Back in March 2013 the team of eight Girl Scouts of Hawaii sent a Microlab consisting of a self contain vessel with 8 arugula seeds, potting soil, lighting, water, camera and timing electronics to the International Space Station (ISS). The Microlab was sent to the ISS onboard the Space X Falcon 9 rocket on a supply delivery.
After 30 day aboard the ISS and making the land journey back to Hawaii, the team took apart their Microlab to see if they were successful at germinating the arugula seeds. Of the eight seeds one did sprout a root about .5 inches long. Several of the seeds did not germinate but with the one, it was considered a success.
The design of the Microlab consisted of a light source and water dispenser controlled by a timed valve. The water sack needed to be under constant pressure in order to dispense properly. The team devised a pressure system using rubber bands. I was impressed with their ingenuity and attention to space and costs. I told them this was right from MacGyver and they all looked at me with the question, Who’s MacGyver?
The team spent the better part of 6 months preparing for the launch. All from Hawaii high schools, the girls came from Iolani, Mililani, Nanakuli, Punahou and Sacred Hearts Academy. They designed the experiment, tested various seed options, constructed the seed container and programmed electronics for environmental control. Gail Hannemann, Executive Director of the Girl Scouts of Hawaii, considered this such a great learning experience she plans to enter another team on the next “Design It, Build It, Launch It” mission to the ISS.
The Hokule`a and companion ship Hikianalia set sail on Wednesday, May 29, 2013 on the World Wide Voyage which will take 4 years and go around the world. The pair of canoes will travel a total of 47,000 miles, visit 26 countries and enter 85 ports. On their first leg of the journey and for the next 12 months, both vessels will travel around Hawaii.
The vision for the World Wide Voyage is to Malama Honua, or Care for the Earth. The crew and vessel will carry this message on their journey, “to become a catalyst for positive change in Hawaii by constantly learning from and nurturing relationships worldwide that share the values of and responsibility for, caring for island Earth, her oceans and children, while honoring our heritage and perpetuating our culture. ”
Although we may not be on the canoes master navigator Nainoa Thompson talked about us (the public) as being the ”third canoe” able to share in the World Wide Voyage. The Hikianalia is equipped with all the technology to transmit ship to ship via wifi and from ship to shore with 4g. Further out, beyond the reach of land based communications, the vessels will communicate via satellite. The primary sites to stay in contact with Hokule`a and Hikianalia are:
The annual gathering of geeks including coders, ham radio operators, astronomers, inventors, cosplayers, medieval martial arts, train operators, and Google Ingress players at Ala Moana Beach Park – Magic Island, April 21, 2013.
I’ve been negligent in my posts here but I have an excuse. I’ve been following the Open Data bill (HB632) through the Legislature and blogging about at Hawaii Open Data. If you are interested in the journey a bill takes you will find my posts here:
Catching up on some belated posts, I especially wanted to bring attention to this event brought to us by the Rotary International. The keynote speech was by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Among many other awards, she also won the highest civilian honor in the U.S., the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She is an amazing woman and I was fortunate to have the chance to hear her speech. The keynote was finally put online and it is well worth watching. There are many quotable moments but one that stood out for me was the following:
Compromise requires courage because compromise means letting go of your vanity. A lot of people do not compromise because they think it is a sign of weakness. Compromise is a sign of strength… Compassion allows you to recognize that other people’s needs are as valid as your own.
We all need to find ways to work towards peace and compassion is a great place to start. The challenge is taking the words and turning them into action. We each need to find our own way. Ryan Ozawa and I had the honor and opportunity to share our thoughts on technology and peace at the Peace Forum earlier that day. I decided to share a meditation practice of mine in the hopes that others could find a way to discovery their own form of practice. It’s finding out what resonates with you and turning that into action. You can find my presentation here.
You have to learn to be at peace with yourself. To be at peace with yourself you have to face your weaknesses and you have to have enough compassion for yourself not to condemn yourself for these weaknesses. You have the courage to work at your weaknesses, to try to change yourself. Peace requires change and change requires a lot of hard work. And hard work requires commitment and courage.
As I look back at 2012 I can honestly say it was a good year. The year of the Dragon was a dynamic year with lots of changes going on all around. It was the confluence of many events that came together in 2012 and will set the course for 2013. Here are some of the memorable moments of my 2012, in somewhat chronological order:
1. The first Civic Hackathon resulting from CityCampHNL was held in conjunction with the City and County of Honolulu.
2. Unconferenz 2012 was memorable not only because of the topics and attendance (Tim O’Reilly, Jen Pahlka, Kirk Caldwell, Kym Pine, etc.) but it also debuted Code for America to the Honolulu community.
3. Geeks on DaBus was the culmination of an idea that sprung from CityCampHNL and the Civic Hackathon. We used DaBus app and converged on Kaka`ako to talk transportation with Mayor Carlisle and folks from TheBus.
4. Transparency Camp and the folks from Sunlight Foundation. I never thought Washington D.C. could be so much fun.
5. Getting the chance to visit a floating hospital on the high seas is always a memorable event. Here is a helicopter landing on the USNS Mercy in the waters off O`ahu.
