Phidgets and Raspberry Pi

Now a week after our participation at the Makers Faire (#WMF15) at the Queens Science Museum in New York,  with a total attendance of 95,000 visitors!!! with many hundreds stopping by to check out the Phidgets boards and many questions about Raspberry Pi compatibility,

we are posting some links and information that will enable you to make this connection.

Last year, Phidgets posted about getting started with Phidgets on the Raspberry Pi. The tutorial will walk you through the basic installation of Linux, the Phidgets drivers and then get some examples running in C and/or python. It’s a good primer to get you started, but doesn’t go into much detail of setting up a real project.

Phidgets users have been sharing their projects and we wanted to highlight some of them, from finger strength tests to home automation.

It’s important to remember that the USB ports on the Raspberry Pi do not supply enough power to the Phidgets, so you will need a powered USB hub (like those available from Belkin, for instance). This is also necessary for Phidgets boards with their own power supply (like the 1062 and 1019) as that power is drawn for powering motors. Follow this link to learn more….

Meet us at the Makers Faire

As the makers of all the Phidgets (physical widgets) that tech-heads and inventors could possibly want, we have been pretty happy spreading the word online via our website and the various social media sites we participate in. But the best way to spread the word about all of the amazing products we produce is face to face. We want to go where the action is. So, this September 26th and 27th we will be at New York Hall of Science in Queens for the Makers Faire, the greatest show and tell event in the world.

What’s that? You have never heard of the Makers Faire? Or maybe you have but you have never had the opportunity to go. Well, we are inviting all of our Phidget fans, as well as people who have seen us online and are curious, to come meet us at the Faire.

The Makers Faire is the ideal setting for Green Energy Research to show our products. Since the founding of the United States, ingenuity and creativity have combined with the desire to create success and help others, to form the inventor mentality that drives us as a people. Americans love to solve problems, to make life easier or just more fun. At Green Energy Research, we work hard every day to contribute to this inventor mentality, amazed and delighted at how our products have helped inventors to create some brilliant results.

For the Green Energy Research team, we understand that inspiration comes not only from within and from your family, friends and co-workers but also from the person you have yet to meet. One of the most amazing events is when creative minds come together, find a spark and expand on it to create something wonderful. At the Makers Faire, we are looking forward to each spark we help to create, each spark we feel ourselves and each idea that grows out of those sparks.

The late Steve Jobs once said, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” At the Makers Faire, we at Green Energy Research hope to meet the creative people and make that connection for the experiences that will synthesize new and wondrous things.

Renewable Energy research on Long Island

Cost Effective Energy Production from Biomass Waste

Prof. Hazem Tawfik, Ph.D., P.E., C.Mfg.E.
SUNY Distinguished Service Professor

Director of the Institute for Research and Technology Transfer
Chair of Mechanical Engineering Technology and Automotive Tech Department

Director of the Renewable Energy from Biomass Waste Project


Recent concerns over the security and reliability of the world’s energy supply combined with constant fluctuation in oil prices have caused a flux towards the research and development of renewable and cost effective energy sources. A leading renewable source has been found in the biomass of biological materials derived from organic matters such as wood chips, forest debris, and farm waste that are found in abundance in the USA. There is a very strong interest worldwide in the development of technologies that allow the coupling of biomass gasification and energy producing systems to generate combined heat and power.


The current research work at the Institute for Research and Technology Transfer (IRTT) aims to further the development of biomass energy systems to generate cost effective energy in comparison to other energy production systems as shown in Figure (1) below.  The figure below.

shows the biomass with comparable total cost of electricity production per kWh to other systems such as hydroelectric, coal and nuclear power systems. The research and development is continuing at IRTT to further the cost reduction of the Biomass energy below the current cost.

Mobile Sensor Platform – New Product Launch

A palm sized Mobile Sensor Platform – MOBY and its associated APP for data and video acquisition and display on Android and Apple phones and tablets. Three modes of wireless access are available; WiFi, WiFi hotspot and Bluetooth. For more details and specifications, please visit our website:


More than 70 sensors from various makers are supported. Ideal for classrooms, labs, it is entirely independent of the mobile device, just download the free APP and acquire data!

Data logging is built-in, just select the sensors, start logging . Once finished, email the CSV file from your phone or tablet for further analysis. View the video of the experiment on your mobile device while you capture data.

