More Technique
   This is the category for various projects and technologies that defy the boundaries of the more specialized discussion.
   The phase 1 industrial capabilities are limited to that which can be achieved through portable hand tools. Metal work would be limited to cutting and bending, but without power tools drilling would be impractical, and standard welding techniques are of course unavailable. Punches however, could drive holes which could be tapped to accommodate screw-type fasteners.
   There are techniques where metals have been cut or fused using an intense compound called “thermite.” When this compound is burned it gives off enough heat to melt steel, and has been experienced by most of us who have held sparklers on the 4th of July (The wire itself is not consumed because it is titanium instead of stee)l.
   Blacksmithing is possible with wood fires using technologies described in the section on “Playing With Fire.
   Woodworking is a different matter. Hand-powered wood drills have been around for millennia, and there are no limits to what patience and skill can achieve in this medium. My grandfather built large elegant homes before the skill-saw was invented. Every piece was hand fitted and hand cut.
   The thermal processes based upon wood fires make a wide range of crafts and tooling possible. In addition to blacksmithing, consider ceramics, small amounts of cements and plasters from limestone, seashells and bones.
   Consider the resources available within a single dead car or building that has been, or is being demolished.
   Phase 2 Industry
   With electrical power becoming available, various forms of metal fabrication are much easier.  
   Depending upon the power available, laptops or other computer systems may be practical. If internet access is available, a whole new realm of opportunity is opened.
   If enough fuel is available larger scale operations of ceramics, tiles, and other thermal processes could be developed in specialized furnaces.
   The primary impetus of this document is to think in terms of the future. In the nineteenth century there was an individual who traveled around the Midwest planting apple trees; people knew him as “Johnny Appleseed.” His giving mission in life freely blessed countless families for generations to come. His life is an example of the perspective we need if we are ever to get out of ourselves and become a part of something important.
   Sustainable living is going to require renewable fuels. We need to be planting eucalyptus, oak, and other “energy” trees in available spaces (public or private) for our own future, and the future of others.
Phase 3 Industry
   Petrochemicals are being fractioned from biomass. Solvents and bases for paints and plastics are available at this phase. Specialty plants are being grown for their chemical properties.
   Key components of sustainable infrastructures are produced and marketed to other village startups. Technology is packaged, taught, and exported. R&D is forever increasing.
   Creative planning and adaptation scale increasingly higher levels of technology to small community capabilities.
   Few people in our society have the privilege of creating original technical designs. Generally that is left to the engineers, and only a small fraction of engineers actually do creative design. Within the confines of modern companies, engineers are forced to sign contracts that forbid them to share designs they create or technology they learn about while employed.
   In the old days, people needing some specialized form of iron went to the blacksmith. He was the town artisan who had the tools and know-how to make or repair just about anything made of iron.
   In this village we’d need a techno-smith shop, where creative people can take their ideas for access to tools and brain-storming. By opening the creative opportunities to anyone with creative ideas, and freely sharing all that is learned with all who are interested, technology could soar.

   This group deals with various techniques and ideas potentially helpful for meeting a variety of needs of small-scale communities.

Home Sheet Metal Basics          
   The ability to fabricate simple sheet metal objects can greatly enhance the versatility of the mechanically competent. The work itself is not difficult, but if you are not careful you can waste a lot of valuable time adding bandages to your fingers. I worked in a sheet metal shop for a year and a half, and immediately developed the habit of carrying bandaids in my wallet. This has remained a habit, and a good one. Your own or someone else's child is always in need of a bandaid for something, and it's nice to have one to offer. Soon however, I developed the more logical habit of being careful.
   If you are likely to be doing a bit of household homesteading, and have room for a little more junk, begin keeping your eyes open for sheet metal -- consider the following sources:
  1.  Construction site dumpsters, particularly at commercial projects often contain large pieces during the phases following the initial framing.
  2. 5-gallon cans can be modified or cut apart for many small projects.
  3. 55-gallon drums can provide a heavy gauge that is useful for some projects, especially stove parts.
