Archive for Green Stuff

Energy Graphs

I do like gadgets and the emonpi system is an excellent gadget for keeping an eye on my panels.

The below graph is an interactive snippet that allows you to look at energy generation on the fly (Yellow is Solar) including how much I’m importing/exporting to the Grid (Green Line) and how much power I’m using in total (Blue).

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Kegerator and Lasers!

So last night we went to the London hackspace with an EPS file and a lot of hope.

The plan…




Can you tell what it is yet?


Next of course was to start on the kegerator.


For most kegerators, you need to lots of complicated things. We decided to keep it very simple and try to keep the fridge as insulated as possible.  The gas (CO2) is kept outside and fed in through the top of the fridge.


This conduit we got for another project was perfect for 3/8 beer line.  It can take two lines in each section.  The plan is to run a gas line in from outside and the beer out.  We have one beer line for the handpump, two for a font (yet to buy).


Siliconed in!


Just needs a clean!


And a spray… remember that laser cutter at the start?




Won’t lose these easily!


Sprayed all the things!


And soon to come, a pump clip! 🙂

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Fermentation Chamber


So if you don’t want an all singing all dancing BrewPi (which lets face it, it’s expensive) you can invest in an STC-1000

What’s the difference?

The BrewPi has a web interface, the STC-1000 doesn’t.  I can set up a fermentation profile on the BrewPi, but if I’m in the house, I can manually change the STC – as long as I remember.  The big difference is the price – £150 for a BrewPI, compared to a finished cost of £70 with an STC system (this is assuming a 2nd hand £25 fridge and a £15 tube heater).

So for a non-complex ale that needs a fermentation of 18’C, which would I choose?  The STC.

For a wheatbeer, starting fermentation at 12’C and rising steadily over 14 days to 21’C? The BrewPi.

What equipment do you need?

Fridge £25
Tube Heater £15
STC-1000 £13
Extension Cords £3.99 x 2
Project Box £4
Choc Box £1

So about £66

And the instructions? Try Here

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chickens on garden furniture

The advantage of it being winter now is that we can let the chickens freerange.  This means the rhubarb is gone.  Completely.  They really like rhubarb.

Next to go is the comfrey (my bocking 14 variety) which is in the process of being decimated.

Apparently even the garden furniture is fair game (as below).

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Going Solar?

LGPanelsThis post was supposed to be about how I was having a shiny new 3.6kw system installed.  Sadly, not.

The original proposal was to have 12 LG 280w panels, attached with Enphase micro inverters wired into a generation meter.  This was because they’d be on my East roof and my South roof. The total would give me about 2.6-2.7kw of generation (from a 3.6kw system.  Whilst there’s an awful lot of negative media being thrown about by Solaredge and Enphase (what seems to be the biggest comparable competitors) one thing is sure.  Micro Inverters work best on shaded split systems and Optimisers work best on single string installations with a single inverter where there’s no shade and you’re on the optimum angle.

With that in mind I was fairly happy with the Enphase system.

My selected installer came out and we had a long chinwag and were pretty much ready to sign contracts.  In the course of answering some of my questions, I checked google maps and we both realised that where we were talking about the panels would be North East, not East.  If you’re not aware of where the sun rises, it’s mostly South East to South West in the UK.  If it rises in the North, your continent has slipped below the equator.

So what to do? Well I do have a very nicely laid new flat roof.  It _could_ if we’re lucky get a few panels on it.  My garage roof is best because I ought to get seven rows of two panels at the perfect angle to generate the most power during the day.  Actually, 14 panels on a single roof, facing South, potentially in a string situation with a SolarEdge system probably would work better.

My single most annoyed gripe about the Enphase system is the pay per play system.  I’m not too sure what the current deal is, but basically I have to pay £250 to have a box which’ll monitor my system.  If I allow it to connect to the net, it’ll send my generation stats to a pay for service.  I can’t actually use my box to its full potential without setting up some sort of man in the middle attack (due to some dodgy SSL handling it’s possible) and coding some sort of interpreter.  All I’d like to do is make a page on Waark which shows you my stats if you like that sort of thing.  I might pay £250, but to activate my account, I apparently need to pay an additional $250 (not sure what that actually equates to in the UK, in truth it might be £150-250 and I’m not doing that for a webpage on a blog)  I’ve heard rumours they’ve gone back to  a pay per year service which in itself seems silly.  Which is a real shame as it looks so much cleaner and better designed than the Solaredge system, which is cheaper.

