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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    New York City
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    3,401

    Post

    I think that everyone is getting all worried
    about the box design, and not paying enough
    attention to the sun.

    "You have to think outside the box!" [img]smile.gif[/img]
    (Boos, catcalls, and hisses from all corners)

    I'll bet serious money that East Texas Pine Rooter
    has his melter at an fairly steep angle facing
    south. It's June, and he's pretty far south, so
    he needs to have his melter almost horizontal.
    (I'll explain, give me a second.)

    Get a flashlight, and shine it on the
    wall. Vary the angle between the flashlight and
    the wall. Notice that when the flashlight
    is at a 90-degree angle to the wall, you
    get a much brighter circle than if it is at
    any other angle. Clearly, the beam is "more intense"
    when the wall is 90 degrees from the beam.

    Now, think about the sun. The angle of the
    arc of its apparent motion in the sky changes
    with the seasons. It gets "higher in the sky"
    in summer. Palestine, Tx is at 31.75 degrees
    latitude (which we can round off to 30 to keep
    the numbers simple), so you'd want the angle of
    the glass as compared to a horizontal surface to be:

    For 30 Degrees Latitude:
    =======================
    Month.......Angle
    ---------...-----
    June..........5 degrees
    May/Jul........10 degrees
    Apr/Aug.......20
    Mar/Sep.......30
    Feb/Oct.......40
    Jan/Nov.......50
    Dec.............55

    You also have to point the melter so
    that it is aligned with "solar south/polar
    north" rather than magnetic north/south, taking
    into account your local declination as found on
    topo maps.

    Don't worry about the math, just print out the
    chart found here:
    http://bee-quick.com/reprints/sunny.pdf ,
    chop off the bottom according to your latitude
    as instructed, and label the vertical axis
    starting at the bottom so that each solid line
    crossing the page is 5 degrees (5, 10, 15, 20...)
    more than the one before.

    Then just take the "solar noon" elevation for
    each month (the highest point), and subtract it
    from 90 to get the angle that your glass should
    be above a horizontal line as found with a level.

    (The article also discusses how to find your
    declination, to get the melter facing "true
    solar south".)

    Any melter will work much better if it is
    angled properly, and angling the thing is
    going to make more improvement in efficiency
    than fiddling around with "design".

    Palestine is far enough south that the melter
    has to actually slant towards the NORTH in June,
    when the sun is highest in the sky.
    For locations 35 degrees latitude or greater,
    the slant will always be towards the South.

    ... and for folks south of the equator, the
    melter has to face North rather than South -
    ("polar north", the direction of the North Star).

    Try it, you'll like it. Its not hard, the
    guys who built Stonehenge figured it out,
    and they had to count on their fingers.

  2. #22

    Post

    This is off topic but the I don't agree. The maximum declination of the sun is 23 degrees, 26 and some tenths minutes north on or about 21 June and 23 degrees, 26 and some tenths minutes south on or about 21 December. If your in north latitude and at a latitude that is greater than the declination of the sun, when the sun is on your meridian (local apparant noon, LAN) then your looking south to see it.

    I think your trying to melt old brood comb. Probably need to melt the wax out in a water bath with the comb contained in burlap or the like.

    Pete0

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    1,649

    Post

    Jim's explanation is WAY over complicated. It is only necessary to set it out in the sun where the sun shines into the glass. You don't need to track the sun or find it's azimuth, etc., etc....
    Mine works just fine up here in Anchorage set out in my driveway. Certainly the sun needs to shine into it, but there's no need to get carried away with all that complicated stargazing nonsense. All that is required is glance up and see where the sun is, and then you orient your melter so the sun shines into it or reasonably close.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Jonquière, Quebec (ABOVE 48th parallel North!!)
    Posts
    150

    Post

    Is it possible to use plexiglass instead of glass ?

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    1,649

    Post

    Plexiglass, Lexan, and other clear plastics will work, but they have a tendency, or at least some do, to warp or sag. My cover measures about 24 x 32 inches. That's quite a space for unsupported plastic that sits out in the hot sun. When I built the melter I used two sheets spaced about 3/8 to 1/2 inch apart. The lower sheet of plastic (I think it was Lexan, but am not certain) started to sag. So, I took the cover apart and nailed in a 3/4 inch strip of wood between the two pieces of plastic. The plastic was attached to the strip with 5/8 inch brads very carefully nailed through pilot holes drilled into the plastic. Since then the lower piece of plastic has sagged a tiny amount on both sides of the support strip. It isn't real bad, but if I make another, I'll go with glass.

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    3,401

    Post

    > I don't agree. The maximum declination of the sun
    > is 23 degrees...

    Sorry, that's what I get for trying to math in
    my head before I've finished my first cup of
    coffee. I was 10 degrees high on all the angles.
    (Too many years of sailing around the Islands
    between Florida and Puerto Rico all the time.)

