The Sun as an Energy Source

The Sun is so amazing! I’m able to run all kinds of energy intensive things while living in my truck in the desert off of a single 100-Watt Solar Panel and a couple of batteries. The Sun also powers the life of the plants on this planet and even animals like us!

Continue reading “The Sun as an Energy Source”

Giant Spider Visits the Camp

A giant spider crawled out from underneath my truck while I was getting some water in the camp! Well, it’s big compared to the spiders where I come from, though when it comes to tarantulas, this one is pretty small.

I used to be freaked out by spiders when I was younger. I was forced to be exposed to one regularly for a long period of time and the fear just wore off eventually. I’m not sure it’s worn off so much that I’d want this thing crawling on me though…

Cahlen Lee

Heating the Yurt in the Winter

I wasn’t able to have a Wood Stove in the Yurt this Winter, so I put together a makeshift Propane Stove which heats the Yurt up to 70-Degrees inside while it’s below freezing outside!

Cahlen Lee

Installing a Battery Management System

Watch as I demonstrate how I installed a Battery Management System, or BMS, on my custom Lithium Ion 12-Volt Battery Pack.

Cahlen Lee

Prevent Mold with Essential Oils

Cahlen Lee the Modern Day Wizard demonstrates how he applied essential oils to the cloth walls of his Yurt to prevent mold from growing during the rainy season. Here are the oils I used:

Cahlen Lee

Watch a Mealworm Molting

I spotted one of my Mealworms molting and made this quick video to show you the process. They normally have an brownish-orange color to their skin, but they’re bright white right after molting. I think they darken in color pretty quickly afterwards because I rarely see light colored mealworms in the farm and I’m pretty sure they molt regularly.

Cahlen Lee

Waterproof Yurt Roof from Used Billboard Vinyl

The long wet Winter is on the horizon, and I needed to waterproof the Yurt’s roof to prevent moisture from seeping inside and mold from growing on the cloth. I purchased some cheap Billboard Vinyl which was once on one of those big advertisements you see on the side of the road, and cut it in a big circle to serve as my new waterproof roof. It’s working great so far!

Cahlen Lee

Fixing the Yurt’s Leaky Roof

When the first rains came this year, I noticed that a single specific location in the Yurt was leaking: The Stove Jack! Upon further inspection I discovered that the water was seeping in through a strap that extended both outside and inside.

I decided to try sealing with some old tree sap we have lying around, but that was too brittle once it cooled. Instead I used a Turpentine, Beeswax and Coconut Oil mixture, and it worked perfectly!

Cahlen Lee

Keeping the Yurt Warm with Bubble Insulation

Last Winter the Mongolian Ger I was living in was insulated with a thick layer of wool which worked very well as long as the fireplace was actively burning wood. Now that I’m in a simpler and lighter Yurt which didn’t come with its own insulation, I needed to find a way to trap heat inside, ideally with a material that is light and compact so that the Yurt remains easily movable.

I settled on what is essentially Bubble Wrap surrounded on either side by Aluminum Foil: http://geni.us/EcoFoil

This stuff works primarily by reflecting any radiant heat that comes in contact with the aluminum. My makeshift propane stove heats up several firebricks which radiate heat into the yurt, and that heat is bounced around inside the yurt rather than leaking through the porous cotton fabric which was the only thing there before.

It was really easy to install along the walls by sliding pieces I cut between the cotton cloth exterior and the wooden supports inside. It feels like the Yurt was designed to make this as simple as it could possible be! I thought the ceiling was going to be a challenge due to the non-rectangular angles, but discovered that it worked perfectly if I cut a diagonal line down each rectangle of insulation.

So far it’s working out beautifully! I am easily able to get temperatures 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the temperature outside. I’ve been able to keep it in the 70s in here when the temperature outside is nearing freezing!

I’m really looking forward to the challenge of temperatures dropping another 20 degrees in the Winter. I’ll provide updates on how well the insulation is working once it’s starts getting really chilly.

Cahlen Lee

Lithium Battery Pack for the Solar Yurt

Now that I’m living completely off-grid in my new yurt, it’s time to focus on getting my Solar Power situation setup by creating a Lithium Battery Pack.  I wanted to avoid Lead Acid Batteries because they’re heavy and toxic.  I used the kit sold by vruzend.com which I highly recommend for simplicity’s sake.

This video walks you through the entire process, and explains some of the electrical concepts involved.

Cahlen Lee

The New Yurt’s Interior

In the last video I unboxed and put up my new yurt from the folks over at campingyurts.com, and since then I’ve had some time to experiment with the layout of the interior.  I love circular shape of the structure because it allows for a lot of things to line the perimeter while still leaving plenty of living space in the center.  Also, I’m officially off-grid now because I no longer have access to electricity besides solar.

Watch as I give you a tour of the 12-foot diameter yurt, showing the sweet rug I found on Craistlist, how I use the back seats of my Toyota 4Runner as a makeshift couch, and much more!

Cahlen Lee

The New Yurt Arrives

After spending many months renting and living in a Mongolian Ger, I decided that I wanted to commit to the minimalist off-grid lifestyle and purchase one of my own.

After a lot of research I decided to go with a 12-foot diameter yurt made by the folks over at campingyurts.com because they’re lightweight and easy to put up and take down.  I hope you enjoy watching the unboxing and my first attempt at putting a yurt together!

Cahlen Lee