Electric hub motor advances

I think Protean Electric is neat, but I’m not sure how far they will go- they seem like lots of talk and collecting money and very little delivery- lots of these new technologies are like that- There was the EDISON project using battery power in electric vehicles to back up the grid? It was only done on an island of Denmark, Bornholm, and it was shut down in 2011- as far as I can tell, there were only 5 cars used in the project, and nobody is using the technology now- just be careful of new technology by press release- known in the industry as ‘vaporware’- until you can put your hands on it, you probably should treat it like it doesn’t exist.

The Protean concept has some interesting things, but they still don’t get over the fact that their wheels are HEAVY – each wheel is 70 pounds. They have some whitepapers on how it shouldn’t affect handling, but I’m more concerned about 2 things:

  1. reliability on the bumps and scrapes of everyday roads- to make a brushless motor efficient, you need heavy permanent magnets running with a very small gap to the stator- anything bends and contacts boom that wheel is toast- the redundancy they tout won’t mean anything, since it still relies on all the mechanical parts being there for balance.
  2. heat- 100hp per wheel will generate a lot of heat, even if the wheels are really efficient- they have to pipe coolant to the wheel to/from a radiator mounted on the car, so in addition to massive electrical cables to get the current over (they are running the motors off of low voltage, 12 or 24V, with on-board inverters), they also need to run coolant lines.

So really, until we have a pretty massive revolution of permanent magnets (rare earth magnets are great, but not nearly as strong as what you can get with an electromagnet), I think this technology- at least in terms of in-wheel-motors, is limited. With current technology (and conceivable in the next few decades, barring revolutionary and as yet undiscovered new materials), AC induction motors have the most potential, and it would be interesting to see what would be able to fit as a hub motor. I’d love to be proven wrong, but I’ll be a doubter until I can touch it.




GUNS!

To some, I may fall in the “gun nut” category… there are a lot of things I’d call myself before I would put myself in the “gun owner” let alone “nut” category. Kitty lover, engineer, geek.

I am not the NRA- the NRA is a lobby for an industry. Both Alex Jones and Piers Morgan are ratings mongering freaks that are playing off of the fears of their demographics to sell advertising. Neither reflect my views.

I also feel that the current executive and legislative actions (both state and federal) are misguided and won’t do a damn thing to make anyone safer. When I hear the words “common sense” applied to legislation, I hear echos of “feel good” and ultimately, ineffective.




ChipKit Uno upgrade

A while back I got a Chipkit Uno32 and Max32 from Digilent. At this years Masters, I picked up a WiFi shield.  At first I tried the “Sketch” way, by using a cross platform development environment for it. Holy crap- people actually like working in this environment? It’s like sticking forks in my eyes. The limitations of working in this environment are daunting!

I blew away the built-in code and tried compiling the Microchip TCP/IP stack for the Uno32. It worked, but the memory was limited. Unbelieveably they put a small part on this board (PIC32MX320F128), with just 16K of RAM. That made it pretty limiting, so I pulled off the ‘MX320F128 and put a PIC32MX340F512. LOTS more RAM, and the stack compiles just fine, and just runs! Yay!




More MBAs?

I recently heard an NPR story with a person out of work for 2 years, and to improve his job prospects, he’s getting an MBA. Holy crap. I fear that this is the norm, but this is exactly the wrong thing- an MBA doesn’t help the country create wealth! We don’t need more managers!

Well, you might say that the manager helps others create. Bullshit. OK, maybe not complete bullshit, but the guy at the Tigermart, selling me my Diet Coke also helps me create. In a large organization managers are necessary, but they create *NOTHING* except the environment for the people who are truly creating value. If we persist with the focus of success as ‘management’ – this country, economically, is doomed.




Aqua-Rite Chlorine Generator Fix

I’ve got a saltwater pool. The damn thing wasn’t generating Chlorine, and I’m sick of algae. Doing some troubleshooting on my generator and found this site- unfortunately the simple fix didn’t help – there were no burnt traces, the board looked fine. There was some browning of the PCB near RZ3, which is an NTC (Negative Temperature Constant) Thermistor- After removing, checking, and re-soldering the relays, finding nothing, I started looking elsewhere. I measured the voltage across RZ3 and found it to be about 7V- according to the specs on the Ametherm website, this is *way* too much voltage across this component- I believe it has failed.

I shorted RZ3 and the generating light came on. I believe that the thermistor has failed. On my board (labeled GOLDLINE CONTROLS, PN:066012C-1 REV: C), the component RZ3 is labeled SR32 2R025. I found this at Digi-Key: at $2.69 ea (qty 1). After shorting this out, the current read about 4.25A (a little low, but my short isn’t perfect).

