Friday, October 30, 2015

The Golden Dragonfly

A number of you must be knowing that I love gardening, and thus, have a small container garden on the top floor of my house in Delhi. Actually, this is what I could afford and hence this. Anyways, for all my love for gardening, I have a lot of plants on the top of my house, in earthen pots. Since there are plants, there are frequent visitors too to the plants. One of these frequent visitors was a golden dragonfly which I had captured.

These guys are very good at posing for photographs as it is not very often that they will make you run behind them to get good clicks of them. Also, once they sit on a plant, they like sitting there for a good amount of time to let you click them with your camera. This generous guy was no different. He gave me ample time while sitting on different plants to get shots from every angle possible. And here I present to you, some of the shots that I found out to be the best.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Socially (dis)Connected

It was almost 3pm when my phone rang. Out of lethargy, I was not feeling like waking up from the couch to pick up the phone. However, I stood up to reach the phone which was ringing relentlessly. On the other side was one of the guys whom I was to meet in the evening over a dinner. He's from our group of five friends. We have been friends for around six years now, actually, I was introduced to the group six years ago, otherwise the others have been friends for quite long. a couple of them have been friends since they were in primary. Anyways, he told me that he won't be able to make it up in the evening. All of a sudden I woke up and the slumber went by. I was now brimming with anger. "How can you do this?" I asked him? "It was you because of whom we had to reschedule this get together for today, and again you have this excuse?" The poor guy was now on the receiving corner. For the most part of our journey, I have been the one who incubates plans, and as it happens, it is quite a task to get all the guys on one boat at one time for such get togethers. Someone or the other always gives it a miss for a trivial reasons. I told him that it's been two years since we all met and had a good time. He just couldn't see the reason to meet beyond his "important task", given the new ways our smartphones and all the social networking applications provide us to be "socially connected". Still, I wouldn't give up. I told him that whether he comes up or not, we are meeting. Even if everyone gives it a miss, I will still go there the venue, and anyone who has a change of plans can catch up with me there, and hung up the phone.

Still somewhere down the heart, I still wanted to meet all the friends together, after so much of being socially connected, far far away from our places, homes, and offices. So, I let all the guys, including this guy know about his unavailability, over the social networking app we used to get together, and along with that, I shared this cute video that I had recently stumbled upon.

Minutes passed by, some guys responded, some didn't. Three turned to Four, Four to Five, and Five to Six. I reached the place we had decided to meet at 6:30 in the evening. As usual, being the planner, I almost always reached before anyone else in the group. Usually I gave them all a call asking about their whereabouts, but today, I was disappointed, so chose not to call anyone, and just wait there for an hour, or anyone's call before leaving. It was just about five minutes that a known voice came from behind. "Abe tu ke kar riya tha?" A line we picked up from a conversation of two guys in the washroom in the hostel we overheard while two of us were there. I responded with the reply the second guy in the responded with, and ofcourse, one which I can't put here (for reasons you might have guessed by now owing to conversations of two guys in a hostel washroom). Here was the first guy (or rather the second one) of the group. And the one whom I had least expected to be there. I enquired about the phone call he made earlier in the day. He said, "Yaar, woh video dekh kar apne purane din yaad aa gaye. Let's enjoy this evening together. What about the other guys?"

He was very right, the old days, when we were still studying, and when these "Socially connecting" applications hadn't taken over the feel of the real togetherness. The days when we could just scream our hearts out for no one had any valid reason to be missing from get togethers. Then came these apps which, though connected us with the people we knew, disconnected us from our "FRIENDS"! As usual, the other three came late by around half an hour, and as a norm we had, they had to pay a fine for that.

