Life at the end of the road

October 4, 2016

Internetless :-(

Filed under: animals, daily doings, life off grid, weather — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:22 am

I have to say it’s been a bit of a mixed blessing not having any Internet for well over a week now. On the one hand I’m definitely getting more done on ‘the list’ but amongst other things I’m actually missing you all Smile Seriously, I know I went for around three months without posting and hardly missed you at all (just kidding) but now I want to post and can’t Sad smile

Quite apart from all that, you really do need it to actually do anything these days, especially where we live ‘out in the sticks’. Pig movements, emailing all the certificates for our completion certificate and chasing up a multitude of ‘bits and bobs’ for doing ‘this and that’.

Of course the fact that we’ve had a spell of stunning weather this last 3 or 4 days has helped ‘numb the pain’, but being on holiday has actually made it worse. Had I been working then at least I could do the crucial stuff at work. That’s me half way through my month’s holiday now and counting the days back to work Smile

Another sad loss

As much a part of Raasay as Dun Caan and the school coffee day was Richard Moore, or the ‘Beetle Man’ as he was affectionately know to all. Richard had been visiting Raasay annually since the 1970’s having fallen in love with the place during a university visit as a student. Indeed he even lived on my croft for a couple of years in a caravan, though long before I arrived in 1989.

His nickname came from his passion (and believe me it was just that) for observing, collecting and cataloguing the beetles of Raasay. Indeed he even wrote a few pamphlets on the subject and even a book.   ‘The Beetles of the Island of Raasay in the Inner Hebrides’, which, if I’m not mistaken listed some thousand or more that he’d encountered over his forty or so years of visiting.

Every year since I arrived here and often twice annually in May and September he’d turn up off the bus carrying just a rucksack. He having left all his beetle catching paraphernalia at Arnish and previously posted me a shopping list. To this day I can still recite that list which I received twice yearly written in his precise and neat hand. For Richard was diabetic and very much a ‘creature of habit’.

No sooner had he arrived than he’d be out setting his many traps and investigating the dead carcases of unfortunate creatures. He would ask specially for me to not bury anything for a couple of weeks prior to him arriving. There are several varieties of Beetle that thrive in there, can’t remember their name but he showed me one, it was red with black spots. During the next couple of weeks he’d be a regular sight around the island with his white butterfly net and I guess he was known to everyone.

Richard was due to visit in May but never arrived having taken ill, sadly he died recently in hospital of pneumonia a result of complications from a diabetic coma I believe. It really feels like part of Raasay died in York along with him.

The ‘Beetle Man’ was part of the ‘fabric of Raasay’ as one local put it recently and he will be sadly missed by one and all.

Another grand day out

On a brighter note it was Raasay Primary School’s ‘Coffee Day’ on Saturday, a term which doesn’t do the event justice, and what a day it was.

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As usual the local business’s provided amazing prizes, Scottish Fuels, Portree Filling Station, Jewson Portree and Colorado Group to name but a few. Raasay House’s David Croy supervised archery and very few people scored any goals against Bradan or Davey Smile The net result was a total, so far raised for school funds of over £3K!!!!!! I kid you not. This is from a community of less than 200 souls for a school with only a handful of pupils, over THREE THOUSAND POUNDS in one day!!!! Well done to all the staff, pupils, parents, ‘customers’ and local business’s for yet another amazing effort.

Settling in

The two wee Tamworth Two are settling in nicely,

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sharing the hen run at the moment and I think we’ll keep them in there for the time being. Don’t think the hens are too chuffed right enough but they have access to a larger area to the west if they want. The pigs cannot follow them there because they cannot climb onto the decking in front of the house. I built steps for them at their side and screwed a plastic tank onto the decking so they couldn’t clamber across.

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Not only that I screwed some plywood over the slats so their wee trotters wouldn’t fall through. All in all they seem to be getting on just fine.

Barmy weather

Talk about changeable!!! Last week we had three days of rain and gales which saw the wind turbine going berserk.

