Solar Panel News

Nasa publishes a paper journal called “Tech Briefs”. They have a website here  It comes in the mail every month.   It is a free publication, your tax dollars at work.

Sometimes the articles are good. I really like looking at the ads.

In the MAY 2011 issue there is an article on “Micro-inverters are Launching a Solar Renewable Revolution”.

Solar power is always interesting. I have a small 4 panel array that is just about big enough to charge the 12 volt battery for my 20 meter radio.

The big news is that rather than run DC from the solar panels to one big inverter, some company is making a small inverter part of the solar panel assembly. The first thing that came to mind is don’t they have to be phase matched to the line? Yes, they do and they have a way to do that although not much detail in this article.

I remember, one of my electronics instructors, Larry Schwartz told me a story about being in the Army and being ordered to start a big generator without really knowing how. That of course is the thing that went wrong, did not know to sync it to the line. Big noise, all the smoke leaks out, will never work again. Oh, and Carlos too, on a ship he was on they had some guy manually throw a big switch that put the generator on line before it was sync’d up. That was a good story.

This is the same debate where Edison thought we should use DC and Tesla thought AC would be better for the electric service to our houses. There is a chapter called “Why is Edison Frying Dogs” in a book called “The New Alchemists” by  Dirk Hansen  (ISBN 0380658542)  that explains all about that. Edison was actually electrocuting doggies to demonstrate how dangerous AC power was. In the final analysis, AC power has less loss on a transmission line than does DC. So we use AC. In a solar power system there are the same issues on a smaller scale.

Also in this issue, there is an ad for a new kind of spring. The website is and the thing is called a wave spring. It looks like one of those Chinese finger puzzles. More spring strength in a smaller space. They are offering free samples. I should make something with one, really interesting product.

Most companies that make little parts offer free samples for the purpose of getting a foot in the door and getting their product used in a design  Especially IC chips and that sort of thing. So if you can make the case that you might use their product in the thing you are designing, they will frequently send you a couple to play with. And even if it is just you inventing something at the kitchen table, some places will send you free samples.  Some places only require that you register at their website and then you can request samples.

My lovely wife has a new hobby. She has taken clipping coupons to a new level. Here is the website with all the information . At this website they have instructions that can be followed to bring home a large bag of free or almost free stuff from the major stores like Target and Rite Aid. I avoid Target because I don’t speak French. But you should see the stuff she brings home for free.




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