How to heat your cabin with steam?

This is a guest post by Mikhesh The Steamer.

It does not have to be just about the winter regarded with apprehension, which did not prove to be as much problematic in Europe at all. In the outlying hills, there is a lack of electricity or gas source. On the other hand, there is usually water and wood nearby. A steam heater can be assembled from things you find in a garbage dump, thrown away in a workshop or in a hobby market.

In a cabin with a fireplace after thirty minutes, the temperature is at best slightly higher, but with steam heating, a T-shirt is enough for that time. You can also spread the steam behind several corners and you don’t have to rely on heat radiation. Wood consumption is equal to a regular fireplace. The difference is in how we deal with its energy.

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Human Powered Fire Making

People made fire by hand for many thousands of years. We improved the energy efficiency of the process by letting the legs do the work. Unlike modern lighters, the lighter bike does not use fossil fuels. Lighting a cigarette takes about a minute of brisk pedaling.

DIY: How to build your own bike generator.

Human Powered Record Player

Low-tech Magazine’s bike generator powers a record player. No batteries are involved: a buck converter in the control panel keeps the voltage output constant at 12V. Power use is very low and pedaling is easy. Record: Jean-Jacques Perrey et son Ondioline.

Build your own bike generator.

We also published a video of our pedal powered video projector.

Human Powered Dot Matrix Printer

Human-powered dot-matrix printer. Direct power. No batteries are involved. Directly powering a dot-matrix printer is challenging, especially when printing longer documents. The power demand is variable and can increase suddenly for a short time. You must pedal very fast to anticipate these peaks. If you fail, the voltage drops, the communication between the printer and the laptops breaks down, and the machine prints the document all over again. Capacitors could solve this. A laser printer has a very high power use during startup and is incompatible with a bike generator (or a small-scale solar installation).

DIY manual for the bike generator:

History of office equipment:

Human Powered Electric Guitar

Musician Germán Canyelles uses Low-tech Magazine’s bike generator to power his electric guitar. The guitar amplifier and pedals are plugged into an inverter connected to the 12V circuit of the bike generator. No batteries are used. Recorded at Akasha Hub, Barcelona.

Solar Desalination Skylight

“You hand pump seawater or polluted water into a bowl. Throughout the day the energy from the sun heats up this water and, instead of evaporating into the atmosphere, it gets trapped in the top section. All the fresh water will then trickle down into this bottom basin and all the impurities of the salt and polluted water stay behind. You’re going to have a left-over salt brine which is going to be a waste resource, but instead of throwing it away, this salt brine goes into the series of seawater batteries around the perimeter that can light a LED strip during the night. At night you can turn on the light and you get an energy source through the salt batteries. And during the day, this is like a skylight, bringing natural light to the interiors.”

“The power of the sun is amazing, and I was trying to copy this hydrological cycle. It can kill 99% of dangerous pathogens, remove salt brine and reduce the need of having to boil your water. I am not necessarily reinventing the wheel; solar distillers have been around for a long time, but a lot of these systems are heavy, expensive to make and with very complicated designs. I wanted to think about one which could potentially be portable and simple to construct, made out of local materials and able to Achieve a higher yield of water.”

“This new design was exactly the same but at a large scale. We created a recipe book that is a step-by-step guide on how you can create this same design using bamboo and local work. It could be flat packed into a bag and deployed very simply and quickly and then attached to a bamboo structure which allows structural rigidity but also a community shaded spot, where you can produce around 18 liters of purified water everyday.”

Read more: Low-Tech Solutions for Complex Demands: An Interview with Architect Henry Glogau, ArchDaily. Image by Henry Glogau. Hat tip to Michael.