Category: Information

SolarRiver, PVOutput and the Raspberry Pi

By , 5 December, 2013 3:10 pm

SamilPowerI originally had my PV solar panels and inverter installed on the 12th August 2012 (15 months ago) and since then I have always wanted to get all the statistics logged.  I was originally planing on logging to a local database which would then require a custom application written to pull the information from the inverter and to then pull that data into usable information.


since then I came across PVOutput which looked fantastic and offered the facility to upload the statistics from your inverter allowing you to access a WEB site that presented the information to you in good looking graphs.  When I stumbled across this site I just had to use it rather than going to the effort of producing my own.

One problem I contended with was I could not justify the cost of leaving a computer on for the six to eight hours a day just to obtain the statistics form the inverter.  My computer seems to use on average 120 watts per hour, meaning it would coast at current electricity prices nearly $300 every year just to accumulate the data.

Raspberry Pi

Some time ago I came across the Raspberry Pi which is a small computer utilising the ARM chipset. This device only uses two watts per hour meaning the yearly cost is well under $10 per year for eight hours a day of operation or under $20 per year to run 24*7.  So this became a real viable option.  I currently use the Raspberry Pi for my home PBX system and for running my own private cloud solution which uses BitTorrent Sync.

Three and a half weeks have passed since I have configured my rPi to gather the logs from my Inverters and the data is starting to produce some useful information.

I have two individual systems.  A 2kW and a 3kW.  The 2kW is facing North East and the 3kW is facing North West.

If you are interested in building your own system I do have a document on how to build and configure your own.  Please go to PVOutput_with_the_Raspberry_Pi_and_SolarRiver_Inverters on my Wiki for details.

Fianally ADSL2+. I was lucky just to get ADSL1 when I first moved in.

By , 16 November, 2012 9:28 pm

When I just moved into my place at Springfield Lakes in January 2012 I rang Telstra to get Internet connected and they said it was unavailable, not enough ports available within my local DA (Distribution Area).  I’m on DA96 connected to the Goodna exchange.

Anyhow, I was told to ring back in a month and check.  That was not acceptable.  I could not believe in this day and age that basic Internet access was not available to everyone, so I started to research my options.  I have a radio tower about 800 metres from me, direct line of sight so worst case scenario I could use 3G.  Another option I found was a private company called Puddlenet Communications that has filled the void of DSL with a 5 GHz wireless mesh network.

Once I found out about Puddlenet I looked further into it and then started looking at the homes in my area and I noticed that a lot of homes had 5 GHz directional antennas, so it was obvious that there were a lot of people in the same situation as me.  The only problem with Puddlenet was their plans, like 3G is expensive with limited data allowances.

So I got back onto Telstra and rang them up every second day.  It took me two weeks before they said I could get connected.  Someone in my area must have so I was lucky enough to get a connection.  To the right here is a picture of one of the antennas that people around here have.  I took this picture of my neighbours house.

You could image how slow ADSL1 is when you are use to at a minimum ADSL2+.  I’m happy to have ADSL2+ but I can’t wait until the NBN is rolled out in this area.  The only reason I was able to get ADSL2 was because the NBN is not planned in my area for at least another 3 years so Telstra decided to upgrade this area as part of their Top Hat project.

Here are the results of my before and after speed tests along my with my modems synchronisation speeds.

One thing I will say about Telstra is that as soon as I saw the Top Hat spreadsheet from Telstra Wholesale say that my DA was upgraded I rang them that morning and within 1 hour my speed had changed.  Telstra did tell me that it would take 3-4 days for the change to take effect.  They were wrong there, but I’m happy about it.

CyanogenMod 10 (CM10) and the Samsung Galaxy S GT-I9000

By , 13 November, 2012 7:23 pm

I have previously written about CM9 and how well I have enjoyed using this custom ROM on my phone.  I’m compelled to write once more about CM10.  If it wasn’t for the CyanogenMod team I would not be able to experience the wonderful flavours of JellyBean (Android 4.1.2).

With Android 4.2.0 in the wind I’m really keen to see how compatible this will be with my phone.  I’ve recently learnt that CM for the I9000 is the most downloaded ROM from CyangoenMod.

I’m really enjoying Google Now that android 4.1 brings and I can’t wait for 4.2 to hit the CM team.  I’m sure they will be releasing Android 4.2 within days of Android releasing it to the public, which I believe should happen any day now.

