Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Discussion of LED Lights pt 3

Some Explanations and Clarifications

Item paying for itself.
At times I refer to a light paying for itself. I will admit to being quite a tightwad, and with this statement I am comparing the light either to getting a free standard flashlight, for which I would have to pay for batteries or in the case of electric lights, comparing to getting low cost standard bulbs at my local grocery store.

LED's in battery powered items vs electric items.
In time, LED's may be economical to use as household lights, but currently that is not really the case. They are still pretty much novelties, where the cost of the LED light will only barely be covered by the combined cost of replacing regular light bulbs cost of electricity saved.

In battery powered lights, on the other hand, LED's are well worth the small investment they require, and I suspect soon they will be on every hardware and department store shelf. In battery powered lights there is a twofold gain in economics. First, batteries cost more (by several orders of magnitude) for the electricity you get, and second, LED's used with batteries don't require a power supply to convert the relatively high voltage found in your walls to the couple of volts used by the LED's. (I will talk later about the failure of one of those power supplies)

In the gray area in between commercial electric costs and single use batteries are UPS power supplies and generators. Typically these sources of electricity seem to me to be about one order of magnitude more expensive than commercial electric power (I have studied generators and rechargable batteries, but not in depth).

Economists are already starting to talk about converting to LED's. If your favorite economist or home improvement expert isn't talking about them yet, check these references from Clark Howard.
clarkhoward shownotes 2006/11/23
3rd story is "LED lighting makes a spark"

and an older reference from his archives
clarkhoward.com shownotes-category 4/100/142
look at the Jan 12, 2004 story at the bottom of the page

What I would love to see is a discussion on having a secondary set of wires installed in homes to carry, maybe 4 volts, for LED lighting.

One last note:
Ideal low battery indicators.
I mentioned that my 5-LED headlamp would be better if it had a low battery indicator. Two problems I have seen with low battery indicators are they are either too subtle, or they take some energy to run - defeating a large part of the economy of the device. I would love to see a device like this designed so a couple of the LED's would quit when the batteries are down to about 20% charge left.

I expect to do maybe two more articles in this series on LED's - and maybe include discussion of compact fluorescent lights. I welcome any discussion, especially if you have any experience with household LED lighting or UPS or generators.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Discussion of LED lights pt 2

My best and worst buys in LED lights have had more to do with my needs than with the products. Most of the items I have bought have been fairly good quality and did about what they said they would do. Therefore I will just list the items I have and their pro's and con's.

LED modification for Maglight.
I found a modification for a regular Maglight - the kind that takes 2 AA batteries. It is basically a replacement for the bulb and reflector and has 3 LED's The only drawback I can see is that it has no focusing. You get a semi floodlight effect. You can still take the top off, use it for the base and have the effect of an electric candle. On the plus side, it gives twice the light and about 3 times the battery life. I paid about $8 for it, meaning it will pay for itself in the time it normally takes to go thru 10 or 12 pairs of batteries. (Unfortunately, I don't use a maglight that much.)

LED headlamp from All Electronics.
Since a large part of my job involves working outside either just before dawn or just after nightfall, what I use the most is a headlamp. Using a headlamp means I can use both hands and the light just goes wherever I look. The one I currently use is the HL-1 from All Electronics. It is a fairly cheap one that runs on 3 AAA batteries, and has 5 LED's. It is very lightweight and runs for hours on a set of batteries. No moving parts except the switch and latch on the battery compartment. So far it has survived a few months where I work - and that is fairly impressive. One slight beef is that the light output drops off so slowly that I am straining before I realize what the problem is. Also the switch has 3 positions - one makes it a flasher. Don't need that, and I keep threatening to put a drop of glue in the switch path so it won't go there. I Haven't tested it in a downpour, and I don't expect it to be waterproof. It just doesn't have any seals. If it didn't have the flash, was waterproof, with a bit heavier latch and had a low battery indicator it would be perfect (for fair weather).

LED headlamp from Ray-O-Vac
(Available at many department stores and hardware stores).
I just purchased a similar headlamp from Ray-O-Vac. This one seems to be more watertight, and has a healthier body - including the switch. I also expect it to be more watertight than the cheaper one above. The switch has three on positions and off. First is two red LED's, then one white one, and finally a lamp like the one on a Mag Light. I haven't used it enough to comment too much, except that I think it should have one red LED and two white ones. There isn't much difference between the red and white settings except the color. The cost is about $13 dollars, so it will be a while before it pays for itself.

