Friday, February 16, 2018

Putzing day

Today started with a lovely bright sunny day. The kind of day that would be great in summer. I really wasn’t feeling it though. Having gone from a fantastic job on Thursday morning that I couldn’t wait to wake up to go and do, to a dreadful job that I really hated every minute of by Thursday afternoon, that got so bad on Friday that I had no option other than simply to resign, I was feeling somewhat melancholy.

I had a list of small tasks to accomplish on the bus. In fact I went to the bus for some solitude with my, myself and my melancholia. The first task took several hours and all it involved was putting a breaker switch into the power supply from the battery to the solar controller.
I did get it installed though and it works well. It’s a two way knife-switch that’ll handle up to 60A or three times sad much as my charge controller. I had to take down my solid state relay but that was OK, it wasn’t currently in use.

Throughout the day I’ve been waiting for the glue to set on my piping. I should probably have used regular glue rather than soft-set and regular connections rather than screw joints. My thinking had been that it would be easier just to unscrew something. The fact is though that there’s so little plumbing involved that replacing sections would cost next to nothing in time, effort or expense.

One of my battles has been to make a ring that will glue to the piping below the bus floor to serve as a clamp to clamp it to the floor. The piping connectors seemed ideal. Cutting one laterally in two though it transpired that they taper toward the middle. Not very helpful to be honest. My solution was a longtitudional cut. That should allow sufficient expansion to clamp the tube nicely. This was untested.

By the end of the day I’d started a hole for the piping to go down through the floor. The drill battery went flat and I really didn’t feel like using the power drill. It’s one of those days when I just want quiet and solitude. I suspect it’ll be like this for a few days to be honest. Resigning from a job that suddenly turned bad is probably somewhat akin to other traumatic life events. There was little other option though and no sign that anything would improve from that point.
That is daylight - I almost got through the floor. Another go tomorrow and I probably will get there. Then it’ll be a case of putting the pipe through and sealing like crazy. That’ll almost see the freshwater input done. I’ll have to add a little bracket to hang the water gun though. There will be no faucets used on the bus - they’re way too costly!

A few days ago I found an insurer willing to insure school bus conversions. I told them I have no intention of retitling the bus as a motorhome. They were fine with that. Now the reason for that is that with the title left alone, if the insurance ceases then I can go back to straight collision only commercial bus insurance. They wanted to know the conversion cost so I’m going to have to find all my receipts and tally them up. My guess is $3000 - $5000.

Throughout the day I have been building my mushroom air inlet vent. I’m not 100% sure I’ll be using it though. It seems to me that with the flapper valves I have, in place and some louvered vents replacing my mushroom vents I should be close to insect proof. With the ventilation system active, any insects that get in should be blown out.
There, you can see the mushroom vent. The mosquito mesh needs extra glueing. There are two pipe clamp clips I made and a foot from the hillbilly bed that I’m planning to retake. That will be riveted to the side of the bus with a cigarette lighter socket attached. That will form my external solar input.
And here’s proof I’m not up to scratch. I swept the stairs. Cleaning is something I only do when I’m really under the weather. Normally those steps are knee deep in sand. I need to sweep a lot of sand out of the bus and do a lot of cleaning with my purple industrial cleaner. 

I could rabbit on about all the other worries, frustrations, annoyances and problems in my life - of which there are many - but you really don’t want to read all that. Most of you probably don’t really want to read the blog - you just want the free candy that pops up out of certain computer keyboards after you finish reading!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Big changes

This week has been one of major changes. It started off with me resigning from my school bus driving position on Monday morning. That was driven by many issues involving both the safety of the bus, the safety of the children and my general unhappiness to continue working at a toxic workplace. Then I came down with something akin to the flu.

So far, nothing major has been achieved on the bus - it’s all little bits of things. The blue zip tie broke on my door opener last week so on a whim yesterday I pulled out my welder and made a steel replacement that can be bolted or pinned into place. That should never break. The plastic zip tie did rather well, breaking after 18 months of use. The steel replacement will likely last longer than the linear actuator!

I started the plumbing for the water inlet though I am missing one very important component. That’s the 3/4 hosepipe adaptor. I’m also missing some 3 inch brackets and jubilee clips with which to attach the piping to the skirt. I’ve put a few components together and shortened the tubing so that I can have a short downpipe. That will need an adaptor glued to it in order to clamp it onto the floor thoroughly. I’ll probably secure the tubing on the inside of the bus with a jubilee clip and a bracket.

