Deep woods cabin; one man, his tools, and a camera on a tripod

We remember watching Alone in the Woods years ago on Public Television. It’s a story of a self-sufficient man named [Dick Proenneke] who loved the outdoors and decided to live alone in the Alaskan wilderness. It’s a remarkable story made more so by the film footage he made to document his experience. That teaser doesn’t do it justice, so check out the web page summaries as well and consider picking up a copy of the films for yourself.

The films include hiking, hunting, observing nature, and building this sweet pad which even [Steve] would be proud of. The first summer he left his native Iowa and scouted for cabin locations near Twin Lakes, Alaska. After finding a suitable location he felled enough trees to build the entire 11′ by 14′ structure and headed back home for the winter.

The next summer he packed in the tools seen above, and got to work. His build includes a stone fire-place as well as a door, windows, and a moss-covered roof. He did return to the continental US one more time, but ended up going back to Alaska to spend another 30 years in the cabin.

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Hydropower generator

[Paul] wanted to have access to renewable energy at his cabin. It’s a relaxing place, nestled in a tall forest that shelters him from the sun and wind. This also means that solar and wind energy aren’t an option. But there is a stream running through the property so he decided to build his own version of a small water-powered generator.

He tapped into a reservoir about 200 feet upstream, split the flow into four smaller hoses, and channeled that into a five-gallon bucket. Inside the bucket you’ll find a Pelton wheel he built which turns a low-RPM generator. He manages to generate 56 VDC at 10 A with this setup, more than enough to charge a bank of batteries.

He does a great job of explaining his setup in the video after the break. If you’re looking for other ideas of how to cut down on your environmental impact check out this compost-powered water heater.

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