Sunday, 12 November 2017

semi abandoned cottage

I was out for a drive the other day (to see what I could see) and found the gorgeous cottage situated in about the most wonderful spot you could imagine. Great views and great location geographically speaking. Right on the edge of the plateau, so moist (unlike further west) and "very changable" atmospheric weather (ok, I mean it rains a lot)

I get the feeling it was built in stages as money arrived and needs expanded (a familiar story) and has some very interesting curved roofing over the veranda ...

From the back it was equally compelling ...

and you can see a hint of the weather I mentioned approaching. You can see (looking carefully if you load that picture up) that the back wall not only seemed to have been an internal wall at some stage, but shows sign of that same curved roof in the top of the wall over by the door.

Inside that window (in the old section) we see a little of the decay of semi-abandonment

... as it apparently still used by someone (I assume stockmen) occasionally.

Looking at the exposed tin roof, with plenty a gap, you can be sure it will be as cold as a "witches tit" in there and a place by the fire prized when the winter winds and drizzle are happening ...

Still, people were poorer then and life was tougher.

Time passes and things pass into history. Its sad to see things pass, but then that is the way of things. It is our privilege simply to witness them...

Thursday, 2 November 2017

I've warned you before...

Hey, you!

I've told you before, if I see you here again I'm going to give you a thrashing


Now to make it clear, I'm going to shit all over this motorbike so you know who's place this is...

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Radio labelled

I took the first steps yesterday on the path to determine if I am as yet clear of my 2011 gifted surgical infection.

After two uncomfortable debridment surgeries in 2012 & 2013 and constantly being on oral antibiotics since 2012, we (my specialist and I) decided to begin investigating if there was any bacteria remaining. Our plan is to see if a PET scan shows any metabolic activity that isn't mine.

So I got shot up with radio-labelled glucose and jumped into this...

Naturally I was a bit radio active for a while...

Which was kinda cool.

Will report progress.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

a Quick trip to Mount Perry

a mate of mine was recently up (from here) at Mount Perry, and I thought: "what the hell" I'll go have a look.

I've never been there (although I've been all around it by about 100Km in any direction) and so I thought I'd share some of the experience.

So, after you turn off from the main road (A3) you eventually find yourself looking at dirt ...

with some creek crossings (which may be impassable when wet).

The township of Mt Perry is nestled in a tight valley:

This is from the Western side (looking East, in the late afternoon)

It turns out there is an interesting feature just near the town, a railway tunnel was dug when there as a brief mining boom. It was cut through a hill on the way to Gin Gin, but was never used as a railway. Instead now its a road.

So I took a trip out along there to see ...

There was some nice old country "Australiana" such as abandoned schools (with cows) ...

and some nice scenery.

Eventually I got to the tunnel (which you can drive through)

Here is a quick video of going into the tunnel mouth:

In the entrance there are swallows nesting ...

but further in (in about the middle) is a colony of bent wing bats.

Attempting to focus on this swirling mass of bats was essentially a fools errand, so I took one shot with a normal lens and hoped to freeze something with that.

Which I did ... you'll notice if you load this image some discreet red circles around bats in flight. This is from the middle right, and shows what I believe to be a pair of the "bent wing" bats and I believe too, a clutch of young huddled in the roof.

As mentioned, I recorded them with my audio you can put on your headphones and enjoy the walk through the tunnel with me if you like:

I hope you enjoyed the small excursion.

Friday, 20 October 2017

The Cheapie controller is MPPT - not PWM

Well I've had a better chance to fiddle with this now, and I'm quite sure that this little UEIUA CPS-2420 controller is properly an MPPT controller (unlike the views of others)

So here is my evidence for that. PWM will essentially pull the panel voltage down to very close to the battery charging voltage. This is because it can't do voltage to voltage conversion. Given that people normally run a "nominal" 12V panel, which is often open circuit at 21V this is less of an issue than it may seem. Panels usually  have its maximum rated power at a voltage something like 17V ... in the case of my black 100W panel is actually 17.8V (... which is of course at the maximum obtained measuring at Standard Conditions , namely full sunlight but with a panel temperature of 25°C). So the drop from there to 13 or so optimal for charging isn't a significant loss. Such would be a case of a panel at more or less optimal voltage match for the purpose, and PWM just has to groom it a little.

But if you run panels in series not in parallel then things change and PWM is at a disadvantage.

