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New Process Promises Ammonia From Air, Water, and Sunlight

Big_Breaker Azolla already does this (117 comments)

More specifically the symbiotic bacteria that they host. Nature has solved this problem already (and more than once) - no high pressures or temperatures needed.


about a month and a half ago

Why Morgan Stanley Is Betting That Tesla Will Kill Your Power Company

Big_Breaker Re: Good, I say (502 comments)

This. The Statue of Liberty is made out of copper (at least the skin) and is over 100 years old. Notice how it crumbles into powder? Oh wait. It doesn't...

about a month and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Dedicated Low Power Embedded Dev System Choice?

Big_Breaker Re:Intel NUC (183 comments)

Celeron J1800 and J1900 boards are passively cooled, low power and cheap. Consider them as an alternative to a NUC

I bought this board:

It's more expensive than the ASUS, Gigabyte, etc J1800 boards but mine does 12V dc-dc conversion on board and has many more SATA connections. That sames me a traditional PSU and SATA card/expander.

about 2 months ago

New Single Board Computer Lets You Swap Out the CPU and Memory

Big_Breaker Re: So you can reuse the PC board? (122 comments)

I built a baytrail server and its amazing for the cost and power budget. The Intel HD graphics aren't for gaming but it can serve and render media on a sip of power. The HDDs are by far the biggest power hog. I struggled with these ARM chips and their custom distros enough. The ability to be on x86 with well supported peripherals is well worth it - gpu especially. Need to run some wintel stuff now and again? Virtualbox works fine. On the other hand ARM chips always have their issues with proprietary gpus and their binary blob drivers rife with kernel compatibility problems. And you find yourself stuck in a back alley of "mostly" compatible software and patches.

You might hate sucking up to Intel but at least the drivers work. I might be burning 7 watts instead of 5 but that's nothing in the overall power budget. And baytrail is much much faster than IMX6.

about 3 months ago

Are the Glory Days of Analog Engineering Over?

Big_Breaker Re:Digital is only digital if analog is right (236 comments)

I wasn't sure how many nines but as you point out, you need a lot! Calculating those 9s ahead of time at various temperatures certainly dips into analog.

about 3 months ago

Are the Glory Days of Analog Engineering Over?

Big_Breaker Re:Digital is only digital if analog is right (236 comments)

Totally true. A for effort!

But I'll say FPGAs are a niche technology. Many products have no FPGAs and effectively none have only an FPGA and no supporting circuits. Commonly FPGAs are used for ultra high bandwidth applications where a traditional microprocessor can't hang. All those high bandwidth buses and external I/O interfaces press right up against analog. Maybe you are using a stock dev board and programming the FPGA over USB. So congratulations - your analog issues have been abstracted away but someone made the dev board, and when your design doesn't work you'll be pulling out a o-scope that costs more than a car to debug. And I some point I promise you'll be analog scoping waveforms.

about 3 months ago

Are the Glory Days of Analog Engineering Over?

Big_Breaker Re:Digital is only digital if analog is right (236 comments)

For brevity I didn't mention your follow on but it is especially true. If you aren't worried about analog you aren't pushing your digital design hard enough. And a lot of design happens at the bleeding edge of engineering where you have to push hard.

about 3 months ago

Are the Glory Days of Analog Engineering Over?

Big_Breaker Digital is only digital if analog is right (236 comments)

Part of "Digital", the lowest level of digital, is a contract concerning how signalling between transistors occurs. This includes timing, rise and hold times, voltage thresholds and current. I'll include avoidance of race conditions, clock distribution, refresh cycles on DRAM and temperature effects as a side car. These are all design constraints that make sure the 1s and 0s working properly. It's only when you have a 99.99999999% solid digital contract that you can begin the digital side of the design.

All of this digital design is solidly analog and will NEVER go away.

I could make another whole post about the absurdity of traditional "analog" going away. All these mobile devices have some amazing RF design going on from the antenna down to the mixed signal SoC. Analog is everywhere and at the core of every electronic gadget.

about 3 months ago

Should Tesla Make Batteries Instead of Electric Cars?

Big_Breaker Re:They've been pushing this angle for a while (362 comments)

Tesla is traded on Wall Street and they raised the money for the gigafactory from Wall Street through a convertible bond sale. Wall Street has been key to providing capital to Tesla.

about 4 months ago

Toyota Describes Combustion Engine That Generates Electricity Directly

Big_Breaker No pre-ignition, ultra high variable compression (234 comments)

Comments about mechanical simplicity are missing the key advantage. There is no risk of pre-ignition bending a piston rod if if fuel is introduced too early in the cycle. Direct injection also solves this - there is not fuel in the cylinder until it's safe. This is the solution for diesel engines and allows for higher compression. But a crankshaft makes it hard to change an engine's compression ratio, which can be useful, especially in a multi-fuel setup. A crankshaft dictates how far the piston can rise towards the cylinder head and determines a fixed volume at top-dead-center, the highest point in the piston's travel. In a free piston engine the piston is free to top out closer or farther from the cylinder head.

about 5 months ago

How Apple's CarPlay Could Shore Up the Car Stereo Industry

Big_Breaker Re:Less apple more ISO standard interface please (194 comments)

3rd party GPS is gimped due to a lack of wheel rotation data from the car which OEM GPS get's "for free". This wheel rotation data helps update direction, speed and position far more frequently than GPS can. If CarPlay gets access to the car's telemetry feeds to pickup wheels rotation data, it will make a huge difference in accuracy. From there on out OEM is a dead. For sure you will be stuck in a walled garden though... renting your map data at $3 a month. But that's better than an over priced, 3 years out of date system that only gets worse as time goes on. Updates are very much the exception and not the rule in OEM electronics.

