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Comment: Re:So...? (Score 1) 240

by aXis100 (#46618185) Attached to: Daylight Saving Time Linked To Heart Attacks

Yeah, I'm still baffled why both commerce and retail insist on having the same start time of 9am. How many people do you know are in the retail shops at that time? Most poeple I know are AT WORK!

Some countries have figured it out though. I was living in Malaysia for a while and they had regular 9-5 for general business, and 10am-10pm for retail. It was great being able to go to the shops after work, and the malls became quite social with lots of restaurants and poeple browsing around - as opposed to the Thursday "late night trading" frenzy in Western Australia.

Comment: Re:A simpler cure (Score 1) 240

by aXis100 (#46618153) Attached to: Daylight Saving Time Linked To Heart Attacks

I'm envious too. I rarely sleep well.

I've never tested myself thoroughly but I think I'm about the same. Given the opportunity I'm not tired until 2 or 3 hours after my normal bedtime, so approx a 26 or 27 hour cycle. On weekends I'll let this wind out but it's a harsh reset on Sunday night to get back into the week's routine.

Comment: Re:Why dealerships get a free ride (Score 1) 342

by aXis100 (#46459591) Attached to: New Jersey Auto Dealers Don't Want to Face Tesla


Cars arent going to run out of parts after 5 years if a dealer stops stocking them. If there is a market for the parts then third party manufacturers will keep them coming for 20 years.

Dealerships stock some genuine parts at very large mark ups. There are plenty of other auto parts distributors that stock far more genuine and non-genuine spare parts and do so at a better price.

Comment: Re:Secondhand smoke? (Score 1) 156

by aXis100 (#46379479) Attached to: Face Masks Provide Chinese With False Hope Against Pollution

Half-face respirators. You know, the rubberised mask with the strap that goes over your head, with some canisters mounted either side. Eg like this:

Anything less is just rubbish,, especially the disposable ones. They are too flimsy to hold a good seal in most situations and they only last an hour or so.

Comment: Re:Whose phone is banned? (Score 1) 366

by aXis100 (#46224099) Attached to: House Committee Approves Bill Banning In-Flight Phone Calls

Because people talking ona phone are about 1000 times more annoying than a real conversation:
1) People often raise their voice when talking on a phone. CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW
2) Hearing half a conversation is distracting as your mind tries to fill in the blanks

Comment: What I've learnt from automating my own home (Score 4, Interesting) 336

by aXis100 (#45947661) Attached to: New Home Automation?

I've nearly gone as far as I can automating systems and devices my current home - temperature & humidity sensing in most rooms, motion sensing in every room, zoned ducted evaporative aircon, a couple of split reverse cycle aircons, z-wave lighting and exhaust fans, and mains power monitoring.

-- Lighting ---
Z-Wave works mostly well enough, and I use this to automatically turn on lights when motion is detected, turn off lights after a while with no motion, or turn off when I go to bed. Unfortunately the turn-on the signal can take up to several seconds on a large 1-wire network, so even when the motion sensor triggers quickly you can still be halfway across a room before the lights turn on which is a pain. On top of that, I cant disable the z-wave dimmer soft-on and soft-off feature which is a pain when you're trying to get quick response. For the turn off, it's probably not worth it since I upgraded to LED lights as the power saved is negligible.

At the price of parts + install being $150 - $200 per light fixture it's not really been worth. A few minor conveniences and a lot of annoyances. I think I'd be better off with no automation on most regular light fixtures, and just some inline z-wave switches on frestanding lamps and mood lighting. Maybe automation on the living room and master bedroom for convenience / scenes.

-- Temperature / Humidity ---
Temperature and humidity sensing in every room has been great. In Australia where I live it's quite uncommon to have a whole house climate control system, so I've used these to help come up with a automated strategy for every room that integrates the available air conditioning systems. Also I've used the temperature, humidity and (calculated) air speed in each room to create a "feels like" temperature. Controlling against this rather than the dry air temp has given a much better result.

