Monday, December 31, 2012

Ecomodding and hypermiling

One way to "go green" is to reduce your fuel useage. The easiest way to do that is by getting a smaller vehicle. However most people cant afford this luxury, so the next best thing to do is to aeromod your current vehicle. Most vehicles are not aerodynamically clean and possess a fairly large amount of aero drag. By installing several easy mods to your vehicle, you can increase your fuel efficiency by 25 to as much as 50 percent.

These mods include:
Wheel well covers
Boat tail
Belly pan
Front air block
Radiator block
Instant fuel economy gauge such as The scangauge or mpguino.

More advanced modifications include a fuel injection cutoff switch, lean burn indicator, solar charged alternator bypass switch, and deep cycle electric assist.

The easiest way to increase your fuel efficiency is to adjust the nut behind the wheel. This can be done with an instant mileage gauge and a few hours driving.

These modifications as well as hypermiling instruction can increase fuel efficiency well over 40% better fuel efficiency.

If you are interested in decreasing your dependance on foreign oil just drop us an email at (remove the 999)

Also we are looking for a 3 or 4 cylinder engine, standard transmission vehicle manufactured after 1996 so that we can perform fuel economy experements and find ways to increase efficiency even further. You can email us at the above email if you have a vehicle you think we would be interested in.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Project Up-Cycle Part 1-ish (planning)

Well Im about to get busy busy busy!!!!!! Santas sleigh motorcycle? Horse drawn Santas sleigh carriage ? Does anybody buy horse drawn carriages anymore? DELIVERING PRESENTS TO NEEDY CHILDREN DRESSED LIKE SANTA?

The bike is going to have three attachment points to the Up-cycle fairing. Before construction of the fairing, I could Build a "Santas sleigh" cutout and affix it to the frame so that I could ride around in santa's sleigh, dressed up in a Santa cool would that be? I would put a donation bucket in the back that says what I am doing so people can donate to help fund Christmas for the underprivileged.

Now, If I could get a hold of a small trailer axle, that would be beautiful. I would use the attachment points to build a three wheeled sleigh, so that I could take on a passenger (child or a parent) I would rig up several 12v deep cycle car batteries to power a hot cocoa maker and a cookie warmer, perhaps have an air traffic control radio so Santa can talk to pilots when he is flying. It would be a wicked awesome Santas sleigh.

The way I see it, Santa is one thousand seven hundred and forty-two years old (as of 2012, born 270), his reindeer are actually horses and they are approximately the same age, so flying from house to house is out of the question. The horses are just too old to fly so much. So Santa will land in a neighborhood and unleash the horses, they will walk about in the childrens yards eating the food the children left out. If the bag is small enough Santa can just walk through the neighborhood delivering presents. But for larger deliveries, an elf accompanies him to drive the sleigh while santa hops out at every house and delivers presents.

Anyway I am off the point. The sleigh needs to comfortable enough to deliver presents to around two BILLION children each year. so you would want modern day amenities like a hot cocoa maker or a cookie warmer to keep the fresh baked cookies warm that Mrs. Clause baked for me.

What else should modern Santas sleigh have?

This ties in to the Up-Cycle build because eventually I am going to need to build a side car attachment to support the batteries when I convert the bike to electric. When Christmas is over I can take the sleigh cover off and replace it with a streamliner fairing so I can ride the bike around and not blow Santas cover.

What do you think? Good idea?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Don't throw hats on the roof

 "Don't throw hats on the roof"
It's kind of an obvious sign, but I want it in front of my office. On the roof? Hats, several of them. Encouraging people to break the rules of society and throw your hat on the roof! If there is a volunteer helping out front of the office and they see someone trying to throw their hat, the volunteer would stop them from doing so by using a stern voice and a well pointed finger. Why? The hats would be donated to charity, but the fun of breaking the rules and standing up to the man! It's good for the soul.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Terra Karma, the floating island to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

I have read just about every post on Richie Sowa's spiral island and I want to do something similar in the Pacific. My goal is to float out to the great pacific garbage patch and establish a solar waste processing island to begin to clean up the debris.

Instead of using plastic beverage bottles we would like to use sealed 55 gallon drums to provide the buoyancy, and much of the frame for the island.

