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Anyone want to do peer review? Open source product devellopment Answered

I made the pulser pump 20 years ago.
(A low tech trompe airlfit pump combination to use low grade water power.
It never attracted scientific research funding and never got tested because it is simple and doesn't produce electiricity.
I put up an instructable about how to make a model but nobody has made one.
Last year I made the "mechanical mathematician" which is a new simple device to allow people to make moulds for parabolic dishes from cob or mud.
The same constraints apply and official science will never check it out.
This year, there is the tracking solar accumulator, the clock based dripper tracker and the 2 bucket dripper tracker. (Guess I am on a bit of a roll because I needed solutions to make the solar tracking accumulating barbecue a reality.)
Official science will not be interested in this either.
It is all very low tech stuff. Cheap simple trackers have been identified by solarcooking.org as an important part of getting solar cooking widely introduced.
The clock based tracker especially could change things a whole lot for many people. It can be cheap and accurate enough to provide all day semi-automatic solar cooking.
I have adapted a few clocks for this but there are probably many models on the market and you might find the ideal one or a better way of adapting one to help make better trackers for solar cookers.
It takes years for new (even appropriate technology) to be introduced.
Please help these things get introduced much faster by making some of them yourselves.
And if you already have made some, please post them! Do not be afraid of doing a bad job. Places like the full belly group would be good to post your stuff or video or text responses to my utube videos.
I will happily take down my instructables if someone posts better versions!
I have made all these things but my versions were just demo's to show what could be done. There are no patents on any of them.
Please join in.
Brian White


When you say "it never attracted scientific research funding and never got tested", who exactly did you ask? When did you ask - the general attitude to "green" projects is changing all the time.

Your pump looks very interesting, but maybe the reason it didn't attract so much attention here is because you posted a video, rather than an actual Instructable, and the video includes sketches with unreadable labels?

I'm not sure your more imaginative uses (washing machine etc) would prove viable, but I think it could prove useful for irrigation (if you have a gulley or drain taking the water away from the top of the pump to a slightly-distant field), or for providing water for livestock in fields that are not next to the river.

I'm afraid that I, personally, cannot test your device (I don't have access to a river), but I am willing to offer independent ideas and advice to anybody else who wants to try this for themselves.

Some things potential builders will want to know about your existing installations:

  • Depth and speed of the river.
  • Diameter of inlet pipe.
  • Depth below river-bed of the chamber.
  • Size of the chamber, and position of inlet and outlet.
  • Diameter and length of outlet pipe.
  • Output flow of your existing models.

Anyhoo - good luck.
. And:
  • How to adjust the inlet so the proper amount of air is entrained.

If your input height is constant, you do not need anything to control air intake. It works automatically! But you can have a controller to either get more water through the pump (less efficient use of water but more energy produced) or to have cyclical use of water. (When there is not much water flow the controller allows the pump to start and stop automatically and work at an efficient rate when it IS going). Perhaps I could put a wiki about the pump somethere so it doesn't always have to be me writing the stuff?

. I think Patrik has the right idea. Your solution could be very valuable to those ppl whose lives would be greatly improved if they could pump even a small amount of water using (usually) readily available, renewable resources. The almost zero maintenance aspect of the contraption is a big plus. . > Perhaps I could put a wiki about the pump somethere . Your information is already scattered about the Internet - why add to the problem? As far as I can tell, you have posted most of the information on your current pages. It would be a big help to those wanting to investigate your ideas if you would consolidate everything into one site. Maybe you can find a fellow enthusiast who will help you rewrite some of the text. . Second only to the construction information, a forum will probably be your best resource. It will give experimenters a place to exchange info - what works, what doesn't, I get this much lift/flow with this configuration,

. It might help get the attention of the scientific community if you will find someone who will work out the physics/math of how your pump works. If you've done this, I didn't see it. . This would also be a tremendous help to anyone wanting to design a unit to do a specific job.

...scattered across the internet...

I didn't realise that. I would suggest focussing on one site (maybe a blog) as your gaiatech site. Don't delete the other locations, but add prominent links to bring them to your main site. You should be able to embed your YouTube videos in your site as you can here.

...so it doesn't always have to be me writing the stuff?

I'd avoid making any more comments in that tone if you want other people to help you - it sounds like you're getting fed up with your own ideas. If you are truly passionate about your ideas, the fact is that you are going to have to do most of the work to get it seen and used.

I asked who you had asked for funding, but you didn't answer. Does this mean you have just put your idea on the internet and waited for people to come to you with money?

