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MEOW is the Milwaukee Energy Optimization Workgroup, or if you'd prefer a recursive acronym, the MEOW Energy Optimization Workgroup. The purpose of the group is to explore different ways of generating, storing, and using energy in an efficient, reliable, and conservational manner in order to improve our lives and foster a respectful attitude toward the forces of nature from which this energy is provided. What does this mean? We get together and find ways to gather and store energy and put it toward meaningful uses. We look at what we're using energy for and why. We look beyond our current energy paradigm and find ways to make improvements. We have fun and build community through the creative process (i.e. making things) because if someone should do something about it, it may as well be us doing it.

Jack: I'm basically hoping to get people together to build things. Awesome things. Energy is the foundation of existence and I think it's one of the most interesting and important aspects of human life to consider. Energy is also at the foundation of our society, and our relationship with energy is changing in some fundamental ways. We'll have to keep up with these changes, and I hope this group will enable us to do that more effectively while having a lot of fun in the process. Here's a graph from the excellent Do the Math blog that illustrates the important question that needs to be addressed:

See also: Galactic-Scale Energy

What's New/Happening?

This is the place to list any projects underway, news, etc.

Meetings: First meeting is planned for Saturday, June 2nd at 1pm. Subsequent meetings will be the first second Saturday of the month at 1pm unless otherwise noted.

October 12th 2013

  • Meeting cancelled due to vehicular issues.

September 14th 2013

  • Waste Vegetable Oil Fuel Systems for Diesel Vehicles - Jack Driscoll (I'll be bringing in the parts for my WVO gathering/processing/fuel delivery system and going over the general design as well as planning for installation)
  • Anything else? Add it here.

August 8th 2013

  • Joshua Zimmerman of Brown Dog gadgets will be doing a quick presentation on micro-solar covering his own designs, Goal Zero, and how to DIY for less. Presentation will be in the electronics lab and most likely feature cute kittens.
  • Andor Horvath will be discussing rocket stoves, micro-solar and who know what else? Find the man with the radiometer hat and win a free discussion!

July 13th 2013

  • Jack Driscoll: WVO fuel system construction overview
  • Jack Driscoll: Concentrated solar power with big screen fresnels

June 8th 2013

  • Bob Dionne: Solar air collectors for roof, possibly side of building; would be nice to have solar farm of sorts on roof both for energy reduction and tourism, also interested in wind power

March 2nd 2013

  • First Meeting in new location!
  • Occupancy sensors, lighting controls and energy monitoring - Vishal
  • SVO system planning - Jack
  • Discuss the upcoming sustainability summit, maybe work on posters

December 1st, 2012

  • Special off-site field-trip day to work on ambulance - installation of diesel-fired heater.
  • Installed heater…into enclosure…and tested for extended time; temperature is regulated well, pulsation of tubes not noticed, believed due to trapped air. To be continued…

November 3rd, 2012

  • Special off-site field-trip day to work on ambulance cooling system.


  • Due to Barcamp, this month's meeting will be at Barcamp. I may or may not be presenting on things and/or other things. I will, however, be there during the usual meeting time - 1pm-4pm, so you may attempt to search me out.

September 1st, 2012

  • Arrive
  • [This is where you add things you want to happen at the meeting]
  • Making small solar panels, discussion of charging/etc controllers
  • Bringing in and organizing more equipment for WVO system, possible design discussion
  • [This is where the meeting happens]
  • Leave

August 4th, 2012

  • Arrive
  • Testing of high-efficiency loudspeakers with higher power. They are painful at close range, so :) (Jack)
  • Leave

July 8th, 2012

  • Arrive
  • Talk with Ben Nelson (Jack [note-not planned]) Topics included: diesel mercedes engine in pickup, hybrid electric drive, biodiesel.
  • Work on plans for Window-Attached Solar Air Heater (Jack)
  • Test high-efficiency loudspeakers with high-efficiency Class-D amplifier, take some measurements (Jack)
  • Leave

June 2nd, 2012

  • Arrive
  • Making small solar panels (Jack, Andor)
  • We discussed making small solar panels; Jason is looking to make a cell-phone charger and has numerous cells and possibly access to an oven, Andor has cells as well and is looking to make 12v panels. We decided to focus on using EVA for encapsulation and sylguard as a secondary method. I'm interested in making 3v modules which can mount in some sort of thing that will determine the voltage and keep them secure.
  • Leave



Solar Air Heating

(add project links for completed things - Jack)

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP)

CSP is a general catch-all term for using mirrors/lenses to concentrate a large area of solar radiation into a smaller area which receives said photonic energies. The primary benefit is increased temperature and the ability “to, like, instantly start things on fire, which is awesome”. This does also result in an increase in DANGER! due to the high temperatures.

