Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Quote of the Month Enda Kenny


This is a Gimlet (G - as in get)

" ... the Vatican’s reaction 
was to parse and analyse it 
with the gimlet eye 
of a canon lawyer"   

Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny


Monday, July 25, 2011

Smaller Better Wind Farms


A Different Approach to 
Farming the Wind

Most current types of wind farm utilise horizontal-axis wind turbines. These turbines need a lot of space to operate in because of wind turbulence etc. - the spacing between the towers has to be very large indeed.

This means that turbines have to be made larger and taller and built in high places in order to catch more of the wind. All this adds to the cost and it impacts heavily on the visual landscape.

The New  Approach

This very clever study has looked at other ways of harvesting the wind. It used a 100% physical and practical study -  rather than a load of old computer generated figures. The ideas, like most great ideas, are very simple.

The experiment worked with various configurations of a “matrix” of counter-rotating Vertical Axis Wind Turbines. The idea uses the turbine created turbulence or vortexes to advantage.

In the experiment, they measured the various parameters including the most important one - how much power the configuration could collect - and do you know what??  They found a configuration that returned twice as much power per acre as with the Horizontal Axis Turbines.

Installation costs could be substantially reduced because these vertical turbines did not need to be massive and vastly expensive giants.

Test Wind-Farm with 10 meter turbines 
100M mark shows current typical size turbines

An additional advantage was the visual impact was very greatly reduced. So half the land needed - half the installation costs -  and twice the generated power sound good?

 Prof. John O. Dabiri

The guy with the brains and the drive is John O. Dabiri Graduate Aeronautical Laboratories and Bioengineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA. (I suspect that might just be John in the bottom right corner of the top photo above)

Thank you Professor Dabiri - this looks like really promising work - good luck with the development stages.

Here is the link to the original publication:



Friday, July 22, 2011

LED bulbs and Repairing PART 3


Two New
6 Watt LED Bulbs

Two New 6 watt GU10 LEDs Left one is more expensive and less light output

Got my new LED bulbs in the post this morning. Two flavours - if you like - of the same type of bulb. Both types are 3 x 2 watt diodes giving 6 watts in total, fitted into a GU10 package.

Externally, the only real difference is in the Heatsink design, the golden one on the left has a somewhat prettier shape about it in my opinion.

1st observation - the silver coloured LED has the lens retaining ring loose on it. This is the circular piece of metal holding the plastic lens against the LED diodes, and in turn it holds the Star or LED diode mounting plate firmly against the heatsink. If the ring is loose, (1) The lens will not be efficiently held in place, and (2) The mounting disc can come away for full contact with the heatsink and thus lead to overheating of the LED diodes. And as discussed, heat is the great enemy of LEDs.

Simple comparison of Light Output

New 6 watt (Gold) LED on the left - An older  5 watt on right

In the above photo, I have put the two LEDs shining on a mat white wall. The window below has morning sunlight showing - so you get a fair colour comparison to the "warm white" light of these LEDs.

On the left side is the new 6 watt gold coloured and more expensive of the two types of LED, and on the right you have the light from a 5 watt LED I have had for some time. I would say the 5 watt LED wins out in terms of brightness - not by a lot but it definitely has a tad more light output.

The 2 New 6watt LEDs compared Left the Golden one and Right silver

Next we have a direct comparison between the two types of 6 watt LED bulbs. The same "gold coloured" and more expensive LED is still on the left, while on the right we have the other 6 watt LED silver coloured and less expensive.

What would you say? The silver LED has a much more yellow light closer to incandescent bulbs - AND it has IMHO a bit more light output as well. So if you are thinking of buying these LED bulbs, save yourself a few dollars and get the  silver coloured ones - BUT be sure to tighten up the lens retaining rings BEFORE you use them.

More on LEDs and repairing them to come soon.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Repairing LED Lamps Part 2


More Bits of a LED Bulb
Part 2 in the 
Repairing LED Bulbs Series

What you are looking at in the above photo is a close up of a "star" or mounting disc for the LED diodes. You can see on the top right where I removed a faulty LED diode. You can see also where I have started to scrape away the old thermal paste from the mounting area . The old paste comes away quite easily by gently scraping with the tip of a small penknife.

