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Demotech News

News Sat Feb 10 (2007) -- Fri Apr 22 (2016)
News Tue Jan 25 (2005) -- Mon Sep 25 (2006)

New buttons: 'D-Info' and 'D-Research'

Tue Jan 25 (2005)

Feedback from the Frankenstraat indicated confusion about function and accessibility of the Wiki pages. This we did about it: the button D-Info leads to the well know home page with the pump animation. From here there is access to all the more or less established information. This information is directed at visitors and hopefully it is of help for them.
There also is a button 'D-Research'. This button leads to the Wiki home page. At this place it is explained how Wiki works for Demotech. You can click through to the designs we are active with at this moment. We made a template for the information that is gathered in our ongoing research. We also set out further plans we have, all the links discovered, the ongoing experiments and last but not least the urgent questions that should be answered.
D-Research is the place where students during their internship write down their findings. Everything is open for outsiders. And we hope some will join in and give support.
Remember: Wiki and D-Research is Open Source in action!

Davina's stove

Tue Jan 04 (2005)

Big surprise! Davina does not use her stove! It is pretty cold in her room. She could use something to warm her up. But this BrickStove is just to slow for her direct needs. She gets up, has no time before rushing of to work AND to fire her stove AND to wait for the heat to work itself though the stone mass. Same story when she comes home from work. She would love to warm her room, but again it takes too much time.
At present there are not enough pallets to burn. We are waiting for a new load. Firing her stove twice a day would probably keep her room warm all day -and night. When the wooden pallets arrive this has to be tried out.
Below are shown a series of pictures of the building of the stove.
Lowest tunnel, set up
Lowest tunnel, roof
Inside lowest tunnel
Start middle tunnel
Shaft to top space
Sheet metal on top
Brick layers as ballast
Dry mud with small fire
Davina's first firing
Pipe through window

Warming up for the winter

Wed Nov 24 (2004)

Landbouwbelang has no chimney. I have no idea how the hundred former workers of this factory kept warm amidst the cold concrete pillars and floors of this factory. My seven house-mates each have solved this problem in their own way, always with a most personal chimney sticking out of a window of their apartment.
Now it was my turn to outsmart the cold. Of course I claimed that the BrickStove would be most ideal for a squat like Landbouwbelang. Davina was the only person to express some trust in my proposal. As her iron wood burning stove had proven to be incapable to heat her room last winter, she has high hopes the BrickStove would do better.
By happy coincidence just at this time Mickenhans contacted me, as he wanted to learn how to built the BrickStove. So Mickenhans and I ended up together building a BrickStove for Davina.
Basically it is the same model that functioned well for many years in the old workshop in Dieren. It has a tunnel that is filled with wooden sticks at the bottom. This tunnel is closed at the far end, so the fire has to burn the wood from the front. The hot gasses then flow up to the second horizontal tunnel on top of the first. From there they escape in a larger chamber in the top part of the stove and transfer heat into the concrete blocks of the walls. A chimney pipe, with its entrance near the bottom of this chamber is the escape for the exhaust gasses, that by now are cooled down to a 80 degrees Celsius.
The other end of the chimney pipe sticks out of her window in a crooked fashion with a funny little cap at the end. As the other house-mates have experienced, this works well, but for only a few days each year. Then the wind will blow the smoke into the rooms at that side of the building. So they decide not to install the forced draft, that is important for the latest version of the BrickStove.
The pictures below show Mickenhans at work with Davina's stove. He was quiet content with the result. Once we had mastered to cut the bricks with a diamond disk at an accurate 60 degrees, glueing the bricks together with mud proved to be easy and effective.

The fit of bricks

Mud as glue

End of channel 2

Inside channel 1

DemotechWiki invites YOU (again)!