The Utah Robotic Mining Project

The Utah Robotic Mining Project is an exciting opportunity for students to develop skills in robotics, autonomous mining, and engineering project management while simultaneously engaging the community in fostering an understanding about the role of mining and robotics in our daily lives. The team was formed in 2014 to compete in the 2015 NASA Robotic Mining Competition at the Kennedy Space Center. The team is an officially recognized campus organization open to students of all majors.

This project is an investment in the future of mining, robotics and autonomous engineering. Teammembers will learn skills in all aspects of project management and problem solving. We will develop innovative technical solutions for safer and more sustainable production in the mining industry. As a sponsor of this project, you will enable students to apply classroom knowledge in a challenging situation similar to what we will encounter upon graduation.

Team Members

George Kevin Chapin : Project Manager

George Kevin Chapin

Major: Mining Engineering

Team Role: Project Manager

George Kevin Chapin is from Bloomington, Indiana and will graduate in May 2016. Before attending the University of Utah, he spent six years as a wildland firefighter in Alaska, Idaho, and Utah. He is an avid cyclist and volunteers at the Salt Lake Bicycle Collective.

Contact George at

Aaron Young : Mechanical Unit Manager

Aaron Young

Major: Mining Engineering

Team Role: Mechanical Unit Manager


During his time at the U, Aaron has been a leader in student government as a senator for the Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU)

For the 2013-2014 school year,  he was president of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Extraction (SME) Student Chapter of the University of Utah.

Aaron interned at the SME headquarters  in Denver after attending the World Cup in Brazil this last summer.

Teresa Petty : System Integration Manager

Teresa Petty

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Team Role: System Integration Manager

Teresa Petty is currently a junior in Mechanical Engineering at the U. She has worked on projects for the Mechanical Design Day Competition, as well as with the College of Engineering Outreach Department. Her interests include manufacturing and micro-technology, as well as STEM outreach for K-12 students as a part of the Engineering Ambassadors Program.

Jack Petersen : Electrical and Controls Unit Manager

Jack Petersen

Major: Mining Engineering

Team Role: Electrical and Controls Unit Manager

Jack is studying mining engineering and brings team to the team, a not insignificant amount of unbridled enthusiasm for: space, mining, and in particular–mining in space. His past experiences include a wide range of  application programming, robotics development,  and machining skills.

John Robe : Software Development

John Robe

Major: Computer Engineering

Team Role: Software Development

John is a sophomore majoring in Computer Engineering. He has over 7 years of programming experience, and is the 2013 Utah State Computer Technology Sterling Scholar Recipient. He has released multiple applications for both the Apple and Android App Stores. He has developed over 20 websites and has worked on multiple projects with robotic software development.

David Denson : Drive Train Optimization

David Denson

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Team Role: Drive Train Optimization

David Denson is a junior in Mechanical engineering. He is married and has two daughters. He has a passion for classic cars. His specialty on the team is drive train optimization.


The Design

Mechanical Design
The design of the robot considers the unit operations of mining for determining the most effective methods of loading, hauling, and dumping the material. The robot will use a bucket conveyor to load the material. The bucket volume allows for approximately 30 kilos of material to be loaded over three trips across the field. The drive train will be a tread system. Gear and motor selections provide ample power and speed to traverse the course and mine material. This design represents the most effective and simplest solution based on the constraints imposed by the competition.

Solid Works Prototype

SolidWorks Schematic

Control and Communication

Electrical and control systems are designed for efficient data and energy use during the competition, as well as to facilitate implementation of autonomous functioning.

Autonomous operation of the robot is the goal of the project. This will be achieved via an on-board mapping system to track the competition course. Load,  power, and motion sensors will also be utilized. Control of the robot from a remote location via a wireless network will also be a component of the software design process. This would allow an operator to direct mining activities from any location with an internet connection.

Electronics and Controls Flowchart

Electronics Flowchart

Why Sponsor the Project?

