Archive for July, 2007


   Posted by: RobPatton   in Food!, Life Stuff


So, here at the Patton household, we’re known for some pretty crazy involved cooking projects. Friday/Saturday was yet another of those. 4 Jars of starter tomato sauce, 5 pounds of ground beef, 3 pounds of itallian sausage, 10 pounds of motzorella cheese, and 6 pounds of Ricotta, with 4 boxes of Lasagna Noodles, Oh yea, and a CUP of garlic perhaps a tad more. Bill, our resident Itallian, came over and we started this process again, since it had been (gasp) 3 years. The process, so involved, we’re not able to eat the food the same day we make it. Dinner that night was sauce and rigatoni, just to get us primed. We made a total of 6 Lasagnas, which 5 were cooked and frozen, to be enjoyed later. The remaining ended up being dinner for 7. Good times.


   Posted by: RobPatton   in Treehugger Stuff

So, I’ve always hated the idea of a Gasoline powered generator.  First, its VERY hard, not to mention dangerous to store gasoline,  and it gets borrowed, stolen, or evaporates.  In the middle of a major power outage, the gas stations are down, and fuel is hard to get, making it even more of a pain.  Gasoline is also a very dirty fuel, causing much maintenance to be needed on the equipment that runs it.

Most *real* generators run natural gas. The large ones still need the power of diesel, but most of the middle of the market is natgas or propane.  Best I can tell, Propane in an engine will produce 15% less power than a gasoline fuel, but runs SO much cleaner, and cooler that it is worth the loss.  Natural gas then takes another 15-20% loss on top of that.  So Propane seems to be the sweet spot.

Since I already have a gasoline generator (genset) in my garage, a conversion seemed an inexpensive yet practical direction to go.  I headed over to and read for 30 mins, learned a lot, but was still totally lost. I understood the process, but was unable to actually use the site to pick a solution. Enter the telephone, still one of the greatest ways to get things done.  One call, 5 mins of what I wanted to do, and a kit was on its way to me.


Here is the kit (unboxed). The number of parts was confusing at first, combined with the fact that a packing mistake caused me to be missing to parts I needed. Once I sorted that out, I called and got those shipped, but went to Home Depot and spent 7$ to go ahead and have them. (I hate to wait)

The process is simple. Bottom right hand corner you’ll see a std(ish) bbq regulator from there to a model KN fuel controller, then a small line over to a bolt on adaptor that actually feeds the propane to the engine. I’ll note it works a lot how a nitrous plate on a race car works, but is controlled by vacuum instead of an electrical solenoid.

Took me all of about 20 mins to do the install (once I had all the parts) and once I understood the primer button, the unit started on the first pull, and has since.

I just need to clean up the install and mount the controller a little better, and I think it will be good to run for years.


   Posted by: RobPatton   in Solar Power, Tech

So, I’ve been working on this project for quite a while, years in fact. About a week ago, I picked up a new toy for this project, an Apollo T80 Turbocharger. These guys claim to fame is that they made a very similar device, at the request of NASA, to maximize the power from solar panels from some space mission. Good quality stuff, they know charge controllers. They do not by default, sadly, give any documents or software to actually hook this thing up to a computer and know whats going on. About 3 hours of reverse engineering, I had a fairly good idea of what was there, and began working on a framework to gather the data collected through the data.

Enter the Russian – and a day later I have 6 revisions and a (somewhat) working app.


So, Wed was the first day that I collected a days worth of data, and started to see what the #s look like.


Top line is Volts, Bottom is Amps. Peak at about 28amps or 1600 watts. Not bad. Today was a terrible cloudy day, with lots of rain and terrible storms, Now that I can keep the data, I’ll be able to make a graph at any time to see how things are running. Now I want more panels!

Thanks Alex


   Posted by: RobPatton   in Life Stuff, Money


Copper hit $3.66 a pound today on the COMEX exchange – that’s a lot. Copper is heavier than iron, and the weight really adds up quickly. I know this as I just got done moving several thousand pounds of copper bars to a better location for them.  Coper is approaching silver in value. How crazy is this?

For example, it only takes 146 pre-1982 pennies to make a pound. Yes, that means you can make $2.20/lb. by melting down your pennies. Except, of course, it is explicitly illegal to do so.

At current rates, A cubic inch of copper is worth a little over a dollar; a cubic foot is (get this) worth over $2000.

Verizon, a telcom provider, recently had vandals steal over $300,000 in copper from their cell phone towers last year, and that was just in California!  All over you hear of people having their AC systems stolen, for the copper.

Lock up your piggy banks!

Side note, for those that collect smashed pennies (you put in 2 quarters, and 1 penny, and turn a crank that makes a elongated penny as a souvenir )   Pre-82 pennies are the only ones you want to use for this, since 82 and older are mostly zinc and look like crap.


   Posted by: RobPatton   in Rants, Tech


If GM can’t get it done first, mabee I’ll have a ford. I’ve been screaming about this for over 3 years now. FINALLY proof. Why are we waiting so long for this. Battery Hybrids are a total joke. Ethanol is a waste of good corn. Here is THE answer. Tell the arabs to go pound sand, we dont need their oil.

By Tom Krisher, Associated Press

DEARBORN, Mich. — The relatively quick-and-easy answer to foreign oil dependence and automotive greenhouse gas emissions is circling the grounds every day at Orlando International Airport in Florida, according to a top Ford Motor (F) official. It’s a utilitarian 12-passenger parking lot shuttle bus powered by a 6.8-liter internal combustion hydrogen engine, which Ford officials said is their hydrogen technology closest to mass production.

“We really believe this technology is ready to be evaluated at the consumer level,” John Lapetz, the company’s program manager for the buses, told reporters on Tuesday at an event staged to tout Ford’s future vehicles.

About 30 E-450 Hydrogen shuttle buses are working across the U.S. and Canada, and Ford engineers are monitoring them electronically in real time, Lapetz said. The vehicles, powered by a modified gasoline engine, have near zero emissions and get up to 13% better fuel economy than their gasoline counterparts, he said.


Take that, OPEC


   Posted by: RobPatton   in Food!

Wow, I’m full. We had a house full of people today. Steaks, London Broil, Chicken, burger, home made ice cream, and on and on. A good time was had by all. The kids just LOVED the Wii, turns out it a great babysitter. If you weren’t there, you really missed it. If you WERE there, thanks for coming, hope yall had a good time. I know you are full.


   Posted by: RobPatton   in Food!, Life Stuff


It has been a long time since Bill was over, and we attempted some fantastic food project, till Saturday.   We started with scallops, then shifted towards our own person clone of Kobe’s offerings.   I am happy to note “It did not suck”.

Even with frozen scallops from Sams, some steak from Pettys, frozen veggies, and rice from a box, we were able to make a very full dinner for 3 for about 45$,  WITH Pettys deserts for each.    The one thing we cheated on was the famous white sauce Kobe uses, we purchased it from them directly.  We’ll sort out a recipe for that soon enough.  As always a good time was had by all.

The movie of the night was “The Pursuit of happiness”