Turning the ventilation system on for the first time since I combined the output of all the panels, I’ve been watching the voltage carefully. At 5 minutes on, on the hour, I seem to be putting back what I’ve used. Using the USB charger in the bedroom to charge my tablet and having my circulation fun running might use a bit too much power. I’m not certain yet. Having said that, one of my future steps will be to install an input at the front of the bus that will allow me to put an extra solar panel into the system. I can simply stand that panel on the ground, aimed directly at the sun. That doesn’t have to be any more than 50W to be honest.

Needless to say, at some point the 5A fuse on my ventilation circuit blew. Both motors are rated at 2.5A for a combined 5A. My guess is that the starting current may be a little higher hence I’ve replaced that fuse with a 7.5A fuse. That seems to be just fine at the moment. If that blows over the next few days then I’ll probably have to go to a 10A fuse.
I tried my new zip tie replacement gizmo that I welded the other day. It didn’t quite fit so I ended up locking myself out of the bus and having to use the rear entrance. That’s always pretty uncomfortable! Fully painted, it looked quite pretty!
The problem was that the chain didn’t reach far enough to meet the spike and the link I had spare was a shade too long to use as a link replacement. Thus the latch didn’t lift far enough. Harbor Freight came to my rescue though.
Looking at the problem, one of the Harbor Freight cable clamps with the rubber gasket removed fitted perfectly. All I need to do is to put a proper nut and bolt through and I should have a perfectly opening and closing door latch with none of the limited lifespan of plastic zip ties. I ended up taking a small piece out of the edge with my angle grinder to make it all fit but now fit it does. The bolts that kept snapping on me that I bought cheap from Festenal did me proud too. One of those shortened with the same angle grinder made the whole thing work.

So, looks like I wended my little cap thingy for nothing but I’ve ended up with a better system for the front door lock so it’s all good.

I had ideas today about going under the bus to install my extra cabling and my water inlet. The cabling I just never got to. I’m feeling a lot icky with this flue-like bug. The water piping can’t be done for probably another 36 hours or until the soft-setting glue I put on the threads has cured. I wish I’d just gone with a slip joint that just glued together.

Tomorrow, if I’m feeling better, I’ll head out and get some supplies as well as visiting the one coach company and one trucking company I left my details with the other day. Maybe they’ll have work for me? In any case, it’ll take a few days before I can get either the plumbing or the cabling completed.

The ventilation seems to be working though I do need to get on and install a flapper valve into my ducting. I’ll also have to get and install a louvered vent on the outside. Meanwhile I glued one of my mushroom vent covers together. I’d glued one before but as the glue was a bit old, it hadn’t stuck. This time I primed as well as gluing so that should be that. I’ll have to locate my mosquito mesh too, in order to complete that mushroom vent. Neither the flapper valve nor the louvered vent will be 100% insect proof hence the need for a mosquito mesh. Currently there’s a mesh on the outside under my steel mushroom vents. That’s slowing airflow considerably hence the need to replace it.

As far as charging my tablet while the ventilation is powered, it’s definitely more than the sunlight provided will stand in terms of battery charge. I need to put that external solar input and get that portable 50W panel. Mind, removing the mosquito mesh blockage in the ventilation system will improve matters tremendously.

As of right now the stuff I want to do fairly urgently is...

  • Install the plumbing inlet.
  • Install the solar inlet. While I’m at that, I might also install extra wires to the battery compartment so that I can solar-charge the driving batteries or at least keep them topped up.
  • Install the latest underbus cabling.
Less urgent is to work on the ventilation system. To be done as and when will be to complete the internal wiring connected to the latest cable. 

As and when, the other things that should be done are to install a lock on the fuel door and a lock on the battery door. Then there’s also an investigation needed of the transmission bulge in the cockpit to see if the stray white cable that’s dangling under the bus is actually connected to the speed sensor. As the acellerater and rev counter drop out from time to time I’m assuming there’s a loose wire. It would not surprise me to discover that all of these things are related to the hillbilly previous owners.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

I never ever seem to order enough!