“Atop of improved working conditions and safety, implementation of autonomous loading and haulage equipment is expected to bring the following benefits: increased fleet utilization, increased production, [and] reduced maintenance costs…”

– J. Paraszcak, on the advantages of autonomous mining
Mining Engineering, June 2014

 Sponsorship Packages:

Platinum Sponsor

Platinum Sponsor (1 Slot)

Title Sponsor: >$7000

  • Primary sponsor with large logo’s on Chassis both front and Top with maximum visibility
  • Large Company name and logo displayed on team banner
  • Name , Logo, Company mantra and link on our website and social media
  • Name and Logo on club T-shirts including 5 free shirts for your company
  • One week of miner’s placement for display on company’s premises after competition
  • 11″X17″ framed photo of completed miner with team members


Layout 1

Gold Sponsor

Gold Sponsors (2 Slots)

Gold Sponsor: $4000-$7000

  • Large company logo on of chassis
  • Name and logo displayed on team banner
  • Name, Logo, Company mantra and link on our website and social media
  • Name and Logo on club T-shirts including 3 free shirts for your company
  • One week of miner’s placement for display on company’s premises after competition
  • 11″x17″ framed photo of completed miner with team members


Silver Sponsor

Silver Sponsors (3 Slots)

Silver Sponsor: $2000-$4000

  • Medium company logo on of chassis
  • Name and logo displayed on team banner
  • Name, logo and link on our website and social media
  • Name and Logo on Club T -shirts
  • 11″x17″ framed photo of completed miner with team members


Bronze Sponsor

Bronze Sponsors (not limited)

Bronze Sponsor: $500-$2000

  • Small Logo on chassis
  • Name and logo displayed on team banner
  • Name, logo and link on our website and social media
  • Name and logo on Club T-shirts
  • 8 1/2″ x 11″ framed photo of completed miner with team members

Utah Mining Assoc Logo   SPEEDSfinal2

green-energy-research-logoGreen Energy Research Inc.

Big-D_Construction_logo fiero wheeler_logo

Philae and measurement

We know now that after the bumpy landing there were several mishaps with the instruments on-board.

The APXS, which we described in our previous post, malfunctioned. The problem was traced back to the shutters which never opened and the only x-ray spectra obtained was of the shutter material.

The MUPUS, a heat measuring probe broke as Philae was attempting to hammer it down into the surface of the comet.

The SD2, a collection system comprised of the surface drill, transport mechanism and heating ovens appeared to have obtained a sample and delivered it to the oven, but the data obtained had no trace of any substance. (Source: Science, vol.346; #6212)

Perhaps, in the near future, when the sun repowers the batteries, these issues will go away.

At this time we would like to discuss what is it that Philae is doing on that comet?

We hear terms as “it is there to study the comet’s composition”; it is there to “measure its internal temperature…” and so on. It seems to me that the unifying theme from all the different narrative is that the craft is there to make measurements

What is measurement? Humanity has made measurements from the beginning of our civilization. The ancients measured when they farmed, traded, build buildings, followed the stars and planets and developed weapons. Today, measurement is not only fundamental to science and technology but also to management of our economy, our educational system and of our business enterprise. As the business managers say: if you can’t measure, you can’t manage. Measurement is a process of obtaining data, comparing the data to some pre-determined reference, determining what the error inherent to this measurement is and then validating this process. Once the validation has been complete, the measurement becomes trustworthy.

In the next few weeks we will dig into the details of this process to examine what measurement means in different human activities.

About instrumentation on board Philae



“After being out of communication visibility with the lander since 09:58 GMT / 10:58 CET on Friday, Rosetta regained contact with Philae at 22:19 GMT /23:19 CET last night. The signal was initially intermittent, but quickly stabilized and remained very good until 00:36 GMT / 01:36 CET this morning.

In that time, the lander returned all of its housekeeping data, as well as science data from the targeted instruments, including ROLIS, COSAC, Ptolemy, SD2 and CONSERT. This completed the measurements planned for the final block of experiments on the surface.” (From esa website)

Due to unforeseen events, the Philae lander has gone into hibernation. It is expected that, as the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko approaches the Sun, the solar panels on the craft will be able to recharge the system.

Here we would like to take the opportunity to explore how the 10 instrument systems on board of the Philae work.

