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Miscellaneous mumblings

September 26, 2019 — BarryK

Before executing the next step in construction of the solar water distiller, I am waiting on arrival of a silicone mat. It is 600x800mm and will go inside the distiller, between the glass and wicking-cloth. I think that it is 1mm thick, but wanted to wait until it arrives, to confirm, as it will have an affect on the internal layout. Ordered from here:

Ordered on the 19th, it is now the 26th. It is supposed to be shipped from NSW Australia. However, yesterday I checked the tracking number, and found that it is being shipped by "Winit". That is a Chinese transport company. There is tracking information, but it is evasive, does not identify any locations.

I found this comment on a forum:


I am sick and tired of buying off sellers in AU stores that list there items location as in Australia when in fact the item location is overseas and so is the seller and you end up with a very lengthy postage wait or not item at all or you end up with a WINIT tracking number that means squat to anyone as it does not track anything outside of China.

I want to see eBay crack down on these sellers for false advertising a location of their items when you are trying to buy from within Australia only thinking you have brought local only to find out the seller falsely listed the items location.

I am dealing with one right now and seller has avoided the questions I have put to him/her of the real location of the item I brought after getting that WINIT tracking number the seller finally answered with an outright lie "It Come USA" clear not good with English at all and the item is clearly coming from China.

The eBay page states this:

FREE Standard Postage
Item location:
NSW, Australia

I wonder when it will arrive?

Continuing the mumblings and grumblings, If you have sent me an email in the last few weeks, with a question or problem, and I haven't replied, my apologies. The to-do list has grown rather long.  Besides, I take time out from EasyOS development and do other things for awhile. 

EDIT 2019-09-26:
For the record, here are two other eBay vendors selling the 60x80cm silicone mat, and claiming AU stock and shipping by Australia Post: 

EDIT 2019-09-27:
It arrived today! Delivered by Australia Post. So how come it had a Winit tracking number?

Tags: nomad

Cutting frame for prototype 3

September 25, 2019 — BarryK

Continuing the build of solar water distiller prototype #3. Here are earlier posts:

I purchased glass from Casey at Glass Perth:

I ordered three pieces, two are 572x672mm, and one piece is 572x630mm. I asked for "normal window glass, 3mm", however, it seems that the glazier's idea of "normal window glass" is 4mm thick, that's what I got. I checked, the previous order was also 4mm supplied. I don't have calibrated calipers to measure the thickness precisely, but just from using a measuring tape it looks like 4mm.

No problem with 4mm, probably better anyway from the strength viewpoint. However, I had cut the grooves in the wood with a 3mm router bit. So, a quick trip to Bunnings and purchased a 4mm straight single-flute router bit:

Went through the grooves again with the slightly larger router bit. The grooves are now 4mm wide, 5mm from the edge, and 6mm deep -- I had intended the depth to be 5mm, but the second router bit dug a bit deeper. That's OK. An end-on photo:


The width is spot-on. The glass is a snug fit, but not too tight. I don't want the wood to be stressed when inserting the glass.

Prototype #3 is small. Mostly, I want to verify the principle of this design, that it is significantly more efficient than #2. That remains to be seen. It doesn't have to be big, I think, for a valid efficiency test. Another reason that I want it small is to be able to slide it vertically into the rear of a small hatchback car.

What I have at this point is a 3m length of pine, with two grooves going the entire length. The pine has now to be cut for the four sides. To do this accurately, I cut the pine into two equal-length pieces, and inserted both pieces onto the glass. Firstly, onto the long sides, so as to measure the inside distance:


...that was 560mm, and I added 2mm onto that. Secondly, onto the short sides, so as to measure the required length of the two longer vertical pieces:


...that was 698mm, and I added 2mm onto that. Thus the two short pieces will be 562mm long and the two long pieces 700mm long. That extra 2mm could be a tad smaller -- it is to give a bit of slack so that the glass edge is not pressed hard against the frame when the frame is screwed together later (though I won't actually be using screws).

