Category: Musings


Binary Days

2010 and 2011 are unique years, truly. Well, any ’10’ and ’11’ years are, but I doubt I, readers, or this blog, will be around to see 2110 or 2111. Why are they so special? They’re the years of binary days! The months of January, October, and November in 2010 and 2011 have days where every digit of the date is a 1 or a 0. These can be converted to decimal as they stand; but some of the fun comes in converting from binary to ASCII – American Standard Code for Information Interchange. By adding a leading zero, we can take the two-digit dates and look at them in all three formats. Here’s a table of all the binary days for you to enjoy!

23

Date Binary Adjustment Decimal Equivalent ASCII Character Equivalent
01/01/10 0010110 22 Ctrl+V (SYN command; now used as ‘Paste’)
01/10/10 0011010 26 Ctrl+Z (SUB command; now used as ‘Undo’)
01/11/10 0011110 30 Ctrl+^ (RS command; used in AS/400 systems)
10/01/10 0100110 38 ‘&’ (Ampersand)
10/10/10 0101010 42 ‘*’ (Asterisk)
10/11/10 0101110 46 ‘.’ (Period)
11/01/10 0110110 54 ‘6’ (The six digit)
11/10/10 0111010 58 ‘:’ (Colon)
11/11/10 0111110 62 ‘>’ (‘Greater Than’ sign)
01/01/11 0010111 23 Ctrl+W (ETB command; used in AS/400 systems)
01/10/11 0011011 27 Ctrl+] (ESC command; now accessed from the Escape key)
01/11/11 0011111 31 Ctrl+_ (US command; used in AS/400 systems)
10/01/11 0100111 39 ”’ (Single quote)
10/10/11 0101011 43 ‘+’ (Plus sign)
10/11/11 0101111 47 ‘/’ (Forward slash)
11/01/11 0110111 55 ‘7’ (Seven digit)
11/10/11 0111011 59 ‘;’ (Semicolon)
11/11/11 0111111 63 ‘?’ (Question Mark)
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LEDs Rock!

I’m an avid Twitter user. The ‘Fiesta Movement’, Ford’s social media campaign to drum up excitement for the car’s launch, is what got me started. I’ve kept using it, and now I’m connected to people from the auto industry, nonprofits, politics, and other ‘socialites.’

One of the companies I follow is Cree, Inc. They make LEDs and LED-related products, and are one of the foremost producers/innovators in the field. Also, they have a classic Honda Insight on their home page – a Citrus Yellow Metallic one, no less! – which gives them mad bonus points in my book.

@Cree was running a contest to celebrate the WORLD’S first 100% fully LED-lit house built in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity (news article here). Winner(s) get not one, but TWO! Cree CR6 LED downlights. Long story short, I won!

It’s great to see a leader like Cree doing this with Habitat for Humanity. I fully support the work that Habitat does; I think they’re one of the most excellent charities one could give to. The folks that get homes definitely need what they get, and they need their bills to be affordable. LEDs use very little electricity for the amount of light they give off (high lumens per watt rating), and this will help to keep down their electric bill significantly.

The Cree CR6 downlight is a 10.5 watt light giving off 55 lumens per watt; 575 lumens (577.5, to be exact). CFL ‘spiral bulbs’ are slightly higher for lumens per watt (in the 60’s); HOWEVER, they also happen to have this wonderful thing in them – mercury! LED’s don’t have any mercury in them, so they’re the best compromise of efficiency and eco-friendliness.

I will be putting my CR6’s in my basement. It’s currently lit by a 13W (60W equivalent) CFL, and two 26W (100W equivalent) CFLs. The fixtures aren’t in good places for where I need light the most, so there ends up being a lot of “dark spots in my basement. CR6’s are designed for use in 6 inch diameter recessed lighting fixtures – of which I have none. More pics will be taken with before/after lighting conditions and a review of the CR6’s after they’re installed. For now, UNBOXING!

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Things on the Side

I had the opportunity about a month ago to work in a technical capacity for a local band and photographer for a project they were undertaking. Eddie Donlin of Studio D Photo pulled me in to live stream the making of a music video for Pan.a.ce.a, a local band. The day was totally awesome and I got to see some seriously cool stuff and meet some wicked fun people. End result? The music video seen below.