A couple of days ago my latest pair of switches arrived. These will be used or one will be used for either the other bedroom light or the other galley light. One has already been used in the bathroom so now the bathroom light actually works as intended.
Now in the immortal words of the prophet: “Now I can see shit!” There won’t actually be a lampshade on this bulb. I just didn’t see the point of having the bulb all hidden and looking pretty when bathrooms are places not to sit and ruminate nor to sit and think but to attend to other, more pressing matters.

Today during my work break I was very happy to be able to sit inside the bus in the pouring rain with my electric light on in the bedroom, sitting at my desk, writing my blog. That’s not all I did though. One of the things was to start to seal the gap around my electrical conduit as it goes through the cockpit floor. Now I will have to put another - smaller hole - in order to pass cables through to charge the driving battery from solar power and to accept incoming power from an external solar panel or wind generator.

Looking at the muddle of wiring at the back of the bus, I might replace the diode assembley I built with one of the half-assed bridge rectifiers. Remember I bought one. Now it looks like I’ll need three.  That’s the problem - everything is growing organically. I like the fact the half-assed bridge rectifier has screw connections. This makes life very easy. Once that’s installed, I can work on installing my kill switch. Idly I thought about two kill switches - one for the solar panels and one for the battery. I’d like to be able to switch the battery off while the bus is in motion.

A few days ago I bought two more of the LED solar lights just to have the tops as lampshades. Those have now been prepared, ready for use. One will go on the bedroom back wall and one in the galley. I’m not keen on the one that came from the $1 solar light. Somebody gave me one of those useless closet lights - the kind with the pull cord that looks like a light bulb but is woefully underpowered and runs off 4 AA batteries. While the bulb bit fits nicely over my LED lights, the bulb even when frosted correctly is just bulky and ugly. I’m going to say that I slowed its progress to the garbage pile rather than halted progress.

The plastic tie I had on the front door lock snapped yesterday. It was quick and easy to replace. It had done well in lasting over a year. It’s probably way past time I sought a more permanent solution, however. That’s looking like an interesting challenge.

Now that was what I did on Wednesday. This weekend was a little lackluster for progress. The only thing I did was to connect the front and rear solar panels. That was by no means straightforward as I had to be doubly sure that there were no short circuits that could burn out either panel.
The bird’s nest at the front has largely vanished. I’ll tidy those cables up a little more but that’s nowhere near as bad as the wiring looked previously. On the bottom left is my new bridge rectifier. It seems to work better than expected and is a great distribution panel for my solar panels. Up in the center is a diode array that prevents a reverse charge from blowing my solar panel. On the top right is a charge controller that’s currently lying idle. That will eventually be used to keep the bus driving batteries topped up. The unused top of the bridge rectifier will have cables from an external solar panel connected to it. I’ll install a cigarette lighter socket under the bus where I can plug in an external panel. Most panels seem to come with a cigarette lighter plug as a connector.
At the back of the bus I’ve just tied my front solar panels into the diode array protecting my rear solar panels.  \Certainly it looks like a bird’s nest but short of punching holes through the bulkhead to hide the mess, there’s little to be done. Mind I’m all in favour of cables, plumbing etc being easily accessible for ease of maintanence and modification.

I didn’t get down to doing my plumbing inlet nor did I do my solar inlet. The list of things needing to be done is shrinking rapidly though. The solar connection was one of my major projects. In fact that was a project that caused me great concern because of the risk of damaging three solar panels.
As many of you know, I love photography even though I don’t do much these days. After selling a ton of Canon equipment that never really lived up to the hype, a while back I re-equipped with a single secondhand Olympus camera with its single standard lens. I really don’t know why they bothered asking for money for it - it really was incredibly cheap. I’ve noticed that digital cameras are something you only ever buy secondhand. I recall paying $1,200 for a Canon 30D back in 2006. When I eventually sold it having hardly used it in 2012 I got less than a quarter of my purchase price back. Today if I tried to sell a similar camera, I’d be lucky not to get slapped for asking for money.

