it means their is no factual basis in the article.

Moving on… How do you like the music?  This song “I Believe You” comes from a used record I purchased years ago, Made in America, 1981.  I finally got to play it with a record player I received for Christmas.  I grew up listening to Karen Carpenter, and I love her voice.  To avoid a copyright strike on YouTube, I altered the song 4 different ways. First, I placed a slight echo, next I upped the bass, I sped up the tempo by 15%, Lastly, I added a slight reverb to give it an auditorium feel.  I have learned that altering older music for people to listen to online has been called VaporWave.  I am not a big fan of it and didn’t push this song so far out that it would be almost unrecognizable.  Plus, like electronics, I know even less about mixing music. If the video gets taken down by YouTube, it will disappear here as well until I can find another song to replace it.

Update:  The video was flagged as copyright infringement by YouTube’s algorithm within a few seconds of the first of the upload. So, I had to pick an open source song completely different from the one I had.  All that work mentioned above wasted.

 

 

Off Grid electricity is NOT free.

Out with the old… The T-105’s are being retired.

I believe I am guilty of promoting free energy on the off grid homestead, and during the summer months it appears that way.  However, during the winter months cloudy skies make solar energy creation improbable, and it’s the battery bank that keeps the home’s electricity going from day to day.  When the fog and inversion continues throughout the week, a 5 gallon jug of fuel is added to the generator. The generator is fired up to produce the home’s power and to fill the battery bank for a few more days.

Winter is the time of the year when an off grid home realizes they are not living “free”.  Perhaps a nice sunny equatorial home would provide the energy the home needs and less reliance on a large battery bank.  But even then, a home close to the equator has a constant 12 hours day and night. In which the daylight begins at 6 and ends at 6 in the evening.  If only we lived on the equator… but I really like the 4 seasons, so that’s out for now.

If you are thinking about going off grid, depending on where you live and what your winter is like as far as darkness and climate, you will want to size your battery bank accordingly.  Our new bank, if we conserve, can get us about 4 days, without direct sunlight.  We have added so many new systems that require more power and we added to our family another person, so power usage has naturally increased.  More lights are on, our fridge runs more often, and the phantom load of the Internet and the propane tankless water heater begin to add up over a few hours.  If I remember, like I just did, I shut them off.

As seen in the video,  I crunched the numbers and our new battery bank (basic electric bill) is estimated at $25.00 a month over a 10 year period.  That’s not bad, but that doesn’t include the generator maintenance or the fuel for it.  A 5 gallon jug is required to charge the battery bank from 50% back up to 100% and to equalize them.  Without equalizing, it’s about 4 gallons of fuel needed.  I am keeping tabs on our generator usage this year with the new bank and tractor generator; it will be nice to be able to prepare a constant monthly budget by spreading the winter expenditures year round.

Off grid electricity is NOT free!

If my wife and I lived on the grid in this area and had solar panels that covered our electrical usage, the power company would still charge us a $25.00 minimum monthly hook up fee.  That doesn’t seem fair, but with many people trying to save money with increasing electrical bills the power companies do not want people wiggling out from their profit margins, plus someone has to pay for all those linemen who repair the down wires after a devastating storm.  Either way off grid or on, you will have to pay someone for your electricity.  As electricity bills increase, so does the price of batteries. The T-105’s I first bought were $155 each in 2011; this year they are $180 a piece.

If you are thinking about supplementing your on grid home or building an off grid power system, now is the time to start because prices are always going up.

When the Battery Bank Dies…

At the end of this past summer, our battery bank of seven years decided to die.  It was an interesting cascade failure event.  One batter cell went dead and could not be revived, then another battery flagged a similar problem.  Pretty soon I was isolating batteries that would no longer hold a 6 Volt change.  The isolation meant I had to drop from a 3 string battery bank to a 2 string system.  I ordered the batteries at the perfect time.  The sun was shining well into September which carried the system long enough until the replacements arrived.  I was happy to receive them, another few weeks and we would have been in real trouble, running a generator to make due for the lack of electrical storage.

The video published was in a file waiting to be edited and published.  I admit blogging and YouTube videos which have grown intertwined has dwindled, and I discussed that briefly on another post.  Currently, I am enjoying Christmas break and I am gearing up for the return to teaching after the New Year’s holiday. I hope this post and the New Year 2019 greets you well.

