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Portal:Projects/Selected page/1

There are four basic Hexayurt sizes which cover a variety of needs.
What is it? The Hexayurt is a refugee shelter system based on work done at the Rocky Mountain Institute. It uses an approach based on "autonomous building" to provide not just a shelter, but a comprehensive family support unit which includes drinking water purification, composting toilets, fuel-efficient stoves and solar electric lighting. Other systems can be added in a modular fashion.

Is this for real? Yes. Both the American Red Cross and the US Department of Defense have examined the Hexayurt system in detail and found that it has considerable merit and utility. I hope that we will see it in use by international agencies within two years. The best place to get started is to read the slides from the presentation Vinay Gupta gave at the Pentagon in December 2006: Pentagon Presentation (pdf) - 20 pages, not much text, and the best summary of the system we currently have online.

Projected Costs: Shelter: $200 - $500+ per single family unit depending on size, climate and use duration Infrastructure Package: around $100 per unit.


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Awsome thermal curtains
How to make awesome thermal curtains.

Step 1. Measure the windows to be treated with thermal curtains. Be careful on how you convert your measurements into the fabric yard.

Step 2. Obtain the batting material and decorative fabric material. It is best if you can use recycled or sustainable material. Keep in mind that you want sturdy material that is not going to stretch or rip easily. Twill works best, while jersey is impractical.

Step 3. Wash the decorative fabric material before you fabricate your thermal curtains.

Step 4. Cut the batting material and the fabric out according to the measurements of the window, giving an allowance of 2 inches around the perimeter of the decorative fabric material. Remember, it is better to be a little over than too short.

Step 5. Pin the fabric on to the batting material so that it makes sewing easier. With the Warm Windows batting material, the fabric-side of the batting material must face the decorative-side of the fabric material.

Step 6. Use a sewing machine to sew the fabric to the batting material.

Step 7. Make holes in the material along the top for the grommets to be put into.

Step 8. Sew Velcro onto the sides of the curtain panels that need to be sealed onto the wall. Position and set Velcro on the walls relative to the position of the Velcro on the curtains. This allows for better insulation.

Step 9. Install the curtain rod and hang up the curtains.

Step 10. Make curtain ties out of the extra material, if any, if you want to be able to tie the curtains back.

And Voila!


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Yeast Cakes from Hops
Yeasts for Baking. Generally when one mentions yeast, aromatic loaves of fresh homemade light bread come to mind. And so they should. Aside from acting as a leavening agent in bakery products, yeast is also the ingredient responsible for the tantalizing aroma that arises during baking.

Though probably today the most commonly known and used are store-boughten packages of dried yeast, there are several other different kinds. The recipes that follow show two examples of different ways to make yeast--dry yeast cakes made from hops and an everlasting yeast "starter"--and also how the yeasts are used in making bread.

The dry yeast cakes are made in part by boiling the blossoms of the hop vine. These flowers contain a fragrant yellowish oil called lupulin. The use of this oil as a preservative in beer and as a narcotic drug originated in Germany before Charlemagne. Since then its use has become wide spread and the vine cultivated in other nations, including America.

The hop vine is related to the hemp and mulberry plants in the nettle family. The plant itself is twenty-five to thirty feet in length with rough lobed leaves and flowers that grow on catkin clusters. It is quite possible that many people in the Ozarks have never seen a hop vine, because although some Ozarkians have had limited success cultivating it, it grows best in sandy coastal regions.


Portal:Projects/Selected page/4

Diagram of compost
Building compost guide. There are many ways to build a good compost. This page shows a method that comes from a rural, developing world perspective, although it could easily be used or adapted elsewhere. The aim is to build a quick decomposing hot compost that is made from locally available materials, which can easily be gathered and built in a rural setting. The work in building a large compost is often shared amongst a number of people, with the final compost being used by each one when appropriate.

