Have you ever thought of...

8 March 2011

...taking to the air to design your next PV panel installation?

The Solar Suitability Map might sound like a New Age dating website, but in fact it’s a modelling tool from aerial imaging specialist Bluesky that analyses 3D aerial survey data to calculate a roof’s ability to generate PV power.

The software builds an intelligent 3D data map, which calculates each roof’s size, height, pitch, aspect and position, also factoring in shading features such as dormer windows, large chimneys, and potential obstructions such as neighbouring properties or trees. Based on this data, a property’s solar potential is graded.

Bluesky also offers bespoke 3D solar reports for property portfolios owned by local authorities, hospitals or education establishments, and claims to have been inundated with requests from organisations that have warmed to the idea (CM’s pun, not theirs).

...shouting expletives at the office printer?

If yours is anything like the CM printer, we suspect it’s heard the full range of your pent-up frustration. But should you feel like shouting “damn!” at it, beware of the possibility of that it could actually print one, minus the silent “n”.

We received a press release from a Bristol-based company called Bits from Bytes, which has produced a low-cost self-assembly 3D printer. The RapMan 3.1, which costs less than £1,000, was used by Italian designer Marco Giubelli to generate a scale model of a proposed 90m dam being built in the Piedmont region of Italy, to show people living near the site how it would look.

The realistic model proved much more legible than complicated technical drawings. And Giubelli, we understand, remained calm throughout the procedure.

…complaining about the quality of sandwiches served in business meetings?

CM thinks you probably should, as a new survey from those informative people at Maris Interiors (who also brought you the bosses relaxing in their corporate saunas story, CM February) has calculated that the average spend is now just £3.80 per head, compared to £6 in 2006. 

The crayfish and avocado and chicken teriyaki we used to enjoy are now off the menu, replaced by cheese and pickle and tuna and sweetcorn. Maybe you should just hold the next board meeting in the nearest MacDonald’s.

...buying a full-scale toy dumper truck?

That’s the only way we can think of to describe the Shannon Solo, a remote-controlled dumper truck designed to address the health and safety risks to be found in environments where dumpers are used. Launched at a trade show last month, the truck can be controlled remotely from a distance of up to 100m.

The British entrepreneurs who developed the dumper say it is well-suited to working in quarries or demolition sites where there is a threat of falling debris, near deep water or in other dangerous areas such as airports, power stations and railway sites. No doubt true, but there is possibly another good reason for investing in one — they’ll appeal to kids of all ages.

You can watch a video of one of the dumpers in action at


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