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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Dummy Load Update

It's been a while since we've shared about the progress of installing the new antenna test load. With the plumbing and electrical hookups completed, we have been working on building an enclosure for the test load to keep it safe from the punishing elements here on Guam. We have constructed a concrete block building, fabricated louvers (vented windows) to keep the rain out, and poured a concrete roof on the building. You can see the progress below. All that remains is to complete the RF hookup that will connect the test load to the switch matrix, and make sure that all the communication links are working properly!

Mixing up the concrete.

Pouring the mixed concrete into the wheelbarrow.
Jim had the grand idea of using the forklift to raise the wheelbarrow so we could walk it out right onto the roof and pour!
Pouring the concrete onto the roof.
The finished dummy load enclosure! It just needs some finishing touches (louvers, door, etc.).

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Panels Are Online!

With all of the electrical hookups complete, an inspector from Guam Power Authority came by the office last week and gave us the go-ahead to flip the breaker to allow power to begin flowing from the solar panels into our distribution panel! So we are beginning to see the benefit of the solar panel array that we have been anxiously waiting to use. These additional 20 kW of power, combined with the 23 kW in the first phase, will allow us to generate about 300 kWh of energy on a nice, sunny Guam day. Over time, this will make a big difference in our energy budget, and will allow us to direct more funds to ministry expenses, such as more programming for the transmitters.
The inverter has a display screen showing the voltage, current, power and energy outputs of the PV system. The left side has the DC values coming into the inverter from the panels, and the right side has the AC output from the inverter to the building.

The inverter is mounted outside on the support posts for the panels.

The finished product happily chugging out power!

Monday, October 5, 2015


And this time, I'm not referring to our rainy season as noted by the dark clouds in the background of the first picture.  This week, we have been working to hook up the water lines from the test load (right) to the chiller (left).  Jim has been putting his pipefitting/welding experience to good use this week, and we have the water hookups complete!  The next step will be filling the reservoir with water to test the pipes for leaks, running conduit out to the test load and chiller, and then completing the electrical/RF hookups for the test load.

Jim showing off his soldering skills.

This was Paul's response when I told him he would be a rock star after I got his picture on the blog.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Panels Are Up!

I, Andrew, am delighted to report that all of the solar panels for phase two of our project are mounted!  At the moment, the crew is burying the conduit that will carry the power from the inverter (which will be mounted on one of the posts holding up the panels) to our building.  We are looking forward to finishing up the installation and being able to make some power!

Here you can see phase two:

And here you can see both phases one (closest) and two (in the background):

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Installation, continued...

Now that the posts are all in place for phase two of our solar array, we are ready for concrete!  The truck came yesterday, and the crew was busy pumping concrete, making sure that the posts stayed level as the concrete rushed into the holes.  After one truckload was poured, all but three post holes were filled, so we had another smaller load of concrete come down to the site today to fill the remaining holes.  With all of the posts now set in concrete, the crew is setting up the mounting hardware, and beginning to mount the panels!  We hope to have all the panels mounted by the end of the day tomorrow (Friday).  Then we can begin the work of wiring the panels to the inverter, and then into our electrical system.

The posts are set, leveled, and ready for panels!
The posts are secured in 8 feet of concrete.  These puppies aren't going anywhere...

The first panel of the second phase is mounted!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Installation for Dummies

This week, we've been taking advantage of the somewhat drier weather to install our antenna test load (also known as a "dummy load").  The real challenge is figuring out how to set up rigging to carefully pick up and balance the equipment while carrying it out to its designated place in the switch matrix.  After a relatively short period of trial and error, we were able to successfully balance the test load, pick it up, carry it up to the antenna field and drop it into place.

The next step was picking up the chiller and carefully setting it on the concrete footings we poured.

And there you have it!  Our test load and chiller are in their proper place. (The test load is under the tarp.) All that remains is hooking up the plumbing and the electrical/control wiring.

