HomeNewsArticle Display

XPX team innovates solar power comm system

AMC

Senior Airman Aaron Walls, 22nd Air Refueling Wing Plans and Programs innovation team member, holds up a radio antenna Aug. 27, 2018, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. The radio system has a range of 240 miles and is expected to save the Air Force over $12,000. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jenna K. Caldwell)

AMC

A solar powered portable radio system, designed by the 22nd Air Refueling Wing Plans and Programs innovation team sits outside, Aug. 27, 2018, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. The system contains a Harris 117F radio system, direct current to alternating current converter and a 12-volt, 150-amp hours battery that is commonly found in solar-based homes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jenna K. Caldwell)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. (AFNS) -- -- With the help of 3-D printing and community partnerships, the Plans and Programs innovation team at McConnell Air Force Base created a portable, solar-powered communications system.

The system, requested by U.S. Strategic Command, can be used by units such as civil engineering, security forces and base operations, for everything from bare base set-ups to exercises.

“It’s a mobile communication system that is set up to communicate with pilots,” said Senior Airman Aaron Walls, 22nd Air Refueling Wing XPX innovation team member. “It is completely self-sustainable, powered by solar power, and the solar panel can extend the (battery life) out almost indefinitely.”

The three-man team, led by Tech. Sgt. Clayton Allen, 22nd ARW XPX noncommissioned officer in charge, created the harnesses, basket, face plate and antenna apparatuses for the system, as well as fashioned the wiring and gauges. From concept to design, the team put in over 400 man hours into completing the project.

“We have been working day in and day out for the last month and half,” said Walls. “I don’t think any one piece on the box was made by one person. It was a collaboration by all of us working in tandem.”

The system consists of the radio, casing, antenna and solar panel. It contains a Harris radio system, direct current to alternating current inverter and a battery commonly found in solar-based homes.

“We also have four functional gauges,” explained Walls. “Gauge one is our solar production, which tells us how much solar energy we are getting, gauge two determines if we are receiving more energy than we are using, gauge three tells us our energy deficit and the fourth gauge tells us how much energy in total we are using. This makes it really simple for anyone using it.”

The radio has a range of up to 240 miles and is expected to save the Air Force over $12,000.

“I think that being able to come up with innovative solutions to problems we encounter here in the Air Force is important, because you cannot find this box commercially,” said Walls. “You can find similar products for around $10,000, but it will not be solar or self-sustaining. We created this kit for less than a one-fifth of that, with three times the features.”

The team partnered with Wichita State University GoCreate lab and used the various equipment in their facility to complete the project. The lab is an innovation facility with industrial studios containing everything from 3-D printing to electronics and metals technology.

“This interaction strengthens our bond with the community and helps open a lot of doors,” said Senior Airman Gino Acevedo, 22nd ARW XPX innovation team member. “There was a civilian at GoCreate that mentored me in welding. It was great because there are civilians there that have expertise in topics that we don’t, and are willing to help us out. We can always learn from them, and integrate what they know to help with projects that we deal with here to positively impact the Air Force.”

The McConnell AFB XPX innovation cell enables innovative thinkers to produce homegrown, rapid solutions that can be implemented quickly and at low cost.

“When you give Airmen the leeway to invent you are putting the power back in the Airmen’s hands,” said Allen. “Our wing commander has chartered us and gave us the power to build this stuff in house. We put our best brains to good use and we’ve been able to create products like this. I think it’s simple. A program like this needs to be at every single installation, fully-funded and manned by the Air Force.”

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @AirmanMagazine: Getting help to the right location for land rescues in the aftermath of a major hurricane falls to the @usairforce Resc…
#B2 Spirit, a combination of #stealth & advanced avionics. #ThisWeekinHistory https://t.co/Bd7OrB3bbb
RT @AF_WSOC: 👀 who popped up with the big dogs on TopDrawerSoccer’s Top 40 Ranked Recruiting Classes for 2019! Excited to have these fresh…
For saving two fellow wingmen while deployed in Afghanistan, Tech. Sgt. Nick Torres received two bronze star medals… https://t.co/83bcAvqCxG
@AF_Falcons @NCAA @AF_trackfield @MW_OlySports Congratulations!!! Fit to fight!!
RT @DefenceHQ: Today the various NATO aircraft flypast at #RIAT19 to mark the 70th anniversary of NATO! Since its creation, NATO has been…
The @DeptofDefense has partnered with the @DeptVetAffairs to implement the first Women's Health Transition Training… https://t.co/JUTFicsXDw
⚡️ “Apollo 11 50th anniversary” https://t.co/GSeJYz6wPJ
The 413th Flight Test Sq. @TeamEglin successfully conducted the 1st #USAF piloted flight of the #HH60W Combat Rescu… https://t.co/wTyTtcmZjv
Jetting into the weekend like... #F16 https://t.co/wEWD7vr476
.@AstroHague showing his #USAF pride during the anniversary week of the #Apollo50 landing. @ISS_Researchhttps://t.co/WdgCFDmz6f
'Only two of us were not shot or dying': #USAF #Airman receives Silver Star for heroism in Afghanistan heroism… https://t.co/IdmKq8gtDx
RT @AFResearchLab: Dr. Lisa Rueschhoff was one of 82 engineers chosen to attend @theNAEng 2019 U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Symposium! Sh…
RT @ActingSecAF: .@GenDaveGoldfein is bolstering partners & #allies across Europe, discussing how we can be #StrongerTogether in air, #spac
Annual recovery efforts have helped to identify 40 of the 52 service members lost when a C-124 crashed into Mount G… https://t.co/fdHUY2IATf
8 of the surviving #Apollo #Astronauts got together for the 50th anniversary of the #moonlanding. @NASAhttps://t.co/szPJHXupa1
RT @HQUSAFEPA: Gen. Goldfein, during his keynote address at the 2019 Chief of the Air Staff's Air and Space Power Conference said the follo…
.@WrightPattAFB opened a #cyberdefense facility for #USAF Life Cycle Management Center's Fighters & Bombers Directo… https://t.co/QibdORLX2q
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Our asymmetric advantage is represented in this room. It is all of us working together on a common cause. Great to see…