I've been using 1-wire devices as sensors, which need 1 or 2 twisted pairs for comms and power - cat5 is great. The DS18B20 temperature sensors are very cheap, have been very reliable and can send signals over long distances. Unfortunately the DS2438 based humidity sensors are not as good and I've had to partition the network a 1-Wire hub. Currently I still have intermittent errors with just 30m of cable on each DS2438 leg, whereas the DS18B20 temperature sensors could cope with a load of 100m plus. If I was building a new house I'm not sure if I'd use them again due to the issues with humidity sensing, but I'm not convinced there's many other affordable alternatives either. For reference the DS18B20 sensors are costing me about $2 each, and the DS2438 based humidity sensors (using a Honeywell humidity IC) are about $20 each from parts. Since I work as a control engineer, my next preferred option would be modbus slave devices over RS485.

-- Air conditioning ---
For the split reverse cycle aircons I used a central GlobalCache IP2IR infrared blaster, and then ran long wires with a concealed IR emmitter fitted inside the aircon head units. This works fine but the IR programming for air conditioners is painful. I wish there was an automation interface standard for them.

For the ducted aircon I had to integrate the zone controller using an arduino for digital IO, communicating back to the central server via RS232 serial (over cat5). I upgraded the fan to use a VFD (variable frequency drive) and this can be controlled directly over RS485 using MODBUS RTU.

-- Conclusion --
If I had my chance again I'd probably just run multiple cat5e or cat6 to every room
  - 2 to 4 at floor level for computers and TV's
  - 1 or 2 behind the light switches for potential CBUS or other wired lighting control systems. These would be wired to a seperate patch panel
  - 1 or 2 behind a wall mounted sensor enclosure - this could then have both a temp/humidity sensor and IR emitter fitted. These would also be wired to a seperate patch panel

Ideally I wouldnt run any mains power to wall light switches - all of the switching would happen over serial comms or low voltage IO (using the cat5) and then the mains switching can happen centrally - either dumb relays, a PLC or CBUS controller.

The above setup would then make interconnect and automation via either Ethernet or serial (RS485) easy, both of which are reliable and well supported protocols. RS485 doesnt get much attention in home markets but it's still huge in industry and commercial installs.

Comment: Re:Bravo, Tesla (Score 1) 195

by aXis100 (#45926473) Attached to: Tesla Sending New Wall-Charger Adapters After Garage Fire

I can think of one easy way - measure the no-load AC voltage as a baseline, then continue measuring the voltage as the current is increased. If the voltage drop is beyond a certain tolerance then that means there is some series resistance in the wiring somewhere and this is indicative of undersized wiring or poor junctions.

Comment: Install an alarm panel without central moniting (Score 1) 248

by aXis100 (#45863417) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: State of the Art In DIY Security Systems?

Just about any standard security panel will have dialer options, which can then phone your mobile if there is a break in. Just fill your house with standard PIR motion detectors, and some nice loud sirens (inside) near your valuables so that it drives the thieves crazy. You can even go wireless these days to save on install fees, but I like the reliability of wired.

There's lots of bands to chose from but I went with DSC (the PC1832 model - because they are regularly used by commercial installers. They are well priced and available on Ebay, and any technically minded person should have no problem installing it themselves. This on it's own should be enough to make thieves move on to an easier target.

For video surveillance then Zoneminder is an easy choice and works a treat. Also the DSC panels support a PC serial interface module so between Zoneminder and some scripting (or a home automation platform like homeseer) you can have a comprehensive monitored system that records incidents and can do something smarter about them.

Comment: Re:who benefits (Score 2) 118

by aXis100 (#45842397) Attached to: How To Change U.S. Laws To Promote Robotics

As much as I agree that having both heads of the family to work sucks, we have a much better standard of living now than 30 years ago.

For example we now have:
  Two or more cars per family
  Clothes driers and dishwashers
  Food processors, breadmakers & microwave ovens in addition to normal oven/cooktops
  Reverse cycle air conditioners is multiple rooms of the house
  Mobile communication & internet devices in everyone's pocket
  Multiple TV's and computers thoughout the house

All of these things would have been considered luxuries 30 years ago and are now commonly affordable.

Comment: Don't Tell Mom I Work on the Rigs (Score 2) 796

by aXis100 (#45840933) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Are the Books Everyone Should Read?

Don't Tell Mom I Work on the Rigs: She Thinks I'm a Piano Player in a Whorehouse -

Hilarious laugh out loud story of a guy that grew up in country Western Australia and went on to work in some of the most extreme locations on the planet. He's a fantastic story teller and it's a great read.

"I have just one word for you, my boy...plastics." - from "The Graduate"