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Comment: Re:"Grid Parity" ... on sunny days only (Score 1) 735

by PhinMak (#42287575) Attached to: Solar Panels For Every Home?
The reason that solar panels can be said to be not competitive is BECAUSE of the cost of installation, including permitting and the lost time, energy and money spent to obtained those permits.

Proof? If you stand outside a solar panel manufacturer in china with your arms out, they will sell you a working 250 watt module for less than $0.80/watt. By the time you get it to the US, you've added $0.40 for shipping/middlemen. Pricing here. We'll round to get to $1.25 a watt for a solar panel. If you do all the work yourself, you'll spend another $1.50/watt buying the hardware needed to mount, install and wire the panels. You'll have to spend another $1 a watt for the permits and a specially certified electrician to do 1 hr of work to connect the last foot of cable. (Rip off alert!) So 40% of the cost of this solar system is caused by regulation that doesn't add much value.

And that's if you do the work yourself so think how much time you've expended in 120-180 days trying to get those permits. Paying someone else to do all the work will take this $3.75/watt installation up to $5.50 to over $7.00 a watt. Getting reasonable permitting and more competition in installation/electricians is what we need to drive the costs down. That means we need the VOLUME of installations to climb to Germany-levels so that we stop letting contractors and towns rip us off and keep us from installing these systems on our homes.

Some calculations to show the impact. A 4 person family home generally would need a 10kw system to cover their whole energy bill (double production when the sun's shining, grid connected at night). We're talking $35k for a DIY system, which could as much as $10k lower if the permitting/contractor racket didn't exist. We're talking $50k-$70k if you let a contractor do the work and laugh all the way to the bank. Most folks only put in a 25-50% system because it's too much capital to expend. $35k for a system at today's mortgage rates put it within 10% of the cost of that grid electricity... with no government subsidies and assuming no increase in grid electricity rates... Add those subsidies and you've got a 3 year NPV.

Full disclosure: I work in the solar power industry building machines that are used at solar panel manufacturers to make cells to be placed into modules.

Comment: Re:Wow, that's a difficult question (Score 1) 340

by PhinMak (#41334863) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech For a Sailing Ship?

We considered that and decided to use something called Nidacore. Essentially this is an epoxy/plastic honeycomb that fills the gaps between the ribs. Benefits include: (1) reduction in hull damage when struck by something (2) reduction in effect of water intrusion upon hull penetration (3) sound and heat insulation (4) increased buoyancy if the boat is awash.

At the time of installation, this application of NidaCore was unheard-of or at least very rare, but the benefits seem amazing.

For further discussion of NidaCore and pictures of us testing the resilience of a cross-section of the hull against massive damage that might happen against a shipping container, visit the Nidacore testing page here: http://portlandyacht.com/lionswhelp/construction/design.html. Amazing to watch 200 pounds of steel bounce off the NidaCore hull like bullets off superman.

Comment: Wow, that's a difficult question (Score 5, Informative) 340

by PhinMak (#41327477) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech For a Sailing Ship?

Some credentials: My folks own and operate a boatyard. We built a 64'8" (20m) Alden staysail schooner in the early 2000's called the Lion's Whelp. This boat was to be used by the family as an blue water cruiser. Many trips to the carib via Bermuda and along the Maine coast, but nothing across the Atlantic yet. Also used as a design tour-de-force displaying our company's know how. We won the Concours D'Elegance at the Antigua Classic yacht Regatta our first year there, a 2nd place the next year. The boat hasn't been back in subsequent years.

Full build history plus many, many photographs and discussion can be found on the yard website: http://portlandyacht.com/lionswhelp

Some of the systems we have onboard include: Reverse osmosis watermaker, EPIRB, GPS, IBM Blade server, AC, diesel heater, diesel generator, deep cycle batteries, LCD movie projector, Stereo/DVD/CD/MP3/iPod, main engine direct powered 3000 gallon per minute bilge pump, RADAR "pinger" (makes us look bigger to cargo ships), Sauna (yes, a sauna), full wind instruments, satellite modem, satellite weather station, universal shore power inverters (europe,japan is 50hz, etc), autopilot, VHF, shortwave radio, cell service repeater, wifi, etc, etc, etc.

If you read through our site you will note that we deliberately overbuilt the boat because the owner is the builder is the captain and any disaster onboard would kill his family. Stays and shrouds are each strong enough to hold up the entire 42 ton boat. Anything that could save lives was installed on the boat. As a consequence, the boat was 3000 pounds over the original design weight. Doesn't really matter because it's a cruiser not a racer. Righting arm would still right the boat at 178 degrees (almost upside down), while most modern fin keel boats won't right at 120 degrees.

After years of being onboard we've realized that there needs to been a dedicated systems expert onboard at all times if you expect to have every piece of the systems up and running at all times.

Not sure where you're building your Skerry, but we'd be happy to discuss your needs and right-sizing your equipment needs without overloading your day-to-day maintenance. (or today's budget) If you're in Portland Maine you could come by the yard and see the boat now for a full tour and more discussion.

