Monday, December 5, 2011

Solar Parabolic Cooker Part 1: The Makening

(yes, I know "makening" isn't a word. But I couldn't resist)

I have always been fascinated by solar energy. So one day I was browsing around Solar's website, and when I took a look at my scrap pile, I realized that I had enough to make a very nice solar parabolic cooker.

The plan I chose was the 12 sided Parvati cooker because I love parabolic dishes.
I converted the measurements into metric and doubled all of them. Then I cut out the template from some cardboard.
After weighing the pros and cons of cardboard, I decided to build the cooker out of foil covered 1.2mm veneer plywood, of which I had a nice stash of. You could probably salvage some cheap veneer siding from houses that are going to be demolished. You don't need to go and buy it.
So, I traced the shapes onto the plywood and cut them out with a utility knife. Since I was using plywood which won't bend so well, I cut out each segment. It took a few passes, but it was a clean cut.
After cutting out all the pieces, I had 12 each of the large, medium, and small.
I thinned out some regular woodglue with water and brushed it onto the pieces and covered them with aluminum foil.
The outer panels ready for foil

Joining the middle panels with black fabric tape
After they dried for a few days, I began to piece them together with fabric tape.

The curve took shape as I joined them together.
After joining, the first part of the parabola took shape
Then I attached the largest pieces one at a time. When the final piece was completed, it was much sturdier.
Last, I cut a disk of plywood the size of the base, covered the center with foil, and glued it to the bottom. Now it was quite sturdy.

And then I waited for sun. And waited, and am still waiting. Stay tuned for part 2- "The Testening" and part 3, "The Cookening."

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