Repair Cafe: a free meeting place for repairing things

A simple and brilliant idea for the DIY, anti-disposable, community-based hacker movement!

Repair Cafés are free meeting places and they’re all about repairing things (together). In the place where a Repair Café is located, you’ll find tools and materials to help you make any repairs you need. On clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, appliances, toys, et cetera. You will also find repair specialists such as electricians, seamstresses, carpenters and bicycle mechanics.

la-2421520--me-0228-repair-2-rcg-jpg-20150316
source: LA times

 

Martine Postma organized the first Repair Cafe in 2007 in Amsterdam, and the idea has subsequently spread around the world. Local organizers host events, and they are posted and mapped on RepairCafe.org

FarmHack Projects: Paddlewheel-Powered Pump

drawing of a Wirtz pump
drawing of a Wirtz pump

Here is a great video made by Jeremy Smith of a water pump built by Cappie of Pangea Farm in Spearfish, SD. The pump, which is a “Wirtz pump”, uses a coil of hose and a scoop which are turned by a waterwheel in an irrigation ditch, pumping water 30′ or more vertically into a holding tank, from where it can then gravity-feed into livestock tanks, drip irrigation, etc.  This version pumps about 1 gallon per minute, depending on the flow of water through the irrigation ditch.

Passive Water Pump from Jeremy Smith on Vimeo.

Wirtz pumps have been around for a few hundred years, but haven’t been used much since steam powered pumps came along. Click here for a great resource about Wirtz pumps and the science behind them, as well as further details about the pump that was built at the Windfarm Museum in New Hampshire. Their pump uses “6 foot diameter wheel with 160 feet of 1-1/4 inch inside diameter flexible polyethylene pipe is able to pump 3,900 gallons of water per day to a 40 foot head with a peripheral speed of 3 feet per second.”

They also ran experiments that confirm that these pumps work quite well regardless of how quickly the water source (stream/irrigation ditch) is moving. The amount of water pumped increases pretty linearly with the water speed, but even at very slow speed the pump still operates at about the same overall efficiency.

Materials used in the Pangea Farm version (total cost = ~$250)

For the paddle wheel:
– Heavy cable spool (from local utility company junk pile) for the wheel;
– Cedar 1″ thick boards for paddles;
– Paddle wheel axle, either very heavy gauge tube, or 2″ solid stock, machined at end to accept inlet of the main coil;
– Pillow block bearings to hold the axle (worth the extra cost for their durability and ability to absorb lateral force if axle is out of square with mounts).

For the scoop and coil:
– 4″ pvc scoop with wire mesh screen and reducer fittings, to scoop water into the main coil;
– Check valve between scoop and main coil, so water doesn’t flow backwards;
– Compressed air port at scoop end of coil (for blowing water out coil for winter storage);
– 100′ of 1″ poly hose, coiled on paddle wheel
– Waterproof swivel joint, joining rotating axle to the stationary pipe carrying water to holding tank.

For the storage tank and outlets:
– Reclaimed telephone poles to hold the tank up high;
– Water tank (500 gal, fills in ~8 hours);
– 1″ water line and filter from tank to irrigation system;
– Overflow line to return water to ditch when tank is full.

Lots of possibility for modification for other uses!

Farm Hack: Coolbot Walk-in Cooler

The Coolbot is an invention that makes a walk-in cooler a viable option for a farm with low cash flow.  By using a Coolbot instead of a conventional walk-in cooler, farmers lower expenses while still helping enhance produce quality at the point of sale.

Since 2006, Ron and Kate Khosla have sold thousands of Coolbots, a technology they developed to convert off the shelf air conditioners into a compressor unit for a walk-in cooler.  Instead of purchasing a conventional cooler for $2500 or more, with about 30 seconds of modification, one can turn an A/C unit into a cooler for about $600. Further, electricity costs will be lower and the modification does not void the warranty on the A/C unit, protecting the investment for typically five years.

31Uj6zAqZpL

 

Continue reading “Farm Hack: Coolbot Walk-in Cooler”

FarmHack: Poultry Housing Options

The growing season is full-fledged and you may be considering raising some fledglings of your own. Check out these housing options for small-scale chicken raising from around the web. Feel free to comment and post ideas of your own – we’ll be sure to include them!

bantamroost2

 broiler For Pastured Poultry, try this Greenhouse style pen used by Morris Farm.
The infamous chicken tractor: here is a series of videos on how to build one from Garden Girl TV.
CoopThruGate480 This chicken coop featured on Tangled Nest makes the most of space in a backyard.
This coop featured on greenterrafirma.com includes easy access doors.
This hutch built at La Finca NY used the frame off an old porch swing and other leftover materials to start.
*BONUS* Recommended Reading: The ATTRA guide to Range Poultry Housing.

Precision Tine Cultivator

Project is for: Farmers who need a flexible, multi-purpose, cultivating tool–  most likely vegetable farmers.
Range of cost: $750 – $1500

Skills needed: Simple metalworking (welding steel, or finding someone who can);  also available commercially with an Allis G belly mount from Roeter’s Farm Equipment, but their version may not be optimized for your application.

Summary: Tine weeders, like those built by Lely or Kovar, are often used on vegetable farms for cultivation of transplanted crops or sturdy direct seeded crops like corn and beans.  Usually they are used “blind” (see video), raked over a crop while being pulled behind a tractor, and therefore their use is limited to those crops that can tolerate the “raking” action of the thin, flexible tines, spaced 1.5″ apart.

This project creates a version of the tine weeder that can be belly-mounted to a cultivating tractor, so that individual tines can be lifted up so as not to engage the soil.  This allows the tool to be used in between rows of crops that cannot stand the raking, such as just-germinated small seeded crops like carrots, beets and greens.

This is a good tool for a smaller farm that cannot afford many different types of cultivators;  it can be used for many different crops, however by itself it is not an ideal cultivator for all crops, since it is not aggressive enough to kill more tenuous weeds such as perennial grasses, velvetleaf, bindweed, or weeds that have established beyond a “white thread” stage.  Horsepower requirements are very low.

Continue reading “Precision Tine Cultivator”