207-774-1067 - Owner Phin is on site and wife Joanna is in the office answering phones.

Comment: Re:Wearable recording devices should be resisted (Score 1) 1198

I'm looking up "Self-Policing Society" and finding that most of the discussion revolves around citizens taking up roles we would normally assign to police or courts. (Lynch mobs being the obvious extreme case.) I am not finding anything specific to the negatives of having a recording available. Can you please be more specific about the negatives?

Regarding "do all those things with a cell phone", sure I could have a cellphone recording all the time but how would that be any different with what this guy is doing with an eyepiece/glasses? I'd have to have it recording all the time to catch the rare instances when a car hits a pedestrian in front of me...

Again, I'm trying to find out more about the negatives for having a recording available. I can think of a few issues such "big brother", "nanny state" and not wanting my recordings within my home to leak out into the public, but I also think that there is little expectation of privacy once you've left your house and I'd really like to be able to prove that "it wasn't my fault" in a car crash etc. We all know about eyewitnesses being unreliable etc etc.

Not trying to dismiss you. What are you worried about?

Comment: Re:Wearable recording devices should be resisted (Score 1) 1198

I am interested in hearing more about why you are against recording devices. Could you be specific about the negative unintended consequences of having this be more common? I truly am interested in hearing your concerns.

I can think of a number of incidents in the past few months where I wish I had a video/audio recording of what was going on around me. 1) My father-in-law being hit by a car then the driver lying about what had occurred. 2) Me not remembering the list of groceries my wife asked me to get. 3) Going to a beer festival and not being to remember all of the great brews I had or exactly who had said they would like to pour at another festival I produce...

Comment: Similar Cobra lawsuit, but FactoryFive won (Score 3, Interesting) 115

by PhinMak (#38908817) Attached to: DC Comics Prevails In Batmobile Copyright Dispute

Factory Five makes Shelby Cobra replicas. Carroll Shelby sued to get them to stop in 2000. He lost. He tried again recently for the coupe version. Lost again, with predjudice. Only major change I'm aware of as a consumer is that FactoryFive can't use the term "Cobra" to describe their product. Here's their celebratory press release.

Seems like Gothem Garage should review this case and maybe change their advertising.

Comment: Re:550 Amp Truck Battery connected to metal briefc (Score 1) 514

by PhinMak (#38386956) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Protecting Tech Gear From Smash-and-Grab Theft?

I was going to wire an electric fence unit to my car with some grounding strips etc back when I had the spare time in high school.. Then I realized that I might hurt someone (child) that accidently touched the car. Worse, I might get sued.

I've heard anecdotal stories where some robber breaks into a house, really hurts themself then successfully sues the homeowner. Don't recall if it was due to a deliberate trap left by homeowner or just a dangerous conflux of chance.

tl;dr = Hurt robber, get sued, lose. Cheaper to let them have the stuff.

Comment: Re:Two megers away from "The" Cell Phone Company (Score 2) 215

by PhinMak (#38236630) Attached to: AT&T Issues Scathing Response To FCC Report

I think your definition of "decent computer" has shifted. Cut the performance specs by 10% and you'll save 50% off of that $1.5k for the decent modern computer. This would be like buying TODAY a computer that was "decent" 12 months ago. Moore's law etc.

There's a local guy near me that buys used laptops (2 years old), referbs them, and sells them out of his store for less than $200. I'd say that a computer from 2009 is still "decent".

Comment: Re:Edison reaching out from beyond the grave (Score 2) 462

by PhinMak (#38226666) Attached to: Are Data Centers Finally Ready For DC Power?

My 2004 Mini S had electric power steering... and Mini Cooper's brand is built on nimble driving, including responsiveness and steering feel.

The one drawback that I have to point out is that the electronic pump is a one of the weaker parts in the car. Anecdotal evidence (my experience plus discussions with dealer service managers and wrench turners) suggests that they fail at least once every 5 years... To add insult to injury, the part ALONE costs $900 at the dealer. Compare to less than $100 for a comprable hydrolic pump in a domestic car. This suggests serious design/material costs or price gouging by the manufacturer.

Comment: Re:If the shuttle was a political compromise (Score 1) 288

by PhinMak (#37401374) Attached to: NASA Unveils Design for New Space Launch System

The average cost to launch a Shuttle mission was $450 million... Isn't this system supposed to be cheaper than that on a per-mission operation and per-pound-lift basis, and less likely to asplode?

Shuttle: $450,000,000 per mission
New system: $15,000,000,000 per mission (Source copied below.)
After spending $30B for development and 2 launches, you would need 130 launches with the new system at HALF the cost of the old shuttle before this became break even. And that's even before we consider the time-value of money.

Someone else do the math for the per-pound calculation. I'm too disheartened.

If NASA stays on budget, which is far from certain given NASA's history of cost overruns, each mission would cost about $15 billion apiece, although planned missions after 2021 would reduce that average price tag.

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