The Harker School InvenTeam

Where Innovation Starts

April 17, 2012
by ndilip
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Weekly Update: April 17

Over the weekend, we started to run temperature data collection during the day and over night. We have analyzed some of the data over the weekend, but due to the accidental removal of thermocouples, some of the data was unusable.

We machined the EPS Foam necessary for the device to be able to float on water. Based on our mathematical simulation, about 2.8 inches of the foam will be underwater as our device floats. Our goal is to have the bottom panel of our device underwater but the top panel above water, and the gap between these panels is 1 inch. Therefore, we intend to have about 0.5 inches of the base of our device underwater and the other 0.5 inches above water. We can adjust the height of the device in the water by vertically repositioning the EPS foam at each of the four corners of our device.

Regarding maintenance operations, we expanded a few holes in the sheet metals so the bolts would fit in more neatly. We are currently testing 60 degrees as a reflector angle and will compare the temperature results from today and tomorrow with the previous temperature results (which involved a 45 degree reflector angle). After collecting additional data throughout this week, we intend to compare the following configurations:

1) no reflectors (data collected over weekend)

2) 45 degree reflector angle (data collected over weekend and through Monday and most of Tuesday)

3) 60 degree reflector angle (data currently being collected for Tuesday afternoon and most of Wednesday)

4) 30 degree reflector angle (data will be collected for Wednesday afternoon and most of Thursday)

5) 90 degree reflector angle (data will be collected for Thursday afternoon and most of Friday)

We will then determine the optimal reflector angle based on the experimental data.

During the rest of this week, we plan to machine holes in the Microsil using a CNC at the Tech Shop, wire up the thermoelectric panels, and put the Microsil-panel apparatus into the device. We will use thermal grease at every junction to maximize heat transfer to and from the panels. We will then test power output from the panels in addition to the temperature of the top and bottom pieces of sheet metal. We will also seal, caulk, and waterproof our device so that we can test it in our school’s swimming pool.

April 10, 2012
by ndilip
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Weekly Update: April 10

On Friday, March 30, we decided that using a CNC would be best to cut out a panel from the Microsil base and planned to complete the machining over the course of the next week. In addition, we completed our Progress Report for the month of March.

The following Friday, we prepared the CNC for creating the Microsil cuts and tested out the machine by making preliminary cuts. The machining of the CNC, however, will be delayed by about a week because the machine needs to be fixed and recalibrated for use. We concluded yesterday that we do not need to purchase a new endmill for the cuts, and we measured the weights of our materials, including the aluminum squares, thermoelectric panels, and C-channels to finish our buoyancy calculations.

We are currently calculating exactly how much volume the device can take up and how much it can weigh yet still float on the water in order to maximize heat absorption.

During the next week, we will measure the mass of the rest of the parts and calculate the buoyancy of the device. Hopefully, we can machine the Microsil with the CNC soon, but in the meantime, we are testing the device with a test piece of Microsil and either one or two thermoelectric panels. We are discussing how to machine the Microsil if the CNC remains out of order

In addition, we are conducting tests on the angles of our reflector. The larger the reflector angles, the more light and thus more heat it can absorb, but the heat will not be as focused. A smaller reflector angle will give less heat, but this heat will be concentrated. The device will have reflector angles of either 45 or 60 degrees.

March 26, 2012
by ndilip
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Weekly Update: March 25

This week, we held our on-site visit for representatives from the Lemelson-MIT Program and attended the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA) OpenMinds Conference in San Francisco. Our on-site visit, on Thursday, was successful, as we were able to showcase our progress thus far and answer questions regarding potential challenges we may face in the future.

The next day, we attended the OpenMinds Conference in the San Francisco Exploratorium, where about 14 teams of collegiate innovators displayed their inventions. Attendees were each given three million fake dollars to invest in whichever company or companies they thought would be the most successful, and they invested $24 million in our Aquatic Thermoelectric Generator, which was about the average for the 14 teams.

We hope to finish construction within the next few weeks and begin to implement preliminary testing and make further enhancements on the device before EurekaFest in June.

March 21, 2012
by ndilip
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Weekly Update: March 21

We have picked up our coated sheet metal and are preparing our final presentation for the on-site visit tomorrow evening. For the OpenMinds Conference that we are attending Friday, we are constructing a posterboard with the presentation slides.

March 16, 2012
by ndilip
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Weekly Update: March 15

This week, we made significant strides in construction. We prepared our Microsil thermally insulating foam for CNC machining and will do the machining next week. Designing a circuit diagram, we planned how we would electrically connect panels in order to maximize voltage and current, thus resulting in maximum power output.

Over the weekend, we will speak to a fellow student who built a battery charger so we can make our circuit charge batteries and store the power generated from thermoelectric panels. Yesterday, we delivered our Al sheet metal to a local auto body shop to get it spray-coated with a solar absorbent coating; we received a discount in exchange for their sponsorship on our device.

March 5, 2012
by ndilip
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Weekly Update: March 4th

This week, we spent significant time working on our presentation for the on-site visit later this month. We had detailed discussions about what we should present and added to the Powerpoint that we created last week.
In addition, we held a videoconference with Justin from Lemelson-MIT and discussed guidelines for the on-site visit. We decided to establish further deadlines and document milestones in upcoming weeks. In addition, we hope that we will be able to finish construction of the product and begin preliminary testing before the on-site visit.