Monday, September 5, 2016

Experimental upgrades

Today I looked at the fan that had been powered by my 8 pre charged AA batteries. It had ground to a halt last night after about six hours when the batteries measured 3.8v. Today the batteries measured 7.8v and while they will power a fan weakly, it's not enough to move much air.
As an experiment I connected my 5W solar panel to the battery pack and a fan. As the panel has a diode built in, there should be no problem with back flow. What will be interesting will be to see what the level of charge in the battery is after ten hours in the daylight with the fan and batteries connected to the solar panel. I have a feeling the results will be less than stellar which in fact is my whole experience of solar energy so far. The ventilation fans at the back of the bus do work, just not brilliantly off solar panels. There are times when the fans work hard which makes me suspect there is sometimes surplus energy. Harvesting that might make the fans work more consistently and that was the purpose of today's experiment. More on this, later.

For my next miracle, I turned to the hole in the floor and trimmed the aluminum underbody patch and the wooden floor patch to fit. That didn't take too long. Next, I pre drilled the patch and the floor so that I can simply rivet the patch in place from the top using aluminum rivets. While I could use steel, there's no need because there will be no weight carried by the patch as the plywood above will carry any weight.
Now, usually, when I have to work above and below the bus I ask for assistance from milady's sister's boyfriend. This time, however, he wasn't available so I had to do it myself. That was easier than you might imagine. It was a case of taking a wire coat hanger and passing it through matching rivet holes to pull the plate up into contact with the underside. Having put silicone seal on the top of the plate, it stuck on well. I did have to slide under the bus to pass the plate past a troublesome body rib but otherwise, once it was in place, it was just a case of riveting. Well, almost. Two rivet shanks broke off half way, necessitating the gentle attention of my angle grinder.
After that, it was just a case of laying my nicely cut piece of plywood. Well, almost. The plywood on the floor where it hadn't rotted is the only part of the hillbilly construction I have left alone. It seems their plywood was thinner than standard. I could say blow me down with a feather but by now you'll know nothing surprises me any more. I've seen enough of life to know I'll never overestimate stupidity. So, out came my sander and I sanded the edges of my plywood so they'll match the rest of the floor. No point in getting it exactly right because it's a closet. I won't be walking there.
It doesn't look bad at all. It needs to be screwed down. Two screws should do and it needs painting and filler around the edges. That might be a job for next weekend though. This three day weekend has simply flown by.

Now I bet you're wondering about my little fan, battery and solar panel experiment. As I recall, the battery voltage was 7.8 when I set the whole contraption going a few hours earlier. The voltage had risen to a level I could not measure. My digital multimeter which has had a fresh battery seems to have gone bananas. Remember what I said about electronics being such garbage? I set it down with the leads not connected to anything and the display is reading random voltages between 14v and 4v. I don't want to have to buy another perishing multimeter. It doesn't seem to matter whether it's a cheapo meter or a costly meter. It doesn't matter where it's bought. They all seem to be equally bad. So, was my experiment a success or a failure? I just don't know. And people seriously wonder why I haven't bothered decking my bus out with electrics. I'd rather just save myself the time and just take the cash I'd have spent on TVs and multimeters and fridges etc and just toss wads of money into the dump. It's a lot lighter to carry than these stupid electrical things!

Having turned the panel over facedown and seen the fan still spinning at the same rate, I'm going to go out on a limb and claim that the panel is putting power into the battery. How much though, I do not know. The main thing is nothing has blown up yet - aside from my multimeter.

I don't know about you but I have a drawer full of dead electronic devices ranging from cellphones to tablets, multimeters and scrolling LED displays. Last Black Friday I bought 4 of the fancy LED light bulbs that are supposed to last a phenomenal number of hours. Well, one died within weeks. Another is flickering badly now. Are they more economical than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs? No they are not because they keep breaking. I am very selective about the electronics in my life. Less is more and the simpler the better.

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