SS NaSA PoD Update #12

11 Aug

Over the past few weeks of summer, the crew at ENP has been hard at work presenting many wildlife and nature education programs to hundreds of campers at local summer and day camps – it has been so rewarding and so much fun! It has also been wonderful to have the SS NaSA PoD supporting and augmenting our programming efforts – it is a wonderful piece of engineering that is making all the awesome possible!

It has been so busy over the last several weeks that we have not had much time to work on the few remaining tasks needed to complete the PoD, between our full-time jobs and all the programs there is just not enough time in the day. Now that our summer programming schedule is winding down and all the campers are returning to school, we will have more time to concentrate on the remaining tasks – but first, a few photos from the first summer with the SS NaSA PoD!

It was a wonderfully busy summer of nature and wildlife conservation education, science communication, and solar power and there is much more to come!

However, along with the educational fun, we did have one issue that we had to deal with since it was directly related to the health of our animal ambassadors when they are residing in the PoD – we were forced to replace the PoD’s air conditioning unit when it failed in early July. Without climate control, the interior of the PoD could become overheated and/or saturated with high humidity leading to health concerns for our education animals as well as we human animals that sometimes reside in the PoD…and the Victron solar-electronics systems.

So, on July 4th weekend Jim and I set out to replace the old air conditioning unit and after much “MacGyvering” by me and custom fabricated woodworking by Jim – the new AC unit is now in place and working perfectly, the animals are climate controlled, and the interior of the PoD and its solar-electronic support systems are dry.

In keeping with my tradition of being totally transparent with all our nonprofit projects that many of you have supported – I have made a detailed video of the entire air conditioner replacement process. After the introduction of the problem and the job description, most of the video is produced in time-lapse mode so as not to bore you with this several hours long project. I must admit that for many people I would predict that a video about replacing an air conditioner is not what most would call engaging viewing – but it is interesting what we had to do to make this work. That being said, if you are the type of person who likes the process as well as the product then this video will hopefully interest you.

Also during July, we took one day off to gather with family and friends for a picnic. At the same time, I took this opportunity to give the PoD and its new AC unit an overnight camping test so I packed up the PoD and the pup and headed over the mountains to a small creekside RV park in the tiny town of Maggie Valley just outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The PoD and its new AC unit worked perfectly and we never had to plug into the nearby electric service since the solar array fully covered all power needs – so awesome – and the pup and I had a great time visiting with everyone. That’s me and my awesome dad Lee cooking fish for everyone.

Our little old pup Tange just loves to camp!

THANK YOU to everyone who has supported and is continuing to support this most unique environmental outreach education project – we are eternally grateful for your most generous support. You are all the greatest of heroes!!!

This amazing outreach education project will serve to inspire and educate all the curiosity seekers who discover it. But to do this right – we do still need your support. The next steps in working toward the completion of the PoD are outlined below and will most likely occur in the following order:

  • Installing the microscope station – it will be on order soon and will be fully outlined in the next update!
  • Installing the telescope – yes, I said telescope. The PoD will have a telescope available for special “sky party” night programs!! This telescope will use a special camera* to connect to the PoD’s flatscreen monitor to allow large groups of people to view all the awesome from the cosmos that surrounds our pale blue dot of a planet. More on this later.
  • Painting the PoD and installing appropriate decals/insignia.* (updates in the next update)
  • Stocking the field guide library.
  • Updating the curtains/cushions with an appropriate theme.
  • Installing the 120/240 Volt “shore power” service.
  • Installing the composting toilet.*

*These are our remaining needs. If you are interested in assisting us with a donation of these final items and/or the support needed for us to be able to complete this project – please do contact us directly or feel free to donate via the links below.  

Please consider supporting this project via the donate link on our website or our GoFundMe page:  www.gofundme.com/lets-build-a-mobile-outreach-classroom

If you do choose to assist us in making this project a reality, this unique mobile classroom will greatly benefit the nature, environment, and wildlife conservation education, evidence-supported science, reality, common sense, and renewable energy awareness education for all our outreach program participants in the WNC region as well as our wonderful students at Trails Carolina and Trails Momentum who will benefit from the unique wonders it will contain while they are in class and in the field on expedition. 

We will be sure to share any and all updates in posts on this blog, in our end-of-year newsletter, and on our YouTube channel so please consider subscribing to stay up to date on this wonderful project.

The SS NaSA PoD and the Mighty Bolt EV (our primary outreach vehicle) are owned by ENP (501c3) and used primarily as the ENP company outreach vehicle and mobile outreach classroom for ENP and our education partners Trails Carolina and Trails Momentum.  They will be powered and fueled primarily with cleanly-generated electricity provided by the ENP/Trails student-built classroom solar array and the SS NaSA PoD’s rooftop solar array. They will both serve as outstanding teaching tools for our Trails students and ENP outreach program participants.

If you have read this far here’s something interesting and cool – the PoD can charge an electric vehicle! Out of curiosity, I plugged the Mighty Bolt EV into the PoD and it charges without any issues! This is not only free solar-generated fuel for the car but it is also a great thing to have in case the power ever goes out all over the area. Even better – when the PoD is complete it will be able to provide power from its solar array-battery storage system to our house if we ever have a long-term power outage – so very cool!!

I hear you asking “what are the orange cones for?” The answer: until we install a fence/railing they are there to warn people of the steep drop-off between the upper and lower driveways.

