Can the Little People (ie, US) Beat Xcel Energy in Boulder? These People Say YES

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Xcel Energy, the people who started up the Colorado solar-to-home movement only to withdraw from it quicker than John Wayne Bobbitt lost his wang, are back at the douchebaggery again.  This time, a group of very smart and very environmentally conscious people called New Era Colorado is putting the kibosh on their plans for coal-fired world domination.  Check this out:

From the video page:

This is a grassroots David and Goliath campaign to create a landmark model for how communities can take control of their energy future: http://igg.me/at/localpowerYou can support this effort on Indiegogo:http://igg.me/at/localpower

This is pretty great.  These folks are simply trying to stop the mass amounts of money from flowing into the pockets of the “we don’t give a shit” power brokers and back into the hands of the community, and to save the Earth one city at a time.  Can you imagine what would happen if this works?  I for one would love to see solar panels and wind turbines out en masse instead of coal fired plants spewing black death into the atmosphere.  But, that’s just me.  I’m sure the Xcel Energy executives need their Mercedes and homes in the Hamptons, too.  Right?

Check out the Campaign for Local Power’s IndieGogo campaign.  Feeling frisky?  Donate ten bucks, you’ll literally change the world.

From the IndieGogo campaign website:

Back in 2011, our community did something no other community had ever done before: we voted to explore taking control of our power supply for the sole purpose of lowering our impact on the planet. Xcel Energy spent nearly $1 million dollars on that election, but lost–because a committed group of community advocates and a small nonprofit that engages young people in politics won the day. Outspent 10-to-1, the grassroots coalition registered voters, knocked on doors, and made thousands of phone calls.

With voter approval, the city launched an extensive analysis and found that it could get cleaner, cheaper power that was just as reliable all on its own.

But now, Xcel is back, with a misleading initiative they’ve helped place on Boulder’s fall ballot that would stop the city’s formation of a local electric utility dead in its tracks. Their ballot measure is masquerading as a way to reduce government debt, but it’s really just a dirty trick–the measure includes impossible, even illegal, requirements that would stall out the very process voters already approved.

They’re back to undermine our local process, because the city’s findings made it clear that they stand to lose more than the $35 million dollars in profits they make annually from Boulder. They know that Boulder is on the verge of setting a precedent of national significance that would threaten not just Xcel, but the very core of the coal energy’s business model–not to mention that industry’s billions of dollars in profits.

We out-organized them in 2011, and we know we can again in 2013 if we have the resources to achieve the reach we need. Boulder has already voted to move forward–this fight is about keeping the coal industry from holding us back.

Can you help these smart people defeat the coal giant in the region?  Like New Era Colorado on Facebook, I’m sure they’d appreciate it.  Xcel Energy will not.

Bill Nye the Science Guy Explains Climate Change

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This is an awesome video — Bill Nye the Science Guy takes on the science vs. the myth of climate change.  What do you think?

CLIMATE 101 from Climate Reality on Vimeo.

AND, as a special Friday bonus, here’s Reggie Watts talking about the Price of Carbon, courtesy of Climate Reality!

CLIMATE 101 from Climate Reality on Vimeo.

Happy Friday, July 5!

Illinois Gives Good Wind – Fourth in the Nation for Wind Power Generation!

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I had a chance to drive through some of the great wind fields of Illinois over the last month — Laura and I have ostensibly been vagabonding here in the US since there’s no work.

I put together a quick video on Illinois wind power — check it out, wouldja?  Share it with your friends!  Illinois, a state that sent 4 of its last 7 sitting governors to prison for corruption, is the fourth largest wind producer in the United States!  I guess you go, Illinois still works?

Illinois gives good wind!

…and on Vimeo, in case you like it there better (I have to admit I love their interface…)

Illinois Gives Good Wind! from Jim Hutchison on Vimeo.

Saturday Sustainability News

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It’s Saturday again, which means that there are lots of people waking up on either A) the hung-over side of the bed, B) someone else’s side of the bed, or C) the well-rested side of the bed, which is where I woke up this morning!

This morning brings some sustainability news stories, covering solar, wind, geothermal, and tidal power wherever possible.  There’s only one reason why we can’t take ahold of sustainable and renewable energy sources right at the time when we need to develop them the most, and that’s because not enough people are stepping up.  I can’t be the only person who believes that we could all live on a planet that is consuming less power than we can generate, and where there’s enough of everything for everybody…

…or can I?

