Wednesday, May 12, 2010

American Robin Nest has a 36 Volt Solar Array!

Posted by Kirk
Today I taught our Solar Energy class which is a once in every two years affair we do for a local twin cities school. We teach about photovoltaics, bake cookies in a solar oven, demonstrate the heat power of concentrated sun energy and have the kids design and build their own solar ovens. My part this time around was to explain photovoltaics and take kids for a ride on the Water Strider, the worlds first solar powered pontoon boat. We built it about ten years ago and it just underwent a complete re-build with new engines, decking, seating, joystick control and expanded deck hatches for lowering equipment and underwater viewing. We also converted from a 24 to a 36 volt solar system. It is better than ever. Something caught my eye when I headed toward the craft though. What's that below the array on the right hand side?

Sure enough, that's an American Robin nest. The pair had just started to build it and they chose to do so right under the three panels that make up our solar array.

This is probably the only robin nest in the world right now that comes with a dedicated 36 watt-three panel solar array. The nest wasn't finished yet and lucky for the birds we probably won't need to use the boat until summer camp starts just after the young have fledged from the nest. Hopefully this nest attempt will be better off than the nest I described about a week ago. That robin laid three eggs and something raided and destroyed the nest a few days later. Rotten luck.