Saturday, December 31, 2011

Our last meeting before we leave

Dr. Kellerman held a meeting to go over the important items of the trip, before we take off for Guatemala.  I am looking forward to the trip and think we should be able to get our busy schedule of work done.  I think we will be able to get our busy schedule of work done and with the tools we will leave behind the people of the area should be able to continue to build solar panels, if they decide the panels will work for them.  I hope the solar hot water heater works out well.  I will continue to take solar energy classes at ICC during the spring semester.  The solar energy is much easier to install when you do not have to worry about it freezing.
These are the two students that will be making the trip to Guatemala.  Andre, the student on the right, has the main duty of filming the entire project. One of the important jobs is to document what we are doing and using that film to help sell this project to others once we get back to ICC.  We are going down there with what we think we will see and what we think we can do and that is all based on having never been there.   The more information we bring back the more ideas we can get from other people about what we might be able to do in the future to improve things for the people of the area.  Ben, the student on the left, will do what ever we need him to do, gather information, build solar panels, work on plastic bottle walls, and be a good ambassador for our school and our country.  Like any trip I have nothing much to do now but to wait until we leave.  This is the part I do not like, the waiting to leave.  I have my bags packed and weighed, so that is done.  I had that done a couple of days ago.  I am glad we have a driver taking us to the Chicago airport.  It makes everything so much easier.  I guess the next post will be from Guatemala.

Monday, December 26, 2011

new post from my new phone

I guess I can post things from my phone now.  I will also have to learn how to do pictures and other things that you can do with a better phone.   I am slowly  joining the 21 century.  But I have a lot to learn.

My new smart phone

I am going to see if I can post something on this blog using my new phone.  I need to learn how to live in the new world that electronics has created for us.  I still can not see me walking around with a phone stuck to the side of my face but I will need to learn how to use it because we are going to give up our land line as soon as we move to Silver City.  The only people that ever called me was the nursing home and the Red Cross.  My mother is dead now, so the nursing home does not call.  I have been to China and can not give blood until July and we will move, I hope, so they won't call either.  I don't call people but now I have a new phone and I have to learn how to use it.  We shall see how that goes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

ready to solder copper

I just finished checking out the soldering torch for the Guatemala project.  It should work just fine and will run off of Mapp gase and Propane.  We should be good to go for the solar hot water heater.  Looking forward to starting that project for the school.  I have my two bags full and will now pack the clothes in the carry on.  We are taking a jig saw, a cordless drive, some hand tools, hole saws, and just about everything we need to start to work on January 2.

Friday, December 16, 2011

rufino's welding teacher

Jeff Joos, ICC welding technician, helped teach Rufino Caniz how to weld.  They built the cat bench that we hope to sell to raise money for the school in Guatemala.  Jeff is a very good welder and placed second in the American Welding Society Professional Welding Contest.  I competed in that contest several years ago and I like to tell people that I was in the top ten for a while.  I do not tell them that I was the seventh person to weld in the contest.  Congratulations Jeff and thank you for all you did to help Rufino.

pipe fittings

This is a better picture of the pipe fittings we will probably need to install the solar hot water heater.  The closest one is a male thread to sweat fitting and we will use that to going into ball valves and the water heater.  Behind it is a female thread to sweat that we may need to go from the PVC piping to the copper tube.  The four other pipe fittings are a 90 degree elbow, a coupling, a tee, and a union.    I will bring down some solder flux, solder, sand cloth, and tubing cutter. 
I picked up a few more tools for the trip. This pretty much takes care of the money that I had for the Guatemala project.  The rest of the supplies I get will come out of the material funding that I have in my account.  I will also have to weigh items and make sure that I do not have more weight than I can pack in a suitcase.  I still need to get the good quality high temperature caulking for the soda can collector.  In this pictures is a cordless drill accessory kit, a uni-bit set, a drill bit set, a Bosch hole saw, and a Bosch jig saw.  The one item I really need to get is a good heavy pair of tin snips so we can cut through the heavy tin on the roof of some homes.  I also need to make sure we can get on the roof.  I don't want to have to stand on some ones shoulders to get up there.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

copper fittings for hot water

If we are going to hook up a solar hot water heater we will probably need so copper piping.  In this picture we have tephlon tape, fuel, sand cloth, unions, tee joints, couplings, solder, sweat to pipe female, ball valve, sweat to pipe male, and 90 degree elbow.  We are going to try and start on a solar hot water heater if we can get the proper copper fittings and fuel.  We will see how this goes.  One nice thing is the weather. Solar hot water is easier to do when it does not freeze.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Need to find out what type of electric plugs they have in Guatemala

