Mark Brunnr

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since Oct 04, 2012
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Recent posts by Mark Brunnr

I bought a used chest freezer from a coworker for $20, there's no adjustment that I saw and it has a target temp of 0F. I then bought a digital thermometer on Amazon for around $20, which has the temp probe and 2 outlets, on for "cooling power" and one for "warming power". I set it for 35F, +/- 2F. So when it hits 37, power is sent to the cooling outlet, which the freezer is plugged into, and it turns on to cool it to 35. If I needed to keep the temp within a tight range, say for brewing beer, then a heater can be plugged into the other outlet, and if the temp dropped below the lower number (33F for my example), then power goes to the other outlet and a heater could turn on.

This old chest "fridge" was using 240 watt hours per day in my 80-90F garage over 4 days of testing, compared to nearly 1kwh per day in regular freezer mode of 0F.
1 day ago
Ah gotcha, I ordered mine from altestore.com for $172 per 300w panel. Definitely heavier per panel, and safety is a biggie!

Are the panels plugging into a charge controller which has the diversion load attached? Is the goal to heat water when batteries are topped off, rather than the typical charge controller just cutting the current?
1 day ago
I just bought panels and parts for my off grid system, and was curious if you found the 100 watt panels better for a particular reason, than say buying 2 300 watt panels to put in series so you get the same voltage/amps? You'll still get 600 watts with either combo not 300 watts. 300 watt panels tend to be far cheaper compared to 100 watt panels, per watt, in my experience.
1 day ago
The Humanure Handbook by Joe Jenkins goes into great detail about how modern composting toilets are really just dry toilets, not composting at all, and don't do a good job of eliminating disease vectors as a result. When you combine a good ratio or nitrogen to carbon, and add enough water/moisture and air, a compost pile gets up to the optimal temp range of 120-140F which will kill off every pathogen harmful to people within 24 hours or less (down to less than an hour at the higher temps).

If you use the proper cover material in the bucket and compost pile, there is no smell or flies. Compost piles need a lot of moisture when active, and if the cover material is sufficient no turning is necessary and in fact is detrimental to maintaining the proper temps and retaining the highest possible nitrogen levels.
2 days ago
Additional work was done on the berm shed, replacing a post and adding the additional beams and girders to improve clearance and stability.
Here’s a picture of the updated hot water heater by the showers. The changes included adding an insulated exhaust pipe with clean out; doubling the height on the heat riser; adding an extension to the wood feed to allow covering it with bricks while wood is in it; adding a P channel to the feed; and covering the riser with a nice metal outer skin.

Students learned several types of welding during the ATC and put it to use adding to the riser support.
Definitely sounds like dry earth which gets about 1R per foot, while wet earth takes 10-20 times more per R.

There’s a web site which sells recycled billboard that I’ve looked at, 40-60mil material without breaking the bank. As I don’t have enough wood duff to use for insulation, the poly sheets which are 2” thick should work fine. Suggesting that going green is an all or nothing argument feels like a Strawman; concrete is probably the worst offender of energy use in my book, so just eliminating that is a really big step forward.

I wouldn’t call my build a wofati for several reasons but certainly an Oehler/Hait hybrid. Hait’s Umbrella is a proven design with decades of use. Oehler’s design is similar, with just protection of posts being a work in progress from what I’ve read.
2 weeks ago
Joe lists research on different chemicals reaction to hot compost in the Humanure Handbook. Some meds are greatly reduced or eliminated while others are not.
2 weeks ago
Heya Byron, I was on the team that was rebuilding Paul's earth berm shed last year and some videos were posted of that work, linked below. Pounding the logs into the hole with the excavator got them to sink several inches with the sandy soil. My own plan is to use a steel bar once I get a hole to 42" depth, and compact the soil down, then add landscape fabric to the bottom, which will keep the 6" of gravel I add for drainage in place. Then another piece of fabric on top, which will hold the borax, DE, and wood ash mix that is added to limit fungal growth due to any remaining moisture in the log which drains once installed. Then the log goes in, wrapped with something to keep the soil off, but the end of the log is not wrapped- just the 36" of the sides which will touch soil. That way the log drains into the 6" of gravel and once dried out should remain that way. Especially during the build, my concern is rain getting the site wet and having that wet soil against any wood for the days it takes to dry out. So wrapping the sides should help while the roof and then umbrella are installed.

If you can drain the umbrella to an elevation that's lower than the post hole depth, you should be set for rain, and as long as the water table stays several feet below during spring runoff/rain season it should be all good. I bought some 1" wood dowels to cut out "logs" to build a scale model, and you can then cut out furniture with paper to move them around to get a feel. My own property is pretty flat, I will build where I have a bit of drop as I plan to dig 4 feet down, so I want to french drain the umbrella perimeter to sunlight below that. Was also planning to add an earthship-inspired greenhouse on the south wall to use as a buffer in winter and try growing warmer plants using some techniques from the book The Forest Garden Greenhouse. Might work for you as well, add a few months to the growing season and you could run sink/shower gray water out through it to the outside. Perhaps compost the toilet Humanure style.

Shorter Video:


Longer Video:
2 weeks ago
I highly recommend the Humanure Handbook method to process with no runoff into the ground. Burying unprocessed waste, especially as fertilizer near food, places pathogens in proximity with food and Joe's referenced research includes evidence of pathogens being absorbed into food crops where there's no washing it off. You definitely shouldn't go that route, instead use thermophilic composting which works really well when you include feces and urine in the compost, don't separate it. Hot compost goes through a lot of moisture, and if you cover it properly as Joe explains, there is no smell indoors or outdoors.
2 weeks ago