Also from All Electronics - 14 LED flashlight.
Costing about $11, this flashlight uses 3 AAA batteries and produces about the same light as the old 4 D battery flashlights of several years ago. The light isn't focused, so it doesn't have the "reach" of a 4 battery flashlight, but for most tasks it is more than sufficient. Eventually the savings in batteries will pay for it, but the biggest savings for me is the size and weight. At about 4 or 5 ounces, and about as big as two D batteries (without the flashlight) this frees up a lot of room in a tool box or backpack. It is marginally waterproof (has threaded collars and rubber o-rings), so a single rainstorm shouldn't cause trouble - but was not meant for that and after a thorough soaking you would probably find some water in it. I have been using this light for a couple months and it seems reliable. I dropped it once and it got flaky. A check inside revealed a bent spring, which I straightened and it is as good as new.

I will try to write more about these and others in the weeks to come.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Johnnie Bryant Hunt died yesterday

He was an industry giant (trucking), a Christian, and philanthopist.

todaysthv.com _ More than business

truckdriving jobs jbhunt _ Johnnie Bryant Hunt.htm

todaystrucking _ Trucking Icon JB Hunt

I suggest, in his memory, give to charity.

If you can't think of anything else, there are
thousands of Salvation Army kettles,
and they have food banks in almost every town.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Discussion of LED lights pt 1

Over the past year I have bought about a half dozen LED lights of various types. Flashlightss, "head"lamps, a lantern, and a reading light. Most I am very satisfied with, as they are more efficient than fluorescent and supposed to have a longer life expectancy.

The longer life is key to their economy in most cases because of the cost of the items themselves. In most cases, LED based lights will cost 2 or 3 times as much as their counterparts. While this initial cost is getting better, there is a long ways to go before LED's will become "mainstream."

In cases where the lights are powered by batteries, the LED's are making fast inroads, and all but one of my purchases have been battery powered items.

It should be noted that none of the LED lights I have bought are considered "cutting edge," even though some of them have only been around for 2 or 3 years. (LED's of fairly high intensity have been around for several years, but only recently came down to a price people were willing to pay.) There has been new generation of superbright LED's coming out over the past several months, but I have only gotten one recently.

Out of all of the LED lights I have bought, only one has failed, and that wasn't the LED assembly - but its internal power supply.

In future articles I will discuss the individual items I have tested, their good points and bad points.


Thursday, November 30, 2006

Nov End of month round up

What a month.



My wife's daughters both took time off from work to visit us, but could not make it both on the same week, so the month was filled with mini-reunions. On a much sadder note, our dog Rufus, got sick (actually he had been sick for many months - and just took a turn for the worse) and about two days ago he died. He was a good friend and companion to my wife and I, and will be sorely missed.

Because of the family reunions, I doubt December can be any better, but here is hoping it will be quieter.


UPDATE: I have begun removing material from this site that has nothing to do with the central theme and nothing to do with where this site is going, or that just adds nothing to the central theme.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

border fence - know thy enemies

The border fence may never come to pass (see previous article it has become enough of a political item to gather some heat. And to show us who our enemies are.

Contra Costa Times

Washington Post

Houston Chronicle

Star Telegram


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Islam - a re-print

The following is a "re-print" of an article I wrote in March 2004, for a private newsletter.

========== Artical Reprint ==========

I spent an extra few weeks researching this article to insure I did not fall victim to lies - as I did many years ago when, at the request of Saudi Arabia, the Air Force lied to me about the nature of Islam.

The prophet said "there is only one Islam" (see note1)

This is patently untrue. In fact, I have been able to discern at least 3 main political/regional streams of the religion called Islam, in addition to the two main religious streams. The two religious streams are Shiite and Sunni.

The three regional streams are Arabian, Western and Nation of Islam.

First, the two religious streams:

Shiite and Sunni variations of Islam have been likened to the Catholic and Protestant varieties of Christianity. Shiite, generally found only in Iran, Iraq, and some nearby areas is in the minority on a world scale. Shiite's have central religious figures, whom they believe are the direct descendants of Mohammed, and matters of interpretation are left to those leaders.

Now, for Arabian vs Western Islam:

Arabian Islam is different from Western Islam in some important ways, and Nation of Islam is not even considered Islam by the others. (It is mainly a counter culture attempting to prevent integration of blacks into mainstream American culture, no matter what its leader currently says)

By its nature, Arabian Islam is more fundamentalist and is oriented towards theocracy. It holds the core beliefs that all people should be bound by its laws and that the religious law should be the law of the land.

Western Muslims while mildly evangelical, believe their faith is of a personal nature, and are more liberal in their view of society as a whole. Many tend to believe the view of jihad as a personal struggle to overcome their self and surrender to Allah.

And now, about the lies:

Since Arabian Islam believes all people should be bound by its laws, they are naturally "at war" with western culture, and in a war, deception is a routine tool. While I was in the AF, I was given a briefing about the nature of the islamic religion. As best I can tell, it was written by Arabian consultants, to make it easier to send us over to their country. And quite a bit of it was lies.

