Letter to the Editor: A different idea to fix the Mousehole
March 23, 2010
An entirely different approach to satisfying these needs at the Mousehole should be entertained. After reading the March 12 Sierra Sun article per the planned $450K expenditure for the and#8220;short-term fixand#8221; followed by $9M for a new tunnel, it took me minutes to think out the following.
Sierra College or Sierra Nevada College: Create a and#8220;Community Projectand#8221; course.
Using students and the Internet, state-of-the-art technology could be researched, evaluated for applicability, traded off, prototyped (under $5K), tested and then recommended for detailed engineering design and competitive bidding by local contractors.
The students would gain course credit and real-world experience. The activity would involve (and teach) problem solving, creativity, system concept design, human safety concerns, ergonomics, energy efficiency, available product research, detrimental weather impacts, project planning (cost, time, reliability, longevity, assembly time and costs, performance margins, building and safety regulations, weighting of features for comparative trade studies, etc.
This is NOT complicated. For example: There are multiple suppliers of industrial-grade solar panels and energy storage batteries who have installations in rugged, out-of-the-way places. Use of this technology negates the expense of digging trenches and installing AC power lines, distribution boxes and monitoring devices.
There are high-brightness, high-energy efficiency, long-life, super-reliable light-emitting diodes (LEDs) suitable for low voltage (solar panel) power sources that would easily accommodate the Mousehole lighting needs. (Look at the myriad of high-brightness, LED flashlights on the market). Coupled with light-level sensing on/off switches for power conservation and highly reflective paint inside the tunnel, a very workable system could be designed, prototyped and tested for proof of feasibility in a matter of weeks. The blinking caution lighting could be accommodated with yellow LEDs, again powered from the same solar panel/storage battery source. Activation could be automatically activated by currently available motion sensing and timing devices to mitigate any needed human interaction.
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Michael L. Conn