I hope the electric plugs in Guatemala are like what we have here in the USA.  I will need to find out.  I think they are.  I think.

coffee cups and a fan motor

Pictured here are the ICC stainless steel travel mugs that I will be taking to Guatemala in a few weeks.  John Vogelsang donated them to the coffee project.  I was thinking about how it is amazing the way people have offered to help with this project.  After I thought about it a little longer, I would be amazed if people did not help. We are from the Midwest and people from the Midwest are nice and I work at a college, where it is our job to help people and to try and improve someones life.  I should not be surprised that people are offering to help in some way.  
Also in this picture is the 8 inch duct fan and temperature control.  The duct fan will move more air and help to dry the coffee faster.  The fan control will shut the fan down if the air temperature drops too low to properly dry the beans.  Once the air temperature gets high enough the fan will turn back on and start to dry the beans again.  At least that is how it is suppose to work.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

getting more tools for the trip.

Here is a picture of the cordless drill and a multi-meter that I will be taking to Guatemala.  I was able to get this equipment because of a donation from one of my followers.  I thank them very much for their help.  I plan to wear one of their tee shirts so that we can use it as product placement while we are filming what we are doing in Guatemala.  The cordless drill came with two batteries and a flashlight.  I have used it at work so and was pleased with the results.  I think the two batteries will keep us working all day.  The multi-meter will allow me to check the voltage and amperage of some of the pumps and electrical motors. I will be able to gather information that we can use when we ask for donations for a gasoline/welding machine.
I am also taking a propane torch because we are going to try and install a solar hot water heater.  I am not sure how much of this project we will get done but I plan to make sure people know how to solder copper so we can start if needed someone else can finish.  Solar hot water will be easier to do there because it does not freeze.  Oh, did I mention the weather would be around 90 degrees and then drop to just below 70.   We also need to know if we can get a caulking gun or if I will have to bring one.  I am going to bring some caulk because I want to make sure we have some supplies to start on projects.  If we have enough equipment to start and be able to teach people what to do we should be ok. 
This is a picture of the soda can clamp that I made out of a piece of PVC pipe.  I cut the PVC in half long ways and glued some sand paper inside.  The PVC pipe will open up around the can and when you grip it with your hand the tension is enough, with the sand paper to keep the can from spinning.  I then drill three holes in the bottom of the can using the drill and a uni-bit.  A uni-bit is a multi diameter drill bit that you push through the can until you get the hole the size you want.  You then cut the top off the can using a can opener.  The cans are glued together and form a tube.  The tube of cans is painted black and collect heat from the sun.  We had 180 degree air coming out of the solar collector a few weeks ago.  I will get a 110 volt fan and temperature controller to use so that we can maximize the out put of the solar soda can collector.
You use a can opener to cut the top off of the soda can.  Some types of can opens work better than others.  This one is a good one. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Getting tools for the trip

