The Rio Hondo Independent School District (RHISD) wanted to combine the excitement of having a dedicated technology laboratory in an interesting venue …and to be able to offer it to all their students – located across three campuses.
Their answer was to commission a 49 foot trailer – the expandable sides of which are packed with technology.
Providing learning for 24 – or more – students the mobile science lab has learning stations offering Augmented Reality headsets, 3D printers, there’s a 55 inch touch screen classroom display, a bank of audio-visual screens complete with surround sound – and an independent high speed mobile internet connection keeps it all streaming.
Oh, and as you might expect with the latest in lab innovation, the power to run all this technology (and the Air Conditioning system) comes from both real-time and battery-stored solar energy.
The trailer/classroom was designed and built by Brewco Marketing Group who specialise in branded mobile facilities across a number of industries. The ‘fifth wheel’ trailer is a triple-axle 49’ chassis with four Expandable panels. When the trailer is parked-up these expandable panels slide out to provide considerably enlarged accommodation. The classroom is pulled to location by pickup truck. Project Manager Corbin Jewell says: This Mobile STEM Lab will be equipped to support RHISD curriculum and prep their students for careers in technology for many years to come.
The power installation was completed by Jarrod Douglas – the RV Inspection Guy.
He installed twenty roof-mounted solar panels arranged in three strings of 8/8/4 panels offering a total of 4kWp. Each solar string has a dedicated SmartSolar MPPT Solar Charger – there are two 250V/70A devices and a 150V/70.
(By the way, whenever you need to choose the right MPPT for your solar array this MPPT calculator is invaluable).
The DC solar harvest is stored in two banks of Battle Born batteries – each holding 13kWh. The batteries are wired in series to provide 48VDC to two Quattro Inverter/Chargers, capable of 10kVA constant supply.
A Lynx distributor 1000 offers a covered busbar rated at 1000A together with monitored fuses. A Lynx Shunt is part of the neat distribution network and keeps track of the energy going-in and coming out of the batteries.
A Cerbo GX acts as the brains behind the installation, providing data communication between devices – and also to the end user – via a GX Touch 50. The Cerbo GX also reports data to the internet and provides remote system access for engineering support or maintenance using the free-to-use Victron Remote Management platform VRM. One of the Cerbo GX’s two relays has been wired so that a back-up generator will fire up automatically if ever the batteries fall below a pre-defined voltage.
The solar installation is explained to students using schematics of the wiring plan – it forms part of their technology education.
Quattro Inverters have been chosen for their versatility – particularly in this outreach and back-to-base application. Quattros have two AC power inlets and two AC power outlets. Typically the AC inlets are connected to an electricity main – whenever one is available – and also to a back-up generator. The unit will automatically switch to whichever power source is live. Of the two AC outlets the first is typically connected to provide critical loads with an uninterruptible power supply. The second AC outlet, however, will shut down automatically if there is no incoming AC power supply; by connecting all non-critical loads (such as air conditioning) to this AC outlet, the batteries will be protected from over depletion caused by running heavy loads, not essential to the unit’s operation.
The mobile STEM lab also allows RHISD to reach out into the community – providing structured education at under-privileged locations, and re-enforcing the school’s message of commitment to excellence.
Rio Hondo Independent School District is dedicated to providing a nurturing and inclusive learning environment for students of all backgrounds.