MorningStar Solar Home

MorningStar home, built by the Penn State Center for Sustainability has been around since 2007, but it will hopefully be the home of the near future. The 799 square foot building is a net-zero home that produces more energy than it consumes, and it has been used for educational and research activities on the university campus. It will also serve has a home for one lucky graduate student who will test the house systems in real life conditions.

The MorningStar not only has solar panels on the roof, but on the east- and west-facing sides of the home. The south-facing windows have sliding exterior shelving to regulate solar gain and the home has a sliding wall of liquid glass containers that, when filled with water, can retain heat during the day and release the warmth into the home during the night. Continue reading

True North Log Homes Pictou

True North Log Homes designs this log cabin for a secluded hideaway and for hunting and fishing weekends. It’s small stature provides a down-to-earth respite for the whole family. From sports adventures to quiet soul-searching to intimate weekends away, the cabin helps to keep life simple. There are two bedrooms and one bath, and the floor plan is simple and compact enough to fit on nearly any property. Though this is not considered tiny it is a small cabin worthy of checking out.

log cabin

Amber provided me with photos of the construction of that home, as well as the floor plan showing the modifications. This home is 864 sq ft with a full basement and a flat ceiling. There is a timber frame entry porch on the front. The overall dimensions of the cabin are 34′ x 24′. The modifications are internal. Now, there is only one bedroom with an ensuite. The plan on the True North site allows for two bedrooms, but according to the company they are fully customizable! So, this plan works for everything from a hunting retreat to a retirement home and everything in between. This particular log home is made from 8″ logs. Continue reading

Small Space Technology Issue #1

My name is Eric Lipska and Kent has been gracious enough to let me do a monthly post regarding technology and how it relates to tiny houses and small space living. I love tiny homes and I love technology. Yet I noticed that nobody was talking about the ways that technology can work for people who live in tiny homes or small spaces. What I hope to bring you each month is a an idea of how technology can be used in everyday living and how it works for small homes. If you have any questions about the article you can e-mail me at smallspacetech@gmail.com. I have a website set up if you wish to download any of the articles so you can take them on-the-go or print them out at home. You can find them at http://smallspacetech.wordpress.com/
I hope you enjoy the articles!

Combining Your Entertainment and Computing into One

Do you live in a small space? Well here is an idea for consolidating your computer and your entertainment options. Many computer manufacturers offer “All-In-One” options for their computers. For this article, I will be using the iMac as an example, but there are many options on the PC side as well. Particularly the HP Omni 200t series which offers a TV tuner built in (as an option).  When combining your Entertainment and computing together it allows you to free up valuable space inside the house/dorm/etc. and it can save you some money.

First, you need to choose your all-in-one computer. After that you need to decide if you’re going to use an over-the-air antenna or are you going to download your programming. If you go with the downloading option then you can use a few different services. Netflix has many TV shows that you can stream from the site, but they do not always have recent episodes. iTunes usually has the most TV shows, but you will be paying per episodes (rent or purchase). Hulu just recently started charging for its services and is working with many some studios and networks to bring more shows to its service. There is always the option of web based shows which are usually free.

If you are going to choose OTA (Over-The-Air) then you will need to purchase an HDTV antenna and make sure that whatever you are connecting to the antenna has a QUAM tuner inside. QUAM tuner is what allows the HD signals to be decoded. For the Mac based systems I would recommend EyeTV (www.elgato.com) and then decide which option best fits you.

Next are your sound options. There are many makers of 2.1 style computer speakers and these systems consist of two small speakers and a subwoofer. Whichever system you choose, make sure it can decode 5.1 audio from the different sources. This should give you the best listening option.  For the iMac you can also convert the headphone jack into a digital audio out, should you need to output the sound that way.

If your All-in-one system gives you the option of DVD or Blu-Ray, I would invest in a Blu-Ray; this will allow you to play both HD material from Blu-Ray discs as well as the playback of standard DVDs. I say keep the options open! For the iMac, this is not an option since Apple has not placed Blu-Ray drives. You can purchase separate USB based Blu-Ray drives and there is also another option. On the 27 inch model of the iMac, there is the Mini Display port. This port can be used with other AV devices and this can allow you to plug in everything from a game system to a standalone Blu-Ray player.

If your space has more than two people in it you will probably want to go with the larger size screens, but choose the options that best fit your needs. By combing your entertainment and computing systems you can now do both and take up less room. Watch a movie, listen to music, surf the web all on the same machine. Enjoy!