Build Your Own Laptop Power Bank for Portable Recharging

If you’re out and about and your smartphone battery dies, it’s easy enough to recharge it using one of those cheap little USB power banks. But, what about your laptop? Unless you have an outlet nearby, you’re probably out of luck. But, GreatScottLab has a solution, and you can follow his tutorial to build your own laptop power bank.

You might think that you could just plug the laptop’s charger into some sort of battery. But, unfortunately, that won’t work. The charger takes mains AC voltage and converts it into a stable DC voltage to charge the laptop battery. For that setup to work, you’d need an inverter between your portable battery and the charger. That means you’d start with DC, convert it AC, convert it back to DC, and then charge the laptop with that — a bulky, heavy, and absurd workaround.

GreatScottLab’s solution is far more practical. It’s a LiPo battery back that has a buck converter and boost converter all packed into a single 3D-printed case. The buck converter takes the relatively high battery voltage, and brings it down to a level appropriate for charging your laptop. The boost converter takes the charger voltage and pushes it up to a level that’s good for recharging your DIY power bank. GreatScottLab reports that this power bank can keep his laptop going for an extra three hours, so it’s definitely worth considering if you often find yourself without any power outlets around.—-872536637d8b—4

CBOE Withdraws Rule Change Request to List Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Fund

The Chicago Board Options Exchange’s (CBOE) BZX Equity Exchange has apparently withdrawn its request for a rule change by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). According to an official notice published on Jan. 23, BZX withdrew a proposed rule change that would allow it to list a Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF).

ETFs are securities that track a basket of assets proportionately represented in the fund’s shares. They are seen by some as a potential step forward for the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies as a regulated and passive investment instrument.

The ETF under consideration was backed by investment firm VanEck and financial services company SolidX. The proposal, which was first filed with the SEC back in June 2018, experienced several delays, as the U.S. financial watchdog postponed its decision on the rule change pursuant to Section 19 of the Securities Exchange Act. A final deadline for the decision was set for Feb. 27.

The filing provides no reason for the withdrawal. Some legal experts have noted that the SEC will be operating on a limited basis due the U.S. government shutdown, which is the result of a impasse over a proposed wall on the U.S.–Mexico border.

As per an SEC filing, the price of each share of the VanEck SolidX Bitcoin Trust is set to $200,000. SolidX CEO Daniel H. Gallancy said that the high price reflects the fund’s intention to focus on institutional, rather than retail investors.

Some experts have expressed doubt over the future of a Bitcoin ETF. Last week, crypto entrepreneur and regular CNBC contributor Brian Kelly said that there is “no shot” for Bitcoin ETF approval in 2019.

Kelly said that the SEC is unlikely to change from its sceptical position toward crypto ETFs, as “there is too much that is unresolved.” According to the analyst, it will take more than a year to settle existing issues

SEC commissioner Hester Peirce — dubbed “Crypto Mom” for her dissent with the commission’s decision to reject a Bitcoin ETF proposed the Winklevoss twins — said that a Bitcoin ETF is “definitely possible,” but it could take a while:

“Definitely possible could be 20 years from now or it could be tomorrow. Don’t hold your breath. The SEC took a long time to [establish] Finhub. It might take even longer to approve an exchange traded product.”

The story is developing and will be updated with further details.

Chevy Bolt Winter Fast Charging: Cold Versus Warm Battery: Video

Keep the battery warm if you want to fast charge in the winter

One of the Chevrolet Bolt EV users – Ste – tested the fast charging capabilities of the car at 28°F (-2°C) and shared thoughts on how to not waste time and money at the DC fast chargers.

The bottom line is that the lithium-ion batteries’ charging power (which translates to speed) is limited by temperature. From around 0°C typically there is a significant slowdown – the colder the battery is, the slower it will charge. The slowdown can be higher than an order of magnitude – for example, you might take on just a few kW instead 50-100 kW – at least until the battery warms up.

In the case of Ste’s Chevrolet Bolt EV, the deeply discharged and cold battery was able to accept less than 15 kW from a 50 kW EVgo charger, which triples the time and expense (if charging fee is by minutes).

The charging hardly exceed 15 kW after 10 minutes, and then slowly increased to 20 kW after 25 minutes. The last 15-20 minutes brought charging to over 30 kW as the battery has warmed to levels that permit a faster charge rate.

After some 45 minutes of charging, only 17.1 kWh was dispensed.