The method of building compost can be different depending on the amount of compost required, materials available, type of compost and particularly the climate of the region.
Pit compost: Pit compost is ideal for areas with medium to low rainfall. The depth of the pit will depend upon the amount of rainfall. The less the rainfall the deeper the pit should be to prevent the rapid loss of water, which is essential in the natural production of compost. In some dry regions it has been known for pits to be dug as deep as 3ft. For example, this type of compost is used in the dryer and warmer parts of central and northern Uganda.
Heap compost: Probably the best way of making vegetation compost in areas of heavy and frequent rainfall. A farmer does not need to build a deep pit to build this type of compost. In regions of heavy rainfall, water would remain standing in a pit resulting in an inadequate flow of nutrients and the production of peat rather than compost. For example, this type is used in the temperate mountainous regions of eastern Uganda and western Kenya.
Trench compost: This involves the building of the compost for convenience close to where it is needed or the source raw material.


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This is what it looks like when finished.
Welding wood. This is a technique to join wood using scrap tin, such as that from a used can. Needed materials include:
1. Two sticks of wood to be joined.
  • Make sure the wood is in good condition where the connection is to be made. It should be clean, no bits of bark or loose paint, and no knots, as they are too hard for nails.

2. Two pieces of thin tin.

  • For the first bond, use a knife for cutting the tin from a small can for example.
  • Length and width equal to the stick diameter.

3. One piece of sheet metal.

  • For the final bond, use the tip of an axe or chisel for cutting the sheet metal from an oil drum for example.
  • Width 3x the stick diameter; Length 6x the stick diameter.

4. Some small, ~1 cm, nails for the first connection. 5. Some larger, ~2.5 cm, nails for the final connection.


Portal:Projects/Selected page/6

The finished greenhouse!
Construction of an Affordable Greenhouse. The capstone project for Queen’s University 4th Year Mechanical Engineering Class,"Engineering for Sustainable Development", is to design and construct an Appropriate Technology with a quantifiable engineering result. This project is to construct a greenhouse, review the heat requirement on the system for the whole year; then, based on the materials and conditions selected, review costs associated with this and build a scaled model.

This project is the first step to easy community greenhouse development - the goal of the affordable greenhouse is to:

  1. Improve greenhose design and awareness for residential application.
  2. Demonstrate the feasibility (i.e costs) of a greenhouse in the winter months and determine the best time to install such a system for optimal crop yield.

Due to the materials selected and the cold Canadian Spring, it is not effective to construct until late April. But with better material selection and innovative greenhouse designs, it is hoped that constructing miniature greenhouses will become common practice.

The blueprints for the construction of an affordable greenhouse are included; for this greenhouse a single pane Polyinyl chloride (PVC) covered greenhouse was reviewed. Heat losses and calculations were done in MatLab using constants from the Canadian Climate Normals website and sunlight radiation from Queen's University Living Building.

-Happy growing!


Portal:Projects/Selected page/7

The new and improved Marsh
AEF greywater. For our final project we rebuilt a greywater system at the CSA, Arcata Educational Farm. Greywater consists of all used water produced at a particular site, except for water coming from the toilet, which is known as blackwater. When building a greywater system you first separate the greywater from the blackwater and send the greywater through a separate treatment system. Ideally, after the greywater passes through the purification process it will then be able to be reused. Greywater systems are an appropriate use of technology for many reasons. Some of them being: they reduce the use of fresh water, there is less stress on existing more conventional septic tanks, it is a highly effective purification process, and there is less chemical and energy use required. In our case the majority of water used on the farm is to water vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruits, and the source of greywater comes from the outdoor kitchen, used by the farmers and volunteers to cook and wash vegetables or dishes.

Portal:Projects/Selected page/8

Preparing the trap
GEM mosquito control. This method of mosquito control involves the use of water containers inside/outside households as well as other buildings, regularly replaced to kill mosquito larvae. It is well known that mosquitoes lay eggs in water where ever it be. It is also equally true that they visit human dwellings as well as cattle/bird sheds for feeding usually from dusk to dawn and they cannot complete their reproductive cycle without animal protein. Exploiting these weaknesses one could achieve mosquito control. For that provide a few micro water bodies around the building using household utensils. Destroy larvae as & when they appear.

