How To Build Your Own Solar Thermal Panel From Recycled Trash

The guys at the Sietch have a great little idea here, making their own solar thermal collector with spare parts and trash readily available in any scrap yard  worldwide. This would be good if the SHTF and we had to live off the grid. Enjoy. Let us know if you build your own.

Materials needed:

Water
2 buckets
Drill (with both drill bits and screw bits)
Some scissors
A saw (a simple hand saw will do)
Some wood
A pane of glass.
The back of a small refrigerator.
12 feet of air pump hose used in fish tanks
Backing material (we used an old door mat)
A box of wood screws
Aluminum Foil
Role of duct tape
Angle Cutter (or hack saw)
Time:This project took about 3 hours of constructions time. It took a couple weeks to find all the parts.

Now onto the project. The first thing we did was collect all of the parts.

Our local dump has a coolant removal program that has refrigerators and dehumidifiers that they remove old freon from. With this in mind I found the perfect heat collector. The back of a fridge is basically a heat dispersal system, with a slight modification is can be used to collect large amounts of heat.

Make sure that the freon, or other coolant has been removed, and cut the grill off at the base, near the large coolant holder.

There was an old couch that had been run over by one of the large dump plows, the inside wood was the perfect size for the frame.

I found a pane of glass and an old rubber door mat that made the perfect backing and front.

The glass was a real find, and may be the only part of the panel that may need to be purchased. Make sure your glass is big enough to fit over your collector and have enough room to attach it to the frame.

The door mat was HUGE, so I had to cut it in half. Funny thing seems there was a lot of nasty black goo, and a metal sheet in the middle. Who knew. Remove the metal plate (or cut it in half as well) and leave the goo.

Once The backing was cut to size, it was time to start building the frame.

As you can see I sort of built the frame around the collector, leaving enough backing to hold it all together.

The frame is held on by building a similar frame on the back and driving large wood screws through the front frame, the backing and into the back frame.

I added some foil to the backing. The reason for this is that counter to what you would think, you do not want the backing to warm up. You only want the collector to absorb heat (it was so nice of the fridge company to paint it black for us). The foil will take any sun that was not absorbed by the collector on the first pass and bounce it back over the collector for another try at absorption. The glass cover will keep all the heat inside the panel for further absorption.

Light can pass through glass, but heat can not.

Notice how duct tape was used on the inside to seal all cracks, you could use caulk but I didn’t have any so I used the cheapest option. It worked well, and held the foil in place.

Next we cut some notches for the entry and return ports to the collector.

Note again the use of duct tape to seal cracks.

I got some air pump hose from the local fish store and attached them to the end of the entry and return ports.

The duct tape was applied to make sure it was a tight fit, it was later removed as it was not needed.

Next we attached the collector to the backing, using the mounting brackets that came on the fridge and some duct tape. If you wanted you could use some screws and wood, but I found the tape and the natural tension of the construction to be enough to hold it in place.

Lastly we attach the glass to the top. This serves to trap all the infrared radiation from the sun inside our panel where our collector will absorb it. Again light can pass through glass, but heat can not.

As you can see simple duct tape is enough to hold it on. I would recommend using some sort of mounting bracket however as after a couple days in the sun the tape started to droop allowing the glass to slide off. A few screws would solve this, but I am cheap so I just put new tape on.

Set your panel up at an angle so that it catches the most sun.

Here is the gross part, put one end of the hose into your bucket of cold water, and make sure it is at the bottom of the bucket, next grab the return hose and start sucking. That’s right, unfortunately you have to prime the panel by getting some water into it. This can be done without getting water in your mouth, but inevitably I sucked just a little too hard and ended up with a mouth full of nasty water. I would recommend having a friend do this part. 🙂

Set your cold water bucket (source) up higher than your warm water bucket (return) and the whole thing will gravity siphon. Due to the design of this collector (both ports return to the same location on the panel) it will not thermo siphon. For that to happen I would need to cut the long return pipe and have it exit at the top of the panel.

