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steve | Laptopsunder500bucks.com

About steve

steve has been a member since August 23rd 2011, and has created 6724 posts from scratch.

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Your Questions About Solar Case

Linda asks…

12v 10w solar panel and 5w computer case fan, will it burnout?

It’s a very simple question but one I need a precise answer to and google isn’t helping much. If I have a solar panel with an output of 10w at 12v and I connect it directly to a computer case fan that needs only 5w at 12v will the fan burn out or does the wattage even matter? Or does the Voltage matter?
What if the power source provides less wattage than the fan needs?
What if the power source provides less wattage than the fan needs?

steve answers:

Hey Ryudai, that 10 watt panel will run the fan just fine. What will happen over time is the fan will eventually fail, the reason is the power output from the panel will be “unregulated” if you connect it straight to the fan. So as the sun comes up higher, the output voltage for the panel will attempt to reach all the way to its open circuit voltage, which is almost always around 17 or 18 VDC for a 12 volt nominal panel. The fan will end up eating a bit more volts and milliamps than it was designed for. Then as the sun goes down, the voltage will degrade with it, and the fan will run slowly, too slow at least for a while to provide for its own cooling needs.

Real Goods Catalogs actually had sets like this for sale for a while. Lately I’ve only see the ones for pond aerator pumps. They were actually bilge pumps for a boat, with a solar panel included that was rated for about 130% of the wattae requirements for the pump. The catalog said the pump usually last 1 to 2 years and then burn out, but are easily and inexpensively replaced at a boating supply store for less than $20 USD. That type of computer fan is also very inexpensive and easy to find, I would try Marlin Jones website below for a selection of them.

There are installations at commercial buildings that have fans powered by larger panels, and they use a regulator inbetween them. The regulators alone cost more than maybe a dozen replacement computer fans, so it doesn’t make much sense to consider one in this small application. We have two unregulated solar charging kits in our outbuildings, but the panels are 50 to 120 watts each, and they are driving into a set of 220 amp hour golf cart batteries, which are absorbing all the extra energy over time. You could consider this if you want the fan to work anytime, not just when the sun is shining. I’d use a 12 volt 9.5 Amphour sport battery from someplace like Gander Mountain or Cabelas. They cost around $15 or $20, but could easily take what the panel is putting out any day, and provide your little fan with over 24 hours of non stop run time if needed. Just hook the battery and panel in parallel to each other, then put a switch in the line between the battery and the fan. Take care, Rudydoo

Thomas asks…

Solar panels and Photocells, Help?

i’ve looking for sources to help me research, this but i can’t seem to find anything useful.
so if you know of any sources that would be great…

I need to find out:

1.how they work
2.what factor effect where solar panels are placed
3. how the power output of solar panels fitted to a house can change

thanks x

steve answers:

Hi siena,

Photovoltaic (PV) cells – photocells


Solar cells do not utilise chemical reactions to produce electric power. They convert sunlight energy into electric current. They do not store energy.
The cell voltage is proportional to the amount of sunlight falling on the cell but is generally less than 0.5 Volts.
The sun’s energy reaching the surface of the earth is roughly 1 kilowatt per square metre.
Solar cell conversion efficiencies have improved in recent years to between 20% and 30% but they still only generate 150 W/m2 in bright sunlight. A reasonable maximum size of a solar array in a typical car would be 3 m2. In the best case, in bright sunlight, this would generate only 0.5 kW (less than 1 bhp) of power which is not enough to drive a road vehicle or even to charge a reasonable sized battery.
Taking into account the hours when there is no sun, or hazy conditions and that the solar cell would often be shielded or tilted at an angle to the sun, the average power generated by the array would be less than 30 W/m2 even in a sunny climate. This makes solar power impractical for driving any other than specialist low power demonstration vehicles.

Cells convert sunlight energy into electric current they do not store energy. Sunlight is the “fuel”

PV panels
Batteries: Typically about 12 deep-cycle lead acid batteries
Charge controller: To regulate the charging of the batteries
Inverter to convert the low voltage DC power from the batteries into AC mains power for use by appliances

Inexhaustible energy source
PV manufacturers guarantee their products for up to 20 years.
Depends on sun
Typically, the output of any industrial PV module is reduced to 5-20% of its full sun output when it operates under cloudy conditions.
Low cell voltage 0.70. Grade B cells have a fill factor usually between 0.4 to 0.7. The fill factor is, besides efficiency, one of the most significant parameters for the energy yield of a photovoltaic cell.[13] Cells with a high fill factor have a low equivalent series resistance and a high equivalent shunt resistance, so less of the current produced by light is dissipated in internal losses.
Single p-n junction crystalline silicon devices are now approaching the theoretical limiting efficiency of 37.7%, noted as the Shockley–Queisser limit in 1961. However multiple layer solar cells have a theoretical limit of 86%.

