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Countdown to Competition...

Monday, Sep. 30, 2013

With the Solar Decathlon set to open its doors to the public on Wednesday, our Decathletes worked feverishly all weekend to ready Radiant House (RH) for visitors, and they have definitely had their ups and downs. They passed a huge milestone Friday when they were tied to the grid, allowing them to both use and generate power through the house, but that triumph came after a bit of a disappointment. The team's request for connectivity was received by officials one minute too early (the atomic clock being used by the students was a bit ahead of that being used by the organizers), so SCU was put at the end of the line, behind other requestors. Not a big deal, though; the Broncos were one of just a few teams ready to go, so they were soon up and running and are now "making power quite nicely, producing nearly 44kWh each of the past two days," according to Dr. Hight. Good news: that's about twice the amount of power the team anticipates needing to run the house during competition.

Meanwhile, the controls team found a glitch in the communication between the mobile app and the house computers (to control lights, talk to mobile devices, monitor various readings, etc.), and the ramps continue to cause some challenges for the team, as well. Some pieces that were fabricated by an outside company were not made according to the team's drawings—resulting in the slope not meeting ADA guidelines. But our team is used to solving problems as they go along; it's just what they do.

Take, for instance, the question of how best to display the native plants being used to landscape the house. Experience paid off as team advisors quickly nixed the idea of using 1000+ cu. ft. of mulch in favor of a less impactful display. (Dr. Hight said he had some "nasty flashbacks" of the days' worth of work it took to clear the copious amounts of gravel from the reflecting pool in SCU's 2009 Decathlon entry.)

With the construction phase of the Solar Decathlon rapidly coming to a close, the pressure is on to get the myriad details completed and pass the final inspection by Tuesday at noon. Help cheer them on: post your best wishes on the team's Facebook page.

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