Wind Power System Made from Plastic Buckets

A wind power system made from plastic buckets is seen on boats at a floating village in Hanoi, Vietnam June 29, 2016. REUTERS/Kham

A wind power system made from plastic buckets is seen on boats at a floating village in Hanoi, Vietnam June 29, 2016. REUTERS/Kham

“Vietnamese families living in slums along the Red River in Hanoi are using red plastic buckets and old printers to help light homes, cook meals and slash electricity costs by as much as a third.

The recycled goods form the blades and motors of electrical generators that power old motorcycle batteries to illuminate lamps with a brightness equivalent to a 45-Watt light bulb.

Though the output generated is small, it makes a significant difference for families previously denied power because they lived too far from a power station or had to ration supply because of the expense.”

More pictures and information at Reuters: Plastic buckets, broken printers shine light on Hanoi’s poor. Via Playground Magazine.

See all our low-tech windmill posts.

Adapted Tools for Organic Farming

horse plough

L’Atelier Paysan is a French-speaking collective of small-scale farmers, employees and agricultural development organisations who design open source farm tools.

Based on the principle that farmers are themselves innovators, they have been collaboratively developing methods and practices to reclaim farming skills and achieve self-sufficiency in relation to the tools and machinery used in organic farming.

They have an English language website, which includes about a dozen tool descriptions with technical drawings. All tools can be appropriated and modified by farmers. [Read more…]

Lamella Roofs

lamella roof

A lamella roof, also known as the “Zollinger roof” (after Friedrich Zollinger), is a vaulted roof made up of simple, single prefabricated standard segments (mostly in timber) as a way to span large spaces. The individual pieces are joined together with bolts and/or plates to form a rhomboid pattern. Wooden sheathing covers the structure on the outside. The lamella roof was patented in 1910 and became popular between the World Wars, especially in Germany when metal for construction was in short supply. Some of these structures are now almost 100 years old and many of them remain in very good condition.

Read more: Lamella Roof, Open Source Ecology.

Zero Electricity Air Cooler

Eco-Cooler airco without electricity

Over 70% of Bangladesh’s population live in corrugated tin huts across the countryside. During the long summer months, temperatures reach up to 45° Celsius, making these huts unbearable to live in.

To address the issue, Grey Dhaka teamed up with volunteers from Grameen Intel Social Business Ltd to create the Eco-Cooler – a zero electricity air cooler, which uses re-purposed plastic bottles cut in half and put into a grid, in accordance to available window sizes.

Based on wind direction and airflow pressure, the Eco-Cooler has succeeded in decreasing the temperature in tin huts by up to 5° Celsius. After initial tests, blueprints of the Eco-Cooler were put up online for everyone to download for free.

Thanks to Adriana Parra.

Electrically Powered Bicycle Trailer & Hand Cart (DIY)

electric powered bike trailer

The German-made Carla Cargo is a three-wheeled cycle trailer with an electric assist motor. It can be pulled by any type of bicycle (including a cargo cycle or an electric bike), and it allows you to carry heavy (up to 150 kg) and bulky cargo (a loading platform of 60 x 160 cm). Uncoupled from the bicycle, the Carla Cargo works as a hand cart for large or heavy loads. The vehicle weighs 40 kg including the battery, and has a range of 40 to 60 km.

carla cargo bike trailerThe electric motor is built into the front wheel and can produce 250 watts as a trailer (up to 23 km/h), and 500 watts as a handtruck (up to 6 km/h). The lithium-ion battery has a capacity of 11 or 15 Ah. The vehicle has two disk brakes and a parking brake, which are controlled via the handle or the bicycle handlebar.

The Carlo Cargo sells for about 4,000 euro. The construction manual is freely accessible online, but only in German for now. The trailer/handcart is present at the International Cargo Bike Festival, April 16-17, in Nijmegem, the Netherlands.

Previously: 8-wheeler cargo cycle.