Instrument Name
APXS Alpha-p-X-ray spectrometer
CIVA Panoramic and microscopic imaging system
CONSERT Radio sounding, nucleus tomography
COSAC Evolved gas analyzer – elemental and molecular composition
MODULUS Ptolemy Evolved gas analyzer – isotopic composition
MUPUS Measurements of surface and subsurface properties
ROLIS Imaging
ROMAP Magnetometer and plasma monitor
Sampling, Drilling and Distribution Subsystem (SD2) Drilling and sample retrieval
SESAME Surface electrical, acoustic and dust impact monitoring



APXS – the alpha-p-X ray spectrometer is a device that analyzes the chemical element composition of a sample ( the sample is provided by the SD2 module) from the scattered alpha particles, protons, and fluorescent X-rays after the sample is irradiated with alpha particles, protons and X-rays from radioactive sources. This method of analyzing the elemental composition of a sample is most often used on space missions, which require low weight, small size, and minimal power consumption.

According the esa, on the Philae, the APSX operates in alpha particle and X-ray modes. The probe is lowered to a distance of 4 cm from the ground to collect the scattered alpha particles and X-rays.

Alpha particles, protons, and X-rays are emitted during the radioactive decay of unstable atoms. A common source of alpha particles is curium-244. It emits particles with energy of 5.8 MeV. X-rays of 14 and 18 keV are emitted in the decay of plutonium-240. The Mars Exploration Rovers‘ Athena payload uses curium-244 with a source strength of approximately 30 millicuries (1.1 GBq).[9]

Some of the alpha particles of a defined energy are backscattered to the detector if they collide with an atomic nucleus. The physical laws for Rutherford backscattering at an angle close to 180° are conservation of energy and conservation of linear momentum. This makes it possible to calculate the mass of the nucleus hit by the alpha particle. Light elements absorb more energy of the alpha particle, while alpha particles are reflected by heavy nuclei nearly with the same energy. The energy spectrum of the scattered alpha particle shows peaks from 25% up to nearly 100% of the initial energy. This spectrum makes it possible to determine the composition of the sample, especially for the lighter elements. The low backscattering rate makes it necessary for prolonged irradiation, approx. 10 hours. (One of the goals of the mission is to discover carbon based molecules, signs of life as we know it)

Some of the alpha particles are absorbed by the atomic nuclei. The nuclear reaction produces protons of a defined energy which are detected. Sodium, magnesiumsiliconaluminum and sulfur can be detected by this method.

The alpha particles are also able to eject electrons from the inner shell (K- and L-shell) of an atom. These vacancies are filled by electrons from outer shells, which results in the emission of a characteristic X-ray. This process is termed particle-induced X-ray emission and is relatively easy to detect and has its best sensitivity and resolution for the heavier elements. (Source- Wikipedia)

News From Long Island

Hello Everyone!

This is the first entry into our blog where we will discuss and opinionate about measurement and instrumentation, Renewable Energy Education, data analysis and validation. Initially we plan for weekly updates, but this may change pending on your interest and feedback.

Last Friday 10/24, we exhibited at the International Energy & Sustainability Conference 2014. This is an annual event held at the Farmingdale State College here on Long Island. We displayed Phidgets products which were of interest to many product developers, DIY folks and students visiting our booth.

Among the many exhibitors, a new startup, POEM Technology, was showing a new type of a current sensor that measures DC to kHz AC currents and installs just by wrapping around the wire! To top it off, it communicates to a mobile device by Bluetooth!

This week, 10/29 and 10/30 I attended the CEWIT2014, the 11th International Conference and Expo on Emerging Technologies for a Smarter World.  By the way, CEWIT stands for “Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technologies.”  I attended two tracks, one on “Internet of Things, IoT” the other on “Entrepreneurship & Venture capital”.

On “IoT”; with the release of first IoT consumer products such as thermostats (Nest), locks (Kwikset), light switches (Lutron) and lights (Philips) which the consumer can set/view from their smartphones and plans to adopt this technology in industrial manufacturing, a major concern is how to protect all these billions of devices from unauthorized access or hack?

On “Entrepreneurship & VC”: attended a ‘Clinic” where new startups were honing their pitching skills. For me the take away was: the young entrepreneurs (<30 age group) had no compelling story to tell during their pitch. Most of it was jargon and buzzwords. The panel rated them poorly. Meanwhile the older entrepreneurs (>30 age group) had good stories to tell the panel, about their companies, their experience and vision for the product. However the panel was unanimous in judging that they all were too shy in asking for money!