Archive for the ‘East Jeus’ Category

East Jesus 2.0

…slowly, sometimes painfully so, but gradually, progress is made…

a new (to me) 40′ high-top Tex container with an added roll-up door should be here in a few days. the shack, tronix lab, office and recording studio are moving into it, then the Monster Battery array will take its place in the fiberglass container, the heart of East Jesus 1.0. not like i really wanted to take on yet another huge pile of work (it’ll be weeks of building workspaces, storage shelves, adding doors, windows, insulation, A/C etc.) but the batteries would prefer to be pampered at temperatures cooler – much cooler – than the 120 degrees F we experience out in this here desert, and the fiberglass container is ready to go with its superior insulation and A/C already built in, and is the perfect size for the batteries

the long, grinding drive to LA is always a drag, but once i was there in the middle of a vast valley of 1000s of shipping containers, i was overcome with the feeling of swimming in the heavy water of the truly surreal. it was an unusually clear day; i wish i had taken a few photos.

rumor has it the copper connecting bars were found in the powertainer housed at NIMBY and have made their way to the Shipyard, where they may actually fall into someone’s hands who will kindly send them my way. today i began researching desulfators and ordered two Solar Converter BD-2′s to play with on the 12V arrays. it’s cool to be able to glean so much about a battery’s internal health by letting a desulfator pulse away and looking at the waveform on an oscilloscope. at maximum i can connect 4 of them to the final 48V array, and i’m still not sure that’s going to be enough. perhaps i’ll have to homebrew something more powerful.

in any event, the next few months are going to be characterized by pantloads of work, and a lot of heavy moving. at this point it’s looking very much like i’m going to need a box truck or a large pickup with a trailer. over half the items on my shopping list won’t fit in my Honda Civic. i think in the USA this is one of those mysterious, ancient rites of passage for a man: his first truck. i guess i’m a late bloomer.

anyway, everything’s been growing and expanding here so rapidly it really feels like a new world. East Jesus 2.0.

unforseen consequences

someone i have never met sends me useful, unsolicited information about setting wellpoints. someone else i barely know has pledged to create an enormous scrap steel sculpture in my back yard. another someone, a good friend, is bringing me a piano tomorrow. one day i am lonesome; the next i am overrun with visitors. i am treated like royalty by high-tech transients camping out under the stars nearby. wildlife populations are thriving. i still have no idea what i’m doing, but i keep doing it anyway. and it seems to be subtly influencing the textures and geometries of the world around me, odd objects drawn to an aethereal magnet, unreadable, intangible. i dream of disasters, union with strange and beautiful women, the stars fading out one by one, mastering Debussy.

last night i read commentary by JG Ballard on the psychological impact of space exploration, not just on the astronauts but on the public, as being sinister and debasing. today Bruce Sterling tweeted his prediction of first contact with extraterrestrials in 2010 as something to jolt us out of our slump. i am laying in the tense, ionized liquid dichotomy of these two ideas, like a hobo in a boxcar full of warm, radioactive treasure.

things to do on a windy day

I’m going to let everyone look up my kilt here a little, as I attempt to organize my thoughts around an incremental and total overhaul of the East Jesus power system. Doing this publicly, I hope, will serve two purposes: 1) to share information to any interested parties in the spirit of Open Source Everything, myself included! and 2) to help keep me focused. I’m always sharper with a little stage fright. Comments and questions are welcome and encouraged.

as of today, we have a 12V system with the following components:

  • 8x Concord SunXtender 255AH 12V batteries
  • 6x Interstate Workaholic 6V golf cart batteries
  • Xantrex ProSine 2000 pure sine inverter
  • Honda EU3000i generator
  • Honda EU1000i generator
  • 16x Kyocera 150W PV panels, in three legs: 2 x 3, 2 x 3, 2 x 2, each leg feeding one of:
  • 3x Outback FlexMax80 MPPTs
  • AirBreeze 200W 12V wind generator (more of a toy and/or science project than a generator, but it definitely helps in winter! in odd circumstances such as these, it can even come close to providing all the power East Jesus uses!)

and, waiting in the wings, components for upgrade to 48V system:

  • Outback VFX-3648 pure sine inverter
  • 8x ASE 300W mil-spec PV panels
  • 50x Suntech 25W PV panels
  • 24x C&D 4000AH Pb-Ca 2V cells

Given the failure of one of the MPPTs (see previous entry,) now seems like a good time to begin. At the end of the process, we will have a smaller 12V system and a very large 48V system; the 12V system will power and be powered by those components which are fixed at 12VDC – the wind generator, radio equipment – and a small cluster of PVs on one MPPT, and will serve as interim backup power in case of 48V system failure. While we’re tearing everything apart, we need to test the golf cart batteries and AGMs and probably equalize the former. Additionally, we wish to minimize power down time. The generators may be called upon to power mission-critical loads (computer & network, radios, NOAA equipment and work lights, interior and exterior.)

