Category Archives: Solar

Commercial Solar Oven Focus on Solavore

This Sun-day’s Amazon product is also demonstrated cooking chicken and apple crisp dessert and holding them at temperature until dinnertime in a video by LDSPrepper, embedded at the bottom of this post.

. Sold by etailz and Fulfilled by Amazon in easy-to-open packaging. Gift-wrap available.
. #1 customer rated Solar Oven on Amazon – easy to use, portable, and durable
. 100% Solar: point the solar oven at the sun and you’re ready to go
. Made in USA: from design to manufacture
. Easy to use – cook, slow cook, and bake year round with included all-season solar reflectors
. The perfect solar oven, whether you’re baking cookies in your backyard or slow cooking a batch of our Solavore Chili while camping

Solavore probably gets its name from a play on locavore, eater of local food instead of stuff with lots of travel miles, which is already a play on the traditional carnivore, herbivore and omnivore terms.

On a day with frost on the ground in the morning and wind, the “pre-heated” Solavore is already at 225F without the reflectors, which he only uses when it’s below freezing temp outside.

Pre-heated Solavore about to receive chicken and dessert pots for cooking
Solavore Sport Solar Oven – Portable Solar Cooking Package Complete with All Season Solar Reflectors, 2 Granite Ware Pots, Oven Thermometer, and Water Pasteurization Tool

Other popular solar ovens include the All American and GoSun designs at similar price points. They have their advocates and we’ll look at them in future posts. But for now, LDSPrepper puts the Solavore to good use in the video, EASY Shredded Chicken Solar Oven Recipe, and demonstrates some indispensable extra items available for the oven in another video, The Two Hottest Items Since Solar Ovens.

AMAZING FLAVOR, CHEAP & EASY! This is the way to make a delicious dinner. Put three ingredients in a pot, set it outside in the Solavore solar oven and go about your day with no worries. Because dinner is being cooked while you take care of business. But don’t forget dessert! I also made my favorite Apple Crisp recipe. Our dinner guest loved the food and we had plenty of leftovers for a week.

– $40 Discount Code: Code: Prepared
– Mom’s Apple Crisp Recipe:

The video is also embedded below.

Trolls & Tribulations for Missouri Wind & Solar

There seems to be a lower price on the Thames & Kosmos Wind Power 2.0 Amazon product this Winds-day. From the description:

“Gift-wrap available.”
“Electricity generating turbines”
“Build wind powered generators to energize your electric vehicles and charge your rechargeable batteries (permakent: in theory)”
“Kit includes two styles of wind turbine blades and a gearbox with three different gear ratios for experimenting.”
“Explore this amazing free source of renewable energy”
“Kit comes with everything you need”

I bet Jeff Harmon at Missouri Wind and Solar, who has a popular YouTube channel for the topic, wishes it had a troll repeller. Some folks had been tormenting him on the Internet, perhaps because of foreign trade issues? See Jeff talk about it last December,

Click for related page at Atari Mania

Also see Jeff visit one of his suppliers, Missouri Wind and Solar visits Helios America Solar Panel Factory, a manufacturer in the United States.

For home windpower newbies, Jeff explains the basics, Wind turbines for the beginner How to part one by Missouri Wind and Solar (also embedded below):

Farmscrapers Stack Agriculture to the Sky

This Mound-day’s Amazon link is to a book by MacArthur “Genius” Fellow and professor of microbiology and public health in environmental health sciences at Columbia University, where he was a multiple Best Teacher award winner, Dr. Dickson Despommier.

It’s a Library Journal Best Book of 2010, with diverse endorsements ranging from The Huffington Post to Businessworld, even including Sting, who raved, “A world-changing innovation whose time has come. This visionary book provides a blueprint for securing the world’s food supply and at the same time solving one of the greatest environmental crises facing us today.”

The book is The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century

Popular “vlog bro,” Hank Green, posted an article at Eco Geek in 2009 about plans for a Manhattan high rise vertical farm, New Skyscraper Farm Mimics Nature.

Dystopian Farm vertical growth.
Inhabitat: Spiraling Skyscraper Farms for a Future Manhattan.

More recently, plans for a green skyfarm are being made in China, according to this video from Vidello Productions, Shenzen Farmscrapers Tower Concept Design, also embedded below.

Solar Crock Pot and Mirror Progress Report

Last Sun-day’s post, Cheap Concave Makeup Mirror Fire Starter, promised a video of the Amazon product on order.

It arrived, and the first test, still attached to the package, was successful. A water bottle I brought outside as a fire extinguisher with the makeup mirror became the target of a brief, but devastating attack of concentrated sunlight.

The result wasn’t very dramatic. I didn’t notice any smoke, but the label on the Arrowhead bottle had no paper covering the plastic where the sun’s image was focused, however briefly. A silent killer.

