Vehicle Location Monitoring

Knowledge is power. The Kimia Leprosy Center operated by the Pioneer Christian Hospital in Impfondo, Republic of Congo, has taken that saying to heart. Driving deep into the Congolese rainforest, they set up temporary bases where they diagnose new leprosy patients and show films. One film educates about the treatability of leprosy. The other is the Jesus film. On a recent trip, 500 villagers accepted Christ after watching the Jesus film!

Sometimes the Kimia team gets stuck in the middle of nowhere with no cell service and no way to call for help. The hospital has no idea where they are or if they are in danger.

SonSet Solutions has been working on a solution adapted from our satellite-based clean water well monitoring technology. On a trip to Pioneer Christian Hospital early in 2019, SonSet Solutions missionary Tom Scatliff mounted a satellite modem on top of the Kimia truck to monitor its GPS location. SonSet Solutions also programmed the modem to act as an emergency beacon. Now if the Kimia team runs into trouble on one of its trips into the deep jungle, they can flip a switch and the hospital will know the exact GPS coordinates of the truck and can send someone to retrieve them.

Clearing a Hurdle

More than a year ago, a SonSetLinkTM water pump monitoring device encountered a technical hurdle. A satellite modem critical to this device was declared obsolete by its manufacturer. Having been given no prior warning, it caught SonSet Solutions’ engineers Cody Hall and David Palmer by surprise — scrambling to ensure that monitoring devices would still be available while a challenging redesign ensued.

Since then, after much prayer and hard work, a new version has been completed. The new design, although primarily suited for one of our partner ministries, can still be used by any other ministry with similar needs for water pump monitoring.

Specifically, the redesigned unit measures flow in gallons or liters (from solar-power or electric pumps), temperature, time-in-use of the pump each day, battery level and flow history data (in case any transmissions are missed).

How does this differ from the previous version? The new design incorporates the SmartOneC satellite modem, is more compact, includes many improvements for easier production, and has several aesthetic changes. Lord willing, this new water pump monitoring device will clear the way for a steady production flow of units to ministries around the world.

Behind the Scenes: Radio Planting (Part Two)

For over 30 years, SonSet Solutions has been helping ministry partners around the globe establish their own radio stations. Radio planting is part of the fabric of who we are as a ministry, making it possible for millions to hear the message of hope and salvation. But what happens if equipment becomes damaged or fails to work properly? SonSet Solutions is ready to come alongside our partners with technical assistance whenever they need us.

There is a variety of support steps that may be used, depending on the complexity of the issue(s) at hand:

  • Parts may be sent directly from SonSet Solutions to the partner ministry, with instructions on how to replace faulty components.
  • Transmitters may be returned to SonSet Solutions for repair.
  • One of our technicians may travel to the field to do the repairs. These “hands on” trips often include additional training of capable, local personnel.
  • Occasionally, ministry partners travel to Elkhart for technical training.

Regardless of the necessary steps, the goal remains the same: to quickly and effectively identify and correct any issues at hand, restoring the equipment and resuming broadcasts of the gospel message.

Behind the Scenes: Radio Planting (Part One)

“We would like to start a radio station.” What happens when a call like this is received by SonSet Solutions’ Broadcast Services Department?

The initial step is the vetting process, which includes a set of questions designed to determine whether SonSet Solutions and the potential partner share basic beliefs and common ministry goals. If so, the two form a partnership by jointly signing a Memorandum of Understanding.

We work closely with the new partner to determine what is needed to establish their broadcast ministry. A radio signal coverage study is key, as it helps determine the best location for the antenna and how powerful the transmitter needs to be to reach the intended audience. We also provide a list of additional broadcasting equipment that will be needed, such as microphones, audio mixers, and automation equipment. The partner is responsible for handling the infrastructure, tower construction and licensing. With funds from the partner ministry or donations from other organizations, SonSet Solutions purchases, tests, and ships the equipment, and when needed, provides on-site installation assistance.

When initial broadcasts have been successful, SonSet Solutions then stands ready to assist as needed with further consultation, equipment repair, and training. Over the years, SonSet Solutions has helped establish over 500 radio stations around the globe.

How Does Clean Water Change Communities?

“Clean water is one of the most transformative things in the world aside from the gospel” notes David Palmer, a mechanical engineer at SonSet Solutions who has traveled to Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania to assist with water projects.

Indeed, clean water quickly results in the improved health of both people and livestock through the elimination of water-borne illnesses such as cholera, typhoid, and dysentery; as well as better hygiene and hydration. Saved time is another immediate benefit — a reliable source of water saves a great deal of walking and avoids dangerous conditions collecting it (e.g. crocodiles in rivers).

Clean water has a ‘trickle’ effect of benefits, such as the following

  • Healthy children can go to school; as a result, education is strengthened. Consistent and completed education breaks the primary poverty cycle in a village. With less time spent collecting water, women and children (the primary family members burdened with this task) are able to go to church strengthening the entire family spiritually.
  • Livestock are healthy and can produce offspring contributing to better health for those who rely on this food source. More livestock can be farmed, and excess sold for income. Similarly, gardens can be planted, resulting in more food and a healthier diet.
  • Proper brick-making techniques improve the quality of houses, and both brick-making and gardening provide income through entrepreneurship by the selling of bricks and freshly-grown produce.