Six plastic 55 gallon drums can be used to make a floating platform 3 feet wide, by 6 feet long. Said platform can float 800 pounds of soil, plants, machinery, people, whatever. Two of the barrels will provide the 800 pounds of buoyant lift. Four of them provide the framing structure [by cutting each barrel along the ribs to create three six foot strips that will be folded in on themselves and welded up to create triangular beams, then those welded together to create the frame. These floating frames can be attached together using non corrosive chain, and have the island built atop of that. New frames can be partially sunk to make them easier to maneuver, then have air pumped into them to displace the water, capped, and sealed once they are in position.

We are most likely to use injection welding as we can build a parabolic trough mirror to create plastic welding sticks from the scraps of the barrels. Build a hot air gun to superheat the material to be welded and prep it. Then use the extruded plastic rods through what is basically a ramped up hot glue gun to reinforce the seam.

Another option for welding would be to build a gas torch and to build an electrolysis unit for producing the hydrogen to power it using salt water. This method would only want to be used for repairs or expansion as the electrolysis of salt water would produce chlorine gas as opposed to oxygen. [Unless we can build a massive solar array to generate enough electricity to split distilled water] A benefit to using this method is that the sodium hydroxide [lye] produced in the electrolysis could be used to make soap to cover personal hygiene while aboard the island.

I like the idea of plastic drums over steel ones because over time, steel corrodes and eventually, they would leak and fall free to the ocean floor. The only reason the plastic in the great pacific garbage patch is so invisible, is because the UV rays from the sun breaks down the plastic to this point. Without the UV radiation, the plastic would never decompose. [or at least take an archaicly long time to do so] We would block the radiation using the island itself as cover. Without the penetrating rays, the island could stay floating for 2000 years without maintenance. [assuming a massive hurricane didn't come through and try to tear it apart.]

In the event of a hurricane:
The buoyant drums would be contained in a framed box, preventing them from being washed out from under and away from the island in high wake. The idea is to make the island large enough to not lift up and over the wake like a boat, but rather to have the wake break on the shores and wash back off. Having the barrels in the cage is still a good idea, in the event that part of the island was to be broken off. It could be recovered through the use of shortwave beacons and be towed back to the main island using a tugboat.

The part we haven't figured out is what to use to build the frame of the island itself. If anyone has any ideas, they would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Youtube Video Contest!

ProjectUpcycle is launching a Youtube video contest! The rules are simple, make your video as green as possible and submit it as a response to this video. In the video I want you to sing the lyrics below to the song "revolution" by the Beatles. I will pick the top videos and send you a pair of upcycled solar waste earrings!

The song:


New Lyrics:
You say you want a new solution
"go green you know"
but how are you gonna change the world?

you say I'll drive a hybrid fusion
Thats great you go!
but in the end its all still oil.

we need to think more about permacuture farms
so we can reverse our years of massive harm

we need to be more green, in our lives
you dont know what i mean, its alright
I can teach you these things, do it right.

The sun can power all your systems
And wind you know?
Green power's coming off the shelf

And All youve got to do is listen
Questions and notes
and you can do it all yourself.

and if you take lots of pictures and video
Ill link to your builds-so everyone else can know!

we're gonna be more green, in our lives
now you know what i mean, thats right.
and now you can teach these things, do it right.

My song ends with the guitar solo here 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Eco Comunity within 45 minutes of Downtown Austin Texas

An awesome campground is up for sale  in Lockhart Texas, just outside Austin via 183 south or the 130 toll road. This property has on and off grid potential, electric lines running through one side and off grid on the other. If I can generate enough interest in this idea to break even in 5 years I can get a loan to purchase the property.

I want to turn this 20 acres of land into an eco-paridise. I can build a solar array to power the off grid size, the property is in the process of building a community garden, and it can support 35 amp electric hookups for each house.

I am in the process of building the first model eco home from all natural materials powered by solar cells.

My question is, if I was to purchase this property, how many people would be willing to move and commute into town? What if an "into town shuttle" was provided or free EV hookups?

If I can get enough support this can become a reality, eating the plants and animals that are raised there, eliminating waste, and living the eco-dream.

The property has a 2 bedroom 2 bath house and 2 rvs on the property already so that people can live here while the eco dream is built!

Can I count you in?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

San Antonio is giving away free gas!

Yes there is a catch, you have to go to the library every once and a while, and you have to drive an electric vehicle.

In a news release by the City of San Antonio Communications Office it was announced that the city will offer six electric vehicle charging stations for free to the public.

