Sunday, November 20, 2011

EV action in NZ

There are a couple of important events kicking off in New Zealand that you need to be aware of:
  1. NZ's first road legal solar powered car takes to the road.
  2. APEV organised Electric Vehicle Workshops in Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland.
NZ's first road legal solar powered car

This solar powered car was developed at Waikato University and will travel from Auckland to Bluff (1700km) starting from the Auckland domain this Thursday morning (24th Nov).  Go for it guys!  More details are available here.  They will be competing with the SolarWorld GT car from Germany.

APEV organised Electric Vehicle Workshops

The dates for the Electric Vehicle workshops are as follows:
  • Wellington: Nov 22 at the Motor Trade Association board room, Level 2, 79 Taranaki Street
  • Christchurch: Nov 28 at the Road Transport Association board room, 41 Carlyle Street
  • Auckland: Nov 30 at the Kingsgate Hotel, 92-102 Gladstone Road, Parnell
Workshops starting at 3pm are for those already participating in or having shown an interest in the EV industry and will include an update re APEV's progress in Japan and New Zealand as well as activities planned for the coming months.

Workshops starting at 5:30pm will be primarily targeted at auto mechanics and auto electricians, introducing them to the upcoming opportunity in EV conversions.

RSVP to the NZ Clean Energy Centre if you wish to attend any of these workshops.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Just an Opinion?

Back in 2008 I started blogging about Greenstage and I briefly explained why here.

Well, the world is changing fast and some of the drivers for Greenstage are becoming ever more intense and clarity around these drivers and their relatedness is increasing.

We live in a very special time in history. Cheap and abundant energy (in the form of fossil fuels) have enabled a massive expansion of our economies and humanity's capabilities. Some of my personal favorites include achievements like NASA's Space Shuttle, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Large Hadron Collider and Genome sequencing, not to mention the rich tapestry of arts and culture the world over. As fellow humans, irrespective of which country we were born in, we can feel proud of all humanity's achievements.

Inside the Large Hadron Collider
Inside the Large Hadron Collider

Things are changing fast and to maintain and extend this level of capability, humanity needs to make some adjustments. Peak oil is either already here, or not far away. There are environmental changes resulting from the consumption of non-renewable resources and the release of previously stored carbon into the earth's atmosphere.  Combine this with debt-stretched economies and the resulting economic slowdown, it's clear our current behavior is making the world a starker place for future generations.

Understanding that society's massive growth for the last 100 years has largely been fuelled by abundant and cheap energy, with oil literally squirting out of the ground, is fundamental to understanding the consequences of this energy crunch. Things are going to change whether we like it or not. Our current business as usual approach is unsustainable and becoming ever harder to achieve due to oil and debt fuelled growth coming to an end.  Our choice in the matter, is whether to be proactive about change, or to simply suffer the consequences and be forced into whatever change results.

Energy crunch
What to do?

Be positive, be proactive and change what we need to change! Simple as that. Most successful people and businesses have a long term plan, are passionate about what they do and work towards achieving their goals. Nothing new here.

What's missing in my opinion is leaders with a long term plan that fits with the reality of the situation. Spending billions of dollars on motorways to be used by fossil fuel powered vehicles does not make much sense.

We want a society that maintains and continues to extend the overall capabilities of the human race, but at the same time one that is not over reaching the bounds of the environment.  One that lives within it's means and leaves something for future generations.

I'm all for being proactive!  Lets use this period of transition effectively, leverage the still relatively cheap fossil fuel based energy and infrastructure we currently have to make an effective and speedy transition while we have the opportunity. We need to transition our society to another form of energy that is abundant and cheap and we need to do it quickly.

The solutions are available. Renewable energy from technologies such as wind, hydro and photovoltaic can literally be pulled out of the air (almost as easy as oil squirting out of the ground!).

In the short to medium term long distance transportation will be more expensive, communities will be closer and more connected and locally produced goods will come to the fore. With closer communities, people have additional chances to enjoy each other's company and pursue the challenges they and their communities really benefit from. Hence, there are opportunities for increased fulfilment and satisfaction (read more here).

There are so many positive opportunities out of this. As just one example, a whole new market is emerging for the boat building industry.

No Rena oil spill disaster here!
OK, so what specifically can we do? Look to strengthen your local community and become more self sufficient, look to reduce your fossil fuel consumption, ideally be prepared to stop using fossil fuels at some point in the not too distant future (pricing challenges could force this within the next 5-10 years). And of course, look to encourage and elect local council and government leaders that will steer our communities and our countries in the right direction.

The GS750V is another example of emerging opportunities.  Not only does this embrace the new energy paradigm, but it embraces community-led technology through the development and use of Tumanako open source components.

This is an important project with a message. It's been a long hard road and we have had a number of delays, but we finally have everything in place. We have commercial relationships and supply lines for all the products and components, including equipment and stock to complete the MK1 goal. Stay tuned for updates as we complete the race pack and vehicle preparation for our debut at the track. We're making changes and we're not holding back!

Greenstage is passionate about supporting communities and encouraging the right sort of change. Change creates opportunity and opportunity is exciting.

What changes are you making?

Saturday, October 22, 2011


The New Zealand APEV (Association for the Promotion of Electric Vehicles) was launched in Taupo last weekend at the Clean Energy Expo.  As well as backing from Pure Advantage and a number of NZ based businesses, the opening event included a video presentation and congratulations from Japan’s Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima (Mr Tajima is Chief Commissioner of APEV Japan).

