Archive for August, 2010

Spray-on films turns any windows to Solar Panel

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

ensol.jpg

Photo courtesy of Gizmag

Imagine if all the windows of a building, and perhaps even all its exterior walls, could be put to use as solar collectors. Soon, you may not have to imagine it, as the Norweigan solar power company EnSol has patented a thin film solar cell technology designed to be sprayed on to just such surfaces. Unlike traditional silicon-based solar cells, the film is composed of metal nanoparticles embedded in a transparent composite matrix, and operates on a different principle. EnSol is now developing the product with help from the University of Leicester’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

“One of the key advantages is that it is a transparent thin film that can be coated onto window glass so that windows in buildings can also become power generators,” said Chris Binns, Professor of Nanotechnology at Leicester. “Obviously some light has to be absorbed in order to generate power but the windows would just have a slight tinting (though a transmission of only 8-10% is common place for windows in the ‘sun belt’ areas of the world). Conversely the structural material of the building can also be coated with a higher degree of absorption. This could be side panels of the building itself, or even in the form of ‘clip-together’ solar roof tiles.”

Research partners are developing prototype squares of the material, measuring 16 square centimeters each. Ultimately, EnSol hopes to achieve a cell efficiency of at least 20 percent, and have its product ready for the commercial market by 2016.

This development is reminiscent of Sphelar cells – solidified silicon drop-based solar cells recently developed by Kyosemi Corporation. Although the technology is different, they are also intended to be used in solar panels that double as windows.

Courtesy of Gizmag

Modem used in an alarm system

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

ORP Systems

This alarm system senses motion and then alerts you by phone. And this fellow, [Oscar] had an old external modem sitting around and, with some wise hardware choices, he came up with a simple circuit to use it. First up is the PIC 16F628A chosen because it doesn’t require an external crystal. This connects with the modem via a DS275 RS232 transceiver because it requires no external parts for connection. The final portion of the puzzle is a PIR sensor that triggers a pin interrupt in the sleeping PIC, which then dials your number to alert you. It doesn’t look like anything happens other than your phone ringing, but that’s enough for a simple system. We’re glad to see how easy it was to use that modem… time to go hunting for one in dreaded junk trunk. Don’t miss the clip after the break.

What you can see in the video is: The modem is turned on and the pic configures it to disable command echo, change to return numeric responses and turn off the volume of the modem speaker. The user has 15 seconds to leave the room, then the pic waits a motion detection. When it is detected the pic dials a fixed phone number and the user will receive the alert.

The pic is programmed in CCS and the source code is included. Well, I bet it’ll be a great project to make. ^_^

Source ORP Systems

iPort turns iPad and iPod touch into in-wall touchscreens

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

iportwallmountedipad.jpg
Photos courtesy of The Unofficial Apple Weblog

With iPad, home automation would be much easier system to be installed and implemented – and the price would be more affordable.

iPort has introduced two new products in its Control Mount Series for the Apple iPad and iPod touch.  The CM2000 Control Mount for iPad and the iPort CM100 Control Mount for iPod touch both integrate the handheld Apple touchscreen products in an in-wall frame, transforming them into in-wall touchscreens for display of weather, news, stocks and many other preferred Apps.

The CM100 also transforms the iPod touch into an in-wall Internet radio source, and connects to any stereo or audio/video receiver.  Users can download their choice of any Internet radio apps available in the Apple App Store and play the audio back through any connected stereo system.
The CM2000 (US$499) and CM100 ($250) may be installed in either a vertical or horizontal orientation, depending on the functionality and design of the room.  When installed into the iPort, the iPad and iPod touch remain constantly charged.

Courtesy: The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Macsimum News

Arad Metering Technologies Conserves Water via Battery-Operated Drones

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

remote meter reader
Illustration by Chris Philpot

The word drone may sounds related to any contemporary sci-fi flicks, or images of attacks carried out remotely on hostile lands, or even your high-school biology teacher’s voice. We don’t expect a drone to help us save water, but that’s what Arad Metering Technologies intends to do. The Israeli company’s battery-operated drone is one of the novel tools it’s deploying to help consumers and companies conserve H2O — and to make money.

Such an idea would come out of Israel is no coincidence. The country is poor in water and rich in tech innovation, much of it born of constant military conflict. Israel pioneered the use of unmanned aerial vehicles after it lost many fighter jets in the 1973 war. But Arad’s drones don’t fight: They read data from the company’s patented water-meter system to detect leakage or, in irrigation systems, drought.

The World Bank estimates that water wastage costs utilities $14 billion a year worldwide; in developing countries, 200 million more people could be served by the water lost to leaks and theft. Arad CEO Dan Winter says this is largely a consequence of how the business works in places where water is cheap or untaxed: “You train people to abuse water because they pay very little.”

water-drone
Photos courtesy of Arad Technologies LTD

With this innovation, instead of meter reading – it can provide real time monitoring of water supply infrastructures. Its technology can find irregularities — a pipe failure, an unusually low flow rate, or a too-constant one that could indicate a leak — in a few hours, rather than every 60 days as with a typical meter reading.

Arad’s system is built around what looks like a standard meter. The difference is on the inside, where you’ll find 3G wireless technology, a microcontroller, and 20-year batteries. Every 11 to 30 seconds, the system transmits data, which can be picked up by a drone (best for quickly covering big distances in remote areas) or by a drive-by or fixed-base reader. The data are then analyzed by computer to gauge how much water has been consumed, how much was lost, and even where tampering may have taken place. As a result, companies can save both water and man hours.

The possibilities for Arad’s services go far beyond water should be covering abilities to monitor everything from municipal infrastructure, such as traffic lights, to security-camera networks — basically any complex system prone to localized failures and waste. Arad has its own way, to proof drones could be associated with saving, not destroying; life, not death.

Courtersy: Tree Hugger, Fast Company

Disposable Toilet

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

A biodegradable plastic bag called the Peepoo could make life much easier for the hundreds of millions of urban slum dwellers who lack access to a toilet. The bag, designed by Swedish architect nd professor Anders Wilhemson, serves as a single-use toilet that can be used anywhere. “It is almost like flush and forget,” says Wilhemson. “When you knot it, the smell is gone even more quickly than from a toilet.”
The bag features a layer of foil that can be used as a glove to shuttle waste into the bag without contaminating the fingers. Once the bag is closed off by knotting up the opening, urea crystals inside break down waste into pathogen-free fertilizer that can be used to help grow food. “You not only get the toilet, you also get an asset,” says Wilhemson, who envisions a system in which Peepoo users can exchange their waste-filled bags for mobile phone credits.

The Peepoo has been well received in tests by residents of Nairobi, Kenya, and Mymensingh, Bangladesh, and will be more widely available in these areas and elsewhere soon. Daily production is currently limited to a few thousand bags, though by January 2011 this should ramp up to half a millin. By 2014, Wilhemson expects the unsubsidised price per bag to fall to a few cents.

A great stuff to pet owner as well. Can’t wait to get that from a retail shop.