The pieces were cut in a mitre-box, using a tenon saw. There is a bit of sloppiness when the tenon saw is inserted in the mitre box, which can cause a slight inaccuracy when cutting, maybe 0.5mm or thereabouts. I found that a good way to grind a slightly-longer piece to the same length as the other, is to move it over coarse sandpaper, like so:


...I turn the wood around, to ensure that the grinding is not cutting more on one side than the other. One thing that I learned, do not use a hand file to grind the end, it will end up very uneven (that discovery was made when building prototype #1).  

Here is the result assembled:


...yes, fits together nicely! Only one piece of glass in the photo. In the final assembly, there will be three pieces of glass inserted, top, bottom, and in the middle.

The next step, planned for tomorrow, is to drill round holes for the pipes, and a groove on each of the long pieces, into which the smaller piece of glass will be inserted. 

Tags: nomad

Cutting grooves with new router

September 23, 2019 — BarryK

I posted recently about ordering a router to help with construction of solar water distiller prototype #3:

...el-cheapo router, just 30 bucks delivered. And, as I found out today, el-cheapo construction also!

The router, technically a "trimmer router", has a metal body and a plastic frame/ base. The first thing that I noticed is that despite tightening up the knob to lock the frame in place,  the body still wobbled in the frame. Tried tightening the knob a bit more, then heard a loud crack ... the plastic cracked.

The reason is, tightening the knob only works on the top-end of the plastic frame. Further down there is a fixed plastic bridge. This photo shows where it cracked:

img1 stop the wobble, I used a rubber window wedge (applied the wedge after it had cracked).

On the other side of the plastic frame, there was another problem. An angle bracket is supplied that can be attached, however, the knob does not tighten up on the frame, due to a plastic ridge in the middle. I had to file the ridge down slightly:


I think that there is a reason for these two problems. The plastic frame is made for a slightly larger diameter body, and angle bracket with thicker metal. This el-cheapo product has scaled both down, but have used the ill-fitting plastic frame.

I know it is only AU$30, but did expect better. When I get to write the final DIY page for the solar water distiller, i will recommend something further up the price scale, such as this:

...AU$69, but has a much better frame, metal, with accurate ratchet height adjustment. Looks much better from the description and photos anyway. Someone will need to buy one and let me know.

Despite the flaws in mine, it works and will do the simple job that I have for it...

I have 64x19mm pine, 3 metres long, and need to cut some grooves 3mm wide and 5mm deep. It was very easy to do, here is the setup:


I used a router bit from Bunnings, 3.2mm (1/8 inch) diameter, straight dual-flute, 100% tungsten, Diablo brand, and it cost as much as the router. It cut real nice though. 

EDIT 2019-10-04:
Router wobbled fixed! Required some simple surgery on the plastic frame, now I can recommend this cheap router as suitable for this project. See blog post: 

Tags: nomad

Cutting the solar distiller runoff tube

September 18, 2019 — BarryK

I posted this morning, an experiment cutting a slot in 16mm diameter aluminium tube, using a jigsaw:

From that experiment, it was determined that a larger diameter tube is required. Bunnings only stock 25mm the next size up from 16mm, and I decided that didn't want to go that big.

Needed to rethink. There is the en-route router, which can be pressed into service to cut aluminium. However, there is another way: a rotary saw.

Dug out my old rotary saw, and found a metal-cutting disc. Popped down to Bunnings and bought 16mm 1m aluminium tube, cut it to required length. It was quite easy to make up a jig to hold the tube:


...those are timber offcuts from the previous prototypes. One length is screwed on top as a guide for the rotary saw.

The actually sawing was pretty straightforward, wearing face protection of course. Four g-clamps were needed, the two extra to stop the work from moving, and they had to be moved as the rotary saw moved:


One thing to be careful with, is if move the saw backwards, as it may suddenly try to "climb out" of the hole it is cutting -- the saw has to be held firmly down.

