Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Waiting for the Axe to Fall

It's been a quiet several weeks. There have been rampant rumors at work that the company is planning on shuttering my group. It's something that we've been expecting at work for the last 3-6 months, but as quarter end nears, it's possible that it may be right around the corner. So I've been a little preoccupied to do any HA stuff other than mindlessly monitoring the production of our solar panels. According to the latest rumors, the axe was to fall last Friday, but upper management had to delay it since they're waiting for our group to finish up some work before they'd be comfortable canning us all. As I sit here contemplating impending joblessness, I wonder what my next career move will be. I'm an ASIC design and verification engineer, but I'm burnt out on it and a change of career may be in the cards. I've got an unused MBA, some .NET programming skills and experience with AJAX, PHP and MySQL, so I have some options to explore. In the meantime, feel free to donate! ;).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

xPLBattWatch - A Battery Charge Monitor

This is the first release of xPLBattWatch. This app is used to monitor the battery level and charge status of a laptop. It issues sensor.basic messages based on changes in the charge level and status. It may be a little rough, but I thought I'd throw this out there and let you play with it. More details and download here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Solar Array Powered Up and Some Graphs

The installer powered on the solar array on Tuesday after the inspection. After he left, I installed current sensors for the solar breakers and ran those along Cat-5 back to the ECM-1240. I was debugging the charting and got it pretty much sorted out by Wednesday night. Here's the first few RRDTool graphs from Thursday.


You can see it generated nearly 21 kWH yesterday. I'm really happy with that as we typically use 22-25 kWH/day. I didn't expect to get that much production in March. Does this mean the assumptions I made in my Solar Spreadsheet may have been a little pessimistic? There's still a lot of rain & overcast in March (of which we're seeing today), so it will probably average out. We'll have to wait for April to get a good full month to compare.


With a southeast facing roof, you can see we catch the morning sun very early. The array woke up around 6:22AM and peaked around 11AM. Once the sun passed over the top of the roof around noon, production started to drop and around 2PM it started to decline rapidly. By then, it produced about 80% of the total for the day. I wish I had room on the west facing roof to catch the afternoon sun, but it would only fit maybe 4 panels - good for another 1kW. Maybe when we get an EV ;) Production stopped almost exactly at 6PM. You can see some of the spikes in production as the sun was behind some clouds.


This is just a net usage graph. Solar production for the day caught up to our daily usage by noon. Between 3-4PM, production fell below our usage and about 9PM, all our credits were used up. For yesterday, we basically paid the utility for electricity for the 3 hours from 9PM-12AM. Pretty cool.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

xPLWebControl Released

I released an xPL interface for CAI's WebControl. The app communicates with the WebControl via its web interface since it has no other means of control. You can read more about it and download it here.

Friday, March 5, 2010

New Toy: CAI WebControl and Random Updates

So I finally broke down a bought a WebControl device. It's a network enabled IO device that's been discussed heavily at CT and HS message boards. I got it from this seller on eBay. I'm surprised it actually powers on. It was shipped in a USPS Flat Rate Priority envelope. The device itself was in a small bubble pack pouch - just a single layer of bubble pack to protect the sharp corners of the device's components. The corners of the ethernet jack poked through the bubble pack, puncturing the envelope in several places. For $8.71 in shipping, is it too much to ask for 2 or 3 layers of bubble pack????

Anyway, I powered it on, assigned it a static IP address and new login info, but didn't get much further than that. I hope to test out the digital IO and 1-Wire interface this weekend before I'll believe it's undamaged. I have no idea what I'm going to use it for. I am planning on building an xPL app to interface to it, but I'm not in any big hurry. Still feeling a bit burned out on HA.

It's been 10 days since the solar installation was completed and I haven't heard from the city about inspections nor has the utility swapped out my meter. It was frustrating waiting nearly 4 months from signing the contract to the installation (due to weather & backlog), but this is even more frustrating because I just want to flip the switch!

This week I did update xPLTweet and Jab2Twit to use OAUTH for Twitter authentication. That way there's no stored username & password and has the added benefit of my apps showing up as sources for tweets :)