I have been working  on a tool list for the trip to Guatemala.  I did order a cordless drill that comes with two batteries and a flashlight.  This should be a good one for us to us.  The extra battery will give us more power and the drill has a half inch chuck so it should be easy to use the hole saw we will need for the soda can solar collector. We have several tools that will be very important for this trip, the cordless drill, the hole saw drill attachments, a really good pair of tin snips,and the uni bit drills. These tools need to be good quality so they will provide enough service after we return.  We just need to show them how to made the solar soda can collector and they can build them.  We will need to make sure we have the aluminum caulking that we need to hold the soda cans together.  We need to make sure we can get that in Guatemala, because we can't pack that many tubes of caulk in our luggage.  Besides if they don't have the material in Guatemala, then we need to develop a back up plan and that may be aluminum tape.  We do need to make sure we think about what we are going to do and then have a back up plan so that if something goes wrong we can still work and accomplish something else.
We do need to think a lot about what need to take and how much everything will weigh.  You make a list starting with what is most important and then work down to what is not as important.  You take as much as you can and leave what won't fit in the suitcase.  The cordless drill, hole saw, uni-bits, and the heavy tin snips are very important.  We will need the caulk and we need to buy that in Guatemala.  If we work on the solar hot water heater we will need copper, solder, solder paste and copper fitttings.  If we can get a solar hot water heater built then we should be able to get one built for the school.  It is easier to do solar hot water because it will not freeze.  No cold weather makes that job easier to do.   A lot easier to do. 
I am also going to pack my father's brace and bit drill because we may need to work in an area we no power.  The old brace and bit does work and I have been working out at the ICC Cougarplex so I should be able to drill lots of holes and not get tired.  We can pack an extra bag for only 40 dollars so we can bring our tools at a decent price and we don't need a lot of clothes and besides we can do laundry.  You can wear a pair of pants more that one day.  We have a meeting on Monday to talk more about the trip. 
Did I mention the soda can solar collector was discharging 180 degree air on Wednesday.  I have seen it produce 154 but not 180 degrees.  It was sunny.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Travel paperwork for Guatemala

We have been going about the process for getting the funding for the Guatemala trip.  The paperwork has been signed and turned in for a mini-grant and we have turned in the paperwork to get the travel funding for the trip.  I have worked at the college for 30 years but have never had a reason to go about this process. I have traveled but was sent on work trips.  This is the first time I have actually requested money for a trip.  As  staff member that punches the time clock I always hear that the college has money and they can spend it what ever they want, blah, blah, blah.  The college does have money and it can be spent but you should do have to have a lot of people sign off on the expense and the process does take some time and many different meetings.  I have found the whole thing to be interesting.  You have to write up your request, submit it, have the committee members review it, have the committee meet and vote to approve or reject your request.   If it is approved then you have to go through the process of getting the money and documenting how you spent it.  It is not easy but then I guess it really shouldn't be.  It is an interesting process.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cat bench more pictures

We hope to sell this cat bench for 150 dollars and use the money to buy supplies for the Guatemala Coffee project.  It is made of heavy steel and has redwood on the seats and back.  It should supply years of service in any ones garden area.  We have several projects to work on in Guatemala.  We are going to develop the soda can solar heater, try and build a solar hot water heater, install some indoor lighting that will help save electricity during the day, and see if we can burn used vegetable oil in the coffee furnace.  There are a lot of things to try and do in a short time.  I am still trying to find an old fuel oil heater so we can experiment on the vegetable oil and how well it will burn in a 50/50 mix, half vegetable oil and half fuel oil.  If that will work OK we can cut the fuel cost in half and then have money to do other things.  I have some funding that I will use to buy tools so we have what we need to do the work we need to do when we get to Guatemala.  I have to see how much the stuff we weigh and then see what we can pack in our suitcases.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

One solar greenhouse ready to test

Last night after work I finished the solar greenhouse coffee dryer.   I had to install the roof, add more wood to cover the staples, install the photovoltaic panel and fan, and run the duct work from the solar soda can collector to the greenhouse.  Today the free heat from the sun should be dumping inside the greenhouse and the sun should power the small fan that will keep the air moving through the greenhouse.   We will just have to see how will it will work and document the temperatures readings.  Last week on a partly cloudy day the temperature leaving the soda can solar collector was 125 degrees.  I think the soda can solar collector is a device that will do some good.  We just have to figure out how best to hook it to a drying rack and what is the best type of drying rack to build.  But we have something to test now.
I am also trying to find what we always called a Salamander, a small portable oil heater.  I would like to borrow or buy a used one to experiment with trying to burn vegetable oil and fuel oil mixtures.  They use a lot of vegetable oil in Guatemala and if we can burn it mixed with fuel oil then we can cut the cost of the fuel in half.  That would save a lot of money and if we use soda can solar collectors during the day and fuel oil/ vegetable oil mix heaters a night, then they can save even more.  But we don't want to experiment on their only heater and screw it up.  ooops.  I will keep looking for a Salamander and hope that I can find one.  Little by little the project is coming along.

