Cashing in on bright days

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The day has finally come for solar panel installation.  When I originally looked into it we discovered that the east roof was in fact North East (useless) and the west was completely shaded by the neighbours property.  The south could support 4 panels (almost 5, but about 5 cm off!).  We did talk about the garage roof, but because it was an assortment of 2×6 and 2×4, badly spaced and woodworm infested and the felt was almost at end of life, it would require the replacement of the roof (an expected cost, but not once necessarily required right at that moment)

Then the garage roof suddenly failed and water was pouring in over my mains board.  Not a very good position, so it was decided to replace it post haste.  We replaced with 2×8 (so a party can now happen on the roof) or a solar farm.

The system is just under 4kw (14 panels), installed by Clive of Complete Renewables (http://www.completerenewables.co.uk/) who’s a local Essex installer.  We specifically went with him because he likes to use LG panels.  I was also very interested in the microinverter solution he used from Enphase.  These allow any of the panels to be shaded without impacting on the others production (unlike normal inverters which are slightly less efficient in shading).  Another interesting feature is the Enphase Envoy which picks up powerline signals from each of the micro inverters and allows you to monitor each panels production – though sadly this is current under fees.  I’m thinking of getting an Envoy in a few months when it’s rumoured they’ll be releasing a new one which handles an “affordable battery solution” – I’m interested to see how this compares to the offerings by Tesla, though I think I may find that the Enphase microinverters make the Tesla solution incompatible.

Anyway Enphase, if you’re listening I’d love to tie my generation stats into my blog for people see what I’m generating, so feel free to hit me up with an offer on an Envoy I can’t refuse.

Why I’m having it done right now before the winter is because the solar FIT payments from the government finish in January, so if you’re not quick, your payback will be affected.  Payback for this system is about 8.6 yrs.

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Making a home forge!

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Take a 1960s morris minor wheel, stick some metal prongs on it

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Add a bike bit to help distribute the air

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Add biscuit tin

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Weld

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Add charcoal and fire!

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And metal!

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And air. Its not supposed to melt like that by the way…

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Bend! And you can make anything! Like a fire crane!

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Pizza oven firing door

Wooden doors burn. Metal ones don’t.

So… Biscuit tins

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Did the job, hardly any burning, hotter pizza oven much quicker than normal!

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Cider

Our cider was made about 50:50 with Bramley (sour) and Discovery eating apples.

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Smash with stick
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When pulped, put into press. This one was a donated press from Steve’s grandparents originally used for wine.

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First batch made a nice medium apple juice. We added demerara sugar to add sweetness.
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11 litres. 13 once sugar and water added. OG 1.074, so going to be 8.4%!

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Nothing is finer than cider

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Two years ago, Helen made an apple picker at the bushmoot (two bushmoot related posts in a day!)

We’ve never used it until today.

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My parents wanted their tree stripped because they had problems with wasps

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Two bags of apples later we obviously need more.

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But they smell really good in the garage where they’ll sit, not touching until next weekend.

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Sewing

During this years bushmoot, aside from the usual making things out of forest materials, one guy brought his sewing machine and did a talk. His love of them and their history was eye opening, but he also gave us a quick run down and some general knowledge.

My wife has (had?) A 66k but whilst I tried to work with it I failed miserably – it refused to sew.

So on the way back from my holiday I picked up a 201K (the luxury sewing machine of its age, worth about 6 months average wages!) Made in March 1940 for about £75 from good old eBay. Its not quite mint (but close!), but with a few drops of oil it started to run much smoother!

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Anyway, I set it up and exactly the same thing happened that happened me on the wife’s 66K.

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So, it wasn’t the machine, it was obviously me! So now knowing with some pointers from my new found friend I finally worked out where I’d been going wrong!

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And whilst I used high school maths to work out the correct circumference, I completely failed to add a seam allowance to the sides.

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So a small mistake.

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And by bizarre coincidence, the camo lined up. But it still works and I’m pleased with my first attempt.

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Fruiting

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Strawberries are now in full force with the blackcurrants, raspberries and even a few blackberries also following suit.

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You can’t tell we had double in there at one point.

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I’m wondering when the birds will notice…

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Victoria plum is fruiting for the first year so I’m pretty excited. I love Victoria plums.  So much so we have two of them!

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Grape vine seems to be going mental… Looking forward to them again! They were very tasty last year.

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Yellow plum here.

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First baby courgette

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Leeks and basil ready for planting out

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Sweetcorn is a definite success this year. We’re also growing baby corn.

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Beans haven’t been decimated either

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Our elephant garlic is in bloom too.

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Galaxy Delight kegged up

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Tonight I got off my backside and racked up the Galaxy Delight beer.

It was only about the last 7 litres when I realised the keg would only take 19L and I’d need to bottle some. This is the first brew I’ve put into them, so I’m not 100% used to the routine and I was ill prepared.

Anyway, this beer isn’t going to be cask conditioned. Its going to be force carbonated so I’ve rigged it up in the kegorator to the CO2 cylinder at about 10PSI

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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…

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Lasers!

Can you tell what it is yet?

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Next of course was to start on the kegerator.

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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.

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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).

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Siliconed in!

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Just needs a clean!

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

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Won’t lose these easily!

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Sprayed all the things!

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And soon to come, a pump clip! 🙂

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Homebrew festival

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This weekend we attended the home brew festival in Market Bosworth. 

I entered three beers, two all grain and a kit.  I placed with one of the all grain beers (2nd) and the kit (3rd)

Very pleased and thanks for all the help and encouragement from my friends and family

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