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Sustainability News

  1. The Ivanpah Solar project is over 90% complete, nearing a total of 173,500 heliostats!

  2. First Solar has 400 million in cash from their most recent stock offering…  How will they spend it?

  3. University of Florida added some solar panels to University apartment carports.  Brilliant move, UF!

  4. German community-owned solar arrays!

  5. Flattening peak and base energy prices – Analysis

  6. Conergy says Australian solar markets will grow 20% a year until 2015

  7. Goldman Sachs plans to invest in an offshore wind farm in Japan

  8. US solar market grew 76% in 2012…!!!

  9. The US leads Clean Energy mergers and acquisitions (M&A’s), Solar stays in the lead

  10. Italy reaches clean energy budget cap, stops offering tariffs on new clean energy installs

  11. Geothermal energy starts the list of US Army’s nearly ready power purchasing agreement binge

  12. Renewable energy investments focus on developing nations

  13. Solar tracking systems gain some public footing

  14. Are solar panels as inexpensive as paint nowadays?

  15. California needs 3 BILLION to finish its Energy Storage Plan

  16. New ideas for a power plant — that lives at the bottom of the ocean

  17. Ladies and Gentlemen, the first artificial photosynthesis nanosystem

  18. Solar in California breaks the 2 Gigawatt output mark!

  19. Making cheaper and more flexible silicon crystalline wafers for Solar

  20. The coming US distributed solar boom

  21. Big Coal in India takes a nibble of Solar investment

  22. Solar plane makers shows what it takes to build a solar airplane

  23. MECASOLAR from Spain leads a huge EU research and development project into Solar

  24. A strategic agreement has been met to create deployable solar panels

  25. Comcast’s “Connected Home” has smart light bulbs, web-programmable thermostats

Have an awesome sunny Saturday, everyone!

What If We Used Trees to Light Our Streets Instead of Electric Lamps?

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That’s the question that a core team of people on a Kickstarter campaign meant to create illuminating plant life want to know, and they want to know NOW!

So what exactly is going on here? From the Kickstarter campaign website on the Glowing Plants:

We are using Synthetic Biology techniques and Genome Compiler’s software to insert bioluminescence genes into Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant and member of the mustard family, to make a plant that visibly glows in the dark (it is inedible).

Funds raised will be used to print the DNA sequences we have designed using Genome Compiler and to transform the plants by inserting these sequences into the plant and then growing the resultant plant in the lab.

Printing DNA costs a minimum of 25 cents per base pair and our sequences are about 10,000 base pairs long. We plan to print a number of sequences so that we can test the results of trying different promoters – this will allow us to optimize the result. We will be printing our DNA with Cambrian Genomics who have developed a revolutionary laser printing system that massively reduces the cost of DNA synthesis.

Transforming the plant will initially be done using the Agrobacterium method.  Our printed DNA will be inserted into a special type of bacteria which can insert its DNA into the plant.  Flowers of the plant are then dipped into a solution containing the transformed bacteria. The bacteria injects our DNA into the cell nucleus of the flowers which pass it onto their seeds which we can grow until they glow!  You can see this process in action in our video.

Once we have proven the designs work we will then insert the same gene sequence into the plant using a gene gun.  This is more complicated, as there’s a risk the gene sequence gets scrambled, but the result will be unregulated by the USDA and thus suitable for release.

Funds raised will also be used to support our work to develop an open policy framework for DIY Bio work involving recombinant DNA.  This framework will provide guidelines to help others  who are inspired by this project navigate the regulatory and social challenges inherent in community based synthetic biology.  The framework will include recommendations for what kinds of projects are safe for DIY Bio enthusiasts and recommendations for the processes which should be put in place (such as getting experts to review the plans).

So far, as of writing this post, the campaign has raised over 700% of their goal.  The campaign stops tomorrow, June 7, 2013, but they’ve already raised almost $500,000 dollars!  The initial startup campaign?  Only $65,000.

Some commentary I found interesting – from the Glowing Plant website (at www.glowingplant.com) – what do you think of a GMO plant type like this?  They plainly state that the plant is not edible and not made for food:

Aren’t GMOs evil?  Luckily, that’s one question we don’t typically tend to get – although some people have definitely told us as much.

