Thursday, December 31, 2015

Media in a Box: Modular TV & Hi-Fi-Speaker Sound System

No need for cables is the best part. I've been complaining for years about the mess of cables in even a simple system.  Half the time, the components are stacked on upon the other, so why do we have to use 3 foot or longer cables to plug them together?  This modular system connects together like legos.

Media in a Box: Modular TV & Hi-Fi-Speaker Sound System

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Description of my Future Small Smart Cheap Green Home.

Basic Design Principles for my Future Small Smart Cheap Green Home

Passive solar design, a high thermal mass, shade trees  & structures in the right places to block afternoon sun, deep eaves to keep summer noon sun of walls & windows and to cover outdoor living areas, a stairwell that doubles as a ventilation stack, a cool roof, designed for solar, rainwater retention and gray water collection. 

It will be a rectangle because corners are hard to insulate  although that isn't an issue with ICFs or AAC block. Also, to minimize exposure to the West.  And It's just a good design principle. Also, dimensions will be divisible by two feet. For the ICFs  (or advanced framing).  Narrow for cross ventilation. The open living area of the house will be only as wide as a good size living room.. 20' maybe.  The sleeping area may to the side tucked behind carport or to the back back and that section may be wider.

Will keep costs down with a small home and small footprint, open floor plan to minimize ductwork and wet walls/stacking to reduce plumbing costs. I hope it will be so efficient all that's needed in this climate is a mini-split unit to supplement. I'm wavering between combining kitchen or bath with laundry. I think bath.  Mechanicals in a central core, i.e. shared wall unit between the kitchen/bath/laundry/pantry. AC. Water heater.

There will be a large thermal mass in the form of a rocket stove/oven/fireplace of some sort. Maybe rustic, maybe modern. I've seen designs I like for both.

The style is a rustic mid-century. But the friendly kind with porches & eaves. Like my Grandmother's house was.  It will have transoms  & clerestory windows for ventilation and light.  It will have working shutters for severe weather & sun. And situated for home food production and outdoor living.  Foodscaped with fruit & nut trees and perennials. Plus some beds for annuals.

It want it to be stuccoed outside and plastered inside. Not sided or sheetrocked. Done DIY.  A pretty pale green color.

All or most of the living area is single story with a flat white roof deck above. The second story area has a shed roof sloped towards the south for solar panels &a rainwater.

The sleeping area is flexible space for flexible use, divided by modular furniture and panels of some sort.  And may be an exact duplicate directly above. (Or maybe different above: more sleeping area upstairs over more of the living area to shrink house footprint, smaller roof deck because there's a carport that can be a deck)  The 2nd floor bath will be stacked above the 1st floor bath or kitchen. The resident can easily choose between making the upstairs or down stairs the 'master.'  The doors  to these flexible sleeping areas will be double barn doors to open up the small rooms. Plus transoms.

 I'd like to incorporate some tiny home ideas like a loft sleeping area. Loft beds, Murphy beds or beds that slide under a raised platform living area or storage units.

 The Kitchen in my Future Small Smart Cheap Green Home.

Open to the living area.
Island with 4- 5 ft wide top and nothing in it but workspace, except maybe the induction burner. Or counter height table & stools.  The kitchen can be small, but there has to be at least this much worktop.
I want a cool pantry for produce from my garden and our urban farms and space for a freezer.  And ventilation for refrigerator/freezer coils. Could the AC flow into the pantry first? 
Very large deep sink, with covers: solid & slotted to drain dishes. Maybe that in sink dishwasher if it's still available.
Dish draining plate rack cupboard for cups & plates.
Cooking will be via electric induction or  in winter via rocket stove/oven (whether cob or a commercial product). Or outdoors.
2 burner induction cooktop. (portable so it can be put away in a drawer or inserted into counter? I hate cords)

Maybe no oven except the rocket stove or outdoors (solar & otherwise). Ovens just aren't a good way to cook unless you want to heat up the space.  But some kind of broiler is a must.