Wed Nov 24 (2004)

Some time ago again, that I wrote the first Wiki-invitation in the 'News' of July 7th. Who came? Plenty people, but let me name for now just two students, Jos van de Ent and Joost van der Bulk from the Delft 'InHolland' University. They were the first students to do an internship in Demotech's new workshop in Maastricht.
Jos and Joost took Wiki serious. They published their research in the Demotech Wiki pages. While their work progressed, we searched at the same time for a format in which this kind of research by Demotech could best be covered.
So their work had two distinct results. One was giving shape to the concept of 'Solar Sanitation'. Look at the Wiki part of the BathroomBox for the results.
The format for reporting in Wiki is the second result of their stay at Demotech/Landbouwbelang in Maastricht. I expect this format will assist potential future members of the Student Research Team. The format offers a clear guideline, to get started will take less time. More time will remain for actual experiments, always the most inspiring part of research (see pictures below).

Algae pond closed

Inspecting algae

Checking water temperature

A third result should be named here as well. The 'environment' of Landbouwbelang, with its total lack of comfort in the huge concrete spaces in the abandoned factory with this name, has one unique advantage! It is one of the bases of Maasticht's subculture. As such it is a great meeting place of progressive young people. During their stay at Landbouwbelang, Jos and Joost enjoyed it to mix with this crowd.

DemotechWiki invites YOU !

Wed Jul 07 (2004)

I take interactivity dead serious, but am not glad with the results so far. Too few people have contributed up to now, notwithstanding all the invitations to do so. I realize the number of daily visitors is still too small to expect much in that respect.
Right now there are about 140 visitors each day and maybe only a quarter of them has a deeper interest in the issues Demotech works on.
But we prepare for better times! Today Marc van der Kamp, Demotech's webmaster, has installed a Wiki in each record. When you scroll down the page of say 'Sustainable Building and Living' you 'll find the blue introduction header of the Wiki for that page. Under this blue header you'll find also the blue header of the Forum paragraph.
The Wiki header invites you to participate in the Wiki-way. That Wiki-way is special and if you are not used to it, please take time to find out how it works. Wiki gives you the full opportunity to raise the quality of the presented information. You can add to it, correct it, add pictures, improve spelling and grammar. And you can add new pages that will link to this first Wiki page. Click the Wiki-FAQ in the left hand frame for all the info you need for editing.
In next couple of weeks DemotechWiki will replace the Forum function under each design. The Forum function will remain available, but only as one single separate page. The valuable contributions in the Forum pages so far will be edited to become the core of the first Wiki page in each design page.

Not the latest news

Sat Jun 12 (2004)

Our Demotech website offers a window for a search within the site. By typing into that window what you are looking for, you get the best possible result (if any!). However it proved not to be easy to write a proper search script, that selects 'hits' of the right kind and in the right follow-up.
Now it seems possible to leave this task to the search machine of Google.
Marc, Demotech's web master, just showed me how it works to search for some item in the Demotech website, using Google:

  • Go to
  • Type in the search window: winddrive
    (Note no spaces in but a space between and or any other string of search words).
  • Type and be amazed by the many hits that Google selects.
    The search done by Google is more extensive than what the same procedure delivers with Yahoo. When searching for 'WindDrive', Google produces eleven hits, Yahoo only two. Demotech's own search on Winddrive produced three hits. Searching for 'democamp' Google finds 29 hits, Demotech finds 11 hits, Yahoo only two.
    Marc told me that he considered to make Google available for searching, next to our own search machine for searches within the Demotech site. The Demotech search will have one advantage over Google: Google's search is not up to date, it regards a Demotech site of three weeks ago, while Demotech's search will give you the latest results.


    Wed Apr 28 (2004)

    Tomorrow, wednesday, I'll participate in a TV show. A lady has invited five inventors, including me, and wants them to talk about their craft. Does the innovative work that Demotech's design initiatives ask for, make me an inventor?
    If yes, then I do something wrong. By now I know what creates new ideas, what roads of development lead to quality. It could be -but should not be- a one man thing. It should be a ongoing process with spurs of creativity among a group working towards a target in a friendly fashion.
    I feel the way Tom and I worked on the making of parts for the BathroomToilet-unit illustrates this. Both of us work on it from the perspective of offering it soon to people somewhere in the rural areas of Kenya. The work is about people, not about a thing. The work was innovative, it created a service, not an invention.

