Technology

While not anti-technology, we aim to create solutions that work with natural systems and processes rather than deploying technological 'fixes'. The key is achieving the right balance by weighing the costs and benefits of each technical component.

All technical 'solutions' include complexity in knowledge and parts, upfront and ongoing costs along with wear and tear and eventual replacement. Complex technology fosters reliance on the technology itself as well as on a centralised and distant industrial system for production, repair and support.

Long lasting tree identification labels

Long lasting tree identification labels

While I have a detailed planting map in the computer, it is useful to be able to identify trees out in the real world so I made these metal name tags using sheet aluminium. The names are stamped out using individual letter stamp / punches.September 09, 2013  tree  technology 
Scything like it's 1809

Scything like it's 1809

Trying out some rustic scythe techniques in the orchard. No noise, no smell, just good old fashion manual labour.
The scythe is best known as the weapon of choice of the grim reaper, basically a long, curved metal blade on a wooden pole with handles. Traditionally used for mowing grass and harvesting cereal crops, the scythe has a long history in agrarian (and revolutionary) societies.
December 25, 2009  scythe  grass  tools 
Pumping with free energy

Pumping with free energy

Using water to pump water, now that is cool! I have been building a small ram pump for lifting water. The design uses off the shelf components assembled and then cast in concrete.

Overview: Water from a small creek enters a screened intake and is carried via 32mm polythene piping. This has a drop of perhaps a meter over about 70 - 80 meters. This connects to 18 meters of rigid steel 25mm pipe which drops a further 10 meters to the pumping unit. The outlet from the pump delivers water via 15mm poly tubing up to an elevation of around 30 - 40 meters.

While the device works technically it has a number of drawbacks:
  • The water delivery is very slow, perhaps 1 litre every 2 - 3 minutes. This is a result of the various measurements. More water in, dropped from higher or delivered lower would improve the situation.
  • The pump unit stops every day or so due to (I believe) air accumulating at key points in the delivery line. This can be improved by eliminating high points from the line.
  • Pump stops when river drops too low
  energy  water  technology 
Complexity vs resilience

Complexity vs resilience

Complexity

Modern civilisation is a marvel of complexity. An extensive array of entwined and interdependent systems that, when functioning, deliver something much greater than the parts. Unfortunately, complexity isn’t without its failings and is polar opposite of resilience.

It’s easy, as a member of this complex civilisation, to unconsciously introduce complexity into our own projects. The insidious thing about complexity is that it brings with it ongoing support and maintenance which consumes time and resources and in many cases entices the application of further complexity.

Before embarking on something new it is well worth considering what future commitments are required to ensure its continuance. This can then be weighed against the alternatives of less complex solutions or perhaps the simplest of all, doing nothing.

Resilience

The ability to endure changes in circumstance is highly valuable and often the first casualty of the modern drive for efficiency. The current era is likely to be dominated by change (climactic, social, economic) making resilience an essential component to personal future planning.

From the standpoint of resilience, technology is less of a panacea and a potential millstone.

  complexity  resilience 
Electric lawnmower upgrade

Electric lawnmower upgrade

After trying various different 'eco' lawn mowing solutions we were struggling to find something that could live up to our expectations. Our latest attempt is so far proving quite satisfactory, despite my misgivings about battery powered tools capability to deliver enough power. Introducing the STIHL RMA 410C A quiet, exhaust free way of keeping the paths under control.December 01, 2016  lawn  electric  technology