A word of warning, this panel works VERY WELL. We tested it on a very sunny day and within seconds the water coming out of the panel was hot enough TO SCALD. I burned my fingers. This very hot water is only formed when the water inside the panel is allowed to sit for about a minute without moving. If the water is moving (do to the gravity siphon) the water exiting the return pipe is about 110 degrees, and while hot, will not burn you.

The water does not flow through the panel very fast (as the pipes are very small) but that is sort of a good thing as it allows the water to heat up a lot on its journey through the collector. It does take a while to heat up a 5 gallon bucket of water, I ended up building an insulated return bucket that was all black and sealed on the top except for the port where the water tube enters. This kept the returned hot water hot long enough to be of use.

I let this guy run for a couple of hours one hot sunny day and heated up a five gallon bucket of cold water (measured at 70 degrees F) to over 110 degrees F. The temp that day was about 76 degrees F. If the water is allowed to sit in the panel for several minutes and then forced out (by blowing in one of the hoses) the water was measure at 170 degrees F. All in all we are much happier with the performance (and cost) of this panel. It performs much better than the previous one.

Our next modifications to this design will be to alter the return port so that it will thermo siphon, in this way the return hose can be fed into the source bucket and the water will continually circulate in the panel getting hotter and hotter. We have also talked about adding mirrors to the panel to concentrate more heat. Our goal is to boil water. This entire project cost less than five dollars, as I already had the screws, and the duct tape. The only thing I purchased was the air hose, which cost $3.76.

Enjoy the hot water.

 

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Learn How to Tie 12 Useful Knots with This Visual Guide

If the only knot you know involves tying your shoes, then this infographic provides clear, step-by-step instructions on tying some of the most useful knots out there. This is a great little chart to keep around for reference and it explains the best uses for each knot.

Do you know of some great uses for these knots that aren’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments!

how to tie knots for survival

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How To Identify Dry Firewood

Using wet wood to get a fire going will leave you cold and frustrated…regardless of how much effort you put into it.

Even if you do get a fire going (which in a survival situation is better than nothing) your fire will be inefficient and will require much more maintenance to see it through the night.

The reason why it won’t burn is that the water contained in the wood is absorbing the heat, preventing the wood from absorbing enough heat to ignite.

As heat continues to be applied to the wood, the water turns to vapor, absorbing a huge quantity of heat in the process. It isn’t until this process is finished that the hydrocarbon gasses start leaving the wood so that they can then catch fire.

Basically your best bet is to make sure that you have the driest tinder, kindling, and fuel possible.

seasoned-firewood

It’s one thing if you have a cord of wood neatly stacked out in your woodshed, but how do you find dry wood in the wild?

Below are three quick tips you can use in a pinch:

The Snap Method:

The Premise: dry kindling is devoid of a high water content and will snap easily instead of bending.

How To do it: take your smaller bits of kindling no thicker than your thumb and grasp them at both ends.  Pull the ends towards the middle, the kindling should snap in the middle.

What to look for:  twigs, sticks, and other kindling that snaps cleanly and easily is an indicator of dry kindling.How do you know if your fuel is dry?

The Percussion Method:

The Premise: as wood dries out, its acoustical properties change.

How to do it: grab two sample pieces of wood at one end and let them dangle, one from each hand. Swing the bottom ends together, and listen to the sound at impact.

What to look for: dry wood will “ring” or “bonk” when they hit each other. Wet wood, however, will issue a dull thud on impact.

Cracking the code:

The Premise: as fuel wood pieces dry, the wood fiber shrinks, which causes visible radius cracks to open up on the ends of the wood.

How to do it: examine the ends of a sample piece, looking for cracks that radiate from the core to the bark.

What to look for: big, deep radius cracks are a good indicator of well-seasoned wood.

