Isopod Energy Monitor

Isopod Energy Monitor

Loading
Loading Social Plug-ins...
Language: English
Save to myLibrary Download PDF
Go to Page # Page of 4

Description: The ISOPOD is an older but newly developable device suitable for home or business power monitoring and energy management. It simply snaps onto the existing weatherhead and thus dramatically minimizes any safety, compliance, or installation hassles.

 
Author: Don Lancaster (Fellow) | Visits: 3079 | Page Views: 3114
Domain:  Green Tech Category: Lighting 
Upload Date:
Short URL: https://www.wesrch.com/energy/pdfTR1VRS000IJAE
Loading
Loading...



px *        px *

* Default width and height in pixels. Change it to your required dimensions.

 
Contents:
the blatant opportunist

27

by Don Lancaster

Emerging Tech Opportunities III
I
t sure is rewarding for me to see other individuals and small scale startups picking up on and successfully going with my previous emerging opportunities. All as small scale home-based Money Machines. Several examples here include John Rees who offers a nice video on converting car alternators into power stepper motors. And Martin Carbone whose new desktop finishing products include a pair of very low cost scoring machines for boxmaking and bookbinding. Or Frank Miller who has bunches of useful direct toner printed circuit products. Or Kevin Bennet with his easy to do "raised print" laser thermography. That uses nothing but a small desk lamp. Or Stan Griffiths and his fine new book on recycling Tektronix classic oscilloscopes. Or Kirk McLoren who has his new Micro Cogeneration book that shows you how homemade power can actually end up cheaper than utility power. Let's return to the scene of the crime. Here's what I see as the current crop of emerging opportunities. Along with several Guru's Lair filenames you could go to for more details. Stuff that suddenly has become cheap enough and real enough, yet remains fuzzy enough and undeveloped enough for superb potential... ear-clip infrared units do not. Look Ma, no wires. All you really have here is an air core transformer. With the core being the distance between your chest and your wrist or handlebars. Plain old near field inductive coupling is all you require for effective comm. But wait. What do we really have here? We have a tiny, lightweight, sealed and waterproof transmitter. With a one year or longer life from its internal lithium cell. Which can handle a data rate of zero to 200 Hertz or so. At a retail list price of $22, far less in quantity. Providing a signal that is handily received by a coil and an op-amp or two. Largely unidirectional, except for deep axis nulls. Two leading brands of these devices are Polar and Vetta. More details on their internal workings in HACK68.PDF. By the way, a dental X-ray is a dandy way to reverse engineer sealed modules of this type. One big new use I see for short haul telemetry...

ISOPOD ENERGY REPORTER

Short Haul Telemetry
Micropower radio and infrared transmitters have gotten super small and quite cheap. To the point where they can be used for all sorts of data comm over ranges of, say, four to six feet. There are a lot of new possibilities here. I like to call the sum total of these devices short haul telemetry. Ferinstance, there are all kinds of new uses for ordinary TV remote controls. There are anti-shoplifting tags. And implanted animal monitors. And schemes to get data on or off a rotating shaft. Inventory controls. Security systems. Intelligent data tags. New wireless mice and modems. Car locks. 3-D position sensors. IRDA. Attitude detectors. A brand new trade journal that addresses these devices is Wireless Design and Development. One low cost and grossly underused short haul system is called an EKG heart monitor. This normally gets used to optimize aerobic excercise sessions. You have a strap that wraps around your chest. The strap picks up your electrical heartbeats and converts them into transmitted 36 cycle bursts of 5 kHz rf energy. These low frequency waves are then picked up by using a nearby wristwatch or bicycle mounted computer display. The big advantage is that they perform reliably during strenuous exercise. Cheap finger or

The key to home energy awareness and conservation lies in easily measuring how much power you are using at any time. From there, you might intelligently optimize what power you use when. The big problem here has been that current sensors are very expensive, highly inconvenient and usually have to be electrician installed. Note that most current sensors require that one (but not both) of the supply wires run through them. Instead, the isopod simply snaps on your power lines as they enter your house. Inside the tennis-ball shaped device is a current transformer that both provides micro supply power plus a data rate proportional to current. The data gets safely transmitted to a nearby receiver. Each isopod can either output an identifying code or else speak only when spoken to. Your transmitted data can be synchronized to the current zero crossings. Your receiving