    Copy shape with dirt

    Turn over

    Prepare cast

    Decoration added

    Nice result

    New mold for the BathroomToilet-unit

    Sat Apr 17 (2004)

    Good result today with the new method for making imprints in moist dirt. These imprints are made with the also renewed version of the mold for the big slabs (see info). This new system uses four different parts: the two decorated slabs, a removable cover for each slab, a gutter. into which the two Bathroom floor slabs drain and three thin concrete separating slabs. These three separators are kept in a vertical position at some distance by masoned walls in between, thus making two separated cellars. The middle separator carries the gutter. the outer separators carry the outer edge of the bathroom floor slabs.
    The removable cover is part of the bathroom floor slab. It can be taken out to empty the cellar when its content has been left to compost for about half a year. Extensive experience in Vietnam indicates this composting system works well and produces safe compost.

    I hope to use this new system in a pilot guided by HSHC in Nairobi within a month from now. In that same time span a lot more work has to be finished as well as a start has to be made with the use of the new workshop in Maastricht.
    Today I got assistance from Tom Groenveld, student forestry at Larenstein. Tom plans to make a study trip to Kenya this summer and most probably he will contact HSHC in Nairobi. He wanted to be instructed in the use of the mold to make imprints in the dirt. The pictures show: 1) preparing the site, 2) filling and compacting the mold with wet soil, 3) turning over the filled mold, 4) compacting an dirt ridge around the mold, 5) lifting the mold carefully off and finally looking happily at the accurate copy thus achieved.

    Lifting off the mold

    Going Wiki

    Wed Jan 14 (2004)

    It has taken me quite a time to understand the potential of the Wiki-way to construct knowledge. I should be ashamed, as Wiki offers much of what I and what Demotech is looking for: initiating, sharing and upgrading information. Wiki is a tool. It is a web-tool. It is a tool for assisting people to collaborate on certain issues on the web. Such an issue could be the creation of an all compassing encyclopedia or another, more recent example, the better use of solar energy and thousands of other subjects of interest to some group somewhere.
    It has taken me some time to understand Wiki and I thank Marc van der Kamp and Bart van der Vegt who kept on showing me its value and how to use it.
    So now there is also a DemotechWiki.
    As yet it is unclear how this will develop. It could become less Demotech and more a part of a greater Wiki on poverty alleviation or on technology in support of the environment. Now we just have to copy the content of the Demotech website into the DemotechWiki. As a start of the shared collaboration we seek, I invited Leonora to continue the work we did together last summer on "what Demotech is about" in this new Wiki mode. And of course she and I should actively invite people around to participate in this subject. So you too, present reader, are invited to join in at 'The craft of design'.

    New interns, new ideas!

    Fri Jan 09 (2004)

    When Leonora gave her presentation to an audience of her design school about her internship at Demotech, one her listeners was student Anna Hillman. Anna let herself be informed by Leonora of what she could expect at Demotech and decided to contact me. Could she come for her outplacement and bring her friend design student Clare Cunningham?
    This picture of Leonora, Anna and Clare was taken yesterday at Demotech. Good to see how a continuation can grow in the flow of work and ideas, both energized by the potential design has for solving problems on poverty and the environment.
    Bram the Vries, with a technical background, but now studying antropology at Utrecht, was not content with the roller I planned to use in the new rope pump set-up.

    Leonora, Anna and Clare

    Roller to be tested

    Redesign of this roller made good use of prior experiments when a tensioner roller.
    Hans Baarslag and I made such a roller as is shown in the second picture. It seemed to fulfill its tasks and shall be put it to test.

    News Tue Dec 16 (2003) -- Wed Aug 27 (2003)
    News Thu Aug 14 (2003) -- Tue Jun 03 (2003)
    News Thu May 22 (2003) -- Mon Mar 17 (2003)
    News Mon Mar 17 (2003) -- Wed Dec 04 (2002)
    News Thu Nov 28 (2002) -- Mon Oct 21 (2002)
    News Fri Oct 11 (2002) -- Tue Aug 27 (2002)
    News Tue Aug 27 (2002) -- Mon Jul 01 (2002)