Academy, Day 19 and 21

Once again, I didn’t get anything posted on the weekend. Saturday was was really full. Our first class in the morning was about an Earthship build that was staged in China and all of the cultural, financial, political and material challenges that that posed.

Our second class was about what it’s like to be an owner/builder. It was presented by people who have actually built their own Earthships, both by her/himself and with a crew. As with most things, it really boils down to time and money.

After that, we had a tour of the REACH community, which is a bunch of Earthships way up in the mountains. I have a tonne of pictures, but I’m going to save most of them for my tours set of posts, but I’ll tantalize you with two samples. This first picture is of a couple of the Earthships on one of the hills.

Reach

This other picture is a panoramic of the mesa. I have to say, the air up there was awesome. It smelled like pine trees, which, after all you’ve been breathing for the last three weeks is desert dust, is quite the relief.

MountainView

Once we got back from REACH we had another class that went over Earthship maintenance. This is all of the stuff that you need to monitor, clean and take care of to maintain a well functioning house. This is the type of class that people should take when they buy their first house, even if it’s not an Earthship, because a lot of it has similarities to conventional housing.

Anyway, today started with a retrofitting and Earthship community class presented by Mike Reynolds. Retrofitting current structure to take advantage of all of the things that an Earthship does can be quite the challenge and in some cases, not really possible. Of course, you can always throw money at things, but that can get pretty stupid pretty quick.

Next class was about the systems that are used in the Simple Survival model Earthship. This is a stripped down Earthship designed to be extremely affordable, especially in places where there is little money. A basic one room Simple Survival model can be built for about $15 to 20 thousand.

It was after that class that we found out who one the free lunch for our assignment. My group didn’t win, but that was expected cause not everyone put in the same amount of detail in their parts as I did. Oh well, it was only for lunch. It’s not like it counts towards our marks.

Speaking of marks, our final exam is on Thursday. Time sure does fly by.

That was all the stuff that went on this morning. In the afternoon, my group was doing a lab on electrical systems. We had to connect a DC and and AC light to a switch to a breaker and on up the line to a battery. The AC line, if you know anything about electricity, must come through an inverter, so that was part of the equation, as well as a load controller. I was pretty comfortable with it all, having done a little bit of electrical work myself.

Here is a picture of the wiring board we were working on.

WiringBoard

Kris, the guy overseeing the electrical lab, also showed us a thin film photo-voltaic cell. As you can see in the picture below, it’s quite flexible, hardy (you can walk on it) and it does quite well in low light conditions like cloudy days. It is not as efficient as other panels that are designed for full sun, but if you have seasons with a lot of clouds, these can be really useful. Also, you can see Kris using a multi-meter to measure the voltage coming off the panels.

ThinFilmPV

I didn’t work on the main build site today, so no new pictures from there. Tomorrow will be busy as well, I’m sure

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