I’ve had my Samsung Galaxy S now for over 2 years and I am very pleased with it.  It seems that manufactures are encouraging users to upgrade their phones every 12 months with the release of the phones having better CPU, GPU and RAM.

I’ve always thought that I’d like to have my phone for 3 years but I’m finding it difficult as the newer devices out there look so good.  I am finding with the newer Android operating system that the hardware seems to be a bit slower on the older phones due to the newer features and functions that require more CPU and RAM.  Having said that it is still a very usable device. Due to wanting the latest and greatest I’ve decided to purchase the Samsung Galaxy S IV when it comes out in March 2013 (if you listen to rumors).  If the phone is up to specifications then I believe I will purchase around May/June.  I won’t purchase when it is first released.  I will wait for supply to pickup and be hopeful the price will drop with competing retailers.

If anyone has an older Android device I can recommend that you do try our CM10 for your device.

Solar Panels. Are they worth it?

By , 5 November, 2012 10:52 am

I purchased my solar panels on the 6th June 2012 and had them installed on the 12th August 2012.  The 12th of August was the completion of the installation.  It was when Energex finally came to install the meter into the power box.  Yes, your calculations are correct, it was a Sunday when they did the install.  The reason for the Sunday install was because my installation just happen to coincide with the Queensland government notification that the feed in tariff would be going from 44 cents per kilowatt hour to 8 cents per kilowatt hour so the rush was on for everyone to install before the changeover and I happen to be caught in the middle of it all.

So, the system has now be operational for 85 days and I must say based on my calculations the system is working well and truly in my favor.  To this day I’m calculating a $342 payment in my favor.  No electricity costs but I nice payment for me from the electricity company.

I’m currently with AGL,  I get 10% off any electricity usage and my feed in tariff is 44 cents per kilowatt hour from the Queensland government plus 8 cents per kilowatt hour from AGL which is a total of 52 cents per kilowatt hour that I feed into the grid.  Now AGL could change their 8 cents to zero but the Queensland government is contracted to supply the 44 cents per kilowatt hour for another 16 years so that makes me happy.

Now the feed in tariff is a fixed amount meaning that it does not go up with inflation, so as the years pass and my cost per kilowatt hour increases the value of my feed in tariff decreases dependent on the increase per year.  I’m guesstimating by the year 2020 electricity prices will be around the 44 cents per kilowatt hour, meaning that my last 6 or so years of the system will not be in my favor, but having said that I should still be able to accomplish at a minimum neutral cost.

Over the last 85 days, I have experienced cloud, rain and clear skies, so my estimated figures should be reasonably accurate but I really won’t know until I’ve had the system running for at least a year, but then I won’t know if that year was a good your or a  bad year so for a more accurate measure 3 years of usage would be required to get a real feel.  Now the problem with this is that we have already seen the government change the rules on solar systems a number of times and you can only go by what the sales person is estimating as your return on investment, which we know will always seem good otherwise they will never be able to sell any products.

I have two systems installed.  I have a 2kW facing north east and a 3kW facing north west.  Based on the direction of the panels my system is loosing about 10% efficiency as they are not facing true north. My solar panels are 250 watts each.

I typically spend about $600 per quater with the  summer quater bill typically around the $700 mark, so that is an average of about $2500 per year on electricity costs.

With a $350 payment (income, tax free) per quarter and a $15,000 bill for the solar system that means a break even point of 4 years.  After the 4 year mark  I should then have a payment (incomce), tax free) of about $800 per year (which would reduce over time due to inflation) which would be decreased over the remaining period of the feed in tariff program.

Based on the figures above, I do believe that a solar system with a feed in tariff of at least 44 cents if viable.  I’m not sure how well it will now stack up as the current feed in tariff is only 8 cents per kilowatt hour and from what I have hear and read the government has the ability to change the feed in tariff rate to zero on new contracts.

CyanogenMod 9

By , 26 August, 2012 2:18 pm

Some time ago I wrote about CyanogenMod 7 or CM7 as it is know as.  I was not all that happy with it at the time.  My phone was not performing at its best so I decided to give CM9 a go as it has been available for some time so it should be quite a mature product.

Well to my surprise I was quite impressed.  For those that know I have the Samsung Galaxy S : GT-I900 which is now a couple of revisions old, with the S II and the S III as superior models.  When the S III hit the market I was really keen to get a replacement but now that I have install CM9 I see no point in doing so.

