Friday, August 4, 2017

Real air conditioning and running water?

Last night as I read one of those internet groups that I so rarely participate in, there was a discussion about poertable AC units being ideal for bus conversions. Thus, intreagued, I read up on them. It seems that they pump the hot air out via a fairly substantial hose and also have a hose to release collected water. Looking at the sizes I became quite excited. They seem to be between 12 and 14 inches wide, about 16 inches deep and have a height of 27 inches.

Inside my motorhome I have a cupboard that measures 13 x 16 x 29. Whether that would be suitable remains to be seen but the possibility exists and that's what's interesting. Also interesting is the possibility of putting in a vent for a portable AC unit that can be closed off and the unit put away somewhere. I'd have to do some rearranging of my loose storage but I was going to rearrange that anyway.

That leads on to the fact that if I was going to lay in a power line for an AC unit then I'd also put in a power line for an instant water heater. That heater could easily fit under the handbasin and have a secondary line running to the shower. Needless to say, it would only function when water was supplied via a pipe. It's an interesting thought though.

Thinking about the problem of the overheated CPU fan, I realized I need local switches on all my electrical devices. I remembered I have a pile of switches from Radio Shack's going out of business sale. Most aren't suitable as they need to be put into an enclosure but I have some open knife switches that would work. They're only really designed for 0.5A 12v DC but I don't think my CPU fans are any more powerful than that.

Having had the one fuse do it's duty and blow, protecting my battery, I realized I need more fuses in my 12v house system. I need more than just one on the battery. I need one by each device and one on each power line from my charge controller. I should also put some directly between each solar panel and it's connection to my electrical system. Fortunately... I bought a ton of fuse holders in Radio Shack's going out of business sale. The fuse holders even have useful spade terminals. How fortuitous. It looks like my going nuts and buying a ton of stuff wasn't so nuts after all.

The project to add a switch began and I can honestly say that adding a switch into an existing circuit where the wires are glued down and where there's not much space was a little challenging. After tinning the ends of the very fine CPU fan wire, it just would not be gripped by the minuscule screws of the knife switch. I then tried the smallest eyehole red connectors and crimped them on the wires then screwed them to the switch, dropping the minuscule screws many times in the process before resorting to pipe glue to hold them to the screwdriver. Then the knife switch wouldn't close as the eyehole was blocking them. In the end I cut the eyeholes off, removed the screws and soldered the thing together. Now that I could have done on the desk in comparative ease!
While I'm sure you'll agree, that knife switch looks as ugly as sin as does the terminal block, it's an extra safety feature. I'll add the other safety feature of a block of fuses on the device side of the charge controller next. As when I fused my sockets on my 120v system, each socket had an individual fuse. It will be thus on my 12v system. I'll have three fans and one or maybe two USB charging setups. That'll be five separate lines and five separate fuses. I'll also have that timer on the extraction fan, limiting operation to 15 minutes of each hour.

I removed two of my charge controllers today. They were completely redundant and quite frankly added little to the system. My electrics are going to be negative grounded to the bus body in order to eliminate a few potential problems. I'll probably stick with the charge controller from the back of the bus but for the moment the front is using a PMT C02 controller that is specifically built for lead-acid batteries. That's currently charging my fan battery. Eventually, both solar arrays wil be connected into a single charge controller and the bigger battery. I'll probably have to drag my welder out to build a cage for the battery when the weather cools enough for me to get underneath the bus to measure everything.

