Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it – no matter if I have said it! – except it agree with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Siddhartha Gautama, a.k.a. the Buddha

Let’s re-invent the wheel!

Here comes another rant from Dio, so, if’n ya aren’t inclined to read a rant, pass on by.

First up, this rant is inspired by some research along wind turbines,DIYer’s,  and edumicated blowhards. (Don’t get me wrong, education is everything to me, but I also think it needs tempered with real world, grunge and gunk under your fingernails experience. ) 

So, there are several schools of thought about DIY wind turbines, ya have the VAWT vs HAWT school, then ya have minimal blades vs porcupine blades (my description of some of the wilder blade/hub setups) and then you have the wider is better vs the small and fast crowd. And none of this is even reaching into the pro scene where, if you ask them,’small turbines just do not work! ‘End of discussion.  (I personally think that last is due to career protection;  if everyone were energy independent, they would be out of a cushy job that hauls in huge govt subsidies. Jes saying.)

Only one answer in all of the forums I have been hitting nailed the head of the problem. (Pardon me for not linking it, I can’t find it now) To paraphrase :”it’s a balancing act on a flexible medium.  We are trying to find the best combination that works under the conditions ,here and now, that change from season to season.”

BAM!!!!

You may have a good unit, that does reasonable during the spring, sucks feathers in the summer, starts easing your mind in the fall and blows your wildest dreams in the winter.

Or not.

It may be a great generator but weak blade setup.  It may be environmental. (Actually,  most likely ). Or it may be tower height, too long of a cable run, pitch of blades not adequate /overkill, etc etc.  The only constant in this case is that power is a cube of winds speed and speed is what makes the flying quisinarts produce juice. 

Why does every td&h feel the need to re-invent the wheel?

Profit of course.  But I won’t dwell on that game too much, even though I have an argument against reinvention for personal gain.  To clarify that last; It’s one thing if you break tradition and find a better way, quite another to just “improve the same old same old” in claims, but have added NOTHING to the pool.

This is gonna take a slight turn here. I recall a recent story about the same idea (wheel reinventing ) as happened to the navy.  They wanted new computers to replace the targeting computers on the old battleships.  If you aren’t familiar with them, they are a marvel of engineering. Almost entirely mechanical with old style analog electronics (they originally used tubes!), these things could put a round the weight of an old VW Bug, 26 miles over the horizon into a target of about 10 square feet, and do it from a platform rolling around in waves. And then do it again just as fast as the boys could shove rounds in the tube.

Well, the navy brass thought that our current technology could improve on it, so set a budget to do just that.

FAIL. They could get it part way, but from what I understood from the article, they just could not get the accuracy or the reliability,  more the latter then the prior. 

And here’s the real shitter! The engineers that came up with the original “computer” used 

SLIDE-RULES!!!!!

Talk about a kick in the teeth for the redesign engineers.  One was quoted in the article saying,’I am just so impressed what those guys did using engines, torque converters and differential gearing. Just amazing.” And they didn’t have high speed computers accurate to the nth decimal place. Nor CAD , CNC, or any of the other things we have come to take for granted. 

Again, our tools are great, and can do some amazing things (12nm switching for example; molecular electronics with atom sized or even quantum being the next step) but they are just tools.  Even at the grunt levels, we are exceeding our level of understanding with tools that are capable of such high levels of precision.   The guys that  built the computers for those ships were doing it using the tools available, but with an understanding of the principles that makes even our best thinkers look foolish. The tools they had were ingenious in their own rights.  Look ,seriously look, 

at a slide rule and you will see just how complex the guys were of that time. (And those slide rules helped put a man on the moon, far more so than the computers at the time.) Look at a Southbend lathe or atlas mill, made before 1940 and tell me that we produce as well, now. And most of the parts of those machines were hand fitted!  Scraping of the ways, bearings, and some other parts, all done by hand.  Hell, the bearings on my 1929 Southbend are original and in better shape than the bearings in my lawn mower!  And yes, I know we can produce as good or better,  but I think there is a disconnect between what we make now  vs what they made then, and it is in the very creation itself.