The Digging is Complete

Finally... the time has come when the contractor was able to get the auger to the site where we are putting the next set of solar panels.   Phase 2 underway!

It was still quite muddy, the auger got stuck once getting it to the post holes.  But eventually success.
And just in time.  About 10 minutes after the holes were completed the sky opened up and we had torrential rains for half an hour.   The thing to notice in these pictures is The Sky!

After the rain shower they were able to get all the posts in place.  Weather permitting the concrete will be poured Wednesday (tomorrow).

Friday, August 21, 2015

Arrival of the Panels!

On Thursday morning, the long-awaited panels arrived at the site!  There was a miscommunication between the shipper and the freight forwarder which resulted in us thinking that the panels were supposed to arrive in port last week.  But after many phone calls between Mike and the freight forwarder's dispatcher, we figured out that the next phase of solar panels was arriving a week later than we had anticipated.  So two flatbed trucks carrying our precious merchandise were a welcome sight at the office down here in Merizo!

Upon the arrival of the trucks, we promptly fired up our not-so-trusty forklift and got to work unloading the panels, mounting hardware, and inverter from the first flatbed with relative ease.  Once we unloaded the first truck, the second truck showed up with the posts and rails used for mounting the panels.  It was at this point where Jim, pushing the limits of the forklift's operating capabilities, wandered off the straight and narrow and wound up stuck in a rut along the side of the road.  Luckily, Paul came to the rescue and pulled him out with the backhoe.

After that fiasco, we unloaded the posts and rails from the second flatbed.  This was a bit trickier because of the length of the load we were picking up with the forklift.  We had to pay careful attention to how well the load was balanced before picking it up from the truck.

Once all the equipment was unloaded, we put the panels, inverter and mounting hardware into storage in the barn, and left the posts and rails out so they will be accessible when the installation begins tomorrow!  Looking at these pictures, you can see that it is now rainy season here on Guam, so we are racing to get these panels set up before the weather gets much worse.  Please pray that we can get the panels installed before the end of next week!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Phase Two Has Begun!

Since phase one of our solar panel project was implemented almost a year ago, we have produced 39.6 MWh of energy!  This translates to roughly $13,000 in energy savings over the past year.  Our first phase has the capacity to produce 23 kW of power, but on Guam, we are permitted 100 kW of capacity for a grid-tie system.  Therefore, we are looking to add second and third phases of panels to utilize this renewable source of energy and further reduce our energy bills.  The addition of a second phase will bring our total capacity to 43 kW.

Phases 2 & 3 will go on the slope behind our building.
Early on Monday morning, workers from Kindo Electric here on Guam showed up at the site to begin work on the installation of phase two of our solar array.  Unlike the first solar array, this phase will go on the slope behind the transmitter hall (as shown in the figure above).  Over the period of two mornings, the workers set the layout and spacing for the panels, dug the postholes (shown below), and dug a trench from the location of the panels to the back of the building, where the panels will be tied into our electrical system.  All that remains is to install the posts, mount the panels, install the inverter and complete the electrical hookup!  We are hoping to have this work done before the end of the month.

Digging the postholes for the mounting hardware.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Arrival of the Dummy Load

Today, the long-awaited dummy load arrived at the transmitter site in two installments!  We will use the new dummy load to test our transmitters without broadcasting radio waves over the air.  Through the process of sending many kilowatts of RF energy into the dummy load, a lot of heat is created.  Therefore, the dummy load comes with an enormous chiller and a big pump to move refrigerated water to cool off the dummy load.  This particular dummy load has a 300kW capacity, which is plenty for our purposes here at the site.

First, the chiller for the dummy load was loaded on to a flatbed truck and sent down to the site.  We fired up our trusty forklift, and Phil gracefully lifted the awkwardly long chiller off of the bed of the truck.  The driver then pulled the truck forward and out of the way so that Phil could guide the chiller and set it down in its resting place on the covered concrete pad at the back of our building.