Meanwhile, today there are no photos of my bus from Walmart. I sent off an online order and had an order confirmation, confirming I'd paid my $1.90 and that the prints would be ready today. Thus far I have had no text message confirming arrival. Indeed, I went to Walmart earlier on another mission. There was an experiment in progress on ordering groceries online, paying for them online and driving there to pick them up. Taking the opportunity, I went into the store and went to ask about my photos at the pickup desk.  Nobody was there. I pressed their little button thingy that had a sign that said "If nobody is here, press the button". Nobody came. Then a Walmart employee asked if anybody was seeing to my needs. I told him no and he radioed. Somebody said they'd come and never did. Several other employees walked past without a word. In the end, I walked away. The next stop was the bank but the line was ludicrous. So, I went to pick up my groceries. I gather the lady before me had been waiting 30 minutes. Anyway, her order arrived, shortly followed by mine. That worked. The next trick is to try Wamart's home delivery service! I guess I'll have to wait to see what happens about my prints. I can see the photos I sent off online but can't see my order - all very strange! Perhaps they spent my $1.90 on crack? Well, perhaps not - I suspect crack might be more expensive. They might get to sniff the crack of a down-at-heel hooker for that much though!

It seems that if I want to use my Chinese USB converters and voltmeters with my desktop powerpoints then I need to mount them in 30mm holes since they're panel mounting. That had me puzzling for a moment on how to get a drill bit of such an obscure size. Then I realized that I could probably use one of Harbor Freight's step bits for that. I already have two differently sized, smaller step bits and I can see myself getting a third.

The one place I need to charge phones etc is the bedroom. I'd wanted a portable charger rather than having to have loads of underbody wiring but since I seem to have underbody wiring anyway (and it wasn't nearly as unpleasant as I'd thought - despite the black widow bite), I might as well put a bit more. The one place that will be challenging is the kneehole desk side of the bus because as that's above the fuel tank, I'm somewhat limited in what I can do. Perhaps I'll stick with just one area for USB charging - unless I add a socket at the front or perhaps use a charge controller that offers USB charging.

Anyway, after my Walmart trip, I installed a second switch but this is for the bedroom fan. Now I can switch them on and off at will. That must surely save some battery power. I've already decided that the extraction fan will be on a timer. That's going to save even more power. If I put the USB charger and the volt meter into a small project box mounted on the desk or on the wall, I can add a switch so that I can switch it off in order to prevent those silly LEDs manufacturers like adding to things from burning up power or keeping me awake.
I'm sure you'll agree, that knife switch looks like an ugly cockroach climbing the wall. Having said that, it was the only switch I have that does not need to be built into an enclosure. I have several from Radio Shack's bankruptcy sale. In fact I made sure to get all the useful stuff - switches, connectors, fuse holders etc. I didn't waste my time on the electronic gizmos because Lord knows, I have enough problem with half-assed ready made electronics. I definitely don't need to be adding my own home built electronics into the mix. Electrics I can understand. Electronics I kinda-sorta understand but would have a better grasp of had the electronics teachers in school and the electronics whizz kids in school and in college/university not have rejected all my attempts to further my knowledge.

Before I finished for the day, I installed my fuse bank. I've not wired any of the fuse positions up yet nor have I inserted any fuses. In fact all my fuses are 8 amp which means they won't stop overloads - just short circuits. I'm fine with that for the moment but I do need to build up a supply of fuses for all the things I'm using. It would be nice to standardize on one kind of fuse but I have whatever fuse holders I can find at the time. I could do with a couple of fuse panels for full size blade fuses but I'm stumped as to where to get them.
As you can see, the other charge controllers are now gone - consigned to the old cardboard box. I have a diode set up protecting my solar panel though I desperately need a fuse in there too. The blue and yellow connectors lead to my CPU fan. Eventually they will go to the CPU fan via the fuse panel.

When I put the battery under the bus, that will also have a fuse fitted. The fuse will be right beside the battery unless I can put a little fuse access on the side of the bus. I won't be putting a battery compartment door. I'll likely just put the battery in an open cage, protected from spray by the waste barrel on one side and the battery compartment on the other and probably coat the terminals in spray on insulation. After all, the battery is waterproof or it'd leak acid!

I must admit, I like my little motorhome. It's turning out to be quite nice, even though some people would probably run screaming, calling it more basic than a tent in the middle of a field. I think this motorhome construction might look good on a resume even!

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