I jumped out of bed and grabbed a screwdriver, a multimeter, and an idea around 6:30am. The solar lights on the two security booths switched on around 6:30pm. They have both progressively been turning off earlier and earlier, starting from the original off time of around 6:30am to now off about 3:30am. These are both two week old batteries that shouldn’t be malfunctioning so there’s got to be some setting that’s incorrect. I did a beeline to the first guard house, unscrewed the charge controller cover, touched the multimeter leads on various test points and for exactly the opposite of what I expected. I screwed the cover back on and slumbered back to the guesthouse to make pancakes – the consolation prize for a failed theory.
With newfound pancake vigor (dehydrated peach pancakes st that), I grabbed my tool bag, impact driver, and electrical supplies and made the long walk to the poultry house for solar lighting challenge #2 of the day. My painted angle brackets from yesterday had dried and were patiently waiting in the warehouse to fulfill their destiny as holders-of-the-solar. After drilling holes in the extruded aluminum frame, I fastened the brackets at the appropriate spacing for alignment with the wooden roof framing in my desired mounting location. The work crew assisted by hauling the battery and panel from the guesthouse, gathering ladders, and securing planks on which to walk over the malleable zinc roofing. I climbed up, took the solar panel handoff from below and awaited my assistant, Rancey, as he joined me on the roof to connected the solar wires. A couple of wire nuts later, I was driving 5″ lags through the zinc and into the trusses. Fifteen minutes and we were back on terra firma. I made the battery connections, watched as the charge controller lights kicked in, ran wire to a single 10W 12V LED light, then flipped the light switch and marveled at silicon and sunlight working together to create electricity for our poultry.
That’s how I hoped it would have gone. Actually, just before ascending the ladder, I was called to the school for PTA meeting Part 2 for parents/sponsors of graduating K2 students. The meeting focused on the graduation dress code. Two women had selected lappa samples for a tailor (also attending the meeting) to sew into special graduation clothing (which I’m opposed to but everyone else feels is important). We walked through pricing and styles for boys (black trousers/round neck long sleeve shirt from lappa material) and girls (round neck dress with three-quarter length sleeves).
I was itching to get back to the poultry solar but I had another obligation with Sumo. One of the teacher candidates was here for the “practical” portion of her interview. We joined her in the ABC class as she attempted to give us a sampling of her teaching competency. Unfortunately, I felt she had little as a class of young children stared at her back for more than five minutes (without her addressing the class once) as she wrote five rudimentary sentences on the blackboard about the five senses: I can hear with my ears. I can see with my eyes. At one point she corrected her spelling of “feel” three times (including “fell” and “feell” as alternatives). The kids got fidgety and about five fell asleep (or should I say “feell” asleep?!?) before she turned to face them. Yikes! I almost dozed off, too! Needless to say, I didn’t write a glowing critique of her.
Free from the PTA and staff obligations, I was released to go scratch my solar itch. At this point, we return to our regularly scheduled lighting installation. All seems to be running well. I have the light on as I write this in order to give it a full night’s test.
With darkness upon me, I needed to see how bright the single bulb was in the chicken house. In atypical fashion, I ventured out of my mosquito net cocoon and determined a second bulb will be needed to properly light up the 600 square feet of chicken space. On my walk back, I attempted to capture the illuminated school building as the first night literacy classes were in session (Not a great photo from my iPhone). Our school has become a figurative and literal “light in the darkness” for this community.
One of the interesting things to note – if you can catch it in this grainy photo – is the crescent moon. Being this close to the equator means the crescent is a u-shape instead of a c-shape. The sliver of exposed moon is on the bottom in this photo. Pretty cool looking.