Boomershoot Mecca improvements

I arrived at Boomershoot Mecca at 9:00 AM on December 22nd to see this:


It was a little bit cold and very dark and dreary. I started the generator, turned on the lights and started work inside. I had a bunch of Wi-Fi experiments to do to see if I could get a connection to my brother’s house 1.65 miles away. This involved configuring several Nanostations and tromping across snow covered fields with a Nanostation, a battery, and fence post trying to get around the hills between the two sites with the fewest number of hops.

I also installed another inverter. I really need to organize all the wires better. I have the tie wraps. I just need to use them.


The new inverter is the box in the lower left corner of the picture. It can output 2500 Watts continuously. The batteries won’t last long at that rate (at over 230 Amps at 12 Volts I don’t expect much more than an hour) but it will allow me to run everything simultaneously if I really want to. This includes a new piece of surprise (for Boomershoot staff) equipment that consumes 1000 Watts all by itself but dramatically improves the speed of some operations during the production of Boomerite targets. Typically we run on generator power but for just building some test targets or testing production procedures the new inverter will let us do that without having a generator on site and without turning off the lights.

When I came back on the 24th it was literally dripping wet inside. This is a picture of the ceiling of the shipping container:


I need to spend some effort into deciding what to do about the condensation.

On Christmas Day the sun was bright and I observed the existing solar panel producing 121.5 Watts. The panel is rated at 130 Watts so I was a bit surprised that even with the low angle winter sun I was getting that much power out of it.

I installed some “windows” on the south side of the shipping container:


Not really. It’s two more solar panels. They are getting so cheap that I decided it was worth while to just install them vertical rather than spend the effort to mount them at the optimal angle.

I also drove the grounding rod another foot or so into the ground. I pound on it with a sledge hammer until my joints and muscle ache too much or I run out of time. I’ve made a lot of progress considering how hard and rocky the ground is there. It’s getting close to the proper depth. It’s an 8’ long galvanized rod and I think I now have only about 18” above ground.


8 thoughts on “Boomershoot Mecca improvements

  1. Pingback: Barb likes Idaho sunsets | The View From North Central Idaho

  2. Amateur radio experimenters have shown that you can run Wifi over many miles. I haven’t tried it myself, but I believe the simplest approach is to use a Wifi box that has an antenna connection you can unscrew. You then attach a directional antenna (Yagi) to the connection, and point it where you want to go. Given the high frequencies involved, antennas with substantial gain/directivity are still quite small, a few feet would be about as large as you’re likely to need especially if you only need a mile or three.
    I think the longest demonstrated Wifi reception is about 100 miles, which should tell everyone that you *always* need to turn on encryption on your Wifi box, even if you’re out in the boonies.

    • The Nanostations are directional. The problems are hills in between the end points. And we don’t own some of those hills.

      I got it working but the data rate was a bit slow. I think I have the solution now and need to test it the next time I go back.

  3. As a postdoc at Georgia Tech, I helped a new professor there build a very high tech lab in the basement of the Chemistry building. We needed a better ground for our sensitive instruments than that built into the aging structure, so we drilled a hole in the outside wall, ran copper cable outside, and (like you are doing, but warmer & easier) pounded an 8′ copper rod into the red Georgia clay. As the two grad students & I were finishing up, our boss came out and told us we had to insure a really good ground by the traditional method – watering the ground rod in, using an electrolyte solution.

    When I asked what kind of electrolyte solution, he turned his back on us, unzipped, and watered in the ground rod really well, while we laughed and laughed. We all did the same. Our new ground rod worked just fine.

    • I have been told that is why the phrase, “Piss on it!” came to be used when something didn’t work.

    • You can get arrested as a sexual predator for that now. Maybe there’s an engineering exemption if you get a permit.

    • Actually, a classic method for getting a good ground in lousy soil (up to and including bare rock) is the Ufer ground, invented in 1942 if I remember right. The National Electric Code mentions it, but not by name; it shows up as a “grounding electrode encased in concrete”.
      Basically, a decent length (20 feet or more) of wire, encased in a few inches of concrete, will be a very good ground even if the soil is really bad.
      For more details, read the wonderful book “The Grounds for Lightning Protection” published by PolyPhaser Co. (or whatever their current company name is).

      • Interesting! Thank you!

        It’s of no use for the present application but I could see it being used for other projects.

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