Sorry, that will never happen - researchers and engineers do not spend their days hunting the web for ideas to check out and fund. You will have to go to them - prepare a presentation, make appointments and go and see people.

As Patrik said, change your target audience from scientists to engineers - you don't need to find out if it works, you just need to make it work better and find more applications.

My first thought as a receptive audience would be somebody like The Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales (you are in the UK, aren't you?)

I am in Canada. I was not seeking funding for me. I am not qualified to research low head airlift, or low pressure trompes. (The pulser pump is a combination of the 2). I have presented it to a host of different alternative energy organizations over the years. I recently asked wikipedia to verify and improve their definition of trompe. (They will not enter pulser pump) Anyway, after a bit of verbal fighting, someone did verify it. (I wrote the trompe definition on wikipedia about a year ago but it didn't have references) and I didn't have access to them so it had this huge "no references" doubt written over it for all this time! Trompe references in any book are very rare nowadays. I am indeed totally fed up with the pulser pump. Why hide it? A physics lecturer in Carlow, Ireland did try to secure funding to research it 15 years ago but didn't get any. Norman Mcmillan, He is english, I think, and he had a good reputation. (He coached a couple of kids who won the young scientist of the year award back in the 1980's in Ireland). Research funding goes to the exciting new stuff not to new or rejigged ways of using old stuff. I have not found alternative energy centres to be receptive at all. Brian

Where abouts are you in Canada (( No I don't want your street address just a local area like Edmonton Alberta ? )) I can more then likely find a stream to play in by me, and have you considered agricultural uses for it right here at home, there are some pretty inventive farmers who seem to have all the time in the world to tinker with things like this, and some thing like your pump could be used for watering animals, lots of farmers are going in Solar watering systems, which can be huge money and some are huge maintance (( Yes a cow will break it if they can break it and some weighing in at 1200 Lbs they can break small solar panels with out trying ))

It sounds like you need to walk away from this for a while, give yourself some time with other projects, or even no projects.

CAT, though, isn't an energy centre, it deals with all kinds of alternative technologies, which is why I suggested it.

Thanks for trying, I was to CAT in Wales way back then and they were not interested. I am done with the pump and I have no stream to play in. But I am sure it can give easier lives to thousands of people. So my info is available to them and to my peers via the internet. I got an email from Austria today. An ngo wants to do the tracking solar accumulator in asia somewhere. They want figures and performance data! I don't even have sun this summer! and I only made the thing in April! I put that stuff on utube for a reason, eh? So that other people in sunny climates who are not away at work for 10 or 12 hours a day, can make their own. Someone at a CAT in a sunny country could do it. And there have all those university courses about appropriate technology now too! And the alternative lifers who live in cob houses in ecovillages! There is a limit to what I can do in my backyard on the weekends. If instructable devotees do not do anything, real scientists or engineers or students have to get involved. Thats not going to happen!

I put that stuff on utube for a reason, eh?

But the people who need you stuff can't get youtube - that's why you have to sell it to organisations that go out there.

email, email, email - Oxfam, VSO, the Peace Corps, Comic Relief, anybody that goes out there.

I have done that over the years. But please put yourself in their position. They cannot be seen to waste money on something that is untried. It is fine for me to do something and say that it works. Someone else might try it and fail because i forgot some or other instruction. Thats why peer review is essential. I am using linux right now. When the first guy writes code, someone else checks it and then tweaks it to make it better. I wish to see this with appropriate technology stuff. My next one is a bank of mirrors on flat roofs of apartment buildings.. The central power tower type solar project built smaller for water, air heating and solar electric. After my experiences over the last year, I am convinced that a little group of open minded low tech enthusiasts could make the bank of mirrors track the sun with the aid of a few guide wires or cams. But before it can happen the principle of peer review has to be put into practice. All i get is "golly, gee thats great" or "Your are making a semicircle not a parabola" (when I am making a 3 dimensional thing). The only response that will make these things happen is for people to get off their computers for a few hours and make their own versions. I have sent thousands of emails. The only useful ones are the 2 or 3 a week that i get asking me specific questions about one or other device. Brian

I do get emails about such stuff and I clarify when people ask specific questions. Generally
I have a website about the pump too
with quite a bit of info
and a yahoo group.
with info in the files and photos section.
I rarely change either
The pulser pump is such a broad subject that it is impossible for me to offer more than generalized advice unless specifics are quoted.
Please do not forget the solar trackers! It might be easier for people to make a good clock tracker than make a pulser pump.


10 years ago

Have you considered that the reason why this kind of work hasn't "attracted scientific research funding" is because it's not really "science"?

