Tag Archives: tech

Space Shuttle Flyover

I went down to the NASA Ames Research Center / Moffett Field this morning to watch the flyover of the space shuttle Endeavour on its way to a museum in southern California.

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There were a number of booths set up showing some of the science and technology developed at Ames to support the shuttle program as well as a number of guest speakers including a couple of shuttle astronauts. Unfortunately, the host speaker built up expectation a bit much by describing how the shuttle and its 747 carrier were expected to come down the length of the runway potentially as low as 200 ft.  As the supposed 20,000 of us were gathered along the length of the runway, this would have been quite spectacular to see.  Alas, the pilots clearly had other plans.

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After we were told the shuttle was approaching, it was the escort jet that became first visible and we were all watching *it* as the shuttle itself made a stealthy approach hidden behind the large hanger frame on the opposite side to the runway.  It was nearly on top of us when it popped into view and everyone turned (and hastily swung their cameras around) to see it fly over — at a more mundane 1500 ft or so.

Here’s a short video I created of the event:

Still it was fun to get to see it with the big crowd and to hang out with others while waiting for its appearance!  I was there with the Geek Club Meetup group.

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Here’s a great time-lapse video of the shuttle being maneuvered along the streets of Los Angeles.

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It’s the power of the sun, baby!

Saturday was my first day of making over 60 kWh of sunny power in a single day!  Yay!

With my average daily consumption down in the 20’s of kWhs (at least before the heat pump went in), PG&E is clearly going to be paying me!  And that’s using all this free electricity to heat the house (heat pump = no propane!) and to charge my Nissan LEAF (electric car = no gas!)  Sweet.

It’s tough to know what my consumption is any more because a) PG&E doesn’t provide daily usage data once you switch to a time-of-use meter (lame) and b) it would only read net usage (after solar production) so I still wouldn’t know.  Yeah, SunPower does offer a consumption monitoring hookup but I’m still trying to find out through my installer how much they would charge and I guess there’s some question about whether it can handle both my main and sub-panel.

All I do know is that I’m making more than I use.  Double-sweet.

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9200 GigaWatts, Baby!

Okay, well… more like 9200 basic watts, but still….

So one of the first things I wanted to do when I finally bought a house was put in a solar PV system.

My system consists of forty SunPower E18 230 watt panels. For the fastest return on investment, you want to size a system based on your yearly consumption to just keep you out of the more expensive rate tiers. However, at 9.2 kW DC, my system is much larger than necessary because I just love the idea of offsetting * all * of my electricity consumption with solar generation. (And even get a little compensation from PG&E for any net excess for the year.)

I already drive an electric car (a Nissan LEAF) for nearby destinations but I fully expect that in a couple more years I’ll be able to trade in for something that will let me do all my driving via electricity. I’m also looking to get a heat pump installed soon to avoid needing to use propane as much. So I expect to be able to use much more of what I’m now generating.

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It’s December now — winter in the northern hemisphere and so the sun is low in the sky and the days are short but the system is already generating around 5500 watts AC at peak in full sunshine and even 2100 watts when cloudy/overcast. Sweet! All told, it’s generating over 30 kWH on a sunny day — and it’s winter! That’s much more than my current average daily consumption. Of course that’s with me not commuting right now (so not charging the car as much) and no electric heat pump yet.

In summer, the peak production should be closer to 8000 watts AC and the days will be longer but the mornings can often be foggy in the summer here. And of course there will be days with little sun. It’ll be fun to see how my little power plant does over the course of the year though!

By the way, Solar Technologies was a great installer and I highly recommend them! And remember, you can even have solar installed with no money down with a lease: you replace your monthly electric bill with a smaller lease payment!

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EV Car Hater’s Guide

Plugincars.com recently put out a couple of “guides” that make fun of all the anti-EV arguments — they’re up to two chapters now.  Kinda fun:

http://www.plugincars.com/ev-haters-guide-chapter-2-107607.html
http://www.plugincars.com/ev-haters-guide-hating-electric-cars-107560.html

I definitely encounter these folk now and again — one today at a biking group lunch of eight or so who were otherwise enthusiastic.

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Maker Faire 2011

Pictures and a video montage from a day at the Bay Area Maker Faire with a local Meetup group, The Geek Club:

 

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Bay Area LEAF Owners Meetup

Pictures and video from a meetup of San Francisco Bay Area owners of Nissan LEAFs – “Bay LEAFs”:

 

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Yuri’s Night at NASA Ames

Click through for a gallery of pictures from the San Francisco Bay Area celebration of Yuri’s Night 2008 at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA:

  

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iPhone Campout at FileMaker

On June 29th 2007, Apple shipped the first version of the iPhone and on July 25th every Apple employee (including FileMaker employees) received a free iPhone. A few of us decided to celebrate by “camping out” –– fifteen minutes before the handout!

 

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