Category Archives: Photo voltaics

Architectural Technologist – Gorilla Glass

Female Gorilla, Gorilla gorilla in SF zoo
Female Gorilla, Gorilla gorilla in SF zoo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We all know that Corning make Gorilla glass, we have all seen the excellent videos, and it’s use within the iPhone, but it cannot escape you thoughts at how good this might be in construction, the obvious limit being size, I have no idea on its limitations, but as a development in glass use, surley this has to be worth investigating, for it’s strength and flexibility.

The last time I got involved with structural Glass was on a project in Handsworth Birmingham, and there we used quite thick glass to span a large door opening as a canopy. But I can see so many improvements I could have made to the detail, had I had this technology, so I’m adding a new item to my CPD list re just “Glass”, my other blogs outline other areas I think this would fit also, the PV technology, smart homes, and shading, all I think can fit into this area, so watch my CPD records for areas I have worked or done some research.


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Architectural Technologist – Tinted Windows that Generate Electricity

Leaded window
Leaded window (Photo credit: Scays)

The headline I have use for this blog is not new, I have seen several new types of PV coating like paints and new cloths that do exactly the same, and for that matter, I have also seen glass do exactly the same, but this new venture looks a little more promising, first the backing it has, Bosch, BASF, and others,   raising 28 million euros so far. second the amount of power being generated.

Heliatek the company based in Dresden, Germany has some ambitious plans for expansion, but what interests me is the way this might be integrated into some of the new glass screens we see in the pilkington and other videos, why can’t this power such a devise, no external power or computer, the programming is etched into the glass, the screen is a small portion of the glass area, with the rest being there to provide power, perhaps with external windows helping out, can glass save power like a battery, well enough to startup, wifi would collect the net and email, video traffic,  this is an interesting development, see through glass that can collect power. The Scifi buff can see each glass window talking to you as you pass, “hurry up your blocking the light”, it puts a new meaning on the right to light planning laws.

I used a shot of a leaded window for this blog, just because it would be so easy to produce small glass panes, and wire them together via the lead strips, with one being the computer screen ! to far, I am beginning to think not. Perhaps the hot tip is by Glass, Corning’s gorilla glass must be set for such an expansion.

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Architectural Technologist – Brainstorming or Cogito

konstrukshon Ltd
konstrukshon Ltd (Photo credit: Scays)

Whilst at Dow Construction Products as the Tech man, I partook (!)  in many a brainstorming session, in the early days, ideas were stifled by a lack of understanding of the reason we were put into the room, but as time went on, we stated to open out, pulling ideas and thoughts into the room, with someone or perhaps more than one person trying to keep up with the stream of ideas.

For any company, its essential part of new product generation, but and there is always a but, to strong a dominant person in the crowd, and it is all for nothing, so many times a group has been railroaded by groups to get their own message across.

The best sessions I ever attended were open, and free of intimidation, we explored all sorts of ideas, and came away with at least one new product. The group was chaired by a guy who would not have “not invented here”, all ideas were listed, no ranking of ideas, just ideas, themes were explored and split, into what ever.

My point in all of this is that if your ever to have a brain stormingsession, it must be run by someone strong, who will not allow groups or individuals to take over, all ideas must be equal, film all of the session, and review it, post large paper hangers to the walls for sketching, have pens of all colours to hand for every one,  no pen control, write everything sketch everything. Most important have several machines linked to the net, search and review any finds.

good ideas and problems - morning session brai...
good ideas and problems - morning session brainstorming (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is this just for big corporates, hell no, I use it for myself, the techniques are almost identical, except the room is not there, I tend to do these sessions, over several days, or even weeks,  I let ideas flow, I write in my moleskin, and copy to evernote, I phone people, I email, and some days I just write, putting down thoughts, and out of it sometimes comes a path, product, concept, do I go looking for something, sometimes, but so often I just see where a thought goes. Jon Pickup and I have had sessions like this, talking about Vectorworks, presentation, drawing techniques, construction, all come out, the point is without free open mind sessions.

