Apr 27-05

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2005: April: Apr 27-05
Windless day on Brockway    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Charlie Hopper

Charlie at Pasty Central on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 06:33 am:

Yesterday's 'What's UP' had some comments about wind power, and we noted that the Pasty.NET wireless broadband relay on Brockway Mountain runs on the wind only during winter months. Moments after this scene was captured, the unit came down, switching over to solar power until next November.

This week Matt Roush, editor of the daily Information Technology newsletter "The Great Lakes IT Report", visited Brockway Mountain while he was in the Keweenaw. You can read about his visit on WWJ Radio's website. Here's an exerpt about the mountain tour:
Also from Way Up North, Pasty Net, the whimsically named Keweenaw County wireless Internet service provider, Friday announced that it had made the seasonal switch from wind to solar power at its wireless broadband relay station at the top of Brockway Mountain near Copper Harbor. The staff said they took advantage of an unusual weather phenomenon Thursday -- a period of several hours when there was absolutely no wind at the top of the mountain, which at 1,300 feet above sea level is a good 700 feet or so above the level of Lake Superior. Located on the Brockway gift shop building, the broadband relay is powered by a 400-watt wind generator during the darker winter months. Then from mid-April to mid-November the system receives its electricity from a solar array, which powers the microwave access points serving high-speed Internet to Copper Harbor, Agate Harbor, Eagle Harbor and Eagle River. Pasty Netís wireless broadband network serves several hundred families and businesses in Keweenaw and Houghton counties, mainly in areas not reached by other forms of high-speed land-based Internet service. The project was funded in part with a 2004 grant to Keweenaw County by the U.S. Department of Education, through the efforts of U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak and Upper Great Lakes Educational Technologies, Inc. (And I was up there on Brockway Mountain Sunday, and man, is it something.)
For a list of wireless Internet hotspots across the entire Keweenaw Peninsula, see Pasty.NET
By smf in troll land on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 06:40 am:

Neat picture.

By SarahK, MI Troll in FL on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 06:40 am:

Happy Birthday to Mary Benham Bush

By Margaret, Amarillo TX on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 06:41 am:

Good luck to who ever got up there for the pic.

By Mike, Howell, MI on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 07:28 am:

I bet its beatiful up there with the view of the big lake and the budding leaves on the trees.

By TC on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 07:44 am:

* Who is the manufacturer of the small windmill?
* Glad to see $Bay on your "to-do" list. Do you have an estimate of when wireless will be available here?

By Joe P., Lake Medora on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 08:29 am:

Who can I contact to see if I can link up with the wireless on Brockway? I have a home on the north shore of Lake Medora.

By Charlie at Pasty Central on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 10:20 am:

Joe, we recently hit a couple of homes on Lake Bailey, something I never imagined we could do. Parts of Lake Medora are visible from the antenna on Brockway. Call our office to schedule a site survey, 337-5979.

TC, I'm not sure about who makes the generator. By this summer we should be hooking up members in Dollar Bay.

By Bob at KRC, Calumet MI on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 12:14 pm:

Air-X Corp. makes those little wind turbines...

See: http://store.solar-electric.com/wind-air.html

Pretty cool stuff.

By Jon on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 12:18 pm:

Southwest Windpower http://www.windenergy.com/ manufactured the wind generator pictured above.

By JAD, Oskar, MI on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 01:08 pm:

Charlie -- Where are the solar panels? How is the energy stored and relayed? What happens during a month of no wind or sun? I'm thinking of the place down on the Canal past Ripley and also the place in Champion where neither windgenerator is any longer working.

By jAPEi on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 01:41 pm:

Mind glide;


By Mark, Coulee Dam, WA on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 02:22 pm:

Another very good source of wind and solar power info is:

By ShawnR, GR MI on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 04:02 pm:

Very cool Charlie! Have you seen recent news reports saying that Oakland county is looking to install county-wide wireless? Maybe Keweenaw county will end up being the first in Michigan!

By bobby, VA on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 08:09 pm:

Isn't there enough wind during summer months to power the wireless gear?