So in the above experiment we see that with two panels in series we are clearly getting MPPT because:

  • circuit voltage of the two series panels was brought to 38.6V
  • the panel was delivering to the MPPT controller 1.5Amps
  • the battery was being held at a charge voltage of 13.5V
  • with an observable 3.56 Amps going into it
were this system a PWM system this would simply not happen.

So the youtube reviews you may watch on this controller make what I believe to be the error of solely determining the capacity of the controller based on a panel which is already closely matched to the usage (battery charging) and measure what it puts out into the battery.

I've already shown (in previous posts) that the system is capable of delivering a few extra amps to the load without taking all that power from the charging. In a previous experiment (with one panel) I was able to deliver 3.5Amps into my load (from the load port) while still pumping 0.56Amps into the battery (3.5 + 0.56 = 4Amps) yet it failed to deliver 4 amps to the battery when simply charging the battery. This leads me to see that it can (and does) produce more amps, but only if the entire system requires it (in its view).

Clearly this new test demonstrates that the controller is able to deliver the full panel capacity to the "system"(given as also observed the panel temperature pulling down its maximum power delivery capacity). 

This word SYSTEM is the critical point. The controller is intended to be a part of a system, not just a stand alone battery charger. As such if we take that viewpoint and explore its capacity as a system we can see that it is delivering the capacity of the panels into the system, and not just pumping it into the battery.

I went and did a second test (because the sun came out as I was writing this) and found the following:
  • two panels in series was loaded by the controller to produce 6.48 Amps @ 20 Volts input into THE SYSTEM.
  • the controller then poked 6 Amps into the battery @ 13.2 Volts (you need to recall that battery at rest unloaded is a different voltage to the battery under charge and the controller has NO WAY to know what the resting state of the battery is until perhaps night)
  • the controller still fed the load with 3.5 Amps @ 12.8 Volts
so if this was PWM we would still only get a maximum Amps of 5.5 (the short circuit amp rating and ignoring panel temperature) yet it was able to feed 6 + 3.5 = 9.5 Amps into the system

Considering that the combination of the two cells was in theory only able to deliver 11amps,  that this controller pulled 9.5Amps to feed to the other two demands on the system is pretty darn good.

Clearly MPPT, not PWM.

If your goal is to shove the most power from your panel into a battery (from which you draw load in parallel to charging) then (as observed) the CPS-2420 MPPT controller is perhaps not your best bet, especially if you have only one panel producing (an open circuit) voltage of around 20V.

For that role I've found the little T20 (which I bought earlier because it was cheap) to be at an advantage there as it puts out a few more amps into the battery (with nothing on its load) than the CPS-2420 does.

Its a nicer looking unit in some ways but perhaps more confusing because it has more options, allows you to configure more and the menu is not straight forward to navigate ... this is them side by side,

With two solar panels in series the T20 it was still only delivering the same amount of amps as with one panel (and pulling the whole rig down to the lowest common denominator voltage) which is what PWM does. Here it is on the two panels (which in series produce the same amps, but double the volts).

as you can see its not able to take advantage of the potential 40V available to it. Because its PWM.

So where does this leave us?

It means to me that the choice of which controller needs to be a decision based on "what are you goals".

In fact I still like this little white controller (even though it lied about being MPPT and is really PWM) because it provides some additional features which I find useful. I mainly use it with a small panel (10W) to keep the battery conditioned on my ride on lawn mower.
I like that I can set it up for myself:
  • battery max voltage (so it won't over charge and will cope with a variety of battery types)
  • battery min voltage (where it will kill the load were I running one, and should it go below a voltage value I set)
  • a display of the current battery voltage (so I don't need to pull out my multimeter to test it)
  • I can leave it alone and know its doing its sole job
Keeping my mower battery trickle topped up (in a good manner and voltage sensitive) is an ideal usage. The mower sits idle in winter and can result in dead battery (from self discharge and sulfation). This controller and a 10W panel prevents that.

Even if you wanted to a run a short term load off your battery then this little controller does well as long as you manage that load yourself.
If you have timed operations in mind then this little controller does that too ... if you want more amps out of it then you'll have to run your panels in parallel (to minimise the losses of voltage, while doubling your amps). Just make sure you've got your diodes set up right with that ...

As I've read elsewhere PWM isn't simply worse than MPPT, it provides things differently and at a lower cost (although at this price point that's moot).

As it happens these two controllers are amazingly low cost and both do things differently, so picking one will be determined by your needs, your setup and your system.