Anyway, that’s all by the side. The picture shows a camera battery charger. The killer here is it is running off a USB power source. I don’t even need 12v to power it! I’m so pleased about that. I’m still going to install my other power cables. In fact I bought some extra wiring to take care of some of my requirements though I have as yet to get a suitable fuse box. Speaking of fuse boxes, I’m now out of spare 1 and 2 amp APC fuses. I guess I’ll just have to order some.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Planned 12v electrics and so on

Today was the day set aside to work on the 12v electrics. They’re now far nearer completion than before though with some surprising hiccups too. Having looked into putting spade connectors on the electrical equipment end of my cables in the bedroom, I remembered what an issue that was in the galley and just soldered my connections instead. That made the whole thing a lot neater.
The one perplexing thing though was that after everything had been connected (and connected underneath), the voltmeter on my USB charger box didn’t have a reading. The USB charger didn’t come on either. Thus, I opened it and switched the wires around. As normal, one of the spades came off the cable and I had to put a new spade. Closing the box I was still perplexed. The USB charger lit up and the voltmeter read 8V not 13.8 or 14.2v which the display on the charge controller was reading. Looking at the fuse panel with the USB charger switched on gave me the answer. A red light was showing beside an empty fuse position on the panel. Clearly I’d found my answer. Inserting the requisite fuse. I put a 5A fuse though I suspect a 4A fuse would have been better (I don’t have one even though they make them) and the voltage at the meter immediately rose to 13.8v.

One of the things that had me a bit worried was the problem I’d had with a spade connector that kept sliding undone. I’d resolved that by simply using vinyl tape and taping the two connectors together. Working under the desk was not in the slightest bit comfortable. It was the thought of tidying the desk that had me under there rather than removing the top of the desk and leaning in like a civilized human.
After connecting all the live wires and then all the neutrals I did slip some cable wrap over the loose wires. Thinking on that one again, I think next time rather than spade connectors I’d have been better with a screw-down terminal strip. 

I’d made up a lovely cable to go from all the electrical gizmos to the power line coming from the underbody cabling. I’d made it a bit longer than needed just in case. It’s always best to have more because lengthening stuff while possible isn’t always that easy. So I had a bit that I trimmed off that I think you’ll enjoy seeing.
There are 8 cables in that bundle - most of them 16 gauge with a pair of 12 gauge cables also. The 16 gauge are used for the lighting and the fan. The 12 gauge is used for the USB charger. It’s all way heavier than I need but who says I’m not going to upgrade anything at some point?

While I was at it, I built up a cable for the shower. I had thought of putting a USB charger and a fan as well as a light in the galley on the diagonally opposite corner from the existing fan, light and USB charger. In the end what scuppered that idea was lack of wires. I’m not going to buy more wires now unless I absolutely must. Thus I put the remains of my 12 gauge cable into conduit together with my two 16 gauge cables. That will allow me to both power a 12V shower pump. I’ll have a cigarette lighter socket in the shower room ready for a 12V shower I might buy instead of using my existing D cell powered shower. It’ll eliminate my requirement for D cells.
My white 12 gauge cable was not very long and nor was my black 12 gauge cable so I soldered them together to make a longer cable. As the distance was longer than 14 feet from where the cable would enter in the back of the bus to where it would enter in the bathroom, I’ve used two 1/4 inch cable wraps connected together. My 12 gauge cable ran out somewhere close to the end so I continued on with the rest of the two 30 foot spools of 16 gauge wire. That should allow me to have a 12v socket for the shower and two lights. I’m not definitely going to put a second light in the shower but it would make some sense. I’m putting that cable in, just in case. The other cable will be for a light on the diagonally opposite side of the galley from the existing light - just over the desk/eating area. I’ll put another light in the bedroom over the end of the bed where it’ll illuminate the closet.
My attention turned to my solar setup. I’d bought a bridge rectifier on eBay that came from China. Testing it with my multimeter proved it’s a half-assed affair. It will not rectify AC into DC but rather it allows half of the AC through. It’s a half-wave bridge-rectifier. That, for my usage is totally worthless. Needless to say I didn’t proceed further with anything to do with the solar setup for the moment.
Speaking of Chinese trash, these are the 4.5W LED lights I bought from China via eBay. I’ve had an entertaining series of correspondence with the seller. I’d given the seller a neutral rating because the light output of these 4.5W unidirectional LED lights is far less than that of my 2.5W Walmart LED lights. At one point he offered me $5 to revise my review. Then he offered $2 then he offered $4. I’m just refusing point blank. It’s my own fault for hanging onto them for a month or so before trying them. There is $10 worth of trash. That crazy half-assed bridge rectifier was $10 too. I doubt I’ll get any money back from either of those pieces of junk.

