Solar Decathlon uses sun-powered wireless LAN

Solar Decathlon uses sun-powered wireless LAN

Contestants at the Federal Energy Management Program's first Solar Decathlon on the Mall in Washington this week got their Internet connectivity from the sun. The Solar Village's sun-powered wireless LAN had "no wires to the outside world," said Greg Gordon, a Cisco Systems Inc. systems engineer. The LAN was built by Cisco of San Jose, Calif., and Electronic Data Systems Corp.

The decathlon pits 10 university teams against each other for top honors in energy, efficiency and comfort of the Solar Village dwellings they designed, transported and erected on the Mall.

Internet access is through eight bundled T1 lines at the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art, which connects through a Cisco 350 Series 802.11b wireless bridge to another bridge at the village. The bridges support three AP350 wireless access points, which provide connectivity to all 10 houses as well as a number of public PCs. This Web story was written and e-mailed from one of them.

The network has about 5.5-Mbps throughput. All the houses and the network are powered by solar panels, except at night when a bio-diesel generator running on soy fuel supplements solar-charged batteries.

The wireless network's security is limited to the IEEE 802.11b standard's Wired Equivalent Privacy protocol. Gordon said the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum across the Mall has a wireless network, and "I jumped on it for a few minutes yesterday."

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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