    I went back and fixed it. Thanks.

    > Jim's explanation is WAY over complicated...

    ...and your Lexan sags. So there! [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Try it, and you'll melt more comb faster
    than you ever have before. Adjusting the tilt
    once a month is easy.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    West Harrison, NY, USA
    Posts
    261

    Post

    About paiting the melter:

    The color has nothing to do with heat absorption!! Remember that light is pretty cold at all colors from reddish-orange towards UV (going through yellow, green and blue). Infrared (IR) is the "hot color". This is why firemen use infrared sensors (and not red or yellow or UV) to check for lingering fires behind walls. This is also how snakes track their prey (IR sensors). I have done the experiment of testing temperature changes in containers build for this purpose by people who study temperature sensing by rodents and the like. The containers were identical and painted either black or white. THERE WAS ZERO difference.
    Reflection is the problem and so, painting with satin or other shiny paints can affect the absorption of heat. Best is not to paint at all. I painted mine dark because I though the styrofoam mine is coated inside with all around is a bit too shiny. Otherwise there is no need.

    My 2 cents.

    PS. I also agree that tracking the sun is good if you want to build a solar powerplant or power your house with it, but not for melting wax (unless it it's fall already and you want the maximum you can get from the sun).

    Jorge

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    1,649

    Post

    ...and your Lexan sags. So there!

    Would I have prevented it from sagging if I'd gone spent my time going through all that stuff you wrote setting up my melter? [img]tongue.gif[/img]

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    West Newton, Pa.
    Posts
    915

    Post

    > The color has nothing to do with heat absorption...

    Color has everything to do with heat absorption. If not then hot water solar panels mounted on the roof of a house would be painted any color at all. In fact they are painted flat black since black absorbs more solar energy than any other color and by making the color flat (versus shiny) less energy is reflected off of the panels. Since lighter colors reflect more light than the dark colors, then the flip side of that is that the darker colors therefor have to absorb more light than the lighter colors, and what is light if not radiated energy. The more energy absorbed by an object, the higher it's temperature is going to be.

    >Infrared is the "hot color". This is why firemen use infrared sensors (and not red or yellow or UV) to check for lingering fires behind walls....

    Firemen us IR sensors to check for hot spots in walls simply because the human eye cannot see in the infrared range and needs help to detect any radiation in that area of the spectrum. And that is what they are looking for, the energy radiation given off by the hidden fire or by an unconcious person laying in the room.
    Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Taken!

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,320

    Post

    >In fact they are painted flat black since black absorbs more solar energy than any other color and by making the color flat (versus shiny) less energy is reflected off of the panels.

    Actually flat dark green absorbs more than flat black, but most homeowners find flat black more appealing and the difference in heat absorption is negligable.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #31
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    3,401

    Post

    At least no one has brought up "black body
    radiation" yet... (and no, it has nothing
    to do with a person of African-American
    origins who fell into a nuclear reactor!)

    Let's see... paint the thing black if you
    want the surface painted to absorb photons,
    and "get hotter to the touch", but paint it
    white if you want it to reflect photons,
    and heat the air within the sealed box more.

    ...but then the black surfaces will also
    radiate heat, thus heating the air in the
    sealed box...

    ...but the cappings and frames will cover
    any black-painted base...

    So, what do we WANT, hot air in the box,
    or hot surfaces in the box? I don't care,
    as long as wax gets melted somehow.

    To heck with it all, I'm designing a parabolic
    with a focus inside a sealed box. Even if
    I detune the heck out of the focal point,
    it should melt comb as fast as a microwave!

    The only problem is rigging it so that when
    the box is opened, the parabolic is thrown off
    focus so the beekeeper is not burned by the
    focused beam.

    Coming soon to a beekeeping supply house near
    you... the Fischer Alchemy "Liqui-Comb 2005",
    a melter so powerful, it doubles as a way
    to burn AFB-infected woodenware!

    (Welder's goggles and gloves not included)
    [Some assembly required]
    {Note - product may violate UN Weapons Treaties
    Check With Local Law Enforcement}

  12. #32
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Danbury,Ct. USA
    Posts
    1,966

    Post

    Some smart guy put all colors, on wafers, and measured how deeply they melted into snow. He was famous but I can't remember who. Einstein as a kid maybe.

    Dickm

  13. #33
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Guatemala
    Posts
    244

    Post

    " ...but then the black surfaces will also
    radiate heat, thus heating the air in the
    sealed box...

    ...but the cappings and frames will cover
    any black-painted base...

    So, what do we WANT, hot air in the box,
    or hot surfaces in the box? I don't care,
    as long as wax gets melted somehow."