How to Build a Biosand Water Filter Using a Wood Mold

biosand filtersBiosand Filters use sand, gravel, and natural biological process to filter out contaminants in water, making it safe for drinking. They’re a great low-tech drinking water solution:

  • No electricity or running parts to operate the filter
  • Made with 100% locally available materials (unlike larger community based systems where foreign parts typically need to be imported)
  • Labor intensive NOT capital intensive
  • Very durable, can last more than 25 years if maintained properly
  • Little maintenance required
  • Very effective for removing bacteria, protozoa, helminths from water and reducing turbidity

The main problem with concrete biosand filters is they require a heavy, expensive steel mold to make. [Read more…]

DIY Tools that Serve Disabled People’s Unique Needs

low-tech hacked prosthetics

“In response to a heart attack, Cindy experienced an adverse reaction to medication and multiple organ failure. These complications resulted in amputations involving all four limbs: both of her legs below the knees and varying amounts of each of her fingers. With time, though, Cindy regained her ability to walk and started to find a “new normal.” She got great care from occupational therapists, physical therapists, physicians, and prosthetists.

But she found that the standard tools provided to her, even at a top-flight rehab hospital, didn’t facilitate some of the most important things she wanted to recover—how to write a thank you note, feed herself, put on makeup and jewelry, turn the pages in a picture book as she reads to her grandchildren. So Cindy started to design and build what she needed. From small hacks on her hand cream jar to repurposing cable ties for pulling out drawers and salad tongs for holding a sandwich, Cindy has embraced an everyday engineering ethic that she never thought possible. [Read more…]

Critical Making

critical makingCritical Making is a handmade book project by Garnet Hertz that explores how hands-on productive work ‐ making ‐ can supplement and extend critical reflection on technology and society.

It works to blend and extend the fields of design, contemporary art, DIY/craft and technological development. It also can be thought of as an appeal to the electronic DIY maker movement to be critically engaged with culture, history and society: after learning to use a 3D printer, making an LED blink or using an Arduino, then what?

The publication has 70 contributors ‐ primarily from contemporary art and academia ‐ and its 352 pages are bound in ten pocket-sized zine-like volumes. The project takes the topic of DIY culture literally by printing an edition of 300 copies on a hacked photocopier with booklets that were manually folded, stapled and cut.

The entire collection is scanned and released online. Illustration: Prototype for a machine that inserts razor blades into apples.

Gravity-Powered Solar Tracker

gravity powered solar tracker

The SunSaluter is an ultra low-cost, passive, single-axis solar panel rotator (called a tracker) designed for the developing world. Using only the power of gravity and water, the SunSaluter enables a solar panel to follow the sun throughout the day, boosting efficiency by 30% and producing four liters of clean drinking water.

It is 30 times less expensive than conventional motorized solar panel rotators (which use complex electronics), much more reliable, and consumes no electricity itself. With improved efficiency, fewer solar panels are needed, and the overall cost per watt of solar energy is reduced.

The SunSaluter features an adjustable design which allows it to integrate with any solar panel – no special tools needed. The solar panels are mounted on the rotating frame, a weight is suspended from one end, and a special waterclock is suspended from the other. As the water empties and the container gets lighter, the panel slowly rotates. The user can set the rate at which the waterclock empties, which controls the SunSaluter’s rate of rotation.

The SunSaluter also contains a water purifier so that each day it produces four liters of clean drinking water. By combining energy and water collection into one simple device, the SunSaluter improves consistent usage of the purifier, which is the Achilles heel of clean water programs. SunSaluters are available for purchase anywhere in the world as a DIY-kit, or in India as prefabricated systems.

More information: SunSaluter. Via Makeshift, who made a video about the technology.

DIY Urban Root Cellar

urban root cellar

“As we experiment with cultivating a greater agrarian connection, it’s time for us to revisit the age-old wisdom of the root cellar. Traditionally, root cellars are underground structures used to store vegetables, fruits and other foods. Because the earth’s mean temperature hovers around 60 degrees, a root cellar serves as the perfect natural refrigerator.

Although building a root cellar may not be practical for everyone—especially for those of us who live in urban areas—we can still apply some of the same concepts and techniques utilized in traditional root cellars to keep our harvest naturally fresh and lasting longer. The design of this urban root cel­lar, by Elliott Marks, was inspired by an exhibition by Jihyun Ryou, called “Save Food from the Refrigerator.”

The design incorporates key elements of a good root cellar — a variety of shelves, humidity, and air circulation — while also being small and portable. It is easily achievable by anyone and we encourage you to adopt this design or create a version that works for you. The general concept is to create a storing space specifically designed to preserve the gar­den harvest using grandparents’ know-how.”

Read more: Make your own urban root cellar, Mother Earth News.