Solars

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Engineering Area
Solars.png
Solar Arrays
Wire the solars, you lazy bums!
Obvious exits Solar Control Room north/south (depending on the solar array you're on), space anywhere
Purpose Powers the station by capturing sun rays
Access level
Noteworthy contents Solar Control Computer, SMES Cell
Clearance Captain, Chief Engineer, Engineer
Security level Low
Style Solar array
Balance Requirements
Other Notes
Jobstemp.png Locations on /tg/station



The Forgotten Power Source

Solars often are fully neglected by but a few people, and for slightly dangerous reasons (covered in a lower section). BUT, They are the safest way to generate power for the whole station! And, if there was a black out of power already, they will always have power until hooked up, and can provide the engine APC a charge until it is set up itself.

Locations

There are four solar arrays on the station. The first, and easiest to configure, is on the rightmost side of the station just below the escape shuttle port (Aft Starboard Array). The second is located "north" of the chapel (Fore Starboard Array). The third can be found to the left of engineering (Aft Port Array). The fourth is best accessed by going through the left maintenance door of the tool storage area (Fore Port Array).

Connecting the Arrays

You need:

Nanotrasen engineers are renowned for their shoddy craftsmanship and poor work ethic. You will find that none of the four solar arrays have been connected to the station. You will need to connect the solar panels and the solar tracker to the wire leading from the station. To wire a tile, hold a cable coil in hand and click an adjacent tile, this will add a wire radiating from the center of the selected tile toward your current position. Wiring is best learned by trial and error. Using this method, connect the solar arrays and solar tracker to the station. Having excessive knotting in your wiring can sometimes cause power loss, gremlin attacks, and metaphysical anomalies, so avoid it!

See here for a wiring example:
Wiring.gif

Calibrating the Arrays

Once you have wired an array, you need to calibrate the tracking and power so that it actually produces energy. Apparently, our space station is rotating or in orbit around something (no one really knows for sure). This means that the solar panels need to constantly rotate to face toward the sun. Click on the Solar Control CPU and set it to auto-tracking. You should see a degree displayed at the top ranging from 0 to 359; this is the current direction of the sun.

  • 0 degrees = North
  • 90 degrees = East
  • 180 degrees = South
  • 270 degrees = West

(The consoles are a bit glitchy so you might have to turn off auto-tracking then turn it on again before the panels start to rotate). Also, auto rotation is not smooth, it jumps about every 20 seconds. Keep this in mind if it seems like nothing is happening.

You don't need to use manual tracking!! The only time you will ever need to manually calibrate a solar array is when a meteor or traitor destroys the tracking unit.

It is important to note that THE STATION BLOCKS SUNLIGHT! This is the biggest cause of solar fail known to spessmen. When the panels of an array face the sun (and are correctly wired) they produce about 90,000 Watts of power. However, if the station is between the panels and the sun, they produce 0 Watts of power. This means that as the panels rotate with auto-tracking, they move through a series of power levels ranging from 90k (full sun) to nothing (station obscures sun). The rotation cycle takes roughly 5 minutes to complete.

Why is this important?

Because of the battery! See that big white thing in the solar control room? That's the SMES cell. It's a battery used for holding solar energy and transferring it to the station. Click on the battery and you get a window with input, output, and charging options.

Important Battery Facts

  1. A battery doesn't charge if the input setting is higher than the actual amount of power being received!
  2. If the battery charge drops to 0% the battery will stop sending power, even if it is charged again.

A common mistake is to immediately set the input to 90,000 watts (the amount produced by full sunlight) and the output to 80,000 watts. However, this will not work. Solar batteries (SMES cells) start at 20% power but if the engine is off the station drains them to 0% in a few minutes. An input of 90,000 watts (full sun) might charge the battery for a little while, but once the sunlight is blocked by the station the battery charge begins to drain. This causes the battery to turn off and even when the panels receive sunlight again, the battery won't be sending power unless an engineer turns it on again.

(Optional) Skipping the SMES Cells

If you don't feel like configuring the SMES cells for over 5 minutes each, you can optionally reroute the wiring and skip the whole battery setup! Just recognize two wires: The wire coming from the Solar Control CPU and going to the SMES cell, and the other wire coming from the SMES cell and going to the station power grid. Connect these two wires and voilá! You have skipped the SMES cell and saved yourself a lot of time. No need to turn that pesky SMES on at all, just configure the Solar Control CPU and you're done, time to move to the next set of solars!

BUT there is one big downside to this: the station powergrid now holds about 400 kW of power, which is almost enough to put someone into instant crit. Not a good thing if you have shocked doors or someone exposes those electrified grilles inside windows.

Setting up the SMES

After you have wired the array, set tracking to auto, and verified that the panels are indeed rotating, set the battery like so:

Charging: Auto

Input: 80,000 watts

Output: OFF!!

You want to leave output off and let the battery charge before you send the power to the station. I recommend waiting for a charge of at least 10% (maybe more) before you turn on the output. The battery needs this charge to provide sustained power during the dark phase of the solar rotation. If the battery runs out of charge, you'll have to turn it on again or it will not provide power. While you wait for the battery to charge, you can wire up other solar arrays on the station.

Once the battery has some charge, you can set the output to 50,000 - 75,000 depending on how much power you need. (If the output load is equal to the output value you set, it means the station needs more power than it's getting. Crank it up!)

These four arms can provide enough energy to power the entire ship in the event of a Supermatter failure. But, given the position to the engine, the wires will likely be eaten away and you will have charging solars that aren't connected to the station.

DANGER WILL ROBINSON

There are a few dangers on the solars, one being the electrical wires if you forgot to wear insulated gloves: never forget or you will get zapped! In addition, you are vulnerable and alone. This leaves you an easy target for those pesky space carps and/or space-walking attackers that need a new cover identity. Finally, there is the chance to misstep and go drifting off through space. This hazard is easily solved if you act quickly. Simply throw something in the direction of your flight path, like shoes, or a pen. The equal and opposite reaction will start pushing you in the other direction!