Friday, 24 June 2011

Lost Energy Chart and Language Issues

All right, so Frank seems to be excessively focused on energy conversion and efficiency. Now he's trying to find some chart he used to have. Apparently, it shows six or seven different types of energy and arrows linking them showing how each can be converted to another form. The problem is that he can't find it. If anyone out there can find such a chart, he'd really appreciate it.

In other news, Tom is still working with the natives to work out language issues. It seems the natives pick up English easier than Tom has been able to get a grip on their language, so in our next big foray into the unknown, we'll need to bring along some kind of expert linguist or at least a logophile. If there were some military use, I'm certain we could get the government involved.

Looking forward to some excitement next week.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Types of energy and conversions

So, in discussing the different ways to generate electricity, Frank diverged onto the topic of energy itself. I already knew about most of the energy types, but in spite of that, Frank insisted on defining each type of energy as he listed them off: thermal is heat, chemical is...well...chemistry, electrical is what we were talking about trying to generate last week, radiant energy he says is EM radiation, nuclear is known as atomic power, magnetic is obvious, right? Elastic is like a rubber band stretched out, sound is energy that you can hear, mechanical is something moving, and luminous energy is visible (in other words you can see it).

If you'll remember, we can convert almost all of those different types directly into electrical energy, but some require an intermediate step, such as converting sound into mechanical energy first, then using that to move a conductor through a magnetic field to make electricity. If we go the other way around, we can make electricity go through a wire, which will make a magnetic field that can move a speaker cone and make sound. Most of the conversions from one form of energy can be reversed fairly easily with little loss. Of course, some loss is to be expected. After all we can't fight the constant loss of energy: entropy.

Most of what Frank says certainly sounds true, but some of it I just accept without comment. I guess it's a case of credo quia absurdum est. (If you don't know what that means, go look it up!)

Keep studying until we talk next week. See ya!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Power supplies, AC or DC?

I mentioned a problem with the power supply last week, and ever since then Frank has been pontificating on the various methods of electrical generation. According to Frank, there are seven different ways to do it. The problem is, the only one that's practical creates AC power, but we really need DC.

The typical method of creating electrical power involves moving a conductor through a magnetic field, called electromagnetic induction. That's how we get all our power for household use.

The other methods all make DC power and involve converting other forms of energy to electrical. Physically pulling electrons from atoms creates static electricity (like a Van de Graaff generator). Using chemicals is called electrochemistry (as in a battery). When light is changed to electricity it's known as photoelectric power (think solar power). Using heat is thermoelectric (used in electronic thermometers). Putting certain solids under stress is makes piezoelectric power (used in a scale). But the best one of all uses a radioactive source to produce loose electrons: betavoltaic power (but promethium can produce x-rays!)

The big problem is that all the DC power generators create such low voltages or currents that they aren't practical. We're still working on it.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Power supply issues and Technology that isn't available

We are still having a few problems with the Door. Apparently, the traditional power supplied on the grid isn't quite right. In spite of the fact that Frank has been filtering it through his bank of capacitors, the AC signal really isn't working very well, and it's causing degradation in the electrolyte (at least that what Frank said). It seems that the best power for the equipment would be flat DC (see the top graph in the picture), but that would take a whole pile of batteries. AC power is much easier to produce and transmit, so despite Edison's efforts to promote DC, we are a nation, no a world, of Alternating Currents.

Yes, there are methods to convert AC to DC, but both half-wave (see middle graph in the picture) and full-wave (bottom graph) have bumps. In other words, they still aren't flat. Even adding a few filter caps to the output only gets close. It still has wigglies. The best bet would still be to run the equipment directly from a full DCsource such as a battery, but as that's not feasible, we're just going to keep on with what we have.

There was this rather useful circuit that Frank came across when he was trying to reverse engineer the equipment, but he's been unable to reproduce it (mostly due to the language barrier). He says that it must have been a Unimolecular Rectifier. Unfortunately, the technology available to folks these days isn't fully functional, so all we can do is work with what we have. (He has been pretty good at re-building stuff just by analysing the equipment, in spite of the objections, and this stumbling block really irks him.)

If anyone knows of a better DC source, please let us know, and I'll report on it next week.