Please note: any/all ads that appear within or below this post are not provided, supported, or endorsed by ENP nor are we supported in any way by these ads –

SS NaSA PoD Update #11

25 Jun

Since our last update, we have completed a few more key aspects of the project.

We installed the presentation monitor and its support arm. Below is a photo of the finished product.

Below and to the right of the monitor is the PA system which we also installed.

The monitor is attached by a quick disconnect to a retractable support arm as seen in the next photo.

The black and silver box on the back of the monitor mounting arm is a NUC computer that runs the monitor.

The monitor support arm folds securely against the vehicle during travel.

We also installed water tank level sending units (the silver device with the black wire) on both water tanks to allow us to know at a glance how much water is in our tanks.

This is needed for the obvious reason that water is life for our animals and for us on multi-day excursions – and also because we use water as a ballast to balance out our load while the vehicle is underway.

The water level sending units send their signal to the same panel that reports the status of our solar power system – that fact made installation and use very easy.

On June 5th, 2022 the SS NaSA PoD mobile outreach classroom rolled out for its first official outreach program at a local girl’s camp! It was a wonderful success!

Watch the video below to see the PoD in action!

Since our first official outreach program, we have presented two more programs – one at a local boy’s camp, and another at a river festival – what follows are some photos from those wonderful events.

THANK YOU to everyone who has supported and is continuing to support this most unique environmental outreach education project – we are eternally grateful for your most generous support. You are all the greatest of heroes!!!

This amazing outreach education project will serve to inspire and educate all the curiosity seekers who discover it. But to do this right – we do still need your support. The next steps in working toward the completion of the PoD are outlined below and will most likely occur in the following order:

Installing the microscope* station.

Stocking the field guide library.

Updating the curtains and cushions with an appropriate theme.

Installing the 120/240 Volt “shore power” service.

Painting the PoD and installing appropriate decals/insignia.*

Installing the composting toilet.*

*These are our remaining needs. If you are interested in assisting us with a donation of these final items and/or the support needed for us to be able to complete this project – please do contact us directly or feel free to donate via the links below.  

Please consider supporting this project via the donate link on our website or our GoFundMe page:  www.gofundme.com/lets-build-a-mobile-outreach-classroom

If you do choose to assist us in making this project a reality, this unique mobile classroom will greatly benefit the nature, environment, and wildlife conservation education, evidence-supported science, reality, common sense, and renewable energy awareness education for all our outreach program participants in the WNC region as well as our wonderful students at Trails Carolina and Trails Momentum who will benefit from the unique wonders it will contain while they are in class and in the field on expedition. 

We will be sure to share any and all updates in posts on this blog, in our end-of-year newsletter, and on our YouTube channel so please consider subscribing to stay up to date on this wonderful project.

The SS NaSA PoD and the Mighty Bolt EV (our primary outreach vehicle) are owned by ENP (501c3) and used primarily as the ENP company outreach vehicle and mobile outreach classroom for ENP and our education partners Trails Carolina and Trails Momentum.  They will be powered and fueled primarily with cleanly-generated electricity provided by the ENP/Trails student-built classroom solar array and the SS NaSA PoD’s rooftop solar array. They will both serve as outstanding teaching tools for our Trails students and ENP outreach program participants.

Please note: any/all ads that appear within or below this post are not provided, supported, or endorsed by ENP nor are we supported in any way by these ads – they are an automated feature of WordPress.com.

NaSA PoD Update #10

4 Jun

On May 18th we completed the primary construction and retrofitting of the PoD.

On May 20th my wife Marian, our little terrier Tange, and I took the PoD on a 200-mile round trip “shakedown cruise” to a friend’s farm in a remote, mountainous region of our home state.

The PoD towed perfectly behind its current tow vehicle – a 2013 Honda Pilot. At one point we had to make a pit stop at a massive truck port. Can you find the PoD in the below photo?

It is very tiny compared to all the huge trucks.

Once we arrived at my friend Rusty’s house we set up camp similar to the way we would set things up at a multi-day festival event.

Over the several days the three of us lived in the PoD – I am very happy to say that all the PoD’s systems worked exactly as we engineered them. The heart of the PoD – the 1780 Watt solar array and Victron electronics/battery storage system – provided us with loads of clean energy without even a hiccup. The original and updated wiring, electronics, and plumbing also worked perfectly. We were also able to test the PoD’s waterproofing when we had almost a full day of soaking rains giving the PoD a good leak test – and I am very happy to report that it passed with almost zero leaks. The only leak we found was a small seep on one of the windows in the main bunk area. The leak stopped on its own but just to be safe I will seal up the frame of the window in question with a bit of silicone.

While on our adventure we were lucky to be able to experience one of Rusty’s Honeybee hives swarming – it was a truly amazing spectacle to behold (“beehold” – hmmm…holding bees is not recommended).

On the return trip, we stopped for lunch and parked the PoD (in the center of the next image) in a lot next to a building with its rooftop covered in solar and two electric vehicle charge points (not in the photo but just off to the right) – it is really nice to be a part of a clean energy-powered future.

The only hard part to take during the entire shakedown cruise was paying for the expensive petro-chemical fuel needed to pull the PoD over the mountains. One day soon, in the not-so-distant future – we will replace the gas-guzzling Honda tow vehicle with an all-electric truck of some design, and then this project will truly be complete.

While on the “shakedown cruise” we made a documentary of the PoD on its first adventure – enjoy.