Following are some sections from pages on the web which I have found salient (and their URLs for reference):
From this link

The preceding discussion of PWM vs. MPPT may cause some to wonder why a PWM controller would ever be chosen in favor of an MPPT controller. There are indeed instances where a PWM controller can be a better choice than MPPT and there are factors which will reduce or negate the advantages the MPPT may provide. The most obvious consideration is cost. MPPT controllers tend to cost more than their PWM counterparts. When deciding on a controller, the extra cost of MPPT should be analyzed with respect to the following factors:
1. Low power (specifically low current) charging applications may have equal or better energy harvest with a PWM controller. PWM controllers will operate at a relatively constant harvesting efficiency regardless of the size of the system (all things being equal, efficiency will be the same whether using a 30W array or a 300W array). MPPT regulators commonly have noticeably reduced harvesting efficiencies (relative to their peak efficiency) when used in low power applications. Efficiency curves for MPPT controller are printed in their corresponding manuals and should be reviewed when making a regulator decision.
2. The greatest benefit of an MPPT regulator will be observed in colder climates (Vmp is higher). Conversely, in hotter climates Vmp is reduced. A decrease in Vmp will reduce MPPT harvest relative to PWM. Average ambient temperature at the installation site may be high enough to negate any charging advantages the MPPT has over the PWM. It would not be economical to use MPPT in such a situation. Average temperature at the site should be a factor considered when making a regulator choice.
3. Systems in which array power output is significantly larger than the power draw of the system loads would indicate that the batteries will spend most of their time at full or near full charge. Such a system may not benefit from the increased harvesting capability of an MPPT regulator. When the system batteries are full, excess solar energy goes unused. The harvesting advantage of MPPT may be unnecessary in this situation especially if autonomy is not a factor.

and this link suggests too:
The Solar input nominal voltage must match the battery bank nominal voltage if you’re going to use PWM
So if you do have a single "nominal 20V" panel (which probably puts out its max power point at 17, but amps at 14 will still be close to max), then you are matching the battery to the nominal voltage (especially when its a hot climate like Australia) and so you'll see less advantage to MPPT. Which I think is the other testers issue; I don't think he applied sufficient voltage advantage for MPPT to give its best run.

So know your needs and pick you animal :-)


I like to do things in a scientific manner, if you have any issues with my conclusions then proper scientific method would suggest that you examine my methods and identify what I did wrong. Try and replicate the results if you can before just slamming me.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

territory intruder

I've had problems with Wrens being ... well bird brained about things before (here). But now that I'm living more or less in Wren Country its becoming more common.

Sitting at the table this afternoon I was conscious that the Wren "territory calling" sound was becoming a bit more acute ... so I looked out the window and sure enough, this Wren had found another rambunctious intruder ...

It alternatively attacked the other bird and sat calling for the rest of the tribe (Wrens are group birds with one dominant male) to assist with driving this intruder off ...

The regular "shopping bag over the mirror trick" seemed to work ... and I have enough bird guano on the bike to start a company selling it..

Friday, 13 October 2017

Cheapie MPPT Controller further discussed

well we had sunlight worthy of mention today, so I thought I'd extend the testing I did on my cheapie controller and give it a quick whirl with one of my 100 W panels.

Now first up lets say that the panel is specified as:

  • Max Power = 100W
  • Open Circuit V = 21.6
  • Short Circuit A = 5.97
  • and "Rated V" = 17.8 (projecting the MPP?)
  • and "Rated A" = 5.62
which is interesting as it implies (to my limited understanding of Solar Panel Specs) that the maximum power of 100W is at 17.8 @ 5.62 

So I thought I'd wire it up to my system in quick way with the following diagnostics:
  • Volt Meter (Fluke 11)
  • Ammeter (Lexa cheapie in Amps)
  • 150A Watt / Power Analyzer (ebay jobbie)

Knowing that some items can suck more peak power than my MPPT controller may be able to stand and deliver, I thought that I'd wire my load directly to my 120AH battery. So here is that.

and for those who can't quite follow the mumble, the summary position is that less amps were going into the battery than was being sucked out of it. In particular the charger was putting about 1.6A into the battery while the little fridge was sucking out 2.89 A ... a short fall of power.

I wondered why the controller was not putting enough into the batteries to balance the load.

So here are the few more measurements I mumbled about at the end...

So the summary position is that the contoller has no way of knowing what is being drawn from the battery (what load its under) and (I assume) it assumes no load. There are controllers which incorporate this sort of externality with a thing (commonly? occasionally??) called a shunt sensor. This doesn't have one.

