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Comment Re:But only if... (Score 1) 140

You're glossing over an abundance of detail on UL/CSA listing.

I work for a company that manufactures industrial particulate moisture sensors. Due to the location these are commonly installed in, we have been required to jump through a number of hoops (HazLoc classifications, etc) without first being told what hoops we'd have to be jumping through. (Perhaps this is easier at a larger company where there are personnel dedicated to reading the tomes of standards - literally 1000's of pages which cost $$$$). After two go-arounds with UL at ~$10,000 each and no communication other than "Your device does not meet applicable standards" we've shelved the process.

If you've got the inside track for maneuvering, I'd love to hear about it.

Comment Re:Plug In Cars (Score 1) 603

An interesting thought. I didn't read your comment as having any particular spin, but total energy into the drivetrain is only part of the equation:

I'll gladly accept your figure for energy in a gallon of gasoline (I've seen it quoted as high as 36kWh/Gal).

From that 34kWh of energy in 1 gallon of gasoline you may be able to travel as much as 50 miles in a high efficiency vehicle (more typically 20-25 miles for the average family sedan).

For electrical vehicles that same 34kWh will take you more than 87 miles (assuming 0.39kWh/mi which seems to be a high side estimate for most vehicles, including generation losses. Add in another 6.5% for transmission/distribution losses and you're still at ~82 miles for the same amount of energy. Wiki has a good paragraph on this)

I'd say the bottom line is: conversion of that energy to movement is ~15-20% for gasoline and ~60-80% for electric vehicles. For me in a Taurus (23MPG, $3.20/Gal) my cost to drive is ~$0.139 per mile. In the Chevy Volt (0.36kWh/mi on electricity, $0.133/kWh cost of electricity), my cost to drive is $0.048 per mile. This seems to be enough of a difference that the market should be sorting itself out quicker than it is.


Comment Re:Farmers are often on the cutting edge (Score 1) 153

Your comment, while having some merit, is full of troll happy stink bait.

Growing up on a production ag farm and wanting to eventually end up back in the business I can make some reasonably informed reply to your generalizations.

You say:

Most I have talked to lately insist its impossible to produce food without chemicals, which just isn't true.

Whether the studies you fail to cite are true or not, the fact remains that our culture is very demanding and often without awareness of the consequences. For agriculture to meet the needs of populations they need to either be close to the population so the food doesn't spoil, rely on expensive methods of transport to keep food fresh and/or have the raw food processed into something that will keep. For the people whose business it is to meet the needs of people who want food that lasts and is cheap and still tastes good, one solution is the above mentioned HFCS. I'm not arguing for or against - it's simply filling the need.

As far as precision ag equipment - my experience has been that it is new enough (20+ years now - but yes, still 'new') that farmers are still understanding how to best put the tech to work. Granted, some of the challenge has been engineers who don't understand the industry well enough to make units that work appropriately for the conditions and tasks that precision ag requires.

In the business I know best (my 2900 acre family farm), precision ag has been used first to map what production levels and soil nutrient levels are (look up grid soil sampling) and then to evaluate at what rate to apply fertilizer (mostly pig manure which has been sent to a lab to determine NPK). The ultimate goal is farming the land to it's potential. In this business (as some other commenters have mentioned), profits are often slim so not wasting fertilizer on ground where it could be washed away or putting more than is needed on the soil is not only wasteful but also potentially lethal to the business.


Comment Re:Mute button (Score 1) 153

None of that needed. I examined a unit and it was simple - attach via the included mini-USB connector. It even worked on my Macintosh.

The included Li-Ion battery recharges via USB and the four videos can be overwritten with files provided they are encoded correctly for the device. (Don't ask me - I can't remember)

The one useful comment I can make is that if anyone is trying to hack one of these Americhip devices, it required a password. I believe it was simply activated using 3 of the 4 included buttons - hitting them sequentially 1, 2, 3.

1-2-3-4-5? That's the stupidest combination I've ever heard of in my life! That's the kinda thing an idiot would have on his luggage!



Comment Re:Mute button (Score 1) 153

Oh - and as far as cost/benefit. Pesticide advertising is a unique market in that the ads are usually aired on local television stations to reach the largely rural target audience. Think about running an ad in the Minneapolis/St.Paul television market - now think about the cost of sending out a number of magazine ads with your same message - only in much more detail and only to your target audience.

After dissecting the device, I could see it costing 20-$40... for the number of copies that's a chunk of change, but it still may have been well worth it ($340k-$680k).

I mean, since when did a pesticide producer get good press on slashdot?


Comment Cheap Portable DSO (Score 1) 337

I'm working as an EE (among other responsibilities) and the old workhorse we use here is an Agilent 54641A (MegaZoom) 350MHz - it does reasonably well for mixed signal design (I think the cost was originally around $3-5k).

However, more recently I purchased a 'throw away' unit that we could carry out into the field for harmonic noise measurements (Hantek DSO1060 - linking from the place I bought it because the sales engineer was helpful: http://www.web-tronics.com/60haheoswidm.html). The scope is listed as a 60MHz piece of equipment and has performed well and worked well despite the conditions I've thrown at it (would you carry scope out in rain, condensing steam and chunks of partially ground corn?). The other useful feature is that it has the ability to connect to a Windows based computer for remote control as well as direct measurements from the device itself.


Comment Why Not Do It Like Commodity Trading Limits (Score 1) 460

I don't know why this couldn't work. Really. Can someone who's had even basic economics explain this to me?

I come from an Agricultural background, so for those unfamiliar - a contract for corn can only trade up or down so much ($0.60 per bushel per day), with that limit expanding on sequential days where that limit has been reached. (see "Daily Price Limit" here: Chicago Board of Trade)


Comment Interesting discussion of what caused this blowout (Score 2, Interesting) 913

Despite all the gloom and doom over the environmental ramifications, as an engineer, I'm very interested in the solutions that are being put forward as well as the arm-chair failure analysis that is being done. One forum that has had many people from Oil and Gas backgrounds comment on what may have happened, as well as many links to good resources has been at GCaptain

Enjoy (if you've got the patience to read through 22 pages of comments!)

A couple of highlights -
First radio interview from someone on the rig:

For those really interested in this sort of issue, read the document accessible via the following link. There was a near miss when BP was drilling the Thunder Horse well, and this paper documents how it was handled. We're not talking about a bunch of amateurs here, on the BP side or the Transocean side. That's why this incident needs to be understood - it caught a bunch of very good people by surprise:
NOAA Report

Google cache

Second - OSHA's website has some of the best diagrams:

Third - the specs from this platform/ship:
http://www.deepwater.com/fw/main/Deepwater-Horizon-56C17.html?LayoutID=17 -- check out "Thrusters: 8 x Kamewa rated 7375 hp each, fixed propeller, full 360 deg azimuth"


Comment Mathcad (Score 1) 823

I'm still running an old G3 PowerBook - so I can run Mathcad v6 in Classic mode - I was a physics major and once learned, that software had to be the quickest and easiest bar none. Mathcad has not released a Mac version since about 1998, so perhaps VMWare or another emulator to use a more current version under Windows?

That said, I've generally found the paper/pencil option much better. I did try the Mathcad route for awhile, but in most math/physics/science classes, there's just too much jumping around. E.g. Oh - and this connects back to that... etc. It's just really hard to circle something and draw an arrow back to a previous note on the page with software.


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