With the success of our shakedown cruise, the PoD is mostly complete and functional so it is to a point where it is actually useable for the purpose it was intended.

To that end goal, our first official outreach program using the PoD will take place on June 5th, 2022!

THANK YOU to everyone who has supported and is continuing to support this most unique environmental outreach education project – we are eternally grateful for your most generous support. You are all the greatest of heroes!!!

This amazing outreach education project will serve to inspire and educate all the curiosity seekers who discover it. But to do this right – we do still need your support. The next steps in working toward the completion of the PoD are outlined below and will most likely occur in the following order:

  1. Installing the habitat pods.
  2. Attachment of the external flat screen monitor and its support arm structure.
  3. Installing the microscope station.*
  4. Stocking the field guide library.*
  5. Updating the curtains and cushions with an appropriate theme.
  6. Installing the 120/240 Volt “shore power” service.
  7. Painting the PoD.*
  8. Installing the composting toilet.*

*These are our remaining needs. If you are interested in assisting us with a donation of these final items and/or the support needed for us to be able to complete this project – please do contact us directly or feel free to donate via the links below.  

Please consider supporting this project via the donate link on our website 

or our GoFundMe page:  www.gofundme.com/lets-build-a-mobile-outreach-classroom

If you do choose to assist us in making this project a reality, this unique mobile classroom will greatly benefit the nature, environment, and wildlife conservation education, evidence-supported science, reality, common sense, and renewable energy awareness education for all our outreach program participants in the WNC region as well as our wonderful students at Trails Carolina and Trails Momentum who will benefit from the unique wonders it will contain while they are in class and in the field on expedition. 

We will be sure to share any and all updates in posts on this blog, in our end-of-year newsletter, and on our YouTube channel so please consider subscribing to stay up to date on this wonderful project.

The ENP NaSA PoD and the Mighty Bolt EV (our primary outreach vehicle) are owned by ENP (501c3) and used primarily as the ENP company outreach vehicle and mobile outreach classroom for ENP and our education partners Trails Carolina and Trails Momentum.  They will be powered and fueled primarily with cleanly-generated electricity provided by the ENP/Trails student-built classroom solar array and the NaSA PoD’s rooftop solar array. They will both serve as outstanding teaching tools for our Trails students and ENP outreach program participants.

Please note: any/all ads that appear within or below this post are not provided, supported, or endorsed by ENP nor are we supported in any way by these ads – they are an automated feature of WordPress.com.

NaSA PoD Project Update #9

28 May

Over the last month, we have worked very hard on the PoD and we are happy to report that it is mostly complete! Recently we took it on its shakedown cruise – but before I tell you how that went I would like to give you a breakdown of the progress we have made since our last update. I could show several static photographs but instead, I have decided to share with you video update #2 that goes over all of the changes to the interior since the last update as well as a unique time-lapse of much of the work we have completed over the last 5 weeks or so. I hope you enjoy watching this update in video format but please note – it covers a lot of ground so it is a bit long at just over 1/2 an hour.

In our next update and video, we will cover the latest modifications to the exterior of the PoD as well as how it performed on its “shakedown cruise.”

This amazing education project will serve to inspire and educate all the curiosity seekers who discover it. But to do this right – we still need your support. If you choose to assist us in making this project a reality, this unique mobile classroom will greatly benefit the nature and wildlife conservation education, evidence-supported science, reality, common sense, and renewable energy awareness education for all our outreach program participants in the WNC region as well as our wonderful students at Trails Carolina and Trails Momentum who will benefit from the unique wonders it will contain while they are in class and in the field on expedition. 

 Please consider supporting this project via the donate link on our website or our GoFundMe page:   www.gofundme.com/lets-build-a-mobile-outreach-classroom

The construction and use of this unique mobile classroom will be documented on this blog, in our end-of-year newsletter, and on our YouTube channel.  

The ENP NaSA PoD and the Mighty Bolt EV (our primary outreach vehicle) are owned by ENP and used primarily as the ENP company outreach vehicle and mobile outreach classroom for ENP and our education partners Trails Carolina and Trails Momentum.  They will be powered and fueled primarily with cleanly-generated electricity provided by the ENP/Trails student-built classroom solar array and the NaSA PoD’s rooftop solar array. They will both serve as outstanding teaching tools for our Trails students, ENP outreach program participants, and everyone we meet via our outreach programs.

THANK YOU to everyone who has supported and is continuing to support this most unique project – you are all the greatest of heroes!!!

Please note: any/all ads that appear within or below this post are not provided, supported, or endorsed by ENP nor are we supported in any way by these ads – they are an automated feature of WordPress.com.

NaSA PoD Update #8

26 Apr

Since our last update, we worked very hard to have the PoD ready for our Earth Day reveal – but unfortunately, that did not happen. The conversion time is taking longer than we anticipated so we are now simply working to complete the PoD – with no set due date. This removed the notion of a deadline from the project and at the same time relieved some of the stress I felt because of that deadline. Now, with the anxiety of the deadline removed I feel far more at ease with things and much progress is happening at the pace at which it needs to happen.

That all being said – we are getting very close to completion.

We have completed over 90% of the PoD’s new educational/electrical/plumbing systems and all that remains includes the following:

Solar-electrical – over 95% complete: Most of the solar electronic components are now installed and all that remains is configuring the inverter, and some wire management issues.