And now, the procedure (TBD after 8am [wx] on a sunny morning)….


  • disconnect AC loads from ProSine and divert to running generator.
  • shut down all MPPTs, put AirBreeze in BRAKE mode.
  • disconnect ProSine from 12V system.
  • physically relocate ProSine, about 8″ to the left.
  • reconnect golf cart batteries (& 12V loads,) leftmost MPPT and wind generator to ProSine (note: Honda 3000 30A feed remains connected to ProSine; must make available to Outback inverter also, preferably panel-switchable.)
  • reconnect AC loads to ProSine. mini-12V system is now complete.


  • test AGMs, retire any stinkers (this will leave either all 8 or only 4 batteries in the bank.)
  • connect AGMs together as 48V array.
  • install Outback inverter, connect DC buss to AGMs.
  • install Outback Mate & Hub, program.
  • combine Kyocera PV legs “S” and “N” at input stage of middle MPPT, connect to inverter DC buss.
  • install inverter AC Out box (simple, to be upgraded later)
  • divert AC loads to 48V system.
  • add Kyocera PV leg “AUX” to middle MPPT (robbing the last PV array from the 12V system, freeing up left MPPT.)
  • remove ProSine from 12V system, install in Walter.


  • float-charge golf cart batteries, top off with water, disconnect, test, equalize.
  • construct platform and for 300W PV panels and enclosure for Monster Battery farm.
  • test 300W PV panels.
  • test 25W PV panels.
  • design 25W panel array.
  • send defective MPPT in for replacement.
  • charge, test, characterize, equalize Monster Batteries.
  • upgrade 48V AC Out breaker panel.
  • acquire 10kW diesel generator – Listeroid or whatever, veg preferred.


  • connect Monster Battery array to 48V system.
  • remove AGMs from 48V system, install in Walter as mobile 12V array.
  • install 300W PV array with MPPT to 48V system.
  • install 25W PV array with MPPT to 48V system.

Voila! You are now in command of some serious electric power, on par with that of some developing nations.

Monster Batteries vs East Jesus

After two shippers had accepted the job and then – big surprise! – realized this was a hazmat load (I mean, really, do I need to tell people who do this for a living that used batteries are hazmat!?) and declined to transport it, one professional operator stepped up to bat and got ‘er done.

C&D MCT II 5000-AH cells

C&D MCT II 5000-AH cells

There are 24 of them. Each weighs 700 pounds. Altogether they weigh 8.5 tons. I don’t know how many bathtubs full of sulfuric acid they contain. By the time they’re ready for retirement, I may be able to recoup my investment just from the lead.

When new, the array had a rated charge capacity of over 200kWH. They used to belong to those mad scientists, Jim Mason and crew, at the legendary Shipyard / All-Power-Labs in Berkeley. Why they got rid of them? TOO HEAVY. For them, that’s saying something. Besides, they (finally) are enjoying grid power these days, so all the PV and battery power is a tad less sexy for them than it used to be. While in use there, the batteries kept a three-phase machine shop running. Before the Shipyard, they are presumed to have been installed as a telecom UPS and were maintained and fussed over accordingly. Their duty cycle is 20 years.

This is the third and final component of a grand power conjunction: these batteries; an Outback VFX-3648 inverter; and the ~4kW of photovoltaic panels recently rescued from destruction and donated to the East Jesus power grid, bringing the solar capacity up to over 6kW. I may need to add a much larger generator than I have now, just to equalize the batteries. We’ll see. First, though, I have some reading to do. The IEEE has specifications on the care and feeding of these behemoths, and I know I’m going to have to do things right or possibly suffer very messy, explosive, corrosive consequences. Until then, I don’t even have the guts to unwrap them.

Meanwhile, KI6RRX is now equipped with a mobile/base VHF/UHF rig – very pleased with the Kenwood TM-D170 and the Diamond X300A (about 30′ up.) I’ve been enjoying lots of QSO with other PAPA members, picking up APRS beacons from as far away as Holbrook, AZ and hearing a lot of activity on 2m and 440 that I simply haven’t jumped into yet. Cross-banding is now possible with the Yaesu VX-8R HT – I can talk to PAPA while bathing with carneys and nudists at the hot spring, using the base station as a repeater. Kinda cool.