Running these sessions if a little different to partaking in them, I have rules,

  • no idea to be shot down
  • No pen control
  • No rank- boss control
  • All ideas are equal
I appoint several people to write notes, if it’s a small group it’s one, but for large groups I use two, maybe three, they are independent, they write what they here.
No breaks, no external influences, no separate meetings, we are there for a session, ok toilet breaks are needed, but go as you need,  and I limit the session, three hours max, but there is no mimimum, I have coffee, and usual small snacks, fuel for thoughts. Just as a note, I have some of my best ideas and thoughts whilst in the pub, alcahols is so good for freeing the mind, where do you think the name of my company “Konstrukshon” came from !, but please, in-moderation.
If the session looks to be waining, I try offering notes, thoughts that I have prepared, but if it wains I cut the session, and ask for another day, sometimes this is the only way, weather personal problems, work, they all have an impact and the smart organiser should see this, don’t flog a dead horse, regroup another day.
In one session I attended, we ranked the final sheet of ideas, I’m not keen on this, my rule is all ideas and comments are equal, I rather they be allotted a sponsor, to see if they can be expanded, but this sometimes allows ideas to be quashed, so I am so I prefer a small group  to act as a review board, I’m careful to appoint a single open minded group, that reviews the progress of these ideas, pushing the owners to develop the idea, and then and only then do we start to rank ideas, sometimes they are just not good, but until they have had chance to develop, I let them be free.
At some point, the group picks ideas to take further, and develop, the rest are not forgotten, they are just rested, added to the idea pile, tagged and noted, I use evernote here a lot. My boss in Switzerland used to have review sessions, we would look at the old list, in those days paper files, to see if anything could be picked up, technologies and methods change, and just occasionally they got a new lease of life.

Do ideas come from nothing, no, they are wisps of thoughts, passing images, chance conversations, article in magazines, so I read, I search any idea, followup, talk, note, my reading list is wide, from Dickens to Rupert Bear, to Scifi, to Startreck, to discovery channel, to the local news, I travel, not because I need ideas, but because I love travel, but it’s yet another thought generator, which is why I prefer the train, it allows thought, dreams idea.

Rupert Bear
Rupert Bear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Aeroplanes are so get me there quick, the time differences are mind killing, I need time to acclimatise.

So there it is, brainstorming, idea generation, call it what you want, I don’t care, just let me free, let me dream. If you want to try a session, contact me, we start the moment you ring. CPD is so massive here, I can’t begin to try and explain the importance of this subject, and the need to sit and think, expand the mind, generate ideas. My word for it is Cogito.

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Architectural Technologist – Vectorworks worksheet use in practice

Rendered view 1
Rendered view 1 (Photo credit: Scays)

I got a note from Jon Pickup this morning re this excellent little video of one of Jon’s contacts who has made excellent use of Vectorworks build in worksheet and database function. Take a look at the video below, it does not take to much to work out the way Bill has done it, by using a symbol with data attached, then using a worksheet, (spreadsheet ) to collate the required info. Making good use of the 2012 3D drawing to creat simple yet effective client drawings with just enough info . Excellent. Plus great use of Google earth to highlight a property, and turn it into a decent client drawing. Again it high lights the need to attend Jons lessons, but as I have had to miss so many recently it just makes me aware of what I’m missing.

I wanted to use a photo of Joh Pickup as the lead photo , but realised I have not got one, so Jon, please send, I had to use the bus stop perspective again .

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Architectural Technologist – More links and tips are now posted on Google +

Google+ wordmark
Google+ wordmark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love Google +, the way posts can ripple from small to increasingly large number of readers is quite amazing, so much so, I have started to expand my CPD onto Google plus, under my own name, +stevescaysbrook , plus some more general comments on life and things that seem to excite me. The Circles tabs allow specific people to read them, but most of my posts are public anyway.



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Architectural Technologist – Ecobuild 2012

roof slates
roof slates (Photo credit: siaronj)

What a day, a long and arduas trip to see Ecobuild, getting there was easy, walking the long hals, easy, getting home via the M25 and M40 crap. Nuff said !.

Still the exhibition more than made up for the bad travelling experience going home, an excellent exhibition. As always I made plans as to what and whome I wanted to see, and managed to fill all the boxes. I also spoke on the CU stand re my companies work with Vectorworks and the work we do under the Vantagepoint Cartographics Ltd banner, building large Arborculturist style maps of large gardens and building databases of the trees and other intems, plus the seasrching and showing any tree on the large estate.