Like it or not, biology is the science of the 21st century, the way the steam engine dominated the first half of the 20th century. And just as there was a backlash against steam technology – it was going to put everybody out of work, and cows were going to drop dead in fright at the sight of a 20 mph steam train – there is a lot of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt about genetic engineering and genetically modified organisms. To the point that creations like the vitamin fortified “Golden Rice” are now banned from countries where they could be saving thousands of lives. I’m sure that the first humans to discover fire were feared and reviled by their neighbors. And I’m sure those fire makers were concerned that their invention might “fall in the wrong hands”.

As with all technology, genetic engineering is not inherently good or bad – it all depends how you apply it. Science fiction stories are full of the hypothetical abuses of genetic engineering. Then again, they are also full of Midichlorians, and nobody takes those serious. More down-to-earth: yes, genetic engineering has been used to create quasi-monopolies on seeds and herbicides. But it is also being used to produce insulin and hundreds of other lifesaving drugs, develop cures for inherited diseases through gene therapy, and to make sure the next billion members of humanity will have enough to eat.

Monoculture and loss of crop diversity may be a really bad idea, ecologically speaking. And depriving farmers of the right to save and replant seed could arguably be called evil. But those are the products of a screwed up agroindustrial system, not the inevitable consequence of GMOs. As for the health concerns with GMOs – well, we’re not creating a food crop here, but as a scientist I would rate eating a tomato with fish genes about as dangerous as eating a fish-and-tomato dinner – and far less risky than eating a new tropical fruit I’ve never seen before.

When it comes to synthetic biology and DIYbio, I feel we’re standing alongside those early fire makers, discussing whether only the village elders should be allowed to handle fire, or whether we should teach everyone how to deal with it safely. Luckily, we know how that decision turned out…

The team:

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What do you think of this Kickstarter?  Is it a good thing?  Is it a bad thing?  How do you feel about GMOs that aren’t food based?  Leave a reply below!

Free Energy Could Change The Lighting Industry – Overunity and Perpetual Motion Explained

Can you imagine a world where it cost nothing to have electricity?  Tesla did, and he died penniless and alone.  Why did the world allow that to happen?

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Have you ever heard of Free Energy?  Have you ever even considered something as ever-present as power being free?  If we even had the concept of that word, we would never need to have the discussion about why tungsten and halogen must go, being replaced by LED and CFL.  It just wouldn’t matter.

It’s a concept that does not consider the profit margins of the Big Energy producers –  oil, coal, and natural gas, but it could completely change our world.  The idea of free energy could also completely change the stakes of the petro-dollar game we play every time we put on a show somewhere that has lighting – can you picture every device you put out there on a show having a locally placed free energy source that powers it instead of running multicables everywhere to provide electricity?  My imagination gives me pictures of little hard drive sized power generators that can be unloaded from a roadcase, added to a truss, and energized without the need for feeder cable, mults, long patch cables, and the like.  We are already as an industry getting behind the idea of wireless DMX and transmitting a DMX network across the airwaves.  Look up LumenRadio‘s work, it will blow your mind – and I mean really blow your mind.

Maybe more importantly…  can you imagine our world without the need to fight over energy?  Look at every war that has taken place over the last 100 years – every single one can been tied to fighting over resources, even if the tie that binds is hidden and disguised as policy.   Our world needs something to give, to break loose – and I think that free energy is the thing that can change our world.  What would the world do if there was no need for the hundreds of defense contractor companies that get worldwide money defending the one thing that we always see the need to blow people up over?  Can you imagine such a world where we could spend more money on something as comparatively mundane as Entertainment Lighting in order to give the world the kinds of mind-blowing productions that we could with the kinds of technologies used in warfare?

Obviously I’m just postulating.  But also postulating are the ideas behind free energy and devices that would potentially (get it?) be able to make some free energy.  I cannot let go of the thought of a color scroller sized power distribution unit that can power several fixtures, or dimmers, or anything that can save money on power by being free.  In my lifetime, I want to make this happen.

I love to spread ideas around our industry like free energy, because we work and live in a very creative industry absolutely full of people who can make stuff like this happen.  We are the industry that has invented wireless data, innovative power and signal distribution systems like the Series 400 stuff from PRG, we’ve improved the jacketing and conductive materials inside of our power distribution systems to work with the power that we get from the power companies, and we’ve invented devices to clean that power up and make it steady, stable, and usable for some of the sensitive equipment we use for our work.  I do worry that some of the people in our business are too centered around how much money that can be made from their technologies that they alienate the entire industry to a small knit group of providers that can afford the costs to harness such things like free energy.  Hopefully some of the more productive generators of free energy will put some free instructions and information out on the web for all of us to try, build, and improve upon for the good of all humans on Earth.