Central Library Garage [one charger] 600 Soledad St.
San Antonio International Airport Long-Term Parking Garage [two chargers] 9800 Airport Blvd.
Houston Street Garage [Two chargers] 240 E. Houston St.
Marina Garage [one charger] 850 E. Commerce St.
St. Mary's Street Garage [one charger] 400 N. St. Mary's St.
Thousand Oaks Library [one charger] 4618 Thousand Oaks
The mayor says this is a step toward making San Antonio EV Ready.

So San Antonio is offering free gas to electric car users that is generated using renewable energy [Did you know the majority of San Antonio's power is generated 200 miles to the northwest?  The wind turbine fields of West Texas account for most of San Antonio's needs.] That's pretty cool in my book!

This raises the question, would you buy an EV if your city offered free charging stations? Would you be willing to spend more on an electric vehicle because of the savings in gas?


Monday, July 2, 2012

Four packs of ramen and a box of mac&cheese

So I have a bunch of packs of chicken flavored ramen in my cupboard and I'm not exactly in the mood to just eat chicken ramen. So I got creative and came up with a few things that you may or may not like. Here you go:

Ramen Pad Thai:
I found this recipe forever long ago and it called for
1 oriental ramen packet [I had chicken, so I used chicken, both are good]
3 dollops chunky/extra chunky peanut butter
½ cup chopped chives/onion grass
Garlic and pepper to taste
Beansprouts are an optional but yummy crunchy addition
Siracha always makes things better (also optional I guess)

Cook the ramen to your liking, stir everything else in, draw a siracha hakuna matata [hot] or smiley face [mild] and eat.

My opinion: I like it, a lot actually. I won't eat ramen plain anymore if I have peanut butter and chives, and chives grow in the backyard.

///note: a backyard garden is AWESOME for this kind of stuff. Peppers, chives, potatoes, tomatoes, melons, lettuce and cucumbers AWWE YEA! How do you get started? That part is easy, take the seeds from anything you buy and germinate them between two pieces of moist paper towel. After a week in the germination tray [keeping it moist] you will have found your survivors, the seeds that grew the biggest and strongest put them in the ground. Apply regular water and in no time you will have huge healthy plants that you can use to make awesome recipes like this! Try it in a Lettuce bowl for more color!

If you take pics of any of these recipes you made I will put them up here or on facebook!

Summer Ramen:

1 pack of ramen without flavor pack
Ranch dressing to taste
Siracha makes everything better

Cook and drain ramen noodles, toss them in ranch dressing, siracha to taste.

Opinions: I grew up eating summer spaghetti [Ranch and spaghetti noodles w/siracha] so the idea wasn't too far fetched for me. I offered it to my roomate and she looked at me like I was crazy. So I guess that it's an acquired taste. I like it, especially if you chill the noodles in the freezer for a few minutes before tossing in the ranch.

Ramen Popcorn?

Ok this might sound crazy but I have a popcorn popper and I love popcorn; so I am always trying to come up with new flavors which is wicked fun. I was making summer ramen one day and I threw the flavor packet on top of the popcorn machine as a place to keep it till I use it for something, not something I usually do, the only other ramen packet I have stored is in my closet. Anyways I was making popcorn and decided to throw in the flavor packet. GREAT IDEA.

1 Ramen flavor packet [your choice]
1tbs extra virgin olive oil [or in my case corn oil]
½ cup popcorn kernels

Take a 20 cup bowl and add your oil and flavor packet, stir until it makes a paste. As your popcorn begins to pop, stir it into the oil/flavor mix until the kernels are evenly coated.

NUTRITION ALERT: ½ cup popcorn + 1 ramen flavor packet+1tbs oil comes in at a whopping 230 calories per BOWL. Thats right, an all to your self sitting on the couch watching reruns of a show you have seen a million times bowl of ramen popcorn is only 230 calories. Comparitavely, a small fry from mcdonalds is also 230 calories.

Not ramen related but while we are on the subject of popcorn,

Cheesy yummy popcorn (probably my favorite way of eating popcorn)

½ cup popcorn kernels
1tbs extra virgin olive oil [or in my case corn oil]
1 cheese packet from a mac and cheese box

Toss your plain popcorn in oil, then drizzle the cheese powder on top, consume.