Lizzie asks…

which wavelength of light is needed to produce solar energy?

i want to make an indicator which can tell the amount of usable solar energy falling on an area at a certain point of time
please help!

steve answers:

Hey King, there are two types of solar collectors in the world, the solar thermal, which is used to heat water, air, or some other liquid. These types use all incoming wavelengths, they can each heat up, or ”excite,” materials they strike. The other type is the solar electric, or, “photovoltiac,” panel. These are the flat space age looking panels that turn the sun directly into electricity. They are made using two different silicone wafers that are glued together with an electrical conducting epoxy glue. In this case, it is the photons, which are incoming solar particles, that strike the silicone sandwhich, and cause a reaction that forces the free electrons from one layer onto the other. This causes a voltage to be generated across the two wafers, and by lacing small wires into the wafers, we can wick off those electrons and use them to charge a battery, or operate small DC devices. Each pair of wafers generate 1/2 volt, so by stringing 36 of them together into one panel, we can generate 18 volts, which is more than enough to charge 12 volt batteries and overcome charger controller circuitry. If you look closely at any solar electric panel today, in most cases, you can physically see the individual cells, and in most cases, there are 36 of them.

There is a device called a, “Solar Pathfinder,” that is designed to measure available solar power, or, “Solar Insolation,” as it is refered to in scientific terms. If you want to make your own, the best way is to simply use a small solar cell connected to a small miliammeter. You can find either one in lots of online order houses, or maybe even at radio shack. One of my favorite places for electronic hobby gear is Marlin P Jones, the link is below. If you can find a cell that puts out maybe one amp, then find a 0 – 1 ammeter, you should have all you need to make your own pathfinder. The real beautty of this is that you are measuring solar power available with the same technology as a panel uses to convert it to electricity. Any anomalies, like edge of cloud effect, solar flares, haze and so on that might affect the output of a panel, will affect the output of your measuring device equally, so there would be no need to make any conversions. If your homegrown pathfinder is sized to put out 1 amp in direct sun, and you are actually getting 1/2 amp on a hazy day, then you’ll know that a large array, maybe one measuring up to 40 amps, would be putting out 20 amps on the same day, very useful and accurate information. You might also learn of the temperature coefficient this way. Solar panels today actually produce more power than they are designed for in colder temperatures, exactly opposite to how one might think of them. This is why manufacturers warn people to upgrade the panel wiring in cold climates. A 5 amp panel can easily produce 8 amps in sub zero temperatures, if the panel is clean, and it is sunny out. Your little pathfinder would do the same thing.

There are some good websites to check out to learn more, and one really great magazine on this stuff, called Home Power Magazine. I’ll put the links below. Another thing you can do is click on my Avatar, and look at other questions I’ve answered over the years, you might find something interesting to read about. Good luck King, and take care, Rudydoo

Betty asks…

Advantages of solar power during industrial revolution?

I don’t think there were any so if u guys could just come up with logical advantages during that time period that would be fine but if there are some just say so

steve answers:

The advantages of solar power during the industrial revolution were pretty much the same as they are today – it’s a clean, carbon-neutral source of power, and it comes for free. But the value placed on those advantages would have been less – environmentalism wasn’t a big deal, we didn’t have any idea about global warming, and other power sources like coal were also inexpensive.

There were also a number of disadvantages, some of which we still have, and some of which we’ve addressed. For one, we didn’t have the technology to produce photovoltaic cells (i.e. Solar panels) on anything like the scale required. That didn’t happen until the mid 1950s. (Of course there are other things you can do, like use solar power to heat water to drive a steam turbine, which would have been possible). For another, solar power doesn’t work at night, or when it’s cloudy, and the amount of power is reduced at higher latitudes (such as in England and the northeastern US, which were at the heart of the industrial revolution). So you need storage capabilities and transmission capabilities, which again didn’t exist at the scale required. A third problem is that the industrial revolution (well, the 1st industrial revolution, anyway) was very much a mechanical (as opposed to electrical) revolution. Electric motors weren’t developed until the 1830s (at the end of the period identified as the industrial revolution), and weren’t really practical until the 1880s (ushering in the 2nd industrial revolution). So, again, we’re looking at a solar powered steam engine rather than a solar cell like we usually think of today.