I’d also get monitoring software thrown in, which would be cheaper than Enphase.  Trouble is, my garage roof was laid by morons without a tape measure. or, a clue it seems.  It’s filled with woodworms as well, mostly made out of 2×4 and 2×6.  Mostly.

So, my current plan is get the gear on the new flat roof so we have a registered 4kw system for the current FiT payments.  Get garage roof updated to 8×2 and regraded and move the panels over to the garage roof once it’s done.  Whether my installer can be convinced to do me a Solaredge (or similar) install with the LG panels will have to be seen! It might save me a few quid considering I’m going to have to completely remove the garage roof…!


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Winter is coming






Finally got round to getting a gardening update!  The sweetcorn did very well this year – we’ve been told by a friend that you need to pick them as soon as the tassels start going brown.  This is a good tip! Previous years we’ve had starchy but brilliant yellow corn.  This time we’ve had pale corn which has been sweeter than sugar.  But all good things come to an end – as you can see above everything was looking a bit dead.



I cleared the sweetcorn and squash, even tidying down the sides.  I then emptied a compost bin onto it and covered in pond liner to keep it cat litter free until next year.


Blight had taken out the self seeded tomatoes (these are commercial tomatoes that we must have put in the compost bin last year!) and all my other tomatoes – things were looking fine before we popped off on Holiday, but a week is a long time in gardening it seems!  So they all had to go.  We’ve decided to compost all of the tomato rubbish (blight or not) as I’m only intending to grow tomatoes in grow bags or fresh compost from now on.


Helen harvesting the squash and whatever she can rescue from the blighted ones.


The twilight chillies really putting on a display!


Hopefully the final mow of the year!


Produce found under the undergrowth.  The large marrow was a surprise, we thought that plant had died!

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When it rains, cook.  Or in my case dehydrate.  As well as the Jerky, I also made chicken Kievs.  I got the dehydrator for my recent birthday and it’s the 2nd set of jerky I’ve made.


I used

1 bottle of Worcestershire sauce

1 bottle of reduced salt soy sauce

1 tablespoon of local honey

2 teaspoons of fresh ground black pepper

2 teaspoons of crushed dry chillies

1 teaspoon of smoked paprika

1 teaspoon of garlic powder (don’t use fresh)

1 teaspoon of onion powder/granules

Steak – rump works well.

Remove fat from steak, I cut up the grain.

Marinaded in a bag for about 3 hours in the fridge, shaking up once an hour.

Shake to remove excess marinade (I suspend over the sink and let it drip)

Leave until dehydrated (about 12-16hrs @ 65-70’C)

I got a similar recipe off the internet and customised.  I can’t get liquid smoke, so it’s liquid smoke free (the smoked paprika does the same sort of job)


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Pig roaster #4

Welcome all hackaday people visiting the site today (

Click here: to see the rest of the related posts

And why not after look at a cob oven if you like cooking stuff?

Anyway, enjoy your stay and I hope the site can stand up to it all…


One of the main objectives of making my own pig roaster is making it mechanised. With the cogs and a few bits from eBay this is how I did it! (More pics and a video, click read the rest of this entry below)

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Pig roast #3


I decided as I’m hoping to rent this out I should get some proper stainless steel prongs to stop it rotating. My welding isn’t up to stainless steel levels!

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Pig Roast #2


Lamenting the lack of broken bikes I’ve been able to find, I was begging for bikes amongst friends when one mentioned a project in nearby Southend called “reCycle”. Bikes are donated, they repair and service them and sell to fund the scheme. It’s really quite good. They had plenty of bits for my hog roast turner.

I also picked up a ford mondeo windscreen wiper motor for £10 from a scrap yard. All ready to go now…

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