The long-term impact that clean water provides — even in areas not typically open to the gospel — is people more willing to listen. This helps build relationships, and often results in direct sharing of the gospel message. Click the following link to read the story of Vickness and how clean water transformed her village in Malawi:

Technical Hurdles

“This item is no longer available.” Does this sound familiar?

From vacuum cleaners to console game controllers, the electronics industry is replete with things in the state, process, or condition of being (or becoming) obsolete.

As a consumer, finding a replacement item might be as easy as a quick web search and clicking “Place Order” from an online auction and shopping website. But as a missionary engineer, what do you do when a unique satellite “B” modem you carefully designed a water pump monitoring device around is suddenly replaced with a different “C” design from its manufacturer?

In early 2018, this was the situation in which SonSet Solutions’ engineers Cody Hall and David Palmer found themselves. Though unsurprised that components can be discontinued, the lack of warning regarding this key piece of the monitor spurred them to quickly find and order an extra supply of “B” modems from third-party sources to help bridge the redesign gap.

A new design around the smaller “C” modem is being built and tested. Though it’s different, the goal remains the same: provide water monitoring units as reliably and effectively as possible in communicating the condition of water pumps wherever they’re installed.

Obsolete electronics and redesigns are but hurdles requiring flexibility in the race to help communicate the love of Christ through water monitoring technology.

Stewarding our Resources

In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has. (Proverbs 21:20 NIV)

During the month of October, SonSet Solutions took advantage of an opportunity to put wise stewardship into practice by having our fluorescent, incandescent, and halogen bulbs in both buildings converted to LED lamps which are more efficient, generate less heat, and yet provide the same amount of light. The new LED lights are expected to last at least 13 years.

The cost of the conversion was $18,384 in materials and labor. Anticipating a rebate of $5,737 from Indiana Michigan Power, this should leave us with a total project cost of $12,646. With the expected yearly energy savings of $7,609, this amount will be recovered in less than two years. And in a similar way — though in place for many years now — programmable thermostats have also helped in minimizing yearly heating costs.

Our old phone service was costing nearly $800 per month before the spring of 2016 when we changed from a conventional to a Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phone system. We are now only spending about $100 per month for phone service, so our savings is approximately $8,000 per year.

God has provided for SonSet Solutions through the generosity of his people, and we continue to look for ways to be good stewards of those gifts.

Portable Display LifePump

Except for a math major, few people know what a “hypocycloid” mechanism is — let alone what it entails. Also known as a progressive cavity pump, it uses small cavities to push water upwards and out of the LifePump from deep underground. With this technology, Design Outreach’s LifePump provides clean water access in difficult locations.

Design Outreach asked SonSet Solutions to design and build a portable display LifePump, which shows the pump’s inner workings.

You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase, “Seeing is believing.” But the benefits of this display-only pump are intended for “Seeing is understanding.” The cut-away design could enable officials in developing countries to grasp the LifePump’s simple but effective design, helping speed its in-country acceptance and delivery to needy areas. It also helps with funding. One donor has expressed an interest in having a display model for their office, so they can quickly and easily communicate with others how the LifePump works.

Building a tool that promotes the LifePump is important to us because we know that providing clean water access is a stepping stone to communicating the gospel to people in need of a Savior.

Equipment Power Protection Test Equipment

As the Equipment Power Protection (EPP) development project nears completion, the focus has shifted from design to testing. Manufacturing multiple EPP units for ministry partners requires specific test equipment so that tests are done quickly and accurately, ensuring each EPP unit works precisely as intended.

Springboarding from programming code and mechanical assembly done by summer interns Michael Koval and Liana Kriebel, SonSet Solutions’ engineer Mike Tapia has been creating and fine tuning the test automation process. With the click of a button, a series of tests take measurements in key places and in different ways, as if to say, “How long did it take the EPP to disconnect the equipment once it saw the high voltage? Did it function in the way we expected?” A small relay box controlled by a microcontroller helps automate this test, simplifying the process.

Protecting ministry partners’ equipment from electrical damage and ensuring it’s broadcasting the gospel message requires answering questions like, “Can we verify that the EPP will work with a specific amount of current running through the device? Will it save the equipment it was designed to protect?” Thanks to the Lord’s enabling of summer interns and SonSet Solutions engineers, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

SonSetLink™ Notifications

Water pump management in remote areas is like trying to ensure the safety of your children from a distant park bench while they are playing on a busy playground. How can you keep track of them or know if they are hungry, upset or even injured?

In 2014, SonSet Solutions created SonSetLink™, a remote monitoring system that allows our ministry partners to check on vital pump information such as water flow, pump usage, and the monitor’s battery life in distant areas of the world.

Summer intern Wesley McDouall is adding new features to the system’s website. These modifications will allow our accompanying ministries to view the health of all their pumps at once. The system has 20 different notifications that inform these mission organizations of the status of any given pump. Wesley has added a selection option to the notifications so that ministries can choose which alerts they would like to receive according to their individual needs.

As we provide a means for ensuring a community’s water supply, God is opening doors for previously unreached people to know Him. SonSet Solutions wants to provide as much assistance and convenience to our partners as possible so that communities have reliable water and close connections to the gospel.