1. Jeffrey Thomson
Building a Kiosk for Solar Creek
What is the kiosk for?
People often ask me what the kiosk is for. The kiosk is being built as an
informational hub about various solar panel projects around the community. Solar Creek,
the organization that funded the kiosk, is a local organization that tries to raise awareness
about, and prevalence of, solar energy in Corvallis. There are a few solar arrays set up in
Corvallis thanks for solar creek, examples would be the solar panels on Lincoln school,
and the north Co-op. There is another array being planned to put on the roof of Crescent
Valley High School, funded by Footwise, a local business. The kiosk is going to be
placed in Footwise as a thank you, or sorts, for funding the solar panel project. The kiosk
can also be moved to various other locations—such as the north Co-op.
In summary, the kiosk is to raise awareness about Solar Creek, solar energy,
various projects around the community, and how to get involved.
Original Ideas and Designs
Originally, plans for the kiosk were grandiose. Visions of a kiosk with
demonstrations, and posters and various other things were common. In an email I sent to
various participants of the project, I outlined some ideas for what to include with the
1. Computer with touch screen monitor: The computer is necessary for accessing
internet information, and needs only be able to handle the information/programs we want
to install on it. Internet connection is a consideration, whether to use wireless, Ethernet,
etc. Ideas are requested.
2. Sample solar panel: A model of a solar panel should be included so that people will be
able to see what exactly a solar panel looks like, as well as see the different parts.
Included as a companion with this would be an explanation of what the parts are, what
they do, and how the solar panel works. This part can be included in the computer (along
with a step by step explanation program, which I’ll talk about later).
3. Solar Demo/Model: Along one of the sides, a niche will be made, and include a set up
consisting of a solar panel, a light, and a motor, operated by a button on the outside. The
object of this demo is to show that when the light is turned on (by the button) and is
shining on the solar panel, the motor moves. This demo would also tie into the
informational pages about how a solar panel works—the person can learn the
information, and then see it in action.
4. Updateable news bulletin: Another item to include on the kiosk would be a bulletin that
contains all news stories, articles, etc. about just about anything solar related. (for
example, I recently saw an article in the GT about tax write-offs for solar power
quadrupling). This would help show viewers that solar power is not unknown.
5. Speakers: Speakers, in my opinion, are not needed, unless we plan on having the
computer talk, which might cause problems if it is placed in a quiet environment. I
thought about, if its possible, to gather movies or other such things about solar panels to
be available for viewing through the computer, in which case having speakers would be
2. I also outlined possible information to be put on the computer, including movies, real
time data from existing solar panels, information about the CV solar panels, how to
install your own solar panels, how to get involved in Solar Creek, and much more. With
this in mind, I came up with a possible design that would be able to include all the things
we had planned to put into the kiosk.
It would, in all reality, be a box on wheels. It would be able to incorporate a great
wealth of information and substance, but it has no real aesthetic value. Brian Wilson, a
member of Solar Creek, and the person who I was most frequently in contact with,
thought that the kiosk should be aesthetically pleasing, and that we should focus designs
in that area, rather than on what it will hold. He sent over specs he had drawn up the year
before (they are attached) and sent me a website displaying kiosks
[http://www.affordablekiosks.com/slabb_kiosks/slabbM.htm]. Using the kiosk from the
website as an example, I devised a new design.
The Final design
The final design took a lot of work. I first had to learn how to use AutoCAD, and
then decide what the kiosk would look like. I at first had trouble with this, I kept
referring to Mr. Kirsch for information, but after repeatedly hearing him tell me to just
make a decision, I grew more comfortable, and was able to finish the kiosk design. I
revised the design with Mr. Kirsch and Mr. Baldwin, and sent it to the solar creek
members. They approved, and the design became final:
3. Building the Kiosk
Along with the AutoCAD drawing, I also sent a bill of materials, which included
cherry plywood, a flat, touch screen monitor, and components for a computer, along with
where to get all of the materials.
