2015-09-13

For the last 2 days, my solar irrigation system has been unable to work due to the lack of sunlight. Because of the high heat, the plants definitely needed some water, and I really didn't feel like lugging buckets of water up a hill. Fortunately, I had some crap in the Wreckroom that could make my job easier.

Easier is good. :)

Basically, I need some 12 volt power to run the pump for an hour or so.

Dark Days

Just over 60 miles south of me, the Butte fire is raging; and 80 miles to the west is the Valley fire. This picture of the Sun was taken around 3PM. California is burning. [hella sadface]

Fix Some Crap

Oh, some broken battery terminal clips!

Who said being a pack-rat is a bad thing? Wooowee, I sure am glad I didn't throw the broken clip in the trash. A bit of J-B Quick and that broken clip is as good as new.

Add Some Twisty Cap Thingies

When I set up my solar irrigation system, the panel was attached to the pump with MC4 connectors. As luck would have it, I just happened to have a set of heavy gauge wires with MC4 connectors on one end and bare wire on the other.

A few quick twists (and some gorilla tape) and everything was together and ready to rock.

Give It Some Juice!

Boring, isn't it? :)

After walking to the irrigation site, the wires were connected to the pump and the clips were attached to my spare motorcycle battery.

Booyah! flowing water.

After everything was running, I cleaned out some clogged emitters and watched as the water soaked into the parched land.

Now quit reading, and go do a rain dance. please.

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2015-08-23

My neighbors are nice and all, but there are no plants growing on our shared property line and it would be absolutely splendid if I could enjoy my morning coffee while gazing at greenery and not simply staring at their back porch. Privacy between neighbors is a wonderful thing to have, and it didn't take long for me to hatch a sweet privacy screen plan: plant evergreens along the property line and irrigate them!

Finding some nice evergreen plants (or any plants for that matter) is easy enough, it just entails a trip to Kurt's Garden. Actually, I took a few trips and picked up a nice variety of drought tolerant evergreens. The difficult part was finding a way to get water to the newly planted trees and shrubs.

Fortunately, there is a seasonal pond and plenty of sunshine at my place. Obviously I needed a solar powered irrigation system to pump water from the pond to the newly planted trees.

Gather some supplies

A Renogy 100W Solar Panel provides the juice
A Cheapo dc well pump does the pumping. (I absolutely purchased the 2 year warranty)

The panel is wired directly to the pump and the pump will push about half a gallon per minute when supplied with 12 volts of power. When the panel is getting straight blasted by the sun, the pump will push close to a gallon a minute.

Build a frame to hold the pump

Since I didn't want the pump to sit at the bottom of the pond and get fouled by all the muck, I decided to build a floating platform to keep the pump by the water's surface.

Gather some more supplies

  • a 5 gallon pot (probably from Kurt's Garden)
  • a metric tape measure
  • some string
  • a marker
  • a nice square of plywood

measure the circumference of the pot

The circumference of the pot was measured with string just under the lip of the pot. The idea is to cut a hole in the plywood and put the pot in the hole.

do some math

Fittingly, this took place on March 14th, but I am just now writing about it. Damn what a slacker. :)

The string wrapped around the pot was 83.5 centimeters, and a bit of formula replacement quickly gave me the radius of the hole that I needed to cut.

trace a circle

Using a thumb tack, some string, and a pen, I quickly drew a circle using the previously determined radius.

Hot damn, that's a good fit

Awesome! Now I need to add some supports and a flotation device.

oh hey!

Not only did I add some supports and a top piece, I also added a nice handle to the top of the platform. The wooden piece that holds the pot is on the bottom of this platform.

floats and paint

A square of 2" PVC attached to the bottom of the platform adds quite a bit of buoyancy. Hopefully the coat of exterior paint will help the wood survive in the water.

pumping away!

A small hole was added to the top deck and lid for the power cable and water line to pass throught. Obviously the hole is just too small. Oh well.

The solar panel leans against a 4 foot tall post and I can move the panel around to change when the plants get watered. At the moment, the panel is facing due East so that the plants get watered for a couple hours every morning.

Recently, a few ducks have taken to relaxing on the platform. This in turn results in quite a bit of duck crap getting added to the irrigation water. Booyah! free fertilizer!

Now quite reading, and go be a water wizard.

Comments
2015-08-24 Alison Chaiken:
SO . . . tracing around the rim of the pot on the plywood with a pen wouldn't have worked? I would have done that, then gone in maybe 1/32 in diameter. How did you cut the hole, a jigsaw? That seems like the hard part to me. You don't mention a battery for the charger, or a timer for that matter, or a level sensor.
2015-08-24 jezra:
You just used a fraction!

The hole was just with a jig saw. There is no battery, or timer, or level sensor.

The solar panel is directly wired to the pump and the "timer" is the positioning of the panel. For a level sensor, I use my eyes. Yup, there is still water in the pond. :)
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2015-08-02

My soil (if you can call it that), is mostly comprised of clay and rock. While this makes planting trees a rather decent work out, it would be nice if I could easily put stakes in the ground. I have some portable fencing and being able to quickly set up the fencing without too much swearing would be a great thing.

Obviously I need a special tool to make a 'pilot' hole for the temporary fence posts.

Gather Supplies!

After a slight drizzle of a brainstorm, a plan was hatched and off to the hardware store I went.

Aside from hardware store goods, I needed a handle for my new tool and there was a wonderful branch on my property that would suit my needs perfectly.

Clean it up

Excess material was removed from both ends of the branch and I was left with about 1.5 meters of awesome wizard staff.

I know what you are thinking, and you are correct: the end of the staff should be made into a slingshot.

Nailed it

In order to poke a hole in the ground, a nice big shiny nail was selected for the job. The head of the nail was cut off and some shallow grooves were cut into the side of the nail.

Damn that nail was tough, and it got quite hot while cutting it.

Some shitty fraction

In the bottom of the staff, a hole was drilled that would house the nail. I have no idea what size the hole is, but I can guarantee that the measurement is some shitty fraction.

Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike fractions?

Now where is my 17/29ths inch doohickey?

All together

The base of the nail was secured in the staff with a hefty bit of J-B Weld. The grooves that were cut into the side of the nail provided plenty of grip for the adhesive.

A 90° angle bracket was bolted to the staff and a block of wood was screwed to the bracket.

Now all I have to do, is position the nail where I want a hole to be, and step on the bracket to drive the nail into the ground! booyah!

They can't all be winners.

Bummer.

Have I mentioned that my soil is mostly rock and clay? On my first attempt to use my newly crafted tool, the nail hit a rock and bent. fuck. Oh well, Now I get to think of a better solution to the problem, and I can still make a sweet slingshot!

Birds!

After the failure of my holemaking tool, I sat and watched the birds for a bit. There is something very soothing about watching the birds interact with each other.

Now quit reading, and go make something that doesn't work. :)

Comments
2015-08-02 Alison Chaiken:
I suggest a tool comprising a pipe plus a sledgehammer.

Watch your fingers with that.
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