So my findings are that with my single 100W panel will give through more power, but interestingly it seems that it (the controller) won't push in (to the battery) much more than 3Amps (not shown in the video, I turned off the fridge giving more available power).

Which could of course be because controller reckons that's as much power as the battery can handle. After all it has no way of knowing what the battery capacity is ... is it 50Ah, or is it 100Ah, or is it ...

None the less with a load (on the load so the controller knows about it) it does take more from the panel. My load (the small fridge) is about 3.5 amps meanwhile the battery is getting 0.57A (in this specific example), which steps up to over 2 amps if I disconnect the load . So,  3.5 + 0.57 = 4.07 amps

Does this mean that the controller isn't MPPT?  Where did that power go?

Well as I identified in my first post (with a small panel into a small battery):

The little embedded system did a great job of ramping up load and determining the system capacity autonomously and heuristically. Best indicator of its effectiveness was that it put 0.67Amps into my battery when the panel is rated (and I've measured it) to 0.55Amps at full short circuit load. This is about a 27% increase in power over PWM.

you only get that sort of step up in amps with Voltage to Voltage conversion ... or MPPT. I believe that the evidence supports that it is (indeed, I demonstrate that it is in subsequent posts (eg this one), some of my other readings made it unambiguously clear that it must be MPPT as not only was it putting more amps into the battery than the panel was producing it was keeping the pair of  panels at 38V ).

Also as I mention in the video the panel got to 69°C which means that we need to re-work the figures (because these things conform to known physics). This is coefficient is about 0.4 per degree variant from standard (of 25C) that the panel temp gets to. In my case its; about 44 degrees above 25 giving about 18% loss or in other words dropping my max A figure to about 4.15A ... or pretty close to what we got.

Where does this leave me?

Well it means that (depending on my fridge) I'm going to need more power input than I currently have or the system will basically just wear the battery down in the evenings which it won't be able to recover in the day time.

So, lets have a look next at what a second panel does for this ...

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Cheapie MPPT controller (updated)

Well, normally I have the view that you get what you pay for. However often what things cost is a reflection of a complex mix of R&D costs, what the market will bear, profit motive ... A few other things.

Well China is now going very seriously into Solar Energy and it's not surprising that they are making efficient electronic devices to do small scale solar.

So with this in mind I bought a cheapie eBay controller and thought I'd see what it did.

This is it, and unlike ones I've seen reviewed on YouTube, this has two inductors.

It's the model CPS-2420 and it comes adorned with precious little documentation.

So, today I got it, and put it to the test. I attached it to a 12V flooded lead acid car battery and with a DMM (Digital Multi Meter) on it and found that it put my panel to about 17V and pushed 13V into my battery. Rough figures because it was constantly adapting output as the battery took charge and as the light conditions changed.

The little embedded system did a great job of ramping up load and determining the system capacity autonomously and heuristically. Best indicator of its effectiveness was that it put 0.67Amps into my battery when the panel is rated (and I've measured itto 0.55Amps at full short circuit load. This is about a 27% increase in power over PWM.

If you don't know the difference between PWM & MPPT then I suggest you do some reading, alternatively this YouTube link has a great and detailed overivew:

But in a nutshell its a way of getting the most power out of your solar photovoltaic panels and into your storage (battery).

This is the review of another similar model (the CPY version) by Adam Welch, but mine is the CPS version (and 20Amps) and as you can see looks a bit different to his.

So in some ways I prefer mine, and either way its Fukken Amazing for $30


I've  just done a quick test with two multimeters (one for amps, one for volts) and an inline wattage meter (that does both amps and volts) inline with another (bigger) panel...

So, on an overcast time I was getting

0.32Amps @ 12.98V into my battery while the panel was 0.41A 13.88V

now this doesn't take into account the losses in the two meters, which while small won't be nothing. I know for instance that my DMM showing Amps has an resistance (including leads) of about 0.5 Ohm which of course is significant.

Basically its not particularly efficient at very low light conditions.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

(DIY) coffee banger - updated

well, having moved house twice since 2012 when I wrote about my coffee banger last I felt the need for a new one in my new place. As per my last post (here) I still don't see the point in paying $30 for what is essentially a waste holder (holding it before it gets transferred to the bin).

So let me introduce my Mk2 coffee banger:

I was inspired by some connections of roof gutter drainage pipes that were for connecting and angling the pipes.

This is essentially two pieces of 90mm PVC-U, one a 22.5 elbow bend and the other a "cap".