As is to be expected, the cut has large burrs, and required a lot of filing and sanding to finish off. But the result is good:


Posting these steps on the blog, however it is anticipated that everything will be gathered together into one DIY page eventually. 

Tags: nomad

Cutting a slot in aluminium tube with a jigsaw

September 18, 2019 — BarryK

I posted yesterday about a plan to use a small router to cut a slot in aluminium tube:

I would like to thank scsijon, Derek and sage, who responded with advice on using the router to cut aluminium. Scsijon advised to make sure the work piece is very securely clamped down, to avoid a disaster, and he and Derek advised to use a good quality router bit -- Derek advise to use the dual-flute design as the single-flute tends to pull to the side.

The router is somewhere on the highways crossing over from the other side of Australia, so I decided why not have a go using a jigsaw.

The problem with a jigsaw is the vertical movement of the blade. I chose 16mm outside-diameter pipe, with 1mm wall thickness. I realised that the vertical movement of the blade is likely to be such that it will come completely out of the slot that is being cut. Which was found to be the case.

Anyway, decided to give it a go. Recycled tube out of prototype #1, so not throwing away money if I wreck the tube. Firstly, I cut a hole as a starting point. This was done by drilling a hole, then using small round and flat files:


Then packed it so that the blade would just reach the bottom of the inside of the tube, but not actually hit it:


However, the blade was still coming out of the tube, about 3mm. When the blade comes out and plunges back down again, it is liable to catch on the side of the cut, however, I found that by cutting extremely slowly, it did actually cut:


However, where it became too difficult is doing the other side. A 10mm slot is required in the tube, and cutting the other side, when the blade plunged down, it would push the middle piece of aluminium down, completely jamming things up -- it is a wonder that the blade did not break.

I think that this technique is feasible if a larger diameter tube is used. Well, the proposed prototype #3 will accommodate a larger tube. This tube is to be the runoff for the waste water, and I already have some plastic pipe that will slide onto the 16mm tube, for runoff into a container. But, should be able to acquire larger-diameter plastic pipe.

Stay tuned, will try 25mm (1 inch) aluminium pipe... 

The 16mm tube has been successfully cut, using a rotary saw. See next blog post: 

Tags: nomad

Figuring out how to cut with a router

September 16, 2019 — BarryK

I have extremely basic tools in my garage, just a few hand tools. Planning for solar water distiller prototype #3, I realised that I need a router. So, I ordered the cheapest one on eBay, just AU$30.77 delivered. So cheap, not much power in that motor, but it should do the job:

img1, it wasn't sent via Australia Post. They have used Fastway Couriers and it is coming by truck from the other side of Australia.

I need to cut 3mm (1/8 inch) grooves, about 1/4 inch deep, down the entire length of some pine:

I didn't order any router bits off eBay, and looking at Bunnings, they are not cheap. The cheapest 1/8 inch bits are these, at AU$12.79:

These are single-flute. A question, if anyone reading this has some experience with routers -- would the single-flute design be OK for cutting the grooves? The dual-flute bits are twice the price.

There is a second question. I need to cut a slot down the length of some aluminium tube, this tube:

The slot will not start from the end, and will be about 600mm long. I have watched videos on YouTube showing that small routers can be used to cut aluminium, and even cheap router bits used.

The challenge will be to mount the tube in such a way that the guide that comes with the router can be used. It is do-able I reckon, however, the question again is whether that single-flute bit will do the job?

I am extremely reluctant to buy a router bit that costs almost as much as the router!  Especially if it becomes dulled after using it with aluminium and has to be discarded. 

Tags: nomad

Planning solar water distiller prototype 3

September 09, 2019 — BarryK

I haven't forgotten about this project! Here are earlier posts:

I learned a lot from the first two prototypes, and a third is planned. Prototype #3 is hoped to be much more efficient, using the principle of condensation on both front and back sides of the panel, that is, glass on both sides.

Prototype #3 will be slightly smaller than #2 and roughly square, about 750x750mm. I want to be able to slide it vertically into the back of a vehicle. This is a practical detail if it is to be carried around in a car. Sitting horizontally has too many issues, such as not being able to put anything on top of it, and needing a perfectly flat surface to sit on, and cushioning when driving on corrugated roads.

