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Is it ignorance or commerce?

Posted by admin on Apr 18th, 2011
Apr 18

Last week at work, someone had put fliers on all of the cars in the parking lot. The fliers were for the 2011 L.A. Earth Fest! After reviewing the card fully, I didn’t see anything about the card being printed on recycled paper, and worst of all it was laminated so it couldn’t be recycled. I will NOT be going to Earth Fest and I would recommend people give them hell over being more about commerce rather than eco. How can an event be “Eco” with eco events when they do things like this:

Laminated Earthfest flier put on cars

No reference to even being printed on recycled paper

How environmentally irresponsible. Contact their sponsors and complain –

Hypermiling on a Harley – part 4

Posted by admin on Sep 18th, 2010
Sep 18

It’s been about two months since my last update on my Hypermiling on a Harley series. The reason it has been so long is because I’ve been experimenting with different hypermiling techniques to get as much information as possible. The conclusion I’ve come to is: so far I don’t really see any difference or benefit to hypermiling on my bike. The range I’ve seen in the last two months has been a low of about 42mpg – usually with a passenger, and a one time peak of 48mpg, but the overall average has been pretty consistently about 45-46mpg. That’s pretty much the same as before when I was just monitoring my speed.

I’m going to continue to experiment and will report any noteworthy findings, but as of this post my official series is now concluded. My suggestions? Watch the throttle and check your tire pressure – nothing groundbreaking there, but obviously very important.

*Update: it occurred to me that I haven’t added any context to my hypermiling testing. I typically commute about 48.4 miles per day round trip. Of the 48.4 miles I was hypermiling (read that as “clutch disengaged”) about 4-6 miles per day. Not a lot, but if you average that to 5 miles per day, that comes up as about 10% per day. That should translate to an additional 4+mpg, but it didn’t.

Micro-VAWT Experimentation

Posted by admin on Aug 2nd, 2010
Aug 2

I’ve been starting to experiment with micro-wind turbines lately and have been trying to think of turbines that are complact and not very noticable. This is mainly for my wife’s sake, as she wasn’t exactly fond of my last attempt at a VAWT. I’m also trying to keep the cost as low as possible by reusing items that are on their way out to the landfill or recyling plant – things like paper towel rolls, old cd’s, cardboard, etc. We’ll call it a prototype development phase. There are so many things to consider when attempting to engineer these micro-power plants, things like motor size, regulation, “blade” size, etc. That’s why using items from the trash to experiment with is a great prototype method. Right now I’m focusing on the VAWT template because it’s very appealing to me, since I live in an apartment and would have a much easier time getting away with putting up a VAWT compared with a traditionally bladed turbine.

I have a used computer fan that I’m using as my base generator. It’s got minimal output potential – 12v and about 0.12A, or about 1.5 watts. It’s a good test bed though as it doesn’t take a whole lot to turn it, so I can focus a little more on design first rather than just coming up with something that will actually turn the motor. It may seem a little backwards, admittedly, but in my attempts in the past I was unable to successfully build an efficent VAWT that would turn itself very well, let alone a motor at the speed needed.

I initially created a VAWT using a tp roll, but it was way too small. I then turned to an empty oatmeal container. This is showing to have a lot more promise due to sheer size, but it is way bigger than the motor so it’s not as efficient as I would hope. Below is a picture. I put it all together using paperclips, an old cd, cardboard under the cd to raise it up a bit, and double sided tape to secure the base to the motor. I’m still going to do more experiments with it and try some other configurations, but fornow this is where I’m at.

Great wind turbine howto site

Posted by admin on Aug 2nd, 2010
Aug 2

I’ve been searching for more information about micro-wind turbines, power controllers, and general information on how to understand the technical specs of the math needed to figure out the sizing of the system and controller needed for whatever situation the unit is intended for. I’ve been focusing on micro-wind turbines specifically because we recently moved into an apartment and obviously can’t put in a standard sized turbine, yet I want to find something I can use to charge my backup marine batteries. Besides, the thought of using a small wind generator as a power supplement is kind of cool to me. I’ve posted about this before, and have found some new and interesting information during my recent search, but I think I’ve found a great website to help me with my quest. It’s easy to understand and broken down in a way that makes sense. It’s not in the scale I’m looking for, but has a lot of useful information that will help me to get where I’m trying to. I was so excited to find the page that it prompted this post. The link is – – and hopefully it will help others in their quest as well.

Hypermiling on a Harley – part 3

Posted by admin on Jul 19th, 2010
Jul 19

Since my last update I’ve gone through three full tanks of gas as my test base. I’ve tried to keep as close as possible to the test guidelines, which are keeping as close as possible to 70 mph or under and shifting at the factory specified shifting speeds (15, 25, 35, 45, 55 mph). I’ve done well at shifting at the right speeds, and have pretty much kept under 70 mph throughout the test. So, on to the base results:

  • Tank 1 = 45.6 mpg
  • Tank 2 = 45.3 mpg
  • Tank 3 = 43.2 mpg

On tank #3 there were two factors that worked against me. One was that I didn’t keep as well to the speed rule as I was supposed to, and the second is that about 40 miles were with my wife on the back.

