Small Scale Solar, and Other News

Well, for those of you in the Rochester area I will be talking a bit about a small solar power system I put together this Saturday at BarCamp.  This is my first time there, and I wanted to do something a little different than the other things that were on the list.  First, though, I have to make up a presentation, which will probably mostly happen tomorrow after my test.

But I have been thinking about it, and so I guess I’ll post a little preview here.  My system is small, utilizing a 10 watt solar panel.  Energy production, obviously, depends on how much the panel is in the sun; since it is not a permanent system, I don’t really have a fixed answer to that other than I’ll take it outside for an hour while we go to play frisbee.  The system is just the panel, a batter, and a charge control.  I use it to run some lights, charge my cell phone and radio, and my laptop.  I guess you could add an inverter too, but I find that most things I want to run I can do directly off of 12 volts (or through a DC-DC boost converter in the case of the laptop, which likes 16 volts to charge the battery.)

This system could be nice to take camping, or to an event of some sort.  While it might not anihiliate your electric bill or make you an ecoviking, it can be useful during power failures and emergencies.  And of course it’s a great learning tool; if nothing else it makes you aware of the fact that electricity has to be produced some how.  (After all, they don’t just pump it out of a hole in the ground, amiright?  At least, never that directly.)  We’re so used to electricity being that cheap stuff that comes out of the wall to power our digital lives, and kill us if we fuck around with it too much.  Well, there is something neat about making your own power.  So come on down to learn more.

Now for some other news.  It is actually starting to warm up a bit here.  The temp has been in the 50s quite a bit, even the 60s sometimes.  That’s a ncie temp, IMHO.  Sun’s out more too.

It was warm in our apartment too.  Warm and steamy, actually.  I went home for Easter, and came back Sunday night to find that the bathtub faucet was leaking, providing a steady stream of hot water for a decent chunk of the weekend.  My roommates had put in a maintenance request, and they finally fixed it on Monday.  It was actually pretty neat, aside from the gigantic waste of water and gas.  Our entire apartment was warm and humid, like a tropical paradise.  The sound of water was also kind of nice, though it was kind of lucky that I couldn’t hear it from my bedroom.

So that’s that.

Autumn Comes to the Swamp

Well it’s getting cooler out and things are starting to turn a little more fall-like.  Well slightly.  But it’s a nice change, seeing as I was here most of the summer.  I took some pictures the other day, and so here they are.

As a side note, I sometimes wonder whether or not any of these pictures would actually help anyone identify where I am.  While I’m not really worried about a stalker or anything I do try to be at least a little careful of what information about me I let onto the Internet.  I may have mentioned where I am at one point on this blog, and I’m pretty sure most visitors can figure out my name is Ben, but I don’t go out of my way to give out too much information.

At any rate, if you do figure out where I am that’s great.  But I’ve got better things to do than confirm it.  So, enjoy the pictures.