Solar Energy Project (so far)

For our solar energy project, Marcha, Daniel & I are creating a solar-powered “status of Roland” program. What is that, you may ask?

Well quite simply, when we were gathering for our meeting last Saturday on the floor, Roland happened to be sitting with us and he basically offered unsolicited feedback on our ideas, to the point of discouraging hilarity. In other words, he shat on all our ideas (pardon my French).

In honour of this hilarious event, decided our program to operate like this:

  • when the solar panels reach the required power levels, it powers the MKR1000
  • Over wifi, the MKR1000 program communicates with a serve that displays an image of Roland with his thumbs up
  • when the solar panels do not reach the required power levels, the program will have Roland with his thumbs down

We will be using the shop’s Adafruit Medium 6V 2W solar panel, with its Li-Po charger.

What has been done:

  • We decided to not use a battery. Instead, we are relying on the power on/off of the board to run the program. This simplifies the circuit.
  • MKR1000 power measurements by multimeter:
    • without wifi: 20mA
    • with wifi: 120mA
    • (above calculations to be verified)
  • Solar panel when directly measured with multimeter (i.e. not through the Li-Po charger) is 5V but is unable to light an LED.

A Tangent that I Spent A Long Time On

  • I spent a lot of time on the question “how long can a 9V 200 mAh battery power a 3.3V 200mA board?” I couldn’t compute this.

Problem to be overcome:

  • Due to a combination of scheduling problems (most of us are available at times where we don’t have much light) as well as weather patterns (cloudy days, snowy days) we have not been able to experiment with the solar panel during times of ample daylight and thus our experimentation with the solar panel has been limited.
  • As a result we have not been able to get the MKR1000 running using just the sun.
  • We have not even been able to get an accurate reading of the solar panels Voltage or Current with direct sunlight
  • Daniel has set up the server through his knowledge of servers through his Networked Interactions class (thanks Daniel)

Next Steps

  • Next steps is:
    • come to ITP bright and early and take reading of solar panel with direct sunlight
    • build circuit to supply necessary voltage to MKR1000 without frying it (may have to use voltage regulator, given it’s operating capacity is 3.3V)
    • come in bright and early again and test the circuit in real time with real sunlight.



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