Sunday, July 17, 2011

Solar Oven Saturday

Technically it started on Friday evening, but most of the serious and meticulous building occurred on Saturday. We went to a thrift store and browsed around for stuff we could re-purpose as the box-base, reflectors, swing-stand, etc. This is what we came up with:

Base: filing cabinet drawer (filing cabinet also came in handy as a work bench - a really loud and tinny-sounding work bench, but functional none-the-less)

Reflectors: mirrors from medicine cabinet thingies (medicine cabinet particle board also doubled as odds and ends to use as support frame, handles, hinge bases...)

Swing stand: random heavy duty springs plus corner hinge bits from medicine cabinets plus some sort of stand (possibly for a printer) that we ripped apart

Cook pot: got a great ceramic pot that was the inside of a crock pot, the crock pot was a house fire waiting to happen, so it was easy to rip the ceramic inside out and remove the wires

Glass cover: gaudy picture frame - no matter how gaudy the picture and the frame was, it was a pretty-near perfect size of glass!

Then we had to buy some new components such as mylar tape (aka foil tape), flame duck tape (ok, we didn't need it, but I really wanted to use it), hinges of the non-corner variety (of all the pieces on the 2 medicine cabinets we destroyed you'd think there would be useable hinges, but NO), epoxy, and a glass cutter.

Lots of dismantling going on...

East LA drills into the file cabinet drawer for our support frame.

The way the swing-stand swings when the solar oven gets tilted for catching the best sun angle - after all, we can't be having our food spill everywhere!

The medicine cabinet mirrors needed to be cut to size, plus we needed corner pieces to make a more funnel-shaped rather than box-shaped sun energy amplifier. All the sharp stabby mirror pieces we then covered with mylar tape for safety while also maintaining high reflectivity. The glass cutter ended up being a great option, but this was only after we called everywhere around to see if a pro could cut the mirror for us. My favourite conversation went like this:

me: hi! I was wondering if I could bring some mirror in and have you cut it down to size
person at glass shop: sorry, we only cut glass
me: it is glass
person at glass shop: I thought you said you had a mirror
me: mirrors are just glass with silver paint on the back
person at glass shop: we can only cut glass, not mirror
me: nevermind

Basically complete at this point, needs a) flame tape decoration, b) a trial run, c) fine tuning. Here you can see the contraption for changing the angle of the oven - a simple giant eye screw and 2 bolts, one above and one below the file cabinet lock loop thingy (which we moved to a more appropriate location)

Complete with flame tape, we gave it a trial run with some pre-made cookie dough. It was a little late in the day to be starting, but we had to do it anyway, and in the corner you can see the meat thermometer that I taped to the glass lid.

Max temp reached was 175 - I'm pretty sure with a couple of minor alterations (seal around the glass lid, starting cooking before evening, possibly expanding the reflector size with more mylar tape) we'll get this baby over 200.

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