Project Highlights

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.

Motorized, Solar-Powered LifePump™

It’s no surprise that in arid locations, access to clean water is critical. Though numerous water pumps are installed worldwide to meet the need, there are, surprisingly, only two mutually-exclusive types in existence in the developing world: hand pumps and motorized, solar-powered pumps.

Hand pumps are robust, offering dependability via direct connection to an in-ground rod that brings water to the surface; but fatigue limits how long people can pump. In contrast, motorized, solar-powered pumps significantly increase the output of water, but without the direct-to-ground connection of a manual hand pump, water flow ceases at night, during the rainy season, or if the solar panel fails.

Combining the best of both pumps was Design Outreach’s motivation and vision when approaching SonSet Solutions’ machine shop for assistance in creating a new prototype of their existing LifePump™. Built, tested, and proven to work in our facility in late September 2018, this new pump will work in either manual or solar-powered mode. It also bridges a gap in the market between lower producing hand pumps and the larger solar systems for villages such as one in Zambia, where original estimates of 200 people rapidly grew to 2,000.

As an essential need is met through this new LifePump, the love of Christ is conveyed in a practical way, opening the hearts of the people to gospel witness.

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.

SonSetLink™ Test Station

The demand for water monitoring devices has prompted SonSet Solutions to design SonSetLink™ water monitors specifically for the India Mark II water pumps, the most common hand pump in the developing world. Many of these water pumps are located in war-torn areas, creating potentially hazardous conditions for our partners who maintain them. The water monitors allow our partners to know when repairs are needed, and as a result, help our partners keep the water flowing. When we take care of the water pumps, we take care of the community. As we provide a means for ensuring a community’s water supply, God is opening doors for the gospel.

Our summer interns, Dane Hoselton and Seth Williams, are working on a test station for the new generation of SonSetLink devices. With nothing but a list of requirements given to them by their supervisor, they combined their engineering skills to design and create a prototype of the testing station. After the prototype is checked and approved, the interns will create a fixture that will be able to measure the functionality of 20 water monitors at once. As soon as the monitors pass this final inspection, they’ll be ready for ministry, or as Hoselton says, “We’re the last line of defense before they ship out the door.”

SonSet Solutions is expecting these test stations to increase the rate of manufacturing for water monitors that will be distributed all over the world.