Plumbing: 95% complete and working! All that remains is the installation of the composting toilet – this item is not time-sensitive and/or imperative to the initial operation of the PoD and will happen at some point over the next few months.

Exterior: 80% complete. All that remains is the installation of the microscope table*, flatscreen monitor mounting structure*, and painting of the PoD – these items are not imperative to the initial operation of the PoD and will happen over the next few weeks.

Interior: 99% complete! All that remains is the re-installation of the removed “furniture” from the interior of the RV as well as some finishing touches Marian will be making such as appropriately themed curtains.

Below is some of the work we have completed over the last few weeks.

We installed the Solar Inverter Battery Support Structure (SIBaSS – pronounced “Sea Bass”) into its final location in the solar-electronics gear cabinet.

We then installed the inverter, Battery Management System (BMS)/Lynx Distributor assembly, Charge controllers, and the two lower batteries.

We installed most of the heavy gauge wiring between the charge controllers and inverter to the distributor as well as the massive cables from the distributor to the batteries.

Wire management is most important. The next photo shows wires that are not yet managed.

We had to “MacGyver” a way to insulate the huge battery cables where they pass over and through the support structure. The black insulator is made from a thick, rubber, radiator hose from a large truck.

The “brains” of the system. This Cerbo GX device will allow me to monitor the real-time data from the solar-electronics system such as DC solar input, battery SOC, charging status, inverter status, AC/DC input, and output, as well as control the individual components of the system and share all of that information with my students and program participants via a Bluetooth connection to the presentation monitor on the outside of the PoD.

The AC/DC fuse/load panels are in place.

We moved the spare wheel and tire assembly from the back of the PoD to the tongue. Since we have done away with the gas bottles taking up space on the tongue, we have ample space to mount the spare. We also used the original clamp from the gas bottles as a hold-down for the wheel and tire assembly.

Moving the wheel/tire assembly freed up the space on the back of the PoD where we have installed a new access hatch that allows external access to the storage space under the bed. This will allow easy access to programming materials during classes 🙂

Lastly, we topped off the state of charge (SOC) in all four of the batteries in preparation for connecting them to the system this week!! We are about to bring the PoD to life!

In other news – Lucky the Eastern box turtle came out of hibernation this past week 🙂

If you live in an area with box turtles please keep watch for them crossing roads – especially during and after warm weather rain showers when they are most active. When you see them crossing the road please help them across to the side they are heading toward because they are on “important turtle business” and need our help crossing roads.

However, please do not take them home as “pets” or release them in areas that you believe are somehow better for them – they are protected by law in most places, and moving them far from their home range is stressful and detrimental to their health and the health of wildlife due to the potential vectoring of novel diseases and parasites and wildlife populations.

_________________________________________________

Stay tuned for all the awesome that is on the way – and a new video will be ready soon!

This amazing project will serve to inspire and educate all the curiosity seekers who encounter it. But to do this right – we need your support. If you choose to assist us in making this project a reality, this unique mobile classroom will greatly benefit the nature and wildlife conservation, science, reality, common sense, and renewable energy awareness education for all our outreach program participants in the WNC region as well as our wonderful students at Trails Carolina and Trails Momentum who will all greatly benefit from the wonders it will contain while they are in class and in the field on expedition. 

 Please consider supporting this project via the donate link on our website or our GoFundMe page:   www.gofundme.com/lets-build-a-mobile-outreach-classroom

The construction and use of this unique mobile classroom will be documented on this blog, in our end-of-year newsletter, and on our YouTube channel.  

The ENP NaSA PoD and the Mighty Bolt EV (our primary outreach vehicle) are owned by ENP and used primarily as the ENP company outreach vehicle and mobile outreach classroom.  They will be powered and fueled primarily with cleanly-generated electricity provided by the ENP/Trails student-built classroom solar array and NaSA PoD’s rooftop solar array. They will both serve as outstanding teaching tools for our Trails students, ENP outreach program participants, and everyone we meet via our outreach programs.

THANK YOU to everyone who has supported and is continuing to support this most unique project – you are all the greatest of heroes!!!

Please note: any/all ads that appear within or below this post are not provided or endorsed by ENP nor are we supported in any way by these ads – they are an automated feature of WordPress.com.

NaSA PoD Update #7

15 Apr

Over the last two weeks, much has happened with the development of the

SS NaSA PoD.

We have made so much progress I have decided to make this update as a video. It is a bit longer than the 30-second click-bait style video clips most people are used to today. Its length is due to its real content – but if you want real content you must be patient and focused, and open to learning.

Now, sit back and enjoy a detailed overview of our progress.

Stay tuned for all the awesome that is on the way.

We hope to have the ENP NaSA PoD in service on or before Earth Day 2022!

This amazing project will serve to inspire and educate all the curiosity seekers who encounter it. But to do this right – we do still need your support. If you choose to assist us in making this project a reality, this unique mobile classroom will greatly benefit the nature and wildlife conservation, science, reality, common sense, and renewable energy awareness education for all our outreach program participants in the WNC region as well as our wonderful students at Trails Carolina and Trails Momentum who will all greatly benefit from the wonders it will contain while they are in class and in the field on expedition. 

 Please consider supporting this project via the donate link on our website or our GoFundMe page:   www.gofundme.com/lets-build-a-mobile-outreach-classroom

The construction and use of this unique mobile classroom will be documented on this blog, in our end-of-year newsletter, and on our YouTube channel.  

