Mud on the Leg(work)… ?

It’s Dec. 30.  BRD, an electric-motorcycle manufacturer, once claimed they’d have their RedShift bikes to sell in 2013.  On the way to being an actual electric-motorcycle seller, they’ve been quiet.  But recently they sent an update on their past ten (!!!) months:

By the end of 2012, our development prototypes had journalists saying things like “could be the best Lites-class MX bike on the market”… “a clear superiority” …Not a bad start, but not yet up to our standards.

Let’s see, how do we take this coffee?cat

1) At face value- beating all gasser MXers is hard
2) Not quite face value- the company is biding their time
3) Not at all- there’s an issue we don’t know about
4) Worse than not at all- BRD won’t make their own targets Continue reading

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Followup: 4 Light Bulbs…Of THE FUTURE

04cHappy solstice!  How better to observe than lots of light, but little juice.  Earlier I had written on nulling out the electricity of my vehicle, by saving it elsewhere- “negawatts.”  I said nothing on LEDs (solid state emitters) at the time.  While efficient, very long-lived, and fast, they were almost fifty bucks.  Then 40, then 30… see where I’m going?

This Spring, Cree’s bombshell hit shelves: dimmable LEDs, in the usual A19 thread (“Edison base”), at ten dollars (40W equivalent; a “60W” was $14.)  At 6 actual Watts, I’d score 34 negawatts in one move.  Still, I held out.  Only one store (Home Depot) had it, only in multi-packs.  But reviews have been kind, they’re now sold individually, and the price has fallen (after rebates) to… six bucks.  It’s now a no-brainer: more efficient than compact fluorescents (barely), with no hum/flicker, lag time, or power-cycling issues, at nearly the same price.  If it all works, that is.  Does it? Continue reading

Followup: More Legwork (Still Not Enough)

Yep, everyone likes the exciting work, no one likes to grind out the boring but necessary stuff.  XBox One data is in, and its defect rate is uncomfortable.  Just like PlayStation 4 defects, and… the last XBox.  Didn’t do enough of their field testing, quality control, and supplier oversight.

Meanwhile our newest microsatellites are chiming inmostly.  Some universities, startups, etc. didn’t do enough part screening, flight-like testing, systems review, or any of a hundred other things, and their CubeSats are silent.  One case, the Kentucky Space consortium (University of Kentucky/Morehead State), requests help.  They’ve built a surprising satellite, but not a ground station network (or even staff) that can effectively support their needs:

…trying to determine the charging characteristics of the power system. The three team members all live above 40 degrees north and the satellite does not warm up enough during nighttime N-S passes to allow charging to begin. None of us are usually around during the daytime S-N passes and we would particularly appreciate telemetry reports when the satellite is in daylight…  Any form of report is welcome…

Everyone wants to be a satellite stud, no one wants to be an antenna dork.  NASA built the Deep Space Network (dishes looking up) and TDRS System (relay sats looking down) for this very reason; China, India, and even Russia need NASA and ESA dishes to go past Earth orbit.

Followup: Oil Fail Tale

Calling Dr. Rorschach… Dr. Rorschach needed in the energy wing… The International Energy Agency hath spoken; now the US Department of Energy has reported.  It’s a Rorschach: the Drill-Spill Cult will see things to prop up their agenda, up until the actual numbers.  You know, math: the stuff that turns an opinion into analysis.  And the math says “more of the same.”

The drill-hypnotized claim that more drilling means lower prices at the pump.  This, despite the fact that US oil production peaked in 1971.  Secondary and tertiary recovery (extraction from difficult fields, the “leftovers” of old wells, natural-gas liquids, etc.) may get it 1971-like in the near future.  Except prices won’t go anywhere near 1971: Secondary/tertiary extraction is difficult and costly, while more and more drivers (both US and overseas) now drive more cars.  The cold, hard numbers: the DoE predicts the price of an oil barrel will go from US$112 to… $92.  Gasp!

Notice that’s the price per barrel of crude oil- not a gallon of actual gasoline that can run an engine.  Because gasoline is a heavily-refined product, only a fraction of the pump price is crude stock.  Difficult extraction mainly benefits airlines, as jet fuel is a simpler refinery task.  Depending on the stock, ships and old homes may benefit, as bunker oil and home heating oil are also easy to refine from crude.  Oh, and the oil companies will certainly benefit, since they will traffic in higher volumes but at nearly the same price. Continue reading

Followup: Rah Rah Wren

906_513_744I briefly mentioned Wren- the German project (STaDoKo) that’s not a CubeSat (10x10x10 cm), but a PocketQube (5x5x5).  It was launched and deployed successfully, and amateur radio enthusiasts may have received its signal.

That blurb didn’t really do it justice- did I mention this satellite is 5X5X5 centimeters, despite flying a camera and an experimental attitude control/navigation system, including electric thrusters?  But wait, where does the astronaut fit? Continue reading

Followup: Dawn of Dead…Talking Points

Well well well well… Not only is the UN flying “drones” (in the African conflict), but Pakistan, ever crying the victim, has since “developed” its own UAVs.  Hypocrisy much?

Pakistan’s Shahpar and Burraq UAVs just entered Army and Air Force service; their Navy is in trials.  I’ve seen claims that Pakistan won’t arm them… but I don’t buy that for a second.  First, the Shahpar is clearly based on China’s CH-3, which is armed.  Second, sub- and full-scale displays went public, arms at their wings.  3rd, Pakistan’s predicament begs for hunter-killer patrols.  Says analyst Usman Shabbir, of Pakistan Military Consortium:

It is important in a sense that it greatly cuts the gap from detection to shoot… Earlier, once you detected something and wanted it taken out you had to pass on the imagery to higher ups, who had to approve and allocate resources like aircraft and by the time the aircraft got there the bad guys were long gone. Now detect, make decision, shoot and go home — all in same loop.

One kill, and they lose all sympathy.  This, after admitting US drone kills were exaggerated.

Followup: Rah Rah Reveille

Rah rah to the following people, pushing the boundaries of institutions and budgets:

Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

CAPE-2: “…everything is working!

KySat-2: “All systems functioning nominally!

Phonesat 2.4: “heard and decoded from CA!

Vermont Lunar CubeSat: “successfully established radio communications