Pressed onto the bottom, the cap makes a good removable base, which is handy because often after a few days the coffee in the bottom of the banger is a bit hard to clean out. This design just allows the bottom to come off with a twist (its a tight seal, nearly, but not watertight), yet the rim on the cap keeps the damp grounds from leaking out.

I used my dremel to cut some (rough) grooves to hold my traditional "stick" in place, with some assistance from a bit of hot melt glue which will no doubt come off easy as the stick (inevitably) needs replacement.

The bend makes an almost ideal angle for striking the banger stick with the coffee handle and the "rim" catches the splashes from small amounts of water left in the handle.

So, in summary, its:

  • durable
  • cheap (less than $5)
  • easy to make
  • easy to clean
win win!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Moons, Stars & wind mills

Nothing much to say, but I enjoyed being out taking this shot

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Snapseed and noise (but from where?)

The other evening I was out walking (to watch the ISS go over) and took this image with my Oppo F1 phone (it being the only camera I happened to have with me) while I was out. (Note, blogspot seems to be causing posterisation on the images I load with its recompression of gradients ... Uhgg)

I took it with the phone/cam set to RAW so that I'd be able to play with the image later (cos I already know how much better that can be). I put it into Snapseed (which has become my default phone image processing tool) and applied my basic preferred steps and was disappointed by then noise it had in the image. I wanted it for Facebook so knowing it was going to be scaled back anway (meaning noone would notice) I cropped it a bit and resized it down and loaded it up. So wonding if the processing of HDR Scape was introducing the noise I pulled this image out of the same DNG file and had a look around. Even at this scale the noise is clear..

so lets have a pixel peep ... (cos even scaled back it looks a bit 'rough')

quite noisy ... and applying a little HDR (I've found gentle HDRI to adjust the brightness and at a low filter level cleans up a lot of vignetting) to it only made this worse.

I tried a few tools to remove the noise and was resigned to it being "how it is" at an ISO over 1000 (1229 actually) in low light.

Then it occured to me "I wonder what DCRAW Mobile would render" as I know DCRAW has wavelets for noise control. So while I was unable to see any difference using those parameters, DCRAW did a significantly better job.

without seeming to make the image any softer really (no sharpening applied, but I think Snapseed always does a bit).

So while this makes me feel comfortable that I can push my phones limits that bit more, it also makes me wonder what Snapseed are doing. I suspect that they may be adding noise in their process because (to save space) they may work with lower bit depths. Its well known that adding noise can cover gradient posterisation caused by inadequate bit depth. If you are interested I suggest reading this article over at the University of Chicago (totally worth the read for the technically inclined). The author examines how you can keep apparent tonal range with reduced bit depth (faster to process) as long as you have enough noise to cover it up.

NB: from that page

Given how fast Snapseed processes my DNG files (compared to DCRAW) it makes me wonder if they are not doing something like that. I already know (from asking the developer) that once the conversion from DNG to a demosiaced image occurs they only work in 8 bit ... hmmm ... I for one would be very interested to know why there is so much more noise even without the HDRI filter.

So I have reached out to the developer of DCRAW Mobile to ask if the wavelets are actually doing anything and hopefully they'll comment back here. Perhaps even answer if the slowness of demosaic in DCRAW is exacerbated by lack of threading on phones.

Meanwhile, my final image is this one, which somehow I find not quite punch enough but anyway:

Friday, 15 September 2017

The Kicked Down Sand Castle Effect

Imagine you are a kid down at the beach building an elaborate sand castle. Your family gets there early in the day and in between swims you build this great structure.

You spend hours between swims and a bit of belly boarding adding to this castle.

Then someone (like your mean brother) comes along and kicks it over and you're in tears about it.

Depending when it happens in the day (say early) you may start again and build on that foundation and make a better castle. If it was nearly time to go home you may just give up and walk away, being mad at your brother all the way home (and perhaps for some time to come).

This is how I have come to currently understand my own grief at the loss of my wife.

The metaphor is not too far from the truth because we are all only here on this "beach" for an amount of time. We eventually "go home" and must leave behind all we have made here. Yet when we are building our sand castles we are not thinking of "when we leave" we are absorbed in the the thing we are making, in making it better, in making it "just right". Sometimes we've only seen the sand castles of others, and we shape our own on that. Other times we've also had a little experience in building them in previous summers when we were younger, so we can do a better job.

Although we know that we must eventually leave them, we may harbor the idea that it will be there again tomorrow (sometimes it is). When the time comes to pack up and go home many will plead for a little more time, no matter we always look back at what we made as we are leaving the beach. But if we have it leveled down before our eyes it somehow hurts more, because we are attached to it and because it seems so unfair.