Solar event that hope to attend.

pschwartzman_new.jpgDiscovering the Future of Food and Energy: what this means, how it will affect our lives, and what we can do to support a positive change in energy and food production.

Wednesday, November 16 at 7:00 p.m.
Bradley University Hillel
1532 Fredonia Ave., Peoria, IL 61606

Guest Speaker: Dr. Peter Schwartzman

Dr. Peter Schwartzman, Alderman in Galesburg's 5th Ward, is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Studies at Knox College. He is a trained climatologist with interests in a wide variety of environmental areas. His most recent publication is entitled; A solar transition is possible, which was published by the Institute for Policy Research & Development. Peter has run the Mound Community Farm in Galesburg since 2010. He is also a board member of the Knox Prairie Community Kitchen. Peter is married and has two children. He and his wife serve as coaches for the Silas Willard Geography Bowl team. Peter's academic degrees include a Bachelor of Science in physics at Harvey Mudd College, a Masters of Science in Science and Technology Studies at Virginia Tech, and Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia.

For additional information contact The Jewish Federation of Peoria-
309-689-0063.  No charge to attend.

Event sponsored by Congregation Anshai Emeth and the Jewish Federation of Peoria.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Building a greenhouse at Dirksen Hall

We are soon running out of time for Rufino Caniz to be in the USA.  He will return to Gautemala in mid-November.  The heavy rains that hit his home town did a lot of damage to some of his property and I know he wants to return home to his wife and help fix his property.  International travel is a lot of fun until something happens and you realize just how far away you are and how helpless you feel.  Friday after work, Steve Flinn and I worked on adding a few boards and the visqueen to the framework of the solar greenhouse and if we can move the solar soda can collector to Dirksen, get some steel posts in the ground to support it, and run some duct work in the greenhouse, hook up the PVpanels to run the small fans, we are ready to gather some data and see how well it will dry some corn.  That work should go pretty fast.  I do have some people that can help. We just have to see how it is going to work and how well it will hold up to the elements.  We can learn from our mistakes and make improvements.  More important, by having something built we can gather ideas from others.  I already had a faculty member suggest that we try and construct a rotating drum to see if that can speed up the drying process and cut down the space we need.  He had a good idea for one.  We can see how that will work later.
As for the greenhouse project, a week ago it looked like this.
The frame work had been built and everything was loaded in my van.  Under the pile of metal and wood is another coffee dryer model that we will put together as soon as we get the larger green house model up and running. 
Friday, with the help of Steve Flinn, this pile of steel and wood turned in to this.
This is the side facing south and the left side of this panel is the door to enter.  It is just two flaps of visqueen held shut by welding magnets.  On the right side we will place the solar soda can collector and that heat exchanger will dump hot air into the greenhouse at the top corner.  We will probably run a small PV (photovoltaic) fan to help move the air.  We will see if we need to do that once everything is in place.  We will also have a PV fan at the back opposite corner to move air so the green house does not get to hot.
I have some more pictures to add but for some strange reason the open file is just rotating and I am not able to do that at this time.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

solar dryer ready to build

I have this model for a solar coffee dryer built and ready to move to the ICC East Peoria Campus.  I will need to add the visqueen to the frame and then we can hook the solar soda can heat exchanger to the frame and see what kind of temperatures we will get out of this.   I have this built and marked and I will tear it down and load it in the truck.  If this model will work in Guatemala it can be moved and put together.  I am looking at what can be built and moved and how difficult it is to do that.  Everything I make I always think about how I can get it from my garage to where it needs to go.  I can not move this dryer unless it is easy to tear down and then easy to put back together. 
Right now I have two solar coffee bean dryers in my van.  I hope to have at least one of them on the campus and start collecting the temperature data.  We also need to see how the dryers will stand up to the wind and the elements.  I will also run a small photovoltaic fan to help move some air.  The next few weeks will be interesting.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Building a green house type coffee dryer