Readers, there are some terms that need to be researched on your part in order to understand some of the intricate details of terms like perpetual motion, zero-point energy, and overunity.  These aren’t difficult concepts and you don’t have to have a PhD in Physics and Electromagnetism to understand these terms.  Let’s start easy:

What is PERPETUAL MOTION, and how does it relate to our world of Light?

This, good people of Earth, is perpetual motion:

When talking about things that make electricity and energy, we have to look at what exactly happens to make energy.  It’s a simple thing – we use some form of simple fuel (like coal, gas, or oil) to turn a magnet inside of a closed-loop of copper wire, or a conductor.  As the magnet spins (albeit very fast), an electromagnetic field is produced from the spinning magnet’s kinetic energy into electricity.  Or, just as useful and still used today, some kind of closed loop of wire spinning between the poles of two magnets.  We can thank Mr. Faraday for this, but everyone has postulated on it in some form or another.

Perpetual motion is, on a whole, the idea of having some kind of electrical energy creation device that will spin on its own, requiring no energy to keep its spin and continuation of power generation.  Remember the Law of Conservation of Energy from high school?  It states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change from one form to another.  Because of this law of physics, called the 1st law of thermodynamics, the idea of a system of perpetual motion is completely irrelevant, or at least that is what science is debating right now, and has been for decades.  What we’re talking about here is being able to create energy – which goes against the principle of the Law of Conservation of Energy – and to create that energy without having any input to that creation cycle.  This means perpetual motion, or something moving forever on its own, is to generate electricity from the electromagnetic field from which it is derived without adding any energy to get energy.  If that isn’t clear enough, imagine your local power utility being able to use no coal, gas, or oil to make electricity but still being able to charge you whatever they want to use their power.

Let me say that one different way:  If you can figure out how to create a machine that creates energy without using any energy, you can power whatever you want, for free, forever.  Forever in petro-dollar terms is a long time, folks.  Can you imagine being able to live through the winter with all of the heat and electricity you want without the huge bills?  If the power companies patent this technology before its able to be utilized on a free, worldwide scale, we’ll at least have a lower or nonexistent use of oil, coal, and gas for power, but we’ll be paying them for pretty much nothing.  Also, we’ll be paying them forever.

Look at it another way, more directed towards the Entertainment Industry – can you imagine being able to power your show and have no bill?  The last show I designed had a combined wattage of 240,000W, which if we put to costs comes out somewhere in the neighborhood of 960kWh for 4 hours of power, or if you assume a commercial rate of $0.10 per kWh comes to about $100 bucks per 4 hours of the show, if it all were blasting at full at once, of course.  But if we take that 100 bucks a night and multiply by a week’s worth of shows, we’ve got $700 bucks for the week – and $2800 for the month.  See the costs adding up?

Now what if you could save that $2800 bucks for a month of electricity for shows and put it back into the production by having free sources of electricity?  This is why perpetual motion is important, and should be to you, especially if you’re in Light.  If we can solve the issues of a perpetually generating device, we could make them as large or as small as we need for any application.  In Entertainment, this would literally redefine our game.

What is OVERUNITY, and how does it relate to our world of Light?

Overunity is a very interesting concept that is often confused for being something that it is not:  Overunity is NOT a measurement of the efficiency of a system that generates power, it is simply the coefficient of performance (COP) that is derived from how much energy the person operating that specific generator.  The efficiency of a system like a power generator takes into consideration all of the energy put into that system to make it run, like electricity from the grid, environmental energy like wind or water.  A windmill, for example, doesn’t matter how efficient the system is, because there is plenty of energy to be transferred (you know, the wind?) to make the system run.  When we’re talking about overunity with respect to free power, we’re talking about the amount of energy needed to get it moving and keep it moving.