Finally, there’s the issue of energy density. Let’s say you wanted to use solar power to boil water to drive a steam engine locomotive. A typical steam locomotive will use a firebox with a cross-sectional area of about 4 square meters, which would generate 7000 horsepower, or about 5 megawatts. How much area do you need to collect sunlight to get that same level of power?

Well, the maximum amount of solar energy we can get, with a collector exactly perpendicular to the rays of the sun, is about 1.35 kilowatts per square meter. So, you’d need 5 million / 1350 = 3700 square meters of solar collecting area to power a steam locomotive with solar energy, in the best case scenario! That’s just not practical for a train which is generating power on the go.

But note that pretty much all the power used during the industrial revolution, whether it was fossil fuels like coal, gas, and oil, living matter like wood, hydroelectric power (like a dam or water wheel), or wind power, is ALL solar power anyway! The sun provided the energy for the ancient plants which fed the ancient animals, which became fossil fuels; the sun provided the energy for the trees that were cut down for wood; the sun provided the energy to the atmosphere that evaporated water and carried to the top of a mountain to run down and power a water wheel; the sun provided the energy that heated the atmosphere and created wind!

I hope that helps!

Joseph asks…

Solar energy questions?

1- What is solar power?
2- how does this technology work?
3- what is the cost of this technology?
4- are there any hidden environmental and social costs?
5- is this technology widely excepted today?

Thank you in advance to whoever answers any of these questions 10 points to best answer.

steve answers:

1) Solar power is energy from the sun. Passive solar energy is using the heat from the sun to do things like provide light (open windows) and heat (solar pool blankets, solar water heaters). Active solar energy utilized the waves from the sun to make electrons move thus creating electricity.
2) See the link below for videos of how it works.
3)It is expensive. To run an alternative fuel generating station, a level like that which supplies your electricity) costs more that fossil fuel stations. Homes which install solar panels can actually save money on their electricity but that comes over years…in some cases 20 yrs.
4)Environmental issues are the energy utilized in making the photovoltaic cells and the chemical emissions created from the process. Social issues are the impact of the location of massive solar arrays. (One are in NV was told they could not put an array out because of impacts to a nearby military facility)
5)Widely accepted and encouraged worldwide. This is why there are tax incentives out to encourage purchase and installation of solar.

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Your Questions About Acer Mini Laptops

Charles asks…

mini acer laptop i just got one yesterday and my personal opinion is that it sux?

my sister has a laptop witch we dont pay for Internet on it we “borrow it” lol and hers has one sometimes maybe 2 bars of how good the Internet connection is and so does my mini acer and im payin 60 a month for no less why?

steve answers:

Why are you paying $60 a month for your computer? Your question does not make any sense.
Do you mean Your WiFi signal?

It all depends on how close you are to your wireless router.

It has nothing to do with your internet provider.

Ruth asks…

can an acer mini laptop 2008 run a complex game program like world of warcraft?

My step-dad bought a new little mini acer and i thought it was pretty neat, so i was thinking there cheap and maybe i could buy one, but i would like to know if it can run the certain programs i use all the time, such as world of warcraft, or adobe photoshop

steve answers:

No mini laptop can handle complex game, sorry. They don;t have the memory, the proccessor or the graphic’s card.

Mini laptops are nice in size, but better suited for search the net and word processing and probably listening to music.

In order to handle warcraft you need a gaming laptop.

Ken asks…

Has anyone tried those Dell mini or Acer mini laptops?

My laptop is broken, I got it almost 3 years ago and I think I’m ready for an upgrade. I’ve been looking at the Dell minis, and think that’s what I want. I don’t mind the size of the keyboard because I have small hands, and the fact I could put it in my purse and travel with it is a big plus. My best friend warned me not to get one, saying she heard they were difficult to connect to the internet and the battery did not last long. She does not own one. The size of the computer and price are the two main pros for me. I run programs like uTorrent, VLC media player, adobe photoshop and sometimes play video games on it. The main function of the computer would be playing multimedia and writing on a word proccessor. What do you think?

steve answers:

I checked out the Acer mini 10 at wal-mart. I love it, it’s really nice.
The only thing I saw I didn’t like was, it has no CD ROM drive. Of course you can purchase one for between 65 and 100 bucks. Their price at that time was 298 but, that’s been 2 or 3 weeks ago.

