Intel's Ronler Acres Plant


Silicon Forest

Monday, April 16, 2018

Binky Has Friends

Project Binky - Episode 16 - Austin Mini GT-Four - Turbocharged 4WD Mini

This might be slowest series in the history of the world. They put out an episode every 3 or 4 months, so at this rate they must have working on this project for years. (A quick check reveals that it has been nearly five years.) This episode is fairly typical, with lots of shots of pieces of metal being beaten into submission and plenty of snide remarks. There were a couple of scenes that tickled me. At the 2:55 mark, the narrator is commenting on the TIG welder currently in use. He makes a couple of ambiguous comments, and then says, "all we know is he is called the TIG", which if you have ever watched Top Gear, sounds exactly like the introduction Jeremy Clarkson gives the Stig (follow the link, you might enjoy it).

Then at the end, where you have a couple of blokes sitting at a table drinking tea while the credits role, there is a guy in the background sweeping up. I watch him for a bit and think, you know, he looks kind of like the tousle haired mechanic from Wheeler Dealers, and what do you know, it is. Edd China. He even gets a credit.

Project Binky has shown up here before.

Fun with Electricity

Breaker Box
Studying household wiring yesterday, we pull the cover off the circuit breaker box and take a look inside. The two big, fat aluminum leads from the power company connect to the two banks of circuit breakers, one lead to each bank. From there, black (hot) leads carry current all over the house. The white (neutral) leads complete the circuit. All of the white leads connect to a couple of bus bars that are connected together and to the neutral line from the meter. They are also connected to the ground wire that presumably goes to a steel rod pounded into the ground. Used to be you could use water lines for this purpose, back when water lines were made of steel. Plastic lines won't work for this purpose. Gas lines are still made of steel, at least some of them are, but somehow connecting up an electrical line to a gas pipe doesn't sound like a very good idea, even if it isn't normally carrying any current.

The bare, copper, ground wires coming into the box are also connected to the same bus bars as the neutral (return) lines. We really don't want any electrical device to not have a safe return path.

Cordless Phone

We finish our inspection and put the cover back on. A few minutes later my wife discovers that the phone is not working. That's weird, it was working fine a few minutes ago. What could have happened? A smart person would have realized that the boys were playing with the power and maybe they broke something. The first thing to check is that the phone is actually getting power. The cell phone modem (that the cordless phone plugs into), plugged into the same outlet as the phone, has got power, the little blue lights are all glowing happily. Tested the wall wart and it's fine. The phone must be dead. Order a replacement from Amazon for $25, be here Tuesday. Go to bed.

This morning at oh-dark-thirty my wife wakes me up to tell me that the coffee maker isn't working. Waaahhh? Go check the breaker panel and last breaker on the left bank is off. Must have hit it when we were messing about.

Verizon Wireless Home Phone

The cell modem must have a battery that enables it to keep the LED's glowing even when there is no power. Stupid modern gimcracks.

Plugged the phone back in and it's working fine.

Saturday, April 14, 2018


85-year-old swimmer set to break national, provincial records

One good thing about getting older is there is less competition in your age group for just about anything you want to attempt.

Via Iaman

Pic of the Day

Pilatus PC-12 on the ramp in Sacramento, California after a rain storm
The Pilatus is what a personal aircraft should be. Big enough to carry your entire family, all their luggage, and enough fuel to fly halfway across the country, and get there later today. But they are a little spendy.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Emergency Oxygen Mask with Smart Glasses
You'd think that with all the safety edicts there could never be a fire inside a commercial airliner, but as history demonstrates, people will find a way. Oxygen masks are standard emergency equipment on any commercial aircraft that flies over 2 or 3 miles high, but if smoke fills the cabin you won't be able to see where you are going, and if it's really bad, you won't even be able to see the instrument panel. Osterhout Design Group combined the oxygen mask with Smartglasses and cameras so pilots can breath and see where they are going even if the cabin fills with dense smoke.

This might be the first step towards eliminating windows completely, but it will probably be several generations (of people) before windowless designs become commonplace. Driverless cars are liable to be the first victims of this new cost-cutting measure. The AI system driving your car surely doesn't need any windows, and who wants to look at a grimy, decrepit urban landscape when you can be playing fantasy video games on your 8K screen in your little mechanical cocoon? Motion sickness might be a problem for some people, but we have pills for that. And if you don't agree with the new windowless policy, we have pills for that, too.

Via FlightAware
Title Song

Quote of the Day

Planck as a young man, 1878
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. - Max Planck

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Déjà Vu, Alaska

Déjà Vu, Alaska - A Flying Short Film

I was honored to attend the world premiere of Déjà Vu, Alaska at the Thursday night hangar hangout at the Hillsboro Airport. A fine film by any standards, but most especially by ours.