Efficiency is the ability for a system or something that makes power to do so based on the energy you put into it; the Coefficient of Performance is how effectively the energy used in the goal of what the system is doing, in this case, making electricity.  The Coefficient of Performance is how well the system uses the energy you put into it!  So if your system can be started up with no input from you, the COP is obviously greater than 1 – if you have a small battery of something of the sort that you use to energize the system, but the system then can lose the battery and run on its own, you have a device producing more energy you’re putting in, or overunity.  For example – with no conductors, no power sources, and no trickery, the person in this video below flings two magnets at each other while the magnetic fields around them propel them into a cyclic motion.  Watch this:

Is it a perfect explanation?  No, but without going into the depths of thermodynamics, it’ll have to do for now.  More on this subject later, I have a huge amount of interest in this topic – enough to make me want to redo some Calculus classes I should have paid a bit more attention in when I was younger…

Interested in reading DA Kelly’s Manual of Free Energy Devices and Systems?  You definitely should, since it’s free!

 

 

Friday Facts – 20 Really Awesome Facts about LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) Everyone Should Know

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20 facts on LEDs?!  Jim, are you CRAZY?  I just might be!  With the new Daily Lamp series and the upcoming JimOnLightTV, I’m all about having regular series spots on JimOnLight!  Let’s call it Friday Facts!

Happy Friday everyone — I am going absolutely LED nuts around here lately, as I’ve replaced most of the incandescent lamps in our house with their LED A-lamp equivalents.  Surprisingly enough, I haven’t lost my hair, found the need to eat bugs, or lost any sleep because of screwed-up circadian rhythms, as some claim are side-effects of LED A-lamps.  Ask my wife, it really annoys me when people claim false facts, like Fox News.  Oh, that burns me brighter than an Alpha 18K in Dallas in the summer!

Friday Facts time!  25 Really Awesome Facts about LEDs, or Light-Emitting Diodes!