Past the initial shock and spending time in reflection (not just being upset, although there is surely a time for doing only that)  I came to see that without Anita, all that I'd built was smashed and meaningless. I soon also saw that my time on the beach was drawing to a close and there seemed less point in trying to rebuild.

Unlike sand castles much of what we have in life is needed to live comfortably; the houses we live in, the furniture we use, the stuff we have. Much of it is needed to make our lives comfortable, easier and doing things more convenient.

I don't believe I have enough time to ever make a castle again but I'm trying now to make something. Its not easy and I'm always struck with "what's the fucking point" ... I regularly think "fuck, can I just go home early". Of course some do just that.

As I've reflected earlier this happened to me at an awkward time, too old to really ever be able to build a decent sand castle again, too young to just "go home early".

So now I've bought another house, in a different place. There is much that needs doing to it, but its actually livable right now. Its small enough that I don't need to attempt anything grand, but enough work to keep me "on task" for some years.

Many times I feel like its all too hard, and I wonder "what the fuck have I done". But having kicked the can down the road for some 5 years now, I have decided its time to try. Its a total break from where I've been and in some ways like nothing I've ever done before.

Lets see what I make of it.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Camping Cooking at Home

I haven't been camping for a while now (just day trips), mostly because of the unsettled life I currently lead (indeed I feel like I'm camping most of the time sometimes). So I thought I'd share some cooking ideas which I essentially adapted from what I make and eat when I go camping.

Camping cooking is (well for those who aren't packaged food types) identified by the following points:

  • easy to make and serve
  • easy to be carried (no need for refrigeration)
  • easy to clean up
  • good nutrition (energy which you need and vitamins too)
Oats features in my cooking a lot actually. Not "instant" oats, but just good stout rolled oats, which look like this in the pan:

For this recipe I basically use a non-stick frypan (to minimise my efforts needed in stirring). 
So one of my favorites: savoury oats

Ingredients: chopped leek, sliced salami, sesame oil, chilli flakes, oats, water.

Method: Fry the chilli and leek in the oil for a bit, toss in the salami. 
Mix a wet slurry of Oates and pour that in. 
Cover and reduce heat / flame to minimum. 5 minutes later whack on the plate, add a little Tabasco sauce if you like ...

For an extra dash of colour add a quick sprinkle of Paprika powder at the frying stage (helps release the aroma of the paprika)


Saturday, 2 September 2017

keeping away the "GrassHoppers"

In my family at least we have a tongue in cheek way to call Kangaroos "grass hoppers", not the least because they hop out of the grass at you.

So motorcycling around up here at the moment the use of a tool for that is intended to make encounters with the little furry lovelies less likely by making them aware of me sooner. They are little ultrasonic "whistles" and look like this.

A quick video

I'll let you know how it goes

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Flogging a Dead Phone (for pixels)

well my Oppo F1 is not exactly dead, but it is in the view that they are no longer sold new by Oppo (perhaps you can get one somewhere).

The reason for this post (which will be of little interest to even less people than usual) is to provide an answer to a question which was asked of me recently:

Which is better: DNG (*and then process the DNG, with say Snapseed) or the Ultra HD mode
So I set about to answer this question...

Firstly lets look at some images, the overview I took, which has plenty of "natural detail" and is at a distance where the blur caused by atmosphere isn't going to effect things (like a mountain range):

I took (essentially) 3 shots the Ultra HD, then a DNG (which then automatically takes a) JPG.

Basically the Ultra HD mode uses some upscaling and combines (as near as I understand it) a number of images and attempts to work out the sharpest portions of each image to:

  1. jam together the best bits to make an over all
  2. upscale it and save it to a JPG

Lets take a look

So lets dive into the pixel peeping now shall we? First lets look at a segment of the OOC (Out Of Camera) JPG and the Ultra HD at the same level of detail (which means that the UHD will be shown at 50% so they are effectively comparable.

To me there are no surprises ... the two images look close, with the usual "over sharpened look" to the OOC JPG. Nothing screams out at us however.

I've never understood the mental masturbation over MegaPixel Madness, and I'm willing to bet that 99% of the images from these phones will end up on Facebook or some other social media and therefore scaled down ... very very few will end up being printed taking advantage of the 4000 pixel width ... but most of the "selfieObsessed" users attracted to the King Wang name will not even understand any of the above anyway ...