The magnifying mirror still attached to its packaging fit into regular size pockets better than the magnifying lens, normally used for reading, because of its lens handle.

Swissco suction cup mirror. 20x magnification, 3 1/2” diameter Colors May Vary

I work weekends, so during my days off I’ll do the video I promised to make fire and smoke, and you can go to the Academy next year. Wait, what? Never mind.

I’ve tried solar cooking with found junk at the compound, such as a space blanket, black travel coffee mug, meat thermometer in the water and sometimes got OK temperatures near 160 F after sealing the mug from cooling wind inside a gallon double seal plastic bag thingie. Which of course soon fogged up and blocked the sunlight. I would not judge it to be the most convenient or effective solar cooking setup ever.

supergokue1 found a better way after some experimentation, still using found common items, Solar oven from dollar store items. (also embedded below).

3D Printing Glass From Sand in Morocco

The Fry-day Amazon product is a low cost 3D printer that uses plant based bioplastic filament, PLA, to build objects by adding layers on top of layers.

The user interface to do this is simpler these days. It got a good review at Hackaday, Review: Monoprice MP Select Mini 3D Printer. The author was impressed that such a low priced 3D printer can use standard G-code and doesn’t require special filament.

It supports ABS and other materials as well.

From the description, “Ready to Print: Unlike most other low-cost 3D printers, this printer ships fully assembled and has already been calibrated at the factory. We even include sample PLA filament and a MicroSD card with preinstalled models, so you can start printing right out of the box!”

Back in 2011, a “Solar Sinter” was shown making 3D printed glass objects directly from sand in Egypt using a solar powered computer to focus sunlight as the process.

Here’s our blog post about it from that time,

An updated version of the Solar Sinter uses finer sand in Morocco and a new computer design to produce objects with more definition.

See the latest video, Solar Sinter – Image Studios, also embedded below.

Cheap Concave Makeup Mirror Fire Starter

Today is the 15th anniversary of the 9-11 attack, so airplanes in trouble are on my mind. It’s also “Sun-day” for this blog. Before I get to the practical fire starting benefits of a cheap makeup mirror, here’s a video answer to a common question to GREENPOWERSCIENCE about parabolic mirrors melting airplanes or blinding pilots, “GIANT parabolic SATELLITE solar dish cannot blind a pilot.”

(Spoiler alert: You’ll cause more problems with a flat signal mirror, and probably go to jail messing around with a laser pointer, although in putting together yesterday’s post about getting rescued with updated PLB radios, I discovered that special laser flares are legal.)

Now to the title subject of starting a fire with a cheap makeup mirror. A fire in the wilderness is useful to survival. It can keep you warm, purify water (if done properly, see Does Boiling Always Make Water Safe To Drink?), or cook your food. Here’s David West, an expert in primitive fire starting techniques who nonetheless realizes that some regular EDC (every day carry) items make it more possible for n00bs like me to get a fire started. In the following video, he accomplishes it using a makeup mirror he found at WalMart, Solar Ignition With a Concave Mirror aka Makeup Mirror (embedded below).

I ordered the Swissco product from Amazon shown above. The Sun-day after it arrives I’ll post my own video reporting its success or failure for fire starting.

Mon., Aug. 29: “Kill Switch” @ O.C. KHCTF

J. Kent HastingsKarl Hess Community
Technology Forum

On a Fifth Monday in a Month

August 29, 2011

Pre-meeting: 6:00 p.m.
Dinner 7:00 p.m.
Announcements: 7:45 p.m. Howard Hinman, Master of Ceremonies
Presentation: 8:00 p.m. J. Kent Hastings:
“Surviving the Phone and Internet Kill Switch”

Questions: 8:45 p.m. Q&A via written cards for at least the first round of questions.
Close by 9:30 p.m.

Location: Asian Buffet (Oriental buffet)
23552 El Toro Rd., Lake Forest, CA 92630
At Raymond, behind a bank, near the public (gov’t) library branch.

View Larger Map
Tel: (949) 206-9988 – Fax: (949) 206-9098

Howard Hinman of Orange County, will serve as the Master of Ceremonies for the event and will offer a Toast to the evening’s festivities.

J. Kent Hastings is a writer, video editor, audio and film producer, computer programmer, agorist and ham radio hobbyist.

Hastings wrote columns about RSA encryption, spread-spectrum radio, and secure privacy-protected off-grid banking transactions in his regular “Techtics” column for SEK3’s Tactics of the Movement of the Libertarian Left during the 1980s.

Kent also wrote an article for the first issue of Agorist Quarterly, published in 1995, titled “The Information Underground Railroad,” after attending the RSA Data Security conference in 1994.