“As winter arrives and freezing temperatures settle in on large parts of North America, it’s important to understand that a cold battery significantly impacts range and charge rate.

The latter might not be as familiar to new electric vehicle owners, which is why I ran through this example winter charging session on my Chevy Bolt EV to show what you can expect.

Time Stamps:

1:08 – Location
1:30 – Three EVs / Two EV spaces
2:12 – Start of Charge / Lame Rate
9:50 – The Slow Crawl to Medium Speed
12:52 – Finally Getting Warm
14:15 – 45 Minute Auto-shutoff + Review
16:14 – Finishing Up + Planning Moan

Other models may fare better, but the key takeaway is to do what you can to keep your battery warm in winter, or at least warm it up before you waste time and money on elongated DCFC sessions. My intention is to also test whether a short period on a (free/cheaper) level 2 charger before hitting the more expensive DCFC would help expedite the battery warming process, but that will have to wait for another session when we have similar temperatures.

Also a sidebar to electric vehicle charging planners: try to include at least as many EV-only spaces as you have charging units!”

In the second test (see video below), when the battery was warmed up after driving, 17.4 kWh was dispensed in just 23 minutes, which is twice as fast and could be half as cheap.

The side effect of charging with a warm battery is it’s quicker, so the station can serve more customers.

[embedded content]

“Following a frankly painful first winter charging test session with a cold Bolt EV battery, here’s our second attempt at similar ambient temperatures but with the vehicle battery warmed up after driving.

The results are immediate and obvious, but still provide food for thought to new EV owners. Time Stamps:

1:20 – Pulling in (Ghost Mall)
1:47 – Pre-charge recap
2:10 – Starting a charge session on EVgo
3:10 – Charge starts up
4:20 – Charge in progress/Dash close-up
6:40 – 10 minutes elapsed + session comparison
7:26 – Discussing EVgo rates + why you need a plan
8:55 – Discussing how to price out a charge session
11:28 – 20 minutes elapsed + session forecast
13:48 – Target reached + charge stopped: Summary
14:30 – Heading out + pondering Electrify America installations next to existing EVgo mall locations

If this is your first winter with a Chevrolet Bolt EV or any other electric vehicle, do what you can to warm the battery before attempting a fast charge session. That typically means driving at highway speeds for an prolonged period of time, but I’ll be researching/testing other potential approaches in the weeks ahead… the more you know!”

Chevy Bolt Winter Fast Charging: Cold Versus Warm Battery: Video

US Government Shutdown Derailed Bitcoin ETF Talks, Says VanEck CEO

A closely-watched proposal to list a bitcoin exchange-traded fund on the Cboe BZX Exchange was withdrawn Wednesday – and the ongoing partial shutdown of the U.S. government appears to be to blame.

As CoinDesk reported, the filing was “temporarily withdrawn”, according to VanEck VanEck director of digital asset strategy Gabor Gurbacs. He also said that “we are actively working with regulators and major market participants to build appropriate market structure frameworks for a Bitcoin ETF and digital assets in general.”

But Jan van Eck, the chief executive officer of VanEck, indicated on CNBC Wednesday that the shutdown’s impact on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) hampered the process between regulators and those seeking the ETF’s approval. According to van Eck, the discussions around the proposal – initially submitted last June and subject to subsequent approval delays – “had to stop.”

Speaking to CNBC’s Bob Pisani, van Eck explained:

“So, you know the SEC is affected by the shutdown…we were engaged in discussions with the SEC about the bitcoin-related issues, custody, market manipulation, prices, and that had to stop. And so, instead of trying to slip through or something, we just had the application pulled and we will re-file and re-engage in the discussions when the SEC gets going again.”

Pressed by Pisani on whether the proposal would have been rejected anyway due to concerns about custody and bitcoin’s pricing, van Eck added that “we think we actually have pretty solid answers to those [questions], but we just need to really demonstrate it very, very clearly and convincingly to the regulators.”

“We were trying to do that but we obviously can’t have meetings while they’re shut down,” he added.

Jake Chervinsky, a lawyer with Kobre & Kim, told CoinDesk that, in his view, that “the ETF sponsors made the right decision to withdraw their proposal,” going on to note that “the shutdown was the final nail in the ETF’s coffin, since the SEC doesn’t have enough staff members available to review or approve any proposed rule changes right now.”