  4. Consider metal signs, metal roofing materials, pieces of flashing, and auto body parts.
  5. Houses being demolished, or about to be, can often be good sources. Flue pipes from stoves, furnaces, and water heaters are valuable in their present form. Also look for heating ducts and furnace plenums. The exterior of water heaters is normally one large sheet of metal.
  6. Hate to disappoint you, but though I have obtained metal form all of the above sources (except the water heater), I have bought most of my sheet metal from hardware or heating supply stores.
   The tools you need for any of the projects I describe here are a pair of tin snips, a tape measure, a straight edge (preferably a metal yardstick), a scribe or awl, a pair of pliers, a hammer, and a drill with an 1/8" bit. 
   There are a few additional things that are nice to know if you have the resources and urge to go beyond the minimum:
   Not all tin snips are the same. The most basic and frequently needed tin snips are called "straight snips". These are designed for straight cutting, and will also cut reasonably well in a counter-clockwise direction. If the handles of straight snips are anything besides black, they will probably be yellow or grey. Left-handed snips are made to cut circles in a clockwise direction, and are also capable of cutting straight. Normally they come with green handles to indicate their style.   Right-hand snips cut counter clockwise, and they wear red.
   The least complicated fastening system uses #8 sheet metal screws in 1/8" holes. But for a speedier and cleaner-looking job, you might consider getting a pop-rivet gun, and a supply of 1/8" pop rivets. Screws of course, are reusable and are easier to remove, but once you learn to quit making mistakes, that ceases to be an issue.
   Since 1/2" is the most common dimension used in sheet metal work for forming joints and edges for corners, a tool for making lines 1/2" in from an edge can be very handy. Such a tool can be easily made from a small scrap of metal (The sketch illustrates how to make it and use it).
   A line is made by hooking the tool's notch on the edge of a sheet of metal, and running the tool along the length to be marked, while dragging the point along the metal surface. NOTE: For most of your sheet metal work you will find that lines made by scratching are adequate, and a scribe (think: screwdriver ground to a point) is normally used for this. A scribe is also frequently driven by a hammer to mark measurement points that define lines to be drawn. There are times however, when a felt-tipped pen is handy for making custom fits, as in cases where you are joining the end of one pipe to the side of another pipe.
   Frequently you will be bending a half-inch strip along an edge at right angles to the rest of the work. A simple break that will assist in this task can be made by bolting together a couple pieces of 1/8" steel, with about a 1/16" spacer sandwiched between them. You can buy 1/8" steel in 2" wide strips at hardware stores, and if you don't have  1/16" sheet metal, stack  a couple of precisely- cut thinner pieces together.  This spacer should be set back 1/2" from the edges of the 1/8" steel, and the length can be whatever you consider convenient. If you set your spacer 1/2" in from both an end and a side, you will have a tool with two sizes. In the tool I made for myself, I also indented the back side to 1/4", and one of the ends to 3/4" -- might as well make it as versatile as possible.
   Fifty-five gallon drums are handy resources in themselves, but modifying them for other functions is more than tin snips can manage. The easiest way to cut up a drum is with a cutting torch, but if you want a cleaner cut, or don't want to risk some nasty consequences of combining fire with unknown leftovers within the drum, an jigsaw with a fine-toothed metal cutting blade does a nice job (You could still light things off with it, so know what's in there before you mess with it at all). Take your time, don't try any sharp corners, and you'll do alright. If all you want to do is cut an end out, use a cold chisel and a hammer around the inside edge of the rim. Unless you are trying to prove how macho a deaf person can be, I would recommend that you put some kind of protection in your ears for either of these operations.
   For lighter gauges of sheet metal, cutting a hole is begun by driving a scribe or screwdriver deeply through metal near the center of the hole-to-be. The scribe is then bent sideways and moved around to enlarge the hole as much as convenient. Insert the tip of the snips into the hole and begin cutting in a spiral pattern as required until the line defining the edge of the hole can be reached. I find it convenient and safer at this point, to cut out a smaller circle from the center of the hole, before completing the hole to its' finished dimension. 