My wife and I plan to make a list of this year’s highlights this evening and save them to be read next year.  It will be a bonding time between us as we recognize our successes despite the obstacles around us, including replacing a dying battery bank. I plan to include my son in the event as well, and I am curious to hear his own version of events.

May you enjoy this New Year’s Eve, celebrating with family, friends, and have a chance to reflect on the highlights this year.

God Bless,

Changing a Side-Mount for a Top Post Battery

Here is a quick video I did on changing the vehicle design from a side mount battery to a top post battery.  When I was filming this video, my cistern pump went out a day before, and when I got home from work, our Suburban was dead.  No connection, except a string of bad timing. The Suburban had a no start issue, and I knew it was the battery.  The battery was over 7 years old and needed to be replaced.  However, side mount batteries are not easy to recharge, jump, and keep the contacts clean . I understand why some cars used side mounts and then other cars like the Suburban has no excuse.  Side mount batteries makes it difficult finding a generic replacement, to use a battery charger, and generally costs more.  So, I am done with side-mount batteries.  I finalized the change with this video.


On a side note, I generally try to post once a week, I have a few posts this week, but I will slow down again to not clog up your reader.  As a person who likes to have a well dispersed WordPress Reader, I understand how frustrating it can get to see the same person posting on a daily or even an hourly basis, which clogs up the feed.  My wife and I are still debating if we will continue making YouTube videos.  My passion was always in writing, not cinematography, but I admit I am beginning to like learning how to edit.  That being said, there is no financial gain to creating posts or videos.  I am beginning to include more of our home base business into the posts, name of this blog, and videos.

If you like what you see here, please support our channel by visiting our store.  https://paupers-candles.ecwid.com/ We’re not asking for donations, but only to sell a great candle product. We also understand this is a specialty item in which not everyone enjoys, but if you do, we hope you think of us for your next candle purchase.

Thanks for visiting, we have another post scheduled for tomorrow.

Working alone on the homestead

Today, I am spending much of the day alone.  I decided what a perfect time to write a post about working on the homestead alone.  During the rush to build our tractor shed, I did much of the prep work by myself.  My wife and son went to the local farmers’ market while I began to tie the posts together to prepare the building for the trusses. The video I created isn’t much to speak of, in fact, it’s very quiet, almost too quiet.  I speak a few times explaining a little bit about how any person working on a building project should have a good set of clamps to be an extra pair of hands and making the work of two people into one.  However, much of the video shows the work being done while the camera’s mic records the sounds or should I say the peaceful silence of the homestead.

It was a beautiful day and the silence was so welcoming after a busy week.  I enjoy silence, that deep silence in which you can hear, the clock ticking, a train announce its arrival to a crossing buck over 3 miles away, or air being drawn through the open dampers on a wood stove.  I love silence because most of the time I am immersed in noise.

Waking up… Nothing like waking up to a cup of coffee with a special tiramisu cake to start the birthday out right. Thanks to my beautiful wife.

As I sat down to type this, the house’s power shut off, Low Battery Cutout warning at the inverter. The house has gone dark, but the computer, powered by its battery pack, for now, is unaffected. I am debating starting the generator.  I am able to see from the morning light coming through the windows; I have a warm fire, and I really don’t want to break the silence by starting the generator.  I fear this winter that I will see more of these Low Battery Cutout days.  The sun is blocked by solid gray skies, and my battery bank is beginning to show its age.  The battery bank was purchased in 2011 and has faithfully run the house since Christmas of that year.  We could push the bank a little further and get our money’s worth, but that means the generator will have to run more often, about every third day instead of fifth or sixth this winter season.  I am not too worried about the situation.  Instead, I am enjoying the added silence.  Once you see this post, you will know I either broke the silence of the tranquil homestead on my birthday this morning to turn the generator on to access the Internet, or the solar panels were able to silently gain enough power to up the voltage of the battery bank.

May you all have a blessed day and find some time this Thanksgiving week to embrace a small bit of silence.

I cannot “generate” the words to express my frustration…

Positive thinking... I wanted to believe the new part would work. I had no reason to doubt a new part would work.

Positive thinking… I wanted to believe the new part would work. I had no reason to doubt a new part would work.

