Launch Tubes

Launch Tubes

You may remember our space journey of 2009 when we used our wood fired rocket to launch our tiny cottage up into outer space, around the moon and all the way to Mars. There was a bit of a problem with refueling on Mars as the forests are not as mature there. So in the interest of saving on wood we’ve been working on improving the efficiency of our thrust burners through miniaturization. The photo above shows the latest version. With this small amount of wood we’ll be able to do what used to take millions of cords. Gal Ore should be proud!

But seriously, a visitor might ask, what are those black tubes!?! Strange they look. Mysterious yet simple. And the answer? They are passive solar powered boot driers with no moving parts! Cool, huh! I designed these years ago and have always wanted to build them but it wasn’t until this fall that we got around to it. Actually, Will is the one who built them from my plans.

Move your cursor over the photo to see how they work. In essence, the sun shines on the dark tubes warming the air inside. The air expands reducing its relative humidity causing it to dry and flow up through the boots. This removes the moisture from inside the boots. Now when we put the boots on they’re nice and dry! This is called a solar chimney. Theoretically this would work even at night, powered by the Moon. I’ve not measured how effective Lunar power is, yet.

Note that the animation (2 frames) takes a moment to load (17KB) and requires JavaScript. If it doesn’t work for you, just click on the image to see the boots drying. Even better than watching paint dry!

Outdoors: 46°F/33°F First Real Snow, insignificant amount – merely annoying
Tiny Cottage: 72°F/65°F First Fire – dry out those winter work suits!

Daily Spark: “If you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he’ll eat you last.”-President Ronald Reagan 1912 – 2004

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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16 Responses to Launch Tubes

  1. Trey Jackson says:

    So… the question is, why the two white tubes? A control for your experiment?

  2. Nance says:

    okay. love it! and understand the concept. But what is the purpose of the two white pipes? you expecting company?

  3. mellifera says:


  4. Dave says:

    Try a green tube as well Walter, the most photoactive colour (the plants in nature know something).

  5. David Lloyd Sutton says:

    Try painting the surface behind half of the blackened tubes a glaring white? Reflected rays!!

  6. mellifera says:

    Nah, green won’t be any better than black. Dirty little secret- photosynthesis is efficient, but not exceptionally so. Evolution doesn’t make things perfect, it just makes ’em good enough.

    “Green” doesn’t absorb any more light than black– plants look green because they absorb red and blue wavelengths (those are the wavelengths their e- transport chains are adapted to handle) and bounce green back– having color is a symptom of not absorbing all incoming light. Black looks black because it doesn’t bounce any light back.

    Party pooped! *giggle*

  7. Lorie says:

    Love this idea! but love the animated photo even more!!

    I have moved my cursor back and forth over the photo about 40 times! It makes me giggle every time.

    Thanks for sharing this Walter!

  8. Sal says:

    Someone’s are missing…. only 4 pair!

  9. Adam Stevens says:

    Our back door is in full shade year round…. Bummer… But I bet I could simply tie the pipes together with T fittings, and run a pipe into the house, with a small PC cooling fan, I bet my boots would be toasty warm!

  10. Jeff Marchand says:

    Great idea! guess what I am building this weekend!On a sunny day do your boots get nice and toasty warm as if they had been by the fire?

  11. Janice says:

    I absolutely love your sense of inventivity! You ever so much remind me of the dad in the movie ChitiChitiBangBang. Craticus Potts. You create such wonderful things and such a great life for your family! Keep it up and keep inventing!

  12. irma says:

    my dads friend gave him a wooden box with a couple pvc pipes coming out of it. He said it is a boot dryer that you put over the heat vent. Course that only works for people with forced air furnaces not wood stoves, still a neat idea.

  13. Sean Govan says:

    So how much of a difference did the different colors make?

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