The steel I cut yesterday has bright orange rust spots on the freshly cut edges. That's not welcome but not unexpected. I didn't treat the edges as they'll have to be welded anyway. The rest of the steel is fairly rusty so I'll have to sugar blast the whole lot to clear the rust. Then I'll have to paint it with rust killing paint then scrape the areas to be welded and weld it all together then put yet more anti-rust paint and then a topcoat. I did, however, remeasure what I'd cut and aside from probably having to trim corners to fit around bolt heads, it's pretty much the right size.
Next I looked at the schoolbus flashers. I need to switch the amber and red around so the ambers are on the outside. That was something I could do relatively easily so I hopped up on the hood and started undoing screws for it was a simple matter of switching the lenses around. Wouldn't you just know it! One of the screws refused to budge and the cross head became a cone. I'll probably have to drill it out now. At that point I said that given the way I was feeling, it wasn't sensible to proceed and packed up for the day.
I checked out my solar panel and connected it to an electro magnet which then failed to pick up anything despite the panel voltage being around 16.7 volts. I'm really not that impressed with this solar stuff, to be honest. It all sounds phenomenal - I mean - who doesn't like the sound of free electricity? The reality is somwhat less than satisfactory. As an experiment a few years ago, I connected a powered off mobile phone to a panel and left it on a windowsill, facing the sun, for a week. At the end of that week, I powered up the phone and while there certainly was power there was only enough for about 15 minutes usage. I'm going to plug on with solar but I'm not going to be fool enough to believe that it's going to be majorly worthwhile. It might - if I covered the roof with panels - charge my phone every day but I doubt that it'll do anything more than that. Indeed, as I said before - the amount of money spent on solar panels to charge batteries would pay for a generator and a whole load of gasoline which would charge the batteries in a fraction of the time, day or night.
My solar panel - for those who're interested is allegedly 12v at 5A. I have yet to see it do anything bar make a tiny light bulb glow very dimly when exposed to direct sunlight. My idea had been to connect the panel via my ciagrette-lighter socket in the cab to the battery to allow it to keep my battery topped up. I fear that the LED on the cigarette lighter socket might use more power than the panel can supply in a day!
The electro magnet I started the other day still needs to be completed. I'll have another go at that another day. I'm not feeling that glowing positive feeling at the moment what with the cloudy weather and the absence of success. This wonderful two weeks off for Christmas has turned largely into two weeks confined to the house due to the weather. Still, I have another week left - there's a huge oppotunity there for the weather to change its mind and give me glorious sunshine and dry days.
Out of curiosity I put the meter on the lighter socket and got 12.3 volts. Clearly something amiss there. The voltage should be higher - something in the region of 13.8v given that the batteries were charged a week ago. There could be some form of resistor or zener diode in the lighter socket, limiting the voltage to 12.3v. It's good to know! I suspected putting a solar panel on as a battery mainatiner wasn't going to be simple. Nothing ever is which is why though I was all in favor of an all electric bus I'm beginning to veer towards as little onboard electrics as possible. Indeed, I might even rethink this battery compartment and possibly just have a compartment for the main breaker box. That'll be a load lighter and smaller. It also means I can rivet most of that silly hillbilly cable compartment door shut and just use part of it as an access panel to my breaker box.
Thinking more about batteries, I discovered a source for C size NiMh cells. There seem to be people putting them together in blocks of 10 to produce 12v batteries with 10,000mah (or 10Ah). There seems to be something called a DC-DC converter which takes whatever voltage and outputs at a constant voltage. Thus, as the power in a battery declines its voltage will drop. The DC-DC converter maintains the voltage at a constant level, presumably at the cost of amperage. That answers my questions about how supercaps can be used. As their power level drops, so too does their voltage.
Given the low amount of power I need, given that I'm really only charging my phone, my $50 tablet and a $20 mifi pad, I'm really wondering what kind of power storage to use. Realistically, I probably don't even need a battery compartment for that amount of battery power! Still, I'll plug on because I might want to expand later.