Week 3: Persistence in Peru


Since we had a 3-day weekend, we decided to visit Huaraz, a city in the Andes. It was a long bus ride that took most of Friday and we arrived at a cosy hostel in the evening. On our first day we went to Lake Parón, a remote, serene lake with unearthly turquoise water surrounded by glaciers. The altitude was high, around 4,000 metres, which led to my heart beating heavily as I began to climb. We scrambled over rocks, taking our own paths. After hearing small avalanches in the distance and altitude headaches building, we thought it would be wise to head back down. There were great views and one glacier was actually used for the logo seen in Paramount's films!  The next day we went rock climbing and climbed on routes that progressed in difficulty. Trying my best, I finished some but could not complete them all. By the end of it, it felt like hitting a brick-wall and the rocks soon put me in my place. Exhausted, we took an overnight bus and arrived back the WindAid house at the dawn of Monday. With persistence, we were ready to start work in several hours.


Monday morning we began working on several different projects. Our painted test blades were plastered to fill small air-holes, sanded down again for a smooth surface and spray-painted green and then white for their final finish. I helped with the set up for testing the blades by drilling holes in concrete. A pulley was put in place. The pulley is used to support the rope that bend the blades down to find breaking stress. Work on the structure with welding continued and was completed. The structure was sand-blasted at a site away from the workshop and brought back on Friday to be finished with spray paint. Other parts, such as the stator, were also finished with paint so that they could be brought together with the structure to reassemble the Chocofan turbine. The turbine had to be ready for reinstallation the next week. We began to prepare for a presentation and learnt Spanish lines to explain how the wind turbines work to the kids at the school for when we visit.

The highlight of the workshop this week was learning about the electrical and digital sides of the turbine. This included setting up a circuit that made use of the current generated from the turbine mounted on the roof of the workshop. I gained hands-on experience as I connected the components together and asked about their purpose, learning useful technical information. The alternating currents generated from the three, unconnected sets of copper coils inside the turbine, are at different synchronizations and each flow in three separate and respective cables to maximize power delivery. This set-up is called three-phase and generates more energy than single-phase, where only one cable is used. The alternating currents must be converted to direct so it can be used for digital components connected to the turbine, such as the remote monitor. It is done through a circuit of diodes that level the currents to a single direction and capacitors to ensure it stays level. This direct current is then processed digitally by computer software that can be later analyzed as useful information. The monitor provides valuable details about the local wind speed and amount of energy the turbine generates. On top, we had little projects that could be connected to this circuit, including lights for the electronics room. I also managed to connect a USB-charging port. It was a satisfying moment when I charged my phone with renewable energy!

Chris Electronics.png

With the half-day available on Friday, I took the chance to visit historical ruins nearby – Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna. Temples built from 100-600 CE by the ancient Moche civilization, they have a pyramidal structure and are decorated with colored murals. We toured around the ruins with a guide who told us much about their history. Given that I am completely unfamiliar with the ancient Latin American world, it was interesting to see and learn a bit. In the evening, we explored the centre of Trujillo. I found my way there with Danny after an unplanned jump off the bus. Locals on the bus nudged us off and pointed towards a direction that we should walk. Without looking like fools, we made our way back and had an enjoyable dinner at a Chinese restaurant. The meal was recommended by the chef, who Danny spoke to in Cantonese. It was well-deserved food as we had successfully persisted through the week. With difficulty, working extra hours as a team to complete the structure, the turbine was on track for Chocofan.