Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tapping the cheap energy to power our gadgets

Vibrations which is always present in the environment can now be harnessed to power our gadget. Just imagine while you are walking, try to move your arms or when the wind is blowing, vibration is produced and thus can be converted into electric energy. Free electricity is also a good term for this.

What is needed to convert these vibrations into electrical energy is the piezo vibration sensor.  An example of a piezo electric sensor is like this:
This typical sensor can produce low alternating current but large voltage ranging from 1v up to 90v. The electrical energy produced by the sensor goes out of the 2 leads. There is an integrated circuit designed specifically to regulate the output of the sensor, I am referring to LTC3588. This system on chip electronic component requires minimal external component and the typical circuit provided by the manufacturer is in the following circuit diagram:

This is basically a piezoelectric energy harvester with 9V battery as back up power. There are also other implementations like Sparkfun's  LTC3588 breakout board uses solar energy as power source instead of the piezo vibration sensor. This works like you have to set a certain output voltage, the role of the solar panel is to charge the super capacitors connected in series, if the voltage across  the input of the breakout board reaches the preselected voltage output, the LTC3588 circuit will be awaken and start to power a device connected to its output, if the supercaps were fully discharge or their output voltage is less than the preselected output voltage, then the circuit will enter the sleep mode.
This technology can really be a must have for everyone who uses gadgets that requires electricity such as mobile phones. If 5million uses this technology, perhaps our fossil fuel consumption will be reduced and will be a huge savings for a nation where 95% of the population are struggling to make both ends meet.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Using Ibeacons as Land Mines in a Simulated Military Game

We often hear about simulated military games involving land mines as major obstacles. Land Mines in real sense is an explosive buried underground to disable vehicles of the enemy. In simulated military games, we can use the ibeacons instead as land mines.

One common problem encountered is the complexity of how land mines are distributed in a given space. In a mathematical sense, this can be rephrased as what is the optimal or fairest possible distribution of land mines in order to give the highest unpredictability of locating such weapons in a given space. The space is large but quantifiable.

One possible solution is the Simulated Annealing Algorithm. Annealing in metallurgy is the process of heating and controlled cooling in order to strengthen further the metal. So in the algorithm, it is basically providing a series of solutions until an optimal solution was reached with the goal of evenly distributing the land mines in such a unpredictable pattern.

Let us just imagine the mine field as rectangle where we need to distribute land mines which in this case are the ibeacons in a random pattern where the transmission range never overlaps.