Computer and speakers
S451-3102 :: Shuttle SB81P Intel Small Form Factor Socket 775 Barebone Kit (10 lbs)
includes case, motherboard, video, ethernet and audio
CP2-P4-515C :: Intel Pentium 4 515 2.93Ghz / 1MB Cache / 533 FSB /
Socket 775 / Processor (0.1 lbs) $159.97
N27-1878 :: NEC ND3540A / 16x8x16x DVD+RW / 16x6x16x DVD-RW / 8x DVD+R
DL / 6x DVD-R DL / 48x32x48x CD-RW / Black / Dual Layer / OEM DVD
Burner with Nero Software (4 lbs) $41.99
V96-4901 :: Viking 512MB PC3200 DDR 400MHz Memory (0.5 lbs) $49.99
TSD-160S :: Samsung / 160GB / 7200 / 8MB / SATA-150 / OEM / Hard Drive (2 lbs)
K134-1008 :: Klipsch ProMedia Ultra 2.0 Personal Multimedia Audio Speaker System
(7.5 lbs) $99.99
L48-2230 :: Linksys / WRT54G / 54Mbps / 802.11g / 4-Port / Cable/DSL /
Wireless Router (2.75 lbs) $49.99
B75-1054 :: Buffalo / WLI2-PCI-G54 / AirStation / 54Mbps / 802.11g /
PCI / Wireless Adapter with AOSS (1 lbs) $39.99
C250-1008 P7 :: Cables Unlimited 50-Foot Snagless UTP (Unshielded
Twisted Pair) Red Cat5e Cable (0.25 lbs) $12.99
B20-7000 YE10 :: Belkin - 10' Snagless Cat5e Yellow UTP (1 lbs)
QUANTITY 3 x $4.99 = $14.97
G27-1010 :: APC 4-Outlet / 500VA / 300Watts / UPS (15 lbs) $49.99
USB with SecureTouch
4. Once we had acquired the materials, I was able to begin building the kiosk. Using
the drawing from AutoCAD, I cut pieces for the front, the sides (with the help of a
weekend and Mr. Baldwin) the bottom, and pieces for the back. I also cut 2x4 pieces for
the corners, and 2x2 for extra support and holding the up back. I cut holes in the bottom
piece for the wheels, and I cut blocks to secure the axles to.
I began putting all the pieces together by assembling the wheels (putting the axles
through the 2x4 pieces) then I glued the blocks to the bottom panel. Next I glued the
long corner 2x4 pieces to the sides. Once both of those parts were dry, and the excess
glue had been removed, I glued the front to the sides, and the sides and front to the base.
I used brads to help hold the pieces in place and together, and it worked out well. Next I
glued the 2x2 pieces into place. Once the kiosk was completely assembled, I used heat
sensitive veneer to cover the edges of the cherry that were visible. I cut off the excess
veneer, and sanded it down, as well as the rest of the kiosk, in preparation for the finish.
However, I still had to make a tray for the keyboard. I put out an appropriately sized
piece of cherry from the left over wood, and screwed two metal rods to the bottom of it. I
glued another 2x4 piece on the inside of the front panel to add extra support for the tray,
and I bore holes through the cherry plywood and 2x4 for the rods to extend into. I put
veneer on the tray, and sanded that as well. I then cut a small hole in the front of the
kiosk and the keyboard tray for the cord of the keyboard to pass through.
Once all this was finished, it was time to put the finish on. I bought a can of satin
finish and a new brush, and, after wiping the wood down with a tack cloth, I applied a
coat of finish. It should take about three coats total. Once all the finish is on, the
computer and monitor will be put into the kiosk, and hooked up so that they will run.
The back of the kiosk will be screwed on, and the kiosk can then be taken to Footwise, or
where ever Solar Creek wants to put it—it is, after all, being built for Solar Creek.
I encountered many problems. The first one came up when the designs were
being considered—what we should put in the kiosk became a big issue. After looking at
certain designs (such as the box design) we were able to solve that problem by deciding
to build a kiosk that would accommodate a computer and monitor, and leave it at that.
Once we had decided what to put into the kiosk, the design process became somewhat
easier. And after getting input from the Solar Creek members about what they wanted
the kiosk to look like, I was able to work through the final design.
The final design took much refining as well. Dimensions had to be changed, and I had
forgotten originally to draw in wheels, and a keyboard tray. I had to plan those out and
add those. The design was finally approved, and I was able to begin constructing it,
where I encountered even more problems. A lot of the problems revolved around the fact
that I was insecure with my skills in the shop to do much on my own. As the project
progressed, I was able to over come that. However, many things I had to do required
help (such as gluing the front of the kiosk on, etc), so I wasn’t able to proceed on my
Time became a big issue, for a couple reasons. One was that I underestimated
how much time it would take to finish the project, and so I didn’t work as hard as much
as I could have. Another problem was that because I often needed help, on days that
none was available, I was unable to proceed. For example, Mr. Baldwin and I ended up
5. spending about 3 hours on a non-school day cutting out the sides of the kiosk. We would
never have been able to get that done in class, and had to resort to getting it done out of
class. I was also unable to proceed in the building until that got done, so I was stalled for
a few days.
There were lots of other little problems, such as having to run to the store to get
axles for the wheels, or going to the store to get stain and a paint brush, and various
miscommunications and problems in ordering the parts. But all in all, despite being
inconvenient, problems are pretty much a given in projects such as this, and it provided a
great learning experience for me in regards to building things, and the dangers of a vague
deadline and the illusion of time requirements, without causing too much havoc, the
kiosk will be finished by the time it needs to be, although granted it could have, and
probably should have, been done sooner.