  1. When LED light is used in delicatessen displays and in places with fresh food, it has been proven to breed significantly less bacteria than their halogen or fluorescent counterparts.  Consider that next time you’re getting stuff for sandwiches!  I would say that significantly NO bacteria is the right amount for my sandwiches!
  2. Remember the name Nick Holonyak, Jr. – he is the father of the visible light LED.  Nick invented the LED while working for General Electric in 1962.  This “new thing” that’s come onto the retail market over the last 5 years has been around since the mid-1960s!
  3. Next time you see a blue LED, think of Shuji Nakamura, the inventor of the blue LED, back in 1994.  Nakamura, who was working for Nichia Corporation at the time, got a $200 bonus for his discovery – while Nichia made more money than is in Scrooge McDuck’s swimming pool!  Nakamura never signed a non-disclosure for Nichia, and in 2001 he sued  for $189 million.  The Japanese courts awarded him more money than any other Japanese company ever had to pay in court:  $8.1 million.  So the inventor of the blue LED got $8,100,200 for his invention that we all use everywhere!
  4. Most blue and green LEDs use a mixture of Gallium Nitride and Indium Nitride to get the blue, called Indium Gallium Nitride (InGaN).  By varying the amount of Indium in the mix, the color of blue varies.
  5. Most red, orange, and yellow LEDs use variants of Gallium Phosphide (GaP) Gallium Arsenide Phosphide (GaAsP) to get their hues.
  6. White LEDs work quite like fluorescent lamps work with respect to color; a blue or ultraviolet LED is coated with a phosphor that emits photons from the ultraviolet frequencies when the LED is energized.
  7. The Monsanto Corporation was the first company to mass-produce red LEDs for the industry, mostly as replacement lights for indicators and seven-segment displays.
  8. An incandescent lamp converts about 9-10% of the energy fed to it into light, whereas LEDs convert nearly 100% of the energy they consume as light.
  9. The lighting industries as a whole are pushing LEDs to replace incandescent sources in a variety of applications, but the first time that LEDs actually did displace incandescent lamps was in vehicle brake lights, signal lights, and traffic lightsback in 1987!
  10. If the entire United States would replace only 50% of the existing incandescent Christmas lights around the holidays, the potential energy cost savings starts around $17.2 billion dollars.
  11. Heat generated by an LED source is a real enemy to the quality of that LED source.  LEDs are subject to the cooling method designed into the lamp or fixture — if the cooling is good, the LED will maintain a decent output over its lamp life.  If the cooling is poor, the lamp is subject to considerably higher lumen depreciation over its lifetime, or even total failure over time.
  12. If you’ve ever had a porch, you’ve had a porch light, and you’ve had bugs all over that porch light.  Switch to LED in the porch light and you’ll notice considerably fewer bugs, if not a complete decrease in your porch bug population!  Why, do you ask?  It’s because incandescent lamps and CFLs produce copious amounts of ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) radiation, which bugs love more than Kim Kardashian loves mascara!
  13. LED headlights might be one of the most annoying, blinding things on the road, but they’re actually quite safe for driving – LED headlights render colors you see in their beams better, which gives you better awareness of your surroundings on the road.  They’re totally worth it!
  14. Due to the physics involved, LED lamps have what we call Instant On — unlike their incandescent and compact fluorescent (CFL) counterparts.  What this means is that you can switch an LED lamp on and you get the full brightness of that light instantly.  Think about this next time you need to place a lamp in a part of your house or office that gets turned on and off frequently — incandescent lamps and CFLs experience significantly less lamp life from being switched on and off frequently, and CFLs in particular can experience greatly reduced lamp life if they are switched off and back on within 15 minutes of heating up!
  15. Most LED A-lamp replacement bulbs are relatively cool to the touch, whereas their incandescent and halogen counterparts will most definitely leave you with a first or second degree burn.  Maximum operating temperature for most residential A-lamp type bulbs is around 135-140 degrees Fahrenheit, where halogen lamps run around 600-700 F to the touch and their incandescent cousins run around 375-400 F to the touchOUCH!
  16. If you think about incandescent lamp life (around 1000 hours) and compact fluorescent lamp life (around 10,000 hours),  It’s not hard to see how LEDs are making the grade in retail markets.  A majority of residential/commercial LED A-lamp manufacturers claim a whopping 50,000 hours lamp life on average, with newer models claiming up to 100,000 hours.  If this sounds impressive, it is!  Consider your usage on just the 50,000 hour varieties:
    If you use your LED bulb for 24 hours a day, every day, that bulb is rated to last 6 solid years!
    If you use your LED bulb for 8 hours a day, every day, that bulb is rated to last 17 years!!
    If you use your LED bulb for only 4 hours per day, that bulb is rated to last 17 years!!!
  17. LEDs contain NO MERCURY at all — and over 95% of an LED is recyclable.  Compare this to the wasteful design of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), which not only contain Mercury, but also create a large portion of electronic waste due to their design — the fluorescent tube portion of a CFL ceases to work long before the ballast inside the CFL or its other electronic components are ready to die.  This alone creates tons of waste every month.
  18. LED lamps on average are not subject to serious damage from external shock – which translates into “oops, I dropped my LED lamp onto the floor while I was changing it!”  If you try this with an incandescent lamp, you’re going to be cleaning up glass at least — and if it’s a CFL, not only will it break, but you will also need to follow Mercury decontamination procedures recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency.  Yikes!
  19. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the widespread adoption of LEDs in residential and commercial applications over the next 20 years will save about $265 billion, prevent the need for constructing 40 new power plants, and reduce the electricity demand of lighting by 33 percent.
  20. Ever wonder why non-chip form LEDs have that little plastic bubble (or lens) around them, like in the picture at the top of the post?  It actually has three distinct functions, and the process of adding the diode to the plastic is called potting:
    * The plastic protects the tiny wires and components that make up the diode from physical damage, and protects the diode from open air
    * The plastic makes mounting the LED inside of devices and equipment considerably easier
    * That plastic lens allows the light from the LED to have a variety of properties, like different beam angles and diffusions

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Getting to Know the LED Ellipsoidal Generation – A JimOnLight Series Introduction

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I’ve done a lot of shows in my career so far. I’m lucky as hell, don’t get me wrong – but because of it, I feel like I have a real “bond” with incandescent and high-intensity discharge lamps (HIDs) that we use in this industry. It’s almost creepy sometimes – in my head, I know how a good ol’ no-color Source Four looks in a dark theatre. I know how an Altman 360Q looks in a theatre sitting next to it, too – and how it looks sitting with a Shakespeare, also uncorrected, next to a Source Four. As I close my eyes to write this, I can see how an old Strand 30-degree feels inside of a theatre or outside during an outdoor performance, and how a tried-and-true PAR64 can burns so beautifully bright and amber when it’s going through red shift during a nice slow fade-up during a song in an arena. Even awesome old Kliegl 6×8’s have a good beam still, as long as the optics are changed from those miserable step lenses!

As a side note, I listened to Vesa Honkonen tell a story when I was attending graduate study in Sweden about “trusting” the light from a certain type of reflector, and how that trust cost him time and money on a project.  So as a bit of an aside, with every statement is an equal anti-statement!

