Doing our part

“The movement you need is on your shoulders”

-Lennon/McCartney, “Hey Jude”, from the eponymous album

It’s no secret that I was heavily involved in transgender activism (see, and still am to a degree. My Dad taught me, by example, to step up and do the right thing when the situation warrants. That’s where the Roadrunner Comfort comes from. It’s my part to make our way of life more earth-friendly, more sustainable.

When Gordene and I moved to Albuquerque in 2016, my disabling neck injury relented within a year. First I wrote an iPhone app just for the fun of it (yes, I’m a big nerd). I looked around for opportunities to contribute to the health and welfare of our planet, as well as our local community. I noticed the primitive controls on our home swamp (evaporative) cooler. I alternately froze and baked at my desk location too close to a vent. When I looked online for better alternatives, I found no modern replacements. So I decided to design one. That is, after all, what I did professionally, but now the cost of the needed hardware tools had become affordable, and there were plenty of good, free software tools.

In early 2018 I built a functional prototype to see if what I had in mind was reasonably feasible. It was! I played with algorithms all summer, studying the variations in performance as the weather varied and tweaking for response time and stability. Then I met Dr. Frank Reinow from NMT, who secured a grant and a team of students to take the first crack at the design during the 2018-19 semester. When they finished I bought a 3D printer and built on their work, and have now, after 2 more years of development, installed 10 units in homes around Albuquerque, including two in ours. And the feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ll be doing a client survey this fall, and might even get some crude statistics. I’d hoped to gather daily data from all of them (via automatic email), but flaws in my programming reduced the yield to one installation plus the two units here in our home. Though it’s less than I’d hoped for, that data should be adequate for the new student team I’ll be asking to model the system behavior and further optimize the algorithm over this coming semester.

Whether or not the students succeed, our installed units show that we’re already outperforming regular thermostats. So we’re confident enough to plan to roll out a larger quantity product for sale in time for next summer.

Thanks for your interest. You could be the only one who has read this far. 😉

Stay tuned.