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Dwelling in the future where homes will be intelligent

July 31, 2006

Dwelling in the future where homes will be intelligent

In the near future, homes will not be passive dwelling places. They will understand the needs of those who have made it the hub of their lives. Lighting and music systems will respond to the mood of the owner with a touch on a screen. Televisons and lavatory seats will obey voice commands over networks. In sum, homes will be intelligent. And as devices get more numerous, the number of controllers will get smaller. This convergence of technology will one day lead to a single device to control all those technological marvels that will become the common furniture of the future. This digital home is not as far away as you may think.

Philips wireless audio system

Owning the Wireless Audio System is a bit like owning your own radio station. The system can stream audio from the internet or your private music collection to five wireless music stations placed anywhere in your house. So, different members of the family can listen to whatever music they like simultaneously in their own rooms, all streamed from the WAC S700. The system can store 1,500 audio CDs and supports various audio formats such as MP3 and Windows Media Audio.

X10 Home-Automation Devices

If your idea of home automation is clapping to turn the lights off, you may be interested in a new device whose modular approach to controlling lights and appliances is only slightly more complex than playing computer solitaire. The starter kit from X10 can use either radio frequencies or the normal home wiring to link a small transceiver control box to a series of modules, each about the size of a bar of soap. The modules are plugged into the home’s electrical outlets. Lamps and appliances to be controlled are plugged into the modules, said Jeff Denenholz, a spokesman for X10. To enter lighting and appliance settings, the control box is attached by USB to a home computer. By using multiple modules (additional ones cost $10 to $13 a piece), users can create sophisticated applications like automatically illuminating a path to the kitchen at night, Denenholz said. The PC-based software can control up to 256 lighting and appliance modules. Entire story

X10 Switches Blow-Out Sale. Limited Time Only!

With Electricity, Travelers’ Knowledge is Power

July 30, 2006

With electricity, travelers’ knowledge is power


If you have ever traveled overseas, you already know that electricity is not served the same way everywhere. Whether you’re packing a travel iron, a computer, or an iPod, you must be aware that the type of current, voltage levels, and wall plugs vary dramatically in different places. This can be frustrating, costly, even dangerous for the unprepared.

Current is delivered at either 100 to 120 volts (in 39 countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, and most other nations in Central and South America and islands in the Caribbean) or at 220 to 240 volts (in 139 countries, including most of Europe, Asia, and Africa). Exceptions to these general rules are numerous, and in some countries the electrical service varies: 110 in some areas, 220 in others.

Running an electrical device designed for 110 volts on 220-volt current will make it work twice as fast or hot, and will likely fry the circuitry. Operating a device on a lower voltage than specified won’t produce the desired result, either.

Voltage is not the only issue. Alternating current (AC) is the operating standard in most places, but large swaths of Argentina, Brazil, India, and South Africa use direct current (DC), as do many ships. Even the AC standards vary. In the United States, the AC current alternates 60 times a second, but in many places, it cycles just 50 times a second. The difference probably won’t harm an appliance, although devices that depend on the electric cycle for their timing will run slow. Entire story

Power Line Kills Tree Trimmer

July 29, 2006

Power line kills tree trimmer

Limb touches wire, electrocuting man instantly

By Gordon Wilczynski

A 35-year-old Warren man who owned EMK Tree Removal Service of Oak Park, was electrocuted on Friday when a tree limb he had just cut came in contact with an electrical power line and the limb hit him in the chest.

Mike Bronikowski was killed instantly when 7,600 volts of electricity was charged through his body, police said. The accident occurred at 11:15 a.m. in a back yard in the 35000 block on Hatherly Place in Sterling Heights.

Mike Carter, a co-worker who was underneath the tree when his boss was electrocuted, said he tried to get Bronikowski down from the tree but couldn’t.

“He was just sitting there clinging onto the tree,” said Carter, who was hired by Bronikowski just three weeks ago. “There was nothing I could do.” Entire story

Fluke Updates Electrical Measurement Safety Education video With latest NFPA 70E Information

July 29, 2006

Fluke Updates Electrical Measurement Safety Education video With latest NFPA 70E Information

Everett, WA – Fluke Corporation announced an updated version of its Electrical Measurement Safety interactive video aimed at reducing hazards for people measuring electrical circuits, and helping reduce risk and liability for employers.

Electrical safety compliance training violations were #7 (electrical wiring) and #10 (Electrical, General Requirements) on the 2005 Top 10 List of most frequently cited standards published by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA regulations include a six-point plan to minimize potential arc flash danger for personnel that addresses issues such as requirements for safety programs, training and use of appropriate tools for safe working conditions.

Fluke’s Electrical Measurement Safety video has been revised to incorporate the most recent guidelines from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70E standard for electrical safety in the workplace, which specifically addresses arc flash hazards. Entire story

Powering Up, One Step at a Time

July 28, 2006

Powering Up, One Step at a Time

By Eliza Barclay

British engineers are converting street vibrations into electricity and predict a working prototype by Christmas capable of powering facility lights in the busiest areas of a city.

“We can harvest between 5 to 7 watts of energy per footstep that is currently being wasted into the ground,” says Claire Price, director of The Facility Architects, the British firm heading up the Pacesetters Project. “And a passing train can generate very useful energy to run signaling or to power lights.”

Like solar and wind proponents, vibration harvesters argue that abundant, clean energy is all around us and goes to waste. The challenge is how to store the power efficiently so it provides a continual output even if the vibrations from footsteps or passing trains temporarily taper off.

Price has charged Jim Gilbert, an engineering lecturer at the University of Hull, with developing the prototype system for capturing footfall. Gilbert is working with hydraulic-powered heel-strike generators, which he believes could be installed in the floors of busy public places like subway stations. Those stations typically capture the footfall of 20,000 commuters an hour during peak usage — multiplied by 5 to 7 watts a person, that’s more than enough to power a building’s lights for the day. Entire story

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