    These are down to earth thoughts. I do beleive there to be several factors involved in a successful solar wax melter:
    1. Basic design to absorb heat and keep heat inside
    2. large surface area exposed to the sun as opposed to deep cavity
    3. amount of cappings or comb on the pan
    4. some arrangement to allow molten wax to flow instead of getting trapped by the bulk material
    5. common sense orientation to catch the most light
    6. mixing old, coccony combs with new stuff

    Back in 1980 I worked for Lahontan Valley Honey in Fallon, Nevada. We worked 1000+ hives. Had two solar melters with metal pans 46" x 52". Covers were two -layer plain plastic film(thick, mind you) The plain wooden box (no insulation) on which the metal pans sat was only 6 inches high. From what writings I have from those days, both melters handled very nicely all cappings we produced daily. True, old comb was handled separately.
    If anyone happens to know the Nygren family from Nevada, I´ll love to get in touch.

  14. #34
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Terrell
    Posts
    78

    Post

    I would like to know if any of the members have a design to point the solar wax melter to the sun, lattitude and longitude. I have heard about a design with four solar cells in a coffee can with the coffee can having a horizontal and a vertical devider. So there are four compartments each containing a solar cell. When the same amount of light falls on each solar cell is equal then the solar melter is pointed correctly. The device has two outputs, one for longitude correction and one for lattitude correction. The output will drive two steering motors.
    Any ideas.

  15. #35
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    3,401

    Post

    > point the solar wax melter to the sun

    A "dynamic tracker" would be a little complex
    for such a toy. The sun's path in the sky is
    very predictable.

    If you want to make such a beastie, sink a
    support post into the ground that points at
    the North Star (attaching a spotting scope
    from a telescope would be a big help in this)
    and then rig up a simple clock drive that
    rotates the melter around the post once
    every 24 hours. (Drive motors from old-school
    satellite TV dishes work great as actuators for
    this purpose, as they run off 12DC, put out
    a pulse for every x millimeters moved, and are
    designed to work in exposed locations.)

    Then, figure out the angles for sunrise and sunset
    on June 21, and put a micro switch to "rewind" the
    mechanism back to sunrise when the melter reaches
    that point. (This is mostly to prevent the
    assembly from rotating to an upside-down
    orientation, which would get messy.)

    Elevation is easy to adjust - for a non-focusing
    collector, you really only need to adjust it
    once every two weeks or so. In this case,
    "elevation" is going to be an angle from the
    pole star, rather than an angle from horizontal.
    I wouldn't bother with a motor-driven solution
    to elevation, but I guess you could run a REALLY
    slow timer with a 1-year cycle to drive yet
    another 3-meter dish actuator to do it, but
    the change in (apparent) elevation is not constant
    during the entire year, so now you are into
    a computer-controlled scheme.

    But a focusing collector would be easier than
    all that hardware, and could just sit there.
    Look up "parabolic trough" collectors, but be
    sure to de-tune the thing, or your wax will
    not just melt, but vaporize!

  16. #36
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Palestine, Tx. 75801
    Posts
    485

    Post

    Well after all the posts, I will say, thanks to all. I was trying to melt old comb. I have just been scraping it out using a brick layer's large trowel. When I put new burr comb, and wax from the queen excluders, and what ever else, the smelter works great. Solar is the way to go. The smelter is raised at about 15-degrees, and is faced west. I am using Dr. Rodriquez ideas on the mites, Walt Wright's ideas on rasing large colonies, which I haven't mastered either. I love this bee keeping hobbey.
    jrhelliott@gmail.com

  17. #37
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Terrell
    Posts
    78

    Post

    My question was : is there anybody who knows how to design an electronic device to point the solar melter to the sun.
    I know how I can do this manually, a do it once a year, and once pointed approximately in the right direction there is no further adjustment needed here in Texas. An automatic device will further the state of the art and will be an attention getter at bee meetings and may even have other applications.
    It looks that in this forum many people provide an answer to a question but the answer has nothing to do with subject question, like: I do not know anything about the subject but let me put in my five cents worth. This is waste of our time.

  18. #38
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    1,525

    Post

    Not really a waste of time. We can learn from different methods of solving problems and it's interesting to learn theproblem that exist in some climates and not in others.

    You're gonna hear a lot of it here and It's a lrage part of the reason I have learned so much from these posts.