I did buy some stuff from Amazon. I thought it was coming from the USA but Amazon seems to be drop shipping now with their stuff being posted straight from China. In fact I must say that I’m very disappointed with Amazon and eBay. One of the things I ordered a week or so back was supposed to have been here on the first. It’s still in the system and wasn’t even shipped until yesterday. That’s coming from Florida and is a pair of switches. One was for the bathroom light and one was for something else but then I changed my mind so the other will now be for the other galley light. Had it arrived in time, I’d have got my existing bathroom light wired into the circuit today.
For a bit of fun, I tried the plastic bulb shape from one of those cheap closet lights. I remember various people buying them because they looked like a bulb and everybody I know who had one used it a few times and found it ate batteries. universally everybody that had one, threw it out. Thus it was with this one. I rescued the plastic bulb thing but while it fits on my light assembley very nicely, aesthetically the plastic lantern assembley from the $2 garden lights looks far better. 

In order to install my next cable setup and a light on the other end of the bedroom, I’ll need to get myself another fuse box. I’ll probably get exactly the same kind I have already. I’ll use one of the extra connections to run power to my keypad door unlocker. I’m hesitant about powering the keyed unlocker from the same battery though as I’d be overly reliant upon one power source. It’s quite easy to turn the power off and forget it’s off and that would just plain lock me out. Perhaps there’s a use for one of my spare charge controllers and one of my smaller sealed lead acid batteries? I could use the 10Ah battery for the digital door lock and run the keyed lock from the 35ah battery.

It might be worth adding a 3rd charge controller to keep the driving batteries topped up when the bus is standing idle. As for the external solar power input, I’m back at square one again. I need to put in a proper bridge rectifier. That’s clearly going to mean I’m going to have to build my own. That’s not a problem. I have diodes. I just don’t have a small project box nor usable terminals nor any circuit board. I can, however, join the front solar panel to the rear solar panel with some very careful wiring at each end.

My main power switch arrived the other day. I’ve not yet got around to installing that. In fact I had a task working out how to attach it. It has holes on one side but not on the other which means I’ll have to drill them. Needless to say, it came from China even though it was shipped from Florida!

To be quite honest, I’m beginning to wonder whether stuff from China is all that great. I have so much unusable stuff versus usable and barely usable that I sometimes wonder whether buying from somewhere else might be better. The trouble is wherever you go - it’s all made in China. The rather decent LED bulbs I bought, sold by Walmart, are not American but Chinese. It sounds crazy but they actually ship live chickens to China and have the Chinese to slaughter and fillet them in disgustingly unhygienic factories before shipping them back.

Even the stuff labelled as made in the USA is often just assembled in the USA from components made in China. Look at the vast number of Free Trade Zones around the country. That’s where stuff made in China is imported and assembled so that it can be labelled as USA made but in fact it’s all Chinese aside from a little light assembley.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

It rained all day!

Today was the day designated for completing the bedroom wiring. As all things planned have a habit of not working out quite that way, thus it was with today’s plans. Murphy’s law was at its best today!

Starting work, I decided to use my plastic box rather than the metal box for my USB charger and voltmeter on the basis that it was ready cut and as it was raining outside, going out to cut the metal box would have been just nasty. I still had to make holes for the switch and the push button though as well as mount the box to the wall.

It was pretty gloomy inside due to the rain so I grabbed some wires and made a connection to the unused lighting circuit so that I had a temporary wire set up for the new light. Though it was low brightness, I used my 1.5watt bulb which allegedly produces as much light as a 10w incandescent bulb. I used that for the entire time I was in the bus. The interesting thing there was that the battery voltage barely dropped and picked up very quickly when the clouds thinned a bit. I’m on the right track with that light bulb and I’m only using 20 of my 35 watts of solar power too!

The first problem was as I set the light up, I blew a 1A fuse and had to replace it. When that blew I rectified the problem and noticed there was sufficient low voltage passing through to illuminate my light bulb dimly. I wasn’t aware the bulb was dimmable.