Now for the next three tanks of gas I’m going to add hypermiling to the test and see what happens. My initial hypermiling tests showed I got about 46 mpg, but I don’t think I had integrated the shifting part yet. We’ll see what happens.

On a side note, I’m looking into two new projects (but don’t tell my wife 🙂 ):

  • One is to try to fix a heat issue. Our garage easily gets to 90 degrees now that we’re in the midst of summer in the San Fernando Valley. Unfortunately that’s where the treadmill is so it’s really been preventing me from using it. I’ve been looking at a lot of personal cooling device ideas – most of which consists of a fan attached to a cooler filled with ice and water that gets pumped through copper tubing attached to the fan. I have some ideas on that design.
  • The second is designing a 50w micro-vawt. It’s small enough to be portable, cheap enough to have several of them spread around, and not some big monolithic eyesore. Well, at least some people might think a big vawt is an eyesore 😉 The one concern I have about this project is my previous attempt and failure. I’m going to do some better testing before I start building this time though.

Hypermiling on a Harley, part 2

Posted by admin on Jun 20th, 2010
Jun 20

It’s been a few weeks since I started my hypermiling experiment. Unfortunately I decided to make two changes at the same time so I’m not sure which one has been more beneficial to my efforts. To cut to the main point of these posts, I’ve been able to go from getting 39-40mpg on my Harley, to getting 45-46mpg. How? I’ve dropped my freeway speed from around 80mph to 70mph, and I’ve been doing some hypermiling as well.

The problem with what I’ve been doing is that I’m not certain which one has added the most benefit. I’ve attempted hypermiling before but haven’t had much success on the Harley, so I suspect the added 6mpg has been due to the speed limiting primarily. To gather more useful data, I’m going to forgo the hypermiling on the next few tanks of gas and see what the results are. Any deviation from my current improved mpg will at least indicate that hypermiling does have some benefit.

Two side notes that I feel need to be added to this post. First – I am far from impressed with the coasting abilities of the bike. On the freeway when I take my exit to go home, going downhill, I go from 60mph to 45mph in about 300 feet. This may be improved by putting the transmission into neutral in addition to pulling in the clutch, but I shouldn’t have to do that.

Second – dropping my speed down 10 miles an hour (going from 80 down to 70) has done two things. 1) has afforded me a MUCH more relaxing ride – I really appreciate the time I spend on the bike now instead of focusing on just getting where I’m going as fast as possible. And 2) has shown me just how f**king crazy the drivers are on the road in L.A.. For some reason, when I was going 80 then most of the other drivers seemed somewhat sane. Now they all seem to ride each others asses, drive like they are vying for pole position at Indy, or are just plain rude.

Be back to report in a couple more weeks on this topic.

Hypermiling on a Harley

Posted by admin on May 29th, 2010
May 29

I have been doing some research on finding other Harley owners who have done some experimentation with hypermiling, but haven’t really been able to find anyone posting much about the subject. Since I’ve done a lot of hypermiling in the past, and I own a Harley, I thought I’d start my own testing and report my results here. How convenient 🙂 Here’s my back-story.

It’s been a little over a year and a half now that I’ve been riding a motorcycle as my daily commuter. My commute is just under 45 miles round trip in mostly heavy traffic, so it makes sense to “ride” rather than “drive” for me. Not only is it better in the fuel economy department but it’s also great for cutting down my time in transit (in California it’s ok to “cut lanes”).

The first bike I ever bought was a 2008 Harley Dyna Super Glide. I had never in my life driven a motorcycle when I bought it – I didn’t even have an endorsement. I know, crazy – but that’s how I roll sometimes. There is more to the story, but it doesn’t need to be told here. After finally learning how to ride it, and having taken the certification class, I had my endorsement and could hit the highway. Unfortunately about eight months later I got in an accident and totaled the bike. I then replaced it with a 2009 Dyna Street Bob (I *love* this bike!). Both bikes are rated for about 48mpg on the highway – we’ll get to my reality on that later.

I started out doing a little hypermiling but never really was consistent with it. I was always doing freeway driving and was also more focused on not turning my face into road pizza to be concerned with hypermiling. I’ve since become a much more confident rider and I’m now at a point where I’m going to try to improve my average mpg. It’s not that I’m getting bad gas mileage – I’m averaging about 40mpg now – but I know I can do a lot better. The reason I know this is because of one thing: when I first started riding on the freeway consistently I was getting 46-48mpg. Now I’m getting consistently 40mpg. The reason for this is because of my driving style – since I’m a lot more confident I’m driving much faster which is decreasing my efficiency.

