Sweeping for power

Since first writing this report the Minesweeper has been destroyed by a terrible fire on 5th Jan 11pm. Despite quick response from the London Fire Service and attendance of a dozen fire engines, it was all over by 5am – toast. Adjacent boats were also effected as was the mechanics workshop in the Brookmash estate. YT visited on Friday and stood on the river wall there with some Minesweeper Collective members looking over the side into the abyss of charred timbers and blackened soup of belongings, chairs, books, some vinyl records and somewhat strangely, bags of charcoal untouched by the fire.

For those living and working aboard the Minesweeper, keeping warm during winter months presents the greatest hardship. Wood burners are kept alight 24/7 that require continual feeding. A store of suitable timber has to be collected throughout autumn and kept dry for use. Neighbours in in Brookmash yard supply the off-cuts from their furniture production. (as well as supply power the broadband wireless uplink)

The collective recently purchased a new AC generator after many months fundraising and having experienced breakdown of previous secondhand units, however bad luck has again struck, an oil leak forces it’s return for repair, leaving them without power again. A new wind turbine is ready for installation, to provide the top up charge their battery array needs if it to remain in good condition to supply 12v for lighting and laptop charging. The print working areas of the minesweeper already have bright LED worklights fitted, with more needed throughout, as well as external motion triggered perimeter and safety lighting.

An energy audit was carried out on the boat late summer as part of the Creeknet pilot, which revealed just how much energy the print curing and screen cleaning processes demand, too much of a shortfall for any solar or wind turbine system to close. Gaining a better understanding about how off-grid power systems need to be configured and managed has been difficult, though progress is being made. We recently visited other boats on the creek and noted how their installed systems reliably store and distribute available power as needed, so will return for their support if the need arises.

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