This is a safety related component- BE VERY CAREFUL. In fact, if you find this problem, just replace the board. However, if you don’t care about the safety (or lives) of those that swim in your pool, and want to save a few hundred dollars, this information might prove interesting.




Latest Board for PIC32

Just ordered this from BatchPCB. This will give the Digilent Chipkit Max32 an H-bridge, a 5Hz GPS, and a Wifi connection (using Microchip‘s MRF24WB0MA. BatchPCB may be slow, but at $2.50/in^2, the price is really good– the first prototype will cost $36.50 for the board.

I’m not going to be using any of the Arduino-like interfaces, just plan ol’ Microchip tools, like MPLAB X and MPLAB C32. If things go well, I may just even document this! This is meant to be an improvement upon the circuit I’ve already videoed. It will also be able to drive a small tracked robot platform around.




Green LEDs

0603 Green LEDs (Digikey) when you solder them “on” turn kinda orangish when the cathode (I think) gets hot. Interesting side-effect of overtemperaturing the part.




Software License Agreement

I think I shall be using the following in some of the code I release:

Software License Agreement

The software supplied herewith by Matt Bennett (the "Awesome dude") is intended and supplied to you, the Awesome Dude's customer, for use solely and exclusively with products designed to pay the Awesome Dude's bills.

The software is owned by the Awesome Dude, and is protected under applicable copyright laws. All rights are reserved. Any use in violation of the foregoing restrictions may subject the user to criminal sanctions under applicable laws, as well as to civil liability for the breach of the terms and conditions of this license.

THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED IN AN "AS IS" CONDITION. IT SHOULD NOT BE USED IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER. NO WARRANTIES, WHETHER EXPRESS, IMPLIED OR STATUTORY, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE APPLY TO THIS SOFTWARE. THE AWESOME DUDE SHALL NOT, IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, BE LIABLE FOR SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES, FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER.

IF YOU DO USE THIS CODE AND DO NOT PAY THE AWESOME DUDE, YOU'RE PUBLICLY ADMITTING YOU'RE A GIANT DOUCHE. YOU SHALL COMMIT TO WEARING A T-SHIRT WITH THE PHRASE "I AM A GIANT DOUCHE AND A SOFTWARE THIEF" IN LETTERS AT LEAST 5CM HIGH, VISIBLE AT ALL TIMES, AT EVERY MOMENT YOU ARE OUTSIDE YOUR HOME, FOR A PERIOD OF NO LESS THAN ONE YEAR.

YOU MAY ALLIEVE YOURSELF OF THE OBLIGATION IN THE ABOVE PARAGRAPH BY PROVIDING THE AWESOME DUDE AN ATTACHE CASE FULL OF UNMARKED, NON-SEQUENTIALLY NUMBERED $20 (US) BILLS.




Political Platform

We must sue Newt Gingrich for breach of the contract with America. We as citizens are due consideration!




CNC Working

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The wiring is a frightful mess (at the moment), but my CNC machine project that I started about 6 (!) years ago is running! Linux-cnc powered, 3 axes. I used a Harbor Freight 44991 Mini Mill, driven by a Geckodrive G540, along with some parts from LittleMachineShop, among other online suppliers.

I’m very surprised at how well the Geckodrive motor controller works. Of course, it connects via a parallel port, so I had to find a PCI parallel port card at Fry’s (covered in dust, and having to dodge the helpful white shirted minions that were sure that USB was better for me).

Now my challenge is to clean up the wiring, dress the cables, mount the computer out of the way of metal shavings, and become proficient at G-Code.




Radio, Radio, What Would Life Be Without It? (part 2- the audio!)

A while back I got a cassette from Doug (previous post) and it took me way too long to get it posted. Finally did.




Moon!

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Profit at any cost?

With the example of the manufactured California electricity crisis of 2000-2001, we know that large scale manipulation of markets has, can, and will happen. With the recent rise in gold prices, I’m wondering how much of the most recent debt crisis is a result of political and media manipulation by people driven solely by profit at any cost?

Yep, they took down Enron, but they were not the only player in that game. I’m not terribly prone to conspiracy theories- and I feel that this is mostly idle speculation, but opportunistic sleazeballs like Glenn Beck and his Goldline scam are coming out on the positive edge of this, while the vast majority of us want to work, produce something of real value to the world, as opposed to profit by market manipulation.

I’m not someone who believes most conspiracy theories- I’m a big fan of Occam’s razor.  I just don’t think the evidence is there to support most of ‘em (like the disguised racism of the birthers, the WTC being taken down by explosives). I have no evidence to support this- I’m speculating. What some believe to be conspiracies occasionally turn out to be closer to the truth than what was initially reported. From what I see and understand of human nature- most conspiracy theories are more about media profits than truth.