Chicken noodle soup

1 box macaroni [your box of now cheeseless mac&cheese would be good for this]
1 packet of chicken related ramen flavor [spicy chicken, creamy chicken, what have you]
½ cup chopped onions/chives/onion grass
1 cup cabbage or leaf spinach chopped loosely
Siracha to taste
½ cup of chicken or chicken substitute [quorn makes some really good ones] optional

Make the macaroni and add other ingredients. ///Note: Soup is easy

So now we have one pack of flavorless ramen left over.

Ramen Stroganoff:

1 pack flavorless ramen
1 block cream cheese
½ can cream of whatever
meat to taste

Cook the cream cheese and cream of whatever soup on low heat till the cheese melts and becomes this amazing mixture of awesome. Add this mixture to your noodle of choice, in this case ramen but usually I like it in macaroni noodles because I can buy them by the truckload so its cheaper. Anyways this is the most awesome dish ever, and I highly recommend it.

Shopping list:
4 Ramen packs
2 block cream cheese
1 can cream of whatever
peanut butter
1 box mac&cheese
1 bag of popcorn kernels

Things I had to buy, cream cheese, cream of whatever, and beansprouts. Works for me.
Makes:5 meals and 3 snacks.

I hope this helps someone eat cheap while still eating healthy!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

ProjectUpcycle is on Etsy!

We were all sitting around talking about what to do with all of this "solar shard", or at least thats what we call it. Basically cells that have been broken past the solder line are unuseable, also there are a few scoops of broken bits and pieces that falls to the bottom of the box when we get it from the manufacturer. So there is no shortage of the stuff.

What better way to show your interest in green energy than wearing pieces of solar cells as pendants, earrings, charms, necklaces, bracelets etc...and what better way for us to get the word out than by having you wear our super awesome green jewelry.

Also, if I find a particularly awesome set of coins I will probably make them into something cool too.

Proceeds go to fund the project, we want to get some how-to videos up to show you guys a hands on look of what we do. So go on, check out the shop! If you find something you like, thats awesome, if not, check back later because I am always going to be adding new things!

Got a suggestion? Send it to!

Note: Only the bullet necklaces were able to be loaded tonight, the camera crapped out on us when we tried to take pictures of the solar pendants.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Building solar panels from damaged solar cells

I received an email today that I really enjoyed fielding:

From: "James"
Subject: Building Solar Panels

I have been wanting to go off grid for some time now and was wondering if you knew anything about the broken solar cells people are selling and if they are any good?


The broken and chipped solar cells you see online are usually pretty decent deals but you have to be careful. A solar panel is only as strong as its weakest cell, chipped cells are weaker and thus bring down the entire output of the board. However, of course there is a solution.

First you are going to need a light source with a very bright incandescent light, a volt meter, and a permanent marker

Take each solar cell and place it under the light, measure the output in amps and write the number on the back of the cell. Group your cells into similar outputs and build your panel! The solar cells I buy are 3.5 amps on average at .5 volts (volts x amps = watts). A good rule of thumb is to group your cells into 3amps, 2amps, 1amp etc... and build panels from each stack.

For Example:
New cells generate 1.75 watts each so you need 36 of them to build an 18v panel (for charging 12v batteries)
A chipped stack that generates 1.4 watts each would need 45 cells to make up a panel that generates the same 18v as the 1.75 watt cells.

Here is where I say it is a decent deal, depending on who you buy from and how much you pay, the majority of your cells may not generate any more than .7 watts, meaning you need  90 cells to generate the same power as the new cells. If you paid any more than half of what the new cells sell for you paid too much, and you have poor quality cells. I prefer to stay in the $0.30/watt range and I have had great results.

Some notes about solar cells:
As long as the solder is intact on the front of the cell, it can be broken in half and still work fine.
Cracks that go horizontal along the cell are better than vertical cracks.
Although there are two leads coming from a cell they are both the same polarity (positive or negative)
The back side of a cell is usually positive and the front is usually negative.
Building shingles out of solar cells would be a wicked awesome roofing idea!

So is it worth it? For the large part yes, but you get what you pay for so don't be disappointed when your super cheap cells are all super broken. They sort these cells at the factory and price them accordingly when listing them.

Is there any way to know exactly what you are getting when ordering these cells?
Actually, coming up here in the next few weeks we will have a shop up where you can order damaged cells directly from us! We are going to group the cells by weight and offer them to you all so you can select what you need for your system. The reason we do it by weight is because the power generated by the cell is dependent on the amount of surface area. Less surface area, and thus less weight, translates to less power.

You can even make a solar panel using shards of solar cells like this guy: (although instead of using wire I would use tabbing wire because it is already soldered, making my life easier.)

