Starting in December and going through January, our team researched the defination of a natural resource and made a massive list of possible natural resources we could use for our project. This included everything from wind energy to kid energy.
We settled on solar energy and then started working on ideas for our project. Our team is very creative and ideas were flying from the very start. We had to constantly bring our team back to reality and what we were able to make with a 3d printer in the time allowed.
In the end, the team found a common interest in birds, and the idea of a solar powered birdhouse came to be. The name came next. "A chirp off the old block."
We met several times with our mentor, Paul Fife, who works for Idaho Power. He gave us lots of good information about solar power and its positive attributes and limitations.
After many different designs, our birdhouse finally came to life, and we 3-D printed our first prototype. Problems with our new printer slowed us down a bit. But after lots of trial and error, we figured out the the heat settings on our printer needed to be change because of the filament type we were using.
Next, we talked to bird experts about which birds were here in Idaho as well as requirements for their birdhouses. With this information, we decided that our current design would not work as it was too complicated and could actually harm the birds in the process. So we pared it down and changed from a solar powered heating system to a solar powered cooling system.
Once our design was finalize, we started the 3D printing process with several changes to make sure our house was just the right size and dimensions for our chosen bird, the chickadee. We added the roof as a separate piece so that we could hinge it and open the house to clean it out after each season. We also added a overhang to protect the entrance and added a vent for air circulation. We tried adding drainage holes in the bottom, but after several failed tries, we decided to drill the holes out after the final project had been finished.
We met with Paul again to talk about a cooling system for our "chirp off the old block." He suggested two different systems one with a simple fan run by solar power and one using a thermoelectric module run by a solar panel. We researched each and made the decision to use the simple fan.