Kent has returned to an early interest in tinkering with homebrew electronic gear, partly because he finds it fun, and also thanks to recent threats that have resurfaced from government authorities worldwide to cut off private communications on the Internet and cell phones “for our safety.”

He will have equipment on hand to demonstrate various ways around the Internet and cellphone outages that have been imposed during protests (just when you might need rescue from violence the most).

If the power grid goes down, many would lose phone and Internet service because of their reliance on cable company devices. A portable battery with AC inverter will also be demonstrated at the meeting. Solar recharging in the field and other preparedness resources and activities in case of evacuation will be discussed.

Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook are being more closely scrutinized by police with each passing year. Users have been jailed for organizing relatively harmless “flash mobs,” including celebrities simply inviting fans to the local mall.

Hastings will share his thoughts on how watchdog groups like Cop Block could avoid trouble by using stealthier recording devices and immediate streaming to remote undisclosed storage media, even if Internet access is being blocked.

For the first round of questions, audience members are asked to submit their questions in writing to the Master of Ceremonies, so that they may be presented to the speaker most effectively.

Cost is dinner (approximately 15.00 FRNS) plus a 5.00 room charge per attendee. (Cash only for the room charge please.) MasterCard and Visa accepted by the restaurant. Beer and wine available at an additional charge.

Good food. Some vegetarian dishes available.

For this meeting, leave a reservation message with the subject “OC KHCTF” on the web at or email:

If you have additional questions contact Kent Hastings toll free at 1.877.867-8209 or leave a voice mail message.

Future dinner talks at the Karl Hess Community Technology Forum are still to be determined. We will keep you posted.

Resilient Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization. Its mission is to support a resilient community, including respect for personal rights and responsibilities.

For information about this event (other than reservations) and/or future events, please contact Howard Hinman, Director of Communications, Chief Financial Officer and Senior Legal Researcher, at (714) 244-2291. His email is:

Solar Sinter Makes Glass Items From Sand

A Slashdot post, “A Solar-Powered 3D Printer Prints Glass From Sand,” links to the web page about the Solar Sinter by the inventor, Markus Kayser. Excerpt:

“In a world increasingly concerned with questions of energy production and raw material shortages, this project explores the potential of desert manufacturing, where energy and material occur in abundance.”

Kayser tests his invention in the Sahara Desert at Siwa, Egypt, but I wonder if it will work with the soil here in the Nevada desert.

Markus Kayser – Solar Sinter Project from Markus Kayser on Vimeo.

Solar Disinfectant plus OSE Solar News

“Sterilize! Sterilize!” (Star Trek)
Nomad Slashdot item “Students Invent Revolutionary Sterilizer” links to the Houston based Rice University story, “Rice parlays sun’s saving grace into autoclave: Capteur Soleil may sterilize medical instruments in developing world.

“The Capteur Soleil, [links to story about its use in Haiti by Rice] a device designed decades ago by French inventor Jean Boubour, was modified at Rice two years ago for use as a solar-powered cookstove. . .This year, Team Sterilize modified it further. When a set of curved mirrors and an insulated box containing the autoclave are installed, the steel A-frame sitting outside Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen becomes something else entirely — a lifesaver.”

In other solar related news, the OSE team in Missouri announced the open source licensing of the Solar Fire solar designs. According to the article, “Solar Fire Breakthrough,” they announced their agreement:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a breakthrough on the Solar Turbine project. We are adopting the Solar Fire concentrator technology as our official solar energy platform. OSE and Solar Fire are entering into partnership – with a single purpose of creating a state-of-art, replicable, open source platform for solar concentrator power applied to electricity, space heating, and process heat.”

The Solar Fire concept is described in this YouTube video.

Egypt ham radio beats Internet outage

The oldest radio signaling method was used to send messages between people in Egypt according to this article at the Huffington Post. The link was in a Democratic Underground post that J. Neil Schulman forwarded to me in email.

Quoting HuffPo:
“These messages weren’t coming from mobile phones or computers, but from an amateur radio sending out Morse Code somewhere amidst the chaos in Egypt.”

Hundreds of miles range with a few watts using a wire thrown over a tree branch for an antenna can beat the government kill switch.

Meanwhile, on the political right side of survivalist prepping, Alex Jones InfoWars published a credible list of alternative communication methods from Liberty News Online, “How to Communicate if the Government Shut Down the Internet” (also forwarded to me by J. Neil Schulman).

Just one point of clarification. During a political upheaval, checking the call sign of amateur radio operators won’t be the State’s top priority and effectively jamming all signals might not be possible, especially if one were to use spread spectrum techniques.

Let’s say for example you were to transmit thermal noise in one band and the noise mixed with the message in another (transmitted reference). It would appear to be noise as well.

