Tribute to a Pragmatic Swiss Solar Pioneer – Who Called to Action in 1989

He is called a pragmatic doer, knowing his physics and engineering, devoid of ideology. This is how Josef Jenni is introduced in the preface to his document called How can we achieve the energy transition (Wie erreichen wir die Energiewende). It’s a manifesto and a technical overview – by the pioneer whose company had built…

Innovation and Scarcity (and Panic)

I tried to avoid such words. They sounded like hollow buzzwords in times of abundance, used by advertizers playing on fears. But our complacent world is taught a lesson, right now, at furious speed. I am following news as everybody else, I am reading about gloomy forecasts. An Austria paper mill has announced today it…

Technology and Technics. Flolloping Floopily.

Once I started to create spam poetry and search term poetry, and I believed it was original. Then I discovered that great poets of the virtual scrapyard had come before me. Finally, I found serious articles about so-called Found Poetry and I found poets publishing their spam poetry in earnest. I learned about the Sokal…

Echo Unreadable Hex Characters in Windows: forfiles

How to transfer small files to a locked-down Windows machine? When there is no option to copy, ftp, or http GET a file. When powershell is blocked so that you can only use Windows cmd commands? My first choice would be to use certutil: certutil is a built-in tool for certificate and PKI management. It…

Certificates and PKI. The Prequel.

Some public key infrastructures run quietly in the background since years. They are half forgotten until the life of a signed file has come to an end – but then everything is on fire. In contrast to other seemingly important deadlines (Management needs this until XY or the world will come to an end!) this…

Cyber Something

You know you have become a dinosaur when you keep using outdated terminology. Everybody else uses the new buzz word, but you just find it odd. But someday it will creep also into your active vocabulary. Then I will use the tag cyber something, like stating that I work with cyber-physical systems. But am I…

Hacking

I am joining the ranks of self-proclaimed productivity experts: Do you feel distracted by social media? Do you feel that too much scrolling feeds transforms your mind – in a bad way? Solution: Go find an online platform that will put your mind in a different state. Go hacking on hackthebox.eu. I have been hacking…

Cloudy Troubleshooting (2)

Unrelated to part 1 – but the same genre. Actors this time: File Cloud: A cloud service for syncing and sharing files. We won’t drop a brand name, will we? Client: Another user of File Cloud. [Redacted]: Once known for reliability and as The Best Network. Dark Platform: Wannabe hackers’ playground. elkement: Somebody who sometimes just wants to be an…

Infinite Loop: Theory and Practice Revisited.

I’ve unlocked a new achievement as a blogger, or a new milestone as a life-form. As a dinosaur telling the same old stories over and over again. I started drafting a blog post, as I always do since a while: I do it in my mind only, twist and turn in for days or weeks…

Cloudy Troubleshooting

Actors: Cloud: Service provider delivering an application over the internet. Client: Business using the Cloud Telco: Service provider operating part of the network infrastructure connecting them. elkement: Somebody who always ends up playing intermediary. ~ Client: Cloud logs us off ever so often! We can’t work like this! elkement: Cloud, what timeouts do you use?…

Logging Fun with UVR16x2: Photovoltaic Generator – Modbus – CAN Bus

The Data Kraken wants to grow new tentacles. I am playing with the CMI – Control and Monitoring Interface – the logger / ‘ethernet gateway’ connected to our control units (UVR1611, UVR16x2) via CAN bus. The CMI has become a little Data Kraken itself: Inputs and outputs can be created for CAN bus and Modbus,…

Things You Find in Your Hydraulic Schematic

Building an ice storage powered heat pump system is a DIY adventure – for a Leonardo da Vinci of plumbing, electrical engineering, carpentry, masonry, and computer technology. But that holistic approach is already demonstrated clearly in our hydraulic schematics. Actually, here it is even more daring and bold: There is Plutonium – Pu – everywhere…

Cooling Potential

I had an interesting discussion about the cooling potential of our heat pump system – in a climate warmer than ours. Recently I’ve shown data for the past heating season, including also passive cooling performance: After the heating season, tank temperature is limited to 10°C as long as possible – the collector is bypassed in…

Reverse Engineering Fun

Recently I read a lot about reverse engineering –  in relation to malware research. I for one simply wanted to get ancient and hardly documented HVAC engineering software to work. The software in question should have shown a photo of the front panel of a device – knobs and displays – augmented with current system’s…

