A Slimmed Down First and a Well Known Second Final

project solar-geiger-counter

This weekend I took my Energy final project out in the sun and it worked - at least most parts of it: I can power the geiger-counter entirely with a 12 V / 3.4 Watt solar panel - no LiPo involved. I cannot get enough current out of the panel to power a solenoid on the side as well. To avoid using another solar panel and keeping the project still portable I decided to slim this part down and accept the final outcome: a solar powered geiger counter with an Arduino Nano as a data outlet. I cannot run my entire art installation from project development on a small solar panel - but it is remarkable that the small panel can power the geiger-counter and therefore produce voltages up to 400V (needed to activate the geiger-mueller tube)! 

Here the prototype test outside:

The  mightyohm-geiger kit  assembled and running on solar - a beauty!

The mightyohm-geiger kit assembled and running on solar - a beauty!

And a live test:

project solar-blockchain-physical-streaming-interface

Thinking about the course and my projects in it so far I thought since a long time that it might be worth revisiting my only partially finished project for the midterms. 

It took me a few hours to successfully debug my hardware + code and had three insights:

  • a bigger power supply (in my case a 6600 mA Li-Ion Pack) is great for the Raspberry Pi 3 
  • don't copy paste into Github from terminal - check for tabs and spaces
  • always check if your project share a common ground

I got the wallet / blockchain connection and the servo part working on solar (with a gentle support from the Li-Ion pack ...), here the rough prototype (here just running from Li-Ion pack):

After compiling ffmpeg on my raspberry pi locally (takes a long time ...) I tested streaming to youtube from the pi and then embed this into my website. Streaming from the Pi to Youtube following this tutorial worked, at full resolution only if the Raspberry Pi is plugged into a standard power socket - the Li-Ion Pack can only support a streaming resolution of 320x240 at the moment, maybe the bottleneck is the booster. Here the battery powered prototype:

After a lot of tweaking of the ffmpeg-stream parameters I finally decided to re-solder some of the connections - using thicker wires. And I finally got all parts (digging the blockchain, running the servo while streaming live to youtube - with battery/solar power only) working. Very buggy, it crashed after a minute ... but it worked!

I am super happy! And I know that I need to iterate on this: This is a temporary fix as I ideally would like to the use webRTC as I used it on the mac-version of the project.

This class really was a journey, a lot of insights and learning moments - so far am so satisfied that I can run both projects independently with solar on a raspberry pi and an Arduino!