Linda asks…

Would microsoft silverlight work on my acer mini laptop?

Would it?
I mean would it work well.
Because I dont have a mouse or anything.
So are you sure that it wont like explode in my face or anything?

steve answers:

Yes it will

Donald asks…

i wiped my mini acer laptop and my webcam does not work o msn messenger.how should i install it back?

i recently wiped off my mini acer one laptop and ow my webcam on msn messenger isn’t there only webcam calling.how can i get the regular webcam instead of video calling

steve answers:

I’ve done the same thing with an Acer laptop in the past. Most likely you haven’t downloaded the correct drivers for your webcam. Go to one of the links below depending on which mini Acer you have (110, 150, D150 or D250) and click on the drop-down list entitled “Drivers and Utilities” to open a list of drivers.





You’ll want one of these drivers:


Any of those should work. In my experience the Chicony drivers are the best. Just download and install.

Good luck!

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Your Questions About Sony Vaio Reviews

Maria asks…

Has any one bought a sony vaio AR71M recently?

I want to buy the laptop but I cant find any reviews and I hope some one can tell me a bit more about the machines performance

steve answers:

Http://www.laptopsdirect.co.uk/Sony_VAIO_AR71M_VGNAR71M.CEK/version.asp – more of a publicity brochure
http://www.ciao.co.uk/Reviews/Sony_VAIO_AR71M_Core_2_Duo_T8100_2_1_GHz_17_TFT__6908058 – a correct review in my opinion.

Paul asks…

which laptop is the best for a student ?

I am really thinking of getting a sony vaio NS140 and i am not really sure if it is the best laptop. can you please recommend a brand for me? please!!!i need your help!!. thank you.

steve answers:

If you want personalized, reliable and quick advice, you should check out ProCompare.com (http://procompare.com/top/notebooks). They have a recommendation engine that ranks laptops and other tech products based on reviews from a community of trusted IT professionals. They also have a cool personalization slider that lets you optimize the results based on the criteria that are most important to YOU.

Hope you’ll find this answer useful…

Lisa asks…

What is the best laptop out there?

I want one for Christmas, I’m leaning towards an HP or Sony Vaio. I want one with high speed (a lot of RAM so i can have multiple things running at once), good storage for music and photos. Also one that will actually last a long time. So what do you think is the best laptop? im in the price range of around $1,000. Also when i buy one, do you think paying for the longest warranty is worth it?

steve answers:

Buying a laptop is a complicated decision which will affect you every day for the next few years.

In addition to price and specs, you want to consider things such as ease-of-use, speed, reliability, stylish-design and tech-support.

Different people would have different opinions.

Therefore, I would recommend you to check ProCompare.com (http://procompare.com). They have a recommendation engine that ranks laptops and other tech products based on ratings and reviews from a community of trusted IT professionals. They also have a cool personalization slider that lets you personalize the results based on the criteria that are most important to YOU.

Hope you’ll find this answer useful…

Thomas asks…

Is my graphics card good for gaming?

So, I have a 2009 sony vaio and i really wanna play games on it. I have 4gb ram and my Graphics card is an Intel G45/G43 Express Chipset. I want to play the game grand theft auto. Is this a good card for this kind of game? If not, how can i get a better one?

steve answers:

The built-in Intel-graphics are NOT good for gaming. Those are just intended for everyday work and watching movies.

But we don’t have enough information about your computer- is it a desktop or a laptop? Which exact Vaio model?

With laptops the graphics are permanent and cannot be changed. But regular tower desktops have a PCI-E x16 slot which allows you to install a better graphics card than the integrated chipset on the motherboard. Older computers might have a different type of slot (AGP or PCI) but a computer from 2009 will have the modern PCI-E x16 slot.

Also your computer’s power supply rating restricts which cards you can install. Assuming your computer has a stock 300W power supply, here are some cards which would work:






In order to install any cards better than a Radeon HD 7750, you’d need to upgrade your computer’s power supply.




GTA IV is a notoriously poorly coded port- it also requires a quad-core CPU to run well.


Carol asks…

What is your opinion on this laptop for gaming?


