Friday, August 15, 2008

A Fix For The Techies

You know what they say: you can't spell geek without double-E. This post is just for the engineers in the blogosphere.

From left to right are my friends the circuit breaker panel, the inverter, and the dump load controller. Interesting story about the dump load - we needed a 2.3 Ohm resistor capable of dissipating 1000 Watts, but we didn't have the right part in the village because, frankly, I didn't think we would get that far in the construction.

So I started looking around at various metallic items around the site. I found a piece of rebar, and a drill bit, but both of them measured to have less resistance than I needed. I tried to use the drill bit anyway, so I used electrical tape to attach it to some wires from the dump load controller. It didn't work, however. I considered putting the rebar in series with the drill bit, just so I could say I did it, but decided to use the coffee maker instead (which happened to be in the car). We electrical-taped the coffee maker plug prongs to the wires and gave it a try. It was just about right, and soon we had the hydro generating power and the dump load controller controlling the dump load. Since then, we have designed a new dump load consisting of seven, hot water heater elements in parallel.

Here is the completed canal. On the left is a big metal box with the generator and Ryan, who, is technically not part of the system. In the middle is Walter standing on the pipes, and Jonathan standing on the bank behind them. The left-most vertical pipe is where the water flows out. The slanted pipe and the right-most vertical pipe are actually just concrete forms for the posts that support the structure.

Here you can see the generator in the big metal box. We were able to optimize the performance (for our water conditions) to about 770 Watts.

Ryan, AJ, me, Jonathan, and Matilde. Elizabeth was off working while we hung around and took pictures.

[By the way, I began this post in Honduras, but I am finishing it in Houston. We have all returned now and left Sergio in charge of completing customer connections, paying the employees, and supervising the maintenance. I plan to call him in a day or so.]

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