Reunify the Dakotas

With all this talk of making Washington D.C. a proper state with senators, one thing concerns me. How do you make a flag with 51 stars? Plus you will need to change the seating around in Congress. I have a modest proposal that could take care of this and fix an historic wrong. When we add Washington D.C. we should combine North and South Dakota into a single state called “Dakota”.

It turns out that a single Dakota was part of the original plan, but politics led to a last minute change. From Wiki:

On February 22, 1889, outgoing President Cleveland signed an omnibus bill that divided the Territory of Dakota in half. North Dakota and South Dakota became states simultaneously on November 2, 1889. President Harrison had the papers shuffled to obscure which one was signed first and the order went unrecorded.[12] The bill also enabled the people in the new Territories of North Dakota and South Dakota, as well as the older territories of Montana and Washington, to write state constitutions and elect state governments. The four new states would be admitted into the Union in nine months. This plan cut Democratic New Mexico out of statehood and split Republican Dakota Territory into two new Republican states. Rather than two new Republican states and two new Democratic states that Congress had considered the previous year, the omnibus bill created three new Republican states and one new Democratic state that Republicans thought they would capture. The Dakota Territory was divided into the states of North Dakota and South Dakota on November 2, 1889.

As far as population, North and South Dakota are two of the bottom five states in population with only Alaska, Vermont and Wyoming having fewer people. Combining them would only move them to around number 39, between Hawaii and West Virginia. Maybe pick a new capital, or maybe just alternate every other session in Bismark and one in Pierre. Let the people of Dakota sort it out.

Mexico Excess Deaths

Covid-19 deaths are almost certainly underreported. One thing to look at is “excess deaths”. The number of people dying around the world and from any and all causes is fairly easy to predict. Anything outside of these predictions in 2020 is probably Covid-19. Mexico is looking at twice the reported rate, near 400k. I expect many other countries will see similar actual rates when people look at the real data.

Mexico’s Excess Deaths Far Exceed Official Coronavirus Toll

Gas Flaring in Texas

Fracking in Texas results in vast amounts of otherwise useful natural gas being simply burned. There is so much gas burned it can be seen from space, looking like illuminated cities. A good article, but there are still questions. Why couldn’t these wells just temporarily stop production gas? I have to assume it is because they would have to stop prodducing oil, which is the part that makes money. I suppose given the cost curves in renewables this will all be over soon, but what a damaging waste. From the New York Times.

Electric Riding Mower Direct Drive Test Video

Forgot to mention I also have fully functioning brakes, an important bit. It is much faster than the chain drive but can still run it full bore at maybe 10 m.p.h. Enough for a mower, I suppose. Also this didn’t seem to put any strain on the motor, which stayed cool. Also noticed my older battery is going bad and neither is fully charged. So maybe it would be a little bit faster. I’m starting to lust after those pricey lithium batteries. Much quieter than the old mower but the transaxle probably needs some grease, after 20 years of mowing in the Texas summer.

Electric Riding Mower Direct Drive Test

I was been simultaneously itching to try out the new direct drive on the riding mower project, but also a bit afraid. It something burned up or broke, I was probably finished. So I promised myself I would do it right and reassemble the whole back end and put in a proper kill switch. And I was distracted with the blades.

I decided at the last minute to keep the big blade height handle. I figured out a way to connect it with the new motor set up. Hopefully I will be able to use it to control the blade height. At this point I am happy with the motor and the electronics. I will post a video in the next posting.

Electric Mower Design Decisions

I feel like I’m getting to the end of this one, at least the 1.0 release. There are a few pieces left.

Shifter: the shifter is large and probably over designed. All it does is push a small rod into the transaxle to change from forward to neutral to reverse. With an electric motor, this isn’t really required. The motor is easily turned off and even reversed. All that said, it isn’t in the way and it could be useful, for instance, to put the transaxle into neutral. Tempting to take the mechanism down to simplify things but it will stay, for now.

Brakes: there is a brake lever on the transaxle very near the shifter. In the photo it is connected to the spring. This is connected to a rod and to the large pedal. This pedal was a combination brake and clutch and had some complex mechanical and electrical interlocks to the old blades and engine. The pedal works well enough but needs some springs to keep it in place. Looking at repurposing some of the old springs. Will also have to put in a stop using a bolt. My other concern is braking with the motor engaged. It is possible to mount an electrical switch to turn off the motor when the brake is engaged. We will see if that is necessary in practice.

Blade Height: the metal bits are the original blade deck lift mechanism. I intended to use it, even though it was overkill, but the mounting of the motor made me take it down, piece by piece. I may yet use some or all of these pieces and mount points to control the mower blade height, but this is still open. Perhaps the last open design issue.

Electric Mower Blade Test

The blades are just some 24V scooter motors with heavy duty weed whacker blades mounted on them, all mounted into some 2″ PVC pipe. Wired it up using my fancy new WAGO lever nuts and hooked it up to the new controller. Need to put in a safety cover and figure out the mounting and lift mechanism but it looks up to the job. Still haven’t ridden the direct drive yet. Going in a few different directions at once.