An Aviation First: Fuel Cell Airplane Has Flown

I just saw this over at the Green Car Congress, a blog I frequent to stay up on the latest alternative fuel news in the automotive industry. Today, I saw a historical post, one that our grandkids might look back on in their aviation history books. Boeing Research and Technology Europe (based in Madrid), in conjunction with a group of companies, universities, and institutions, has flown an airplane powered by hydrogen fuel cells. I knew that auto manufacturers were making steady progress on powering cars with fuel cells, but I was caught completely off guard by this one.

The Dimona motor glider built by Diamond Aircraft featured a 20kw hydrogen fuel cell stack. While the technology is still being developed, Boeing does not forsee passenger flights powered by fuel cells, but general aviation could benefit as light aircraft, manned and unmanned, could be powered with such a system.

You can read more details over at Boeing Flies Fuel Cell Airplane at the Green Car Congress, or head over to AutoblogGreen and check out Boeing Fuel Cells up in the Air, which has a diagram of the system.


EarthHour 2008 – A Success

Last night was EarthHour 2008.  For those that don’t know, EarthHour is a grass roots effort to promote action in climate change; at 8pm, March 29th, where ever you are, turn out all of the lights for one hour.  I went one step further by turning off all of my electronics, computers, cell phone and anything else that consumed power (yes, the frig too) and used my olive oil lamps as a light source.  It was fantastic and I learned how quiet the house really is when all that stuff is turned off.

My EarthHour might seem a little extreme, but I think it is more than just showing support for change in climate change policy.  In fact, it is an hour that is yours, only yours. I had a book that I have been wanting to read, but I just haven’t had the time, too many other things happening around me.  So, last night, amidst olive oil lamps, I started reading this book after a short meditation period.  I got halfway through it before the hour was up.  It was awesome.  Not only had my progress toward my own goals, but I also saved energy!

For more information on EarthHour and how you can take action against climate change, please visit their website.  Soon they will be announcing EarthHour 2009!

Papermodel “Dog Trot” Kit v0.2

I spent some time with my pencil, paper, and ruler and measured out a basic kit for the “dog trot” papermodel toolshed living unit I designed. I started typing this post offline, but before I knew it, it had exploded into a mini documentary of what sustainable living is and how this design fits into it. It was way too complex for what I wanted. I simply wanted to present the model, it being what it is. I even lightly colored the base paper with color pencil to show the ground layout; the brick along the front and down the “breezeway”, the black represents the parking area, and green is grass.

One thing I must note is that this design is NOT a dog trot living unit. A dog trot design has all rooms under a single roof, with the breezeway being half the width of the front rooms. Since the pictures below show three toolsheds, this is simply a dog trot inspired design.


The Front View


The Front Perspective


The Back Left View


The Back Right View

I have not decided if I will make this version of the model available. The roofs are currently not part of the kit and it looks rather rough. I think I might refine it some more before releasing it. If anyone is interested in such a kit, please leave a comment. It might inspire me to work harder on it!


DogTrot Papermodel Update

I’ve noticed over the past few days that arealityofmyown is getting a lot hits from search terms relating to papermodels.  In particular, the post “A new paper model project” has seen most of those hits.  This is the post where I announced I was working on building a papermodel of the toolshed, dogtrot, style sustainable living compound that I designed a few summers back.  An update is in order!

I designed it using Visio, which is a windows only program.  After printing it out, I measured and started drawing the papermodel kit in Photoshop. Developing the basic walls and placing the doors/windows was not hard and before I knew it, I had the walls built.

Unfortunately, this is where I got stuck.   I had a hard time visualizing the roof.  I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to maintain three separate toolsheds, requiring development of three roofs, or designing it with one big roof over the whole thing.  I always visualized the compound as three toolsheds with somethings like a champa or pavilion type roof over them.  The advantage of the champa/pavilion is that the could be covered with solar panels and/or “green roofing” while providing an expanse of shaded outdoor space and even carport.  For some reason, I just could not visualize the final design, the double roofs seemed like a waste of resources, and I couldn’t how the champa/pavilion roof would integrate with the three units if I didn’t use stock toolsheds.  Then there is the possibility of making the whole thing using straw bale.

As you can see, my mind went nuts with ideas on how to refine this compound.  I love the dogtrot style, I love the idea of living units, and I love the idea of protected outdoor space.   Back the drawing I went, but then the holidays came up and I haven’t gotten back to it.  To make matter worse, my guinea pig attacked the model that I built previously, destroying it.  I think it was sign from above to rethink the whole project  However, I migrated to an iMac (I love it!) and no longer have access to Visio and the files it produced.  I am shopping for a simple Mac based, free CAD program, but haven’t found anything yet.  I might return to old fashion pencil and paper and risk poking my eye with the pencil or dying of an infection from a papercut.  Skethcing it out on paper, with full elevations would make it easier to build from paper! duh!
Overall, the first version was a great exercise in visualizing the details and going through the process of possibilities.  Please stay tuned and be patient, the project is moving forward slowing.