Monday, December 30, 2013


Done except a couple little touch up items. The roof and solar is done. Wooo Hooo. Solar was finished and back on line today. We are now crunching those solar electrons again. Its amazing how much we save having solar. This past three weeks was looking like $500 plus for our winter electric bill while our solar was off line. Bummer. So going solar for a full electric home is the only way to go. Next month we will be installing at least another 3kW solar array on the car port to add to our existing 7kW system. If the car port will support 4kW then I will put up another 4kW worth of panels. I have 6kW worth available. What ever does not go onto the house will be used for a ground mount totally off grid setup for my shop which will be done in the next couple months. My man cave, can't wait. Here are some pics of before and after. I really like the layout of the panels this time. These guys know how to make a bank of panels look good on the house vs the other company that first put up our system.

Pete :)

Taking my Leaf, or hoping to, to the Sacramento EV club for a checkup of the battery pack which still totally sucks. Took it to the movies the other evening and had the heater on there and back, it was cold, and in a 16 mile run it was 8 miles total on the freeway at 56 mph and the rest between 0 and 45. Not too many stops at lights. By the time I got home I had burned through half my charge. Shit. Not looking so good. Even though Nissan says its still good to go. I say not so fast. These guys can dig out all my information and give a good look and a non biased look. Just what I am after.

Here are some before and after photos.

Before Solar:

After Solar:

New Roof/Solar and color:

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Well the roof is looking good and the solar guys are getting the new rails mounted. There was a very brief moment when the roof was naked with nothing on it. Covering such a nice looking roof is ...... Oh well. Have a look. Pics are with my new Sony A7R. I have a nice new Lens too.

Leaf is home

Well, I was told that I have lost 1 bar and I am still within the limits of the battery pack. So they say. I was told if I loose 3 bars I will get a new battery if its before the warranty period is up. I truly bet it will be long before the warranty is up. I drove home today from the dealer. 43 miles. 7 miles were left showing on my Guess O Meter. The outside temp was 58 degrees when I left the Dealer. 53 by the time I got home. I also got the battery pack to warm up enough to show one extra bar on that meter. I drove on flat ground at 57 mph all the way home. No stopping and no climate control and in eco mode. So I got according to the meter a total of 50 miles. Wow. That is just crap. I drive 45 miles every day to work and back. Guess I don't get to drive the car to work in the winter any longer. Guess the Wife gets to drive the Leaf to work locally which is only like 10 miles to 15 miles total for her.

So here is my take. If you have a commute of 25 miles total then a 70 mile electric car should do you just fine for a few years. I say that because the car is totally different in the winter than in the summer.  It is the worst case that you should plan on after like 5 years. If after 5 years and in the winter if your car can still get you to work and back then maybe it will be worth driving. I have been an advocate for all electric but at this time I may change my mind a bit. I am thinking back again to turbo diesel car again and use synthetic or waste veggie oil. Still not clean like electric which I really do like but you know, if you only get a few good years from a pack its still not a viable way to get around. Better but not good enough.

I am coming around to liking the Volt but my take on that was to use a well designed turbo diesel with electric. Not gasoline with electric. So lets take out the gas engine and put in a good turbo diesel that will give plenty of power and excellent mileage. That is the way to go. So when the battery pack craps out in a few years you can still drive electric with your diesel running a generator to power your  drive motor. A total doable thing. The Volt has it right. Now it needs to be put into a killer looking body and bump up the electric range.

Pete :)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Troubles in Leaf Land

