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Solar powered Parallella system for BOINC

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2013 10:09 pm
by Cruncher
Hey guys,
I would like to aquire a Parallella system and use it for BOINC crunching. I would like to crunch on all cores 24/7 and if possible I would like to power my system entirely by solar power. Unfortunately I have no experience yet with solar powered systems and thus I don't know which components (solar cells, batteries, inverters,...) would be sufficent for this case. Do you have any recommendations? Any help would be highly appreciated.
I live in Germany, which isn't that sunny but I'm optimistic that I will be able to ignore this fact if I have some highly efficient equipment.

P.S: Is anybody aware of any attempts to port the World Community Grid (WCG) software to the Parallella architecture?

Re: Solar powered Parallella system for BOINC

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 5:31 am
by LamsonNguyen
Nowadays, there are little solar panels on messenger bags and stuff that can be used to charge small electronics or whatever. Given the low power requirement of the Parallella, I don't think it would be hard to find something small and simple that works. If you wish to actually have a 'real' solar panel, I would recommend http://v3solar.com/ if you can wait 9-12 months for commercial production. As for WCG, if there were anything going on that front, someone would most likely post on this forum.

Re: Solar powered Parallella system for BOINC

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:44 am
by Cruncher
As I want to run the system 24/7 I would at least need an additional battery as well. I saw a guy on this forum who managed to set up a solar powered Raspberry system. If he reads this: Which components did you use for this?
I'll check for some solar chargers. How many watts do you think will suffice?

Re: Solar powered Parallella system for BOINC

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 2:23 pm
by 9600
Cruncher wrote:As I want to run the system 24/7 I would at least need an additional battery as well. I saw a guy on this forum who managed to set up a solar powered Raspberry system. If he reads this: Which components did you use for this?
I'll check for some solar chargers. How many watts do you think will suffice?


I once had a Raspberry Pi running off solar and did it with:

Solar Panel --> PWM charge controller --> Sealed Lead/Acid Battery --> 12v/5v DC-DC Converter --> Raspberry Pi

I don't have the battery and solar panel etc. specifications to hand but I can say that the setup was not optimal. I just picked a panel I thought would supply enough current to run the Pi and charge the battery, with a battery plenty big enough to power the Pi overnight. So everything was over-specified and certainly more costly than it needed be.

I really love the idea of a Parallella powered BOINC appliance and even more the idea of a solar powered one! I think a fantastic project would be to design a daughter card that contained a LiPo charger, high-efficiency DC-DC converter and simple power management to shut down the board when the battery is low.

Cheers,

Andrew

Re: Solar powered Parallella system for BOINC

PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2013 11:18 pm
by Cruncher
Thanks for your reply 9600. Indeed I was refering to your article. I really would like to avoid stronger equipment than I actually need because I have to look after my money as a poor student. ;)
My first thought was to use a car battery but now this seems to be way too much to power a 5 Watt device 24/7. Well, hopefully the boards will be out for everyone soon, so that I can get my hands on one and see what does suffice and what doesn't.

Re: Solar powered Parallella system for BOINC

PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2013 9:07 am
by 9600
Cruncher wrote:Thanks for your reply 9600. Indeed I was refering to your article. I really would like to avoid stronger equipment than I actually need because I have to look after my money as a poor student. ;)
My first thought was to use a car battery but now this seems to be way too much to power a 5 Watt device 24/7. Well, hopefully the boards will be out for everyone soon, so that I can get my hands on one and see what does suffice and what doesn't.


Yes, a car battery is not ideal. Capacity aside I think they're designed more for delivering very high currents for a short period of time to start a car, then to recharge once the engine starts. I seem to recall it can be problematic if you discharge them more fully, then recharge and repeat, i.e. deep cycle.

You can get "leisure batteries" that are designed for deep cycling, e.g. to power the TV etc. in a caravan when static, and then to recharge from the car when mobile. However, these are similarly big and I don't think it makes sense unless perhaps you wanted to power multiple boards.

I think a better solution would be to use a Li-polymer battery of the sort used with modern laptops and mobile phones, as these have a higher power density and are lighter (no big lumps of lead!) Although the downside with these is that you have to be much more careful charging them and it takes a more complicated controller for this, but you can get ICs which take care of that for you.

If you want quick and easy solution a leisure battery, or a smaller sealed lead-acid battery such as those used in burglar alarms, may make sense. But as I say, a Parallella add-on designed for use with BOINC, containing a charger circuit etc. would make a great project, and you could perhaps even add some LEDs or a little OLED display for indicating the crunching status :D

Cheers,

Andrew

Re: Solar powered Parallella system for BOINC

PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 8:46 am
by Janos
9600 wrote:But as I say, a Parallella add-on designed for use with BOINC, containing a charger circuit etc. would make a great project, and you could perhaps even add some LEDs or a little OLED display for indicating the crunching status :D


That would be simply superb.

Very interested in this.

Re: Solar powered Parallella system for BOINC

PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:28 am
by 9600
Janos wrote:
9600 wrote:But as I say, a Parallella add-on designed for use with BOINC, containing a charger circuit etc. would make a great project, and you could perhaps even add some LEDs or a little OLED display for indicating the crunching status :D


That would be simply superb.

Very interested in this.


That's great to hear! Perhaps you could help make it a reality? Before starting work on solar hardware it would make sense to get BOINC using the Epiphany accelerator hardware. Which, I suspect, would involve creating a Parallella "platform" in BOINC and using the OpenCL implementation to offload to Epiphany.

http://www.browndeertechnology.com/coprthr.htm

I'm by no means a BOINC expert, but I'm guessing that there would be some work to do within the BOINC project itself, and then also with the volunteer computing projects that use it.

Cheers,

Andrew

Re: Solar powered Parallella system for BOINC

PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:23 pm
by Janos
In terms of a BOINC port I am not sure I can help much. My programming skills have atrophied over the last 10 years since I was a full time programmer and even then I was only involved with the high level languages (mainly Visual Basic, SQL Server and Oracle). I will ask about though.

Maybe you could ask "officially" in the BOINC Dev mail list? http://boinc.berkeley.edu/email_lists.php


A control circuit to monitor/manage a UPS or battery system would be very useful in many areas and not just solar powered BOINC crunchers.

Re: Solar powered Parallella system for BOINC

PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:42 pm
by Gedece
Have you seen the latest news regarding the use of graphene based batteries and graphene based solar panels?

They are still in the proof of concept stage, but they are going to revolutionize the field.