Friday, April 21, 2017

Autarkia's Pooper Part 3

I ordered some mini computer fans off Ebay a while ago and was holding off working on the head until they came in the mail.  I have them now.  Also in the meantime, I have got most of the electrical work done - having installed the batteries, solar panels and mounting the electronics.  I still have the VHF antenna to mount as well as the transducer for the Lowrance.  The stereo is installed and working along with Sirius satellite radio which now graces Autarkia's interior with the sounds of Bluegrass, Folk, Jazz and Old Time Country from the seventies and earlier.  If I find my pinkie extended while sipping tea we may even switch to classical....

Anyway, before continuing with the pooper saga, here are some self-explanatory pics of some of the work done so far:

The solar panels are 200 watts in total, and are connected to the deep cycle battery via an MPPT controller.
Nav lights are LED of course...

Oh, and one more little clarification before further pooper discussion:  I'm still going to fit Autarkia with a mast and rig - most likely junk.  But for this summer at least, we want to take her out and enjoy her.  Lorri and I have had a lot to deal with in our personal lives this year - nothing particularly bad - but LIFE nonetheless, and we need to get out and have some fun.  So with a few more little jobs completed we'll start doing that and build a rig next winter.  In the meantime we will fly kites from her deck, shoot the pellet gun at passing flotsam, fish, take pictures and enjoy.

So here is what I did with a mini computer fan.  The fitting is an inch and a half PVC pipe coupler, and I made it into a little turbo to vent the toilet by trimming the corners off the fan, wrapping the perimeter in foam tape, and squeezing it down into the fitting.  The wires got fed out a drilled hole.

I sat it over the vent hole on the toilet have since left it running:

It will exit out the front bulkhead, and per RLW's excellent recommendation, will have a bug screen.  Anyway, what I found out while leaving it running, was that over time even the very heavy plastic contractor's trash bag sucked away from the sides of the pail because everything was so well sealed.  So I will have an inlet pipe directed over the poop so we get a drying wind across it.  That will prevent too low a pressure developing inside.

Here is the pee tube arrangement:

I drilled a one inch hole in the side of the bucket for the tube to exit. 

I installed the tube on the bowl assembly...

And routed the tube out of the toilet through a hole cut in the bag, sealed with tape.

The poop pile will never reach that level; it will be emptied well before that happens.

In Part Four, which should be the last pooper post, I will detail the pee bottle, the air inlet, outside exhaust, and the peat sawdust mixture we will spread on the bottom of the bucket and sprinkle on our droppings.  We'll likely give it a couple of weeks of trial before reporting.


  1. Looks good, Alan. I like shooting stuff with a pellet gun, too, although it's been a long time. I've been threatening to get one for killing the carpenter bees that eat my house.

    1. Thanks David. I used a shotgun to take out a wasps nest once. It worked quite well - the nest was there, and then it wasn't. But carpenter bees with a pellet gun - that finesse!

  2. Wow. That flexible solar kit makes for nice sleek lines, doesn't it? As tech marches on, self-sufficiency is looking more and more attractive, though having lived without plumbed hot water and effective refrigeration/freezing I've found I do feel deprived without those luxuries.

    1. Thanks Paintedjaguar. We still haven't addressed that issue yet...still thinking about heating water on the stove but in a large insulated vessel with a spigot so we can store the hot water safely for a few hours. We may also be generating enough juice with the solar to run a small fridge. We'll see...

  3. Well, you intend to have both DC power and propane. A few years ago I installed this RV-500 tankless on-demand water heater in the travel trailer I was living in. At the time it was apparently the only such heater made for RV's and the price was about double that for a standard heater. I sold the trailer not long after, but the heater seemed to work well enough. The water temperature was mostly regulated by the flow rate, so that was a little different.

    Looks as if they've added some kind of regulation system intended to keep the water temperature constant at different flow rates. Also a marine model:

    Here's another RV model from a different manufacturer:

    I heated my water on the stove for over a year, but it took me an hour or two to get enough for a small bath - after a while I tired of that. Less of a problem when you are limiting your water consumption, of course.

    1. Thanks for those links Paintedjaguar. For personal hygiene we are thinking more along the lines of a garden sprayer shower rather than baths. A kettle of boiling water in a gallon of cold water would do the trick... in the summer weather solar bag showers work quite well given my camping experience with them.

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  4. I'm not trying to convince you of anything, Alan. The best way to determine what one can live without is to try it. I went for 15 years taking mostly just the kind of "navy" showers you're talking about. For anything more I had to haul out all my pans and heat water on the stove. But it is hard to beat a long, hot shower or bath to rectify borderline hypothermia or just to really open up your pores. Dmitry Orlov's sauna idea would do the trick too, I suppose.

    The arrangement you're talking about would be cheaper and more robust, if less convenient, but there is one other consideration - an on demand water heater might actually be more parsimonious of both propane and water - IF one exercised restraint.

    I'm enjoying following your adventure, especially the details of planning and construction. Like you, my thoughts and tastes run towards the unorthodox and improvisational. A sailing houseboat is exactly what I'd love to have for myself. It's beyond me why you don't see more of them.

    1. Again Paintedjaguar thanks for your comments, and no I in no way think that you are trying to convince me of something. I value everyone's input and advice. That said, the decision about having a hot water heater is definitely something we'll do if we find we need it though. We even discussed its location last night!