Using CM9 I have Android Ice Cream Sandwich which is version 4.0.4 of the operating system.  Using the stock ROM from Samsung I’m only able to get to version 2.3.6 of Android with no further development planed. I actually installed CM10 which uses Android 4.1 Jelly Bean but I did something I should not have done and I had to roll back to CM9 and I have not progressed back to CM10.  CM10 did look fantastic but it still has a couple of bugs as it is still an immature release.

Using CM9 I find that email for Exchange and Google Currents the two main applications that I use are now lightning fast compared to running the stock ROM, so I am a happy chappy and I can see me sticking with the I9000 until the S IV is released, as I want a dual quad core CPU. 🙂

So my recommendation to anyone with a Samsung Galaxy S is to upgrade your operating system from the stock ROM to CyanogenMod 9 and possibly within a month from now CM10.


CyanogenMod 7 on the Galaxy S I9000

By , 5 August, 2011 3:22 pm

Over the last month I have been going back and forth between the CyanogenMod 7 custom ROM and the stock Samsung ROM.  I get full of enthusiasm towards a ROM that promises fast speeds and wonderful customisations only to be bitterly disappointed.

The first time installing CM7 onto my phone I was completely confused as everything looked and felt different.  So I rolled back to the stock ROM.  Sometime later I had another attempt at installing CM7.  I was able to understand more about CM7 and what things were called.  I was reasonably impressed, until I went to take a photo.  The Camera application in CM7 is very basic and has none of the features that the Samsung camera does.  So I rolled back once again.

So I used the Samsung stock ROM for some time until I decided I had to install CM7 once again. So I did.  Everything was great.  Things worked really fast, I understood the camera was not going to function as the Samsung version but I wanted speed and full customisation of the user interface.

I was happy for about 12 hours until I tried to play some videos.  The videos froze and force closure windows appeared.  I tried downloading different players but nothing succeeded. I’m heading to New Zealand soon and I need some entertainment during the flight and not been able to watch some movies or TV shows that I have downloaded was just not going to sit very well with me.

So I rolled back to the stock ROM and here I am going to stay, no matter what; having said that I may try it again once the product has matured.  CM7 has released RC1 so I think I’ll wait until it has release the final product to market.

The major problems I see with CM7 are:

  • Limited camera functionality
  • No video calls
  • Unable to play common video formats.
  • SMS conversation views are not very nice and I found hard to view

The last version of CM7 that I tried was build 76, 2011-08-03

What I don’t understand is how custom ROM’s like CM7 and others can make the phone operate very responsively but the companies that release their phones can’t or won’t.

Gingerbread 2.3.3 is now on my Samsung Galaxy S I9000

By , 24 July, 2011 8:17 pm

After totally screwing my phone a couple of weeks ago by trying to rollback from CyanogenMod 7 to a stock install, I actually bricked my phone. I managed to take it in for repairs and they re-flashed the OS for me. I think I was lucky. I was only out of action for half a day and I managed to get it repaired under warranty.

Well I’ve had another attempt. I just can’t help myself. I’ve upgraded from Android 2.2 to version 2.3.3. I must say I’m quite impressed. I just couldn’t wait for the official release. Everything is running well and I’m quite please with the look and feel. One thing I am a bit disappointed in is that the Daily briefing application seems to be missing. I’m not sure if Samsung have totally removed the application for good or if it was just an oversight in this release. In its place seems to be a download application, that shows you a list of all files that have been downloaded from the internet and other sources.

When I installed Gingerbread I lost all my root capabilities so I installed CF-Root 3.7. This package came with Tweaks which optimises the performance of the phone so I’m not sure if the phone is operating smoothly because of Gingerbread or because of Tweaks. Another good tool which is part of CF-Root is ClockWorkMod Manager. I backed up my stock ROM before everything fell to pieces so I’m going to have a go at restoring my original ROM when my UNBrick download mode micro USB device arrives. This should allow me to recover if I should brick my phone again.

I think I bricked my phone because I didn’t really fully understand what I was doing. I now understand the PIT, PDA, Phone and CSC files so I should not have too many problems, or problems that I can not sort out next time round.

Interesting Population Statistics

By , 21 July, 2011 9:46 pm

I thought this was interesting, estimated statistics for 2011.

