Archive for March, 2008

Presentation on Helios-The Power Tree

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Helios Tree

Background: Energy Consumption Has reached a level that is having a drastic effect in our society, environment and economy due to greenhouse gasses produced from burning fossil fuels.

World power usage in terawatts (TW) from Wikipedia:

Possible Solution
Use energy that is “clean” and that does not harm the environment as much as fossil fuels. Surprisingly only 7% of total energy used in the world is renewable.

Diagrams from Wikipedia:

An area of energy production that is being overlooked is Photovoltaic technology, whose use was only at 0.42% worldwide in 2005.

Photovoltaics (PV) is Clean, and taps into the most abundant energy available. PV cell prices have dropped from around $90 in the 1970′s to around $2.5 in 2003. Technological advances increases efficiency of cells and lowers the price, so we should expect to see more of PV in the years ahead. Solar energy is the energy that runs most life on earth. Plants and algae make sugars from it to power their metabolism. Other living things like fish insects and humans then feed on plants and take their energy. The total solar power available is a few thousand times greater than the current global energy consumption.

These variables lead me to The Helios concept. A tree that uses and collects solar energy.
Helios PV Tree

Prototype Materials:

* 192 x 3V, 22mA solar cells
* 40 x LED, white superbrights 3.2-3.4VDC 20 mA,
10,000 to 12,000 mcd output
* Blue prototyping foam
* Wire/ solder/ electric tape
* Arduino Decimila and various components
* Solar Charge Controller
* 12VDC, 7A Battery
* Lots of Coffee! I mean like, A lot of it.
* VoicePad Recorder


What does it do?
The Solar Charge Controller monitors voltage and when energy conversion is optimum, the solar cell circuit charges battery. In Beta version, the tree will have an addition of functioning outlets. An Arduino micro controller is used to monitors light via photocell sensor.
The lights on the tree turn on when the Arduino senses that its night, as well as a cricket ambient sound.

Specs of the Helios Tree:

14V peak, .6A
8.4 joules/ second
30 240 joules

12V, 7A battery
302 400 joules

4-5% at optimum light
Circuit Usage:
12V@ 400mA Watts

The chart below illustrated the energy collection and power usage of the Helios Tree.

Summary: Why make a Helios Power Tree?

* To diversify our energy portfolio!
* A step in the right direction, we need to go from 0.42% of PV usage worldwide to 42%
* Micro-generation is the key to avoid 8% loss in transmission
* Electricity Access in places with lack of infrastructure
* Help cut CO2 Emissions but producing power locally near the place of usage and turn the CO2 chart 46 degrees clockwise.
* Inspire future generations to use clean energies in a creative way.

Helios: The Power Tree

Monday, March 24th, 2008

I decided to rename my solar tree to “Helios-The Power Tree” or Helios Tree for short. I don’t want people to confuse my flexible solar PV cell tree with the Solar Tree a project by Ross Lovegrove of LONDON. My tree has an organic form and is a blue color and silver leaves. The idea behind the form of my tree was inspired by a fellow artist’s by the name of Roxy Paine who’s work is in Madison Square Park in New York City. Now that the solar PV cells where installed to the blue foam skeleton, the prototype is actually starting to look like a tree! Behold The Helios Tree:

Helios Tree

View from below:


View from above:


More Cup Art

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Here are some more cups, weeeee!

made on 02/08/08








Is Apple going cheap?

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

I bought a new MacBook Pro last Thursday. While I was customizing the preferences, not even two hours after I opened the box, the letter “i” key fell off the keyboard. I looked at the fallen key, and noticed that the little latches that hold the key in place were broken. It must have been the first time I touched the key and now it was on the table. For a second I thought it was funny “ha ha ha my new laptop’s “i” fell out.” I’m guessing that the part was broken before they put it in the box. What’s going on? Apple is either going cheap or their inspectors are asleep. What was not so funny was the amount of time I had to spend to get it fixed. I went to the NYU Computer Store where I bought the laptop but they did not have the parts. I had to go to the Apple Store on 5th Ave. to get it fixed a day later since you have to book your appointment. Going to the Apple store took around 2-3 hours out of my day which sucks since I need every second I have to finish my Solar Tree on time. What a pain!

Brand New MacBook Pro:


The letter “i” key is missing.


Yup, its broken.


Soldering the solar cells.

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

Soldering 192 solar cells is going to suck! I spent around 8 hours prepping and soldering and only managed to complete 30 solar cells. As I was soldering away, I realized that I need to attach these cells to the tree somehow. I am thinking about using hot glue but if that melts the foam, I will have to resort to some sort of latex glue. As far as esthetics, I am liking the way that the solar cells look like once I soldered wires to them.
They are not looking as bad as I thought.

I will be using blue and white wires; blue being positive and white is the ground.


These are some snapshots of the soldered solar cells.


This is what they will look like on the tree.


I did some observations of the leafs around here and it seems they are grouped in twos and fours. This is good because it will be the same set up I will use.



Eyebeam’s FEEDBACK exhibit

Friday, March 14th, 2008

Last night was Eyebeam’s FEEDBACK exhibit on sustainability. There were many interesting projects by various artist like Rebecca Bray and Britta Riley’s DrinkPeeDrinkDrinkPee, Mouna Andraos, The Power Cart, Michael Mandiberg, The Real Costs and Jeff Feddersen, The Off-Grid Outlet just to name a few.

Jeff Feddersen also happens to teach my sustainable energy class at ITP, and I noticed that he was using the set up that I want to put together for my solar tree, so i took a few recognizance pictures =)

This is the solar charge controller and a battery set up which eventually will be powering the circuits of my tree.

In Jeff’s project, he is using a solar panel set up to charge the battery as seen below.

Its nice to have an image of a system set up. Its a good starting point since I have never worked with solar charge controllers.

Solar Tree Update

Friday, March 14th, 2008

I received the solar cells that I ordered from Jameco Electronics and I was very disappointed. Although the solar cells are the size I ordered. They optically appear smaller than I imagined them. I also came to the conclusion that I will not have enough solar cells(due to budget issues) to fill up the whole tree as I first imagined. To make the tree more esthetic and functional I will be placing the solar cell on the top of the tree and the rest of the tree will be filled with decoy solar cells whose only purpose is esthetic.

This is what the cell look like from the top.

This is the bottom side of the cells.

this is the current status of the tree.

Solar Tree, carving the form.

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

I’m still waiting for the leafs of the tree to arrive. I ordered 200, 3v, 22mA solar cells that are supposed to get here today or tomorrow. Time is now a factor in meeting the deadline to finish this tree. The solar cells need to be soldered in series (in groups of four) to get 12V. These groups need to be wired in parallel to build up the current/ amperage. What this all means, is that there is a lot of soldering left to do.

This is an image of the tree in its beginning stages.


Close up of the blue foam.


The glue I’m using is PL premium adhesive.

Carving begins and gluing continues. Its starting to look like a tree!

solar tree