No Tech Reader #33

Trail Marker Trees

Trail Marker Trees were an ancient form of land and water navigational aids, as well as a marking system to denote areas of significant importance such as ceremonial sites. These trees were used by many, if not all, of the Native American tribes and later by fur traders and early pioneers. The Trail Marker Trees differed in their appearance and formation from tribe to tribe and from region to region. Examples of these trees have been found all across the United States and throughout Canada.

One unique characteristic of the trail marker tree is a horizontal bend several feet off the ground, which makes it visible at greater distances, even in snow. Researcher Dennis Downes was first introduced to the Trail Marker Trees as a young boy and was influenced by his own Native American relative. Mr. Downes has spent nearly thirty years of his adult life in the field locating, documenting, and educating others about these historical icons. See and read more on his website: Great Lakes Trail Marker Tree Society. There’s also a Wikipedia page on the topic.

Via Roel Roscam Abbing. Image: Trail Marker Tree in White County, IN known as ‘Grandfather’. CC BY-SA 3.0.

No Tech Reader #32

Sustainable computing special.

State of the Art of Windthermal Turbines

As Low-tech Magazine wrote in 2019, given the right conditions, a mechanical windmill with an oversized brake system is a cheap, effective, and sustainable heating system. Earlier this year, Malte Neumeier from the German Aerospace Center informed us that he and his team are investigating the technical and economical challenges of the technology.

“We started our research, with a birds eye techno-economic analysis and a scoping review. The results were promising, so we decided to build our own prototype. To refine our analysis, we are now searching for people, who already have experience with this technology. Maybe we could discuss some lessons learned. Do you have contact to any person experienced in wind-thermal energy applications? I would really appreciate this.” [Read more…]

Bike Powered Water Pumps

The Spanish NGO Azada Verde works with rural communities in Mozambique to develop sustainable and local food systems. Their bike powered water pumps save the local population much time fetching water. The pumps each supply 10 litres of water per minute. So far, 67 bike powered water pumps have been installed.

All images by Azade Verde.

Small Scale Hemp Processing

Reader Martin Monin shares some links around hemp processing:

I don’t know if you have some research or an article under preparation for this, but as you know, hemp is an extraordinary plant for the low tech transition, and yet its use is still marginal, as it’s costlier than cotton/concrete and the other chemical/petrol substitutes.

There are multiple parts in the process, from the retting of the plant (which can be done naturally by letting the plant in the field after its cut, or chemically – like the Chinese do). And then decorticating, separating the fiber from the stem, and the flower/seeds. From my small research, it seems that the industry is more looking into huge machines to process the huge fields of American and Australian farmers. But there is not much around small scale farming, and I was wondering if you knew of any low tech projects around hemp processing?

Here is a machine made in Latvia that seems interesting but does only a small part of the whole process : https://hurdmaster.com/

And another project between USA and Zambia to build a whole hemp processing facility, very interesting : https://ehemp.house/

The dream would be to build a micro autonomous plant that produces seeds + flowers for CBD extraction, fiber for textile production and hurd for construction isolation…

Best,
Martin