Its in german but its for my little german cousin and I can’t read german :p but translator works fine so please tell me your opinions.

steve answers:

It is a good machine but like the Sony VAIO E Series SVE15115FXS 15.5-Inch Laptop better. They are pretty much the same just little difference here and there. Read this review fo more info:


It has:
+Intel Core_i5_3210M Processor 2.5GHz
+750GB 5400rpm Hard Drive
+15.5-Inch Screen, Intel HD Graphics 4000
+Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

There are not much differences, its just that this one is a better performer and more hotselling and popular. And it is on discount:

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Your Questions About Google Docs

Daniel asks…

How do I get my Google Docs responses to send to my email?

A couple months ago, I made a Google Docs page survey. I had it so that every time someone answered a question, their response would automatically get sent to my email. Now, I just made a new Google Docs and I can’t find out how I did it… The response destination only lets you make a spreadsheet (which is not what I want). How do I get each response to send to my email?

steve answers:

Google displays a URL that you copy and paste into your email or Web page. 12 … Google Documents collects all responses and stores them in a Google …

Joseph asks…

Can any one tell me what Google DOCS is?

Recently, while looking for a job – usually administrative assistant/office work – ads are saying must know Google DOCS. Does any one know what this means? I’ve worked for many years in offices on all sorts of programs but I don’t know what this is. Thanks.

steve answers:

Google Docs is a free, Web-based office suite and data storage service offered by Google. It allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users.

This is a brief introduction: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRqUE6IHTEA
you can access it from here : https://docs.google.com
and you can get free basic training here: http://www.grovo.com/google-docs
or advanced training here: http://www.lynda.com/Google-Docs-tutorials/Essential-Training/77960-2.html
or you can simply learn it by yourself :)

Michael asks…

How do I move to a smaller indent level of bullet point in Google Docs?

• Let’s say I’m in Google Docs, and I make a bullet list header, like this.
. – I have something related indented underneath.
. – The problem is, when I want to go back to making another header in the style and indent above (•), I can’t get to that style again.

Unless I completely backspace out of the bullet format, drag my mouse over to the bullet button, and start anew on a line at least one away from the previous list.
. – If it’s on the line directly after, Google Docs will start me again on this indented format of bullet.

• Most of my notes are in bullet format, and lectures go by too quickly for me to be fiddling with bullets.
• Can you help me? I just want to be able to switch between these indented formats easily.
. – Thanks!

steve answers:

Why dont you try at doc? Once it complete then you can upload in to Google docs.. It’s more simple.

James asks…

how can I transfer file from google docs to memory stick?

I have a few files on google docs and would like to transfer them to a usb memory stick to carry with me. Can this be done? If so, how? If it’s a long complcated process, is there a better way to make my data portable?

steve answers:

Just download it on your computer and copy it onto your memory stick or simply download it at the place where you need it. For ex – Your uncle’s home etc.

Carol asks…

How Can I move my presentation from Google Docs to a removable disk?

I made a powerpoint on Google Docs and I need to get it on my removable disk to take to school.

steve answers:

Open the Doc, goto “File” Download as, and after download copy it to your disk

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Your Questions About Samsung Tv

Michael asks…

the permanent female end aerial connected to the back of my samsung tv as fallen off. Can it be fixed?

The permanent female ariel attached to the back of my samsung tv as broken off. Can it be fixed?

steve answers:

Yes…if you have a soldering iron you may replace it. Buy a female F .

George asks…

How do i turn my plasma samsung tv game mode on?

My plasma samsung tv game mode is turn off how do i turn on my game mode?

steve answers:

Find that on menu….push up or down on remote.

Lisa asks…

is samsung tv purchased in usa compatible to the transmission requirement in india?

I want to buy samsung tv for use in India. Will it work there?

steve answers:

If it is multi system and with universal voltage selector,you can buy.

Ken asks…

I need a code to program my Dynatron Dyn100R Universal Remote for a samsung TV?

We have a remote but do not know how to program it to a samsung TV.

steve answers:

Your remote would come with list of codes for different makes of TVs. Find the codes for the Samsung TV and try them till you get it to work with the TV.

You can try these codes (just a shot in the dark) 0060, 01720, or 060

Hope this helps!

Carol asks…

Can u wirelessly use the droid keyboard to text on a 360 or samsung tv?

Ive got a new droid razr and see tons of apps. I was wondering if there is a way to wirelessly somehow use the droid as a keyboard to search or text on the 360 or Samsung tv rather than usin
g the controller or remote…

steve answers:

They have an app for that I believe; just search for it.
Answer mine please? Http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=AmJh7H0WiCRlT.TA7WajCFTty6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20111126172157AAU1FJg

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