After that I found my box, with the holes cut and the USB charger installed would not close with the spade connectors attached to the USB charger. They made it too long. Now the real answer would have been to go to the store for some right-angled connectors but was I going to drive on a Sunday having driven about 200 miles a day for the past 5 working days and then some on Saturday? Err, no. I was staying in the bus! Thus I whipped out my soldering iron and soldered it all. Testing it I found I’d reversed my blue and white wires. Easily done so the wires coming into the box are white meeting blue and blue meeting white.

Until now the color scheme of my wiring had been mostly white for ground and other colors for other things. I do have a black ground in the cockpit but wasn’t too bothered about changing that. I ran out of white today so yellow is the new ground color for some of the wiring.
So, the box was completed and tested. It seems to work or at least, the correct lights come on. It still needs to be connected to the circuits. 

After that I lost a lot of time. I’d got a small aluminum box that I was planning to use as a switch box.   I’d spent ages trying to paint it. Initially I’d painted it purple to use in the galley but after I put a different box in the galley as a switch box I painted it pink in order to use it in the bedroom. Anyway, I drilled a couple of holes for switches and encountered the first problem. There were rails on the inside of the box that made making the switch sit level was very hard indeed.
Well, the problem was solved by making very sure the switches were manovered perfectly into place before tightening their retaining nuts. Then along came another problem. As with the previous box, the spade connectors stopped the switches from being mounted correctly.
At that point though, I was utterly fed up with working on this tiny little box and of trying to turn it into a TARDIS. I put it to one side and pulled out two switches that I’d bought some weeks ago. I used one for the bedroom light and how nice it was to be able to flip a switch to turn the light off and on! Even though the wiring was but of a temporary nature, it was wonderful. While I was at it, I used my second switch for the bedroom circulation fan. That was so nice in the summer.
Of course, having used both switches, I had no switch to use for the bathroom light. Now I really can’t see the brown smelly stuff! I plugged on with wiring and putting wires into conduit while securing the conduit. I needed a hole in the bathroom wall for the conduit and so I drilled one. In fact the hole had to be redrilled several times as each time it was slightly bigger than the last but not quite big enough. Finally I managed though and passed the conduit through.
Eventually those wires will be connected to a switch. That won’t happen until next weekend though as the extra switches ordered today won’t actually arrive until probably next weekend. They’re coming from the USA so they will not take long. Stuff from China always seems to take forever! I’ve quit ordering stuff from there. 
I continued with the cable conduit. The light and the fan both need to be connected to the wires in the conduit and the wires for the light need to be extended as they’re too short. I quit after I made an error and taped the two conduits together to merge them into a bigger conduit without realizing my light wires ended at the end of the smaller conduit. It just seemed the ideal time to quit. 

Remaining to do in the bedroom - extend the short wires. I’ll probably use yellow to extend the white and I believe I have enough blue to extend the blue to the right length. Then to connect the wires to the light and the fan. Finally I’ll secure and connect the conduit under the desk. 

Having completed the immediate electrics, the next thing to do will be to add switches into the system so that the solar supply can be switched on or off and so that the battery can be switched on or off. I have a switch on the way that’ll do the solar. The battery switch I have yet to obatain. Having said that, the solar system needs to be connected so that the front and rear panels work together.

I’ve already mentioned my plan to add an entry point for an external solar panel or even a wind generator. What I’ve not mentioned is a further idea which is to use a charge controller already connected at the front of the bus to keep the bus batteries fresh when the bus is parked up. 

Eventually I’ll add a circuit to power a shower but that’s on the back burner until I’ve completed all the projects currently on the go. There are so many of them!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Shopping was a neccesity

Yes, today was Harbor Freight day. I went to get a replacement step bit for my drill. Sadly they come in packs of two so I now have a duplicate and redundant step bit. I’d blunted the previous one trying to cut through thick steel. This one will not be used for such an arduous task!

Of course, before I went out I had to inflate my car tire which had mysteriously dropped from 35.5psi to 23psi. Pulling out my pump I set it going and stopped a couple of times to check the pressure. On the last stop the pressure had reached 29psi whereupon the switch on the pump disintegrated. That’s not the first electric pump to fail on me. The first I remember went crunch after half inflating a flat tire and wouldn’t work any further. It just seems those things are just not built to do the job for which they are sold.

