What do you want to be when you grow up? In the 19th century, this question was easier to answer than it is today. There were 87 possibilities, according to Edward Hazen, author of “The Panorama of Professions and Trades” (1837). The book was also published as “Popular Technology; Professions and Trades” in 1870, Part 1 and Part 2 – these are better scans. Every profession is explained and illustrated. Find the table of contents below. Via Doug Berch, musician and dulcimer maker.
Energy Bulletin pointed us to the website of Practical Action
(previously known as the Schumacher Centre for Technology &
Development), an online resource devoted to low-technology solutions
for developing countries. The site hosts many manuals that can also be of interest for low-tech DIYers in the developed world. They cover energy, agriculture, food processing, construction and manufacturing, just to name some important categories.
We would like to add to this the impressive online library put together by software engineer Alex Weir. The 900 documents listed here (13 gigabytes in total) are not as well organised and presented as those of Practical Action, but there is a wealth of information that is not found anywhere else. The library is also hosted here (without search engine).
Other interesting online resources that offer manuals and instructions are Appropedia, Howtopedia and Open Source Ecology. These are all wiki’s, so you can cooperate. The Centre for Alternative technologies has many interesting manuals, too, but the majority of those are not for free. Previously: The museum of old techniques / A do-it-ourselves guide.
“The gravity ropeway is an inexpensive and simple means of transportation. It operates by gravitational force without the use of external power. The gravity ropeway consists of two trolleys which roll on support tracks. These are attached to a control cable in the middle which moves in a traditional flywheel system. When the loaded trolley at the up-station is pulled downward by the force of gravity, the other trolley at the bottom-station is pulled up automatically by means of the control cable.
In principal the goods coming downward from the up-station must to be thrice as heavy as the up-going load. The sliding down of the trolley and its speed depends upon the angle of elevation made by the cables installed with the horizontal ground.
A flywheel with bearing and bracket is used as a brake to control the landing speed of the trolley at the bottom-station. Communication between top and bottom stations is done by tapping the wire rope. The operator at the top-station strikes the wire rope with a stick to send a wave signal through the wire rope to the operator at the down-station. The operator at the down-station then applies the hand brake to control the flywheel.”
Read more (building plans included). In-depth article: “Aerial ropeways: automatic cargo transport for a bargain“. Related: Water powered cable trains & (for those lacking mountains) Electric road trains 1901-1950.
Penterbak shows a dozen scale models of traditional Dutch Windmills. The text is in Dutch, but that should not stop you. Above: a saw mill. Some building plans are here, here and here. Related: Wind powered factories – the history (and future?) of industrial windmills.
The Deutsche Fotothek has uploaded a mind-blowing portfolio of around 3,500 drawings and documents by German visionary Karl Hans Janke. Via BibliOdyssey, where you can find a selection and an introduction in English about the man and his work.
Cargohopper is an electric road train for package delivery in the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands. Last month, all the energy it consumed was generated by the solar panels while driving (source). This is possible because of its very low maximum speed of 20 km/h or 12 mph. An extra solar panel will be installed on the truck in order to get the same results during the winter season.