Day Six: Good Coffee, Bad Solar

21 January 2014 (Tuesday)

Awake at 0730 to rather calm seas and light wind from the north. I start the generator and make a breakfast burrito. This year we have started using an electric drip coffee maker, a nice addition. However it uses a lot of electricity – almost 1 kWh – when heating the water, so I try and brew coffee while the gen is running. Before the trip Tanya found an old Starbucks gift card at her house in New Jersey and checked the balance – $50. I also had a $10 gift card from Christmas. We decided to buy 5 lbs of ground coffee to bring to MDR, high class.

After breakfast I check the solar and it is not working. I tighten the connections and they come to life. Kathy and Kerry work on installing a battery and solar panel for the weather station. I move ahead on building a frame for the secondary solar array. The current solar frame is not what it once was. After a bad winter storm last February it was dismantled,

Solar panel array

Solar panel array

and in the summer it was put back up for light duty. Even so it is probably good to 60 kts, and I add some more frame to the east side to catch the new panels as well as some more primary support. When that is complete Tanya and I carry out the panels and install them. When I turn the grid back on I immediately see a drop in voltage and quickly realize my mistake. The existing two 190w panels are a 28 v circuit that service a 24 v battery pack. The secondary array are all 18v panels that service 12 v batteries. I need to rewire the secondary array in series to get the appropriate voltage.

I take a break and come in to get warm and write up a new wiring diagram. After that Tanya and I take out the ladder and remove the easter second floor window covers. This will flood a good portion of the upstairs with light. Tanya moves up to the lighthouse tower to do the years first seal count. She finds 100 gray seals two pups. This is a somewhat light count and it is likely that more seals will arrive before the end of the winter. The number will also fluctuate wildly from day to day. There is a student from the University of New England joining us for the second half of the project. She is interested in the seal pup and mother vocal interactions. I will need to email her to let her know the numbers – not a great sample size. Both pups will likely be weaned by then as well so mother interaction will be non-existent. However I am confident that we will see more pups in the next month.


Late in the afternoon I revisit the solar array. I bring out my tools and my new wiring diagram. The repair is not too lengthy. After securing everything I make my way back in and when I re-power the array I see we are in good shape. The array is now producing 36v, and the FlexMax charge controller is happy to condition that voltage for the 24v battery array. However there is negligible sun and we will not get to see max amps until a sunny day. For the moment I am content with the progress.

Kerry and Kathy have been fighting with their GoPro camera for a couple of days now. The plan is to mount the camera at the weather station site pointed out across the island DSCN5293and capture images of spray. That part is OK. However the camera also has a WiFi link that is supposed to allow them to receive images every 30 minutes. This link is not working. Also, they are not able to download the images directly from the camera because of a operating system error between the 32 GB micro-SD card and their computers. Patches do not seem to work, and they are emailing GoPro for answers without luck.

Kerry makes nachos and tacos for dinner. Tanya makes brownies.

Kerry and Kathy brave the weather and set out a multi-cylinder at 2200 that will collect sea spray all night.

Bed by 2200.


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