Friday, February 17, 2012


Yea, that title deserves to be in all caps. Rocket Mass Heaters ROCK, hands down they are the BEST method for burning solid fuels. It is like a gasifier and a wood stove in one. Now if you wanted to run an internal combustion engine then by all means go with a gasifier. But if you are in the business of extracting every ounce of heat from a particular carbon based solid wood, then the RMH is for you. Want to know the best part? It's REALLY easy to build.

All you need is a pile of fire bricks [solid bricks that have zero moisture will work, if your bricks have moisture in them, when you light your RMH, it may explode. But fire bricks are very porous and allow for the moisture to escape without exploding, which is good. Some people use metal stove pipe instead of the bricks, so if you have stove pipe, you could use that too. [well you are going to need stove pipe if you want, just get a bit more.]

You will also need stove pipe [aren't I just the funniest?] You are going to need about 30 feet of 6 inch pipe and about 3 feet of  10 inch pipe. The 10 inch pipe is going to go over a section of 6 inch pipe to make the insulated burn chamber This burn chamber is the heart of the RMH. It allows temperatures to rise to extremely high temperatures facilitating complete combustion of the unburned gasses. Temperatures inside this chamber will reach 700+ degrees so I would recommend that you not use galvanized pipe for this section because of off gassing poisonous gasses and melting.

You need a 55 gallon drum or similar. This acts as further insulation for the burn chamber as well as acting as a heat emitter for the house. a water heater tank would work well if you had one.

And you need earth, mass, sand, rocks, cob, etc...something that you can build around the exhaust of this heater to act as a heat battery. The more mass you have, the longer you will have heat after your fire, but the longer you will have to wait to get heat when you start your fire. be reasonable. a foot of mass on all sides of the pipe is a good point to start. If the mass gets too hot for you, add more mass. Simple right? Why don't more people have these in their homes?

Construction is pretty simple you line the floor where the RMH hopper and burn chamber is going to be built in fire bricks [the displacement area of the inside of the hopper/burn chamber area should be around 19 square inches [2piR of 6 inch exhaust pipe is almost 19 square inches] if using bricks, a 4"x5" area will give you 20 square inches. Now make this tube about 3 feet long.

At one end of the tube build up a hopper, the hopper is where you put your wood to be burned you want it to be a good foot tall. On the other end of the tube build up your insulated burn chamber [you can use fire bricks for this if you have them and dont want to buy the pieces of pipe for the burn chamber. But make sure that the chamber is sealed or the air will escape and your stove wont work. sealing it isn't hard, just mortar it all together, you can use cob mud for this if you please.

You want your burn chamber about three feet tall to get the most out of your combustion while still giving you heat for your home. Over the combustion chamber you place your barrel/drum/whathaveyou to act as your heat sink for your house. [you can also cook on it!] The barrel is upside down [opening facing down]

The bottom of the barrel should be about 1-2 inches from the top of the combustion chamber. The bottom of the barrel should be sealed except for the opening for the exhaust pipe. Once you insert your exhaust pipe, you want to seal that too so no smoke can come out into your house. the exhaust pipe is just a long length of pipe buried in earth. It can be long and slender, or short and wide if you put a U union and turn your pipe around. The very end of the exhaust should be ducted outside.

THATS IT! to start your RMH just take a few pieces of newspaper and stuff them down the hopper al the way over to the combustion chamber and light them on fire. Once lit, you want to stick some more newspaper  in the hole to pull the fire back to the hopper where you have your sticks and branches and such. The draft created by the heat in the combustion chamber will pull air down through the hopper making the fire burn sideways and not letting any smoke come out of the top of the hopper.

Once in the combustion chamber the exhaust will heat up to the point of complete combustion giving you the most heat for your wood.

The exhaust will come out of the combustion chamber and hit the barrel, dumping alot of that heat. It will then turn around and head down towards the opening of the barrel [the barrel is upside down on the chamber], dumping more heat. Finally the exhaust will flow through the stove pipe that is surrounded by earth dumping all the remaining heat and ending up with just water vapor and co2.

These heaters/stoves are ~90%  efficient in field testing which is WAY better than the 90%theoretical or lab tested efficiency of a conventional wood stove, which would be considerably less in field testing.

Here are some videos about people with Rocket Mass Heaters. And if you are into this kind of stuff, feel free to come join us at the forum over at  :D