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gaiatechnician

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Reply with quote  #1 
I have been doing a 1 psi pneumatic grid for a couple of years.  I used to run it entirely from two 120 volt "bubble pumps" that provide the air for fish in tabletop aquariums.  The air was piped to the use points through ordinary irrigation tubing.  5/8 inch tubing is really cheap! and my use points are up to 100 ft away from the shed with the pumps are. This was minimal air and the airlift pumps are just tubes joined together in a bucket.  Pretty simple   I had maybe 3 liters per minute in total of air.   So all mine did for the first year was operate 6 or 7 airlift pumps that cycled water around "pallet gardens" (and bubbled air in my fishpond).   I did manage to make more effective airlift pumps within 6 months..   You have to go efficient with so little power!  Now next phase is powering the pumps from 12 volt dc 15 watt solar panels.  Hardest thing was finding 12 volt air pumps.  They do exist and are mostly for medical equipment.  I have found 3 types with different bladders that will do the job.   Currently I am testing the brushless air pumps.  These use a simple bladder  to the side of the pump and give 3 or 4 liters per minute of air. I have 2 brush motor pumps now  and they produce far more air  but I have had little time to set them up and test them.  (More air but higher starting current too).  The bigger of the brush motors can run all my current system with air to spare.  It blows out my "manometer u tube within about a minute.  So,  I am buying another 100 meters of tubing and extending the pneumatic grid to do more stuff.  I can have it running a little "river" and later washing silt out of sand and I think I can make it pump water  or glycol around a solar thermal heat collector too.   The airlift pump is simple to make so this should be pretty easy.  A half watt to collect 500 watts is appealing to me.  I used a half watt to collect up to 200 watts with my dripwall delta earlier in the year.  Anyway, here is an overview of the current parts of the pneumatic grid project   

stmbtwle

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Reply with quote  #2 
Really quite an interesting setup. I can see how it might be used in water collector.
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gaiatechnician

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Reply with quote  #3 
So, here is a little update on the pneumatic grid.  I have 2 of these little guys and they run from either the 5 watt or 15 watt solar panels.  They shut down in the evening when there is not enough power to run them and start up in the morning.  They have a very simple bladder a little like the ones in standard AC aquarium bubblers except they are smaller.   I got very busy in the summer and abandoned the greenhouse to the spider mites.  Reclaimed it (when I found that the racoons were eating my outdoor tomatoes). I reclaimed it by taking everything out and putting a bowl of muriatic acid in there and leaving it for 3 days. (Some experienced gardeners told me not to do this, by email but at that stage it was already done and all mites were probably in heaven).  Then Tables in and this time the tomatoes are up on tables with black pond rubber under them.  One plant on each table gets water from the airlift pumps and  the rest get watered from the bottom up.   I have 2 of these pumps but  I will probably increase that up to 4 because they are not using much of the power.   I am also going to try to make builders lime by electrolysis in an attempt to use the power without having a battery in the system.      WP_20140614_006.jpg   I might as well show the airlift pump diagram. My air pumps can make about 4 ft air pressure but I use about 15 inches and that is about 2/3 of a psi.   I use these to pump water mostly to 4 ft high or less. So in the pallet garden experiment, I use them lots.    freshpaint gimp tiny airlift.png 
I have done several experiments on flood and drain gardening (powered by the air pump) and they have been a failure because I did not have my drain chamber the right size and the beds I did it in were a bit too narrow too.  WP_20140511_013.jpg  In this one the air went in through the little tube and into a  4 inch sewer pipe under the soil.  The pipe is in gravel and it fills with air and this pushes water up to the plant roots.  Release the air and the water level goes down.  BUT I am not a hydroponics guy and I simply did not have enough soil for the plants I chose.  This winter, all the gravel and pond liner will come out and it will become almost a normal planter.  I also made another one with a wooden "bladder" (with the pond rubber inside a wood case) but this time there is more area to empty and rise and lower the water level,  the problem is there is even less soil in that one.   So Failure!!! Originally I had hoped to convince the wife that they be 2 long fishponds.  But she said "NO". At least I got to experiment.  I now have 2 boat planters that are parged and practically waterproof on the inside.  I will be using this airlift to move water from the bottom up to the top.  The "boat" on the left was still being built in this photo.  It is currently planted with Swiss chard.   I am making a "water feature" for it.  Like a little canal in it.  I will remake the dripwall in the greenhouse when it gets cold.  It will be different from the last time.   The Dripwall water will be self contained.  Separate from the soil.  235.jpg  Last year,  I got a lot of "stick" for the dripwall experiment.  A scientist here in Victoria told me flat out that it would not work or be useful. But gardeners were jealous of my peas early in the season. They were in a greenhouse of course but we got 2 very bad cold spells in February.  That concludes the report, such as it is.  Brian peas.jpg    

gaiatechnician

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Reply with quote  #4 
Not much going on this year, I am afraid.  I removed an old oil tank (supposed to be $1000 because it was "decomissioned" but ended up at $9000 because it actually leaked into the ground before the decomissioning) and my wife is probably leaving me.  Possibly due to the financial pressure from the tank.  Possibly due to the effects of her MS like illness.  Anyway,  I have to work lots to pay down the overdraft and nobody know what happens next.  Some parting thoughts.  Those little brushless air pumps are brilliant. People should really look at my little method for moving water or  fluid around collectors.   Most of these little pumps will push air about 3 ft down and that can do serious pumping.  But stay with my design.  A few people have come back to me saying it doesn't work or doesn't pump very high.  So I replied  "Did you keep the constriction"?  "No, don't see why it is needed".  Or "did you use a little tap to control the air speed into the thing" "No,  don't see why that would make a difference".   So, yeah,  people are pretty stupid. Actually even the university student that did the second Pulser pump test (in England) didn't bother with taps on his experiment.  Which ruined it, but nobody realizes it.  With the little airlift pumps less than a Watt can move a lot of water to collect heat.  And the pump speeds up in hot sun.  The real beauty of the compressed air methods is that one littlest air pump with a solar panel can run 3 airlift pumps that can be remote from the solar panel.  I have used it to run fountains, circulate water around container gardens, and in the dripwall and to aerate a fishpond all at the same time.  I now have 2 solar panels and 2 air pumps  in different locations that pump their air into my "pneumatic grid".      Don't get a brushed one or anything with a fancy diaphragm because they simply do not last.    Just a simple flat diaphragm works best of all. So yeah,  might be tearing down all the experimental stuff and selling the house.   Silly stuff but probably true.  Best of luck,  Brian. 
Garage_Hermit

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Reply with quote  #5 
wow, Brian, that kind-of sounds like a lot on your plate, hang in there...

Any way you can claim against INSURANCE for that there tank ?

G_H

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stmbtwle

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Reply with quote  #6 
Ouch! Best of luck to you and hope things take a turn for the better!!
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Solar is like the wind. It may be free, but putting it to work isn't!
Willie, Tampa Bay
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