Android Flashing Hurdles

I tried to install a newer version of Android onto my old Samsung Moment. I may be no super 133t uber-hacker, but I’m not exactly a newbie. I ended up wanting to stick forks in my eyes! I first installed Linux in 1993, and have had at least one Linux server up since then.  I’m more comfortable in a command line environment, and I’m a pretty passable coder in languages that range from assembly to C and Perl (here’s a secret that most computer folks don’t want you to know about: having a huge list of programming languages on your resume is entirely irrelevant! At worst, every computer “language” is just another dialect of the same language!)

The bastards at Samsung decided to abandon the Moment (SPH-m900) after upgrading it to Android 2.1.  I’d really like to be able to have 2.3 on it, so I figured I would try to see what was available (2.2, for now). Some dedicated hackers have ported newer versions of Android to the Moment, however, even their super-basic instructions appear to require very specific experience.

You may ask, why do I really want to do this? My big reason is that I want to play around with an IOIO I got from Sparkfun, here. I really want this environment to succeed, particularly Google‘s Open Accessory (ADK) protocol. Yes, I have a Honeycomb tablet, and a phone that would work with it, but I’d really like to use the Moment- which is definitely fast enough (but not fast, relatively). Plus if I break the Moment, I don’t have to worry about signing up for a new contract!




LED Work Lights

Just finished my LED work light project, using parts from Deal Extreme, Home Depot, Lowes, and Harbor freight.

I started with 3) PN  70688 High Power 16W 950LM LED Emitter Metal Strip (12~14V) 3 for USD $54.90.
I pop-riveted these strips to some aluminum C-Channel, using JB Weld instead of heat grease.  I also used JB Weld to hold on some additional aluminum c channel on either side of the main channel that holds the LED strips. I wired the LEDs up in series and connected it to (1) PN 48280 Waterproof 1A 30W Power Constant Current Source LED Driver (100~240V) USD $17.10.  Added a bunch of rivets, drilled some holes, added a fuse on the AC, wrapped it in heat shrink tape, and plugged it in. Looks about right- a rated 2850 lumens.  I’ll have some more pictures eventually. Mostly I needed some decent light over where I want to build a workbench in the “dirty-side” of the garage.




Chop shop with no just desserts (or media coverage after the bust)

Heard about Tyrone Baker and Justin Fletcher getting a chop shop taken down in 2004. The company was called Tybrid. Once I heard about it I decided to google it- definitely got some strong reactions, of course, you see very little media follow-up after the arrest.  According to what I heard, they were also running a legitimate business, but mostly stripping Hondas for VTEC engines, modifying engine serial numbers, and reselling, often via eBay. The culprits were convicted, got probation(!) and 2 semi-truckloads of equipment returned to them.  Shortly afterwards one or both of them moved to Arizona. It seems that the leaders managed to keep themselves pretty clean.  Of course, I don’t have the full transcripts of the case. Clearly there were some smart people involved in the legitimate and the criminal businesses going on. It also seems that they should be smart enough to see what was really going on.

I thought one review was pretty interesting:

I wouldn’t change anything about my local shop. Tybrid Performance in Austin, Tx. I get all my parts there really cheap (one time my car broke down in the front of the shop and the owner Tyrone gave me a used alternator and the tools to fix it there right in front of the shop). People are friendly, no rice in the shop, Tyrone is the ultimate Honda G (he drives a Dually and his GF drives an NSX) that knows everything about Honda’s, they only work mainly on Honda’s nothing else, he’s always got car’s laying around with extra parts, shop has B and D series whatever you can think of laying around, I could go on but everthing is just awesome,  [...]

Posted early December, right before the shop got busted. Really cheap, and always got car’s laying around with extra parts, nope. No warning signs there at all! No doubt these guys knew what they were doing with Hondas, but it is hard to believe that so much illegal activity could have been going on without their knowledge.




From a Xoom!

Trying this out from my Motorola Xoom. Maybe this will inspire me to post more. We will see.




If you love the USA…

Don’t program ARM devices!  They are a company based in the United Kingdom, and we all know, they want their colonies back!  I wouldn’t be surprised to find that ARM bases their design principles on the Lucas model of vehicular electrical design.




Truck Repair

Burnt ThumbDesi’s truck wouldn’t start last night when we went out for dinner.  The ground wire was broken, and all I could find was some speaker wire- just holding it against a bolt wasn’t working too well, so I pressed it down really hard with my thumb. Well, it got really hot. Instantly. But the truck started. I guess it might be a 3rd degree burn according to the NIH: “Third-degree (full thickness) burns extend into deeper tissues. They cause white or blackened, charred skin that may be numb.” Cut myself too, while stripping the wire.




Zombie Ants

There are be zombie ants. They have been around for at least 48 million years. Could it have jumped up to humans?