Sunday, February 21, 2016

Those damn hillbillies!

Today I looked beside my interior sub panel and discovered I have 9 inches of space between the panel and the woodwork. That gives me ample space to install my main breaker. This means that I now do not need an underbody compartment. The socket box can simply be affixed to the inside of the skirt and a hole made for the plug to pass through.
Had I realised this many moons ago, I could have simply riveted the old hillbilly compartment door over the hole after taking out their nasty compartment. I would have saved several months as I taught myself to weld and built two compartments that I ended up not using. The first compartment (bottom - in grey and brown) was simply way too heavy for my liking. The second compartment (top) is better but is unnecessary extra weight.
In the end, I could have saved all that time and effort by ignoring what the hillbillies had done. Every time I tried to make use of whatever disaster they concocted, I found I wasted time and just had to fix their attempts before doing it my way.

Originally, I'd wanted to have an entirely solar-powered bus. I've since discovered that solar power produces electricity of such an inconsequential amount that it realy is just a stupid dream. In fact, unless it's done on an industrial scale I'd call solar power rather much of a scam. For the price of two solar panels that might or might not make much power I could buy a generator. For the price of the batteries needed to store power I could save a lot of weight and buy several years worth of fuel for the generator. Were I doing the bus again from the beginning, I'd use many of the lessons learned and rather than putting in a 120v system, I'd put a small underbody 4.25lb gas cylinder and no 120v supply. 

Just for laughs, today I bought a solar battery charger from Harbor Freight. I really don't expect much from this but if it recharges my AA NiMh cells then it will work on D cells too. I almost went for the suitcase solar panel on the basis I could probably rig that to charge either the LIon battery packs that'll recharge my tablet and phone or AA/D cells. Now the panel on the side of the box wasn't all that promising, to be honest but I thought I'd give it a shot.
I got it home and found it was somewhat of a challenge rather akin to the act of passing a camel through the proverbial needle to put AA batteries in the holders. Getting them out after might pose a significant challenge! I did not intend it for use with AA batteries but rather for D cells. If it works for AA batteries then it might be worth getting D cells because my LED lantern and my shower unit both use D cells.

12.5 hours for a single D cell looks pretty forbidding. That could mean several days given the fact I'm not likely to have optimal (middle of the Sahara) light. Given the size of the solar panel, I think this is more of a gimmick than something genuine. It's designed to catch the pennies of the curious rather than to provide worthwhile power.

Given that the battery holders are not that great and have a serious problem with gravity, I don't forsee a long life for this unit. Stripping it down to copy it, however, could be interesting. It should be possible to identify all the components in order to build a bigger, better charger that I could use to charge a realistic number of batteries. I have no problem with using NiMh cells as a power source!
As can be seen - this is the underside of the charger. How they expect the flimsy (I had to fix one already) contacts to hold batteries up, inside the unit remains to be seen. I rather expect that the contacts will snap fairly soon.

Meanwhile I relocated my butane torch and my butane refill cylinder. The torch would not take a butane charge. I suspect that the valve might have frozen. Given that I haven't used this in 5 years, it would seem likely. I pulled it out because I thought I might be able to use it to do some light brazing but sadly it appears this is not to be. It's not worth buying another - not at the current price of $18. When it was $10, it was fine.
While I was thinking about it, I almost bought another main breaker box out of sheer laziness rather than cut and rivet steel plate over the holes I'd already made in it to situate it underneath the bus. I thought more of my money however.

Diesel is now $1.69 a gallon. I really need to get that 120v system sorted out before the price rises. I can probably put another 30 gallons of diesel in the tank. I need to be able to move the bus before I can do that though and with the main breaker attached by a cable to the bus and dangling on the ground, that's not currently possible unless there was a way to tie the whole affair up so it didn't drag on the ground.

No comments:

Post a Comment