I have un-soldered the power leads which come up through the square hole in the middle, and I have clearly marked the contacts in pencil with the  + and - so I don't get them wrong when I re-solder. The reason I have un-soldered the "star" input leads is twofold, one is so I  can check the driver circuit, and two is it allows me to work on the star more effectively.

The above picture shows the heatsink. It is really quite a pretty piece of aluminium. It's sole purpose is to radiate away the heat generated by the LED diodes. The same type of heatsink moulding is used in both the GU10 and MR16 bulbs. The base has regular screw threading but the outer rim has a threading but into the leading edges of the fins.

There - you have a good view of the threads on the fin edges. This is where the ring that retains the main lens is screwed onto. It is very important not to cross-thread these guys - needless to say! It is also important that the retaining ring is fully tightened, as this presses the lens against the star, and in turn presses that star against the flange of the heatsink. If the lens retaining ring gets loose, the star will not have good thermal conduction to the heatsink - and the LEDs will either blow or go off colour and dim.

What you are looking at in the above photo is the base of a GU10 lamp with the driver circuit, which is usually pushed down into the tube, pulled out for inspection.

And here is the driver circuit board with it's little transformer and capacitors visible. The red and black leads are the positive and negative DC voltage going to the LED diodes.

That's it for this post. Keep a look out for more posts in this series. They may not be posted in one chain but are more likely to be interspersed with other material. Also, I am waiting for some spare parts to arrive from the Far East, and this might delay the series a bit.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Repairing LED Bulbs Part 1


What makes up a LED Bulb?

It is possible to repair several types of LED bulb - so don't immediately bin your duds. Over a number of posts I hope to outline the procedure of disassembling and repairing two type of LED lamps, the MR16 12 volt type and the GU10 high voltage type.

 To start the series off, I will introduce the pieces that make up a bulb and show how they are fitted. At the core of most current LED lamps are little LED diodes like the one shown in the above photo. The above unit is a 1 watt warm white LED diode. Similar units come in 2 watts - 3 watts - 5watts - 10 watts etc.

The actual diode itself is very tiny and is encapsulated in a plastic housing with a little lens fitted on top to focus the light. It has a metal backing with which to be bonded to a heatsink. A heatsink is essentially a chunk of metal the purpose of which is to carry away the heat being generated. Heat is the great enemy of LEDs.

LED diode units have a + positive and a - negative lead or wire. They have to have the correct polarity and the correct voltage applied, otherwise they blow very rapidly. In the above example, the negative connector has an elongated slot in it to represent the negative symbol.

Above is a faulty LED diode that I removed from it's "star" or mounting disc. You can see the connectors have been cut through. The diodes are both electrically soldered into place by the two contacts, and also are glued to the disc by a special heat carrying cement.

Above you can see the "star" or mounting plate and the empty place where I prised off the faulty diode. The diode is to the right with the underside or bottom metal contact plate upward and showing. You can also see the remains of the thermal paste on the mounting plate.

The "star" or mounting plate above is common to both the 12 volt MR16  type of bulb and to the GU10 high voltage type. The difference between the two types is in the type of driver circuit used in the bulb.

I will be continuing with this series over the next couple of weeks.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Blog Comments


Embedded Links
Indeed any external Links
Are Banned from this Blog

I have been getting a numbers of comments to this blog recently which contain links. Some of the comments are worthy of publication but because there have embedded links, they are immediately sent to the trash can.

I have made it clear, on several occasions, that I will not publish comments or any other material that contains links. I have worked very hard to keep this blog 100% non-commercial, non-political, and otherwise free and independent. So please if you have a comment or a piece you would like published, do not embed any links.

Thank you.


Smoking costs Ireland €365million every year


Smokers are costing Ireland
€1million a Day
(And YES this is a Sustainability and Environmental Issue and not just a rant!)

