Sunday, August 30, 2015

Adding Solar Power to my Workshop

As long time readers will probably realize by now, I have pretty much replaced every component of our original solar power system over the past two or three years.

I have no regrets at all about this.  It was a great learning experience, and as our lifestyle has returned closer to "conventional" our power needs have also changed.

In fact, now it has proved to be a bit of a bonus that we grew the way we did.  With the construction of the workshop now far enough along that I can begin moving items inside, I also realized that I'm ripe for adding a second, backup power system there.

Note the installation of the panels - I agree that they are low, but the roof exposure was east/west, and I like the south mounting for maximum winter solar gain.  Also, I mounted the panels vertically one on top of the next, rather than side by side.  I did this so that as the shadows grew taller, I would still have one or two panels fully unshaded.

Looks like modern art with them offset like this, maybe I should keep it?

Hmmm, some wires are a bit short here.

Kenny learning about volts, amps, and how to use a multimeter.
Where the cables pass through the steel, I cut off the top of a pop bottle and screwed it into an access hole.  This should prevent any chaffing.
Orange Crush, if you must know.  (No overt political statement intended).
With the battery showing 12.7 volts, I headed off to supper with an extra spring in my step and excited to start plugging in my stuff right where I wanted to use it!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Finishing the Garage/Workshop Gables.

Grandpa dropped by the other morning and figured it was a good day to work on the last bit of tricky steel to get the gable ends of the workshop finished.  I wolfed the remains my breakfast and headed out to join him.

With careful measuring and a screeching circular saw, we first used up the last of my coffee brown steel to finish the front above the door.

Lots of head scratching about which direction the angles should run.
Switching to shears helped cut down on noise and frustration, but I still have the blisters a few days later!
A break for lunch, and then we completed the back.  I was out of brown at this point, so we switched to green (same as the roof).  On the back it looks like it was always meant to be that way anyway.

Instead of j-trim for the top edges, I just used up base and drip edge that I had to spare.  It looks just fine and nobody but a pro would even notice.
Nothing like dancing with himself!
A pair of antlers from Grandpa's private stash, and things really started to come together!  Just need to figure out a door for it.
Kenny taking a page from classic Batman camera positioning.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Pizza on a Panini Press - Guilty Pleasures

Kenny wanted an early lunch today.  I acquiesced, as I had been hoping to try out a thought experiment I have been mulling for a little while.

With the nice sunny summer we have been having, I have been pressing the panini press into service to cook up all sorts of meals.  Tater tots come out excellent.  As do fish sticks.  Last night we did bacon wrapped chicken, which, while good, was overdone by the time we felt the chicken was cooked through and the bacon was well done enough.

I almost always try to put the food on parchement paper to assist with cleanup.  Things like the chicken though are very juicy and tend to overwhelm the paper.

Anyway, as you have guessed based on the title, I opened up a package of the cheap-o personal sized pizzas I remember so fondly from my university days.

Comfort food for higher education.
I put them on some parchment and headed over to the press.
Siamese Pizza!
Still conjoined - if I was on my own, this would count as one serving that way.
I often put a bowl or plate on the top element of the press to help push down even harder and ensure better heat contact.
Note the ceramic plate to add more pressure.
After ten minutes, Kenny noticed "a really good smell" so I slid the parchment containing the pizzas onto a cutting board, and from there, transferred them to plates.
Don't peek!
The toppings stuck slightly but not at all tragically to the parchment paper.  Next time I would put them on for longer, but try to prop the lid up off of the cheesy toppings.
In spite of the so-so appearance, he said it was good and we should do it again sometime!
Based on Kenny's approval, this will go into the repertoire of things to keep on hand for super quick, super easy meals.  Come winter of course, we'll likely go back to making our own pizzas on homemade or tortilla crusts.


As per my friend Jeff's inspired suggestion, I have simply been stacking these pizzas with the top one upside down.  Now it is only the pizza crust exposed to the panini press and the toppings are kept warm and smushy inside.  Much cleaner, and a good excuse to eat two pizza's at once!