Current Projects and News
For those who want to know what's going on chez nous and a reminder
List of projects
Mini-heliostat project (in Design Phase)
Start date: August 21, 1997 (more or less)
Review date: May 21, 1998
Finish date: August 21, 1998 (more or less) way, way over-due
- Design and construction of cheap mini-heliostat system.
- Design must be finished and prototype array completed with all control
systems by first review date.
- Main questions to answer: does the thing work as advertised and is the
price right? What receiver to use?
- Decision to start mass-manufacturing and exploitation will be based mostly
on politics and availability of money and space. Would be good to have the
system working by the summer of 1998.
- If money not available, try using project as doctoral thesis material.
- Prototype of one mirror unit complete.
- 50% of mechanics (gear system) in place. Auto-transmission still to be
- No computer control yet.
- Inauguration/good-bye cocktail party done.
- Reading up on PIC chips and other microcontrolers. Simple, but severely
- Motor interface for robot arm and computer camera on order.
- 50 cheap DC motors bought (50 cents each), but they need pinions (!)
- Built robot arm for practice.
- About 50% of the control software tested using POVRAY rendering program.
Nice pictures, but I should have used the RADIOSITY program for better realism.
POVRAY is useless for reflected light patterns.
- Mini-heliostat FAQ written and published.
- Enquiry into receiver systems started about October 1st. Heard about
Australian diesel engine conversion.
- Came up with solar thermal/hydro electric hybrid idea. How reasonable?
- Proto-type heliostat got smashed in a wind storm. Currently designing for a
lightweight plastic mirror.
- Trip to Australia indicates diesel engine idea is feasible only with plenty
of competent mechanical support,
- BUT, found a company that is supposed to be selling high concentration PV
- Continuing to write a suite of programs to support both heliostat motor
control and POVRAY simulations.
- Bought and built 3-motor robot arm PC parallel port interface.
- Reading Australian White Cliffs report.
- Released web pages.
- Decided upon using hex arrays of reflectors rather than straight arrays for
a number of reasons. Now it is easier to use a screw-jack elevation system
rather than a big elevation gear.
- Did gear train study.
- Writing POVRAY scene files to show hex array idea.
- Wrote software to automatically place hex arrays in a space-efficient
- Found a cheap CAD that works with Linux. Tried VariCAD demo and it seems
appropriate. Based on OpenGL.
- Writing heliostat simulator package using Mathematica.
- Arranging for a trip to the Canary Islands this December to visit the
EUCLIDES project at ITER.
- Writing gear simulator package using Mathematica.
- Reviewed and posted heliostat tables and specs.
- Posted heliostat schematics using 3-D Java applet.
- Collecting names of people interested in joining the project.
Fresnel lens high-temperature test stand project (on
Start date: October 22, 1997 (more or less)
Finish date: April 31, 1998 (more or less)
- Construction of frame for Fresnel lens.
- Construction of mini-furnace/platform.
- Testing of computer control system to eventually to become part of
- Use for testing oxidation of receiver materials.
- Use to melt glass for the glass mosaic idea (old, old idea)
- Frame done except for slots to hold lens and braces.
- 35" diameter Fresnel lens arrived, burns
things nicely, but awkward to hold. Flaked a hole in the concrete
- Dismantled the frame. Taking up too much room
on the balcony and weakly designed. It needs more struts if I am going to make
it from plastic and I need to find a good way of making joint pieces.
- A number of people have asked where the lens came from. I bought it from Edmund Scientific.
Trip to Australia (finished)
Start date: November 11, 1997
End date: February 14, 1998
- Bicycle from Perth to Sydney
- Have a good time.
- Celebrate both 30th birthdays on the beach.
- Possibly visit White Cliffs solar power station.
- Probably visit the "Big Dish" installation at Canberra.
- See old friends.
- Write a travel article? For Internet?
- Take lots of pictures this time.
- Biking was a great idea - I recommend it to everyone.
- Bought a QuickCam-C video camera for the computer to scan in photos, but it
- Trying to sell bicycles in Sydney using Internet. Anyone interested in two
trekking bikes in good condition?
- Bought a cheap flat-bed scanner (Mustek 6000P) and a portable computer
(Toshiba Satellite 300CDS) and started scanning photos.
- Wrote a web page concerning the visit to the ANU and
another containing excerpts from the White Cliffs
- Wrote yet another web page (with the help of
Christiane) describing our bicycle trip across Oz.
Lots of photos. Occasionally getting nice emails from people who have seen
the page, even though Altavista indicates that it is poorly linked. I wonder if
I shouldn't try to get some links on bicycle sites...
Trip to Tenerife (finished)
Start date: December 10, 1997
End date: December 24, 1998
- Visit the ITER concentration photovoltaic installation, with the official
opening between the 14th and 19th of December 1998.
- Collect photographs and specifications of photovoltaic installation.
- Have a good time.
- Done. Visited ITER and saw EUCLIDES PV arrays.
- Wrote web page about the visit.
Start date: January 25, 1999
End date: ?
- Start a part-time consulting business to get some money coming in and
profit from the last three years of learning Linux.
- Placed ads in the journals 24 Heures (Leman Express), Lausanne
Cité, and Aux Trouvailles for one month. Moderate response (about 40
enquiries) and a few small jobs. A surprising number of people did not realise
that I was specialising in Linux and called me to fix their Windows boxes. I
still get calls from people who kept my ad.
- Joined GULL, the Groupe des
Utilisateurs de Linux de la région Lémanique.
- Participated for four days (April 27-30) at the local computer trade show,
Computer '99 in Lausanne. GULL was invited by Oracle to do a presentation of
Linux and Oracle. Talked with at least 200 of the 800 people who visited us and
got a few interesting contacts.
- Wrote a web page to collect my Linux info in one
- Participated heavily in the GULL's Linux Demo Day in September 1999 and
made a few interesting contacts.
- Got my first serious contract. Worked two months in the STAT section of the
ILO (International Labour Office) of the UN
in Geneva, helping them migrate their SAS programs and data from an old IBM
mainframe to a Sun as part of their Y2K preparations. Ended up writing a JCL-to-Perl translator.
- Elected vice-president of the GULL at the January 21, 2000 general
- July 5-9, 2000 - Attended the first Libre Software Meeting in Bordeaux and
followed the 0th Debian Conference. Lots of interesting contacts and got my key signed by a bunch of Debian developers.
Start date: Probably May 26, 1999
End date: at least 18 more years
- Become the patriarch of a enormous family. Or maybe not so enormous - we'll
- First two ultra-sonic scans and other tests indicate a banal
- Put up a web page of baby pictures.
- February 25, 2000. It's a girl! Her name is now officially "June" (mostly
because we had been calling her "Junior").
Erik Rossen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
OpenPGP key: 2935D0B9
Tel: +41 22 362 45 08
Home URL: http://www.rossen.ch
Copyright © 2000 until the heat-death of the Universe (thanks, Mickey!), by Erik Rossen
Last modified: 2008-10-06T09:02:26+0200
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