Oct 27, 2020
This week the City of Albuquerque will be testing a new, cutting-edge trailer they can park wherever they need in order to provide wireless internet access to Albuquerque Public School students who don’t have internet at their homes.
The test trailer is unique because it uses solar panels for power and a cellular connection for the internet. More specifically, the panels power technology from a company called SmartCone that allows the trailer to connect to nearby T-Mobile cell towers in order to create a wireless internet network for students. In the past, similar trailers have been set up, but both the power and internet were wired in, making them significantly less portable. Those trailers had to be stationed in a parking lot near a building, whereas this trailer can be set anywhere in the city including parks.
Both the design and construction of the trailer were done by three recent graduates from the CNM Ingenuity’s May cohort of the Internet of Things (IoT) bootcamp who are now working as technical residents at CNM Ingenuity’s Technology Solutions Labs.
“With virtual schooling going on everywhere, there’s an increased need for accessibility to the internet and we were excited to employ IoT graduates as they stepped in to create a fast and inexpensive prototype to meet APS’s needs,” says Brian Rashap, the IoT instructor who advised the residents during the trailer construction.
The only thing that came assembled was the frame of the trailer. The TSL residents—Nycole Davilla, John Valdez, and Marlene Trujillo—welded in a structure to hold three 100-watt panels and built an area that stores 12-volt batteries, an inverter, and the SmartCone technology. They wired it all together, and had the prototype built in about six weeks.
Brian and the students ran their own tests on the trailer and Brian says that with about eight hours of charging, the trailer should be able to provide internet for another 18 hours with no sun. That means the trailer should have no problem providing internet for a full 24 hours each day.
If the design meets the City of Albuquerque’s needs, the City will consider next steps.
Brian is already looking at the next project that he and IoT graduates can start to design.
“We’re here to help in two ways,” he says. “We want to provide innovative solutions to local organizations and businesses, and we want to help students get jobs and build their portfolios along the way.”
Story originally published on cnm.edu.