   To prepare the end of a pipe for joining to another piece of metal, or a cap, cut a series of 1/2" deep slits around its' end, about 1/2" to 3/4" apart.
   I find it best to make the first cut next to the seam of the pipe. As you approach the completion of the circle, adjust the spacing so that you wind up with an even number of slits.
   When you want to join flexible ducting to sheet metal work, or to a plywood structure such as the back of a home-made solar panel, prepare a short (4 to  5  inches  will do) piece of pipe in the above manner to use as a collar. Try to do it so that there is a crimped end available to make it easier to slide on the ducting. If the wood is very thick, you might want to make the tabs a little longer and wider than you would if you were attaching to sheet metal.
   In order to join the pipe to a hole, first bend every-other tab outward at right angles Then stick the rest of the tabs through the hole and bend them outward against the inside surface, securing this surface between the outer and inner tabs. It helps at this point to take a small hammer and lightly tap the outer tabs to set them firmly against the outer surface.
   If you are joining the pipe to a hole in a curved surface, begin by inserting the end of the pipe into the hole, and making a line around the pipe where the edges of the hole meet it (This is where a felt-tipped pen can come in handy).  Trim the end of the pipe around this line, and then do your slits and attaching as described above.
   Capping a pipe begins with the same set of slits, but proceeds by bending every-other tab INWARD instead of outward. You then lay a disk cut to the inside diameter of the pipe on these tabs, and bend the remaining tabs over it.  Now you tap these outer tabs lightly to set them in place. It makes things a lot tighter if you can hold a piece of wood or metal against the  inner tabs during this tapping process.
   Joints at the corners of boxes are formed by bending a 1/2" strip along one edge of one piece at right angles. This is then screwed or pop-riveted to the other piece.
   For most of your sheet metal work you will find that lines made by scratching are adequate, and a scribe (think: screwdriver filed to a point) is normally used for this. A scribe is also frequently tapped by a hammer to mark measurement points that define lines to be drawn. Yet another use of this tool is to drive it through sheet metal and twist it around to start a hole for shears to cut out an area. There are times when a felt-tipped pen is handy for making custom fits, as in cases where you are joining the end of one pipe to the side of another pipe.
     Petrochemical Replacement        
   The pyrolization of wood -- and perhaps other bio-materials -- could provide many of the compounds that currently bind us to the petroleum industry.
   This would place access to of hydrocarbon compounds into the hands of people who didn't support oil wells or coal mines.  It could also move the continued development and supply of hi-tech materials into a renewable and decentralized basis.
   Such an operation would be a lot more complex than many of the other projects described here.  The program however, would both support and demand a technically competent community, and could supply key compounds for other communities. Among the simpler products one might expect would be motor fuels, solvents, lamp oils, lubricants, and preservatives for wood.
   There have been times of emergency in Europe when vehicles have been fueled by wood smoke, driven out of sealed chambers that were heated by wood or coal fires.
   A wide variety of nasty and beneficial compounds can be driven out of wood as it is slowly heated. The trick is to catch them and to sort them out. 
   The basic apparatus would consist of a sealed batch "cooker", which is followed by a series of progressively cooler still-segments, each with its own catch-vessel.
(1) Exhaust froma clean-burning flame passes through a thermal process chamber heats a sealed vessel containing biomass (2).  The resulting gasses exit through an insulated tube
(3), and pass through a series of sequentially cooler distillation modules (4).  Each of these modules is maintained at a temperature range selected to distill a specific group of compounds.  Finally, any remaining gasses are bubbled through water and stored in an inverted drum (5) to capture any true gasses, and make the entire operation a zero-emissions process.
  The water through which the gas is bubbled would be processed to harvest dissolved compounds.  The carbon left behind in the chamber (6) would be a clean solid fuel for cooking and heating, and would be well activated for filtering purposes.