Note: this is the least reliable indicator, as the cracks won’t close back up if the seasoned wood is subsequently allowed to re-absorb rainwater.

via Three Quick Tips To Identify Dry Firewood 

Build The Benefits of Raised Beds

Raised beds are the perfect way to start your own garden. Fruits, vegetables, flowers and shrubs can all thrive in the raised bed environment. The popularity of raised beds is on the rise because of their many benefits – reduce soil erosion, the ease of access to control weeds and pick vegetables, creation of a warmer soil temperature in the spring, plus many more

Follow this guide to learn how to create your own raised bed garden. From the building materials to the vegetables – We dive into everything you will need to create a flourishing raised bed.

Click to Enlarge Image Build The Benefits of Raised Beds Build The Benefits of Raised Beds Infographic by CustomMade

No Gutters On Your House – Create a “Drain Barrel” (Rainwater Collection System)

Picture of Gutterless Rain Barrel - DIY
DIY rainwater collection system
make your own rain collection system
water containers
drain  barrel steps
This is a great idea for capturing rainwater for your home, garden or even at your bugout location. It comes in handy in places where you may not be able to tap a well or water source directly.
I wanted to share instructions on how to build a “drain barrel” for those of you who may not have gutters on your house.  This project is most useful for those of us who have a clearly-defined gouge in our wood chips where the water pours off the roof.

Step 1:

Step 1 to build your own rainwater collection system
Purchase three cedar decking boards and screw them together in the shape of a trough. Seal all joined edges with a clear silicone caulk.

Step 2:

Step 2 to build your own rainwater collection system
Obtain containers in which the capture the rainwater; it would be best to find containers with about a 2″ opening.

Step 3:

Step 3 to build your own rainwater collection system
Line up the containers and measure the distance between the center of the containers’ openings. Leave about 1/2″ per container for expansion.  Measure the diameter of the container’s opening and use a hole saw (attached to the drill) to make holes in the trough.

Step 4:

Step 4 to build your own rainwater collection system
Purchase a 10′ length of PVC pipe. It should be slightly less in diameter than your hole. Count the number of holes and divide evenly. Cut the PVC into equal lengths.  Purchase a narrowing PVC conduit to glue to the top of your pipes.  Drill two holes in the widest part of the conduit and use a miter saw to remove the material between the holes. This will make a slit to help drain the water into the pipe and ultimately into your container.

Step 5:

Step 5 to build your own rainwater collection system
Construct some simple “feet” to attach to the ends of the trough. If you drill a hole in the middle of the end of the trough, you will be able to swivel the trough up-side-down on the lag bolt to prevent snow from weighing the trough down during the winter.  Dig a hole on both ends for the “feet”, level the trough, and add concrete to prevent the structure from moving during a hard rain.

Step 6:

Step 6 to build your own rainwater collection system
Rake the area under the trough so that you can remove the containers easily. Insert the PVC pipe, and add metal menders if you like to ensure the container’s slit stays level with the trough. When it rains, the water will be directed from the trough, into the PVC pipe and then into your container.  When the container is full, lift the PVC pipe out of the mouth of the container, remove the container, and water your plants.  When the container is empty, put it back under the trough and slip the PVC pipe back down into the mouth of the container.  If you like, you can purchase a rain barrel with which to pour the full containers.

 

How To Tie Fishing Knots

Fishing knots are created to be tied with either a mono or a coated or un-coated braided line and should have the ability to pass through fishing rod eyes and rings as well as a fishing rig. For that reason they need to be as small and as strong as possible. Learning a new knot takes patience and practice. Some knots may seem challenging at the beginning but with some practice you will soon tie all these knots for fishing like a master.

Fishing line knots must be pulled extremely tight before it is used. To ensure fishing knots tighten smoothly, and to help minimize the amount of heat generated, the knot should be moistened with either water or saliva. Trim the ends of all knots closely against the knot. A nail clipper is a very good tool for this purpose.