If you smoke, you are not just injuring yourself and your family, you are also a part of the €365million a year of extra burden on the economy -  through lost working days, medical costs, and related costs.

So what can we do about this? My wife and I learned some very good principles in our study of psychology which we applied to rearing our children. One of these principles from Alfred Adler states; "the more responsible I become - the less responsible you become".

If we apply that principle to this situation you get; "the more the state takes responsibility for smokers and the consequence of their actions, the less will smokers feel the need to take responsibility".

By making all smokers feel fully responsible for all the consequences of their actions, it will do far more than any advertising campaigns to get across the message. But how do we apply consequences in this situation?

A few suggestions:

1, Smokers have to pay more for medical services for any condition affected by smoking. Already many surgeons will not operate on smokers because of the risks involved. What if smokers were charged say 30% extra by way of a special tax to cover the extra burden and risks, do you not think that it would get the message across in a very powerful and perhaps painful way?

2. Tax on environmental pollution. Smoking caused a lot of rubbish on our streets etc. It poisons the air we breath, it wastes natural resources. Place separate taxes on the manufacturers, the retailers, and the users.

3. Make it legal for prospective employers to turn down an applicant on the basis they smoke.

4. Refuse sick pay to smokers who are out of work with related illnesses.

Sounds Harsh?

Yes it sounds very harsh - but this is reality. What is NOT reality or realistic is the current situation where I can abuse myself in any way I want and you have to pick up the bill for my behaviour. As it stands our society is placing a safety net under this abuse. Take away the safety net, and the tight-rope walkers will have to be more careful.

To be perfectly honest, I believe the the same set of rules should also apply to all those that abuse drink or drugs. I would go one further regarding hospital A and E wards full of drunks on the weekend, IMHO there should be a minimum charge for drunken individuals of €500. This would help cover the cost of security for the hard-pressed staff, it would cover the cleaning up of vomit and other fouling, and it might even lessen the numbers of self-abused individuals taking up scarce resources needed by those more deserving of them.

So what are your feelings on this? Is Ireland starting to think more realistically? I would be happy to hear some realistic comments.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Low Cost LED Bulbs Update


An Update
on my LED Lamps

I have written fairly extensively on my experience with cheap Chinese LED bulbs. My first experiences were all very disappointing, to the point where I had given up on that avenue. More recently, call me a sucker if you want, I was tempted to try again.

This time I was very pleased with the quality and quantity of light from the newer GU10 and MR16 type bulbs on offer. However, about 1 in 4 of the bulbs blew.

With a bit of poking and experimenting, I found that many of the bulbs did not have the LED "star" properly mounted to the heat sink fins - they were lacking heat sink compound. Therefore, these LEDs tended to overheat and burn out.

I then, sucker that I am, bought some more of these bulbs, and this time checked every one of them for heatsink bonding before I used them.

Now the good news, all of this batch of LEDs are still working 100% and I have them burning every day from 8.30 am till midnight or later. They have been burning like this for over 4 months now., so they have 2000+ hours up and all is well so far!!

Repairing LED bulbs

I have been having some fun lately in my efforts to repair some of the dud LEDs I have accumulated. I will write this one up soon.

The Latest 6 watt LEDs

I have also just ordered some of the very latest 6watt MR16 and GU10 LEDs with a rating of 490 lumen. I will be looking at these and giving them a rating of sorts in the next month or so.

If you are interested in LED lighting, keep a look out here.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Island of Saints and Scholars


In my last post, I satirically referred to the Moody downgrading of Ireland’s credit rating to “Junk” level. I suggested by the graphic that the “credibility” of our pillars of society were also at junk level.

On receiving some feedback, I want to make clear my position in a more serious way. I believe the low state in which Ireland finds itself is essentially because of a nurtured culture of greed, graft and gross-mismanagement which overtook the population to the point of inducing collective blindness. A blindness to see that the bubble had to burst, that the gap between the fat-cats and the less-well-off was wider than what was sustainable, and especially a moral and ethical blindness which extended right to the top levels of our society including professionals, and even the judiciary.

