Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Building the streams

Setting up our experimental stream array turned out to be no small feat! In some bizarre moment of optimism, I had scheduled one day to get the streams up and running. Impressively, it only took two and half days, which I still consider a win. There were a number of steps along the way, and I don't think we could have done it without everyone's contributions and help. 

There were a number of opportunities for innovation and ingenuity, like when we realized we had the wrong couplers for our shafts, and David and Emma improvised a solution out of electrical tape and tubing. Or when we realized that all of the electronics we had ordered to control the motors to turn the paddlewheels came without any wiring, and Chris ordered wiring from Nairobi and spent the day figuring out how to wire US devices to an unreliable Kenyan power supply.

Chris wiring our motors
There was also lots of just hard work, like having to measure out the exact number of liters of water to add to every stream and the hand carry it with buckets.

Emma measuring out water
Chris and Emma filling buckets
David filling streams
Or realizing the ground had to be perfectly level to have a 6 m long shaft turn 6 paddlewheels at equal depths, and having to adjust the ground under each stream by hand, despite the risk of cuts from the sharp flashing edges.
WRUA members helping with the setup
But by the end of two days, we had all the streams set up and filled with water, the motors running, and the paddlewheels circulating the water around the streams. But just when we were ready to declare victory, an unexpected problem arose...
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