Direct from Nevada City – Captains of Crush!

October 26, 2008

My friend Ron recently sent me an article from his Stanford magazine on Randall Strossen and the “Captains of Crush gripper” that his company (IronMind Enterprises) sells.

Captains of Crush Gripper

Captains of Crush Gripper

No, I’m not thinking of a new career in strength training – the tie-in is that Randall & IronMind are based in my small town of Nevada City.

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Optimal solar panel angle

March 16, 2008

Back in 2002, I was working on getting a PV solar panel system installed on my house.

My initial calculation for the pay-back period was 15 years, due to slightly less-than-optimal roof orientation and some shade from large cedar trees around the house. This was based on the “easy” approach of having a local company handle the entire project, including the rebate.

By paying for consulting to design the system, buying the equipment myself, hiring a contractor to install it, and dealing with the California state rebate program directly, I managed to get the break-even time down to about 7 years. Though at the expense of significant hassle and a few close calls, like the fact that my original inverter couldn’t deal with the (lower) voltage gain from the Kyocera panels I wound up buying.

Solar Panels

But back to the title of this post – while working on the design, I searched the net to see if somebody had a way of calculating the optimal angle for the panels on the roof. I found exactly what I was looking for here. Then I noticed that the author of this page is Charles Landau, somebody I had worked with briefly while consulting at Palm. And then I found out that he lives in Nevada City, about a mile away from my brother-in-law.

Now we’re both members of the Nevada City tech lunch group, so we get to talk about solar panels, environmental testing, and open source projects like his CapROS operating system.