A month ago I posted “Generating Repairs,” and after it was all said and done the generator worked great until, not even, a week later.  My wife and I were procrastinating on starting the generator hoping for the next sunny day, but to no avail we were socked in with clouds.  While sitting on the couch watching a movie,  the house powered down, leaving us in the dark.  Yes, even people off grid sometimes have power outages.  I moved through the house in the dark for a flashlight I place by the front door.  I turned it on and proceeded to the warp reactor, I mean battery room.  There on the invertor a red warning light was on with the LED display reading Low Battery.

A low battery cut out is when the invertor shuts down everything drawing power from the battery bank even the DC appliances to prevent the batteries from being completely discharged.  This was not a problem; I would head to the pump house and fire up our newly fixed backup generator.  However, in my haste I forgot to turn the fuel line back on the generator and pulled about five time questioning why it didn’t immediately start.  I checked everything turn the fuel line on and pulled again, but this time the pull rope broke and with the rope severed, I found myself in a real pickle.

I retrieved the broken end of the pull rope in the starter assembly and retied it to the old handle.  On the first pull, the rope would no longer retract; the starter assembly spring was done, and now we had no way of starting the generator.  Now with frustration beginning to mount, I returned to the house to retrieve tools to remove the starter recoil assembly.  I then grabbed a special wrench I had and attempted to hand crank it like a model T Ford.  I failed and I am glad I did too, knowing the danger I was facing if the unit did start with that wrench securely in my hands.

So, what to do.  I went back to the invertor and changed the low battery cut out setting to a lower setting allowing us to power up the house again, but also realizing we were on a clock that was quickly winding down.  I hurriedly began looking for a new starter assembly online that would get us back up and running again.  In the next few days, I would borrow a neighbor’s generator, which also failed.  I proceeded to purchase a secondary backup generator from the store, but my generator had inflated in price, so I would have to settle for a smaller generator, a 5000 watt.  This too failed.  Our home’s electrical requirement was barely manageable for it.  The new 5000 watt generator couldn’t even run our AC well pump with the rest of the house powered down.  We returned that generator.

Walk the dog, around the world? My yo-yo tricks work better at recoil than this designed to recoil part.

Walk the dog, around the world?.. My yo-yo tricks work better at recoil than this designed to recoil part.

We finally received the part and it did not take me long to change it.  Very easy to replace. However, as you can see in the video, the complete failure of a brand new part, never used before.  I was completely devastated after all the effort I put into getting my back up system running again.  Currently, we have enough sun to keep us going, but I have sincere doubts the second replacement part will work either.  The 1st spring was weak when I pulled it slightly to test the recoil right out of the package.  I just wanted to believe my problems would be solved by purchasing a new part and that part was made with quality in mind.

This is incredible; I can’t believe the failure I am seeing with inferior replacement parts for my generator.  I just don’t understand how any company would sell inferior quality products when the original last thousands of pulls over the last 6 years and this new part didn’t even survive one pull. Something has gone wrong in our society.  This is something that could be expected in communist Russia 30 years ago and would never even be considered in the United States.  The company selling such garbage would be out of business and fail because another competitor would fill the need and put them out of business. After looking online, I saw the same part made by the same manufacture sold all over the Internet at various websites some changing as low as $30.00 and others for the same part and manufacturer charging $70.00.  I don’t know who to trust.  Was it a fluke or is the manufacturer just putting out trash and calling it adequate?  Not even one pull, folks.

The next replacement part is coming soon.  I also contacted the company brand who sells the generator, RIGID,  who has passed me on to the Yamaha engine manufacturer.  Perhaps, if this next part is a failure, I can purchase one direct from Yamaha who does not seem to advertise or sell the part, but one thing is for certain their part is better made than what I received.

Even though I am greatly disappointed, I am trying to not be angry at the whole event.  I think there is something much worse happening here than one mishap at a factory.  It seems our culture is beginning to accept low quality, disgraceful goods as the norm all the while standards are slipping into a void of meaningless profit.

I mentioned preppers in the video, warning them that when things break where will they go to purchase new parts to keep their off grid survival status going if the economy collapses.  The answer is really no one can be prepared for that, unless they are prepping to live without any modern conveniences.  Interestingly enough, if new products begin to fail right after removing them from the box, we may already be in a failed society.