360,000 births per day 151,600 people die each day
15,000 births each hour 6,316 people die each hour
World Population Estimate 6,948,542,820 (Nearly 7 Billion)

That means the planet is growing at about 2.4% every year, based on my calculations.

1.8 billion People under age 15 years (26%)
4.4 billion People age 15-64 years (66%)
516 million people are 65 years and over (8%) (Half a Billion)

Australia’s estimated population as at December 2010 is 22,557,266. That is approximately 0.32% of the world. We are a small number of people compared to the rest of the world.

Android Backup/Restore and MyBackup Pro

By , 10 July, 2011 12:11 pm

I’ve been looking for a method to backup my phone so if I should loose or upgrade the firmware I’m able to restore the phone to its previous state.  All of my contacts are either in Facebook or Email so I have no problems restoring contacts as they are all “cloud” based.  What I would like restored is all of my SMS, MMS, Call Logs, Screen layout and installed applications and associated data.

After searching a number of forums I decided to use the application MyBackup Pro as this application seems to be highly recommended by the Android forums.  This program was able to backup and restore my Call Logs, SMS and MMS data after I did a factory reset so that was pretty good, but to get all the other data I had to root my phone.

I’ll list the procedures below that I followed to root my phone, but after doing so I am now able to backup all Android Market applications and data, Home Screen layouts and other items.

I am reasonably happy with the MyBackup Pro application but it is not perfect.  Below is a list of items that were and were not backed up.

— Lost Settings —

  • Wallpaper
  • Desktop widgets (even though they were restored from the application backup I just had to place the widgets back onto the appropriate desktop page)
  • Wi-Fi Settings
  • Bluetooth Name and Pairing
  • Application screen layout
  • Mobile AP settings
  • Swype Data
  • Inbuilt Phone Applications Accounts and Sync.

— Items that were Restored —

  • Call Logs
  • SMS and MMS
  • Internet Browser Favourites and Page History.
  • Desktop Layout
  • Windows Live Settings
  • Google Market Applications and Data
  • Some other system systems.

I just used the default call notification settings so I don’t know if that was able to be restored or not.

For those of you that don’t already know I am using the Samsung Galaxy S, GT-I9000.

One of the good things I like about MyBackup Pro is that I can schedule a backup to occur on a daily basis at a certain time which is automatically backed up to the “cloud”.  The trial version of MyBackup functions for 30 days and they give you 2 MB of online storage.  When you purchase MyBackup Pro for about US$5 you get 100 MB of storage and you can also backup to a SD card if you prefer.

— Rooting Procedure —

Step 1.
For some reason as far as I’m aware the Galaxy S sold in Australia did not have the 3 button recover and download buttons activated.  To activate this functionality you can follow the Fix 3-Button Combo Download & Recovery Mode In Samsung Galaxy S GT-I9000 from addictivetips.

Step 2.
You need to replace the recovery manager from Version 3 to version 2e.  Version 3 does not allow the use of unsigned zip files but 2e does.  Again there is an addictivetips page that describes the process called How To Install ClockworkMod Recovery On Samsung Galaxy S I9000.  Even though ClockworkMod is not been installed, we are only interested in the recovery manager downgrade process.

Step 3.
The final step is to download and install the root functionality.  There are many ways to do this but I find the easiest is to download the root file and apply to your phone now that recovery manager 2e is installed.  Download the One-Click-Root file and extract its contents.  Then copy the for Android 2.1 operating system or as to your phone, boot into recovery manager and then select apply and your done.

WOW! 3G Access from Ipswich to Caloundra

By , 23 April, 2011 6:25 pm

It’s not very often I get impressed but I sure was impressed today.  I left our home at Redbank Plains at Ipswich today to head to Dicky Beach, Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast.  During this trip I decided to listed to an Internet radio station that I like to listen to.

To my amazment I was able to listen to the radion station with only three minor interuptions. 

  1. The first was at Indooroopilly on the Western Freeway for about 10 to 15 secdons. 
  2. The second was at the Redcliff turn off for about five seconds.
  3. The final interruption was at the racecourse heading into Caloundra and that was only for about a second.

I’m with VirginMobile which uses the Optus network.  I was astounded that I was able to use the Internet all that way with only minor interruptions.

Another interesting fact is that I was on the road for one and a half hours and used up 47.5 MB of data.  Not bad at all at 64k using HE-ACC.  On the way home I’ll try 96k MP3 and see how I go.

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