It is a really cool piece of engineering, that could make a big difference in third world countries, but it sounds like you may not be pitching it at the right audience. Rather than aiming for scientific research funding, you should probably get in touch with some non-profit organizations whose mission it is to bring such low-tech technologies to third world countries.

There are a number of successful examples of this, and perhaps you might be able to learn from the approach they've taken in bringing their ideas to reality. Here on Instructables, there's the Universal Nut Sheller, for example. There have also been a series of simple but highly efficient cooking stove designs over the past couple of years, that could have a significant impact on deforestation for cooking fuel.

Somebody came up with these ideas at some point - how did they go about getting these ideas to the people that need them most?

The dripper tracker is at solarcooking.org but still peer review helps a lot! The end users may not have any scientific training whatsoever but many of you guys have better scientific training than I have. So with a little effort, people could evaluate clocks for this, design better ways to attach the gear to it (and quickly turn out a top notch tracker for devellopment world use). It might seem like passing the buck, but if I pass it to you and you improve the book thats better for everybody, right?

I think Patrik has it right- this is not a science problem, as you are not demonstrating any new principles- creating a new device to perform a task is more of an engineering task.

The main problem with the water pump video (which I just went back to see) is your presentation. Your voiceover clearly isn't tightly scripted, so it tends to wander over a number of different topics (how the pump works, what it is made of, how it could be improved, how it could be used...) which will presumably put people off it. Personally I prefer to know the principles behind how something works than an exact list of parts and measurements to make one, because then if you don't have one specific part then you can't make it, but if you want people to build one of your pumps you have to supply a detailed list of at the very least the pipe diameters and lengths, and the fittings required to build one. Ideally you would give a complete list of all parts and dimensions, along with a structured explanation of how the device works, so if people want to tweak the design they will know how to do it. THis is why the Instructable format is the most popular with people who want to reproduce a design- it usually gives the materials, steps in construction, plenty of images and.. well, instructions, rather than just an overview of how the device works.

The dripper tracker is a little better because you describe in sufficient detail how it works for someone to build one, and it seems to be quite a clever idea, but ultimately it is moderately involved to build. Devices for what I will put under the broad heading of "third world quality of life applications" (solar cookers, low-maintenance water pumps etc), if they are to be produced in volume and distributed, have to be robust, very simple to produce and distribute, use cheap and readily available materials- it's not sufficient to just demonstrate the principle unless it is completely revolutionary and people will fall over themselves to produce your idea. That, sadly, is the engineering challenge.

The mechanical mathematician I'm not sure about- the construction is clearly very simple but I'm not convinced it creates parabolas at all. Surely if the end of the slider bar is constrained by a single length of string from a fixed point it will create a circle centred on that point? If I've misunderstood then feel free to correct me on this point, but without any video of the thing working I can't be sure, as from a mathematical point of view I don't know any way to create a parabola with a single distance constraint.

http://home.germany.net/100-441770/amsi-model.html is the setsquare method for drawing a parabola. I modified this method to make the mathematician.
I think that to help people long term, they need to be able to make their own solar cookers and they need tracking intigrated.
The principle of the mathematician could be written in any newspaper in the world. The little black boxes for timers are probably cheap and mechanical versions are probably available.
Poor countrys contain rich and poor. We just have to design appropriate technology that uses less resourses than we use in production. Using a mechanical mathematician to make a mould is a start.
Alternatively parabolic domes could be put in village squares, and people could make their dishes on top of the domes using cardboard (or other material) and a penknife and some sort of glue.
There are lots of ideas. We are just a bit lazy about trying them (I am anyway).

Well there's no need to have an automatic clock you set every day, how about monthly? There are special clock units on refridgerated shipping containers that run for thirty days, they count minutes, days and hours, they tick seconds but I doubt they output them... That would make the system easier... I like clockwork as a source of power for the tracker, a clockwork mechanism would actually be more powerful than an electric at moving the item and can be set up with a stop mechanism, for example you could put a solar roast on and set the alarm fro the done time, the alarm is used to somehow disengage the oven, by letting the dish drop down or something...

The item I am moving is a little rubber tube (not the solar cooker). I am reusing an ordinary electric clock as the timer because they are so readily available and cheap. The power is supplied by filling a 5 gallon bucket of water every day (not by the clock). If you use a clockwork to directly move the solar cooker it must be high quality (expensive) because it will be subjected to big wind stresses.

Oh I thought your mechanism was using a water bearing, misread a little, however these beasties would probably allow for such a contraption, they run a big wheel similar to a tachometer, this is plotted on with time by a scribe like device, from what I could tell...