   Almost anything from bricks to engine parts can be fabricated from ceramics. Refer to “Energy Tree’ for more ideas along these lines.
The Plastic Soda Bottle            
   Have fun with the little things. Practice looking at the world as if you'd just stepped into it, and nobody had yet told you to grow up.  Pick up a plastic soda bottle and be astounded.  Look through it. Listen to it. Hold it in different positions along-side common household items.
   I've used these things in several ways they were never intended to be used.  Here's a few of them.
Non-Explosive Demolition
   Ok, so not every one of these relates to everyone, but once in awhile some of us need to split a rock or two when we don’t happen to have any dynamite on us.  So one evening when I was contemplating on how to modify some boulders in my life, I came up with a technique that can split rocks without the use of explosives.
   I drilled a hole in about a 50 lb test rock, filled part of the hole with water, and inserted a bolt that just barely fit into the hole.    The theory was that if I whaled on the end of the bolt with a hammer, the pressure of the water would split the rock: In reality, I got wet.
   Giving up is not usually the first thing that occurs to me, so I replaced the water with mud, and this time I remembered to close my mouth before I struck the bolt.
   The rock parted neatly. It was interesting to note that the resounding ring I was expecting upon the contact of the hammer on the bolt was replaced by a subdued “sput” as the energy was absorbed in the splitting of the rock.
   One other thing that might be considered – which I did not try – would be to use something like modeling clay in lieu of water or mud
Stepper Motor From Alternator 
   If you don't know what a stepper motor is, then you probably don't need one. These motors can be made to turn a few degrees at a time, and are used under computer control to position various objects.
   I had an application where I wanted to move short pieces of 6" pipe under a cutting torch for the automated cutting of various features.  I was able to get it to work from a couple small stepper motors I had lying around, but I really wanted a better margin of power and speed.  I then begin to consider the possibilities of an automotive alternator.
   The 3-phase stator windings of the alternator are wound and connected as shown on the left here.
   By throwing away a half-dozen diodes and rewiring the stator as shown on the right, you have a stepper motor.
   By applying a voltage sequentially to each of the phases, and energizing the rotor by another voltage source, you can get this modified alternator to step in either direction.
   The alternator I got a hold of gave me 21 steps per revolution, but by applying voltage to two phases at a time, I was able to get half-steps, for a total of 42 steps.
   The stator windings have extremely low resistance, and at even 6 volts you may find yourself burning your alternator.   
   The simplest way I have found to regulate the current is to put an automotive lamp in series with your windings; you may need a head lamp to find one large enough.  Begin by selecting one of about 4 to 6 amps, and go up or down from there according to your needs.
   Another method, which I did not try, would be to use pulses at a frequency that would allow the inductive reactance to keep the current to acceptable levels.
   A third method would be to rewire the alternator with more turns of a finer wire.
   Beyond these suggestions, you should keep your voltage down.
   In their intended automotive application, alternators are constantly cooled by a strong blast of air – not so in this application, so you may need a fan.
Generator Analyzer

   If voltage is monitored while current is incremented through a known ramp, the maximum available power will be point at which the product of voltage and current are the greatest.
   The voltage at this point, is the optimum point on the power curve
   When this voltage is divided by the current, the optimum resistive load is calculated.
   Alternatively, the maximum available power and optimum load can be determined for any specified voltage.
Alternative System:
   A far less sophisticated solution would involve monitoring the voltage at specific levels of load. In this case only a series of resistive loads sufficient to test the power source and a volt-ohm meter would be required.
   Nichrome from heating appliances could serve as resistive loads, and they must total sufficiently low resistance to pull the source output well below it’s maximum power output capability. During tests they would be submerged in water to keep heating from changing the resistance.
   The voltage would be measured with increasing loads applied, and the power would equal the voltage squared divided by the resistance at each point. These points would then be plotted and points between extrapolated from a connecting curve.
Additional Discussion:  
   This would be an item of a quasi high tech nature that would be convenient but not essential. It may have significant market value during a transitional phase of characterizing and debugging small-scale Stirling power systems.
