Saturday, February 25, 2017

BBBC 2017 #25

This post is part of ToadMama's Brave, Bold, Blogger Challenge (BBBC) 2017 which is an attempt to make February go by a little more quickly. There are 28 topics, one for each day. 

Share the 25th image you come to on your camera or phone

Finally a kinda straightforward challenge. The phrase "you came to" adds some ambiguity but I'll go for the straightforward approach. Go back as far as the library goes and count forward by 25. Unfortunately, that gave me a photo that I didn't even take so I counted 25 of my photos. A sticker bush in Ethiopia is the 25th picture on the phone though it wasn't taken on the phone. In fact, I didn't even take the phone on the trip since I didn't want to deal with international roaming and AT&T.

BTW, this is the actual 25th photo on my phone. I had imported some photos for a friend from a photo CD. This is George Rahn at his shop with some visiting moto-tourists. He was well known in the BMW motorcycle community and was sought out by many traveling through the area.

Connecting to the Tristar

Not related to the challenge but I picked up a another serial to USB communications cable. "Another" is because I must have a half dozen of these lying around somewhere as I needed them to connect to network equipment over the years. The Tristar TS-45 charge controller has a DB9 serial port so I just had to see what I could do with it. There is a lot of discussion online but they are all dealing with the much more costly Tristar MPPT charge controller. I had difficulty even finding out what kind of serial cable was expected or if a null modem was needed. So I just plugged it in to see if it worked. It did.

Using the serial port requires some free software from the Morningstar website and, of course, it's Windows only. But I just happen to have a Windows 10 machine lying around. It is a convertible (laptop/tablet) but it did have a USB port. Once I installed the drivers for the USB/serial cable, I fired up the MSView software. It found the Tristar right away at Com4. I used it to check the status. This is really the only way to see if everything is working as there is no display on the Tristar. They do have an optional display but it almost doubles the price and one very good solar website said that it's a waste of money. Get a Trimetric monitor instead. The temperature sensor is registering +6°C, it shows the input voltage, the battery voltage, charge current, etc. All of these are "live" and if the computer was left connected, all of this data could be logged and graphically displayed. This is the feature that I was attracted to. There are some Raspberry Pi data logger projects on the Internet that collect and display the data. To me that sounds like something I'd find interesting.

An interesting number is the target voltage of 15.86 volts. This is the temperature compensated absorption voltage. The voltage target is set to 14.8 volts for flooded lead acid batteries at 25°C. Since the battery bank is 6°C, the absorption charge voltage is increased to compensate for the lower temperature. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

BBBC 2017 #24

This post is part of ToadMama's Brave, Bold, Blogger Challenge (BBBC) 2017 which is an attempt to make February go by a little more quickly. There are 28 topics, one for each day. 

What you ate for breakfast

I actually took this photo on Tuesday (look at the clear skies!) but I figured that it didn't really matter what day since I have the same thing almost every day. It is a glass of the green juice. I used to make the version from the movie Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead but the fresh ingredients ended up being pretty expensive. I now settle for the grocery store version. It's tasty but, in my opinion, has way too much fruit juice and not enough vegetable juice. The coffee house versions all have the same problem so maybe it's just me. I don't need all that sugar from the fruit juice. But I figure that it's probably still better than a more traditional breakfast. In our house, the more traditional breakfasts are usually served as the evening meal.

What Else is Going On?

Not  whole lot. We ended up with over 6" of snow on the driveway so I got to play with the plow. I had ordered one more of the battery on/off switches to be able to switch power going to the DC side of the RV. I couldn't find any info on the current draw of the hydraulic pump or the front landing jacks so I figured that the 250 amp rating of the switch was adequate. The challenge seems to be finding a place on the plywood board for it. Not a whole lot of room. No significant sunlight today so only 2 amp-hours of charge for the battery bank. I disassembled the combiner box so I could drill the hole on the bottom that will feed the 4 awg wires into the trailer through the roof. That's about it for today. I didn't even go to College Coffeehouse today...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

BBBC 2017 #23

This post is part of ToadMama's Brave, Bold, Blogger Challenge (BBBC) 2017 which is an attempt to make February go by a little more quickly. There are 28 topics, one for each day. 

Share a photo taken from your front door today

It just started snowing again and we are forecast to receive about 16" over the next couple of days. The orange cord is running to the back of the house to the solar panel that I'm using to test the charge controller. This picture is taken from the front porch looking up the driveway towards the subdivision road. The pile of snow on the right-center is the grill. It's not getting much use these days.

The picture below was taken from the garage showing the modest accumulation of snow this afternoon. All of the tracks are from the Prius coming and going throughout the evening so you can see that we got a maybe a couple of inches of the fluffy stuff.

Was There Enough Sun?

At 9:00 on Tuesday morning after several days of essentially solid overcast, the battery bank was down to 81%. When I checked at noon, it was being charged at 6.9 amps according to the Trimetric monitor. By 5:00pm after the sun was behind the trees, the Trimetric monitor reported that the battery bank was still down by 33 amp-hours and the bank was at 92%. Not too shabby for only a single panel in Alaska. I turned off the inverter since the forecast is calling for a week of snow. Even though it has been heavy overcast or snowing most of Wednesday, the panel still produced enough charge to get the battery bank up to 94%. So, no, there wasn't enough sun in one day to completely charge the battery bank.

I did get the combiner box mostly assembled. This is a waterproof junction box that will be screwed onto the roof of the RV. Once I get it positioned, a hole will be drilled in the bottom of the box into the roof for the 4 awg wires that lead to the charge controller in the storage compartment from each of the short bus bars in this box. The 10 awg wires from each pair of 100 watt panels will be brought in through the waterproof connections that thread into the pvc fittings on the bottom of the picture. The box cover with it's seal is seen above the junction box. The short bus bars are made for both the two sizes of wire. The box is PVC so plastic cement was used to assemble the box and the two bus bars will be screwed in from the bottom. I think there might be room in the box for two inline 15 amp fuses. One for each pair of panels. And there will be another short bus bar for the ground wires. With all of that the box will be pretty packed. If I decide to install additional panels, there is a 4" tall junction box available at Lowes instead of this 2" box.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

BBBC 2017 #22

This post is part of ToadMama's Brave, Bold, Blogger Challenge (BBBC) 2017 which is an attempt to make February go by a little more quickly. There are 28 topics, one for each day. 

Pick a color then share seven interesting images featuring that color

Carrot colored. We'll see how well I did. I just picked a random color from my photo library and started scanning through the pictures stopping whenever I spotted the color. Not too sure about the "interesting" part of the challenge. Three pics are from AK, three are from the trip to CA on the BMW, one is from the Ural road trip, one is from the Ethiopia trip, one is last fall in PA and two are from Barrow. None are local. I think that Dom may be right in that there isn't anything worth taking a picture of in Fairbanks...

Cooking carrots for a
crowd in Ethiopia

Steam locomotive in Santa Cruz

Karen's Tent in Baker City, OR

Arktos Demo in Barrow

I think this was in Portland

Temperature Map during my
BMW road trip

Ikura at Osaka's in Barrow

Pumpkins at a PA

Chicken in Chicken, AK