I took a day off of work and started on the greenhouse type of solar coffee dryer.  Rufino found this dryer on the internet and thought it would work in Guatemala.  It is a six foot by 7 and a half foot greenhouse.  I made it seven foot tall sloping down to six foot in the back.  The door way is two foot wide and five foot high.  All I need to do tomorrow is drill the holes for the conduit rafters and attach some extra wood to staple on the visqueen.  I think it will work OK and we can place the soda can solar heater to the front of it.  Then all we need to do is to take the temperature readings and see how well it works and how well it can take the weather.  I will try and get a picture but it will not look to good until it is outside and the visqueen is on it.  But we now have three models to use for test purposes as well as the soda can heat exchanger that I am interesting in.  The information I have on the soda can heat exchanger is that it works quite well, is cheap, easy to build, and it does not look that bad.  It does not look like you put bales of straw around the bottom of your trailer, if you catch my drift. We are getting closer to have some information and data on how to dry coffee.
What I need to do now is to research how to burn vegetable oil in a oil furnace.  I understand that in the resort village they fry a lot of food and the waste vegetable oil is a problem.  If we can burn it to help dry the coffee we can eliminate one type of garbage.  It is still not like using the free heat of the sun and it does pollute the air, although not as bad as fuel oil.  If you can burn free waste vegetable oil in a 50/50 mixture with the fuel oil then you have cut your cost in half and you have more money to invest in better solar devices.  I am going to check the HVAC department and see if we can find a fuel oil furnace to play with.   We could get the vegetable oil from the school cafeteria.  Then we can see how well it will burn and what we need to do.  I started today at 9 am and stopped at 7 pm so I am ready to relax a little.

Monday, October 10, 2011

One type of solar dryer waiting to be tested.

I have a model of a solar collector that I need to move to ICC so that Prof. Larry Kellerman can have his students test and collect data on how well it will work.  I found this design on the internet and thought is was worth a try.   I had to buy the 2 by 6's but the plywood is an old piece that I had and a piece that I got from an old shipping crate.  I got two pieces of roofing tin and painted it black.  I will move the collector to ICC and put it together at the Dingeldine Campus.  I have to add a few hoop pieces to hold the visqueen and a small fan and photovoltaic panel to drive the fan and then it will be ready to test.  We will see just how much air the fan will move and how warm the temperature will get in the dryer.
This will lay flat and be covered with visqueen.  The visqueen will be held in place by staples in the wood frame and a few screws in the metal straps.  This part is the heating part and the one you can not see is the drying rack.  The complete drying system is four foot wide and fourteen foot long.  We will see how well it works and how well the visqueen stands up to the elements. 

Enjoying coffee at ICC

The fair trade coffee tasting was today and it seemed to be a successful event.  I tasted the coffee from Guatemala and Peru.  Both coffees were good.  The Guatemala coffee was a lighter roast and the coffee from Peru was a stronger coffee.  We had the cat bench on display and Rufino had some of the hand made jewelry on display.
Students had volunteered time to help serve coffee.  You could get a cup of coffee by making a donation to help improve the school buildings in Guatemala.
This is Rufino Caniz, a visiting professor from Guatemala, who is here to learn about welding and to gather information about solar energy, so he can return and help develop a solar energy program.  We hope the solar energy program will improve the lives of the people in his village.  The more solar energy they use the more money they should get to keep in their pockets and the better it will be for the environment.  We just need to build some working models and gather the data to see it the models will work and it they are affordable for the people of Guatemala to build. 
This is Paty Cole and Rufino sitting on the cat bench that Rufino and Jeff Joos, ICC welding technician, built.  We hope to sell the bench for 150 dollars and use that money to help fix the roof of the school in Rufino's village.  The bench is made of steel and the wood is redwood.  The materials are all reused material.  This bench would be a welcome addition to anyones garden for many years.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fair trade Guatemala coffee tasting

On Monday, October 10, from 10 am to 2 pm the ICC International Education department will host a fair trade coffee tasting at the East Peoria Campus Atrium.  All money that is raised will go to help the Godinas School in Gautemala.  I hope to have the cat bench over there for people to see and I hope to buy.  It is done now and has the redwood on it.  It is a very nice piece of patio furniture and would be a welcomed addition to any home.  Rufino and Jeff Joos have done a very nice job on this project.  Jeff Joos, ICC welding technician and Adjunct Faculty, has been working with Rufino to help him learn how to weld.  Jeff is a very good teacher and has taught Rufino a lot in a very short time.  I hope to get a picture of the two of them sitting on the bench for this blog and to send to the AWS welding journal magazine.
I also could not find the article on the Harbinger web site but I will keep trying and when I am successful I will post the link.