The other day it was quite cold here. I have nearly 30,000 miles. Just 400 miles short. It is now my third winter and things are not so good. It was 22 F outside the other morning when I left for work. I preheated the car via external power and then did not use any heat except a couple quick defrost blasts to clear the windshield. Other than that I used NO heat. It was COLD. My drive to work is 22 miles each way from drive to parking lot where I park. Cold is a known problem but was not expecting to such a great degree after only 2 years. Without heat I got a grand total of 45 actual miles with the guess o meter showing 2 miles to go. Had I used my heater at all I would not have made it home and if I had driven any faster I would not have made it home. Speed was 55mph each way. Flat ground. This just sucks. Being that I'd have 2 miles left it would not leave enough to be considered reliable in such an environment. I am going to contact Nissan about this issue. If I can't get better I will have to let my Wife drive it locally and I will have to once again resort to diesel to get me to work and back. This just totally sucks. My desire to go completely electric is high but with this I can't yet say it will actually happen. This is the sort of issue that needs to be known. Gas companies will suck it up fast while electric companies will say something must be wrong. I really should get better. I used to get about 65 miles total in the cold using the heat while going to work and back. I can accept that but not 48 miles. Its just too close to the edge that I would get range anxiety. Up to the other day I had not worried at all about range. I was worried the other day. I was ready to call for a tow. Did not need it thankfully but at only 2 miles left it was a close call. Too close. So those battery packs Jack is getting may not be worth any more than $3k. Knowing the cold issues with these cells I would not pay more than $3k for the packs Jack Rickard is getting. I'd more like to spend $2,500 bucks.

Friday, December 6, 2013


Forgot. We have a new front gate that was installed last week too. Forgot to upload this. Its a big long heavy gate. We will be making it automatic soon. It will get old doing this manually.

We love it. Now no more drifters driving up to our house. Now we are gated and we have video surveillance that sends video off site in case of break in. Not likely but we are out in the boonies a bit.


My new Sony A7R showed on my door step today. Charging the battery right now. Did a little mucking around with it but can't do much until the batteries are charged. Waiting for an external charger and I will have many batteries to keep this camera going. Its a power hog as are most modern digital cameras.

Our Garage and Car port now both have completed new roofs. Solar panels off and awaiting the removal and installation of the roof on the main house. These guys did a great job.

I have lots to learn about my new camera. There are lots of buttons to preprogram so I can preprogram for things I do the most to make things quite fast in setup. So far I love the quality of the camera. Built well and quite solid. Feels like the SLR cameras of days gone by. My Pentax camera is well built. This is better. Size wise its about the same as the old SLR cameras too. Not nearly as FAT as most of the current DSLR cameras like the Canons and Nikons. Holds well. Feels great. Fits great even in my mongo hands.

I am a well pleased camper. Now I need to acquire some A-Mount Lenses and a couple of the new E-Mount Lenses. The New Lenses are labeled as FE denoting the full frame sensor. Most of the E-mounts are Micro 4/3 lenses. I can use them but loose some sensor area. Bummer. I plan on only using lenses that were original designed for 35mm sizes sensors or from the old film cameras. I have an excellent lens from an old Pentax screw mount and its a Super Takumar 55mm f-1.8 lens with UV lens cover and hood. Takes excellent images. Top notch glass. There is better out there but it is excellent glass. Well built and solid little lens. Totally manual when used on this camera.

More to come. Videos should be coming in soon as I learn this sucker. I got it mostly for the video but at 36 mega pixels it is one hell of a sensor and camera.

Pete :)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Solar Panels Off

Eggads, Were on total grid power now. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. But new roof is soon to come. Nice Christmas present to us. :)

All the panels are off as are the rails. I am keeping the rails and connectors to do a small ground mount system for a full off grid system to power my new shop. That will come a bit later.

Sony Alpha A7R Camera is on its way. Shipped today. Will be here by Friday. Yippie. Will have lots to do with the new camera and video setup. Time to clear out the office and make that little studio.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Finally we have the roofing crew out replacing our current roof with a new covering. Any soft spots are being replaced and new protective layering laid down and a new metal roof being installed. We decided upon a standing seam roof and yes, our solar panels will be going back on the roof. There are special couplers to install so you can install your panels. They have our garage stripped and much of the roofing on our carport. Those two things will be done first before the main house is done. Here are the current in progress pics of our roof.

We chose Hemlock Green for our color. I like it. You can see our antenna all munched up on the ground. Wooo Hoooo. Finally that ugly thing is down. Never did work well. But with Comcast who needs an antenna :)

No rain in the forecast. Main house will be done in two weeks. The Garage and Carport will be done by Tuesday. Wanted to do a time lapse film but can't leave my camera out while I am not home.