May-June, 1994

Blatant Opportunist

27.1

Copyright c 1999 by Don Lancaster and Synergetics (520) 428-4073 www.tinaja.com All commercial rights and all electronic media rights fully reserved. Reposting expressly forbidden.

unit can sort out which signals come from which sensors. The receiver can also measure the phase angle to separate real from reactive power. Actual power consumed can be found by multiplying the real component of the measured current against the supply voltage. More on the isopod concept appears in HACK47.PDF.

The Digital Bogey
With one or two more memory iterations, we will soon have terabyte storage routinely and cheaply available. So, computers of human brain capability are virtually certain to show up in the next few years. Which can lead us to the Digital Bogey. The next step beyond nonlinear editing. Given enough memory, there is no reason at all why everything in a movie cannot be an alterable data base. A cyberthespian's personna could get programmed at both the micro and macro levels. There would be no difference at all between actors, extras, props, vehicles, animation, and special effects. Each would end up as alterable numbers in a humongously large data base. All of which means that an individual working at home will soon be able to produce an entertainment experience comparable to a first-run movie at a total cost of $45 or so. Which will be a one million to one reduction of the costs of producing entertainment. Distribution, of course, would be via Internet IV. And on library teracubes, each of which will hold a decade's worth of movies. All of which should profoundly affect the smog levels in the LA basin. All types of LA smog. No more grips or gaffers or foleys. Or any third assistant makeup supervisor safety director best boys. Even more profound, we should be able to throw all of the original Bogey movies at the computer and then have it run off dozens of new ones. I can hardly wait. There's bound to be a buck in here somewhere. More on the Digital Bogey in HACK71.PDF.

Non-linear Editing
I get lots of helpline calls for some way to "synchronize" two video signals. The synchronizer is easy enough, but the next thing you'll be asking for is a frame grabber. And a time base corrector. You will then demand switchers and chroma keyers. And a costly single frame write VCR. And SMPTE time code striping. And by that time, that Video Toaster from Newtek starts looking very attractive. All of which ends you up with a room full of expensive gear. And you will still be stuck with awful final results because of the horrendous "generation loss" of most of the low-end video recording systems. Instead, if you simply store each video field as digital data, you could completely eliminate all of the above. For digital video fields are inherently self-synchronizing, selfcorrecting, self-timing, self-switching and self keying. With zero generation loss and no need for expensive gear for single frame recording. Even more important, digital video can be random accessed and combined in any order at any time. Using a plain old personal computer. Which is what non-linear editing is all about. The ability to create a perfect generation-loss-free digital video master by gathering up what you want from where you stashed it. Layer after layer. Matte after matte. And do so ridiculously faster, cheaper, and infinitely more flexibly than any of the traditional and primitive A-B roll editing techniques. The only little kicker is that you do need some random access storage to hold the video data. Quite a bit, in fact. Typical "broadcast quality" or 4-2-2 video takes around one byte per color pixel, so a single field is something around a quarter meg. Say fifteen megs per second and just under a gig per minute. Thus a half hour segment seems to need around thirty gigabytes of storage. A year or two ago, such massive storage systems would have seemed absurd. But there's several new developments that make them routinely available. First and foremost, you can run out and cheaply buy a three Gigabyte hard disk. It doesn't take much in the way of smarts to use ten of these to make a thirty gig virtual drive. Secondly, we now have data compression systems. Just using plain old LZW lossless data compression should buy you three to one or so in storage. The next step up is called DCT or JPEG compression. Which can often give you 30:1 squashing and still have acceptable quality for most users. The simplest and cheapest way to explore DCT is with the filters built into PostScript level II. Both JPEG and its underlying DCT compression work on single images. For dramatic compression, you can go to MPEG techniques that are based on saving only motionestimated changes between groups of successive fields. Third, the MPEG and JPEG compression "standards" are exactly the same as a 1903 standard on aviation. These are already absurdly obsolete. Better solutions use wavelet technology from Aware or fractal techniques from Iterated Systems. More in HACK60.PDF and HACK69.PDF.