“Withdrawing the proposal stops the SEC from issuing another order saying the bitcoin markets aren’t ready for an ETF. The decision to withdraw is a decision to ‘live to fight another day’ – Jan Van Eck has said he will re-file the proposal after the shutdown, so he probably wanted to avoid setting a new precedent that would make it harder to succeed in the future,” Chervinsky wrote in an email.

The partial shutdown, which affects a number of government departments including the U.S. Treasury (of which the SEC is a part), began on Dec. 22 following disagreements over the funding of a proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border sought by U.S. President Donald Trump. It is the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

Caught in the crossfire of the shutdown are a number of other projects in the crypto space, including bitcoin futures platform Bakkt and crypto trading platform ErisX, both of which are waiting for the Commodity Futures Exchange Commission – an independent U.S. agency that has also been affected by the funding lapse – for approvals.

Capitol Hill image via Shutterstock

US Government Shutdown Derailed Bitcoin ETF Talks, Says VanEck CEO

Tesla Model S and Model X production most affected by layoffs, report says

A new report shows that Model S and Model X production programs were the most affected by Tesla’s layoffs, and it comes as the automaker killed the least expensive versions of those vehicles.

Last week, Tesla announced that it was laying off 7% of its workforce in order to focus on profitability.

Today, CNBC published a report citing current and recently laid off employees to give some color to the recent round of layoffs:

“According to an ex-employee who was involved in Tesla’s delivery operations, and a current employee who works for Tesla in Fremont, the layoffs appear to have impacted workers across every department and region from factory workers to recruiters and receptionists. But deep cuts apparently hit Tesla’s delivery, sales and Model S and X production teams.”

The cuts in the Model S and Model X program come after Tesla announced that it is discontinuing the 75 kWh battery pack for Model S and Model X.

Tesla commented on the situation:

“We recently announced that we are no longer taking orders for the 75 kWh version of Model S and X in order to streamline production and provide even more differentiation with Model 3. As a result of this change and because of improving efficiencies in our production lines, we have reduced Model S and X production hours accordingly. At the same time, these changes, along with continuing improvements, give us the flexibility to increase our production capacity in the future as needed. We’ll be providing more details on our earnings call next week.”

CNBC also shared details about the separation agreement that Tesla has been offering to employees being laid off.

Employees are reportedly receiving 60 days of salary and benefits whether they sign the agreement or not.

Those who do sign the agreement can get extended medical coverage and additional severance pay, but they have to agree to several things:

  • Promise not to “disparage Tesla” including the company’s officers, directors, employees, shareholders, agents, affiliates, subsidiaries, and products in any way that’s “Likely to be harmful to them or their business, business reputation or personal reputation.”
  • Refrain from sharing details about their separation agreement with the public, or with other current or former Tesla employees and contractors.
  • Cooperate with Tesla in connection to claims against or by the company– this means laid off employees would share names or correspondence with Tesla if called on, and appear in court or be deposed without the company issuing a subpoena.
  • Resolve disputes around the separation agreement through arbitration, instead of in a class action suit for example.

Green Deals: Karcher 1700PSI Electric Pressure Washer $100 (Reg. $130+), more

Today only, Lowe’s offers the Karcher 1700PSI Electric Pressure Washer for $99.99 shipped. Discount applied in-cart. That’s good for up to 33% off the regular going price and the lowest offer we can currently find. Sells for $129 at Amazon. This is a full-featured electric water pressure with a compact design and a total weight of under 20-pounds. Capable of pushing 1700PSI and 1.2GPM. Includes three nozzles and ships with a three-year warranty. Rated 4.5/5 stars.

Other notable Green Deals today include:

The all-new K1700 cube was developed to offer high cleaning performance and unparalleled ease of use. This highly portable electric pressure washer delivers 1700 PSI of Tru-Measure™, ensuring you get the highest level of cleaning power and driven by a reliable universal motor. It includes convenience features such as a unique on/off foot switch, a handy storage bin, on-board detergent tank and three spray nozzles (including a turbo nozzle for intense cleaning). Metal hose connections and an integrated aluminum handle make this unit highly durable. Universal quick-connect nozzles and standard M22 hose connections simplify nozzle and accessory usage. At less than 12 In. tall and 18 Lbs., this pressure washer is easy to carry to any cleaning task and fits compactly on a shelf for storage. Best of all, no tools are needed for assembly – you can set up and start using the K1700 cube in five minutes or less! Backed by a three year limited warranty, the K1700 cube electric pressure washer is perfect for tackling typical outdoor cleaning jobs.

