Hacking Freedom in a Facsist World

On May 7, 2015, my family will have been living off grid for four years. This project is sharing our story.

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Hello community!! This is the beginning of me fleshing out our entry into the 2015 Hackaday Prize, but it also a way to begin documenting the story of my family and our hacker life. As the title of this project states. This year we are celebrating our fourth year of living on solar power, solar water heat, and rainwater catchment on a square mile of land (1.6km²) that is a retired caliche strip mine. I am not sure if this page will be our entry just yet or an ongoing documentation of hacking life and exploring our projects that got us here. We will share our process of living off grid openly and honestly. For those that may be concerned that off grid means sacrificing technology or creature comforts, please do not be dismayed. We have two big screen tv's, high speed internet, gas range, frontload washer, dryer and we are about ten minutes drive from the shopping mall.

The details of this project will change and will sometimes link to other project pages or have updates on what we are currently getting ready to publish. The project logs will serve as a running blog of how we have hacked our life. The first project log will be more of a personal biography and how we have come to live the way we do. I will try to include stories of my family and how they hack life and happiness in their own spirit and actions. My daughters farm, learn and hack beside me and on their own diy projects. As my oldest daughter gets a little older, she will probably creating her own hackaday account. My children and family are brilliant and creative. They are the reason that we try to live better and to hack a better, cleaner way to live. To preserve an environment and future for them to thrive.

The reason I believe this is an important project and story to tell is because I believe that hacking is a lifestyle. I think it is a credo. It is what people who create manifesto's live. Ours is that we can live better, freer, cleaner, and happier through hacking everything around us to that purpose. For four years I have not been an indentured servant to western society. We do not have to pay a utility company to provide us power. We do not have to rely on the city or anyone else to provide our water. We use the sun and do not use fossil fuels to create hot water bathing or washing dishes. We grow our food to provide healthy, pesticide free, organic produce. We raise our own pigs and cattle for meat that are not riddled with steroids, antibiotics or other hormones. Our animals free range and are not subjected to engineered diets. We have fish in our aquaponics systems that are mercury and pollution free.

This project, the logs, and links will share not only our story but will give details, instructions, and/or resources on a variety of projects. We will talk about installing solar electric, solar water heat, rainwater catchment systems, greenhouse/hoophouse construction, creating and programming automation and monitoring systems, welding, carpentry, plumbing, earth plasters, earth construction, rocket stove and mass heating, animal husbandry, medical care, and a variety of other projects and resources that have helped us hack our life.


  • Rainwater Catchment and Domestic Filtration

    tlankford0105/25/2015 at 15:07 0 comments

    This project log is about domestic rainwater catchment and filtration. As told earlier in the project description we have lived off grid for four years. I want to talk about the water side of our life. We have lived 41 of the last 48 months on rainwater alone. We do not have a water well within 3/4 of mile of our house. In order to have domestic water we have to do a few things. We have to have a method of water collection. We have to filter that water for use and we have to dramatically cut our water use from what the average family consumes. Rainwater catchment and domestic water conservation has many environmental and societal benefits. A few points are that it slows the runoff and helps to replenish aquifers by keeping water in place. Water is a huge issue that is beginning to now affect us in the US. Municipalities spend extraordinary resources in order to maintain water transfer, storm runoff and sewage systems. This has lead to some pretty gross problems if you have every seen New York, New Orleans, Milwaukee or Chicago in a heavy rain season.

    We will start with finding out how much water we can catch. We have a limited amount of water living in a semi-arid climate. Our average rainfall is less than 20" per year. We have to figure out how much water we can catch and how to preserve that water. This formula is rather simple. There are 7.48 gallons in a cubic foot. That means we need 100 cubic feet of rain to have 748 gallons of water. If we have 1 inch of rain, we need 1200 square feet of roof space to collect 748 gallons of water. In order to fill our 5000 gallon tank with 1200 sq ft of roof space, we need just shy of 7 inches of rain. We have a potable safe fiberglass tank and the entire roof is guttered. I won't go into detail here because gutters and tanks are simple.

    If you do the calculations you can see that we have a challenge keeping water in the tank every now and then. There are some places that haul potable water but this can get very expensive by the gallon. We do have a well on our section that we use for our animals and greenhouses. This means that we have to haul water 3/4 of mile. This can be a real pain if we were using the national average of 150-250 gallons of water per person. This number includes water for lawns, laundry, using the restroom and any other water use from a tap. I have a section of natural landscape. We do not need an English Tudor lawn. So that cuts out lots of water usage from the average family. We have to wash laundry in a family. This could be achieved the old fashioned way but there are no volunteers here for that. My family are decidedly in favor of technology. Top loads washers can consume large amounts of water. We chose a front load because they use 25 percent less water. The other large usage is the toilet. There are several methods to be considered when deciding what to do in terms of toilet water usage. (Teaching moment: Read The Humanure Handbook for composting toilet methods and environmental reasons to do so) We use grey water and a double flush toilet. Grey water is water that comes from the washer and from the shower. That brings us to bathing. We only have a shower and we take military showers. We turn the water on to get wet. Turn it off while we soap and shave and we turn it back on to rinse. I can bath in as little as 2.5 gallons of water. All told we use about 1000 gallons of water per a family. With a 500 gallon tank I an easily haul a months of water in an afternoon when needed.

    This brings us to the hack. How to do we get this water treated for domestic use that does not involve chemicals and poisons such as chlorine? We need to create a filter system that can filter sediments, organics, and pathogens. To do this we have a double sediment filter and a UV biologic filter. The water is brought in with a diaphram pump. The system maintains pressure for the house through a pressure tank feed into the house. The sediment filters are off the shelf and filter...

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