Fresnel lenses, which can be found in old rear-projection TVs are one way to do this.

Another is the parabolic dish and the double cylindrical point-focus variant (which I'd like to try building -Jack).

One of our members has also experimented with using a metallized film (mylar/space blankets) and a vacuum to create a variable focal length parabola-ish concentrator (which I'd also like to try building - Jack): “I don't know if this is an appropriate place, but several years ago I looked into making solar concentrators by stretching a metalized plastic film (specifically a “space blanket”) over a circular frame and then pulling a partial vacuum behind it. I made a test piece with a short section of 12” PVC pipe which set fire to a piece of wood in a few seconds. This technique has the advantage of having a variable focal length by simply adjusting the vacuum behind the film. It would be easy to scale it up to much larger diameters. The curve formed is very close to a parabola, so close that I considered the possibility of using it to make a very large, light weight, short focal length telescope mirror with huge light gathering power.“ - The Digital Dentist

Makerspace AE Projects


People: Bob Dionne, Ron Bean

Solar air - there are air access portals…somewhere. Ron probably knows where they are. Probably locations are rooftop, possibly south facing wall. Ron's pretty busy and not sure if he's going to get around to it this year. Someone needs to go up there with Tom to make sure they don't break the roof and figure out how to mount and plumb anything we put up there.

Wind turbines? Bob's your uncle.

Makerspace Power Monitoring

We have LT 100S current sensors, however they measure instantaneous current, so we'd have to find a way to average the measurements.

There are inexpensive sensors that measure up to 10A which would be useful for some circumstances ( Murata 10A)

Anything over 10A goes up to the $7-10 range. ( ICE 50A Triad 130A Honeywell 100A)

Things to decide:

  • Measurement: individual circuits or whole-box
  • Lighting sensors
  • Do we need to know what's running or how much current it's consuming (accuracy)
  • How to isolate low-voltage from mains
  • Choose sensor types (self-wound current sensors on split-core ferrite clamps looking good, see project below) (Kevin might have some, haven't asked Tom yet)
  • For loop sensors: how large does the ID need to be

References and commercial products:



DIY Solar PV

DIY Solar PV starting from cells can potentially save some money. I'd propose that we start with small panels because we already have a small vacuum table, it's easier, and small panels are the least economical in the marketplace. The best guide I've seen is the "Making decent solar panels" series on the otherpower forum. The cells are soldered up, placed between glass and a backing and encapsulated in EVA film before being mounted in a frame. We need:

  • Cells Andor/Jason have cells
  • EVA
  • Backing material
  • Frames
  • Working vacuum former (anyone know the status of the one at the space)
  • ?


"Green" Sound Reinforcement

When faced with the prospect of limiting energy consumption, I was disheartened to think of all the loud, outdoor music I'd miss out on. Enter: the horn-loaded speaker. What do you do when your most advanced amplifiers provide less than 100 watts and you have a 100-seat theater? You get these. For every 3db increase in loudspeaker sensitivity, you can achieve a similar sound level with only half the power. I'm hoping to put together a capable PA using some of the designs from Bill Fitz-Maurice. I'm finishing up a set of Jack 10s at home right now, but I'll be working on the subs down at the MakerSpace. Since increased efficiency decreases energy use, I'm going to call these “green” and consider this a “green energy” project, and there's nothing you can do to stop me, MWAHAHAHA.




Biomass & Gasification


Group/Contact Information

Contact me, Jack Driscoll, by addressing an electronic mail to my name with appended to it. NO SPACES.

groups/meow.txt · Last modified: 2013/10/09 21:26 by jackd