Apart from the presentation, I managed to see some old friends on the Dow stand, catch up with one of two products I use a lot, and find some new ones that caught my eye, like always I make plans, but alway leave a little room to wander and see if anything looks new or innovative, and I’m glad to say PV was in abundance. A lot we the same old same panels, dam ugly and just not attractive. but passing one stand I was pleased to see that they have made a slate alternative that looks and fixes like a real slate for pitched roofing. Solar Slate have a simple yet effective product to use the sun without having those ugly panels. Solar Slate can be mixed with traditional slate easily, its the same thickness, but fixing is slightly different, no nailing just a clever clip arrangement. There will still be the mess of wires at the back, out of sight, but it looks like a normal slate roof and thats all that matters, apart from the fact its generating power.

Todays picture is of a traditional slate roof, I did take photos of the stand, and these will be on my flickr account some time today. CPD here is vast, and I could claim a stack load of hours, but I will limit it to just 2, being the innovation and general wandering I did, whilst I found solar Slate.


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Architectural Technologist – Can New Wind Turbine Design Triple Energy Production !

CPD Records
CPD Records (Photo credit: Scays)

This article again I saw on Google+ so many thanks to +Lauren Weinstein. I, as you all know love this kind of technology, and just can’t see a reason not to use it in domestic house designs, small but elegantly designed wind turbines might just tip the edge over together with efficient PV products and say gravity fed water mills.

There are some great ideas being generated on wind turbine technology, I have listed at least two other videos below for you to follow up on.

Todays photo is just a gentle reminder of the looming end to the CPD year, have you got your 35 hours sorted yet.


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Architectural Technologist – Daylight Saving Time

The chart plots the times of sunrise and sunse...
Image via Wikipedia

There has been some lively talk on Google+ about the need for Daylight Saving time, so I first must give thanks to +Mike Elgan who started the thread with this video (See below). You might ask what has this to do with Architectural Technology and my CPD, well again bear with me, there is a link.

Mostly the time difference for me is the pain of not knowing what time it is in say Newzeland, I use a clock on my desktop to help, but out and about I have to guess, same goes for some of the USA states I deal with, so mostly it’s business that the UK time diference really affects what I do. It’s even closer to home, France, Germany, Switzerland and Holland, ok all of Europe are in effect 1 hour in front of the UK, but twice a year this goes to two hour, due to incompatibility in the dates we set daylight saving.

I always thought, before I saw the video below that it was due to the earth being tilted and the shadow cast by the sun was not parallel to the Longitude lines but at an angle, certainly I still think this is the case between England and Europe say France, who are on the same Longitude line.

So the tenuous link to CPD is really an understanding of time and the way we muck about with it, not for one reason, but for many, and I’m fascinated that some countries just don’t bother, ok they are so near the equator that it’s just not a problem.

So as we again move to the spring time clock change in the UK, is it really necessary, I put up a comment on Mikes post that I was for it, but thinking on it for a few days, I’m not so sure, could we not leave alone for a year or two to see what happens. After all if we can’t remeber which way the clocks go and have to make up rhymes to remember like ‘Spring forward, fall back‘ it’s not realy that important.

For mor on this subject try the wiki link above or here, to read more on this there are loads of follow up links to expand this topic.

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Architectural Technologist – A threat to my data from Apple

.English: "Sketches by Boz," illustra...
Image via Wikipedia


There is a lot of column talk in the Computer press re Apples TV and it’s possile new range, plus of course the iPAd 3. Will I buy another MAC BOOK PRO, that’s not going to be for some time, my latest machine is no more than six months old.