The ENP NaSA PoD and the Mighty Bolt EV (our primary outreach vehicle) are owned by ENP and used primarily as the ENP company outreach vehicle and mobile outreach classroom.  They will be charged and fueled primarily with cleanly generated electricity provided by the ENP/Trails student-built classroom solar array and NaSA PoD’s rooftop solar array. They will both serve as outstanding teaching tools for our Trails students, ENP outreach program participants, and everyone we meet via our outreach programs.

THANK YOU to everyone who has supported and is continuing to support this most unique project – you are all the greatest of heroes!!!

Please note: any/all ads that appear below this post are not provided or endorsed by ENP nor are we supported in any way by these ads – they are an automated feature of WordPress.com.

NaSA PoD Update #6

28 Mar

Over the last two weeks, we have continued making steady progress on the transformation of the PoD.

The welder finished his work and we retrieved the PoD from his shop. The new Bifacial Solar Array Support Structure (BiSASS) is now complete and it seems to be a very solid structure for supporting the PoD’s bifacial solar modules (panels). Take a look at these photos of the BiSASS from the welding shop.

The awning is in the black bag hanging on the right side of the rack – I will try to find a day soon when I will deploy it and get some photos to share with you.

Thank you Red Dog Welding for doing such a great job on this rack.

A word about our choice in solar modules. We are using Canadian Solar BiHiKu Bifacial solar modules. Unlike traditional solar modules which collect solar energy from only one side of their structure, bifacial solar modules have solar energy collecting ability from both sides of the module. This works well in applications where the modules are able to collect reflected light from any light-colored/reflective surface below them – such as the white rooftop of the PoD. This increased light collecting ability will allow these unique solar modules to harvest upwards of 30% more energy than a similarly-sized traditional solar module will harvest – without needing to be 30% larger – and with a vehicle as small as the ENP NaSA PoD – every little bit will help.

Before the modules could be installed we needed to prep the PoD’s roof to receive the solar array so we could install the pass-thru for the solar wiring. This is a photo of the huge hole we had to cut in the PoD’s perfectly good fiberglass roof…

We then installed the 3D printed entry gland over the hole – this device will allow the solar wiring to pass through from the roof to the solar-electronics cabinet directly below.

We also took some time to reseal all the existing rivets/bolts on the roof of the RV. As all these points will soon be under the solar array, we decided to seal everything up very well so we will not need to remove modules to seal up a roof leak. You can see two of these sealed rivet points in the above photo – they are curing under the paper/painter’s tape.

The next step was to cut several small holes that will allow the wiring from the security cameras to pass thru the shell and into the PoD. Since the PoD’s fiberglass body is basically a boat on wheels – we used cable entry ports often used in the boating industry.

For the forward-facing camera, we made use of the existing gray water tank vent pipe as the pathway to run the LAN cable for the camera as shown in this photo.

Why a security system you may be asking? There are several reasons.

1. This mobile classroom will often have several of our animal ambassadors living inside for several hours or even days at a time at multi-day festivals/events.

2. This mobile classroom will often have many unique and valuable teaching tools residing inside.

3. This mobile classroom will always contain many high technology electronics also hidden away inside.

All these unique creatures, tools, and components will need to be protected and safe. Therefore, we have created the the ENP NaSA PoD’s:

Security, Investigating, Environment, and Nature, Watching, Interpreting, Sensing, Evaluating and Recording Network (ScIENce WISERNet)

This system will allow safe and secure monitoring of the immediate area around the PoD. The obvious presence of the cameras will serve to keep would-be thieves and prowlers away from the PoD and its contents and it will allow real-time environmental, video, and audio monitoring and DVR/cloud-based recording via wireless internet connection. This connected network will allow those with administrator access* to see what the PoD’s cameras and environmental sensors are sensing at any given time and/or have recently seen via cloud storage – from any location on planet Earth that has WIFI or a cellular connection. *The only persons able to view the live feed from the PoD’s ScIENce WISERNet system will be the ENP Executive Director Steve aka “Science Steve” and his students when in class.

We have now completed the installation of the ScIENce WISERNet system – below are a few more photos of the placement of the cameras. This is another view of the forward-mounted camera.

This is the port-mounted camera. Behind it note the LAN cable leading back to the marine-grade cable entry port (out of view). Currently, this outdoor-rated cable is affixed to the surface of the PoD with adhesive cable organizers but soon, this exposed wire will be up out of the way and in a more secure location following the solar array frame rail.

This is the starboard-mounted camera. The black wire in front of the camera is one of the solar array power leads. It will soon be connected to the solar entry gland located to the right of the camera.

This is the aft-mounted camera. It is mounted on the aft structural support for the awning system.

After all the prep work was done it was time to install the 1740 watt Bifacial Photovoltaic Solar Array (BiPSA). Jim and I and two friends from work – Hunter, and Kevin* – worked for many hours to install the BiPSA onto the PoD’s BiSASS. *THANK YOU, Hunter and Kevin, for assisting us on such short notice!!!

We first pulled the solar modules out of storage and attached the mounting brackets.

Then we all worked together to carefully install the four giant solar modules onto the BiSASS. That is Jim and Kevin in the next photo – Hunter is not pictured as she had made a run to the hardware store for more stainless steel bolts and associated hardware. NOTE: The car on the right is Jim’s Nissan LEAF EV – yep, no gas needed. In fact, once the PoD is complete it will be able to charge the battery of Jim’s LEAF or any other electric vehicle using freely collected clean energy from our nearest fusion reactor – the sun!