Green Deals: Karcher 1700PSI Electric Pressure Washer $100 (Reg. $130+), more

Boeing Autonomous Passenger Air Vehicle Completes First Flight

Boeing [NYSE: BA] yesterday successfully completed the first test flight of its autonomous passenger air vehicle (PAV) prototype in Manassas, Virginia. Boeing NeXt, which leads the company’s urban air mobility efforts, utilized Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences to design and develop the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and will continue testing to advance the safety and reliability of on-demand autonomous air transportation.

The PAV prototype completed a controlled takeoff, hover and landing during the flight, which tested the vehicle’s autonomous functions and ground control systems. Future flights will test forward, wing-borne flight, as well as the transition phase between vertical and forward-flight modes. This transition phase is typically the most significant engineering challenge for any high-speed VTOL aircraft.

“In one year, we have progressed from a conceptual design to a flying prototype,” said Boeing Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop. “Boeing’s expertise and innovation have been critical in developing aviation as the world’s safest and most efficient form of transportation, and we will continue to lead with a safe, innovative and responsible approach to new mobility solutions.”

Powered by an electric propulsion system, the PAV prototype is designed for fully autonomous flight from takeoff to landing, with a range of up to 50 miles (80.47 kilometers). Measuring 30 feet (9.14 meters) long and 28 feet (8.53 meters) wide, its advanced airframe integrates the propulsion and wing systems to achieve efficient hover and forward flight.

“This is what revolution looks like, and it’s because of autonomy,” said John Langford, president and chief executive officer of Aurora Flight Sciences. “Certifiable autonomy is going to make quiet, clean and safe urban air mobility possible.”

The test flight represents the latest milestone for Boeing NeXt. The division works with regulatory agencies and industry partners to lead the responsible introduction of a new mobility ecosystem and ensure a future where autonomous and piloted air vehicles safely coexist. In addition to the PAV, the Boeing NeXt portfolio includes an unmanned fully electric cargo air vehicle (CAV) designed to transport up to 500 pounds (226.80 kilograms) and other urban, regional and global mobility platforms. The CAV completed its first indoor flight last year and will transition to outdoor flight testing in 2019.

“Boeing was there when the aviation industry was born and in our second century, we will unlock the potential of the urban air mobility market,” said Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager of Boeing NeXt. “From building air vehicles to airspace integration, we will usher in a future of safe, low-stress mobility in cities and regions around the world.”

UQM Technologies to be acquired by Danfoss

UQM Technologies, a manufacturer of electric motors, generators, power electronic controllers and fuel cell compressors for commercial vehicles, has entered into a merger agreement with Danfoss Power Solutions, a subsidiary of privately-owned Danish conglomerate Danfoss, which manufactures hydraulic systems, drives, motors, and components for the automotive, aerospace and energy industries.

Danfoss will acquire UQM in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $100 million.

“We believe UQM will be an excellent addition to Danfoss as our products, business model, strategy and focus are closely aligned,” said UQM CEO Joe Mitchell. “Being part of a larger global enterprise will greatly improve our position to compete with other international players, open doors to new markets, and provide critical resources for UQM to continue developing the highly-engineered electric propulsion products we’re known for today. We believe the transaction positions UQM well for the future – particularly in key geographies such as China and India, where Danfoss already operates.”

“We see fast-growing demand for electric solutions within buses and trucks, off-highway vehicles, and marine markets in response to the more stringent emission regulations being imposed – stimulating interest in the efficiency and productivity gains our solutions bring,” said Danfoss CEO Kim Fausing. “With an established North American presence, UQM will complement our global sales and manufacturing footprint nicely, further cementing our strong position in the marine as well as on- and off-highway markets.”

Source: UQM Technologies

UQM Technologies to be acquired by Danfoss

Up-Close Look At Colorado’s Largest Tesla Powerpack: Video


Tesla works with power providers to get more of its Powerpacks online.

Our friend Sean Mitchell visits a United Power facility in Brighton, Colorado, just outside Denver. He checks out the facility’s Tesla Powerpack system and interviews New Program Coordinator at United Power, Jerry Marizza. Marizza explains that United Power chose Tesla since it’s battle-tested and offered a fantastic warranty. He hopes the installation is a viable asset for years to come.

We published a story back in October about United Power’s installation of the 4 MW Tesla energy storage system. The state of Colorado expects it to save some $1 million annually. The system is large enough to power about 700 homes for a total of four hours. United Power’s primary application of the Tesla Powerpack system involves successfully dealing with peak energy usage.

