Monday, October 27, 2008

Motion sensing

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for using motion sensing to improve lighting. At my previous office we installed motion sensor switches most everywhere, and the lights definitely were off a lot more. Bathroom lights tended to get left on all night and weekend, and the lights in out of the way places that people were too lazy to turn off also benefited from the motion sensor switches. However some of them would repeatedly get set back to manual. The motion sensor wasn't always good enough (so that when you were behind the server rack it didn't see you and turned off the lights and the delay was set too short). I recall that we paid about $30 for the drop in switch replacements like these
though amazon seems to have some cheaper options like this
Current cons include: jerkiness of on and off, having to wait for lights to flicker on (esp. fluorescents), extra costs of the sensor switch, sensor switch getting blocked by furniture, sensor switches getting turned on by pets or breezes outdoors. Also the first one I link to, a certain percentage will die after some amount of time and require replacement.

Note that the replacement switches are the most unobtrusive, but they don't always lend to ideal placement for the sensor. Also you need an electrician to do the replacement (though certain electrical engineers I know have done the replacements yourself, though I don't recommend it as death or hair standing on it's end can occur -- remember once you let the smoke out of your electrical system it's very hard to get it back)

My motion sensor dream:
Switch would have off, auto, 10% auto, and on.
Auto would leave the light off until motion is detected, it would quickly ramp the light from 0 to 100%.
10% auto would leave the light at 10% (so you can vaguely see and not trip) and quickly ramp to 100% when motion is detected.
When leaving a room it would gradually lower the light from 100% to either 10 or 0% depending on the setting.

I think these features would eliminate a lot of the issues that people have with motion sensors lights.

Also, a lot of houses have motion sensors already for alarms, can we build off that somehow? For that matter the alarms also know when you enter and leave a house, that could tie in to a turn off all the lights when you leave sort of scenario.

For those with incandescent sockets: screw in motion sensor

or those with plug in lamps: pluggable motion sensor

Please note that I didn't do extensive searching on amazon for the best, I just found the ones I originally bought and amazon recommended the other 3.

Note, there are cheaper generic versions of these sensors findable on google products results, though they are from unknown suppliers and unknown stores, but please report back with your findings and let us know good ones that are cheap!

Battery powered light turn-er off-er

So um yeahhhhh. While I agree with the goal of this thing, making a battery power motor that physically flips switches for you doesn't seem to be the best way to go about doing things. How much more resources does this take than a standard motion sensor switch combo? However for those that are unwilling/unable to replace their existing switches I guess that you could over come the battery power requirement and construction requirement to save net energy. I'm sure this will be available soon in skymall.
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Well, actually it's quite a neat gizmo—it's battery powered, and simply mounts directly over a light switch, which it then throws for you if it doesn't detect movement in front of its sensor. Plus it turns the lights on when you enter.
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Friday, October 24, 2008

Boeing 767 - 60 gallons to london

Ok, I know the comparison isn't totally valid (because you wouldn't be able to drive your car to london), but I still think it's fun. Though this is probably assuming a 100% full flight, and you have to compare the trip to not going at all but... my gut says pretty fuel efficient and those people blaming the aviation industry for global warming should be looking elsewhere!
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  • It takes approximately 60 gallons of fuel per passenger to get from New York to London on board a 767-400ER. The same volume of gasoline would propel an economy car about half of that distance!
  • The noise level of a Boeing 767 taking off from a 1.5 mile long runway is about the same as the average street corner’s traffic noise.
  • Here are some interesting facts about Boeing 767s:
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    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    Fiat introduces usb drive and software for improving your lead foot

    This is *so* in the spirit of this blog. Collecting data to help you improve how you do things so reduce our resource consumption.
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    The program will measure a driver's fuel consumption, speed, braking style, and even how efficiently he or she shifts gears with their manual transmission. It seems very similar in functionality to the PLX Kiwi from PLX Devices that plugs in to a car's diagnostics port.

    Blue&Me is an onboard computer system currently offered in some Fiats and Alfa Romeos, and possibly soon, in Ford cars, as well. It enables drivers to listen to their MP3 player, make calls on their cell phone, and have text messages read aloud to them. The system includes a USB port, which Fiat has announced could be the key to a 15 percent reduction in a car's CO2 emissions.

    But exactly how bad are drivers when it comes to abruptly starting and stopping? And are they really shifting their manual transmission car correctly for optimizing fuel?

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