I have gotten to know the fixtures in our industry very well because I’ve been fortunate to use them in a real variety of performance situations and installations. When you get to know something like an ellipsoidal fixture with an incandescent lamp in it and you use it over and over and over again, you get to trust the fixture.  I can say with ease that I trust the light that comes from the business end of a Source Four; at the same time, I trust the light that comes out of an Altman 360Q as well, whether it has an HX601 lamp in it or an old FEL lamp.  As a designer, as an artist — I know what that light from an incandescent lamp in one of the “typical” variety of ellipsoidals is going to do for me in a scene on actors of any skin tone, or on a presenter during, or on film and video, and whether it has a chunk of R26 or L181HT in it.  I know that kind of light.  I trust that light.

In the world we live in now, incandescent lamps are slowly becoming forcefully shunned by a growing portion of the lighting industries as a whole (and politicians, sadly), with LED replacements becoming the forced norm by pretty much all of the companies that at one time were pushing an incandescent based fixture.  These companies are all now driving quickly on the road of a really good trend: to produce a fixture that provides the same kind of light or better than that of an incandescent lamp based fixture with a lot less power consumption and without losing any light quality.  Sounds easy enough, right?

There is a strange, edgy, “new car smell” feeling towards the new strains of LED fixtures making their births into the industry.  We are inundated with them at the trade shows in our business, just like we were with the incandescent conventionals.  Manufacturers, this is perfectly acceptable, and I think that it’s one of your biggest assets in this industry.  It’s your job to make us trust your fixtures, through hands-on videos and “shoot-outs” between incandescent and LED fixtures out there.  My informal surveying of conference attendees over the last three years has seen many responses like “TOO MANY LEDS” and “If I see another crappy wannabe LED fixture at another trade show, I’m going to die.”  Believe it or not, this is a really good thing — it provides an opportunity for the exceptional equipment to rise to the top of the Diode Ocean, as I like to call it.  Lately, these exceptions are overcoming their inferior rivals, much to my happiness.

Users, we have a job to do, too — we have to give the manufacturers the chance to trust LED light.  We have to learn how it is different than its incandescent counterparts.  We’ve had all of these decades to learn how to work with incandescent light (and HID light too, for what it’s worth), and we know it.  We trust it, and we love it.  But why is that?  It’s because it’s what we know, and it really is that simple.  Once we give the LED ellipsoidal generation a chance, you know we’re going to trust that too.  This isn’t to say that LEDs are done developing, this obviously isn’t true.  But I am noticing some unbelievably incredible advances in LED engines and output technology lately, especially after LDI in October 2012, and I have to say that I am finally ready to learn to trust LED conventional ellipsoidals.  It’s hard not to at this point to see that LED ellipsoidals are becoming the obvious choice, with the color temperature tuning we see now and the low power requirement that they provide — and to argue against energy consumption and power conservation is just not in my DNA.

Over the next 2 weeks I’m going to be comparing the LED conventional ellipsoidals we see in Entertainment to their incandescent counterparts over the next month, starting with ETC’s new Source Four LED line first, followed by Robert Juliat’s Zep and Tibo ranges, then moving on to the RevEAL Profile from Prism Projection, and so on.  In the mean time, let’s take a look at the characteristics I’ll be examining that I find important to applying trust, at least on paper – you can argue that there are more to see, but for the sake of argument, let’s start with:

  • Cost Comparison:
    What kinds of costs are we looking at over the course of an LED Ellipsoidal lifetime?  How different is it, really?
  • Light Output, or Perceived Brightness:
    How does it compare to a comparable incandescent conventional?
  • Spectral Analysis:
    What is the white light in the beam comprised of with respect to wavelength?
  • Power Consumption:
    When you put an LED ellipsoidal up against an incandescent lamp at 575W, how does it perform?
  • Weight:
    I have to stick these in a truck and on a truss at some point, so what is the difference I need to know?
  • Controllable Properties:
    Obviously I have only a few with an incandescent fixture, so what comes stock in an LED ellipsoidal that makes a difference?

Let’s go on this journey together.  When we work on something together as an industry, we get to make it how we want it to be, and manufacturers listen.  Once we started to get involved with the ways that incandescent lamps were developed and lighting designers started demanding better control over design and engineering of incandescent lamps, they improved.  All we have to do now is learn what the LED Ellipsoidal generation can do for us, and we can really make a difference.