But the way the computer corporate markets and in particular the way Apple is stopping me linking to other sites is bothering me a lot,It started with the story that surface recently about a book writter who had is ebook rejected because it contained links to amazon, who are Apple to tell me I can’t use my machine to buy what I want, just because it’s from a competitor of theirs. I am distinctly getting the feeling that I am being locked into Apple, and that Apple considers me as theirs, and it was when I realised this, that all the worries came,

I don’t want to buy a book now and only be able to read it on an apple iPad, or even worse, would be to be to find that the version of the book I have is no longer supported and I have to re purchase. I’m currently reading “Sketches by Boz” the early writings of Charles dickens, the book was printed in 1867, and is very readable, with graphics that are of equal note, could I be saying the same of an ebook of the same age, I doubt it very much. If Apple are involved then an ebook of this age would just not be there.

So what am I to do, well prepair is the answer, I will purchase electronic books, but only ones I need to be in electronic format, ie most of my technical documents, the rest, I’m returning to paper, my library of letter templates and other bits will be slowly migrated away from Apple proprietary formats to plain text, and stored not on apples iCloud but online open clouds like Dropbox.

Next, I start to look for a new machine, and the only one I can see as being free and open is Linux. It will not have the same classy looks as my Mac, but it will be powerfull. Next, will I purchase a machine from some one like Dell or build, my thoughts are I will build, I can be sure of the quality and it wil not contain any software, chips or that dial home, and that  I don’t consider as being a threat.

So first a box, then a couple of decent screens, and I work on from there. But will I just dump my Mac, hell no, I like  the way it works and the interface between the Mac and my iPad, and until Unix or Linux or Ubuntu sort out this style of interface, I will keep one fot in the Apple camp and one, with my older backups in the Unix camp.

As were on the subject of Apple, the press is all over this story of Apple iTV, but a lot just does make sense to me, why do the press think Apple will make a play into an already crowed market of Digital TV‘s, it does not make good marketing. The only way they can break into it with any volume is to use their existing foothold of the Apple TV box, use that to get other suppliers to write apps for it, in the same way iTunes works. There might be a specialist market for touch or voices commands, but some how I can’t see Apple convincing large amounts of consumers to swap their existing TV’s many of which are new because of the recent Digital change over. No for me the Apple presentation on Wednesday is going to be about the iPad 3 and the TV with be a throw in at the end, the and another thing, and it will be apps that they will promote with a new software upload to the TV box.

Will Apple ever get me back fully, well if the iPad 3 is jaw breakingly good, with a massive resolution, and can do things the past two versions can, oh and they fix the niggly little problems with iCloud, and may be, just maybe I might.stay, well Vectorworks does not work under Unix !.


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Architectural Technologist – Data and code open sourced from Google’s Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal project

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Google have released, a set of data and code to allow Heliostats to track the sun accuratly, via their Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal (RE<C) initiative. The videos below outline the project and give a demo of the technology in action.

The solar power tower is an exciting technology that works by using a field of mirrors, called heliostats, to concentrate the sun’s rays onto a solar receiver on top of a tower. This generates electricity from the sun’s concentrated heat. It’s been successfully demonstrated in the US and abroad at a small scale.Google invested $168M in the world’s largest power tower project under construction — Brightsource’s Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS). The project is set to be completed in 2013, when it will generate 392 MW of clean solar energy.

Last night I also watched the excellent Prof Brian Cox looking at using  Fussion principles in a lab, I can’t see that I like the idea of a small sun working in the basement some how, but using the sun to produce power is in my book the way ahead, ok making power by fusion might seem more sexy to a physicist. but the sun wacks out a lot more than heat.

Google is pushing it’s weight quietly along this Heliostat route and getting some serious results, but best of all, they are open sourcing the software and the data.. Scale it down to allow small estates to use it, and put some decent design into the tower, suddenly it begins to make sense.

CPD may not be obvious, but as a base for some serious research into the next generation power source, you can’t go to far wrong with this.

Further reading on Heliostats can be found at the Heliotrack site, the ever useful Wiki articles and their links, Practical Solar also has some usful comments, and links, look at their technology page, and how it works. Bomin Solar show how this technology can be extended to just simply extending light to areas not usualy soaked in sun, also think of locating PV panels into shaded areas and lighting them with a Heliostat and this collection of pictures is a good review of shapes, styles and methods. I wanted to see if I could down scale the Google technology to a more single dwelling or DIY level, and found this excellent site.

Is this realy a new technology, think again, I can just about remember microscopes having a simple Helioscope to light the sample.

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