Going off grid in Africa - Again!

Discussion in 'Fred's House of Pancakes' started by jerrymildred, Jun 9, 2021.

  1. stevepea

    stevepea Senior Member

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    No, it's very possible.
    15hrs is like LAX - Australia
    11-12ish hours (depending on the direction) is LAX to Asia.
    But Africa is a lot more.
    LAX to Cape Town was 29hours for me -- but I don't count all 29hrs because that included a change of plane in the southeast US (Atlanta, Miami, etc).
    Still it's a full 22hr flight on the same plane, from the southeast US to Cape Town.

    I once asked the cabin attendants about it and was told there are 3 different shifts for the flight (because they're only allowed to work so many hours at a time). Yeah, it's long, especially in economy (the only place I can afford when it's on my dime). But as long as you don't have a crying baby or a kid kicking your seat from behind it's not so bad.
     
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  2. stevepea

    stevepea Senior Member

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    Interesting that it's not SW (or even MW/AM) but FM, with it's much shorter range (esp at that wattage) though if it meets your needs that's great.

    Speaking of rain, I remember someone telling me that the name of Botswana's currency ("pula") is also the word for "rain". Guess in Africa (and California now as well, it seems) rain is just that important...

    Good luck, and stay safe!!
     
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  3. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    The picture kind of makes me cringe, all those loose bits on the conduit box waiting to fall on those exposed busbars...
     
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  4. Salamander_King

    Salamander_King Senior Member

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    Jerry already explained to me that the hours include time at the airport. But my question was "can an airplane have enough fuel to be able to fly 28 hours continuously in the air?" Of course, without midair re-fueling stunt. ;)
     
  5. Trollbait

    Trollbait It's a D&D thing

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    Likely not with a commercial airliner.
    The longest flight routes for them are over 16 hours, and not quite 18.
    The 10 Longest Non-Stop Commercial Flights In The World [2021]
     
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  6. stevepea

    stevepea Senior Member

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    When I went to South Africa a couple times in the early 2000s one time was via Asia (KL) so that broke up the trip.

    But the earlier time... was (after starting in LAX) an Atlanta --> Cape Town flight on the outbound, and for the return it was Johannesburg to Miami (before continuing onto LAX).

    The Atlanta to Cape Town flight portion was 22 hrs, though we stopped to refuel in the middle of the night at Cape Verde (no one was allowed off the plane except to go to the super-tiny duty free shop if they wanted). 22hrs on the same flight without a stop (except to refuel).

    On the return (slightly shorter Joburg to Miami)... I could swear we did NOT stop to refuel.
    Maybe the direction/winds helped? Maybe I'm remembering wrong, but I could swear we did not stop to refuel on the return. Hmm.

    PS: These were on 747s, which are no longer in service today. Maybe they had a different range?
     
    #26 stevepea, Jun 21, 2021
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2021
  7. farmecologist

    farmecologist Senior Member

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    Darn Jerry..nice work...looks 'fun'!

    Just come back soon. I was hoping you could scout out a new used car for me down in Tampa...haha.

    BTW - Is Todd over at Tampa Hybrids generally pretty good? I know folks here give him great ratings...but just making sure.

    Sorry I posted this here...but I can't send a private message for some reason ( supposed to be fixed 'soon'...but not sure what that means in PriusChat time ). (y)
     
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  8. farmecologist

    farmecologist Senior Member

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    Edit - Somehow I double posted...
     
  9. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    it's certainly been done, but you might as well do mid-air refueling because the setup for such flights were stunts compared to normal flying anyway.
     
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  10. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    There are two big reasons for FM rather than AM or SW.
    One is that we already broadcast in about six languages. A bigger area would mean even more languages. Right here in town, people speak (besides French) Moba, Tchicosi, Gamgam, Anufu, and I think there's another local language, too.
    Second is that pretty nearly every cell/smart phone in these developing countries has an FM receiver. For AM, they would need to go buy a radio and they don't have the money to spend on a radio when they already have one in their phone.

    No worries about posting this here. I saw your latest over on your thread. Too bad you missed that one. I think Todd is terrific. If you do end up going there, let him know I sent you. He kinda gets a kick out of that. BTW, the advertised price is what he actually wants for the car. You can always ask if that's his best price, but I've never heard him say it isn't his best price.

