⊃ trebuchet two

With many lessons learned, and only a little pre-planning, I’ve launched into a second trebuchet build. I’m looking at a 10’ arm on an 8’ tall frame. Around 18 pieces will be bolted together to constitute the machine. Custom-poured concrete blocks serve as counterweight.

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⊃ portable theater

Duke was soliciting “good student ideas,” but this got no reply, hah.

⊃ portable refrigeration

We experimented with portable refrigeration as part of EWH. The goal was to make something small for sample storage. Pictured are some Zeer pots we were testing.

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⊃ Duke community garden

I loved working at the garden – I got to design and build raised beds, a hoop house, a shed, a bat box, bluebird houses, compost bins and an experimental rainwater harvesting system. I surveyed the site and helped work with volunteers at other area gardens too (like the excellent Durham group SEEDS).

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⊃ scrap scale

When the electricity went off in Nkokonjeru I (finally) had an excuse to stop welding the gates for RASD, the NGO where we worked. Some other projects at the site needed to weigh things, so I tried making a scale.

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⊃ rasd

I spent the better part of the summer in Nkokonjeru working with friends and the awesome people at the Rural Agency for Sustainable Development. Led by Ignitius Bwoogi, RASD provides agricultural assistance, leads local health programs, and offers technical training to the community. RASD and Ignitius are very well-respected within the community and this was our group’s third year of working with him.

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⊃ jatropha

Kerosene for lamps and generators is incredibly expensive in Uganda, with some households spending 30% of their income on the fuel. We wanted to work with RASD and explore the possibilities of small-scale bio-oil production using Piteba presses. The presses used a candle to heat a hand-cranked screw press. We made quite a bit of peanut butter during testing in the States and the presses proved to work decently well with jatropha seeds.

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⊃ the altiplano

I traveled to Obrajes, Bolivia in the summer of 2008 as part of an Engineers Without Borders team. (Patrick and Steph went too, woo!) The communities in the area are seasonally impeded by a river that swells with the rains and mountain runoff – crops cannot be taken to the nearby city of Oruro and children are sometimes kept from school by the waters.

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⊃ plywood dug

Me and my friend Jaime built two canoes as gifts using Hannu’s ‘Dug’ design. These were awesome little boats – really stable and could hold about 250lbs before it was time to start baling.

⊃ biomass charcoal

My friends and I closely followed Amy Smith and the D-Lab’s research on biomass charcoal production. She was operating in Haiti, pyrolizing corn cobs to create a safe cooking fuel. Smoke-inhalation from indoor cooking fires is the number one killer of children in the developing world and smokeless charcoal is an ideal alternative to burning sticks or other matter. Producing traditional wood-based charcoal is becoming more difficult in Haiti, Uganda, and elsewhere due to rampant deforestation.

The D-Lab developed a small-scale pyrolysis process which we expounded upon in experiments in the States as well as in Uganda (see the photo below). Some notes on our work, collected by Dan Moss, are on the Duke Wiki.

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