   The rest of the world runs on greed, and greed requires things, so in order to connect with the rest of the world, we need to create things for them to be greedy about. It would be ideal however, to select products that would help them become wonderful like ourselves, so consider products that would lead them away from the maelstrom of centralized profit power, and into the low-cost prosperity of localized sustainable living.
   This makes it easy for we who chose to climb out of the system rather than drop out, because we would have experience in hard-to-find commodities of great intrinsic value.
   Caution would be required in this arena however, in that there must be no true dependency developed on external involvements, or we would soon find ourselves paved over like the rest of the prospering world.
   On the other hand, since at this point most of us are already “paved”, the development and marketing of various products and services by a consortium of pioneer wanna-be’s, may produce the tools and resources to launch a village.
   On the low end of the scale consider a service of planting and maintaining high-density vegetable gardens for the saner fringe of society who desire healthy diets but would rather not dirty their hands. It could also be that they are obliged to spend eight hours every day working and two hours per day commuting, so that they can make enough money to really enjoy life. By spending a few hours per day doing something you really enjoy, you could support your low-expense lifestyle and help out a dozen or so such clients.
   High efficiency wood-fired cook stoves might be a hot item for those who toy with thoughts of sustainable living, or desire an emergency source of cooking and heating.
   The built-in thermal process chamber in these units could also be used for heating water, blacksmithing, the production of power, or as a kiln for some ceramic projects.
   Stirling-cycle engine/generator systems capable of producing a couple hundred watts from a gas or wood-fired stove may be marketable as emergency power sources. Such could provide power for emergency lighting, laptops, and cell phone chargers.
   Since a Stirling engine might also be used to heat or cool when powered by an outside force, specially-designed units might provide refrigeration. These could be used in tandem with conventionally applied engines.
   Heliostat modules may be a real crowd pleaser, and in many applications they could be in high demand within our existing infrastructures.
   Garden-scale wells might be practical in cases where the water table was high enough (this worked for me at one time). It would be difficult to justify complaining about removing water from the ground, moving it a dozen feet or so, and pouring it back into the ground through a garden. None-the-less, such an activity might best be performed discretely. On a still more discrete scale, a well for an emergency supply might be provided inside a house or garage.
        DOG TRAINER/REPLACEMENT            
   This project was originally designed to train a neighbor's dog not to bark. Returning a small beep for each bark seems to distract the dog’s attention. Give the mutt about an hour to wise up during his first lesson. The dog will still bark if he’s being chased by an E.T. or a postman, but in most cases, the mindless endless noise is greatly reduced.

   The circuit was built around a quad op amp (LM324). Sections A and B form an audio amplifier. The variable 10k pot controls the gain of the signals provided by the microphone.
   Section D is a timing circuit which is triggered by the output of the amplifier.  When triggered, pin 14 produces a negative-going pulse of about 1/2 second.  This pulse enables the audio oscillator while blocking the signals from the microphone.
   Section C, the oscillator, produces a tone which drives a piezo speaker.
   The parts were picked up at a local Radio Shack ®.
   The pulse at point 5 could drive a relay to move heavier objects, such as something to pound on your neighbor's wall when his stereo gets too loud (This circuit can potentially train other stupid things besides dogs).
   A dog hears a soft sound and then barks.  By connecting the above-mentioned relay to a recording of a dog barking (or of the action of a 12-gauge shotgun chambering a round), you could offer to replace your neighbor's dog. The duration of the pulse can be increased by increasing the 4.7uf capacitor.
   By replacing the microphone with some other stimulus at point 1, this circuit could become a general-purpose burglar alarm.
   I don't know what you could do with the oscillator. You might use it to modulate a low-power FM transmitter, so you could produce an alarm tone through a nearby FM receiver.
   In spite of its versatility, this circuit is very gentle on battery drain, and can be powered by anything between about 5 and 12 volts.  This makes it a good candidate for remote or camping alarm applications.