We’re excited that Sean visited the site and secured an interesting and informative interview. This is just a glimpse of the future of energy storage. Watch the video and let us know your thoughts in the comment section.

Video Description via Sean Mitchell ( on YouTube:

Colorado’s largest Tesla Powerpack

About United Power:

About Tesla’s Powerpacks:

Every Powerpack contains 16 individual battery pods, each with an isolated DC-DC converter. Pod architecture and onboard power electronics optimize performance across the array and enable easy swapping at any time.

Powerpacks use a high volume, high reliability architecture tested over the one billion miles driven in Model S. Combined with hundreds of embedded sensors, Powerpack offers unparalleled performance, safety and reliability.

An internal liquid cooling and heating system allows for pinpoint temperature control within a Powerpack. A dual coolant and refrigerant loop system, adapted from Model S, ensures maximum performance in all climates with better efficiency than air cooling.

Powerpack’s enclosure is outdoor rated for all environments. No additional structures or covers are required, simplifying installation and lowering site preparation expenses.

Categories: Battery Tech, Tesla, Videos

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‘Decentralized Airbnb’ Starts Charging Fees as ICO Model Falters

Bee Token – a crypto startup seeking to create a decentralized home-sharing platform – has begun charging fees for some customers as part of a pivot meant to boost revenues.

It’s a significant development for the company, which raised millions in an ICO as an alternative to Airbnb that could cut costs for users by reducing fees and eliminating ads from online services.

But Bee found that users haven’t been moving to its site fast enough.

Now, the company, founded by Uber alumni, is moving to a more traditional path to sustainability, according to an interview with co-founder and CEO Jonathan Chou.

The company announced the closure of its ICO in early February 2018, raising 5,000 ETH (roughly $4.5 million as the sale closed). Of the total supply of 500 million BEE tokens, 213 million are in circulation. The coin had a market cap of around $11 million in April, but the total value currently sits at less than $500,000.

Chou told CoinDesk in interview:

“It’s definitely a pivot. The focus is to have a sustainable revenue model.”

The company has also shed staff in recent months. While Bee Token employed 20 people in the early part of last year, it’s currently a team of just 10.

Chou says most of the people who are now gone were employed making the token sale happen, though he added that three people have transitioned out due to the changing nature of the business.

What had to change

Bee Token set out to create a protocol for home-sharing, one in which the company’s work building the system would be repaid through the rising value of its token supply. But Airbnb, it turns out, has a very big advantage: instant brand recognition with consumers.

The thinking at the time went like this: as more and more users of the platform purchased BEE in order to pay for stays in people’s homes, the more valuable the team’s compensation package would be. This token model was typical of companies conducting ICOs in 2017 and early 2018.

Bee Token’s website promises zero commissions on bookings through the site.

According to the Bee Token white paper, centralized services charge anywhere from 3 to 15 percent commission, depending on various factors. The theory was that by eliminating these fees, Bee’s home-sharing approach would be competitive with industry leader Airbnb and similar sites.

This vision has not been realized as quickly as hoped, Chou said, though he doesn’t intend to go back on his commitment to users.

“We are currently 0 percent for the crypto consumer,” Chou explained. “We still have a lot of crypto and blockchain companies that use us for travel.”

That said, the company’s emphasis today is to win over traditional business travelers. These customers are less cost-conscious than consumers, so Bee will charge 8 percent commission on businesses that use the site. That’s still competitive with the company’s chief competitors, Chou said.

Web3 on hold?

Despite the setback in vision, Chou estimates the team currently has a one-year runway. That’s why Bee Token is currently working to raise a seed round.

“We are pivoting to be a more revenue-focused business,” Chou told CoinDesk. Investors want to see money coming in, he said, adding: “Cash is king.”

Chou situated his company’s pivot within the broader context of crypto’s ebbs and flows over the last two years. “Most ICOs in 2017, the more decentralized you were, the more perfect you were,” Chou said.

Then came 2018: a year of shock after shock. Many companies didn’t react because they didn’t know if the market would come back.

Now in 2019, Chou said, only the biggest tokens – the ones with market caps in the top 10 or so, can afford their burn on those grounds alone.

Either the smaller ICOs pivot, he said, or “basically, you are just waiting to die.”

Bee Token image via Facebook

‘Decentralized Airbnb’ Starts Charging Fees as ICO Model Falters

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