Goings On

I wish I had some progress to post about, but I will take a few moments to just talk about some scraps of things.

I’m seriously considering moving this blog to a static site, and have been looking at Hugo. I like the idea of composing posts in a text editor, and then regenerating the site when neede

d. I would probably integrate this blog (or a blog like thing) with the front page, ie have a similar layout, style, etc., and maybe add more static-type pages. I might even stop using the wiki, which was kind of my first thought of how this would go: Blog for routine or semi routine updates, wiki for more ‘permanent’ stuff, like how-to guides. I may just keep the wiki around.

I had considered writing my own static site generator, probably throwing something together in Perl. I’m not sure it’s worth doing that. One of the drivers for this was an idea I had about a system to accept comments via email, which I could integrate with my own static site generator. I may just look at doing something with Hugo for that, we’ll see.

This blog does get a decent amount of comments, but most (practically all) of them are spam. I could probably just not bother with it at all, but in the days of my whatsmykarma.com site, some legit comments actually would trickle through. I’ll have to see. I’m going to have to play with Hugo quite a bit, then look at migrating away from WordPress.

I’ve had some electrical projects in mind for a while, the first of which is a buck converter, which I’ve posted about before. One of the parts I was using (a MOSFET) doesn’t seem to be available, so I’ll probably just pick a new one. At this point I need to work on the layout, so I’ll have some KiCad work ahead. That should be fun.

The point of that is to not just design the buck converter, but also do the controls. And layout… And conceive of it as a ‘product,’ not just a circuit I put together. In other words, a box with terminals that will have usefulness.

This leads me to my other project, significantly more of which remains in my imagination right now. And that is an inverter/charger – a power inverter that can also rectify, acting as a battery charger. Kind of like a UPS, but not exactly uninterruptible. I mean, it should be, ideally, but the intent is more for seamlessly switching AC loads to another source and charging a battery, as opposed to keeping computers from going down. Think off-grid power system verses data center application. (Of course, there’s overlap in terms of the technology and applications.)

The first incarnation of this would go from 12 VDC (nominal) to 120 VRMS AC, sine wave output, at about 250 watts. There are a couple reasons for this project:

  • Learning, getting some experience
  • Usefulness, no one really makes a small inverter/charger like this, and I’ve thought it would come in handy
  • Progress, toward an even bigger one
  • Putting a design out there, there should be more practical examples of power conversion available. Maybe even an open source inverter project?

Anyways, more to come, maybe.

An Update

I don’t need to tell you all that it’s been a hell of a year this past year. All I will say is that I’ve had projects that I’ve meant to document, and other content that I’ve wanted to generate for this site, that I’ve been putting off for one reason or another. At leas spammers have found this place, so it’s not completely lonely.

This Site

I set this up with a fresh new WordPress blog, since that’s what I’ve used in the past. WordPress is nice, but it’s a little clunky for a single person blogging. It does make some thing easier for someone who’s not primarily a web developer such as myself, but I’ve considered leaving it for something else.

Static site generators have been kind of interesting to me, since the server just grabbing and sending a bunch of static files has a nice simplicity to it. I can compose in just about any text editor too, which is neat, and while WordPress’s editor is very capable, it’s kind of clunky. In fact, it’s kind of laggy to type in. For the most part, typing in a text editor would probably be more pleasant. But, it’s something to look into, and decide what to use, how to lay the site out, etc.

That said, WordPress itself is powerful, and a great choice for a lot of things. For someone who doesn’t want to mess with setting a site up in too much depth it can be a good move.

Power Converters

I’ve been slowly chipping away at a project to build a buck DC-DC converter, to step between common lead acid battery voltages (12, 24, 36 VDC). Mainly, the goal is just to do it – to gain experience with designing it, laying out the PCB, writing firmware (controlling with a microcontroller!), etc. But I intend to make it part of something bigger.

I had in mind using this converter (and clones of it, when I get it working) to kind of create a DC microgrid – stepping voltage up from one battery, and moving it to a different part of my house to power things or charge another battery. In fact, battery-to-battery charging kind of set this off: In a power failure, I could leave one in my car, step 12 VDC to 36 VDC for a longer wire run, and then back down to 12 VDC in my garage… But with logic to charge a 12 V battery.

Of course, you have to be careful about leaving the car on/draining the battery, and it’s probably not the most efficient use of a car, but for the rare occasion when the power goes out and there’s not enough sun for solar, and I’m running low on power, I think it has merit.

Beyond that, I’d like to explore using this as a sort of maximum power point tracking (MPPT) controller, either from solar panels into a battery, or solar directly into the microgrid. Off-grid solar with no (or with a minimal) battery is kind of an interesting idea to me, and with the right controls it may have potential.


This is a related, but distinct project from the above: a power inverter, to converter 12 VDC (at first) to 120 VAC, with a sine wave output. Not only that, but to go the other way, and rectify it as well to act as a battery charger. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, but have mostly just been thinking about aside from the occasional simulation.

Chick Corea

Chick Corea passed away this passed week. I don’t write about music much online, but I am a musician, and am a big fan of his. I’ve seen him live several times, in different configurations, and while up there in age I always imagined he still had years left in him. He will be missed, but his music isn’t going anywhere.