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William L Hillgartner's Gadgets


Hello friends, former colleagues, and fellow senior citizens.  There are a host of other cute euphemisms such as the longer living, the chronologically gifted or challenged.  I'll accept that I may wobble a bit now and then, but other than that I make no concessions whatever.

I have three computers throughout the house but only turn one on when I need to get out a bit of correspondence.  Do have a fax machine online around the clock.  I still get most of my exercise splashing around in my (homebuilt) heated Jacuzzi and puttering around with diy projects.  I like making things, but finding parts requires a lot of patience. 

Papa Bill's Windmill Windmill (savonious rotor).
You start with two bean cans, scale up to gallons, and the final design uses  50-gallon oil barrels.  I calculated that I could generate about 500 watts in a 20-mph wind.  Savonious rotors ware made to order for diy types.  They do not have to be feathered to prevent self-destruction and always face into the wind.  Rotation speed is an asymptote curve with RPM leveling off at 1300.  But they must be perfectly balanced.  Note the extra bracing.  Black iron pipe is cheap and easy to work with but I should have used steel.  This test unit was installed on the beach at Pattaya to take advantage of the superheated updraft off the sand.

Papa Bill's Sundial Equatorial sundial.
I like sundials (nali-ga-dad in Thai).  They are relatively easy to build and easy to calibrate with a little patience.  Just wait for the sun to shine on any of the four days you can calibrate empirically.  I'm not an arty type but I consider this equatorial design (necessary because the sun passes directly overhead two times a year) the most aesthetically pleasing diy thing I have ever built.  This sundial was installed at the cottage on the beach in 1975.


Papa Bill's Pool Vacuum Pool vacuum cleaner
The vacuum cleaner for the pool and Jacuzzi.  The section of 4" PVC piping contains the leaf filter and the can contains the crud filter -- not in the circuit when the picture was taken.
You can click through to my sketches page for a closer look at the plans.


Ozone generator for the Jacuzzi. 
Note that moose of a neon transformer to provide the high voltage - as Chinatown special.  The fan is from a microwave oven that went south. 

Papa Bill's Wheel Chair Battery powered wheel chair.
My latest on-off diy project is not a rush since I plan to be walking around for a while yet.  Originally planned to build a battery-powered bike to play around with, but biking on the streets of Bangkok is a high-risk thing.  To get started I bought a small kid's bike, a bit on the deluxe side with pneumatic tires and a freewheeling hub, at about the same price as wheels and parts bought separately.  The picture shows the first stage of modifications.

The extended seat and handlebars were for testing.  They will be removed and replaced by a comfortable cushioned seat at a lower level and a simple steering bar. The frame will be cut and a platform for the rest inserted.  Addition of two outrigger wheels at the back make it into a stable mobile chair.  Power is furnished by two sealed 12-volt batteries connected in series.  Voltage and speed is varied by a couple of LM338 VR's connected in parallel. (It never ceases to fascinate me the amperes these little blobs of silicon can handle).
The motor/gear box system caused no end of problems.  First I tried a belt drive but gave up when I couldn't find the right size pulleys to fit 4 different drive shaft sizes.

Those sprocket wheels are two gutted freewheeling bike hubs.    Welded large washers on both sides and reamed out to fit the different shaft sizes.  I proved to myself that it could be done, but too many oddball angles to work around using a bike frame, so I tentatively plan to do again starting from scratch with a composite homemade modular frame.
Halfway through these modifications I got the idea that a simple hand powered chair would be quite adequate since most people retain use of their arms until they sign off.  Another diy project?

Papa Bill's Kids on a Tractor Kid's Motorized Tractor. A flashback to circa 1956.  Son Del is warning Malcolm that the exhaust pipe gets hot when the engine is running (bright kids).  The engine was a used job taken from a motorized bicycle.  The tractor had a belt clutch and if you look closely you can see the disc brake.  Just one disc on the axle, no differential, only one wheel drive.  The gas tank was a used lighter fluid can.  There was no muffler; try to imagine the din when the motor was revved up to 3000 rpm as the kids raced down the 40-degree hill by our apartment in Tangier. 
Note the reversed castor on the front wheel.  This is what happens when a vehicle meets an immovable object; a wall!  The bumper was added later.

Papa Bill's World Chart I do enjoy messing around with diy projects but the pastime I enjoy most is reading.  I try to get settled down by 2100 every day at which time I put my feet up and remain ensconced in another world till about 0100 the next day.  My reading interests are wide ranging, but the profundity of anything written while the earth was still believed to be flat and was being orbited by the sun should be judged accordingly.  I drop whatever I'm reading when Astronomy magazine arrives in the mail. 

A few months ago I actually had some free time on my hands and decided  to make some simple sketches of the other projects I have been puttering around with since retirement. 
Take a look and let me know what you

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