Notes from a session held at the Luminous Green Hands-On Workshop, 3rd of May 2007


  • following on from patrick's low power workstation discussion
  • perhaps starting from a known power source (eg. the two solar panel setups and their batteries) and trying to fit an installation within their power output envelope.
  • inconsistent power.
    • as well as dealing with low power, it is worth considering that the power source may be unreliable. what does your system do if it temporarily loses power? a dedicated system without a large operating system should be able to recover faster (no boot-up time).
    • although some dedicates systems are still slow to power-up anyway, like digital cameras.
    • the transient nature of the power could also be used as an aesthetic device.
  • a short discussion about the practicalities of programming microcontrollers. arduino, and other simplifying alternatives.
  • ideas from the group for low power installations:
    • patrick's low power general workstation
    • autonomous wireless audio/video streaming station
    • embedded dedicated video
    • dedicated, minimal implementation as an aesthetic goal
    • tiny speakers driven by solar
  • small vs clean (dedicated)
  • nano itx and xp embedded, still not very dedicated (a lot of functionality you don't need even when stripped down)
  • the second half of the session was with a much smaller group. we decided to look a little more at the challenging dedicated video idea. we decided to look at an existing implementation (a broken dvd player) for inspiration.
  • while researching the chips we saw used in the dvd player we had access to (ESS vibrato II), we found a community based around hacking an earlier version of it's board, made by a company called Sampo. it appears that earlier versions of it's ESS based dvd players used an IDE dvd-drive. IDE is the bus used in home computers for hard drives and CD-roms, making it easy to replace the dvd reader with a hard drive. it's also possible to change the firmware on the chip by playing a specially made dvd.

How to size a solar energy system

  • luminous/low_power_computing.txt
  • Last modified: 2008-05-18 21:49
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