The completed array – it is a thing of beauty.

The view looking up through the skylight – it will improve once I install the trim around the edges.

We also finished the installation of the PoD’s updated water system…

…but we will be unable to test it for a few days while we wait for the sealant to dry.

Jim and I sanded and painted the solar-electronics cabinet and will begin installing the components soon.

We also installed new LED taillight bars on the rear vertical supports (that now block the PoD’s original lights) as well as a new license plate bracket/light (the old one – that was originally located below the left rear taillight in this photo – snapped off when I was removing the plate from the previous owners).

We also installed a J-1772 inlet charge port – it is the black device to the right of the outdoor power outlet in the next set of photos. This device will allow us to charge the PoD’s lithium-ion batteries via any Level 2 Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) aka charger such as the one at my home, the one at the ENP/Trails classroom, or anywhere on the road using other J-1772 units and even Tesla Destination EVSE units (by using an adapter). This will be very useful when we are on the road and/or during long periods of rain when our solar modules are unable to keep our batteries full. The 120-volt power outlet will be used to power the monitor, microscope station, and any electric vehicle that possesses a J-1772 charge port (most of them) and/or that has the correct adapter.

Last, but definitely not least I then took the PoD for new a set of heavy-duty tires.

That is all for this ENP NaSA PoD update.

Stay tuned – there is much more to come.

In closing, here are some close family friends at my dad’s place in the country.

Please subscribe and follow this blog for more updates.

We hope to have the ENP NaSA PoD in service on or before Earth Day 2022!

This amazing project will serve to inspire and educate all the curiosity seekers who encounter it. But to do this right – we do still need your support. If you choose to assist us in making this project a reality, this unique mobile classroom will greatly benefit the nature and wildlife conservation, science, reality, common sense, and renewable energy awareness education for all our outreach program participants in the WNC region as well as our wonderful students at Trails Carolina and Trails Momentum who will all greatly benefit from the wonders it will contain while they are in class and in the field on expedition. 

 Please consider supporting this project via the donate link on our website or our GoFundMe page:   www.gofundme.com/lets-build-a-mobile-outreach-classroom

The construction and use of this unique mobile classroom will be documented on this blog, our end-of-year newsletter, and soon on our YouTube channel.  

The ENP NaSA PoD and the Mighty Bolt EV (our primary outreach vehicle) are owned by ENP and used primarily as the ENP company outreach vehicle and mobile outreach classroom.  They will be charged and fueled primarily with cleanly generated electricity provided by the ENP/Trails student-built classroom solar array and NaSA PoD’s rooftop solar array. They will both serve as outstanding teaching tools for our Trails students, ENP outreach program participants, and everyone we meet via our outreach programs.

THANK YOU to everyone who has supported and is continuing to support this most unique project – you are all the greatest of heroes!!!

Please note: any/all ads that appear below this post are not provided or endorsed by ENP nor are we supported in any way by these ads – they are an automated feature of WordPress.com.

NaSA PoD Update #5

18 Mar

Recently, Jim and I worked together to carefully machine some specialized support pieces for the Solar Inverter Battery Support Structure (SIBaSS – pronounced “Sea Bass” – LOL).

Take a look at some of the photos from that adventure below.

Drilling precision holes in a block of aluminum is fun!

Drilling a hole in a piece of T-Slot aluminum.

Aluminum blocks, strap cleats, and T-Slots in the process of being assembled.

Precision work.

All these parts were then applied to the SIBaSS and, with the webbing straps I will add soon, will all work together to hold the batteries and inverter securely in place.

At this point in the build, this is what the SIBaSS looks like. The solar inverter is on the top of the structure and the four batteries are below.

The aluminum blocks and yellow T-slot battery spacers are now in their final positions.

The back of the assembly. The large triangular gussets in the corners will serve to further strengthen the structure keeping it rigid and secure when the PoD is rolling down the road. A few small parts are still needed before the SiBaSS is complete and can finally be installed in the PoD.

In other news, we have transported the PoD to the Red Dog the welder who is working his magic and, as I write this, installing the solar array support structure onto the PoD. Here are a few photos of this major step in the process. Below, Red is toting the PoD into the shop with his forklift.

The PoD in the shop. Note the plastic shields I installed over the future window holes and air conditioner service port in the side – it was raining. Of note – the skylight Jim and I fabricated and installed a few days ago had a very good test today and I am happy to report that it passed with zero leaks.

Day One: Getting ready to begin the welding job.

Hmmm, I might need to re-locate the brake lights to the other side of the steel support beams.

Getting things perfectly aligned before the welding begins.

Array support structure taking shape.

Precision cuts require precision tools.

The solar array support rack being aligned. The solar modules (panels) will bolt directly to the shiny pieces of aluminum in the below photo.

This rack system is a special challenge since the roof of the PoD is made of fiberglass. The next photo shows one of the long “foot-like” structures Red is fabricating that will help to distribute the weight of the solar array and the awning over the entire rooftop.

Day Two of the construction: the rack is starting to come together.

One of the three brackets where the awning will attach.

Stay tuned – there is much more to come.

In closing, this is Tripod the Eastern box turtle – the ENP mascot. It will not be long before the warm sun of springtime awakens her from her long winter’s nap 🙂

Please subscribe and follow this blog for more updates.

We hope to have the ENP NaSA PoD in service on or before Earth Day 2022!

