• Category Archives Opto22
  • Up for air – sorta

    Well, that’s the travel mostly done.
    Freddy and I are going to take some personal time and are headed out to the Grand Canyon for a few days at the end of the month to spend some quiet time together.
    Other than that, we are just super busy at work with the new product launch.
    At home, we have spent a week up at our friends avocado grove house and dog sitting, so that has kept us busy in the regard that we are not home. (Weird sentence was weird).

    Computer wise, we have a backlog of projects. I am doing more with MQTT (publish / subscribe message broker), looking to move more of my data topics to the server I am running at home.
    We are also trying to get more of my IP cameras up and running and recording. Preferably via motion detection, but constant record would be Ok as well.
    I am trying to build an aircraft tracker for Phoenix.
    I also want to move my whole aircraft tracker server off the PC, it uses too much power, I need more than a Pi, but less than a full blown PC to run it, so yeah, I am looking at options (Gary and Dan gave me a Windows tablet when Dan was out, I am eyeing it off, but its got a weird Windows install, so I am trying to figure out how to reload Windows and then I can evaluate if I can run my aircraft stuff on it).

    Personally, going pretty good. We have tweaked a few things and am doing better for it.
    We got a new bio sensor, it clips inside my belt clip and detects my breathing. If I get tense, it vibrates to warn me.
    So yeah, now I pack three, one on each wrist and one on my belt….. Go ahead make your jokes, I will be here when your done…..

    Also, Kickstarter. I might have backed one under thirty seconds of it launching.
    Raspberry Boom. It is from the same people that did the earth quake sensor, only this time….

    The Raspberry Boom home monitor detects “infra” sounds, or extremely low frequencies of sound, that are completely imperceivable to your ears. These sounds are less than ~20 Hz, or the lower limit of what is audible to humans, and Raspberry Boom can detect them from great distances all around your local region.

    I plan to put it on the roof or as close to it as I can (for a start, I am thinking under the eves)… Just a bit worried that the attic fan will have a low frequency sound that will drive it nuts, but I will deal with that if it becomes a problem.

    Ok, well, I think that is as quick an update as we can manage.



  • Tesla big battery

    Lots to talk about here, but hard to say just how many people would be excited about the frequency of the grid in Australia…. So we will keep it (a little) under control.

    Tesla big battery outsmarts lumbering coal units after Loy Yang trips.

    The Tesla big battery is having a big impact on Australia’s electricity market, far beyond the South Australia grid where it was expected to time shift a small amount of wind energy and provide network services and emergency back-up in case of a major problem.

    Last Thursday, one of the biggest coal units in Australia, Loy Yang A 3, tripped without warning at 1.59am, with the sudden loss of 560MW and causing a slump in frequency on the network.

    What happened next has stunned electricity industry insiders and given food for thought over the near to medium term future of the grid, such was the rapid response of the Tesla big battery to an event that happened nearly 1,000km away.

    Even before the Loy Yang A unit had finished tripping, the 100MW/129MWh had responded, injecting 7.3MW into the network to help arrest a slump in frequency that had fallen below 49.80Hertz.

    A few things here, firstly, the author does not seem to fully understand (or they write in such a way that I am confused about their understanding) the point of mains frequency and automation.
    I was involved in a customer application for Opto in measuring mains frequency.
    You can read my blog about it over on the Opto 22 blog.
    Unlike in that blog where I glossed over the why and focused on the how, here I want to mention the why… The customer was UK based and they wanted to be able to start a series of backup generators (diesel and petrol (and perhaps natural gas)) if the mains frequency sagged.
    Its important to note that the frequency will sag before the voltage if there is too much load and not enough generation… So, in short, the Opto measures the grid, if it sags, start the generator and get paid. And yes, do this optomagicly and do it in under 200 milliseconds.
    Tesla is no different.
    The inverters measure the grid frequency, if it sags, start the export inverters, and no doubt they can do it much faster than 200 milliseconds.

    Here is the thing. Why in the UK, why Australia, why not USA? Same answer.
    Because the UK is small, the USA grid is fully interconnected (except for Texas) and too big, Australia is small.
    In other words, the USA grid frequency is solid because from coast to coast it is connected and there are lots of places that will spin up a generator and prop things up if it sags. In the UK and Australia, no so much. Thus small petrol or battery generators can make a difference.
    Our customer was selling the Opt bolt on option to his customers and they got paid every time they started their generators and saved the day, just like Teslas big battery did (will).

    You can stop reading there if you like… But I wanted to explain why I wonder about the author of this piece….

    So why did the Tesla big battery respond when not contracted?

    One reason is because it can, and so it did.

    The other reason is less clear, but more intriguing. It is contracted to provide such grid services by the South Australia government.

    The details of that contract are not released, but it wouldn’t surprise if that contract allowed, or even encouraged, such intervention – just to rub in the message about a cleaner, faster, smarter grid to the technology dinosaurs in the eastern states.

    They seem to make the point that somehow Tesla could chose to see that the grid frequency instability was from Victoria and not South Australia and thus not respond, because ‘it is not in our contract to prop up Victoria’.
    Australia does not have a smart grid, one spot on the grid can not know where the electrons are coming from. That is not how it works.
    Tesla saw the sag and had to do something about it to protect itself.
    I love electronics because of this reason, cold, mechanical, emotionless, without politics or borders……



  • MQTT on Edge

    Another video is done and posted….
    This time, it’s me talking about the exact steps you need to do to configure MQTT on the Ignition Edge Gateway that is the groov Box.

    Paul once again has done a fantastic job editing this and making me look like I know what I am talking about.

    We are currently helping Terry with his next video script, just as technical as the others, so its taking some time to get the script dialed in.



  • Temperature sensing

    We shot this video first.
    The plan was to do this one first as it was the simplest and use it as a sort of template for the others.
    For the most part it worked.

    Fun fact for this one.
    The groov controlled fish tank is just outside the server room, so when Paul used some audio processing to remove the humm of the servers, you can hear the bubbling of the fish tank.
    We had to find a happy ballance between the two.
    Also I did not move my arm enough when wiring the module, so it gets in the way, we fixed that on the other videos, but figured it was not worth a reshoot.

    That said, we re-shot this entire video 3 times. The first we just did not like internally to Opto. It just did not tell a story.
    The second we played to a group of students. They gave such compelling feedback that we went back to the script and re-wrote the whole thing. Again.
    This is the third go around you see here.



  • Monitor power use via KYZ

    Here is another of our signal videos.
    This one is about monitoring power use at a facility.
    Most times putting a CT or current transformer around the mains power lead coming into a building is too expensive or disruptive, so getting the power company to fit pulsing outputs is usually quick and easy.

    Granted, you are not likely to see this at a house (Gary would be exception, his place fairly glows with energy 24*7), but I’m sharing because my job is so weird that you need to see something about what I do all day.

    The amount of work that goes into these 6ish minutes is astounding.
    The script gets about 20 or so revisions as we refine it and take out extra words…. We also have to tweak the script to make sure it flows over the whole video and that each section meshes in with the whole video.
    The whole thing is so complicated that I have to use a teleprompter to read the script. We use an iPad and one way mirror to reflect the words in front of the camera.
    I have a foot operated button on the floor to pause and play the script as I am reading it. (I have it set to play faster than I can read, that way I can pause and change the pace of what I am saying without having to wait for the script to catch up with me).