Today was a successful day

Today was a successful day. After stopping at the design shop, I went to the Lusaka AG fair. The fairgrounds remind me a lot of the Big-E, only imagine what the Big-E would be like if it replaced the rides and game stands with more AG related things. In about 4-5 hours I found out more about renewable energy and remote internet then I have the entire time I have been researching the subjects. I met with this technology school based in the Copperbelt that had designed a bicycle that could run on solar power alone. The really useful part was when I asked where they had gotten the engine from and they said that it was from a windshield wiper. When I go back to Chipata (tomorrow actually, although I will be back here in a week or so) I will look into getting one of those little things and using it to do the reverse of what the school exhibiting was doing, make a generator out of it. Then I tracked down a digital system engineering company that it was rumored they were making low RPM generators. Although, from the previous stop I had found a almost certainly cheaper alterative to a new specialty device, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to talk to someone there. The company did not stock such a machine and was about to exit the building when I thought about asking him about ham radio. As it turns out, he is a licensed operator in S.A. Unfortunately he didn’t know how to get a license here, but when I stopped at ZNBC, they really liked the idea of an amateur radio program in local schools and got my contact information about getting a program under way in Chadiza. Finally, I was on my way out of the grounds when I stopped at the Zambia Meteorology Department. I overhead someone saying the word “internet” and my ears picked up. Apparently there is a device that is being distributed throughout Zambia and elsewhere in Sub Saharan Africa that is in essence a Short Wave Wi-Fi that is used for its own intranet. When I got back I Google’ed WorldSpace, the name on the top of the units they were using to connect. Initially I didn’t find anything until I found their not-for-profit arm. Essentially they are doing what I have been attempting to do for some time, bring low cost internet to remote villages. Check them out at: . Alright, still have a lot to do before I get a brief rest and head out on the long trek back to Chipata.

CAD Waterwheel, WiFi, & cycle

Yesterday I spent the morning and first part of the after 1200 hours doing more research in long range wireless radio, then I switched to design and spent the rest of the night doing a CAD drawing of a water wheel pump and printing steps for making a stirling engine. Today I will hopefully be going to DisaCare to work on my cycle and to show them the work I was doing the previous day.

An update of ordinary magnitude

Week one(ish) of July (week of Forth of July, Unity Day, Hero’s Day) I was in Chipata spending some time relaxing after almost a month in the village as well as finding out how to make soap.
Week two (with a bit added on in the beginning and the end to bring the total up to day 18 of the seventh month of the ninth year of this millennium) I was back in the village doing two soap workshops. Probably my most rewarding workshop was working with the teacher in charge of the JETS club in finally getting the Solar Oven project under way. I also had several good conversations with the head teach, who I get along well with, resulting in asking whether he wanted me to work with the other teachers in doing some programming in the area of Inoviropreneurship (innovation, the environment and entrepreneurship). He liked the idea and when I asked him how much he wanted me to do he said that I should write a daily class for ten of the thirteen weeks in a semester. So I’ve been pacing myself in writing the fifty lessen plans.
On the eighteenth day I took a dreaded taxi to the city known as Chipata and spent a while working on beginning the structure of the syllabus. I also made pancakes for the first time since I’ve been here (and a long time before that) and also made some soya burgers that were really good, I just wished my stomach had been feeling better.
Then on the 21st, I headed down to Lusaka to finally get a cycle of sort. Of coarse the shop had not been notified when I would be coming and they were not all geared up to go. Hopefully they will be on Monday. I’ve been spending a lot of time getting hooked on Amateur/Ham radio. I think it would be awesome if I could get myself and a few local Chadizians’ licensed. Then we could communicate throughout the world. The summer CHIP/RAP (CHIP=community health improvement project, a combination of the old HAP/CAHP) intake of ’09 came late Thursday night and were at the PCHQ on Friday. They seem like a pretty good group. Alright, back to haming, pondering whether I should spend some time writing lessen plans and working on a CAD drawing of a portable waterwheel for irrigation I’m designing.

Minto Wonder Wheel


The 7 or 8 days (depending on how you look at it) have been almost as productive as the week before, it would have been as or even more productive as the weeks before this last week except that my back and left leg were complaining that I had been bending over and favoring my right side too much and so I didn’t do any more double digging or composting (although I was approached as to whether someone wanted them to help clear the field of weeds [for a fee of k20,000 for the large side, k15,000 for the small side of course] and they did what would have taken me probably a couple of weeks in a couple of days so I have plenty to compost when I return to the village). I did however make another go at banachar which I got many other villagers interested in and I think it was a success. That is of course contingent on the charballs that the villagers made sure were perfectly spherical burn better then the last ones I made but I think they will. Yesterday I successfully got a taxi to Chipata on the first try and they were only around 40 minutes late!

Tuesday was somewhat of a relax veg out day and I stated up too late watching movies (an ok movie about a Egyptian born engineer married to an American who gets kidnapped by the CIA and tortured because of a terrorist act he did not commit and Fight Club from beginning to end without being interrupted by the pesky parental party). Today I found an ingenious idea for a means of generating power using a small temperature variant. Basically the way it works is you have a bunch of tanks containing a fluid that easily converts into a gas arranged in a circle in such a way as to look like a big watermill (the circle turns). The opposing tanks are joined by a pipe and there is a source of heat in the bottom and something cooler on the top. When the liquid in the bottom is heated and turns to a gas, it rises up to the tube on the top. The tank on the top is cooler however and so the gas converts back to a liquid causing the tank on the top to spin downward towards the bottom and the tank on the top to spin upwards. Although the whole thing does not spin that fast, if you have a large enough circular structure, the torque is enough to give off a descent amount of energy. I am definitely going to build one, the only problem is finding a liquid that changes to a gas easily but is not supper flammable or toxic or both and not really rare. Most of the fluids I have found in that people are using are at least one of the above mentioned heal risks. I would use mercury I think if I was in the states and designing it for a large scale production but to put such a toxin in a place that A. there are almost as many iwe’s (children) as there are udzudzu (mosquitoes) this time of year B. most people have an innate need to take things apart and tinker with things C. there is a remarkable lack of mercury in Dovu village and lastly D. that probably most villagers have never seen mercury or have any idea what it is. Therefore I am in search of a fluid that meets the required specifications and is not dangerous or rare in Zambia. This challenge aside, I think the project has great potential to power villages all across Zambia for next to nothing in parts.

All for now, I’m still wondering why this inventive idea is not more widely known and utilized.