I was linked to this article the other day via Pinyadda. Great read – but take it with a grain of salt. The information they provide is straight – there’s no fluff or bias in the article. As far as talking about companies or locations with public EV charging stations, my thoughts (and the explanation thereof) are below.

I personally don’t agree with “time-based” fees for charging. That’s like saying ‘You were at the gas station for 8 minutes, we charge $2/minute, so your total bill is $16.’ Time isn’t what we pay for at a station – gas is, and it’s measured in gallons.

If you pump gas through a 1″ hose, it will take twice as long to get the same amount of fuel as if you had a 2″ hose. That’s near enough the same as the comparison between 120V and 240V charging – it changes the size of the “pipe” so that you can “pump” the electricity faster.

It’d take forever to fill a giant tractor-trailer tank with our little teeny car pumps – that’s why they have big, high-speed pumps to fill their 50-300 gallon tanks. EVs have very large batteries, equivalent to having a very large “tank” for your “fuel.”

While companies with public EV chargers may not be allowed to bill by the kilowatt-hour, I wonder if they could bill by the Amp? It’s just a math conversion away from being a kilowatt-hour, but it may be enough different in today’s lawyer society that they could get away with it.

Another thing – while their math is 100% spot on (no fluff), you can’t use it for EVERY scenario. Electric cars are all different – and actually have different efficiencies. Just as cars have differing MPG ratings, EVs use different amounts of Watt-hours per mile driven. To go with that, how you drive effects your “MPG” in an electric car same as it does in a gas car.

Efficient road EVs (not science experiment ones) use about 300 Wh/mi (0.30 kWhr/mi). Some of the most efficient use as little as 250 Wh/mi; “guzzlers” can be found that use over 350 Wh/mi. So depending on how efficient the car is, and how efficient the driver is, the same amount of electric will take the same car different distances.

They quote $1 for 5 miles in a Tesla Roadster at 120V. A different driver may get 3 miles for that $1 worth, or maybe even 7. The same rule applies if you have a different car. Take the driver that can make a Tesla Roadster go 7 miles on that $1 of electric. They’re getting 40% more range for the same amount; 40% more efficiency. If we then couple that with an EV that would go 7 miles with the same amount of electricity the Tesla uses to go 5, that’s another 40% bonus to the already increased range. So it’s not nearly as simple (or necessarily expensive) as they make it out to be.

My Take on the Chevy Volt

This is a response I posted on the news site Pinyadda to a discussion regarding this article about the Chevy Volt. I feel it sums up my opinion quite nicely.

From speculation beforehand and Twitter for other news, there’s not really anything in there that I didn’t know or suspect.
It’ll be kind of hard to sell this car to groups outside of the first-adopters and techno-geeks with money to spare.

I’d love to have one for my wife to use; however, we need it to fit 3 carseats – so it’s out of the question. Why would I love to have one for my wife? She doesn’t go anywhere. Trips to her parents’ house, grocery store, or doctor are all very short. She’d be able to be in EV mode about 85% of the time she needs to go anywhere. The doctor’s office would be the farthest – and even round trip on that is only about 18 miles.

So, if she’s only driving an 18 mile round trip, that cuts another problem out – charging. Yes, it takes 16 hours to charge from “empty” on a 110V standard outlet. However, if your trip is only 1/2 the maximum EV range, then your recharge time is only 8 hours – so being plugged in overnight would put it back to 100% full.

Secondly, it doesn’t cost that much to get a 220V line put in. I’m not talking the fancy-pants chargers that are $2000; I just mean an outlet like an electric dryer has. Even if I paid someone else to put one in my garage, I’d be looking at about $200 for materials + labor. Do that, and a 50% recharge goes from 8 hours to 4.

Let’s say she wants to go to the nearest Target store. That’s about 32 miles away (I know!). In a perfect world, she’d be able to EV there on the 40 mile range, plug in, and EV home when she’s done shopping.