By john from the prairie on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 08:10 pm:

I was devistated when I first learned of Copper Harbor having
broadband access. I go up to The U.P. for anti-technology
vacations! I like that my cell doesnt work up there, that there's
no phones in the cabins, and if you wanted to call someone
there's a pay phone on the corner. I'll look on the bright side in
that I can upload pics to my web server from the cabin, i guess...

i guess i could continue to leave the laptop at home, too

does it get as muddy up there in the spring as it does down

By Charlie H., in Eagle River on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 10:32 pm:

John - We promise we won't force you to use the Internet while you're here. It's nice to read about the U.P. when you're back home, but while you're visiting here, it's more fun to live it. Leave your laptop at home if you'd like, but remember your camera.

Bobby - Sure there is plenty of wind to power our system year-round... But a wind generator generates some noise as well, and we thought the thousands of people who visit Brockway from April to November would prefer peace and quiet, so we added solar cells for these months. Those who visit from December-March mostly come via snowmobile (and the windmill is hardly noticed.) We would use solar year-round, except for the snow which accumulates on the cells. If part of the panel is blocked, a section receiving the sun can send a back-charge to the blocked area, with potential for burn-out. Thus the preference for wind in the winter.

Shawn - Keweenaw County first had wireless in 2002, right after our first access point at the Houghton County Airport, in colaboration with Michigan Tech's Keweenaw Research Center (KRC). Since then, about 40 Pasty.NET HotSpots have been added in the two county area. Oakland County - with a lot of wired broadband - got a later start with the wireless. (I grew up in Lake Orion, by the way.)

JAD - The solar panels are on top of the Gift Shop. The electricity is stored in 2 HUGE glass-mat batteries locked away in the basement of the Gift Shop. A full charge lasts almost 2 weeks before more sun or wind is necessary. The system has never run short of power.

Two other posts above deserve mention: Bob at KRC was correct about the Air-X brand of our generator, and Jon was right about where it was purchased. As a side note, Bob Baratono is the Systems Administrator for MTUKRC and Jonathan (Jon) Hopper is SysAdmin for Pasty.NET, and also the principal designer of our entire network. Michigan Tech has shaped a lot of talent over the years, much to the benefit of its home region.

By FRNash/PHX, AZ on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 12:40 am:

Charlie H., in Eagle River
"The solar panels are on top of the Gift Shop"

On the roof?
Any problems or special considerations with the snow load on the solar panels?

I'm actually considering some solar power generation myself, as roof replacement time is approaching.
Uni-Solar has piqued my curiosity about the solar roofing (photovoltaic shingles!) Not sure that would be a good plan in the Copper Country, but the Arizona desert might be a bit more suited to that, and darn little risk os a snow load on the roof!

By FRNash/PHX, AZ on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 12:44 am:

Ooops, the above message has a bad link to Uni-Solar, here's the correct one: Uni-Solar

(That's what I get for not checking the link before I hit the Post this Message button!)

By Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Thursday, August 20, 2009 - 07:06 am:


Here it is, August 20, 2009, the deadline to apply for funding under the federal government's "Broadband Stimulus" program. We have done the research to upgrade and expand our wireless coverage in the Keweenaw Peninsula and around Marquette County, including parts of Baraga County and Delta County. It looks like we have a good shot at receiving nearly $1.8 million to bring a lot more folks in the U.P. online with even greater speeds (768k - 3 megabits). Our friends in Cedar Bay, Lake Medora (and elswhere) will finally have affordable broadband if we are successful.


Theresa R. Brunk (Trb0013) on Thursday, August 20, 2009 - 07:14 am:

Good Luck Charlie I appreciate all your efforts to provide us with a touch of home.

By RD, Iowa (Rdiowa) on Thursday, August 20, 2009 - 09:17 am:

I have used your HotSpots, which are a great asset to a remote area. It would be nice to see speeds like in metropolitan areas.

By Thomas Baird (Thomas) on Sunday, October 18, 2009 - 10:14 am:

I didn't know Pasty.com was run on wind + solar power. Interesting.

By Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Sunday, October 18, 2009 - 02:28 pm:

Here's a little update. We have verified that the
wind generator is not making electricity. A few
hours of charging have restored stable operation of
the Keweenaw network. After I'm back in Eagle River
I'll upload a Shoebox Memory that was given to me
during the time here on Brockway this morning.

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