This post has been written for Kissan's Kissanpur – Discovering Real Togetherness campaign on IndiBlogger.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Tapping the Sun: Progress Sheet 1

It's been around quite some time since I posted here. I would like to apologize to readers (if any), who came here looking for something, and finding nothing for almost a month). As you might be knowing blogging is not my mainstream activity. I work for an ITES company, and mid or September to the whole of October and then the month of March is one that is quite busy for us. and this is where I have been busy. What I came here to tell you about is an update on my Five Year Plan (even though, agency which gave birth to five year plans, here in India is dead). The Five Year Plan, because it's been more than five years since the conception of this plan started. I believe I have already discussed in this post, so, I won't be going on again to discuss that and waste your time. Just in case you don't know, I have provided the link to the earlier post, which discusses a prototype of the design, basically, testing the hardware and software that we were about to make operational.

What I wanted was to install a few solar panels on the rooftop of my urban home in Delhi, India. Now everyone who'se been to metropolitan cities must be knowing it very well the cost at which space comes in. The traditional ways of generating harnessing the solar energy and generate electricity are not that efficient since most of these involve placing arrays of tens of hundreds of solar panels (ofcourse, the number depends upon the planned electricity generation capacity, with individual homes like mine, installing one or two or more solar panels to mega solar power generation plants which span dozens of kilometers with Solar Panels mounted in such a way that the sunlight falls directly on the panel for the maximum amount of time. Also, there are some state of the art solar power generation plants which use various kinds of sun tracking mechanisms to try and maximize the output from the solar panels by aligning the panels perpendicular to the sun, which means, designing mechanical systems to move the panels on one or two or even three axis, tracking mechanisms which command the mechanical systems to move the panels in the most optimal positions to maximize the output.

I had wanted to do this for a long time. Just to give impeatus to my plan, and to find an inspiration, I had registered for Mahindra's Rise Prize - Solar Challenge, which asked the participants to do exactly what we were doing - i.e. build an affordable small-sized DIY roof mounted solar kit for household energy needs. While the contest was open to almost everyone living/working in India, from firms to colleges and universities, individuals, we (I and my brother, who is helping me with the project, with his better knowledge of electronics and programming) were kicked out in the selection phase itself. No worries, I was hell bent to do it, as the Rise Prize Solar Challenge was not the reason I planned it. My need to tap into nature for our needs had made me try to particpate in the Rise Prize Solar Challenge. What I guess is the fact that neither me nor my brother is an mechanical or electrical engineer, and we didn't have dedicated sponsor who would sponsor our project through the challenge.

Now, this project of mine, has come out of planning phase and has entered in implementation phase. After doing lots of mind boggling braistorming sessions over the design of the platform, mounting the panels and maximizing the output from them, to make the most of the investment, and a possibility of future scalability, I decided upon a design in my head. It was pretty clear to me but to the other stakeholders, my brother and my father, I had no good way to show them what I had in my mind. I designed a 3D model, but still it couldn't satisfy them with the prospect of the design working. This was when I talked to a cousin of mine, who is a mechanical engineer. He has taken a keen interest in the project since the conception phase, so he readily assured me of help as much as he could. Now what I got was something I had planned, though, not as exactly as what I had thought, but still workable enough to make most of them understand the design and concept of the platform.

Front view of the tracker-platform concept.

Back-side view of the tracker platform concept.
So, moving a few steps ahead I began working on the tracker platform so as to mount the panels on it. The challenge was to do this with the least knowledge of engineering and mechanical designs, a collection of very basic hand tools that, at times make working on these things a lot more challenging a task than it is with proper tools and knowledge/experience. Anyways, I have begun working on it, and the project is now in Fabrication phase. Hopefully, every Sunday, I will take it a few steps ahead, since Sunday is the day when I get some time out to do things like these. For now, I have placed the first bearing on the base. This one will be holding the axis that will be driving the panel through the 12v DC geared motor I am using. I do hope that it holds in there, and is capable enough to move the platform as a whole, since the capacity of the DC motor is not as much to drive the whole platform alone, so, I am using a geared mechanism in the ratio of 3:1 which will drive the platform in its horizontal position. The same will be followed for the vertical movement too.

Top view of the frame with the bearing mounted with axle and the gear mounted in it.
Top view of the frame with the bearing mounted with axle and the gear mounted in it.
I know there's still a long way to go before I am able to build something good enough which will resemble the concepts. I will keep you guys posted with the progress in the coming days.