The next step is to look at the UHD more closely and compare that to the OOC JPG. To make this easier I did a bicubic upscale in Photoshop of the JPG so we can see clearly:

This makes it pretty clear (to me at least) that the final written JPG just doesn't have the "right stuff" to make an upscale work ... meaning that this is a win to the UHD image. Probably because the image is upscaled prior to the mushy crummy JPG algorithm that Oppo uses is applied to the OOC JPG (meaning its likely it does it in an uncompressed image space, perhaps even RAW).

Ok, so now lets take the DNG (which I've already established to be heaps better than the OOC JPG in so many previous posts it does not bear repeating), Starting with the DNG (processed in Snapseed with not much more than a straight conversion, which is of course then saved as a JPG by Snapseed) and then upscaled in Photoshop to compare to the UHD at 100%

Which is very close, but to me actually gives better tonals in the ridge of the rear wheel arch (the rust and cracked paint more clearly defined). So even upscaled the DNG is competitive to the UHD

As well (as a side benefit) we have the opportunity to do more post processing (without getting posterisation of the sky)  from the DNG than we would from the UHD (because we're dealing with more bits at starter).

For the hell of it I thought I'd downscale the UHD to compare it at 100% with the Snapseed to see if there was something in that:

Which to my eye looks pretty good (although I prefer the colour balance of the DNG over the UHD).

So what's the point and what's the benefit to a photographer? Are there drawbacks?

Advantages , Similarities and Drawbacks

As it happens the DNG is about the same physical size as the UHD shot (even though its a JPG), but the nod goes to the DNG because its actually a little smaller (should you be pushed for space on your phone) at 25Mb vs 26Mb (for the UHD) : advantage DNG

A drawback of each is that you have to remember to engage that mode (either RAW or Ultra HD), however the UHD has the additional drawback that (because it takes multiple images) you have to hold the camera steady longer ... or get a crummy shot. advantage DNG

Because the UHD is a JPG, you can (assuming you want to) just get a big print made directly from it and know that (printing to 140cm monster prints) you'll get a much crisper print than from a regular OOC JPG and won't need to bother with processing software or mussing up your hair : advantage UHD

Myself I'll keep using DNG because I happen to be OK with the use of Snapseed (or other future advances in DNG processing), however I hope this has helped you to work out what you'd like to do and why.


Friday, 25 August 2017

Stupid stuff I buy

It was fun

So now I can reveal more of that minor purchase


Tuesday, 22 August 2017

religious nonsence (or the media selling the electric car barrow)

Sadly sustainable development has gone all out to attract the "Public" for some years, and while I did my Masters in Environmental Science I must sadly admit there is quite a few in the "cohort" who are neither scientific nor rigorous. The Electric Car Advocacy is prime among them.

Recently I see that the ABC has become a mouthpiece for the push in this direction as if they've already decided. Sadly rather than present unbiased information they unashamedly promote stuff that doesn't even add up ... for instance:

This unashamed piece can't even present the facts reasonably and chooses to cherry pick its data. It starts by asking the obvious question of: Are electric cars cheaper to run

and comes up with the quick answer of yes and yes, but as they indicate its not really that simple because it quickly emerges that its No and NO.

For instance they present this "analysis"

I would take issue that the "average" fuel economy is 11.1L/100Km ... shit my 1989 3L V6 Pajero 4WD station wagon gets that. My friends Subaru gets more like 8 and a Hyundai i30 more like 6 ... so you can half that figure for the cost to travel 100km for a petrol vehicle straight away.

However its even more disingenuous because they themselves are talking about longer distances, and in their own article say: "However, the RAC-installed recharging stations on WA's Electric Highway cost the user 45 cents for each kilowatt-hour of electricity, plus a $1 transaction charge."

So if we substitute the more correct 45cents for a highway journey it becomes more like $8.10 plus the $1 transaction charge making $9.10

So for the Electric car its $9.10 and for a modern car using 8L/100Km its $10.40 ... suddenly less attractive isn't it. It only gets worse when you factor in modern diesel engines in the 2L category are regularly delivering 4.5L/100km.

This does not mention how long it takes to "fuel up" while we know that to fill up and get going on the highway is usually a matter of minutes, for the electric its going to be longer.

Watt does it all mean?

People will fuzz out on this, but a kilowatt is a thousand watts, so assuming you have the need to put 18,000 Watts for an hour (that's what watt hours means) into your car and you can use the three phase 410 volt supply you will be needing to suck 45amps  (Watts = Volts x Amps and so 410 * 45 = 18450 )... for an hour ... Inconvenient this truth stuff isn't it.