How could a small country like ours justify paying our politicians and judges more than twice that of Germany, a secure and rich country?

IMHO Ireland is now in a form of “Receivership”. The new government have been given a massive mandate to try and rectify the damage done by the years of greed and mismanagement. The IMF has an interest in this “Receivership”, and the EU Banks have an interest if only motivated by expedience.

“Receivership” is a legal device by which an institution or enterprise is held by a receiver, a person or persons charged with the custodial responsibility for the property of others, including tangible and intangible assets and rights.”

Whenever one heard of a business going “into” receivership, there almost inevitably followed the winding-up of that enterprise.

I believe that current government is trying very hard to steady the ship and bring her ‘round from a course towards the rocks. There is a hope, a glimmer, palpable from the ardent efforts at honesty and openness in their attempts to correct the gross imbalances.

I have always maintained that the economic problems besetting Ireland have their root and branch firmly planted in soil that is totally lacking in the essential nutrients of morality and ethics.

We have now reached a “turning point” - and even though there is dread for the immediate possible fallout, there is also hope. A little glimmer of hope for a new spring that brings fresh growth in which spirituality and right living will again fuel the engine of our endeavours, as it did in a glorious past - earning Ireland the title of “the Island of Saints and Scholars”.

Apologies if this post sounds a little bit "schmaltzy"


Ireland is JUNK



Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Algae Pre-historic and Furure Oil Source


Algae Pre-historic
Future Source of Oil

The Oil and Coal of our planet was made some 500 million years ago. One tiny micro-organism was mainly responsible for this and consequently for our industrial revolution. That organism is a type of algae called Botryococcus Braunii.

Now that all that hard work of Botrycoccus Braunii 500 million years ago is all but used up, scientists are again putting hope in this little algae cell to provide oil for the future.

The idea of oil from algae is anything but a new notion. I have written several times of various efforts, mostly unsuccessful, to harness natures little oil factory.

Why am I writing again? Well, the latest efforts are based on sequencing the DNA of the ancient little organism. It is hoped that with the information thus gleaned, scientists can construct synthetic methods to synthesise oil all based directly on the original oil manufacturing techniques of  Botrycoccus Braunii.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Electricity from thin Air?


Free Energy Receiver
Echoes of  Nikola Tesla

I have written here about passive energy gathering devices using tiny printed antennae and rectifiers that can capture electrical waves including those from sunlight.


Here is another related story about energy capturing devices, only this time, it is about a method of capturing power from the myriads of radio waves which surround and penetrate through us all of the time.

A research team from Georgia-Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering led by Prof. Manos Tentzeris have found a way of using industrial type inkjet printers to print antennas and energy-scavenging capabilities onto paper or flexible plastic sheets.

Currents tests made at TV transmission frequencies have been shown to give some fractions of a milliwatt - one thousand of a watt.

The research team have operated a temperature sensor using the radio waves from a television station half a kilometer away.  They are preparing another demonstration in which a microprocessor-based microcontroller would be activated simply by holding it in the air.

Not a New Idea.

Tesla (above) and his patent for a Free Energy Receiver
This idea is so not new. Tesla was grappling with energy gathering on a mega scale, while others were looking at it on a less ambitious level.

Some 40 years ago I remember visiting the Radio Eireann, the Irish National Broadcaster's medium wave transmitter in Athlone in the Irish midlands. A friend and I were keen ham radio operators at the time. The engineer in charge of the transmitter was very kind to these two visiting young men, and gave us a tour of the facility. He told us many things about high powered transmitters including that he once had a light on his bicycle that ran from the power of the transmitter using a tuned circuit and the frame of the bike as an antenna. That would have been generating at least 250 milliwatts.

Broad Spectrum Energy Gathering.

