Sunday, September 10, 2017

Using Lowes (hiss, spit) undersized cable loom

I was going to start today working on cutting trees in order to facilitate easier passage of my bus down the driveway but I got side tracked. I realized I'd just made up one single cable - the big one that goes from front to back of the bus. Being under the bus to put one cable in, I might as well put two so I got down to work, making up another cable. This, being the bedroom cable, was originally going to have just one wire - the circulation fan.

Originally, the plan was to keep all the electrics in the kitchen and not have power elsewhere. Plans and ideas changing, I put up two circulation fans to help keep me cool during the heat of summer, given that I decided not to install air conditioning. I'd played with the idea and found suitable units but I just don't like the idea of having something I can only use when plugged into a street supply.

Realizing I might yet change my mind further and being quite disappointed by the LED lanterns available, I looked the other day in the hardware store and saw LED "puck" lights and light strips. They looked interesting but I'm not willing to part with cash yet to purchase anything like that. Having said that, it makes sense to put in extra cabling now rather than having to put in extra cabling later. All my cabling is 14 or 16 gauge so it should handle up to 8A at 12V given the short lengths in use. Thus, my main long cable has two twins and a single wire. My short cable - made up today contains two twins.

After thinking, I realized that I needed two twins in order to power the fan, a bedroom light, a bathroom light and possibly a USB charger in the bedroom. For the moment, only the fan will receive any power. All the cables will be positive with the bus body being the negative. That saves me a bundle on cables and conduit, not to mention fixtures.

Making up a cable is dead easy - I wrap the bundles of wires in tape (in this case it's masking tape but any tape will do) and then insert them into my cable loom (that some hardware stores call by various funky names).
There are the results of my cable spinning. It takes a long time and there is a 10 foot length I did this morning together with the 30 foot length I did yesterday. I suspect I might have to extend the cables. That would not surprise me one little bit nor does it perturb me. It's going to be a simple case of soldering and sharing wrapping then slipping a piece of cable loom over the extension.
There's a nice shot of the cable going into the conduit. I have to bend the conduit past 90 degrees to get it to open in order to accept the wires but when it does, they slip inside very easily. It takes forever because that conduit is quite hard to work with.

Today I saw an interesting video online about Harbor Freight's new 100W solar panel setup. It's a little expensive at $150 when Home Depot sells a 100W panel for $100 but it looks good. I shall be setting up my solar setup so that I can plug an extra panel in via a socket on the side of the bus. That will give me running solar panels that just keep things going and extra power while I'm stationary.

My existing 35W of solar power is currently split into a 20W array at the back of the bus that powers solely my ventilation and a 15W panel at the front that currently does nothing aside from charge my tablet or my phone. It does both of those, admirably.
Here's a photo of my solar array charging my RCA tablet. It's old and only kinda-sorta works but it looks good!  Things charge remarkably quickly. That panel came from Harbor Freight and charges a 5AH Radio Shack battery which in turn charges my tablet or phone.

Years ago, I used to use a laptop for everything. These days, I do everything on a tablet. Things seem to keep getting better and smaller. Tower systems became desktops and desktops became laptops then laptops became tablets. The same is going for cameras - those big, bulky digital SLRs became mirrorless cameras and phones gained cameras. What I'd like to see is a mirrorless camera that can be charged via USB that desn't cost the earth. Something as small as Nikon's 1 system would be very nice. It might even get me back into photography after a hiatus of about a decade!

Just now the temperature in the back of the bus rose above 25C (77F) so my extraction fan came on. Out of interest I covered the ventilation outlet from one side of my extraction fan setup and noticed the tone of the motor changed as it had to work harder to push the air out of a single outlet. I really need to get my anemometer (when it arrives) onto that to see how much air is actually being displaced. Until then I shall probably hold off on installing the brand new extraction fan. It could end up with it being better for me to open up a second extraction vent on each side, using the second of the student light apertures. The anemometer is going to tell me a lot.

After procrastinating a little - even though I didn't have the time - I went down the driveway and marked all the trees that need felling. It was then that I realized that according to Monty Python I was not correctly attired for tree felling. The Lumberjack song speaks of lumberjacks wearing high heels, suspenders (garter belt) and a bra while skipping and jumping. I can probably do the skipping and jumping but I'd better not because I might chop the wrong tree. I'm pretty sure high-heels would sink into the sand though! In the end, I did the job in my usual work-on-the-bus clothes of torn-up 511 trousers and a torn-up tee-shirt.

So, this lumberjack went to the shed and found a bow saw but a bow saw with the floppiest ever blade that no amount of ingenuity could tighten. Undaunted, this lumberjack spotted a chain saw. Having located oil for it and filled the oil reservoir (only two oil levels on a chainsaw - brim full and not enough), the chainsaw resolutely refused to start. After facing about for an eternity trying to get the beast to start, this lumberjack went for the handsaw that was used for everything else on the bus - a straightforward ordinary saw. Within a few minutes two of the six saplings were down. They're not massive - the biggest was something like 5 inches in diameter. It was delicate work - the one thumb got damaged last week opening a vicious ziploc bag and the other got damaged trying to get the pull start on the chainsaw to get the chainsaw started. After lopping two saplings and carting them away, it was time for a break! It's not really possible to imagine a lumberjack doing this in suspenders, high heels and a bra!

In the end, with the able assistance of my girlfriend's sister's boyfriend, the chainsaw was started. Only one problem - it would run for a few seconds and then stop. Fuel and oil were not the problem nor was the spark plug nor the air filter so the cause remains a mystery. On its brief spurts of operation, four or five thick saplings were felled, giving a clear exit that should not damage the bus though for safety, removing the CB aerial will be a good idea.
Looking at the trees, it might not be possible to see but the 6 or 7 worst offenders have been removed. There are still trees that overhang but the limbs are light and thin so with luck they won't cause any damage. It can also be seen that the sky is grey and overcast. That's a sure sign that hurricane Irma is not too far away. As of right now the hurricane is in the middle of the Florida keys with an 80 mile wide eye and 180mph winds. It's currently forecast that the edge of the surrounding storm will pass through the area where my bus is parked. Tomorrow I'll have to secure things in the bus - put things on the floor that are on countertops or on the bed and drive to the local school, ready to install my new wiring. Another task will be to measure the ribs under the bus where I want to secure my Harbor Freight battery. That will give me a good idea about how big to make the cage in which it will fit.  Of course, if it's threatening to rain and storm then I probably won't.

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