Some of the most popular knots for fishing include the Palomar Knot (one of the well-known fly fishing knots), Nail Knot, Blood Knot, Clinch Knot and the Knotless Knot. The different fishing knots all have their own unique uses and it is wise to learn as many fishing line knots as possible to make sure that you have the right fishing knot for the right situation.

The Tie-Fast Knot Tool is a handy little tool that ties several different types of fishing knots. These fishing knots are quick to tie and they are very strong.

How to tie Fishing Knots – Snell Knot

In this fishing knots video you get some good tips on snelling and flipping plus you get to learn how-to tie a Snell Knot

Great Fishing Knot resource CLICK HERE

See more knots: source

Make Your Own Simple Faraday Box

A Faraday box is the easiest way of protecting most small electrical equipment that can be unplugged from the power source.

A Faraday box is a metal box designed to divert and soak up the EMP. If the object placed in the box is insulated from the inside surface of the box, it will not be affected by the EMP travelling around the outside metal surface of the box. The Faraday box simple and cheap and often provides more protection to electrical components than “hardening” through circuit designs which can’t be (or haven’t been) adequately tested.

Many containers are suitable for make-shift Faraday boxes: cake boxes, ammunition containers, metal filing cabinets and so on.  Despite what you may have read or heard, these boxes do NOT have to be airtight due to the long wave length of EMP; boxes can be made of wire screen or other porous metal and be equally effective.  The Faraday box is a great solution assuming that you aren’t using the equipment when the event occurs.  (not likely)  It is highly advised that you prepare a “back-up plan” Faraday box filled and ready for such an occasion.  Shortwave radio, weather radio, small television, spare telephone and anything else you may need after.  Do remember that the power grid will likely be wiped out so anything you keep will have to run off of a fuel powered generator.  You should be focused on staying informed but not needlessly entertained.

Simple-Faraday-Box

The only two requirements for protection with a Faraday box are:

(1) The electrical equipment inside the box can’t touch the metal container. Insulating with cardboard, rubber, plastic or even wads of paper are acceptable methods.

(2) The metal shielding must be continuous. There can be no large holes or gaps in the shielding.

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How To Build Your Own Heavy Duty 275 Gallon RAIN BARREL

Picture of Heavy Duty 275 Gallon RAIN BARREL
My wife asked for a rain barrel for her flowers. Our water bill has added up again and again, so I started checking craigslist for possiblities. As luck would have it, I found a polytank that was original used for similac baby food storage. That was great, since I didn’t want to worry about chemicals in the tank killing the plants and garden. The seller offered to deliver for the $35 purchase price. Great deal!!

Step 1:

Picture of
The first thing I did was to go to the hardware store and get connections so I could hook up my downspouts. I found black plastic tubing that was cheap and useful.

Step 2:

Picture of
The shower drain is on the left along with the coupling to attach it to the black gutter pipe I got at the store. As you can see the pipe in the background has a square opening, meant to receive the end of a normal downspout from the house.

Step 3:

Picture of
I couldn’t find a really good connection for the plastic. Most plumbing is meant to be screwed down and wouldn’t work. So, I used 3″ shower pan drain. It was a oversize screw type and I drilled a 3 1/8 hole, slipped the connection in and screwed on the retaining cap. Then I connected the downspout. The sizes were not the same, so I used a rubber connection meant for odd sized pipes. I used metal straps to hold both connections. And as a bonus, the shower drain cover acts as a large item filter for the tank.

Step 4:

Picture of
I realized I needed a overflow for the water, just in case I filled the tank. (Which has happened twice in the last month!) So I added a second connection that simply goes to the other side and drains into the low ridge between my house and the neighbors, which leads to a sewer drain. So the final product is not the prettiest thing in the world, but it works great and helps to save me a little cash. All parts including the cinder blocks to support the tank were under $100. The tank is up a little to provide some water pressure for the hose. And actually, I may add two more blocks or a water pump soon, because the water pressure is still a little low.
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