I’m now at a point where I’m ready to slow down and “cruise” more. This alone will help my overall economy, but to further enhance it I’m going to start re-implementing my hypermiling experimentation. The little testing I’ve done so far hasn’t shown any change at all, but I haven’t given it a fully concerted effort to make an educated evaluation. I’m going to truly focus more on seeing what I can do with this and if it can ultimately add any overall improvements in efficiency.

I have had a lot of success in my (former) Dodge Charger. If you’d like to read up on my findings and tactics in the four wheeled arena then please check my other posts on the subject.


Posted by admin on May 16th, 2010
May 16

The family and I went to the Los Angeles Worldfest today in Van Nuys. There was a lot of vegan food, animal rescues, clothing, music, and spiritual enlightenment information available. I’m not hardcore into all of that stuff but it was good to get some information on it. I’ve been preparing myself to go vegetarian for some time now but haven’t quite been able to make a full transition yet. I’ve been eating more and more meat free meals, but there are just some things I’m not quite mentally ready to let go. I would consider myself to be spiritual in a nature sense, but not in an organized-go-somewhere-to-practice-and-learn sense. There was a huge solar array there that was powering the stage and bands that were playing.

The one thing I was surprised about though, is that we left with a bunch of pamphlets, stickers, and general paper stuff. Makes me wonder if there’s a better way to give out take-home information. One place I ate at – A Taste Of Life – had coupons available but they made them about twice the size of a fortune cookie fortune. At least they were trying to be conscious of waste.

I wish there was a Worldfest every weekend – I’d love to go more often. It was a lot of fun and pretty educational.

My first VAWT part 2

Posted by admin on Apr 22nd, 2010
Apr 22

Bottom line – it no workie. The blades are way too small, so I tried adding “extensions” to them, like so:

Admittedly it does work better, although not by much. it seems I’m running into a common problem with the design, going by other tutorial sites I’ve read through. I’m going to continue working on it though and hopefully I will have an easy solution. I’m trying to make it as easy to assemble as possible.

My first VAWT is born

Posted by admin on Apr 5th, 2010
Apr 5

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about building some type of a wind turbine solution in hopes of eventually taking my detached garage off of the grid. Being in the San Fernando Valley we get a fair amount of afternoon wind that can be utilized by such a device. I did some testing with a traditional turbine, which showed some potential, but I eventually decided that a VAWT (Vertical Access Wind Turbine) would be the best option. The reason I came to this decision is because of how the wind swirls in from so many directions around my backyard, as is seen by little makeshift cardboard wind direction pointer.

I had mentioned before that I was working with pvc tubing and 5 gallon bucket lids as the materials of choice for my contraption – well forget all of that. It wasn’t turning out to be as practical as I had hoped. I was trying to use easy to find and cheap materials for the project but I just couldn’t seem to find a good solution for attaching the blades to the lids. I ended up going to my local electronics junkyard (Apex Electronics – amazing place) where I found literally hundreds of wheels from electric scooters that would be perfect for the blade mounts. Unfortunately the wheels are only about 9″ in diameter, but they are good enough to use for my prototype VAWT. I bought four of them at $5 each, which was a little more than I wanted to pay but still within budget and they would end up making the assembly process much easier (even more than I had imagined – as you will see later). I only needed two, but as they say in the movie Contact – why build one when you can build two for twice the price.

Today I started the assembly process. A month or two back I bought 2 – 10 foot long 2 inch diameter pvc tubing. I cut the pvc tubes into thirds (i.e. 3 feet 4 inch long each) and then cut them in half, which left me with 12 – 3 foot 4 inch long “blades”. As luck would have it, the blades fit very snugly between the spokes of the wheels, which meant that I didn’t have to use any fasteners at all. Here’s a grainy phone picture of the blades set in the spokes:

VAWT blades wedged snugly in the wheel spokes. Click image for a larger view

The hardest part to this whole process was attaching the blades to the second wheel. Once I got that accomplished though then all I needed to do was build a quick frame to mount it in, which was made from scrap wood I had laying around:

Completed prototype, with my dog Loki running by trying to generate a breeze to start it moving.

So it’s completed and ready to go… but there’s no wind. There’s a storm heading in to SoCal tomorrow that’s supposed to bring lots of wind with it so hopefully I’ll get some decent feedback on its performance. I already have some doubts about how efficient it currently is, but I also have some improvements I’m thinking about as well. No matter how good or poor it performs, I’ve only used about $15 in parts on the project so far – 2 x wheels @ $5 each and 1 x 10′ @ 2″ diameter pvc at about $3.50 each. I’m going to use the rest of the parts for a second VAWT eventually.

UPDATE: I cleaned up my math a little – I was a bit off on the tube sizing and the amounts.

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