Jeff's Blog

My daily (well I am trying to update daily now) weblog covering topics such as wind power, embedded electronics, software development, CNC Machines and some fun stuff like travel and sailing.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Free Software to Reduce Your Cellphone Bill

I am a long time (decades long) user of Verizon Wireless which I have used since they were locally called Bell Atlantic. They are expensive but there coverage is second to none and they work in my house where few other carriers get a signal.

I currently have four phones on my family plan, used by myself and three of my children in three different states. With a data plan on my Smartphone, the bills get up there pretty quickly. That's why I was happy to hear about Verizon Wireless's new Friends and Family plan, which allows you to pick five or ten frequently called out of network numbers and add them to a list for free calling.

While this feature has been out since February, I only just heard of it. Enthused at being able to save some money and moving to a cheaper plan with fewer minutes, I call Verizon Wireless and asked about the plan, and verified I was able to use it. I then asked them to put the top ten phone numbers which were eating up most of my minutes onto my plan. The service person on the other line said that he couldn't do that, but I could figure it out myself on their website. Well, I logged into "My Verizon" online and it wasn't obvious which callers were the ones to pick because only call details are provided. They did have an option to download call details as a spreadsheet, but not being a spreadsheet expert I didn't have a quick solution.

Instead, I wrote a program which associated itself to the spreadsheet files, and totaled them up by number, from biggest user to smallest. It also shows all call details and has reverse number lookup capability in case you can't remember who is who by number alone. A charting tab also shows your top 10 callers in a pie chart.

This software worked well for me, so now I am making available to others who may need this functionality at no charge. Here is the download page: . Please try it out and let me know how it works for you.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A grid-tie inverter for the rest of us

Grid-tie inverters have become egalitarian today. You no longer need thousands of dollars or a licensed electrician to take advantage of the newest generation of micro grid-tie inverters. These devices let you hook your small wind turbine or solar panel to the grid for around $250-$350 US. In our latest Youtube Video, my colleague Paul Gelling puts one of these inverters through the wringer.

Click here to view the video: Youtube Video

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Old Information can be Good Information

If you are interested in making wind turbine towers from schedule 40 or schedule 80 pipe and fittings, some very good information can be found using a very old source: a 1958 copy of Popular Science which I was reading from Google Books:

Brown, S. (1958), "Machined Pipe and Fittings", Popular Mechanics, May 1, pp.197-200.

Its amazing that you can find so many old magazines on Google Books which still have relevancy today. Even using a CNC machine rather than a lathe, many of the ideas in this article are still transferable. I am interested in making a telescoping wind turbine mount inexpensively and found the discussion on telescopic uses of pipe very interesting.

Equally amazing is how much material was in a monthly magazine back in the day. Go buy a Popular Mechanics today and compare it in quality and quantity to the 1958 vintage equivalent. I bought one in an airport and had finished everything of value before the plane reached altitude. Same goes for most other magazines like Popular Science that are but a shadow of their former selves. They mostly help you buy things now rather than make things.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

55 Gallon Drum Turbine Instructable

I wrote an Instructable. I have been a fan of Faroun, a prolific VAWT inventor who has been writing Instructables for years, and now I have finally written my own instructable:

55 Gallon Drum Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT)

Please let me know what you think. It is a lot easier to read if you actually to to the Instructables site to view it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

RSS Available

You can now get news feeds which will update automatically when I change my blog at the following link.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Savonius Kit For Sale

We are now offering our Savonius VAWT kit for sale on our corporate site at Berezin Technologies. This provides the gears shown in my youtube videos and a complete set of instructions for building the turbine in English or Spanish.