EGTN Molokai Install Report

Hi everyone! Yes, we are still alive and now back safely on Maui.  It was quite the adventure for a number of reasons while we were on Molokai, that I don’t necessarily know where to start or what to include! If I ran you through every little thing we both would be here for a while.  With that, I’ll jump in and see where this post takes us.

So after finishing up the first batch of our work on Maui, we repacked all of our bags to skinny down to only the bare bones for what we required on Molokai.  As we camped on Molokai, we brought our camping gear and left behind a portion of our clothes and hardware that we would not require.  Finishing up packing at about midnight, we were up at 04:30 the next morning to catch our transportation to Molokai:

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For the first time in EGTN travel, we took a boat to arrive.  Since there is a car shortage on Molokai, our rental car agency was U-Haul.  First time I’ve used U-Haul as an actual rental car! At the closest point, Maui and Molokai are about 9 miles apart so the boat ride over was pretty quick.  We put in the water at about 08:00 and arrived at the observatory site by 11:00. We ate a quick lunch and then jumped into work.  We went over with the shed builder who finished a few things while Max and I started on the telescope and computer setup.  We finished for the day as the sun started to go down which allowed us to stop moving for the first time all day:

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The next day we continued working on the same aspects and doing our best to stay out of the builder’s way.  He finished all of his work by the mid-afternoon which allowed Max and I to officially move into the shed. As the builder left, we saw some ominous cloud on the horizon and decided to put our rain flies on.  And just in time, the weather officially switched then and proceeded to be rain for the whole night and windy from that night essentially continuously for the next 3 days!

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Even with the rain flies on and tents zipped up, the red dust appeared to perform quantum tunneling and get EVERYWHERE.  Here is inside my tent, which was never unzipped/opened for more time than me to climb in or out:

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My dry bag used to be black… At about this point of the install we noticed that our batteries were not charging in the solar system.  This discovery ended up dictating most of the remaining time we had on the island as about 2 days were devoted to debugging and working out potential solutions to the problem.  To start, we tabulated values in order to keep track of what was going on with the voltages and charging controllers:

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We ultimately were able to single it out to a particular device that we are now planning to swap out, but we had a power problem on our hands.  With internet set to be installed, we had to do some juggling to ensure we had enough electricity for the hardware setup and installation. We partitioned off some of the batteries to serve as “backup” for us as we anticipated the installers arrival and thankfully everything went off successfully.  Pretty soon after all batteries were depleted.  So now came the question of how to charge batteries when the charging hardware installed doesn’t charge… Well the answer is:

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Yes, we charged the observatory batteries off our car! With the batteries recharged, we knew that we would have enough energy to complete the remainder of our work and focused up all the telescopes and set limits easily.  First light at the site was on 19 April 2017, With the current power issue, we are unable to run onsite but are working to have that sorted ASAP and will then be fully contributing to the network.

Since this little burner was our savior while camping on site, I feel it needs to be posted here:

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My little burner and kettle were our source of hot water to allow for coffee and food while on site.  We purchased sandwich stuff for lunch, but the burner allowed for our dehydrated food.  Max and I cooked eggs and bacon a couple mornings! Camp breakfasts are always delicious with that little bit of dirt mixed in.

On our second to last day on Molokai, we had to head into town for the hardware store but also made a little side trip.  The side trip to the other side of the island proved quite fruitful and provided the first opportunity for Max and I to jump in the water all trip! Here is a picture from the beach park:

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So with everything completed to the best of our ability at this time (only electricity needs to be fixed), we packed up and headed back to Maui today.  As we were leaving the site, we were treated to an amazing view:

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For me this picture sums up everyone’s hard work over the last 3+ years on the network as we have a 100% off-grid observatory on an island in the middle of the Pacific.  This proves the resiliency of the network we have all created.

To polish off our trip to Molokai, we took a little puddle jumper from Molokai back to Maui which was a fun little flight.  Here is the plane and the view from the last row.  That is Max in the green shirt on the left.

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So those are all the basic quick hit points on our trip.  We have a fully operational shed on Molokai, minus the electricity which will be sorted in the very near future.  Another successful install in the network and now back to Maui to finish the shed here!

Thanks for reading and take care!
MJ


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