This amazing project will serve to inspire and educate all the curiosity seekers it will meet. But to do this right – we do still need your support. If you choose to assist us in making this project a reality, this unique mobile classroom will greatly benefit the nature and wildlife conservation, science, reality, common sense, and renewable energy awareness education for all our outreach program participants in the WNC region as well as our wonderful students at Trails Carolina and Trails Momentum who will all greatly benefit from the wonders it will contain while they are in class and in the field on expedition. 

 Please consider supporting this project via the donate link on our website or our GoFundMe page:   www.gofundme.com/lets-build-a-mobile-outreach-classroom

The construction and use of this unique mobile classroom will be documented on this blog, our end-of-year newsletter, and soon on our YouTube channel.  

 The ENP NaSA PoD and the Mighty Bolt EV (our primary outreach vehicle) are owned by ENP and used primarily as the ENP company outreach vehicle and mobile outreach classroom.  They will be charged and fueled primarily with cleanly generated electricity provided by the ENP/Trails student-built classroom solar array and NaSA PoD’s rooftop solar array. They will both serve as outstanding teaching tools for our Trails students, ENP outreach program participants, and everyone we meet via our outreach programs.

Please note: any/all ads that appear below this post are not provided or endorsed by ENP nor are we supported in any way by these ads – they are an automated feature of WordPress.com.

NaSA PoD Project Update #4

12 Mar

Yesterday I took the PoD to meet metal fabricator Tim from Appalachian Sheet Metal and Fabrication in Weaverville, NC. Tim made some detailed measurements of the side of the Casita where the custom windows will be installed. Below is a photo of Tim making his measurements in preparation for the fabrication of the window frames.

It will take a few weeks for Tim to work his magic but hopefully, by early April I will be able to share the details of what Tim has created for us.

Also today Jim and I installed the PoD’s new skylight in the hole left by the removal of the old roof vent fan. In the next sequence of photos, you will see the process from start to finish. The first photo is taken from the roof of the Casita before I prepped the area around the hole in the roof. You can see the remnants of the old sealant as well as several broken screws sticking through the roof.

The old sealant came off easily with a razor blade but the old screw shafts had to be filed down to the roof-line with a metal file – that took a while. In the next photo, the surface has been prepped and cleaned and all screw shafts have been filed down.

Next Jim and I constructed the aluminum frames to hold the Lexan skylight. This was not as easy as it sounds and I could never have done it alone – Jim’s knowledge, expertise, and very nice tools allowed us to miter the corners of the frames and get everything lined up in preparation for installation

THANK YOU JIM!!

This is a photo of the skylight in its frame (with protective blue plastic coverings) just before I installed it on the roof.

In this next photo, we see the skylight installed in its final location on the rooftop with plenty of sealant under and around the skylight.

We needed to create a custom ultra-low-profile skylight since the solar array and its frame will need to be placed as close to the roofline as possible. An interesting point of note is that soon, with the placement of the solar array above the roof – the sky will not be very visible through this skylight. Maybe when that happens we will need to call it a solar array viewing port.

Soon, when the weather returns to something like spring (it is now 20F and windy with a dusting of snow on the ground!) I will work to install a trim piece around the interior of the skylight port…which at the moment appears as in the next photo (taken before I installed the skylight). The top layer is the fiberglass shell of the RV. Below that is a gap of about 1/2 inch, then the foam backing of the carpet, and finally the carpet itself. I plan to install an edge-hiding trim piece around the carpet and then glue the carpet up to the ceiling with construction glue…but to do that we will need warmer weather.

That is where we are in the build at the moment and we hope to have much warmer weather soon – so hopefully, more modifications will happen much faster.

I leave you with two of my furry family members who were enjoying the sunshine while Jim and I worked on the PoD. That is Cosmo the cat in the foreground rolling in the warm moss, and Tangie the “Carolina Mountain Red Dog” (rescued mixed-breed terrier thing) in the background. They both love the warmth of the early spring sunshine 🙂

We hope to have the ENP NaSA PoD in service on or before Earth Day 2022!

Stay tuned – there is much more to come.

Please subscribe and follow this blog for more updates.

This is an amazing project that will serve to educate and inspire all the curiosity seekers it meets. But to do this thing right – we do still need your support. If you choose to assist us in making this project a reality, this unique mobile classroom will greatly benefit the nature and wildlife conservation, science, and renewable energy awareness education of all of our outreach program participants in the WNC region as well as our wonderful students at Trails Carolina and Trails Momentum who will all greatly benefit from the wonders it will contain while they are in the field on expedition. 

 Please consider supporting this project via the donate link on our website or our GoFundMe page:   www.gofundme.com/lets-build-a-mobile-outreach-classroom

The construction and use of this unique mobile classroom will be documented on this blog, our end-of-year newsletter, and soon on our YouTube channel.  

 The ENP NaSA PoD and the Mighty Bolt EV (our primary outreach vehicle) are owned by ENP and used primarily as the ENP company outreach vehicle and mobile outreach classroom.  They will be charged and fueled primarily with cleanly generated electricity provided by the ENP/Trails student-built classroom solar array and NaSA PoD’s rooftop solar array. They will serve as outstanding teaching tools for our Trails students, ENP outreach program participants, and everyone we meet via our outreach programs.

Please note: any/all ads that appear below this post are not provided or endorsed by ENP nor are we supported in any way by these ads – they are an automated feature of WordPress.com.