The Georgia-Tech team are working on more advanced systems that can suck up a broad spectrum of transmission frequencies and they hope to generate more than a milliwatt! - sounds very small to me. Even that tiny amount of power is sufficient to run many small electronic devices, including a variety of sensors and microprocessors. By adding high quality capacitors to the micro antenna and energy circuits, the team hope to be able to power devices requiring over 50 milliwatts.  In this approach, energy builds up in a battery-like supercapacitor and is utilized when the required power level is reached.

The energy gathering technology can presently use frequencies from FM radio to radar, a range spanning 100 megahertz (MHz) to 15 gigahertz (GHz) or higher.

One practical use of these little energy sucking devices will be to power remote sensors such as security devices, monitoring sensors etc. This could save the environment by reducing the use of batteries worldwide by many millions. It would also save on maintenance in replacing batteries.

Prof. Tentzeris with an inkjet-printed rectifying antenna

Prototype energy-scavenging device

Original article press released by Research News & Publications Office, Georgia Institute of Technology, 75 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 314.  Atlanta, Georgia  30308  USA



Wednesday, July 06, 2011

"Black Economy" A Blessing?


The Black Economy
A Blessing?

My regular readers will know that I have very strong feelings about the way the Irish Economy has been handled.  My feelings have been heightened by the culture of graft and cronyism, and the obvious “Gravy Train” mentality of professional and business fat-cats, politicians, and many employees of government agencies, including the judiciary.

Dr Sam Vaknin PhD

I wrote a small piece on my take of the Irish “Black Economy”, and while searching Google to see if the piece had been picked up, I came upon this excellent article by Sam Vaknin. Among the professional hats that Sam wears are the following: He is a columnist in "Central Europe Review", United Press International (UPI) and ebookweb.org  Very importantly in this context, until recently, he served as an Economic Advisor to the Government of Macedonia. He was born in Haifa Israel and later emigrated to Macedonia where he married and settled. He has a PhD in Philosophy, is trained in psychotherapy, and has published several books on a variety of subjects.

Sam Vaknin has written about the “Black Economy” from a refreshingly different angle of view.  I contacted Sam and he has given me permission to quote or re-publish this excellent thesis of his. Following are extracts, large extracts, from his article; The Blessings of the Black Economy.

The Blessings of the Black Economy (extracts)
By: Sam Vaknin, Ph.D.

Some call it the "unofficial" or "informal" economy, others call it the "grey economy" but the old name fits it best: the "black economy". In the USA "black" means "profitable, healthy" and this is what the black economy is. Macedonia should count its blessings for having had a black economy so strong and thriving to see it through the transition. If Macedonia had to rely only on its official economy it would have gone bankrupt long ago.

(The “Black Economy” or by the Irish so called “under the counter” business, accounts for some 15% of GDP in the USA, 19% of GDP in Spain, and anything up to 60% in Russia. In Macedonia, where Sam writes from, it is estimated to be some 40% of GDP.  Sam states that money earned on the “Black Economy” is usually squirrelled away in foreign accounts but eventually... )

People will bring their money back (into the official system) to open businesses, to support family members and just to consume it. It all depends on the mood and on the atmosphere and on how much these people feel that they can rely on the political stability and rational management.

Such enormous flows of capital happened before: in Argentina after the Generals and their corrupt regime were ousted by civilians, in Israel when the peace process started and in Mexico following the signature of NAFTA, to mention but three cases. These reserves can be lured back and transform the economy.

But the black economy has many more important functions.

1.    The black economy is a cash economy.
2.     It is liquid and fast. It increases the velocity of money.
3.     It injects much needed foreign exchange to the economy and inadvertently increases the effective money supply and the resulting money aggregates. In this sense, it defies the dictates of "we know better" institutions such as the IMF.
4.    It fosters economic activity and employs people.
5.    It encourages labour mobility and international trade.

Black economy, in short, is very positive. With the exception of illegal activities, it does everything that the official economy does – and, usually, more efficiently.

So, what is morally wrong with the black economy? The answer, in brief: it is exploitative. - - -  operators of the black economy enjoy these (social -educational -medical etc.) services without paying for them. (The burden falls on those paying taxes)

Bureaucracies tend to misuse and abuse resources.