Of course you can drop that to half an hour if you punch in 90 amps.

That would pretty much max out the capacity of the service station to supply (and keep its own lights on).

Imagine if there was 2 or even (shock) 4 cars attempting to fill up ... of course you've never seen so many cars in the servo have you ...

The truth - inconvenient isn't it ...

The article tries to suggest that you can make it even cheaper if:
The cheapest option for electric car owners is recharging at home using the electricity from solar panels and stored by a home battery.

So, you'll need to have a good 4Kw system on your roof running all day to charge your car to drive 100Km ... meaning you will negate that solar electric advantage of the house ... ohh, and you'll need at least 18Kw of battery too ...

Truth in Costs

Most car organisations will say that the true cost of ownership of a vehicle must I clude repayments and depreciation, meaning what you paid for it minus what you sold it for. The cost of fuel is often insignificant.

So if you buy an electric car you'll also suffer greater depreciation because they cost more in the first place too .. expect 30% drop in the first year. The Nissan Leaf (a mid range car equivalent in spec to an i30) will set you back $51,000 while the Hyundai will set you back $20,950

So 30% loss on $51,000 is $15,000 ... most of the entire price of the Hyundai.


The article goes on to mention in one sentence:

Unless you are recharging using a renewable energy source, the power electric car owners are using still comes from burning traditional fossil fuels which, in WA at least, is primarily coal.
Yes, that's right ... it still means CO2

So like the article says near the end:
Electric future of the automotive industry 
Owners of electric cars say their cars are not the future, they are the past, because electric cars have been around since the mid-19th century.
Nothing has changed since then either, for in the past Electric cars have been the realm of the wealthy.

As is typical of propaganda, simply tell enough stuff that looks to be true (even though it won't pass scrutiny) and avoid all those inconvenient facts that get in the way of pushing your agenda.

Ask youself this: who actually benefits from electric cars? Would it be the electric car makers, or are they really "just doing it for society".

Here's some evidence:

So despite selling a fraction of the cars, Tesla is worth as much as GM in terms of Market Capitalisation while running a loss not a profit.


Lastly I'll add that the real reason to promote electric vehicles has nothing to do with anything mentioned in the usual public sell-job, its more about moving pollution from one place (cities) to another place (perhaps to someone elses back yard).

I encourage you to think critically and act with conservation in mind. My method is to walk more, use public transport in cities, ride my motorcycle and use my car last.

Think about it with the facts clear in mind

Monday, 21 August 2017

Eating Grass Seeds

Probably few people think about it, but wheat, rice and oats are all from the same family of plant: Grass.

Being a bit different I often try cooking things "outside the dots" and substitute one grain for another. In this case I use oats as many cultures use rice. So while may think of Paella as being a Spanish dish, it relies on rice which originates from Asia.

In Europe Oats has a much longer history. Its hard to imagine that my earlier European ancestors did not cook more interesting things with Oats than the modern western (god help me, American) idea that oats = porridge.

So, without further adieu I'd like to present my Savory Oats "Asian style" with

  • Oats,
  • Fish, 
  • Ginger, 
  • Garlic,
  • Spring Onions,
  • Capsicum (or as it can also be called Paprika, but not the spice..)
  • Sesame oil
  • Rice bran oil (or other vegetable oil, like sunflower, rapseed, peanut ...)
  • perhaps a touch of paprika (dried spice like Hungarian) for colour,
  • and a touch of Tabasco sauce
So we start with frying up the chopped garlic, ginger, fish, spring onions and capsicum. Gentle heat, not "immolation" material ...

next, we have the amount of oats we want (for a single serve I go with half a cup), ready to tip into the mix.

So we tip this in and then add an amount of water to make sure its all wet but perhaps not totally covered ...

Adding the water cools the pan but the residual heat will bring it back to the boil soon, so we cover it and keep an eye on it to reduce the heat as soon as it starts to gently boil ...

usually 5 or 6 min is about right, but its important to keep an eye on it till you get the hang of this so as to make sure its always a bit moist in there ..

At about the 6 min mark, lift the lid and give it a quick stir around, breaking up the fish.

Myself I usually want the oats to still be whole and visible, not turned to porridge, but to each their own.

So then serve it (or add a little more water and let it cook longer if you want  the porridge thing) and add a dash of Tabasco sauce (for those who like a more spicy touch) and some soy sauce.

and remember ... Oats is better for glycemic index than is rice, and is also accociated with lower cholesterol in the diet.

Have a glass of white wine with it too ;-)