about 5 months ago

Carpenter Who Cut Off His Fingers Makes "Robohand" With 3-D Printer

Big_Breaker Re:Better to make a hand extension for dangerous w (91 comments)

I know about push sticks but sometimes you need more dexterity. Also people will accidentally reach for something reflexively, through distraction or fatigue, and hurt themselves even when a push stick or whatever is nearby. -- I was going to say handy but didn't want to make a pun.

about 5 months ago

Carpenter Who Cut Off His Fingers Makes "Robohand" With 3-D Printer

Big_Breaker Better to make a hand extension for dangerous work (91 comments)

Once the fingers are lost, no prosthetic will be as good as the original. Why not let a "prosthetic" hand take the injury in the first place? As a bonus you have the intact, unmaimed hand to drive the actuators on the device. Use the sacrificial hands for dangerous work around saws and such. It could be like this:

But better... If it was good enough people would use it out of habit. Old school special effects guys used cable setups to animate puppets in live action scenes, sometimes down to the individual fingers.

about 5 months ago

Sulfur Polymers Could Enable Long-Lasting, High-Capacity Batteries

Big_Breaker Re:mAh is only half the equation (131 comments)

Compressed air has volumetric energy density similar to lead acid (about half lithium ion) but extremely high power density. Energy density by weight is dependent on scale - bigger is better - because the weight scales as the surface area of the container while the energy scales with volume. But

If you are looking for a power boost on take off, compressed air is totally viable. Doubly so because it would naturally drive a propeller with an air motor which is more efficient at low speeds. Fix the expansion cooling by burning a bit of fuel in the expansion stream.

I won't want to be near a high pressure tank like that if it ruptured though! Maybe its a system that works better for cargo than human transport.

about 7 months ago

More Bad News For the F-35

Big_Breaker Re:Rube Goldberg (401 comments)

I think you meant to say the A-10 is the best CAS platform. You seem to be saying that for the B-52?

I could see a roll for an A-10 like drone for CAS. CAS is by definition vulnerable to ground fire so it would be nice to have it remotely piloted. You wouldn't have a 30mm cannon but maybe 2-4 individually targeted 50 cals mounted on gimbals to handle infantry up to light material. A pilot and four gunners working remotely could really tear things up vs one pilot working in harms way. Compared to bombs intended for light material such as cluster bombs, the guns should create less collateral damage.

The 30mm cannon on the A-10 doesn't seem to have as much of a purpose when tanks are so easy to identify and take out with traditional strike aircraft. Not to knock a great aircraft but I think that cannon was designed to bust Russian tanks on the European plains. It's a real piece of work though... a tank gun with wings.

about 8 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Suggestions For a Simple Media Server?

Big_Breaker Re:WD TV Live plays almost everything (420 comments)

I have the same setup people hear are talking about - headless NAS serving multiple WDTV boxes.

Don't "forget" to upgrade the firmware to WDLXTV firmware. It adds tons of features - nzbget, torrents, nfs, DNLA, subtitle download and much more. In a pinch you can even have one of the boxes serve content off a USB drive.

about 8 months ago

Kickstarter For Open Source GPU

Big_Breaker Re:utterly utterly worthless (108 comments)

No mod points so I'll comment. The binary blobs are generally not updated after a short period - sometimes as little as year. At that point you've effectively been EOL'd by your GPU because it is incompatible with later kernels. Sometimes, as is the case with the IMX6 SOC, the drivers are old when the device is released. Mir helps because android is more likely to get updates but serously... being unable to update your two year old ARM box is super lame.

Fortunately there are efforts to reverse engineer open source drivers but its an imperfect and time consuming endevor. It would be better to have open source from the get-go or code escrow at worst for 2-3 years. I bet you modern GPUs with reverse engineered drivers will trump FPGA implementations.

about a year ago

Ask Slashdot: Are We Witnessing the Decline of Ubuntu?

Big_Breaker Re:Hate unity? There are other *buntus. (631 comments)

I just wiped my Ubunutu box after a drive failure and went Kubuntu. It's early days but so far I love it. It's very polished, responsive and easy to get "functional" IE with binary NVIDIA driver, non-free codecs etc. It feels like a premium product I should have to pay for.

Downsides - not many.... I haven't found an easy way to mount and unmount drives through the GUI but I'm sure its there. Menues feel a bit too nested but again- there's a fix or I get used to it.

about a year ago

Software Brings Eye Contact To Video Chat, With a Little Help From Kinect

Big_Breaker Might work if people look at screen not camera (111 comments)

Didn't RTFA of course but the smart way to do this is to start with video of someone actually looking at the person on the screen rather than the camera. That way camera sees an off angle but "correct" picture. that picture is then rotated so the remote video looks "right".

1 year,19 days

Qualcomm Says Eight-Core Processors Are Dumb

Big_Breaker 8 cores but only 4 used at a time (526 comments)

Qualcomm is likely referring to Samsung's octo core "big.LITTLE" SoCs. These chips have 4 performance cores and 4 power sipping cores. Software switches between performance and power saving modes. These chips make sense anywhere quad core makes sense AND they can be a little more power efficient.

This 4+4 strategy is basically the next iteration of power saving through dark silicon. Transistors are cheap so use piles of them but only power on the ones necessary at the time. Having 4 power saving cores seems like overkill but I imagine directly paralleling the 4 performance cores may make the switching more seemless / faster.

about a year ago


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