Shoe removal bench/storage for coats, book bags, purses. 
Mud/utility room with sink &; dog washing, but am thinking it doesn't all need to be inside the conditioned space. 
A carport  that's part of the architecture as was done a lot in Mid-Century Modern design. rather than a garage (3 easy LEED points there!)Extend the roof line into carport.
The stairwell/ventilation stack might be a bump out in which case the space under will be utility. Or if inside the living, something else clever will be done to use the space. Storage wall, library, tuck the sofa under it....

Also considering keeping a certain amount of appliances/lighting DC power for efficiency, with a small amount of battery storage for night/emergency.
 I.E.  Some lights in the kitchen area. some appliances, fans.  Thinking of having a small fridge plus one of those DC powered chest coolers for extra, beverages & what not so you don't keep opening the 'big' fridge or for fruit and other items that don't like the standard cold fridge temps, plus have it for power outages/camping. Maybe have a pullout shelf for it under the counter.

Solar thermal assisted Mini-Split AC.
Dehumidifyer vented to outside.
Heat exchanging ventilation system.
PV with some DC storage, some grid tied AC

Rustic Midcentury.  Most walls will be a pale cheery spring green. or different shades of such a color.
Absolutely no recessed lighting anywhere.  Or ugly vents.
A mid-centrury Mod wooden grid system for walls & ceiling to mount artwork & lights.

Walls of storage.  Natural wood.
I think oscilating fans are more energy efficient than ceiling. Is that right? There are wall mountable fans. Vintage looking.
In addition to the open living area, there's one other small space to get away to. Play/study. But might be one of the flexible sleeping area spaces.
Living/kitchen flow to outdoors.  Maybe bathroom as well. To make it accessible via outside without tracking in dirt.
Shoe removal bench/storage by doors.
Considering large shared closet near bath rather than closets in every sleeping area as rooms are meant to be flexible space. And for sleeping, not living.
Outdoor kitchen with solar oven. 

See my pinterest boards for information & ideas for Better Homes & Building Materials & Techniques, Floor plans, Better Spaces, Alternative Power, Growing Food, and more.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Features any home should have

Dimensions divisible by 2' for advanced framing.

Oriented properly for passive heating/cooling. Minimal west exposure. Deep eaves or shade structures on south & west. roof slanted for solar, water collection.

Thermal Mass on inside.

Wet walls to reduce plumbing runs.  Kitchen back to utility & bath. Other bath stacked above.

Open floor plan with few halls, no sprawl.  Reduces ductwork. I hope to have a mini split or two, only. 

Designed to flow outside. Fit into outdoor space, not just sit in the middle of the lawn.

Transoms &/or other vent for air flow between rooms.

Places for pets. food bowls, water, litter box, access to outdoors that isn't in the door, facing winter winds, etc. ideally has an airlock &/or can be sealed tight at night or extreme weather.  Outdoor enclosed cattery.

Place for trash can, recycling, compost.  Especially in dense builds. It's crazy they leave no space for this.

Place for small chest freezer.

Utility room with utility sink, dog washing, foot washing, laundry machines, drying rack. Shoes, coats Doesn't all necessarily have to be in conditioned space.

Room size:
Living room - open to dining & kitchen so flexible, but
not much longer than sofa length plus end table width x  ?

Bedrooms - I plan for the alotted bedroom areas to be flexible so you can chose upstairs or downstairs master,  divide into 2 -3 smaller spaces, etc.  But one wall will be the width of a king size bed plus 2 feet on each side rounded up to be divisible by 2ft (for advanced framing)  That's as big as a master bedroom needs to be.  Period.

 My house:
Xella?  AAC cement blocks. Plaster on inside, stucco/limewash outside. No sheetrock over these walls.
"Limewash protects underlying lime coating and masonry as it acts as a sacrificial layer. It also remains vapour permeable thus allowing moisture to evaporate from the building fabric. Most modern masonry paints have very low vapour permeability (if at all) and will trap moisture within a wall or building, leading to greater problems of internal dampness and timber rot. Modern masonry paints also tend to peel and crack, and are affected adversely by UV light, unlike limewashes."

Mostly flat white roof for living/ growing food.

Situated to maximize growing space. Hopefully creating some microclimates. 

Bedroom area divvied up with some prefab materials, wardrobes, etc. Barn doors.

Walls of storage!!! 