Finally, in other, completely unrelated news, I have been approached by a museum that wishes to acquire my collection of paintings and drawings by convicted serial killer John Wayne Gacy, and email scammers tried to convince me that the UN Foundation had awarded me $500,000, presumably for outstandingly surrealistic lifestyle that may better the world and all humanity…

KI6RRX reaches PAPA network on 5W from East Jesus

yesterday morning it was cool and foggy. i was up early, about 4:30am. seated by a fire, i was listening to the early bird Slabs chat on CB23, and had my Yaesu HT tuned to PAPA-7. i’ve tried a few times in vain to hit that repeater, about 40 miles distant, with the HT, but there simply isn’t enough power – that is, under normal conditions. perhaps it was the fog clinging to the ground, but when i inadvertently pressed the PTT, i heard a “beep-boop” come back at me. “wow,” i thought to myself, “really?” i tried it again, with the same result. i went ahead and transmitted my call sign, still hitting the repeater, but no one responded. there wasn’t any activity at that early hour usually, anyway, so i waited a while for some PAPA user to come on.

eventually Gary, W6??? (sorry, i’m even worse at remembering calls than i am at remembering names!) came on and i replied. he thanked me for the comeback but said i was unreadable, and advised me to increase power. as the HT was already fully open, i climbed up to the top of the shack container and tried transmitting again. this time my signal came through clearly, and we had a pleasant, but short, QSO – my first on the PAPA system.

knowing weather conditions wouldn’t always be like this, but encouraged by the QRP success, i decided to finally invest in a 2m/70cm mobile/base station – one powerful enough to easily reach PAPA 7 and capable of serving as a home repeater to my HT, and an antenna. i always want to build my own antennas, but i like to start out with something that’s quite likely to actually work. i chose a Kenwood D170A and a Diamond X300A antenna. i expect to build a 70cm yagi eventually and aim it straight at Toro Peak, but this setup should at least get me on the air well enough to become acquainted with the PAPA system and hopefully get some further advice.

this was the first time i had ever made an unlikely QRP contact on any band! i’ve been completely inactive on HF since my MFJ multiband gave up (and was subsequently cannibalized.) for once i got to feel a little tingle of excitement at making contact under unusual conditions, and i look forward to much more activity on VHF/UHF very soon.

Addendum, 2009.12.11.1808:

Propagation remains favorable under cloudy skies, high-ish relative humidity. I located Toro Peak (location of the PAPA-7 repeater) and from here it’s virtually a straight line traversing the long NW-SE length of the Salton Sea (salt water is a kind of magic RF mirror / amplifier,) explaining some of this. Still, covering about 50 miles on a 5-Watt HT is not trivial, especially with glowing reports of signal clarity and strength. Thanks, Yaesu, and thanks to all you PAPAites who indulged my “quickie” propagation checks. Today, a year and a half after my FCC licensing, I graduated from listener to operator. The incoming 2m/70cm setup should be more than adequate for comm with PAPA-7 under merely normal conditions!

Addendum, 2009.12.13.1221

That was Gary, W6MAT, whose call I couldn’t remember.

free chicken

today, after giving a tour to about 40 nomadic “escapees” from society, one of the visitors told me a story about free chickens. apparently, in factory farms, a few chickens are allowed to roam around completely free on the main floor. this is supposed to give the other, non-free chickens, packed tightly into their tiny coops, the illusion that there is freedom, something to live for. it soothes them, calms them. at the end of the story, he said to me, “you’re the free chicken!”

a nice report of this group’s tour last year is here.

Leave An Interesting Trace, Part One

Royce Carlson aka Mr. God aka Zebulon crafts a concise account of the communitarian construction of his conspicuous, semi-columnar confabulation of conscripted creation:

Leave An Interesting Trace, Part One

c’est moi

Photo on 2009-12-06 at 14.51 #2

back to the blogoscope

bottle wall backlit

bottle wall backlit

hi… yeah, i know… i’ve been kinda quiet since Valentine’s Day…. at least on asynchronology. it’s been an interesting year, to say the least. i’ve been transmitting lots of 140-char fragments via Twitter, which i will soon have linked to this shiny new WordPress-enabled blogomine. anyway, here i be, and thanks for checking in. pardon our appearance while i ride the WP learning curve a little. i don’t like spending lots of time in front of a glowing screen trying to out-clever the rest of the world, but i will devote an hour or two a day to getting this all set up in a way that makes it easy to smear my personality onto the great tabula rasa of ones and zeros for your entertainment…

in the news: today i awoke at 5am, caffeinated myself vigorously and, for a change, got a great number of things done. i enacted a radical ghetto repair on a very nice Martin DM guitar which had heretofore resisted professional treatment: JB-Weld applied to a long lateral crack in the soundboard, just to put a stop to the spread. it seems to have lost a touch of its angelic penumbra of overtones, but the epoxy is not yet cured to full stiffness. i let the blue smoke out of an old, barely used Black & Decker 750W inverter and will have to wait a while before Walter (the Transit Antenna bus buried at a slant in back) will have AC power once again. i put a defective Line 6 Pod X3 on the bench and got it to at least partially work again (tech support from that company is nil, buyer beware – no schematics, nothing. [NOTE: when i called tech support in Los Angeles later, they were actually very helpful and sent me a replacement phototransistor/IRLED pair free of charge – thanks! – c 2009.12.07.1449]) and i got around to some minor plumbing additions and corrections on my thus far non-functional hot shower project. i seem to have narrowed the problem down to the Bosch 1600 itself – a defective regulator or “brain.” one final test with a U-tube manometer (to be constructed tomorrow) will tell the truth once and for all.

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