The Orphaned Internet Domain Risk

I have clicked on company websites of social media acquaintances, and something is not right: Slight errors in formatting, encoding errors for special German characters. Then I notice that some of the pages contain links to other websites that advertize products in a spammy way. However, the links to the spammy sites are embedded in…

Data for the Heat Pump System: Heating Season 2016-2017

I update the documentation of measurement data [PDF] about twice a year. This post is to provide a quick overview for the past season. The PDF also contains the technical configuration and sizing data. Based on typical questions from an ‘international audience’ I add a summary here plus some ‘cultural’ context: Building: The house is…

Computers, Science, and History Thereof

I am reading three online resources in parallel – on the history and the basics of computing, computer science, software engineering, and the related culture and ‘philosophy’. An accidental combination I find most enjoyable. Joel on Software: Joel Spolsky’s blog – a collection of classic essays. What every developer needs to know about Unicode. New terms…

Simulations: Levels of Consciousness

In a recent post I showed these results of simulations for our heat pump system: I focused on the technical details – this post will be more philosophical. What is a ‘simulation’ – opposed to simplified calculations of monthly or yearly average temperatures or energies? The latter are provided by tools used by governmental agencies…

The Future of Small Business?

If I would be asked which technology or ‘innovation’ has had the most profound impact on the way I work I would answer: Working remotely – with clients and systems I hardly ever see. 20 years ago I played with modems, cumbersome dial-in, and Microsoft’s Netmeeting. Few imagined yet, that remote work will once be…

Other People Have Lives – I Have Domains

These are just some boring update notifications from the elkemental Webiverse. The elkement blog has recently celebrated its fifth anniversary, and the punktwissen blog will turn five in December. Time to celebrate this – with new domain names that says exactly what these sites are – the ‘elkement.blog‘ and the ‘punktwissen.blog‘ (Edit: which now –…

Mr. Bubble Was Confused. A Cliffhanger.

This year we experienced a record-breaking January in Austria – the coldest since 30 years. Our heat pump system produced 14m3 of ice in the underground tank. The volume of ice is measured by Mr. Bubble, the winner of The Ultimate Level Sensor Casting Show run by the Chief Engineer last year: The classic, analog…

Give the ‘Thing’ a Subnet of Its Own!

To my surprise, the most clicked post ever on this blog is this: Network Sniffing for Everyone: Getting to Know Your Things (As in Internet of Things) … a step-by-step guide to sniff the network traffic of your ‘things’ contacting their mothership, plus a brief introduction to networking. I wanted to show how you can…

And Now for Something Completely Different: Rotation Heat Pump!

Heat pumps for space heating are all very similar: Refrigerant evaporates, pressure is increased by a scroll compressor, refrigerant condenses, pressure is reduced in an expansion value. *yawn* The question is: Can a compression heat pump be built in a completely different way? Austrian start-up ECOP did it: They  invented the so-called Rotation Heat Pump….

Same Procedure as Every Autumn: New Data for the Heat Pump System

October – time for updating documentation of the heat pump system again! Consolidated data are available in this PDF document. In the last season there were no special experiments – like last year’s Ice Storage Challenge or using the wood stove. Winter was rather mild, so we needed only ~16.700kWh for space heating plus hot…

Internet of Things. Yet Another Gloomy Post.

Technically, I work with Things, as in the Internet of Things. As outlined in Everything as a Service many formerly ‘dumb’ products – such as heating systems – become part of service offerings. A vital component of the new services is the technical connection of the Thing in your home to that Big Cloud. It…

Hacking My Heat Pump – Part 2: Logging Energy Values

In the last post, I showed how to use Raspberry Pi as CAN bus logger – using a test bus connected to control unit UVR1611. Now I have connected it to my heat pump’s bus. Credits for software and instructions: juerg5524.ch messpunkt.org SK Pang Special thanks to SK Pang Electronics who provided me with CAN…

Hacking My Heat Pump – Part 1: CAN Bus Testing with UVR1611

In the old times, measuring data manually sometimes meant braving the elements: Now, nearly all measurements are automated: In order to calculate the seasonal performance factor of the heat pump system we have still used the ‘official’ energy reading provided by the heat pump’s display. Can’t this be automated, too? Our Stiebel-Eltron WPF7 basic is…