FM RBDS Services
Commercial FM stations have a new Radio Broadcast Data Service. Described in an EIA/NAB standard. Intended uses are to identify their station, the singer and the song, traffic and weather, and emergency warnings. But there are all sorts of emerging new uses involving differential GPS navigation correction info, custom paging, and tightly targeted coupon radio services. The subcarrier is at 57 kHz and the baud rate is 1200 in any of several carefully specified formats. The SAA6579 from Philips is one low cost decoder chip. More on RBDS is found in HACK73.PDF.

Cheap Air Turbines
Dentists have rightly concerned themselves with AIDS and related viruses. As a result, many of them are going to single use throwaway tools. There is one new disposable handpiece from the Oralsafe folks that retails for $14. This gem can be easily cut down into a miniature air turbine the size and mass of a plotter pen. Actually, their turbine is nothing but a nylon pawl and two medium quality ball bearings. About fifty cents worth. Air turbines are usually high speed devices, well suited to drilling tiny printed circuit board holes. The usual setup is to have a compressor, accumulator, and regulator in the 60 PSI "shop air" range. The needed parts are cheaply available surplus from C & H Sales. A restrictor valve is placed in series with the turbine to adjust your no-load pressure at the turbine to around half this. If you don't want to get into a real pneumatic system, a plain old truck tire should also work out just fine.

27.2

Blatant Opportunist

May-June, 1994

Copyright c 1999 by Don Lancaster and Synergetics (520) 428-4073 www.tinaja.com All commercial rights and all electronic media rights fully reserved. Reposting expressly forbidden.

SOME MENTIONED RESOURCES
Aware, Inc. One Memorial Drive Cambridge, MA 02142 (617) 577-1700 Bennet LaserBrite 720 Fourth Street, SW Rochester, MN 55902 (507) 280-9101 C & H Sales PO Box 5356 Pasadena, CA 91117 (800) 325-9465 Martin Carbone 2519 Bath Street Santa Barbara, CA 93105 (805) 682-0465 Stan Griffiths 18955 SW Blanton Aloha, OR 97007 (503) 649-0837 Iterated Systems 5550A Peachtree Pky #650 Norcross, GA 30092 (404) 840-0310 Kirk McLoren 3309 1/2 Lynn Avenue Billings, MT 59102 (406) 652-0018 Frank Miller 3535 Stillmeadow Lane Lancaster, CA 93536 (805) 943-4746 OralSafe 43529 Ridge Park Drive Temecula, CA 92590 (800) 237-8825 Parallax 3803 Atherton Rd, #102 Rocklin, CA 95621 (916) 624-8333 Polar 99 Seaview Blvd. Port Washington, NY 11050 (516) 484-2400 John Rees Rt 1, Box 1551 Sautee, GA 30571 (706) 865-5495 Vetta/Orleander USA 14553 Delano St #210 Van Nuys, CA 91411 (818) 780-8808 Wireless Design & Devel. 301 Gibraltar Drive Morris Plains, NJ 07950 (201) 292-5100

The astonishingly high energy concentration might be adapted to solar energy collection. Possibly even scaled up to build a small plasma torch that might be used to safely vaporize hazardous materials. Sonoluminescence temperatures and pressures also seem to get within shouting distance of nuclear fusion. Thus, the possibilities here are mind-boggling. There are hundreds of current sonoluminescence papers. The simplest and quickest way to pick them up is with my web tools found at www.tinaja.com/webwb01.html. Or to make use of my custom InfoPack service. I have also posted a few key sonoluminescence papers to HACK73.PDF.