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Green is A Number – A Creative Stage Lighting Webinar

CSL-blog

I just found this on the Creative Stage Lighting Blog, and this is about an hour and 20 minutes’ worth of your time that will come in handy in the future.  From Kevin Loretto’s Creative Stage Lighting Blog (bolding is mine for emphasis):

How do you measure the environmental impact of a light fixture? There are many ways to look at it, starting with the light output compared to the energy input. But that’s just the beginning. Take a quick trip through the green valley of sustainable lighting including best practices for lessening the environmental impact of your lighting designs.

About The Presenters:

Richard Cadena

Richard Cadena is the author of several books for the production professional, including Electricity for the Entertainment Electrician & Technician, Automated Lighting: The Art and Science of Moving Light, Lighting Design for Modern Houses of Worship, Focus on Lighting Technology. He is a 24 year veteran of the entertainment lighting industry and he has a background in electronics and electrical engineering.

His work experience includes stints with two of the world’s largest automated lighting manufacturers and he has designed lighting systems for tours, theatre, and permanent installations. He is also the technical editor for PLASA Media, an Authorized WYSIWYG Trainer, and freelance lighting designer. He is proficient in WYSIWYG, LD Assistant, and Vectorworks and he teaches classes in lighting, electricity, and control systems. His training seminars and webinars are renowned for their humor and creativity and are among the most popular in the industry.

James Bedell

James Bedell is a lighting designer based in New York City. Bedell has lit productions for Pace University, Off and Off-Off Broadway theater and dance companies, and has earned a SpotlightOn award for best lighting design.

Today Bedell is focused on lighting architectural spaces including corporate headquarters, restaurants and retail locations. He is the founder of Build2Sustain, a consultancy dedicated to making the business case for sustainable design in commercial spaces.

Bedell is the owner and principal designer of JPB Lighting.

James and Richard are awesome brains. You need to watch this webinar if for some reason you haven’t already!

The Daily Lamp – Gionata Gatto’s UNPLUGGED, A Lamp YOU Power

Talk about green, if you’re looking for a green lamp for your home, why not go with something like Gionata Gatto‘s Unplugged set, which is a hand-cranked table lamp (The Table Crank) and a pedal-powered floor lamp (The Pedalator). I have to say that I am really digging on Gionata Gatto, I like the way this guy thinks.  From Studio Atuppertu‘s page on Unplugged:

The production of energy to pay has brought people to massively abuse of our planet resources. Contemporary houses are fULL of electronical devices that are constantly connected to the electric grid. Most of those devices live mostly of their life in a state of continuous standby. The 80% of population ignores the consumption of energy WHICH is necessary to power up simple devices as a radio, a TV, a LED lamp. “Unplugged” wants to provoke a reflection on the theme of energy consumption. Through this argument I wISH to evoke an ipotetic future condition, where available resources are not anymore enough to please ALL population

requests. IN MY MIND I EVOKED THE PICTURE OF A post-industrial background where architectonical carcasses of a civilization in decline wOULD emerge from a scenario of complete abandonment. This wOULD be the context where people will have to discover different energy production’s methods. The auto-production of energy would become the only appropriate and respectful way that could save the Earth and respect its cycles of replenishment of resources. “The Pedalator” and “The Table Crank” are the first two prototypes that stimulate an interesting question: how much hard work do you need to power up a LED bulb? “The TablE

Crank” is a table lamp, that can be activate through the Rotation of a crank locate on the top of the ceramic base. Four or five munutes of manual charge are enough to offer almost half an hour of light. Similar is the case of ‘The Pedalator, a machine that every five minutes of pedaling produce an hour of light. The produced energy is store in a battery, which allow the user to swich the lamps off or on in different times. The pieces are all made of wood, natural ceramic without varnish, aluminum.

Check these photos out, Unplugged is a beautiful almost post-modern design of formulated function. I love it:

Unplugged - The Pedalator

Unplugged – The Pedalator

Unplugged - Gionata Gatto

Unplugged – Gionata Gatto

The Pedalator

The Pedalator

Also, Gionata had some drawings of the set, some lovely brain-art of the process, check it out!

the pedalator 1

table crank 2

Here’s a gallery of the product images and sketches, enjoy!  Click on an image, and away you go:

We featured Gionata last week on The Daily Lamp with his Agricola Lamp, check it out!