Zacary Brown, an InnoCentive Solver from Texas, was the winner of the ASSET India Challenge seeking a solar powered wireless router.
I've been interested in both radios and solar power for many years. I remember sitting in front of my father's antique RCA receiver as a child, listening to shortwave broadcasts from around the world as I wondered how the signals could travel such great distances. Similarly, I remember my parents explaining how the solar panels that Jimmy Carter had installed at the White House could make electricity from sunlight. Both seemed like magic to me at the time.
I studied Computer Science during college and spent a good deal of time studying the design and construction computer network protocols. I had the privilege of taking a networking course from Simon Lam, Ph.D., who has been involved in network research and development since the 1970s, and who piqued my interest in wireless networking in particular.
During college, I became an amateur radio operator, and began making contact with other radio operators around the world. I am currently working on a rather lengthy goal of making contact with every country in the world. I have built and tinkered with quite a few radios, antenna systems, and ancillary components over the years. Perhaps most relevant to this specific problem, I have studied the design, construction, and operation of amateur radio networks. Their purposes and components differ, but they are similar in many ways to the network called for in this problem. Also during college, I began using the Linux operating system, which I have since employed many times in embedded systems and specialized computers such as network routers.
Recently, I have integrated solar power into my amateur radio activities. I have constructed several solar powered stations which employ many of the same design principles that I applied to this problem. I had the benefit of already having built similar systems when I wrote the proposal for ASSET India. My goal is to eventually power my entire office via solar power.
The most difficult design aspects of the ASSET India challenge were related to the very specific network protocol requirements. Luckily, I was able to find the excellent M.I.T. "Roofnet Project", which had already addressed those same problems and whose researchers had published quite a few papers on the subject.