• Solar duck curve

    I really need to get to that blog about the duck curve… But it just ain’t going to happen between now and the 21st.

    Ok Ok, here is the quick version.
    We have so much solar in California, Hawaii and Australia that each day, the sun rises and the power stations have to produce less power as all that power from solar panels gets injected into the grid.
    Then, the people go home from work and turn on their home AC and plasma TV’s… just as the sun is setting, so now the power stations have to ramp up their base load.
    The resulting curve looks like a ducks back (the green line).

    Hence, duck curve.
    (Yes, it changes shape a bit on the weekends, but not that much).

    Stop and think about this….. power has to be used at the same time it is produced. Or flip it around, you have to produce the exact amount of power that is required in real time. The power grid is NOT a battery. There is NO flywheel. It is all done, it HAS to be all done, in real time.

    So, what if there is more solar than you can use? Just ask Hawaii.
    Bad things happen. The solar feeds back into the power station and tries to run it in reverse. This is bad. Very Very VERY bad. (Trust me on this one).

    Another challenge? The amount of ramping up and down the power companies have to do each day. They have to shed generation in the mornings as the sun rises and then ramp up the generators in the evening.
    Very complex and very expensive.

    Another challenge? Wind turbines. We get sunny windy days. Bleh.

    Another challenge? Clouds. None in Southern California, but other parts of the state have some (or so I am told). As the clouds come and go, so does the solar power.

    Can this get any tricker?

    Yup. August 21st 2017.
    There will be a solar eclipse across the USA.


    The grid has never (ever) been tested like this. Ever.

    I am going to be sitting at work looking at my groov web pages.
    I have grid frequency, grid voltage, solar radiation and grid base load graphs… I will be cooking my popcorn before the lights go out…..

  • 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).

  • Recycle your electric car in Western Australia

    Blogging about this not because of 98% of the article….. But because of the one or two sentences at the veerrrrrrrrry bottom of the blurb.


    Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that WA is getting a slice of the lithium pie, I really do… but yeah, the fact that we throw away around 8,000 tons of it a year has got to stop.

    Just to be clear, it’s not just electric cars, but laptop batteries, mobile phones, drones and, well, pretty much every gadget these days has a lithium battery powering it….. Don’t toss it, take it to a recycle center.



  • How to wire a prox sensor

    We have been busy at work videoing a new series of short ‘how to’s.
    We took a range of signals and then did a video around each one.
    The plan is to cover the basic input and output signals and then record a video on the software side of things.
    We are one video short of the physical signals, then we will start on a series of videos for the software side of things.
    The thought is that when we are done we will have a range of videos that will help anyone go from the physical world to the software world.
    Or, put another way, help an IT guy get his data into his software… ie, IoT.

    Figured I would share each of these videos with you lot since they should be entertaining enough to keep you amused for 6-7 minutes.

    We had to shoot the paper clip bit a few times, it kept rolling off the cylinder… We started out using a compass and seeing it twitch as the magnet went past, but it really did not view all that well, the paper clip clearly shows something moving up and down inside on the shaft.
    Also I wired the thing with the power supply switched on. Opps. So the video guy had to edit the LED and turn it off.
    The magic really is in the editing. You have a goofball ‘actor’ trying to make it sound like he is not reading and needs all the help he can get, so we throw in lots of graphics and they take time to draw and animate…. The editor (Paul) is just a whizz at making me look and sound good. No way we could do this without him.