Royalty-free Real PostScript
The general purpose PostScript computer language is rather adept at producing fine typography and smooth graceful curves. But real PostScript has not been available for typical projects like homebrew embroidery machines, sign routers, Santa Claus machines, CAD/CAM mills, pc drills, glass etchers, vinyl cutters, engravers, and such. At least not without having to pay outrageous royalties. But no more. There are now three effective routes which instantly let you apply PostScript to your homebrew projects. The first is to use any old PostScript level II printer to do the tricky PostScript stuff for you. Teach the printer to use a crossporting technique where it writes motion codes to an unused serial or SCSI port. A simple brain-dead micro on your mechanical whatever then converts the motion codes to machine actions. The Basic Stamp from Parallax is ideal for this sort of thing and costs only $39. Second, there is some shareware called GhostScript that gives a fair to middlin' imitation of PostScript that runs on just about any host computer. GhostScript gets normally provided as a C-language source code, and in compiled versions for most popular host computers. Yes, GhostScript does provide screen previews. Find Ghostscript links at www.tinaja.com/post01.html But best of all is to use later versions of Adobe Acrobat as a general purpose and host based PostScript interpreter. The trick here is to apply PostScript's flattenpath and pathforall operators to convert output into simple stroke vectors that you can recode and send to your homebrew machine. It is trivially easy to make all these commands HPGL or Gerber compatible. Acrobat can easily write a disk file using any low level custom language you care to. Giving you full PostScript power in low level custom homebrew apps. Full details in POSTVECT.PS and RESBN19.PDF, while newer and more powerful solutions can be found on my Flutterwumper and the Acrobat and PostScript library pages at my http://www.tinaja.com 3

On a CAD/CAM anything, the heavier the device you shove around, the worse the design problems. Sort of like pounds of extra satellite weight needing extra tons of fuel at the pad. So, the lighter and smaller the working head of your CAD/CAM system, the simpler the design. Air turbines run extremely fast. For heavier work, some sort of a compact gear reduction head can give you slower speeds and more tail twisting. One area where CAD/CAM offers exceptional untapped opportunities is jewelry making. A machine having a three inch range along each axis will do just fine. And is easily handled by low cost stepping motors. The usual route is to cut a machinable wax and then convert it into metal or whatever by a lost wax process. See HACK76.PDF.

Sonoluminescence
Take a small tank of water and couple some fairly loud ultrasonic energy into it. Under certain circumstances, any tiny entrapped air bubbles may emit a clear blue light! This effect is called sonoluminescence. At present, this is only a well researched laboratory curiosity, but it has some exciting potential. It appears the blue light comes from a heating of the entrapped air to temperatures of 10,000 and possibly as high as 50,000 degrees. What is happening is the bubble spherically concentrates energy at its center by twelve orders of magnitude. Yup, a million million. The "blue" light is actually ultraviolet centered at 310 nanometers. Even more amazing, the light occurs in brief pulses a mere 50 picoseconds long. What good is this stuff? Well, because of fundamental physical laws, a blue anything can end up very tricky to do. Sonoluminesce should also be a low cost source for the brief light pulses needed in laser spectroscopy.

Microcomputer pioneer and guru Don Lancaster is the author of 35 books and countless articles. Don maintains a US technical helpline you'll find at (520) 428-4073, besides offering all his own books, reprints and consulting services. Don has catalogs at www.tinaja.com/synlib01.html and at www.tinaja.com/barg01.html Don is also the webmaster of www.tinaja.com You can also reach Don at Synergetics, Box 809, Thatcher, AZ 85552. Or you can use email via don@tinaja.com

May-June, 1994

Blatant Opportunist

27.3

Copyright c 1999 by Don Lancaster and Synergetics (520) 428-4073 www.tinaja.com All commercial rights and all electronic media rights fully reserved. Reposting expressly forbidden.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO...

Get a Synergetics catalog Start your tech venture Sponsor a display banner Find research solutions

Send Don Lancaster email Pick up surplus bargains Find out what a tinaja is View recommended books

27.4

Blatant Opportunist

May-June, 1994

Copyright c 1999 by Don Lancaster and Synergetics (520) 428-4073 www.tinaja.com All commercial rights and all electronic media rights fully reserved. Reposting expressly forbidden.