By two months one gets tangible reduction in mosquito problem. This experience has repeated at many sites. Further research unearthed the reasons for the magnificent result produced in a short span of two months.

This can be easily extended to larger areas with people’s participation as well as cooperation & guidance from concerned agencies like the WHO and the perennial & apparently unsurmountable problems like Mosquito menace & Malaria, Dengue fever & a host of other problems can be solved once for all. See also Some history. This tall claim is based on the confidence given by the three decade long experience in the matter.


Portal:Projects/Selected page/9

Luggage carrier for transport bicycle
Luggage carrier for transport bicycle. Bicycles are used for transporting bulky and heavy loads. It is trickey to do this in a way that it is still possibe to pedal the bicycle. In practice sometimes special racks are permanently attached to the bicycle. Such racks may hinder the more normal use of this bicycle. Moreover normal bicycles are not build to take heavy loads over rough roads. Special bicycles for heavy loads are not generally available. An alternative could be a load carrier characterized with the following: the load does not rest on the frame of the bicycle, but is transferred directly to the wheelaxles; it is easy to mount and remove the load rack; such a load rack can be made by the user and adapted to the load to be transported. The load rack should not be in the way to push the loaded bicycle or to ride it.

To make sure that the load put on the bicycle is mainly transferred to the wheel axle, straps are attached where the wheel axles are bolted to the bicycle frame. These straps are made by winding some thin wire around frame and axle and twisting it into a loop.In each strap fits the tapered end of a straight stick roughly one and half a meter long. For the load rack over the front wheel, these sticks are tied with a strip of rubber to the steering handle. For the load rack over the rear wheel, the two sticks are also mounted in the loops attached to the rear wheel axle, then higher up with rubberstrips to a T-shaped wooden extension strapped to the frame under the saddle. Any basket, bag, netting or platform can be attached to the sticks, that support the load in the most practical way. This choice is left to the user. After use only the wire loops remain attached to the bicycle frame for future use. The sticks and the T-frame are removed. On the way back from the market, these parts can be tied in a bundle to the side of the bicycle.


Portal:Projects/Selected page/10

Sarah the hardest worker who is always chuggin' away.
CCAT yurt rainwater catchment. The long history of rainwater collection, can be traced (in recorded history) as far back as ancient times some 3,000 years ago (850 BC) if not even farther. The need for water is a basic human essential for maintaining life, without it, no civilization could have prospered. Rainwater collection in ancient Constantinople is one of the last megalithic structures of its kind.

The CCAT Rainwater Catchment Group consists of: Sean Colley, Matt de Young, Jessica Radtkey, Sarah Shimizu, and Tiesha Whittaker. Our project for ENGR 114 was to build a rainwater catchment system around the yurt at CCAT on campus at Humboldt State University. The purpose of the rainwater catchment system is to capture and store rainwater in a large storage drum for use to water plants on the CCAT grounds. Water is a resource that is always present around us but not always in an immediately useful form. Therefore, it is necessary that we use innovative and appropriate techniques to capture and transform the water that we have into a useful form of water for our needs.


Portal:Projects/Selected page/11

Foundation of the underground tank (copyleft Practical Action/Douglas Gumbo)
Underground rainwater storage facilities. Rainwater storage tanks are more important in semi arid areas than any other areas because they are useful in storing limited water supplies for agricultural purposes. In semiarid regions, where precipitation is low or infrequent during the dry season, it is necessary to store the maximum amount of rainwater during the wet season for use at a later time, especially for agricultural supply. One of the methods frequently used is the underground

storage tanks. The in situ technology consists of making storage available in areas where the water is going to be utilised. All rainfall-harvesting systems have three components: a collection area, a conveyance system, and a storage area. In this application, collection and storage is provided within the landscape.

Consider five main factors when designing your underground tank.

  1. Seepage
  2. Evaporation
  3. Length of the dry spell
  4. Daily usage
  5. Construction costs

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