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The three day period 27th to 29th Sept saw 113kWh generated from the wind turbine with an ‘identity crisis’ Smile My turbine started life in 2005 as a Proven 2.5kW but since then I’ve fitted a set of KW3 blades and core so I guess it’s now a 3.2kW. Either way I was having problems with the Aurora 3.6TL inverter so reverted back to the SMA WB6000 and saw an immediate increase in production.

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The Aurora had started ‘dropping out’ recently in the gusty winds and methinks this was due to a frequency instability issue with the SSR that operates the ‘phase control’ dump system. In the lighter winds of summer this issue hadn’t raised its head, in fact the Aurora seemed to perform much better. The easily adjustable ‘power curve’ and simple to use ‘Aurora Installer’ software allows the transformerless Aurora to harvest energy at much lower wind speeds. However methinks that the transformer in the SMA inverter provides a degree of isolation that smooth’s out harmonic distortion.

Whatever the reason, the Aurora has been temporarily retired, which will give me a chance to try it out on the Powerspout hydro turbine. I’ve been doing inverter tests recently for Ecoinnovation using a Solis 1500W transformerless inverter and an SMA SB3800, so far the Solis has come out on top but I can’t wait to try out the Aurora.

 

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The really carp weather of last week was a great opportunity to spend some time in the ‘Power Station’ tinkering with the inverter settings. Sadly SMA’s software is not as ‘user friendly’ as ABB’s for the Aurora, anyway, I did eventually re familiarize  myself with it and changed the mode on the SMA from ‘Turbine’ to ‘MPPT’, which improved it’s output slightly.

The Outback GVFX 3048

I also got my ‘back up’ power supply one step nearer to full integration. This consists of an Outback inverter and a separate 48V 950Ah battery bank installed in the ‘Bunker’. To be honest it’s seriously OTT and unlikely to ever be used in anger. However, as with much in my life it was acquired cheaply, or was given for ‘services rendered’.

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The ‘AC input’ of the inverter can now be selected between ‘Generator’ or ‘Island’, position 2 being Harry the Lister and position 1 being the SMA SI6.0H grid. At the moment it’s connected to the ‘grid’ which keeps the 24 forklift truck cells nicely ‘floating’.

The oscilloscope is on loan from a friend near Aultbea and I’d have dearly like to have tried it out when the Aurora was connected to see exactly what was going on. Unfortunately being ‘Internetless’ I’ve been unable to ‘Google’ Sad smile

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The south wind that blew so hard for days convinced the the geese to honk their way northwards. As is quite normal they were followed a day or so later by a solo goose who seemed to have got left behind.

 

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Not quite all the rain left on the back of the gale, the odd shower got left behind to provide some stunning rainbows.

The deluge had however encouraged me to do some more ditch digging and drainage works around the croft.

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This being a galvanized steel tank I converted into a ‘sump’ for draining the hen field. basically it’s a place to collect all the carp that comes down the drain to stop it blocking the pipework. Still very much ‘work in progress’ at the mo.

The ‘good spell’ Smile

Well if the start of October is anything to go by it’s set to be a cracking month. Seriously, with weather like this why would you want to go on holiday. The lack of Internet has kept me outside until late on and I’ve had the pleasure of watching three stags nightly with all their bellowing and shenanigans. The house is so well insulated that you cannot hear a thing inside but once outside in the gloom it’s a different story. There are three of them vying for the attentions of the local hinds. There’s one who’s been hanging around here for months, a large beast with a distinctive head. I suspect he swam over from Rona as his antlers are thicker and wider spread than the local beasts.

He’s the ‘monarch of the glen’ at the moment with six hinds at his heals and he’s ‘seen off’ a smaller chap with a better looking head last night. I missed the actual scrap but I could see him charge the other stag and then issue a victorious bellow afterwards.

In the midst of all this a ‘young pretender’ appeared with a small head and freshly ‘blacked up’ and wandered off with a couple of hinds. I’ve had all of them ‘in my sights’ and am just awaiting one to start munching the wife’s hedge Smile

Sunday

The beautiful day that greeted us on Sunday  had us all wandering up to the broadband mast which is only a mile away ‘as the crow flies’. We did however choose to go the long way around following the deer tracks that on the whole keep to the higher ground.