6. Visiting Midway Atoll for the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Midway was incredible not only for its historical significance but for the experience of seeing thewildlife reclaiming the island.
7. This large golf ball shaped radar has become a regular feature in the Pearl Harbor view plane. Few get to visit and tour the insides of the SBX.
8. Have you ever felt like you are part of a bigger movement? I felt that way when attending the Code for America Summit. Open Government and Open Data is making great strides thanks to the efforts of CfA.
9. Visiting South Korea was an awesome experience. I have a much deeper appreciation for Korean culture and people. It is a place I will return to soon.
10. We capped the year of Open Data with a demo day called Hon*Celerator. It was a code contest of applications built around data from data.honolulu.gov and data.hawaii.gov. This is just the beginning…
I love these screens on the Chevy Volt’s dashboard. This one shows the ratio of electric miles verses gas miles between charges. These are helpful as you hone your driving patterns to get the most efficient mix of electric and gas powered driving. As gas prices go up, obviously you want to fuel up at charging stations. If you are plugging in at home it’s best to be equipped with a PV system or else you will be refueling with expensive HECO gas generated electricity.
I was impressed with the overall performance of the Volt. I can’t compare it to other EVs but relative to my Acura TSX, the Volt had pretty good pick up. Something I did not expect from an electric car. As far as the ride goes, the Volt was not as smooth as my TSX. Let’s face it, I am spoiled.
One of the things you need to consider is whether you are dependent on the air conditioner. In the summer the AC is a must, especially in afternoon rush hour traffic. Keep in mind this will sap your electric charge. The AC will in consume 16% of the power from the battery. With the AC off the climate electrical consumption was 3%. I drove the car around with the AC off most of the time.
For recharging, one of the dashboard screens gives you an estimate of how long it will take to charge up from a 120V vs. 240V outlet. Generally speaking if you plug it in at home you will need about 8-10 hours to fully recharge. A full charge was taking about 4 hours from the Better Place charging station at Topa Tower.
Overall it was a fun experience driving the Chevy Volt. I must thank Chris Colquitt from GM and especially Shauna Goya from Comm Pac for allowing me to park at Topa Tower, easily accessing the charging station. That made all the difference. An electric vehicle is definitely in my future. It will just depend on price point and relative ease of recharging. Now I know what to expect.
Driving around town during Thanksgiving will easily take you beyond the 44 mile range of the Volt’s battery pack. When driving an electric car the first thing you will notice is how quiet it is. There is no revving of the engine and the car moves as silent as the wind. So I was curious what it would sound like once the engine kicked in.
Let me tell you, it was pretty uneventful going from battery to gas generator. I would not have noticed had it not been for the change in the power flow graphic. As soon as the gas generator engages, the engine appears in the graphic. Up until then it was just the graphic of the battery.
In the Volt, the gas generator is not an engine per se. It is not connected to the transmission. Instead the gas generator is used to generate electricity to move the car. It does not fully recharge the battery although I did notice a small charge in the battery when idling. The gas generator works in tandem with the battery and in this mode gas efficiency seems better than a purely gas powered car.
Once I pulled into the garage, I did notice the gas generator running. It made me think about the next time I would be able to charge up the battery to save my gas.
There are obvious driving patterns that conserve battery power. I noticed when driving around town, where there is a lot of braking and accelerating the battery will deplete faster than when you are on the freeway. Another observation is that the battery us used less if you are going downhill. But if you are doing round trips like be back and forth to town, then going downhill one way will result in going uphill on the return trip. It evens out in the end.
I did notice that if you could minimize rapid acceleration and braking, battery power is preserved. At the end of the day, the Volt used more battery miles from town to Pearl City and less from Pearl City to town. This due to the downhill effect going from Pearl City to town.
Much of the car’s battery performance is visible real time. The Chevy Volt has a power flow screen that is addictive to watch. It shows when the battery is feeding the transmission and when it is getting a regenerative buffer. Unlike the Toyota Prius, the Chevy Volt does not recharge the battery. Regenerative buffer is just a small charge flowing back into the battery.
The main thought that crossed my mind was to come up with a plan to get recharged each day. When Chris Colquitt (GM) gave me the overview yesterday, we were in the parking garage of Topa Tower. The building conveniently provides 4 stalls with EV charging stations from Better Place. The good thing is that Better Place is providing free charging until the end of December 2012. The bad thing was only 2 EV stations were working.
To hedge my bets I left home early and claimed a stall at 6am in the morning. I usually go for a run first thing in the morning but I did not want to take a chance that the two working stalls would be occupied. Lucky I did that since stall 3 & 4 were still out of order. I went for my run after parking at Topa Tower.
Lesson of the day, you become very conscious of the battery charge. Fully charged you get 44 miles. As soon as you go beyond 44 miles the gas generator kicks in. Psychologically the system makes you want to minimize the use of gasoline as much as possible. It’s as if that tank is held as a precious reserve.
When I picked up the Chevy Volt at the end of the day it appeared the Better Place stalls 3&4 were repaired and operational. The BP promotion is a timely one and if you can take advantage of it, you should. To find EV charging stations near you, including the BP ones you go to this site built by local app developers, Mavens LLC.