After lunch, the moving truck showed up again with the actual dummy load.  Although it is smaller in size, the dummy load proved more difficult to move than the chiller.  We needed to rotate the dummy load on the flatbed before we could pick it up with the forklift.  Once we did that, we set it down inside the shop at the back end of the building.

The next step will be to build a structure for the dummy load to reside in where it will be protected from the elements, and to move the chiller to its resting place on three concrete footers that we poured next to the retaining wall for the antenna switch matrix.
The chiller arriving on a flatbed truck.
Our photogenic intern, Sol, with the chiller in the background.  Also, it's a beautiful day on Guam! 
Phil picking the chiller up off of the flatbed with the forklift.

Phil setting the chiller down in its resting place on the back porch.
George striking a pose with the dummy load upon its arrival.
Phil carefully rotating the dummy load on the flatbed.
And we're up!
Phil setting the dummy load down in the shop.
Unwrapping our present!
The team checking out the new toy.
The concrete footers where the chiller will rest.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sidecat Anchor Replacement

The broken anchor.
One of the causes for antenna one's damage during the typhoon was that the anchor for the support cable on the side of the antenna was ripped out of the ground.  This anchor is hooked into a reinforced cement block buried under about six feet of earth.  Over years of oxidation and corrosion, certain spots on the anchor became thinner and thinner until the anchor broke in half during the strong gusts of the typhoon.  This break increased the stress on the other support cables, and resulted in broken drop lines and the tangled web of metal and ceramic insulators shown earlier.

In order to prevent this from occurring on all the other anchors, we had poured a cylindrical concrete form to protect the anchor from corrosion and add additional stability and strength.  However, this had not been done to the anchors on antenna one before the typhoon.

Temporary "anchors".
To fix antenna one's anchors, we temporarily connected the side support cables to two vehicles to hold the antenna in place while we fixed the anchors.  Next, we dug holes to get to the buried concrete blocks, and chipped away concrete to expose the steel rebar so we could attach the new anchors.  Once we attached the anchors and set them at the proper angle and direction, we poured the concrete into cylindrical forms around the anchors.  The next-to-last step was to backfill the holes we had dug, and to wait two weeks for the new anchors to set.  Finally, we reattached the side support cables to the new anchors and tensioned the cables to the proper load.  And just like that, antenna one was completely repaired!

Reattaching the anchor and pouring the concrete tube.
Backfilling around the anchor with dirt.
The cables are reattached to the anchors, much to Sol's delight.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Slew Switch Motor Replacement

Since the beginning of the broadcast season in March, we have been limited in our use of antenna three.  Although the antenna can potentially broadcast in three directions, we can only use one of those directions (or slews) per shift.  This is because the motor that powers the slew switch has not been working properly.  In order to restore the slew switch to its proper functionality, we replaced the old motor with a refurbished motor, and replaced the wires that run from the relays that control the motor to match the color-coded system in our schematics.

Now that the motor has been replaced, we have the potential to use any of the three slews on antenna three during our broadcast shift.  However, this improvement came with a cost, as Mike painfully discovered where some wasps had been nesting in the struts that support the slew switch...

Transmitter Maintenance

Since the site has been in project mode for so long, continuously working to improve the operation of the site, it has been difficult to keep up with the scheduled maintenance of the transmitters.  However, with our new intern, Sol, and the Brunson family, who are here on Guam for a vision trip as they work towards raising financial support to join the team, we have the manpower to perform some overdue maintenance of the transmitters!

First up, our 100kW HCJB transmitter!  We vacuumed out and wiped down the different compartments of the transmitter, changed the water in the cooling system, replaced the weatherstripping on the doors of the modulator cabinet, and visually inspected for any damage.

Next up, our two 250kW Thomson transmitters!  We opened up the transmitters, cleaned all the different compartments, and visually inspected for any damage.

It was helpful to have the manpower necessary to complete these tasks in one day.  We are looking forward to the day when all of those raising support to join the team here on Guam, so we can keep up to date with these tasks that help ensure the reliability that we strive for!