 

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Starting at the back of the croft and working our way around to North Arnish

 

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and it’s many ruins. All along the way there was much evidence of the ‘rut’ http://www.forestry.gov.uk/newsrele.nsf/web-allbysubject/b0c82b52837567c080257bf000303cc6 

 

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Willow trees thrashed by antlers and peat bogs turned into wallows where the stags ‘black up’ to make them look fiercer.

Once up at the mast I checked all that I could, which wasn’t much, so needless to say we still have no Internet so now I’m ‘slumming it’ on my mate’s satellite link at Torran. It’s not a patch on ours but boy, am I grateful to be using it right now.

Yesterday it was off to Aultbea with me mum to see my dad

 

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and what a start to the day we had!!! This will be Brochel Castle on Raasay with Mordor to the east Smile

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8 Comments »

  1. What a stunning sunset over Brochel! And the ones of Arnish Bay. Love the pigs too.
    Cheers
    Sue

    Comment by Sue — October 4, 2016 @ 9:41 am

  2. Hi Paul, you’ll know this – I picked up one of those Proven rectifier/isolator/control boxes for peanuts the other day – the only bit I can’t figure out is what does the PCB do ? – I’m assuming it’s monitoring AC volts incoming then trips at ? – its exactly the same as yours – isolator, ammeter, voltmeter – Google hasn’t revealed anything helpful – it was £25 so I’m not complaining but id like to know what it’s supposed to do.

    Comment by Sean — October 4, 2016 @ 9:55 am

    • Hi Sean,
      pretty sure it’s DC overvoltage protection. I have two of those boxes and only one has it. When I took them to Kingspan and asked the sparky about which box I should use he said either. I think he intimated that that function wasn’t supported any more if it failed, parts no longer available or something like that. Funny, cos the OV protection failed on my Powerspout and that too is ‘no longer available’ methinks there is a market for a reliable ‘box of tricks’ that does this 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 6, 2016 @ 6:56 am

      • I’d figured it to be over volt protection, but I’d love to know at what voltage it trips at – looks like it’s time to get the rubber gloves on and dust off my scary high voltage DC PSU – do you just disconnect your turbines and allow them to freewheel in the event your si throws a wobble ?

        Comment by Sean — October 6, 2016 @ 10:09 pm

      • Hi Sean,

        do you just disconnect your turbines and allow them to freewheel in the event your si throws a wobble ?

        yes, but that’s only cos it’s a Proven/kingspan, they are quite happy running ‘off load’ even in a storm. Indeed that’s the ‘third line of defence’ in the battery charging versions. If the dumps fail it goes into ‘trickle charge’ with a resistor to soak up some of the excess, if the battery voltage then exceeds 60V it just disconnects the turbine. Like the sound of your ‘scary high voltage DC PSU’ 🙂

        Cheers, Paul

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 9, 2016 @ 7:57 am

  3. Hi Paul

    I’ve not commented in a while but had to congratulate you on that stunning photo of Brochel Castle. I’m almost tempted to ‘steal’ it and hang a copy on my wall! 😊

    Comment by Derek — October 4, 2016 @ 10:01 am

  4. Glad to see that you back with us again – reading your posts keep the rest of us sane. It has been a while since we visited Rassay so the connection is important to us. We have two original watercolours of Clachan by Robert MacGregor in our lounge that he painted in 1986, so in some ways we have never left. Despite being pleased to see your post is was sad to read of the passing of your friend – it seems that we are part of that generation now that hears such news on a regular basis.

    Comment by Keith Buckley — October 4, 2016 @ 11:44 am

  5. So sad to hear of Richards death. He was so much part of Arnish life in the 70s and 80s. His ditch digging and preparatory work for Nancy’s Arnish garden was legendary. Later in the 80s (I think) he brought his residential caravan along Calums road, and with much manpower and tractors it was got on site. As a ‘Beetleman’ he was unsurpassed for his attention to detail. Richard in all weathers was to be seen kneeling, checking his beetle traps, with a white handkerchief and magnifier at the ready. Some of the beetles really were minuscule ! He really was part of the South Arnish community; a Scotsman by adoption. I shall treasure my signed copy of his book.

    Comment by SOTW — October 6, 2016 @ 12:37 pm


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