Pete :)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sony Alpha A7R

Sony just announced a real nice mirror less digital camera with interchangeable lenses. Best thing is it is a full frame sensor camera with a 36 megapixel sensor. I want a powerhouse in a small package and it is true that dynamite comes in small packages. This will turn the DSLR world on its head. I will be able to use the A-mount lenses and utilize the auto focus functions and I can also put on hundreds of older good glass for manual work. They will offer 3 new lenses from the beginning but I purchased it with only two adaptors to allow me to use my existing glass. Going to pick up some rigging from Jag35 so I can do a few things I was unable to do in the past. Or at least make it easier. It will be on par with all the major Full Frame DSLR cameras including the Blackmagic Cinema camera and the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera. It will be a dynamite camera. I am stoked at being able to purchase it and its going to be perfect. I will be able to make a small but very functional package for taking on the road for doing some interviews of guys with electric car builds. It is something that is needed and since most are not doing it themselves I will provide that needed information. Part time of course and all on my dime.

The camera will do uncompressed raw as well as a few other codecs if you want and I can couple it to my Blackmagic Hyperdeck Shuttle 2 for a whopping 480 gigs of storage and either uncompressed or Apple Prores 422 HQ codec from the Shuttle. Photos are raw or jpg. I plan on all raw photos and uncompressed or Apple Prores 422 HQ.

I chose this one over either the Blackmagic Cinema or Pocket Cinema camera and this is a full frame sensor which neither of the Blackmagic  cameras provide. I can utilize the entire industry of 35mm glass that is for a full frame size sensor and utilize many and still have autofocus functionality. Many will be plain manual but that is good as well. This is one kick ass camera. Should have it in my hands by the end of November and I will do a full review.

Pete :)

The XGA OLED Tru-Finder is the camera's very high resolution eye-level electronic viewfinder. It which features OLED improvements and the same 3-lens optical system used in the flagship A99. Sony claims it will display three times the contrast of the A99. High-end features like 100% frame coverage and a wide viewing angle are also provided.

The tiltable 3-inch (1,229k dot resolution) Xtra Fine™ LCD Display makes it easy to photograph over crowds or low to capture pets eye to eye by swinging up approx. 84° and down approx. 45°.Sony says images will be dramatically more visible in bright daylight on this monitor.

Connectivity with smartphones for One-touch sharing/One-touch remote has been simplified with Wi-Fi®/NFC control.  In addition to Wi-Fi support for connecting to smartphones, α7R also supports NFC (near field communication) providing “one touch connection” convenience when transferring images to Android™ smartphones and tablets. (Sorry, no iPhones or iPads...yet.) Users need only touch devices to connect. When using Smart Remote Control — a feature that allows shutter release to be controlled by a smartphone — connection to the smartphone can be established by simply touching compatible devices.

The A7R outputs 14-bit RAW image data which Sony says fully preserves the rich detail generated by the image sensor during the 14-bit A/D conversion process. When developed with Sony’s Image Data Converter RAW development software, these images deliver the superb photographic expression and rich gradation that only 14-bit data can offer.

Video capture is full 1920 x 1080 HD uncompressed clean-screen video in 60p and 60i frame-rates.  Selectable in-camera AVCHD codec frames rates include super-smooth 60p, standard 60i or cinematic 24p. MP4 codec is also available for smaller files for easier upload to the web.

The Sony Alpha A7R will be available body only for $2,299.99.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

DC Generator

Well I finally got my initial setup done with my little Diesel engine and my little starter/generator. The generator is quite modest in size but was built to last. My goal has been to couple the two together and get about 36 or so volts and some pretty decent amperage out of the little generator to use as a stationary  DC source for charging my small pack of LiFePO4 cells using my Synkromotive controller as the charger. The initial test is to see if I can even get a decent voltage from the little generator. Well, I did. I did not get what I was wanting but with a bit of tweaking I am sure I can get a bit closer. I did a video but for some reason the volume is terrible low. I must have mucked with a setting or two and forgot about it. So I will do another video tomorrow after work. In the mean time here are some photos of the setup. I only wanted to do a general setup because if the unit did not work as expected there really is no use in building a nice frame to hold the two together. But now that the initial testing is looking good I may start to plan on a nice frame that I can carry if needed. It would also be mounted on a small trailer and enclosed to reduce the noise from the Diesel. One nice thing is that this little diesel is California Emission Compliant. That is a big deal. I can also if I want, run BioDiesel. I may just do that too. But for tonight here are the pics of the setup I did. Works pretty good too.

Pete :)