Thus at Harbor Freight I picked up another tire pump. It’s supposed to reach 150PSI but honestly, good luck to anybody that thinks they’ll get more than 40psi out of it before it goes bang and pieces of pump go flying about the yard. It doesn’t matter what the price is or what brand is on them. They’re all made by Comrade Phock Yew in the People’s Republic of China as are most of the things on eBay, Amazon and in the stores.

Anyway I purchased my step drill which was my main reason for going to Harbor Freight together with my new tire pump (which on my return I used to pump my front tire to 35psi) and a couple of things for other people. Now, while I was out I also went to a store I know called EmbroidMe. I know the manager and he’d done some good work for me in the past. Sadly the store had moved for the umpteenth time and I had to Google it to find it. They’re now on one of the main drags so business must be good. I never managed to order the top I wanted because he’d taken it upon himself to have Saturday off - the rotter! All I wanted was a top in black with white lettering that says (front and back) “Area 51 - Crash Survivor”. I feel people around me are so odd that I must be on some alien planet.

Anyway, inside the bus I found that for some unknown reason my phone is now refusing to take correctly focused images. Maybe I’ll have to do a factory reset. I’d allowed several apps to have several goes at updating and the thing is now slightly slower than a snail swimming through treacle. It happens with these Android things but who can really afford an iPhone now they’re such stupid prices? I stop when I’m asked to pay more than $50 for a phone that I know isn’t going to last more than 2 years. I’ve been taken on that ride before. I had a Nexus 4 that I paid $250 for and 3 years later it just died. I’m never being taken on that ride when all the darned thing is, is a phone. The internet on it is nice but hardly essential. I can get my internet in many other ways.

The first thing that came to my attention was the two solar garden lights. They were utterly useless light producers and clearly some kind of inscrutable Chinese joke. The glass off them was rather good however. Removing the glass and spraying them with frosting spray I drilled a hole in the base of each that fitted nicely over the base of my light holders. It was then I realized that I could just pop them in place and didn’t have to spend time fastening them. That was quite a relief.
Well that was the square garden light and it looks pretty darned good if I do say so myself. Curses on Google for making the camera suffer from its bloatware updates. Making the glass fit was a simple matter of trimming the top off and drilling a hole in the base the same diameter as the lamp base. That was where my step drill came in very handy.
The other (cheaper) garden light didn’t look as spectacular and looks even worse since the camera decided to adjust the white balance all on its own. The previous and very expensive garden light cost me $2 while this one cost $1. Neither is really worth more than about 20 cents but I suppose the Dollar Store needs to pay its minimum wage staff.

Having done that, the next thing I did was to crawl under the desk in the bedroom. I’ve spent quite a while on my hands and knees under things during this bus project. So, I stripped the ends of the cables under the desk. That was two twin cables. Once I’d done that, it took a while but I put spade connectors on the cables. The next thing was to touch a wire from each connector to the body to see if the red light came on, on my fuse block. I’m very pleased and relieved to report that it all worked and that there are no obvious problems with the wiring.
About then I’d pretty much had enough for the day. Pumping those tyres took a very long time. Those electric pumps are so darned slow. The next stage will be to drill holes in the aluminum box I received a few days ago. I’d almost decided to use the plastic box I’d already go and had drilled holes in it ready to use but since my USB connectors are Chinese, I think I prefer a metal box since it’s more likely to contain a fire and to dissipate heat build up.
I connected my bedroom light to a spare battery and put one of my new light shades over the thing. The light emitted was usable - very usable but disappointing. What could be wrong? Well, I’d put one of my 1.2 watt bulbs in instead of my 2.5w. That was the answer. Switching bulbs produced plenty light. I found the small bulb was very usable and I could read using it but light drop off toward the end of the bedroom was quite noticeable. I compare that with those useless LED lanterns. I’ll have to rip the guts light of those things and put an 8 AA battery pack and a 12v LED  light in place. That’ll make them much more usable.

Who knows what progress will happen tomorrow. Stay tuned, children...

Friday, January 26, 2018

It’s alive! Power now flows through its veins.

Today was rather a strange day. Work was very pleasant and quite straightforward with no incidents at all other than after taking the children from the elementary school to their homes, I went to the high school and had no riders. That meant I could head straight back to the bus yard and go home. Very nice.