But we have to reinvent the wheel every generation or two, or so it seems.  I think it’s the inbred hubris of being human: We can’t casually accept that we stand on the shoulders of giants.  It’s seems that as one gets older, that acceptance gets easier,  but, I could be wrong. (And of course there is the whole individual personality thing that gets thrown in play for such)  

Like I started out saying,  I have some issues with reinvention. It’s not always such a great idea, but, on the same coin, different side, if we don’t try, we don’t progress. This is a troubling issue for me because some of my feelings on it border socialist thinking;IE sacrificing for the greater good, and that makes me just a little shy of broaching these thoughts. I use Tesla as such an example : the man was a genius,  and recent revelations into his doings showed that he was far beyond those around him in his thinking.  His work lives with us to this day, and you see it everyday when out and about.  Our entire electric grid infrastructure is from that man’s head. It’s been 100+years and we have not really improved on it.  Some minor stuff, more efficient production, transfer, and even expansion into nuclear and alternative renewables, but no real improvements that change the scope of his idea.

But the man died destitute, while Edison, who fought him tooth and nail, ended up wealthy as hell.  There are even some parts of the Tesla world named after Edison, other than the incandescent lights.  We used the term ‘edison’ for all of our standard wall plugs in the entertainment industry. It really made a difference to keep all the different plugs and jacks separate from one another in directions. And even if Edison derided everything Tesla did, Tesla still had a lasting impact, and both are equally famous in their own rights.

As I write this, I am also evaluating myself.  I reflect alot, so if you are new here, get used to it.  I really feel that my education was circumvented in many ways.  I read Heinlein and how his ‘kids books’ have one residing theme, the kids understood maths, science, and we’re growing into understanding PEOPLE.  Our current education system is a reinvention of the wheel so to speak,  and tries to teach kids how to be people, first.  They have all of their lives to be good people, but they have a very finite time to understand the world  at large that takes up so much more space than the people around them. And those wonderful tools of math, science, logic, and communication should be paramount to any “feels”. And to reinforce that thought, they have the advantage in learning to be people, because they already ARE people, but most of them won’t have any more than an intuitive grasp of what makes the world work, or the universe, or ,,, And many won’t even have that.

I’m back on my soapbox again, eh.  Yeah,  me thinks it’s time to emulate the Voo and call it a night.   Y’all take care, ‘k?

(Oh yeah, would some one PLEEEAAAAASSSSEEEEE comment on something.  It been way too silent around the ol workshop of late.)

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4 responses

  1. Spud

    I come from the school of thought that original thinking is a rare animal. Most new things are just old idea’s in a new package.
    Likely smaller and inferior to the old stuff too.

    Fear not old buddy, I’m out here lurking and waiting for more words of wisdom and high adventure.
    Been out scouting and doing some bow hunting here lately….going back out in the AM 🙂

    September 19, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    • Beware Bambi! The mighty potato is ‘rooting’ for your lifeblood. LOL

      Yeah, I have to agree about the inferior aspects. I think as our dependency on smaller faster electronics grows, we get that much close to an epic fail.
      Time will tell.

      September 19, 2016 at 12:24 pm

  2. Danny Rowe

    I am out here lurking also, enjoy all you write. Wish more people were paying attention, but that is how it is. Keep it up Brother, You are giving good value for the oxygen you use, (LOL)

    September 26, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    • Thanks for commenting Dan, I sometimes wonder if it’s the Dio n Spud show, lmao.
      Completely agree with that wish that more were paying attention: I work with a bunch of Mushrooms so feel quite alone at times. (Mushroom: a person in the dark and feeding their brain with a bunch of crap.)

      September 26, 2016 at 6:44 pm

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