Another standard lie from the Arab world comes from Yasir Arafat. For years, after each suicide bombing, he would get on the air and say to the world in English that he condemns the terrorists. Then he would tell the Palestinians that he praises the martyrs, would cut them a check, and call his friend in Baghdad who would cut another check. How was he able to get away with this? Mainly because in the western world, so very very few people understand Arabian language and customs, and partly because if you remember that to the Arabs, we (Jews and Americans, see note2 ), are the terrorists he was condemning. Changing the wording is easy to manipulate in the translation, and difficult for us to spot because the wording is so similar (and again, because so very very few westerners understand the Arabian language and culture).

Ever since at least the early 70's, several Arab groups have also maintained liaisons in the US for the purposes of lobbying our government and exchanging information about our culture and theirs. On college campuses, where the normal culture is made up from people who tend to believe the best of other cultures and the worst about our own culture, they have found easy acceptance. This keeps the wheels lubed for continued "acceptance" of their methods.

It is generally only through conversion of some of their people to western ways and/or to the Christian religion we gain knowledge of their true motives and ideals. And it has been through studying what former Islamists are saying about Islam that I have found the information in this news letter.

  1. This is from a quote I saw early on in my research but can't seem to find right now. It was in the introduction to a detailed discussion of the many sects and factions of the Islamic religion.
  2. Jihad is considered by some to be a sixth pillar of Islam). Jihad is intended to bring all people under the authority of Islamic law. From their point of view Islam and the infidel are always at war, and the all properties of the infidels legally belong to the Muslim community. This completely negates the possibility of Palestinians and Jews living side by side in peace, even if they have separate states, and indeed - for any state to exist in peace with "the infidels" is considered apostasy under Islamic Law and that state is to be considered an enemy to be punished.
  3. As an interesting footnote, as I was concluding my research for this issue, I discovered a note written to someone I used to work with. He and another coworker came to me with a question about Islam, and its relationship to Christianity - and I gave them the wrong answer because I had believed the lies from that Air Force briefing many years ago. As such, that incident planted the seed eventually resulting in this newsletter issue.

References: (authors are abbreviated)
1. Islam at the Crossroads. (Marshal, Green, Gilbert)
2. Islam Revealed. (Shorrosh)
3. Inside the Mind of a Muslim. (Caner)
4. www dot prophetofdoom dot com

==End of Reprint==

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Border Fence Hoax

Looks like the Border Fence project, which would have upgraded the fence along a portion of one of the two borders, might be just a political scam.


The above link is not the only one. A google search for
the four words: border fence dispute Mexico
will yield plenty of links.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

parallels to 1982 Lebanon

Just a note that the current state of affairs in Lebanon has some parallels to the 1982 "Operation Peace of the Galilee."

There is even the parallel that the UN, favoring terrorists was already rewriting history

On 10 July 1981, after a period of peace, violence erupted
inSouth Lebanon. According to the U.N. Secretary-General, the
Israeli air force bombarded Palestinian targets in south Lebanon, and later that
day Palestinian elements fired artillery and rockets into northern Israel.
However, according to the Federal Research Division of theLibrary of
, "Israel responded to PLO rocket attacks on northern Israeli
settlements by bombing PLO encampments in southern Lebanon."

I remember that day. The news reported the attacks by the PLO and several hours later had a breaking news story showing the Israeli AF retaliation in Lebanon.


Monday, July 10, 2006


I get really tired of hearing the argument that we need a "counterfeit proof" national ID card (usually coupled with the snake oil assumption that it must include biometric data) as a way of stopping illegal immigrants. This is disingenuous. All that is needed is for the employer to be able to check government records and find out if the data given by new hires is valid.

Employment is not like gaining entry to a club where alcohol is served, or cashing a check for groceries. Those transactions need to be completed in a matter of seconds - an employer should be spending some real time checking into who they are allowing to work at their business.

On a similar note (disingenuousness), since there has been no incidents of flag burning for about 40 years - why would congress be considering a constitutional amendment to ban it?

Has to be an ulterior motive. Anyone have an idea what the motives might be?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Day Without Immigrants

Is much like any other day, if you don't go downtown in big cities.

I do suggest building a list of major corporations that closed May 1st.

Start with Tyson.

I won't be knowingly buying from Tyson this month.
(I think a month is practical)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Net Neutrality

The SavetheInternet.com Coalition is gearing up a battle for Net Neutrality, in order to insure we all have equal access to the Net. Are they right? Well, IMHO, partially. I agree with most of what they say, except that I believe the public corporations who invested capitol in the networks should be able to charge more for a "fast lane" and less for routine traffic.

It just makes sense that if you want the highest priority - for instance a telephone call - you need to pay extra to get it. OTOH, I do believe regulations should be in place to prohibit blocking traffic based on site ownership or content. The Net belongs to us, the users, and allowing corporations (or governments) to block traffic is just wrong (except perhaps, as an act of war).