Harbinger writes an article about Solar Coffee Dryer

The newest issue of the ICC school newspaper has an article about the Solar Coffee Dryer project.  You should be able to read it at
I will have to get a real link to the this site.  Give me a minute.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The solar coffee drier

The project is moving along and Rufino is a very hard worker.  Things take a little longer than normal because he is new to ICC and we have never been to Guatemala.  We look at things through "our eyes" and then find out why that will not work. I had a similar experience in Xian, China with my students.  It just takes a little longer for the communication process to work.  Like I said Rufino is a hard worker and he will help push us a long.  That is good.  We do have several models to start working on and the next few weeks should tell just how strong we are going to finish.  I think what ever we do we will have to refine it but the coffee season that we will work with is next year and we have time to make the changes we might need to make. Now we need to see just how many solar panels we are going need to get to build a successful dryer.

Learning to weld

Part of the training for Rufino Caniz is to learn how to weld.  He is doing a good job.  He will also start to learn more about electricity and solar power.  He should start taking the electrical classes this week, week#5 of the fall semester.  He found a model solar coffee drier that we are going to see about building and checking for temperatures and other important data.  The site he found is in Spanish and is a drier they use in El Salvador.  It is similar to several models we have seen on web sites here in the USA.  It looks like a good model to start with.   We are going to see about adding some small solar powered fans to move air over the beans.  We need to get this built in a week or two so we can see how well it might work.  Rufino is also working on a project that could help bring in some more funding.  A cat bench for the garden. This bench is like the ones I have on my web site only this bench has redwood on for the seat and back.  I think once this is done it will make any garden area look better. 
Once we get the wood on this, paint it black, and get the whiskers on the face I think this will look get and should bring in some money for our project.  It is also giving Rufino some practice at making things. 

Landscape and Garden Days at ICC

Over the years I have made numerous items for the lawn and garden and this year I loaded them up and took them to ICC's Landscape and Garden Days to try and sell to help raise money for the Gautemala coffee roasting project.  The day was successful and we have an extra 255 dollars to help us.  More important I have less stuff around the house.   If we build a couple more sunflowers we can get another 30 dollars.  So the day was worth the effort.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


This is what we hope to get out of the Solar Coffee Bean Drier project, coffee,  good tasting coffee.  I had several of the faculty talk to me today about helping Rufino learn more about maintenance and how they could help him be better prepared to help the people in his area of Guatemala.  Rufino will be here long enough to learn some skills that will help him be more helpful when he returns.  We just have to figure out how to maximize his learning time.  So far the welding is going well.  Jeff Joos is doing a very good job working with Rufino.  I have a couple of projects that I need to put together over the holiday weekend and then we can have Rufino start on them after Labor Day.  Actually making things does help  the learning process and it is more fun.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Administrative meeting

I had several meeting this week about the Guatemala coffee project and things are moving along.  Now that the first week of school is behind us we should all be ready to do a little bit more work on the actual design.  I am waiting to get some design information about a grain dryer that was used in the USA before everyone switched over to the large bins and started using natural gas and propane.  Once I have that information I can start getting supplies and start the construction.  I have several ideas for smaller driers but the local farmers dry 500 to 1000 pounds of beans so we will need something bigger.  We also may need some type of solar powered fan.  I don't know that much about solar energy but I have enrolled in a class at ICC and I have homework to read this weekend.  More important, I am a motivated student.
What I really enjoy about this project is the degree of enthusiasm I get from the other faculty when I talk about this.  No one says, "oh a solar coffee dryer", yawn and rolls eyes.  People do seem to find the project interesting and are willing to help in some small way.  This could be a good thing for ICC as the years go on.  I am sure what ever we do in the near future, will need to be worked over and improved in the months ahead.  That is also what I like about the project.  It will always be fresh because technology is always changing.
I plan to be at Landscape and Garden Day on Saturday, September 10, to try and sell some of my yard stuff.  I need to clean out my old metal work, because we are not taking any of that stuff to Silver City, New Mexico.  I am going to try and sell it and use the money to buy supplies for the model solar coffee dryers.  I have built one already and will get supplies for another this week end.  If anyone needs something for the yard or garden, at a good price, I will have some things at Landscape and Garden Days.  I will be at the Green Expo that same day, also at ICC.  Busy, busy, busy, or Wo Hen Mang.  Sorry, Wo Hen Mang, is another blog.  That is going to be kind of rough, to try and learn some Spanish and at the same time try to improve my Chinese, and not be very good at either one.  That is what makes life interesting, the challenges. I love the challenges.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

