about georgesworkshop and george plhak

canoe picThanks for wanting to know more about me.

I am a retired engineer (geological exploration, UofT 1975) now living in Lion's Head, Ontario, Canada. I enjoy exploring the area, a nature paradise.

What I do on my websites: I write about my original and hopefully useful handmade DIY (Do It Yourself) green projects. I design for local materials and for hand production. Actual photos and data show how I made mine. I demonstrate performance and explore function in different ways. I often make multiple prototypes and test over several years to ensure durability. Not everything works perfectly the first time.

I don't sell finished products. There are no commercial sources I know of for finished commercial product according to my designs but many have been built worldwide. Over 2000 plan books have been sold. My books are available at my webstore georgesworkshop.ca. Or you can access my main page by clicking the title bar above.

I want all of my designs to be portable. Many of the parts needed are large so the shipping is expensive. Better to use something we have or something nearby and modify. I explain the rationale so that these trade offs can be made. The pattern shape is electronic and the parts can be machine-made so that production may be scaled or only one built.

These are not inventions of mine nor patented but ideas from others, a few ideas of my own with practical and thoughtful implimentation - nothing more. I don't make outrageous promises. These projects will generally not get you off grid power nor run your meter backwards. These projects are not for dummies nor easily built in 10 minutes. You will be challenged even though I have tried to present in a clear and concise manner. Your considered questions are always welcome. georgesworkshop is a work in progress and any input is welcome. I can't respond to every comment, but I try.

I call my approach green repurpose. I use regular mass produced parts and materials from a hardware store and use them for other purposes (plumbing and electrical parts, some lumber and a few bits ordered from the web) to make a practical and robust heat concentrator (solar heater) or an bright and pleasing outdoor night light that uses almost no power.

My project ideas are free and and they work. I don't show you ads. There are no catches, no sponsors. Just my workshop and the working models in detail. Please have a look around.

I have several such projects at georgesworkshop.blogspot.com and www.ffwdm.com which progress as I am able to work on them. The blog is a timeline with some projects assembled in sequence. The main website is an overview of popular projects most with an energy or conservation interest. Thinking globally and acting locally translates for me into things I can build (and show others how to build) that use less resources, save energy and act smarter. I add some science, engineering and a dash of opinion for flavor. I have an indie (independent) outlook.

I have just published a solar parabolic experimenter's manual, a completely re-written and updated book for one of the more complicated projects that has taken ten years to develop. The cost is modest. Your support is appreciated. The rest of my work is all here on the web at the sites above.

You don't have to build exactly the way I did. You may not want to use it the same way. You can use the information in any way that helps you. Your mileage may vary but I give you my complete tests, descriptions, links and performance data. If you build same way, you should get the same results. I show reader examples.

Notice: I take no resposibility. Please - you are on your own and Don't Get Hurt - Be Safe!

My website is handmade and is always undergoing change. I welcome any feedback you offer. I believe if I write clearly the google translate feature will work better. If my writing is not clear in your language, I apologise.

george plhak
georgesworkshop and fastforward media inc
PO Box 234, Lion's Head, Ontario N0H1W0, Canada
email george at ffwdm dot com
phone one five one nine seven nine three six one three nine
location 44.985022 -81.255004
Photo (from video) courtesy of bobfleckcreative.com

If you are from my past and want to get in touch, please write.

I am in my life's third act and I mean to make the most of that. (Jane Fonda's version at TED, Dustin Hoffman's version at CBC.

background: Below are some samples from my earlier journey - how I got here - examples of some of the other, very different things which I've done at various points that I hope may interest you. You can click on any image to enlarge it. Write to me if you want to know any more about any of them.

Early beginnings in solar concentration. Here, in about 1962, I am showing my Dad how to use a magnifying glass to burn sticks.
In the late seventies while an engineer at Varian Associates, I lead a small team in developing a new magnetic locator for the US Navy called the "Mark22 Unexploded Ordnance Locator" based on an earlier Varian design called the V-75. Here I am on the Bruce Trail near Silvercreek trying one of the first working prototypes.
Here is a version of the same magnetometer in a housing for underwater survey that we also designed.
News article about the magnetometer
Varian article about measuring the earth's magnetic field
About the customer (Burt Webber) and the treasure he found with it.
Toronto Sun article "Treasure is Tricky Business" (July 1 1979)
Excerpts from the book

The treasure of the Concepcion (Later note - It turns out that this is a different Concepcion than Burt Webber's Concepcion, but a neat web site none the less)
Mark 22 Unexploded Ordnance Locator designed for the US Navy (while at Varian Associates 1977-1991)
Later, during the 80s, still at Varian, I had product line responsibility for high voltage power supplies. They were pretty good at producing stable high voltage at high current. My job was to find new markets for their technology. in semiconductor manufacturing, lasers, XRay generation and physics laboratories, up to 100 kV.
I wrote the business plan that guided Varian successfully into these markets.
Geophysical survey equipment designed while at Barringer Research
Airborne survey equipment worked on while at Barringer Research (1975-77)
Interior of Trislander exploration aircraft, a main project for me while at Barringer Research
Whole home theatre and survellance/communications system in 1970