    Things are going slowly here lately. We are kind of stymied trying to get the new inverter to communicate with the system. It came set to South Africa. I didn't know that it needed to be configured till after I had run it overnight. It turns out that once it's been run for over 10 hours, the configuration has to be done via software with a password rather than with the dip switches. We can't get the thing to talk over serial or ethernet. We're not out of possible combinations yet, but it's sure eating up our hours.
    This is my friend Kuami making up a new ethernet cable to try to talk to the new inverter.
    IMG_3514.jpg


    Here's one of the radio staff working on a morning devotional in the Anufu language.
    IMG_3513.jpg

    Also, I developed "Togo tummy," something that happens to almost everyone who comes here. The Imodium bought me time while the cipro does its thing. I'm feeling better but still really tired.

    And the guard killed another young snake. It's a carpet viper. They are particularly nasty.
    IMG_3511.jpg
     
    #30 jerrymildred, Jun 22, 2021
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2021
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  11. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    But I learned over the weekend that there is at least one AM station in Togo.
     
  12. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    Today, I start the second half of my sojourn in Africa. Thankfully, the diarrhea has "passed." My left knee is still messed up. Every time I bend it past 90 degrees, it locks when I try to straighten it unless I get just the right angle on it.

    The communication box between all the inverters and the computers is still not working. I've gone over the cabling so many times I lost count. The trouble must be in the box itself and we don't have a spare. Time to move on.

    A rat ate through a power cable sometime in the recent past, so I need to check out that temporary repair job and get it weatherproofed. And hopefully, rat proofed.

    Also, need to teach the maintenance guy how to maintain the lead acid batteries in the solar power system.

    Tomorrow I get so have a small world experience. My hosts here went to college with dear friends of ours who serve with our mission in Honduras. Those friends will be arriving here tomorrow for a couple days. That'll be a treat!

    IMG_3537a.jpg
    The radio station is out of town, but there is a lot of foot traffic as people go to and from their farms and homes.

    IMG_3516a.jpg
    End of the day last Friday.

    IMG_3519a.jpg
    Two hours after that previous picture. We get some pretty spectacular thunder storms here. I'm glad the tower system came with a good grounding kit.
     
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  13. john1701a

    john1701a Prius Guru

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    I just got back from my 2-week adventure in Africa. Travel was for pleasure, safari at several locations within Tanzania. We saw a lot more than just wild animals. Those drives & flights provided hints of what life is like there. It is a land of motorcycles there. If you owned a car, it almost certainly would be a Toyota. The roads were fascinating to witness. As for electricity, it is minimal outside of the cities. From the main roads, we could see powerlines strung to some homes while others were skipped. Off the main, even fewer had access. Electricity is limited and will likely remain that way for a very long time still.

    Solar was impressive out in the camps. At one, tents had their own panel & battery. It was a stand-alone system to provide interior lighting. That was exciting to see. At another, it was a combination of distributed panels and a master control to shut off draw during the sleeping hours. With locations so remote, it was really nice not having to use a flashlight for everything. That's their priority... not anything related to transportation.

    Charging of our camera batteries and battery-banks was achieved by solar at the camps and inverter within the safari vehicle. You had to plan when & how for power needs. That worked fine. I ended up taking a little over 19,000 photos. Gotta love digital.

    Looking at transportation need, I see electric motorcycles eventually coming into play. Knowing that Honda sells 15 million two-wheeled vehicles per year, it was easy to confirm firsthand where & how they were being used. That's how much of their powered transport is achieved. It was rather impressive to see the large loads balanced on those motorcycles. It was also quite enlightening to see them enjoy the ride with 3 people on a single motorcycle. That's the way things are. They make it work.

    With regard to emissions, the pollution from their vehicles is really unfortunate. Motorcycles have minimal cleansing (if any) and there are a lot of poorly maintained large diesel vehicles. Again, that is the way things are. Seeing the potential for small 2-wheel and 3-wheel vehicles to eventually adopt battery use is encouraging. Those opportunities are very much dependent upon solid-state technology. Having a liquid electrolyte in such a harsh environment (pretty much no shade ever for the vehicle), heat is very much an endless exposure.

