Loose Gates

“Bill Gates Pledges to Reinvent Condom”– Let the jokes begin!  Viruses galore!  Patches on top of patches!  Micro…Soft!

Unfortunately, many of the gripes with a condom spring from… being a condom.  From the eye of a systems engineer, the condom is a hack solution.  It combines the failures of the Maginot Line with the issues of Dunkirk.  The roles of a condom, at root, are:

-Prevent conception
-Prevent infection

On either side, a thin polymer layer falls down on the job. Continue reading


“Four Light Bulbs”

p099dThe myths continue: ignorants like to snicker behind the backs of EV owners with ‘wait until they see their electric bill.’  Three people, Tom, Peder, and Jim, have calculated their driving equivalent: Four light bulbs.  Just four.

Take a typical driving distance per year- maybe 10-15,000 miles.  Divide that by vehicle efficiency: 3-4 miles per kilowatt-hour of electricity for most EVs.  (The BMW MiniE closer to 3, the Nissan Leaf maybe closer to 4, depending on driving habits and local conditions.)  Now, convert that to 100W incandescent bulbs, running all year (8,766 hours): four bulbs.  Not a bill-buster by any definition.  You can conserve that much easily, and thus travel “free.”  Energy not needed in the first place is termed “nega-watts.”

p102dThe easiest way is simply raising the thermostat a degree or two in the summer- no household bulb comes close to an AC unit.  But if we’re measuring in bulbs, let’s tackle it that way: how much would equal my Zero motorcycle in nega-watts?  I’ll ask Philips and Sylvania first.  They, like GE and others, offer incandescent-replacement bulbs that cut power by 28%.  Basically, they’re halogens built into  incandescents.  Not only do halogens use less energy to yield the same light, but they last longer, and some like the cleaner halogen color, too. Continue reading

March On

Time for a winter update, now that Spring is officially here.  I was quite surprised to see that for weeks, my battery pack had not lost any bars, strictly speaking.  Of course, there are eleven bars on the Zero’s meter; it’s likely that the loss of charge simply wasn’t one bar’s worth.  This, despite the fact that I don’t have a garage and simply left it in the yard, completely exposed to the cold.  It’s also consistent with some other manufacturers’ EV experiences- lithium likes cold just fine.


Let’s keep it like the left, not the right.

I was pleasantly surprised that my town, at least, hasn’t gone nuts with the salt.  Even though there were some snow and sleet moments, the ground was simply too warm to cause ice patches.  My town didn’t salt up the place, just to be sure.  Not sure if that’s sensible thinking, or just being cheapskates.  So the limitation on riding is now whether I feel like frostnip or not.  Haven’t bought or built handguards or a flyscreen. Continue reading

Receptacle Roundup IXb: Tesla S

I mentioned the first Tesla plug, for the first Tesla car. It’s basically SAE J1772 2009, and basically got superseded by that widespread connector standard. Tesla then offered the Model S, with a Model S connector. (Well, two actually, on each side, but of the same design.) Will this one fare any better… especially since it now competes with CHAdeMO, as well as J1772?

p105078dp105052bThis time, an adapter easily matches up the pins with J1772, and the S-connector in some installations matches CHAdeMO’s capability. That’s right, one standard will accept both Level 2 charging (240V, medium-speed AC) and ~1 hour Level 3 (from a 480V fast-DC “Supercharger”). A cord with an inline power brick will also allow Level 1 trickle charging (household 120V AC)- all three levels and speeds through arguably a single interface. Continue reading

Critical m4ss

There comes a time when something becomes clear, even obvious.  This used to be called “breakthrough,” Malcolm Gladwell might call it the “tipping point,” popsters (at least, less-wonky ones) might call it “blowing up.”  Whatever you call it, one mirrorless-camera format has gotten there.

The Micro Four Thirds standard for mirrorless cameras has pretty much arrived.  Last week, German manufacturer SVS-Vistek has announced their m43 industrial body.  The industrial cam will be used for factories (machine vision), optical recordkeeping and recognition, security, mapping, etc.  Oh, and this is in addition to Blackmagic’s cinema body… and Astrodesign’s pledged industrial cams… and the consumer bodies produced by Olympus, Panasonic, and now JK (buyers of the former Kodak).  And this is in addition to lots of existing C-mount industrial lenses, and prosumer Leicas and Leica-clones, that can be adapted to Micro Four Thirds.

Here’s a hint for wonks and popsters: what you, the consumer, sees is a portion of what’s out there.  A whole parallel economy of industrial products exists that you aren’t even aware of.  21st-century camera designs (not SLRs) have entered that economy.

The Havspita-i’i Industry

See also The “HospitalEV” Industry, Cont’d, and Literal Hospital-EV Industry


Hawaiian charging points, copyright Plugshare.com. All rights reserved.

In previous posts, I mentioned how Japan and, to a lesser extent New York City, have inherent appeal for some types of electric vehicles.  On this wintry day, folks, I give to you… Hawaii.  Consider it Japan in miniature, with a touch of Manhattan.  Sure, the Big Island is a little light right now… but that’s true of just about anything, development-wise.  Note that the south of the Big Island is volcanos and other preserves, and not something most people drive to anyways.  No, the real action’s on Oahu.

Continue reading

Receptacle Roundup X: SmartPlug/EEL

And now for something partially different: boat-marina connectors (literal shore power).

Boats are vehicles- they just happen to pitch and heave, in water, possibly salty.  When docked, they plug in; there’s no reason to fire up the engine to watch TV or cook.  There’s no sensible reason to fire up a generator, either, as grid power is more efficient than a small generator by a few times over.  In recent years, two new shore-power connectors have emerged: Smartplug and EEL (Easily Engaged Locking, from Marinco).  How did the watercraft industry handle their chance at a vehicle-specific connector?

p105044dSmartPlug goes straight in, unlike the existing NEMA Twist-LockTM standards.  The 120V, 3-prong model carries 30 amps, while the 240V uses 4 to carry 50A.  Both then have metal latches on the sides of the outer sleeve; the weather door on the receptacle side then folds down on the plug, forming a third latch.  Inside the outer sleeve is a rubber seal; the actual contacts are then recessed inside the inner body.

Continue reading