In today’s world with a Volt, there’s no place to plug in. So, she’d EV there, and then start to EV home. When depleted, the Volt would kick to gas, and she’d get home burning a little under a gallon of gas for the whole trip. Let’s call it a gallon for math’s sake.

She drove 64 miles on a gallon of gas. Did she get 64 MPG? Yes. HOWEVER, she also used some electric “fuel” for part of that. This is where the EPA struggles and you’ll see why.

How do you match up gallons and amps? That’s where the term ‘MPGe’ comes in. Miles Per Gallon Equivalent it what it stands for. A gallon of gas has 116,090 BTUs of energy in it. One kilowatt-hour of electricity has 3,412 BTUs of energy. The Volt has a 16 kWhr pack, that is allowed to discharge to 50% (to prolong battery life). 50% is 8 kWhr.

So, in this scenario, my wife used 1 gallon + 8 kWhr. We can’t add those, but we can add BTUs. 116,090 + (3,412*8) = 143,386 BTUs. Divide that by the BTUs per gallon, and we get…1.235. So she used as much energy as 1.235 gallons of gas to go 64 miles. That’s only 51.82 MPGe. She could easily get 51 MPG in a Prius, AND she’d have room to carry all 3 kids with her.

That’s where a point of contention about the MPG of the Volt comes in, and why people make such a fuss. GM is saying (and has been) that the car is only cost-saving if driven on EV for a VERY high percentage of miles (90% or more).

How often does my wife go to Target? Maybe two or three times a month. Otherwise, she’d be almost exclusively on electric. Thus, it’d work great.

But how much did such a trip as the Target run really cost? For me, electricity is about $0.11/kWhr after taxes, fees, and surcharges (base rate is $0.096/kWhr). So, the 8 kWhr she used cost $0.88, and the gallon of gas let’s say cost $2.75 – that’d make the total cost of the trip $3.63. 64 miles for $3.63 works out to a “Cost Per Mile” (CPM) of $0.0567.

Take the same trip in a Prius. My wife drives relatively conservatively; the Prius is rated for 51 MPG. She’d most likely be able to get about 55 MPG on the trip. 64/55 = 1.163 gallons of gas. At $2.75/gallon, that’s a cost of $3.198, or a CPM of $0.0499.

So the Prius is cheaper per mile even though the Volt used electric! Another point of contention about the MPG of the Volt.

Now, if we’re talking trips where the Volt uses NO gas, it’d chew up the Prius or any other car for CPM – FOR SOME PEOPLE. My electric is cheap; some people pay almost 3x what I do per kWhr. If you figure THAT rate, the $0.88 for electric becomes $2.64 – about the same cost as a gallon of gas. If that’s the case, why spend $41,000 on a car that doesn’t save you any money?

If you have your own solar setup, and you’re making free electric, then the CPM on the Volt would PLUMMET, especially if you never use gas.

Does that take care of just about everything? I hoped to also explain why there’s a love-hate relationship with GM and the Volt as part of that.

Way out of the field are the hypermilers such as myself, and the math shown above doesn’t take us into account at all. I don’t have a Prius; I have a car rated for 24 MPG average. I’m averaging 39 MPG; 62% higher than the rating of the car. If a hypermiler were to drive a Volt, would they get 40 miles of electric range, Or would they be able to squeeze 50? Maybe even 60 miles? Would they be able then to get better MPG when the Volt is running on gas?

These questions haven’t been answered yet because there hasn’t been enough time behind the wheel of one to find out.

Really, the only/best way the Volt is cost-effective is if you use it as an EV only, and have cheap electric. That’s the real bottom line.

The discussion on Pinyadda can be found here. I find Pinyadda to be a GREAT resource when it comes to not only news, but also to getting some “peer-review” of that news. Shouts go out to Cheryl Morris and the whole Yadda crew for putting together an excellent site!


It’s been a while. We haven’t made progress on the EV due to several things. Lack of funding is one. I ended up with a leak in both my house roof and my garage roof to fix, as well as a new place where a lot of my money is going – my new baby girl!

Charlotte Amelia was born 2010-09-24 at 10:30 PM. 7 pounds 15 ounces, 21 inches long. Now, she’s two and a half weeks old. Everyone is in good shape; if a little bit sleepy.