It’s crunch time over at Fo’sheimer and Filles Fabrications! Before the semester ends (in about one and a half weeks) we need to build a 1:18 scale model of the airstream with our floorplan, do our electricity load calculations, and design a solar array to power the system. This is going to be hard for Gus and me because most Project Ventura groups are made up of three people, whereas it’s just us two trying to finish everything, so we have to manage our time wisely. Since two out of the three deliverables are for electricity, we’ve started with that.
Off we go from the land of fun Pinterest-y design ideas into the realm of banal electricity. The process of how solar energy will work in our system is rather complicated. Photovoltaic cells in the solar panels get Direct Current (DC) energy from the sun, which will go through a charge controller to regulate its charge, and the energy will charge the battery bank. From here, the DC electricity could either directly provide energy for DC appliances, or be inverted in to AC (Alternating Current) electricity to power AC appliances.
What’s challenging about the electrical system is that it’s very hard to find appliances that run on DC instead of the more popular AC. We were reluctant to use an inverter to turn DC into AC because it causes a lot of energy loss, but we had to do it because it is impossible to find a printer or tea kettle that runs on 12 volts of DC electricity. We did, however, find a coffeemaker and light bulbs that run on DC electricity, which will save us energy because we don’t have to use an inverter for those.
Neither Gus or I have ever even tried to make a scale model of anything before, so it was helpful to seek guidance from people who have more practice. We have all of our scale model measurements, but we have yet to start planning it. Modelmakers suggest establishing a clear goal for the model so that you know what you need to communicate. This will help you determine what kind of model you need and materials to use. For the purposes of the airstream, our goal is to show the teachers how their common space will work. We should also be realistic about what we can achieve within our time and materials constraints, because if we get too ambitious then we might not get it done on time. It’s best to make things monochrome as well unless we’re very confident in color, because there’s a risk of the model looking sloppy, less clean and finished. As for the process of making the model, it’s good to use light passes when cutting rather than long cuts, and to use a metal ruler. First in Architecture gives tips to explore all options before deciding what road to go down, select materials that are easy to work with, and that PVA glue is one of the best options for model making.
That’s it for 2013! By the next time I’ll write it will be 2014, given that I don’t severely hurt myself with an x-acto knife while model making.