First solar energy class at ICC

Monday was my first evening class for solar energy at Illinois Central College.  I have never taken any classes in the area of renewable energy or solar power, so this will be interesting.  The classes are at the Dingeldine Campus.  The old solar house has been torn down for many years. The solar house was the solar energy of the 70's and now we are learning about the solar energy of the new millennium. I really think the course will be a good source of information for me to use as we work to develop something to dry coffee beans. My instructor is Brain Weaver and he has been helpful and worked with me over the summer.  I have built a basic dryer that he told me about earlier this summer.  Pete Fandel, the ICC crop science instructor, is working to get me information on a system that was used years ago to dry grain.  I think, once he gets me the information, that we could make the old technology work.  I think it could dry more coffee at one time, than some of the smaller units I have seen on the Internet.  I found some metal in a scrap pile that should work for some drying racks.  I need to make use of as much "junk" as I can because we will probably do that in Guatemala.   All the faculty members that I have talked to have been very helpful and are interested in this project.

Rufino Caniz has started his welding training and we have a plan for the type of courses and training that ICC will supply him with while he is here.   We hope to teach him how to weld, some basic electrical skills, mechanical maintenance skills, plumbing, and small engine maintenance.  It seems like a lot to cover in three months but it can be done.  I need to get started on my pictures and project work.  We hope to develop some projects that could help raise some money for the coffee dryer project.  I am probably going to be at Landscape and Garden Days and sell some of the stuff I have made over the years.  I need to get rid of things anyway and this is a good cause to use the money for.    I just need to get in to the routine of writing and taking pictures, like I did when I was in Xian.  One thing good about working on a coffee project, I have no excuse for being tired.  Caffeine.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Welding equipment

I have bought some welding equipment for Rufino Caniz, the visiting professor from Guatemala. Tools of the trade.  I still need to get a welding bag and some other hand tools and a four inch hand grinder.  But he does have enough to start and I will get him a good welding jacket that fits, later on.  Rufino is at ICC to help with the development of the solar coffee bean dryer and to learn skills that he can take back to Guatemala and teach others.  I will be working with him and will be the person to do the introductions to the other instructors that he will take classes from. He should arrive on campus on Wednesday, probably for the faculty dinner.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

New blog first post

Since I will be working on the development of a solar coffee bean dryer for Guatemala, I decided to start a blog about the process.  I find writing a blog to be helpful to me to stay focused and to get things done.  As a friend of mine said to me in China when he wanted me to enter a beer drinking contest, "Do it for your blog."  I did and I won.  So I will be keeping track of what I am doing and what others are doing as we work towards our goal of trying to dry coffee beans in a more environmentally friendly way.  I am also going to try and post some of what I am doing on my QQ blog, so my Chinese students will know what I am doing and hopefully be able to practice their English skills.  The project is really international.

This project should be very interesting.  I have made several good contacts with instructors at Illinois Central College and we should have several working models to test this fall.  I have one just about done and will start on another very soon.  I hope to have some students that are interested in collecting data from the working models so we can have benchmark data to work with.  I will be taking two solar energy classes at ICC this fall semester and hope to learn a lot more about solar power.

I can always use some help on this project.  Feel free to volunteer.  Any help would be appreciated.  I could use ideas, information, the name of an organization to contact for funding, labor and just words of encouragement.  I will be able to be more specific as the weeks go by.  Right now we are just in the process of getting started and waiting for the fall semester to start so all the faculty are back on campus.   I plan to post pictures of the area and the people of Guatemala, our project, and the people involved so people can see what we are doing.  I also will post information about the different types of driers we are testing so people can see what we are doing, offer suggestions, or start on their own solar drier to see if they can do a better one.   Time to go to work.   I need to finish my mini-grant for ICC to see if I can get some type of funding.