During my between shifts break I came and worked on the bus a little, continuing to put connectors in place toward getting everything wired up to the new battery. I didn’t do much more than attach a couple of connectors during my break. I spent quite a while researching a second fuse box, hunting eBay for one before finding I’d ordered the previous one off Amazon.

A few days ago, having had the thought of a second fuse box I’d looked in the car parts stores and while I hadn’t found the right kind of breaker box I had found the connectors I needed to complete my project. Believe me, when you’re doing a bus conversion you will need an absolute ton of male and female insulated spade connectors in all sizes plus a few ring and fork connectors of each size.

After work which ended earlier than normal due to an unusual complete lack of highschool bus riders, I did get more done. In fact I almost completed the 12v work at the front of the bus. Discounting that I want to install a digital unlocker for the front door, I connected and tidied every wire in the cockpit section aside from those going to the solar arrays.
The single (twin) black wire poking up on the right from the bundle is the solar wire that passes from front to rear. That will be connected to the front solar array and to the portable solar array. The small wire drooping down will be connected also to the solar arrays and that goes to a voltmeter so if I wish I can press a button and see what the solar voltage is.
This blurry photo that I didn’t realise my phone had screwed up on focusing shows my completed wiring. Theres a bit of a bundle of connectors to the right of the fan but it’s not too intrusive. Both switches on my switch panel work. One turns the fan on and one turned the light on. Even the USB charging box that my lantern sits on is powered. The only thing on that lacking power is the voltmeter that will give me the voltage on my solar arrays.

At the back of the bus, the requisite fuses are installed. The light currently has a 2.5W bulb in it which produces ample illumination. In fact, that produces several times the light of my brightest LED lantern while my lantern claims to have a greater number of lumens. You’ve heard me say that I consider manufacturers that quote lumens as speaking with a forked tongue.

I’ve used several 1A fuses. I can’t see a bulb of less than 12W needing more than a 1A fuse so the bulb has a 1A fuse. The fan is probably 150mw which won’t again need more than a 1A fuse. The charging array claims to have two USB 1 sockets and two USB 2 sockets. That’s a grand total of 6.6A at 5.5v. I’m playing safe and putting a 10A fuse. Now half my fuse box has working fuses running working outlets.
The bulbs I put into my bulb holders were all purchased from Walmart. The 1W bulb is not very bright but is much brighter than my LED lanterns. The 2W bulb lights up the whole room very nicely.  In fact the 1W is very effective in the bathroom while the 2W works very well in both the bedroom and in the galley. The bulb on the top that looks funky is one of my 4.5W bulbs from China. To say it sucks is putting it mildly. The light is harsh and glaring while the bulb is not as bright or rather as well illuminating as my 2W bulbs. The Walmart “Great Value” bulbs were made in China but they work while the eBay thing doesn’t.

Doing the maths, a 2W bulb will burn up 0.1666AH. In 24 hours that’s about 4AH of power. My solar arrays will produce 35 watts between them so assuming they produce half of that for 8 hours of daylight then I’ve got 11.6666AH incoming. I could have two of the 2W bulbs and one of the 1W bulbs lit 24 hours a day. That’s not bad at all! As the battery is 35AH then I’ve got two days of light available with zero sun at all.

The next thing on the agenda is to put together my USB charger box for the bedroom and the light/fan switch assembly. I have a couple of boxes available but the one I would prefer to use needs holes cut in it for the voltmeter etc and my step-saw is blunt and needs replacement. My fault - I drilled thick steel with it and blunted it. Maybe that means tomorrow is Harbor Freight day?

Once those electrics are installed, I’ll install my water inlet and then fit the flapper valves into my ventilation system. Then I’ll look at installing a second fuse box with a cable run to the bathroom and galley giving me a USB charger box, fan and light on the other side of the galley or in fact, the opposite corner. I’ll put a 12V socket (bought one the other day) by the shower so I can run a 12V shower unit. While I’m at it, I’ll put a second light cable just in case. I think what I have is adequate though. I’ll also put a light at the other end of the bedroom purely in order to illuminate the closet area better. That already makes for 6 connections to a fuse box. Perhaps the control for the front would be better installed instead of a probably unnecessary second bathroom light.

After that, I’m sure I’ll think of other things to add but for the moment that all seems like being pretty good for a motorhome.