NaSA PoD Project Update #3

7 Mar

Over the past few days, much progress has been made.

The new door latch has been installed and works fabulously!

Over the last week or so I have also been working to get the PoD’s water system installed. This will be needed to supply the PoD’s human and animal inhabitants with life-giving water during outreach events -especially multi-day events – and allow the humans to grab a shower after the end of a long day of bringing nature and science knowledge to the masses 🙂 The mass of the 25 gallons (200 lbs) of water in the two tanks (the 3rd is the water heater) will also serve as a ballast system to help counter-balance the added mass in the solar-electronics cabinet.

Step one: Find a place to install the new water tank – this looks like a good location.

Step two: move the water pump to a new location.

Step Three: replace old water pipes with new PEX water pipes.

…and even more new pipes. In the next photo, you can see how all the various water pipes connect the two tanks allowing them to balance the water supply between the two tanks. The off-white upper tank pictured in this image is also where the water filler is located – its fill hatch is on the outside of the vehicle at the end of the white PVC tube on top of the tank. Also in this photo, you can see the new 50 Amp shore power connection cable coiled on the bottom right of the image.

We also installed the new water filler hatch – but we first had to make a larger hole. We made the new hatch hole using an existing hole – the old 12-volt battery off-gassing hole – a bit larger to accommodate the new fill point.

This is what the old battery vent port looked like before we modified it.

Marking the new hole…

Cutting the new hole…

The new water filler port installed.

We also installed a new shore power cord port after the original unit suffered a RUD (Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly) while I was attempting to open it one cold day in February – the plastic was old and brittle and just fell apart in my hands. Hopefully, this new one will serve us for many years.

Back to the water system.

After the pump and all the pipes were in place, we then installed the new 9-gallon water tank.

The system is not yet connected and tested since we are missing a few small water line adapters that we could not source locally. They should arrive later this week and will complete the final connections that will make the new water system complete. If you look closely in this image and to the left of the center you will see where the adapters are needed – where the blue water line ends in a brass 90-degree elbow fitting – it is at this location where we need to have a unique small adapter to connect the water line to the tank. We also need to install a system drain valve – it will go in the space above the brass elbow I just mentioned and will have an outlet tube that passes through the RV’s floor allowing the system to be fully drained in the event of cold weather.

We also installed a clean-out port (the circular white port in the top of the original water tank in the below photo) as well as the new filler line between the tank and the externally mounted gravity fill port we mentioned earlier. The clear hose on the right is part of the water system’s air venting system.

We filled some old gas line and drain holes with body putty then drilled some huge holes through the floor of the RV and into the frame and then preliminarily installed the raised and strengthened sub-floor in the soon-to-be solar-electronics cabinet. It is not bolted in place just yet – we still need to sand and paint the fiberglass walls, let them dry, then we will be able to bolt it all together – but to do that, we need warmer weather…

We installed an external weather-proof heavy-duty outlet. This will be used to power the presentation monitor as well as the microscope station and Level 1 EVSE (electric car charger).

Lastly, we preliminarily mounted the final two Victron solar storage batteries on their support structure and then compared them to the cardboard analogue we constructed several weeks ago. The cardboard unit is smaller because it was constructed without a frame – but not to worry – the support frame’s measurements were accounted for so all should fit nicely in the new solar-electronics cabinet.

The carport staging area is looking crowded. Hopefully, we will soon be able to start putting all these parts back into the PoD.

A great photo from many years ago. During this week in 2017, I took this photo of the first toad of spring. Note: the First Phase of our classroom solar array is in the process of being constructed in the background 🙂

That is where we are in the build at the moment and we hope to have much warmer weather soon – so hopefully, more modifications will happen much faster.

Currently, we are still waiting for word from the welder and trying to find a sheet metal fabricator. Once they work their magic we will be able to install the solar modules and continue with the installation of further components. Warmer weather in the early spring will be most helpful and much will happen fast so please subscribe and follow this blog for more updates on this unique project!

We hope to have the ENP NaSA PoD in service on or before Earth Day 2022!

Stay tuned – there is much more to come.

Please subscribe and follow this blog for more updates.

This is an amazing project that will serve to educate and inspire all the curiosity seekers it meets. But to do this thing right – we do still need your support. If you choose to assist us in making this project a reality, this unique mobile classroom will greatly benefit the nature and wildlife conservation, science, and renewable energy awareness education of all of our outreach program participants in the WNC region as well as our wonderful students at Trails Carolina and Trails Momentum who will all greatly benefit from the wonders it will contain while they are in the field on expedition. 

 Please consider supporting this project via the donate link on our website or our GoFundMe page:   www.gofundme.com/lets-build-a-mobile-outreach-classroom

The construction and use of this unique mobile classroom will be documented on this blog, our end-of-year newsletter, and soon on our YouTube channel.  

 The ENP NaSA PoD and the Mighty Bolt EV (our primary outreach vehicle) are owned by ENP and used primarily as the ENP company outreach vehicle and mobile outreach classroom.  They will be charged and fueled primarily with cleanly generated electricity provided by the ENP/Trails student-built classroom solar array and NaSA PoD’s rooftop solar array. They will serve as outstanding teaching tools for our Trails students, ENP outreach program participants, and everyone we meet via our outreach programs.

Please note: any/all ads that appear below this post are not provided or endorsed by ENP nor are we supported in any way by these ads – they are an automated feature of WordPress.com.

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