in Life, VolturnUS

This week was all about one thing: making sure VolturnUS was functional and ready to show the world.

With the looming deadline of having the floating wind turbine functional and generating power by Thursday ( June 14th), the team decided to finish the on-board setup early in the week. We got an early start on Monday, and drove to Castine to diagnose some last-minute electrical issues, re-route some sensor wires, and clean up the platform. After a couple hours of chasing down connectivity and power issues, we found that after a period of power loss, on-board capacitors were causing a current spike while charging. This current spike was overloading the system and causing the primary power supply fail-safe to kick in, and was a major factor in the extended connectivity loss. The group decided on a time-delay relay to spread out the inrush current over a longer period of time to fix this issue. Another issue we had been running into was the wireless communication network between land and sea. Thursday’s press release was being watched live from Washington, D.C., so it was mandatory that the on-board cameras and data link be working. The team installed two different data link assemblies, but after extensive testing they seemed to be interfering with each other. A temporary solution to the problem was put in order, and the ultimate fix will be taken care of early next week.

As soon as the power-up issues were fixed and the data-link was diagnosed, the group’s focus went back to the software side of the project. David, the lead developer, went to work programming the project in Labview. I have no experience programming in Labview, but David quickly set me up with training materials so I could learn. I spent Tuesday doing National Instruments training, and on Wednesday I set my computer up to run the turbine remotely. Wednesday evening was a dash to get all our computers communicating with the turbine, but we made it.

Last, but certainly not least, Thursday was the most important day of the whole week. It was a make-or-break day for the team, and it went quite well overall. The morning included a quick dash to get things fired up, but the whole event went very smoothly. So far, it’s been a successful couple weeks.

For news coverage on what we did this week, check out the following links:

“UMaine powers up ‘VolturnUS,’ delivers first-ever electricity to Americas from offshore wind”  -Bangor Daily News

“UMaine Connects VolturnUS 1:8 to Grid (USA)”