Perhaps if you have some programming skills you could use the digital “direct sequence” method to mix several pseudo random “chip bits” with each bit of your message while you quickly hop the center frequency of your signal using a fast digital synthesis chip and a secure software spreading code.

And just to be safe you might use a stealthy hidden antenna that looks like a clothes line, basketball hoop, bird feeder, flag pole or other disguise so your neighbors don’t rat you out. Out of sight, out of mind. Morse code and texting can be done silently with earphones. QSL?

Victory over censorship!

Fuel Film Shows Oil Alternatives

  Fuel Film DVD
I turned on the radio this morning while visiting L.A. for relatives’ birthdays and heard an inspiring interview with Josh Tickell. He is screening his Sundance awarded Fuel movie to benefit KPFK Saturday, June 26, 2010. (Tomorrow as I post this.)

I was struck by the number of different solutions that were offered by the filmmaker. He reminded me that electricity costs a penny per mile instead of a dime or more for gasoline and that green sources can be selected by electricity consumers in one way or another.

He also made a point that concentrated energy providers lead to concentrated points of political power and suggested that energy created by individuals and community groups would empower them politically as well. At the least they would be more self-reliant and not dependent on the gas pump.

About the film, the Los Angeles Times said this in a review:

“Fuel is a vital, superbly assembled documentary…doesn’t dwell on muckraking, however; it’s more focused on broadly inspiring viewers than preaching to the converted….Smartly animated interstitials, memorable archival material and a lively soundtrack round out the fast-paced proceedings.”

Amazon said this about the DVD:

“Eleven years in the making, FUEL is the in-depth personal journey of filmmaker and eco-evangelist Josh Tickell, who takes us on a hip, fast-paced road trip into America’s dependence on foreign oil. Combining a history lesson of the US auto and petroleum industries and interviews with a wide range of policy makers, educators, and activists such as Woody Harrelson, Sheryl Crow, Neil Young and Willie Nelson. Animated by powerful graphics, FUEL looks into our future offering hope via a wide-range of renewable energy and bio-fuels. Winner of the Sundance Audience Award.”

The theatrical trailer at YouTube.

Power for Emergency Communications

ABC News just ran a story, “Clean Energy: Why Is China Ahead of the U.S.?” It describes how NatSolar’s new solar panel technology was rebuffed in the U.S., but CEO Chuck Provini was flown in and welcomed by China and given a deal to create green jobs over there.

It seems energy production from any source has to overcome enormous legal barriers in this country. Here’s just one hurdle mentioned in the long article.

“. . .he [Provini] also worked with a major Washington, D.C., law firm and was told that a $750,000 application fee was necessary just to apply for a specific federal program.”

With big oil, coal, nuclear, solar and windpower facing legal hassles, we may have a low powered future in which we depend on whatever solar panels and turbines we can install in our private backyards for reliable energy.

The April, 2010 issue of ARRL’s QST magazine featured the vital role ham radio played during Haiti’s earthquake. An online article, “Amateur Radio Operators Provide Communications Support in Haiti” describes the ham support of doctors in Project Medishare.

Seismic scientists agree that California is in for a big quake perhaps sooner than later. The Haiti experience is instructive to anyone preparing for interruptions of utilities such as water, power and telephone service.

If landline phone service is knocked out, cell phone systems will likely be overloaded or knocked out because of landline network connections.

Ham radio doesn’t require learning Morse Code anymore. Passing a test on basic electronics, radio theory, and operating rules and regulations may be a small price to pay for uninterrupted communications (and no phone bill).

Wind and Solar Deported To Mexico?

  Solar Handbook
A recent Greentech Media headline dated May 26, 2010 asks, “Will California Put Its Wind Farms In Mexico?.”

“Thanks to complex state regulations and lower costs, California could start getting its power from south of the border.”

The same article takes on excessive solar regulation.

“. . .the state faces an even bigger problem: bureaucracy. Solar developers like BrightSource Energy have been squeezed because of regulations. Some developers already plan to build California power plants in Arizona to avoid dealing with the state’s Fish and Game Department.”

That point about building California power plants in Arizona is linked to a previous Greentech Media story from March, 2010, with the headline, “Is Bureaucracy Killing Solar?” The article describes a widely reported news item:

“A proposal from U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein to protect one million acres of the Mojave Desert last year caused wind and solar developers to roll up plans to build in the region.”

I wonder how up to date the following passage is given the boycott by some California cities protesting Arizona’s recent immigration law.

“Solar thermal developer Tessera Solar North America has already contracted to build plants in California but will likely shift to building future power plants for California in Arizona because of the time and expense involved in building in the Golden State. In other words, California will get green power but not as many green jobs as it might otherwise.”

So, big renewable energy projects are being outsourced to Mexico and Arizona (or maybe just Mexico).

California must have quite a budget surplus to be turning away all those filthy money paying green jobs.