Floors:  Plywood sheets cut into 4x4' squares. Separated by the strips used in terrazo.

kitchen/bath/utility in one block to include some kind of utility space in a central core that can blow into the open living area without ductwork.  also want to cool pantry & vent heat from behind fridge.

My kitchen:
Some kind of rocket stove either natural built or purchased high efficiency wood stove/oven in kitchen but open to living.

Pantry-  one of those foot or so wide pull out pantries. But cooled with something.

Small fridge or pair of European sized fridges so one can be turned off if needed to conserve in power outage. Or small fridge plus one fridge drawer.

Butcher block, stainless, aluminum banded formica or that black chem lab stuff made of paper.  No rock hard surfaces. 

Very large single basin sink, stove, etc all with covers to make it all work space. sink covers slotted to double as drain boards, carving boards, etc.

One island @ 4ft long workspace. Don't need a big kitchen, but must have at least that in continuous workspace.  Can have a counter height 'breakfast" table that can double as work space.

Magnetic cook top. 2 burner, could be embedded into island. Otherwise nothing in island. + one portable spare that can be stowed away.

Wall mounted small oven with broiler mounted at eye level.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Quote from Rob Hopkins, Founder of the Transition Movement

it feels like the world has gone from “there’s no problem” to saying “it’s too late” without the bit in the middle “maybe we can actually do something.

Read interview after his recent, probably once in a lifetime since he doesn't fly (carbon emissions), visit to the United States.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Best Plants for the End of the World

 Just starting my list.


MB001 Moringa: Natures Medicinal Cabinet -  Tree - superfood high in vitamin C, calcium, protein, oil,
Moringa may provide the boost in energy, nutrition and health you've been seeking. It's a remarkable tree whose leaves, pods and flowers have seven times the Vitamin C found in oranges, four times the Vitamin A of carrots, three times the iron of spinach, four times as much calcium as milk and three times the potassium of bananas. And its medicinal properties are no less impressive. Besides providing a natural energy boost, people also report their immune system strengthened, skin condition restored, blood pressure controlled, headaches and migraines handled, diabetes sugar level managed, inflammations and arthritis pains reduced, tumors restricted and ulcers healed. Excited laboratory researchers have already confirmed many of these results, and work is continuing.
Moringa also has a well-documented detoxifying effect. Universities around the world have studied Moringa's ability to purify water--attaching itself to harmful material and bacteria, and allowing them to be expelled as waste. The evidence points to this same process going on inside your body.

Hemp - high protein seeds

Other Uses

Hemp - Fiber. Fast growing, low water, low pest

Soap Nut Tree - for your laundry
There are two native varieties. 
Aztec Maxamillian Sunflower  - Rapidly produces a large hedge - Edible flowers, livestock forage,

Solar Antenna Printed onto Plastic at Pennies per Yard

 Another entry for my Things That Give Me Hope Pinterest Board.
A novel way to collect energy from the sun with a technology that could potentially cost pennies a yard, be imprinted on flexible materials and still draw energy after the sun has set.

The new approach, which garnered two 2007 Nano50 awards, uses a special manufacturing process to stamp tiny loops of conducting metal onto a sheet of plastic. Each "nanoantenna" is as wide as 1/25 the diameter of a human hair.

Because of their size, the nanoantennas absorb energy in the infrared part of the spectrum, just outside the range of what is visible to the eye. The sun radiates a lot of infrared energy, some of which is soaked up by the earth and later released as radiation for hours after sunset. Nanoantennas can take in energy from both sunlight and the earth's heat, with higher efficiency than conventional solar cells.

So far, the hold up is in converting the collected energy to usable electricity.
More info:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Allan Savory: How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change with livestock!

The great herds of animals that roamed the earth were an essential part of the ecosystem.  Their removal for monocropping and/or our system of limiting their movements has increased desertification. This Ted talk illustrates how proper grazing of large herds restores land.

Perhaps it's a good companion to the earlier post on grazing animals and growing grain in the same pasture using no till methods.  Especially in the parts of the world where they don't use giant machines to till, plant and harvest. 

See also this person's collection of articles on reversing climate change while meeting human needs that includes many of Allan Savory's articles.