Sunday, November 08, 2015

Autumn Almanac

Early morning in South Snowdonia 2nd November 2015
Part 1 of a series of posts describing open source activities in the Autumn quarter of 2015.

This last week I have been travelling my "Autumn Tour" which incorporated a trip to the Isle of Man to see family and friends, then on to Liverpool for Oggcamp 2015, and then to Snowdonia, to spend a few days at the Open Energy Monitor premises - for further development of the Open Inverter. Finally home by way of Birmingham's NEC to spend a few hours at the Advanced Engineering Exhibition and trade show.

Unfortunately because of the timing of the Isle of Man ferry service, I missed a big chunk of Oggcamp on the Saturday, but made up for it on Saturday evening having a good chance to talk to a range of people at the excellent Halloween Night social gathering.

Sailing into the sunset-en route to the Isle of Man 28th Oct 2015

On Sunday, I helped out at the "Hardware Hacking" workshop - and engaged some local youngsters with some simple hardware hacks - where we added some extra LEDs to some "blaster guns" bought form the local Poundshop.

After leaving Oggcamp 15, it was a quick buzz down the Wirral's M53 and along the North Wales coast, where I encountered the weather extremes of a beautiful sunset - and also "peasoup" fog  - on what was the warmest November day on record - in mid Wales.

Meeting up with Trystan Lea in Llanberis, we had a chat over a beer about open source design tools, before attending a meeting about an innovative project to restore a former chapel in Caernarfon and convert it into a community workspace.
In the hills above Ysbty Ifan heading for the A5

Returning that evening with Trystan to his family home in south Snowdonia, we had 3 days ahead of open source hardware and software hacking - and time to push forward with the Open Inverter project.

The Bothy - with potential micro-hydro stream in the foreground
The Open Inverter forms just one small part of a small scale renewable energy system.

Some of the other things that are under consideration in the wider project are :

1. A low voltage DC "ring main" with programmable charger outlets for powering portable devices.

2. A battery storage system based on Li Ion electric bike batteries.

3. Simple, practical methods of mounting a 250W pv panel on a variety of properties.

4. A motorised solar tracker-mount for a single 250W panel.

5. A low water volume shower (35 litres), with direct heating as a solar dump load.

6. Integrated energy monitoring of micro-solar systems within the domestic environment

7. A micro-hydro system used to extract dc power from a nearby stream.

In the last month I have experimented with BTN8960 half-H-Bridge ICs and more traditional H-bridges using off the shelf N-FETs and driver ICs.  After my Snowdon trip, we hope to finalise the design of a simple, low cost H-bridge pcb and stackable microcontroller pcb - so that anyone can experiment with the open-inverter design.

This work is ongoing and we hope to have a few prototype pcbs ready for the next Snowdonia meetup - that is planned for the weekend before Christmas.

Looking forwards to 2016, there is a meetup at the British Computer Society premises (just off the Strand)  as part of the Open Source Hardware User Group (OSGUG) "Open Energy Interoperability" hacking workshop planned for Thursday 18th February.  This will be an all day workshop event with lightning talks, workshop sessions and an Oshug meeting in the evening to disseminate the day's proceedings.

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