... Unfortunately, we all live in societies which are regulated by bureaucracies which are controlled (in theory, rarely in practice) by politicians. These elites have a tendency to misuse and to abuse resources and to allocate them in an inefficient manner. Even economic theory admits that any dollar left in the hands of the private sector is much more efficiently used than the same dollar in the hands of the most honest and well meaning and well planning civil servant. Governments all over the world distort economic decisions and mis-allocate scarce economic resources.

Thus, if the goals are to encourage employment and economic growth – the black economy should be welcomed. This is precisely what it does and, by definition, it does so more efficiently than the government. The less tax dollars a government has – the less damage it does. This is an opinion shares by most economists in the world today. Lower tax rates are an admission of this fact and a legalization of parts of the black economy.

The black economy is especially important in times of economic hardships.

It (The Black Economy) enhances exports (and competitiveness through imports), it encourages technology transfers, it employs people, it invests in legitimate businesses (or is practised by them), it adds to the wealth of the nation (black marketeers are big spenders, good consumers and build real estate), it injects liquidity to an otherwise dehydrated market. Mercifully, the black economy is out of the reach of zealous missionaries such as the IMF. It goes its own way, unnoticed, unreported, unbeknownst, untamed.

Without the black economy, the population of Macedonia would not have survived. This lesson must be remembered as the government prepares to crack down on the only sector of the economy which is still alive and kicking.

Thank you again Sam for allowing me to use your article!
The original article can be seen on: http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com/nm043.html
Sam Vaknin’s web site: http://samvak.tripod.com


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Ireland's Ship of State


Ireland's Ships of State
a painting by
Shame-us O'Con-men


Monday, July 04, 2011

Ireland's Black Economy


I was talking about the squeeze in Ireland causing a return of the black economy which was a major feature of the Irish way of doing business in the 1980ies when there was 35% VAT. Bloody hell - 35% VAT can you imagine it now?

Well what 35% VAT did was to drive a large percentage of deals and services "under the counter" or over the border. Business' could not afford to be fully honest in many cases. The burden was crippling. Those were the days of "cash only" deals, of nicksers, and of barter.

I my opinion, it is getting back to that those 1980ies days. People's earnings have reduced, taxes have increased, many essentials are more expensive.

There is no VAT on "I'll build your shed if you do my garden". No trace on cash-in-hand deals. No VAT on many items purchased on the Internet. So where are people going to save the little money they have left??

No prizes for the answers.

The balance is wrong and I don't know what the solution is. But if the government and the TDs took an immediate voluntary 50% drop in their pay - it might give a moral lead to the country.

On second thoughts, IMHO the economic problems are largely moral and ethical problems. The imbalance between the fat cats on €200,000+ and those surviving on €10,000 is just too much to sustain in these times.


Sunday, July 03, 2011

Motor Fuel Sales Down 10%


What does your car run on??

Latest Statistics Show
Motor Fuel Sales Down by 10%

Reports just published indicate that the Irish demand for motor fuels is down by some 10%. This means that people are using their cars less and less. 

Is this surprising?  No it is not, not only do you have crude oil prices inflating due to the uncertainty of supply caused by the "Arab spring", but the Irish Government saw fit to add in 2008 and extra 8c per litre to the already massive excise duty, and on the top of that again, there is a 5% carbon tax. On that again you have increased VAT and other taxes.

I would say that the Irish Revenue is into a situation of "diminishing returns". You cannot just TAX your way out of financial difficulties. That causes an immediate restriction of the flow of money. It is like damming a river, the land downstream will simply go arid.

With fuel costs soaring, taxes increasing, money and jobs becoming scarce, we will need to find some other way to run cars. Maybe it is back to bicycles and the ass and cart?

The squeeze is getting so tight that the entire economy is shrinking - which means less and less taxes will be available to government.

I have no knowledge of economic science - but you don't need rocket science to figure this one. I bet those that bought 4x4 gas guzzlers in the good times are regretting their choice now!