Saturday, October 1, 2016

First full test

Today started with my painting the floor where I had riveted a patch over a hole left by the hillbilly bus owners. I'd covered it with plywood and had caulked where the plywood was too thin. I suspect the caulk might be too soft and I might have to redo this eventually though in the closet, it's not in a high traffic area.

The camera flash has shown up some discoloured paint that I'll hit when I do my second coat but it's really not looking bad at all. In fact, it's really hard to imagine there might ever have been a hole in the floor.

For my next trick, I timed the running of my fans. I set my charge controller to switch the fans on when voltage reaches 13v and off when it reaches 12.5v. It took 6 minutes to reduce the charge by 0.5 volts on my 5ah battery. From that we can see that my system works. It would probably work better if I was able to put my solar panels on the roof but for operational reasons, that's just not advisable. Had I thought of it when I was installing the panels, I could possibly have hinged them so they could have been flipped up but that would have added complications and as we all know, the less complications, the less the problems.

Eric and I spoke on the phone today since he's in Canada now. He is of the opinion my battery is a bit small. I know this already and have this battery solely because it was $25 in a Radio Shack going-out-of-business sale. On the plus side, it won't take too long to reach full charge.

Now, the reason I set the voltage limits so closely is that because the panels are vertical, there's not much light actually shining on them. Thus I'd rather get short bursts of ventilation than a long burst followed by a few days of nothing.
There's my setup. Two wires from each solar panel go to terminal blocks that are connected by wires and diodes (protecting the panels). They're 10 watt panels and that's a 20 watt controller. This whole ventilation system has cost somewhere in the region of $120 I believe.

Powered directly by the panels, the fans were constantly spinning though most of the time barely moving any air. This system should shift greater quantities of air as the fans run at full power but for short bursts. Charging time or the delay between bursts is variable due to the position of the sun in the sky and the orientation of the bus. Currently the bus is facing east. The fans went on at 5:10PM and off at 5:15PM. They went on again at 5:42PM and off at 5:47PM . Generally, I'm happy with what's going on though I wasn't impressed to find the battery took several days to go from 10.5v to 13v. Hence, I adjusted operational parameters. 5 times longer to charge than to use the power sounds a perfectly acceptible ratio in small doses.

Plans for the future? Well, I still need to put bars over the upper door windows and over the driver's window. Then there's general cleaning and sorting out. As for powering phones and other electronics, I might put solar panels on the front of the bus and do it that way or just buy one of those battery packs that can be charged from 120v when it's available. Heck, I could even run put a battery charged from the alternator into the system that uses a relay powered directly by the alternator to keep it in the system. Thus, when there's no alternator power, it's not draining the driving batteries.

I know I want to retitle the bus as a motorhome as soon as possible. I'd really like to drive it up to Virginia to take photos of the fall colors.

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