Archive for the ‘Island Life’ Category

Will Plug-n-Play Solar Power Be Possible?

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

I live in a very sunny part of the world, where utility costs are outrageously high. While it would be possible to switch over to a blend of solar and wind power entirely, that’s a huge investment – I figure about US$40,000, a decent chunk of which is just setting up all the electrical hardware necessary to feed power generated by panels and turbines into my household electrical system.

Part of such hardware involves getting backup batteries to store the collected power (provided via a DC 12v, 24V, or even 48V system), and then using inverters to convert the DC into regular AC as used by regular household appliances and electrical devices. Based on ones electrical consumption, this may requires some rather huge batteries, chargers, and multiple inverters.

So, when I read CNN Tech’s featured interview with Chad Maglaque of Clarian Power I was very intrigued. What Clarian is promoting is a modular solar panel system with the ability to plug a power cord into a power outlet in your home in order to feed power into your electrical system and thus reduce the use of power purchased from your local utility company.

Their packaged solar panel system includes a micro-inverter and lots of electronics to allow the system to safely feed power into your system. Clarian promotes this as Plug-N-Play Power.

Clarian expects to bring their solar system to the market via home improvement stores sometime in 2011 at extremely reasonable prices (in contrast to what’s available now), for as little as US$600 for around 200 watts of generated power (peak, presumably).

I hope it works out, and that something like that also works on the bizarre power system we have here on Bonaire (127V/50Hz is the norm, although in our house we have 110V/50Hz power).

A Little Early – Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

While on our travels in Fiji recently, a small creative streak overtook us, and we (the Bonaire-based Richters) decided to assemble an image for Christmas time and our annual greeting to friends, family, and associates alike. See below.

The above image is composed using the bark of a coconut tree, flower blossoms (including that of a Plumeria/Frangipani on top), and shells of small cowries found while wandering the beach, as well as a cork we found). The result is our Tropical Christmas Tree.

With that, we’d like to wish you all (early) a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Jake, Linda, Krystyana, and Bas Richter

The Traveling Richters

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Life as a home schooling parent has been rather busy of late, hence the lack of posts here in this blog. However, as part of our homeschooling efforts, we are also traveling quite a bit more now. To document those travels, we have now set up a new blog and web site to share our experiences with our friends and family, and anyone else interested.

That site is located at Please check it out.

All travel related posts and reviews that would have otherwise gone here in this blog will now appear there. I will continue posting technology comments and reviews here, however.

Necessary Guide for Living With the Dutch

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

Living on a small Dutch Caribbean island (we hit 10 years of living on Bonaire in a couple of weeks) is quite an interesting experience, especially as we have a blend of two cultures here – a Caribbean influence as well as a Dutch one. For as long as I recall, Herman Wouk’s Don’t Stop the Carnival was recommended reading for anyone thinking of living here on Bonaire, but now thanks to dear Dutch friends (that’s you, Martin & Angela), we have found a new tome to help us understand the Dutch-ness of Bonaire.

The book is called The UnDutchables, and it’s a humorous dissection of Dutch culture as well as the drivers and motivators behind observable Dutch behavior.

While The UnDutchables has an obviously strong link to mother Holland and activities there, and is intended primarily for English speaking expats living in The Netherlands, I have found that many of the examples apply equally well in the Dutch Caribbean. We have Dutch friends on Bonaire, as well as on neighboring Curacao and Aruba, and boy, does this book nail some of their traits to a tee! And some of those behaviors have rubbed off on some of the Antilleans we know here too. If only we had had a copy of this book 10 years ago, we might have dealt with certain situations better!

The authors also have a web site – – to accompany the book. Ironically, the book is also available writtin in Dutch to help so-called “Cloggies” understand their fellow “Kikkerlanders”. The Dutch friends who gave us this book found much of the content to be dead-on accurate (and funny) as well, incidentally.

Highly recommended with a 9.0 out of 10.0 on The Richter Scale.

I wonder if and when a similar book, written in Dutch, about Americans, will be produced to help the Dutch understand our frailties, foibles, and motivations?

New Bonaire WebCams

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

One of my many projects includes playing with WebCams in interesting places. In the last few weeks, with help from friends, I have managed to install a new underwater WebCam and move another one as well as install another top side WebCam here on the island of Bonaire.

View from the new Bonaire Pier ReefCam

View from the updated Bonaire Wreck ReefCam

The new Yellow Sub PierCam

The above are images from these various cameras. The Pier ReefCam is an interesting design. I used a waterproof NTSC bullet camera (so named because of its shape), encased it in resin, protected the cable with an off-the-shelf garden hose, and then mounted it on a 2×4. It’s not pretty, as seen below, but it gets the job done.

The new Bonaire Pier ReefCam

Live images from these cameras can be found at

Our Annual New Year’s Day Party – Cancelled Indefinitely

Monday, May 7th, 2007

In case any of my readers, family, and friends were planning on visiting with Linda and myself for our traditional annual New Year’s Day pot-luck event, to which one and all have always been openly invited, I regretfully hereby inform you that Linda and I have decided to cancel this event, indefinitely.

This past New Year’s Day pot-luck marked our 22nd year of having an annual pot luck event. It first originated as the Wing-Ding-A-Thon (due to my addiction to Buffalo Wings) held each October starting in 1985 for a few years, and then evolved into the “Yeah! It’s Summer Party” (and potluck). That continued until 1997 when Linda and I moved to Bonaire. The first year the party was held on January 1st was in 1998, and it has continued to be held that day without fail, even when we had to struggle to get back on-island in time to finalize our shopping for the party, or when, like in 2006, I had to leave early the next morning to attend a conference in the U.S.

Our lives have slowly been changing, and with a recent decision to home school our children starting this summer and Linda’s recent knee replacement surgery, we find ourselves in need of some other changes, among them ones which include the flexibility of possibly missing our first Bonaire New Year’s Eve in the coming year or two because we’re off doing something interesting and unusual with the children in some exotic location.

We figured it would be better to give a lot of advanced notice on this subject since there are folks on BT and elsewhere that have planned their vacations to Bonaire in order to join us on that nice day. Bless them.

We have enjoyed the company of many of you, both at the potluck as well as various BBQs we hosted over the years, never mind dinner’s at Gibi’s and elsewhere, but it’s time for us to move on from the big party into a more sedate socializing mode, like small dinners out.

We are also looking forward to opening a small private art gallery in our home here on Bonaire to show off Linda’s and my art and will have small wine & cheese-type gatherings there on occasion between travels and other commitments. Construction is going on as we speak – see the image below from our private WebCam:

Jake’s Construction Cam

At some point we may resume some sort of annual event, but until we fully understand and embrace all the challenges of schooling both kids at home (which we expect to take the equivalent of at least one person working full time) we are hesitant to make any further or future commitments to a regular event like that now.

Our apologies to any folks that have already made plans, but if we’re home on January 1st, feel free to drop in and say hi but don’t expect a party to be going on grin