"Monster" Tajima racing at Pikes Peak (2011)
APEV provides an opportunity for NZ businesses and individuals to share knowledge and to make their voices heard.  The goal is to ensure New Zealand (and the world) moves in the right direction and that positive change is achieved for the benefit of current and future generations.

Greenstage is a member of APEV and we encourage other businesses and individuals to join, collectively we can achieve so much more.

Visit the New Zealand APEV website for more details:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Solar ADR v1.0

The Greenstage Power team has been working on Solar ADR (an extension of the SolarNetwork) which is an OpenADR v1.0 compliant solution for organisations like Transmission System Operators or Lines Companies to manage demand on their grids.

This Solar ADR v1.0 solution has now reached a point where we cannot easily add value to it without an explicit commercial application, hence we will be packaging this away for when the need arises (please contact us if you have such a need!).

In the mean time, we will be putting our focus into the home owners Smart Grid experience. Again this is an extension of the SolarNetwork and it will be a major overhaul including significant enhancements to the current SolarNetwork console. The purpose of this is to give the home owner visibility and control over their systems performance. Our goal is to 100% provide benefits to the home owner!

Here are some screenshots of the SolarADR product:

Stay tuned for more details :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

NZ Clean Energy Centre's Electric Vehicle workshop

On Thursday, August 4th (next week) the NZ Clean Energy Centre is hosting an Electric Vehicle workshop. Things are starting to move and there are some big players joining the game which is exciting to see!

Greenstage will be there and we look forward to the new energy being brought to this space by some of the new (and not so new) local and international companies. These include:
Full details of the day are available here.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

John Scott – The Third Industrial Revolution?

John Scott (from Chiltern Power) visited New Zealand recently as part of the IET Prestige Lecture series. I was lucky enough to see him speak in Auckland and I was pleased to see that there is good alignment and we have not been wasting our time! :)

John was also interviewed by Chris Laidlaw on his Sunday morning Radio New Zealand show. In this interview, John sums up what is going on perfectly and provides a good background on what a Smart Grid actually is.

To understand what I'm on about, here are the links to the interview from the Radio New Zealand site (choose your preferred format):

Friday, May 6, 2011

First EV Builders Expo

Theo Gibson and the EV Builders crew are holding an event this coming Sunday at TAPAC located in Western Springs, Auckland. The EV Builders Expo promises to be an enlightening and energising event especially if you are interested in Electric Vehicles or have been considering building your own.

We will be there as well, so check out the details here:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Black Magic Debug Probe

Thanks to Gareth McMullin, I recently had the pleasure of using Black Sphere Technologies Black Magic Probe. This wonderful little device is used for debugging embedded applications running on an ARM STM32.

Here's a little demo running on a STM32MCU where I set a break point in the shutdownPower method of the Tumanako Vehicle Control application and then use backtrace to see the flow of application code to that point:
pccourt@Greenstage:~/tumanako/trunk/inverter/fw/vehicle_control/src$ arm-none-eabi-gdb tumanako_vc_sine
GNU gdb 6.8
Copyright (C) 2008 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law. Type "show copying"
and "show warranty" for details.
This GDB was configured as "--host=i686-pc-linux-gnu --target=arm-none-eabi"...
Device IR Len IDCODE Description
0 4 0x3BA00477 ARM Limited: ADIv5 JTAG-DP port.
1 5 0x16410041 ST Microelectronics: STM32, Medium density.

Available Targets:
No. Att Driver
1 STM32, Medium density.
0x1ffff3ba in ?? ()
(gdb) load tumanako_vc_sine
Loading section .text, size 0x113c4 lma 0x8000000
Loading section .data, size 0x624 lma 0x80113c4
Start address 0x8000000, load size 72168
Transfer rate: 10 KB/sec, 962 bytes/write.
(gdb) break STM32_sine_interface.cpp:533
Breakpoint 1 at 0x8001ad4: file STM32_sine_interface.cpp, line 533.
(gdb) run
The program being debugged has been started already.
Start it from the beginning? (y or n) y
Starting program: /home/pccourt/tumanako/trunk/inverter/fw/vehicle_control/src/tumanako_vc_sine
Note: automatically using hardware breakpoints for read-only addresses.

Breakpoint 1, STM32Interface::shutdownPower (this=0x20004fe8) at STM32_sine_interface.cpp:533
533 TIM1_BDTR &= (uint16_t)~(TIM_BDTR_MOE); //main output enable OFF
(gdb) bt
#0 STM32Interface::shutdownPower (this=0x20004fe8) at STM32_sine_interface.cpp:533
#1 0x08000ec0 in TumanakoInverter::stateMachineDo (this=0x20004fd0) at tumanako_inverter.cpp:653
#2 0x08001472 in TumanakoInverter::doIt (this=0x20004fd0) at tumanako_inverter.cpp:459
#3 0x080001ee in main () at main.cpp:157
How cool is that! No fluffing about, it just works and its as fast as debugging a program running on your host CPU. As a result, this tool has now become an essential component of Greenstage's hardware and software development lab.

In addition to being better than anything else available, this great tool is also fully Open Source! All information is freely available here:
This ticks all our boxes :) If you want to buy one ready to go, contact Gareth McMullin at Black Sphere Technologies.

Thank you Gareth!