With the Carocell, I have observed some mould growth. I haven't looked at my prototype #2 for awhile, it is covered with a sheet, but I will not be surprised if the same is happening. These units will probably stay mould-free if used continuously, however, that is not how I plan to use mine. Mine is only going to be used intermittently. The thing is, leaving a moist interior while not in use, is just asking for trouble.

Prototype #3 is planned to be very easy to pull apart. Also, the construction will be simplified. One reason that I want to open it up easily, is to take out the wicking cloth, either to clean or replace. I am thinking of some simple hinges and the whole thing will just pull apart.

The design is planned to allow easy removal of the top and/or bottom panels, allowing air to escape and the interior to dry out. So when I remove it from outdoor duty, open up top and/or bottom and let it dry out, either where it is in the sunlight, or in the car.

No drawings yet, the picture of how it will come together is in my mind.

Tags: nomad

Coasters for camping stretcher legs

September 07, 2019 — BarryK

This was a nice little mini-project. My old camping stretcher is coming unstitched, and is too low to the ground. I don't spring up from ground-level like I used to!

I didn't want to spend much, and it turned out that one of the cheapest in the local stores is, in my opinion, the best. This is what I bought, a Wanderer Fraser Single, at AU$59.99:


Here is what I like about it: high off the ground, very sturdy, doesn't wobble, strong construction, and no end-bars. And, of course, cheap. Oh yeah, it unfolds and folds up in seconds.

Can't find a video, but this one, Zempire Speedy stretcher, looks like it comes from the same factory in China, just some different design on the canvas:

...see how incredibly quick to unfold (and refold). That one is the same size as mine, 190cm long, 65cm wide, plenty enough for me.

What I don't like about it is the base of the legs, they could punch through a tent floor. This is a problem that many campers have, as most stretchers have a very small surface area at the bottom of the legs.

So, it needs some "shoes", or "coasters". It needs to be something that the legs won't slide off, and cheap. What I did is very simple...

Bought six of these 40mm push-on PVC caps, at AU$1.39 each:

And two chopping boards (one big and one small) from Kmart, for AU$4:

I used a tenon saw and cut the larger chopping board into six 100x100mm squares, and sandpapered the bottom of push-on caps and the matching surface on the pieces of chopping board.

Note, the push-on caps have embossed lettering on the end, so it is essential to sandpaper it flat. Also, roughening up the two surfaces is probably good for adhesion, and I used a fairly coarse sandpaper.

I used normal PVC pipe solvent/cement, blue coloured, though I do see that Bunnings stocks it in clear colour, which would have been better for the appearance:

...there is a primer available, which I have never used.

I put the two pieces together, with a small weight on top, in this photo it is a vase filled with sand:


...the hand-file in the photo was not needed. Just lay the sandpaper flat and rub the cap over it to remove the embossing, then rub the middle of the chopping-board piece with the sandpaper.

Oh yeah, I did use the hand-file. After cutting the squares, chamfered the edges with the file.

Although the solvent does grip fairly quickly, I thought it wise to leave the weight on it for awhile, until it reaches maximum strength. Left it overnight, and next day tested it. A pretty good join. I don't know what kind of plastic the chopping board is made of, hence the experiment. But, it is a good join. So went ahead and did the other five.

Here is the first one placed under a stretcher leg:


What I will probably also do, is drill a hole in each one, and tie with string to each leg, so that the shoes never get lost.

Looking at the photo, you might think that 100x100mm (4x4 inches) is bigger than really needed. Maybe, You could cut smaller rectangles, or circles if you have suitable cutting tool.

OK, this is a very simple project, but there will be many people with the same concern about potential damage to the tent floor, and this blog post shows a low-cost and easy-to-make solution. Total cost of each shoe is about AU$2, and I have one chopping board left over (the small one) to use in the kitchen. 

Tags: nomad