    @jerrymildred, I hope you enjoy that experience. It is fascinating to be able to visit such different places. We thoroughly enjoyed my recent exposure to the cultural difference... though the painfully long air-travel complicated by Covid requirements is a challenge to the character of a person. Now, we're back home dealing with jet-lag and sorting through a massive collection of digital photos. We had a great time. Hope you do too.
     
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  14. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    Good observations, John.

    Lots of Toyotas, but tons of motorcycles. Mostly little 125 cc Chinese models. Almost no Japanese brands here. Somewhere, I think I have a picture from a previous trip of two boys carrying a calf on a motorcycle. The calf was trussed up sideways on the back and the 2nd boy was sitting on the calf. Seeing four people on a motorcycle is not uncommon here. I'm uploading a 41-second video to YouTube. I'll link to it when it finishes uploading. It'll take a while at 200KB/s.

    Roads are way better here than when I first came in 2015. Now they are only brutal. Even in the towns, not many have electricity. And out in the country here, many are nomadic which makes electricity pretty much a fairy tale for them.

    Even here on the edge of town, the power goes out so often and for so long that I'm making good use of my lithium battery pack for charging my equipment. Also, the big lithium battery powered fans the missionaries have so I can sleep when there's no electricity.

    Thanks. I guess in some ways, I enjoy it, but it's far from easy. Every time I get something fixed, I like that. And I'm enjoying making new friends and building on existing friendships. This being a work trip, there hasn't been much play time. I need to find a time to grab my camera and go for a long walk.

    COVID stuff ... hardest part of the whole trip!! That combined with the overnight flight.

    I'd love to see your pictures, John. Let us know when you have them ready to share. I'm not taking as many this time as usual. I guess that with this being my 5th time here, there would be lots of repeats.
     
  15. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    Finally done:
     
  16. john1701a

    john1701a Prius Guru

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    20210623_204336_share.jpg 20210620_180933_share.jpg 20210623_203254_share.jpg 20210620_181427_share.jpg 20210624_170136_share.jpg 20210623_203447_share.jpg
     
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  17. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    Thanks, @john1701a. Those are fantastic!!

    No big game here except hippos. The previous president and his friends shot them all years ago. My best wildlife shot so far was this one. Not tack sharp due to extreme distance.
    DSC_9391 copy.jpg
     
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  18. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    Four more sleeps here in Mango before I start my trek back home. Leaving here early Saturday. Fly to Newark on Sunday. Fly to Tampa on Monday. Folks have taken great care of me here, but I'm really looking forward to my wife's cooking (not to mention just being with her).

    Communications are a million times better than on any of my previous four trips here. I can FaceTime talk with my wife or various others back in the US just about any time as long as we're awake at the same time.

    On the solar power, we've salvaged all we can. As long as the sun is shining, we can run the transmitter. If it's dark or rainy, the batteries are too far gone to keep it running. I'm still waiting for the wire and other parts to get here. Hopefully that will happen by tomorrow morning and we can run city power to the transmitter so we can broadcast at night or in the rain. Assuming city power is on. With the solar power at the radio station and with city power being so off-and-on, folks call us the radio station that won't shut up. :) If we don't get batteries, we'll lose that distinction. But batteries are really expensive, so I'll just have to see what they decide to do.

    So today, we're fine tuning configurations in the studios.
    IMG_3715.jpg
     
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  19. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Uh-oh, hood up on the production mixer? Looks like an RS-12 but not sure from the one photo. Have fun over there!
     
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  20. jerrymildred

    jerrymildred Senior Member

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    Indeed, it is an RS-12. Good call.
    IMG_3731a.jpeg

    Yesterday, late morning, the items came for installing breakers and a transfer switch so we can run the transmitter room on city power. To explain that requires a little history. The batteries for the solar power are almost totally shot and have no really useable watt hours left in them. So, not only will they not run the facility overnight, they won't even run just the transmitter room for a minute. But, if we have sun, we have juice.

    So, now we have a transfer switch to feed power to the studios from the new 15 Kw voltage regulator we installed a couple weeks ago, now we have another transfer switch to send power from the voltage regulator to the transmitter room. This way we can stay on the air rain or shine -- assuming we have either sunshine or city power.


    Below, in the electrical room are (L-R) Koami, our technician; Bofré, our electrician and general handyman; and their boss, Ali, the director of the radio station. We just finished the transfer switch installation which is seen between Koami and Bofré along with the 15 kVA regulator.
    IMG_3727.jpg
     
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