    Hawk
    KC0YXI

  19. #39
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Terrell
    Posts
    78

    Post

    Hawk,

    I beg to disagree with your last posting. Yes we learn a lot from others postings. The original question was: I followed the instuctions and what went wrong. There were plenty answers to this posting, some good and some not so good.
    For instance it is written in several publications that the outside of the box should be painted black and the inside white. I did some experimentation on this: black outside will absorb heat so the box gets hotter, the inside should be white not black as I have verified with two identical melters at a Waco field day. White will reflect the heat and bounce the heat around, so it has a second chance to hit the wax again. Black will absorb the heat and make the box a little hotter on the inside but this can not measure up against the heat gain of a interior black box. Yes some heat will escape but so what, the box get hotter on the inside and that is what counts. Over a period of a few hours there was a difference of 10 degrees.
    I have three melters: two are not painted at all and my smaller one is painted. All three do a good job.
    I have experimented with a double pane glass door from a food cooler. I discarded this as the heating was not sufficient and the glass was too heavy. Perhaps this glass had similar properties as glass which is used on glass buildings, this glass has properties to keep the heat out.
    Then I used a single pane of glass. It worked good until it broke and I became worried to get hurt or get a leg cut off. Some years ago I consulted on a gigantic melter in the south of Texas. This melter was so large that the glass pane was removed with a winch. This melter got so hot that the wax came out black. The beekeeper had a good explanation for this: he was also getting black pollen. In fact he was burning his wax. We resolved this by putting a themostat in the box which switched on fax and opened up a louver so that outside air was being brought in during the hottest peak of the day.
    On my own melter I switched to a plastic sheet weighted down on two sides of the box, by means of hems and some steel rods. This worked fine for about three weeks until the plastic disintegrated in the sun. Then I switched to plastic which is used for green houses, I call it solar plastic. This works very well as long as you do not let it touch the wax. If it touches the wax, bubbles form on the plastic but the plastic is still useable but it does not look nice. This sheet will last easily two to three years. I use it on my Texas size melter, 4 ft by 8 ft and 4 inches deep, the sides made by 4X4. The bottom board is slick MDO or sign board. No painting required and once positioned approximately to the sun it works let a charm. I can load this box with a layer of frames three times a day, yes some beekeepers have thousands of frames which need to be melted down. The secret is that one should not pile up the old wax in large clumps. It is only the top which melts first and drips in the layers below it.One inch of wax gives the best results.
    My other melters, one 24 by 32 inch and the other 2ft by 4 feet use now Lexan Thermoclear which is a plastic material consisting of two layers with ribs at about 1/4 inch to keep the sheets together. This material is used for lean-to's added to a house. I saw this material used in England for solar melters, and if it works there it will surely work here. Although the instructions say that it will not pass solar heat it works fine. The advantage is that is light. I put a frame around it made of 1" aluminum angle so the wind will not blow it off. The disadvantage is that is not readely available and usually comes in 4 by 10 or 4 by 12 ft sheets. The suppliers can usually cut it to size. Try the plastic supply houses in the yellow pages. They will even cut it for you.
    The next secret is that not one solar melter here in the US and overseas gives you clean wax. There is always a sticky residue on the bottom of the pan. I have resolved this with my small melter. This melter is designed around an aluminum baking pan. These pans measure 18 by 26 inch and are about one inch deep. They have rounded edges so you do not cut yourself on the sharp edges of a stove pipe or comercially avilable melters made from galvenized sheet. The secret is now the following: the pan rest on two pieces of conduit mounted about half way in the box and adjustable so that the pan can sit horizontally in the solar box. A hole is put in the pan and a plastic nipple is mounted in this hole. The nipple should extent about one inch above the bottom of the pan. With a hacksaw , I use a milling machine, I made four slots in the nipple so that these slots reach about 1/2 inch above the floor of the pan. Under the pan I put a stainless salad bowl to catch the wax which overflows through the nipple. Now you can load the pan with frames, solid wax, cappings or other slum gum which still contains wax. Just keep adding and only clean wax will overflow through the slots in the nipple.Impurities will settle on the bottom of the pan. The reason for the slots is that an occasional dead bee of some grass clippings will not overflow into the catch pan. The reason for the salad bowl is that it is conical and no effort is required to remove the wax block once it has cooled down. This wax is clean enough to be used directly for candle making.
    The reason of the 24 by 32 inch size that you can make two melters out of a 4x 8 sheet. The first one may not be exactly to your liking and is used as a door price at the club meeting. With the second unit you have now experience and it will be perfect.
    That old frames contain no wax is not true. If one put a frame with old comb in this melters it can be readely observed that a few drops of pure yellow wax will drip initially from this comb. If one leaves this comb long enough other impurities will melt and to net reult is an overall darker wax.
    It is still to be seen if the aluminum baking pan is ideal.Further experimentation is required to see if a stainless pan is required. I have the feeling that perhaps aluminum will discolor the wax.
    Now coming back to the original question: what went wrong. We assume he pointed this melter to the sun and it is not sitting in the shade of some East Texas pine trees, I can assume the following as some others have already hinted at this: too much material in the melter, glass which is not suitable, and too deep a melter. If he saw some yellow stuff his melter is working.
    Corect direction to the sun and painting are not the most important factors.
    Now coming back to my question: does anybody have a design to let the solar melter track the sun. Any answer which does not address this question is a waste of my time and it looks that these people want to collect some Atta points by stating: I really don't know the answer but let me put in my five cents worth.

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