Friday, January 27, 2023

Benson, AZ - TT

Thursday - Something I didn’t expect to be concerned about. Low-temperature solar panel voltages. The open circuit voltage, Voc, is specified at 25°C. The voltage increases as the panel temperature drops. On the colder days, you can see that the PV voltage for the four panels is in the mid-90s. Under normal temperatures, it’s in the mid-80s. The maximum input voltage for the Victron 100/50 solar charge controller is 100V. I thought that I had plenty of room but maybe not. If colder temperatures are in the forecast (during the day), I’ll need to disconnect the panels from the controller. 

 - This morning, the RV park had breakfast available. Not bad and it was an excellent opportunity to visit with others in the park. Around noon, I went to the hot tub as the temperature was already well into the 50s and sunny. Pretty nice. 

Yesterday evening, we went to visit friends staying at the SKP park. We visited with them in Casa Grande a few weeks ago and we had originally met them on the Oregon coast a few years back. It was nice to see them again. 

There is a test session this afternoon so I’ll probably participate today. Other than that, a pretty slow day.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Ahhhh - Benson, AZ - TT

Sunday - A moving day today. A long, stressful trip of almost a ½ mile. We are now at an Encore park just down the road from the SKP park for the next week and a half or so and the hot tub is one of the best features of the park. This park is included in our TT membership and we’ve been here maybe half a dozen times. 

I think that this may be the first time we’ve been here in January and it is definitely more crowded. It’s 59°F right now (4pm) so I figured that I should check out the hot tub before the temperature really drops. The sites here in the “TT section” are more cramped than many of the other sites. But it’s 50amp, full hookups and the price is right. 

Monday - Another cold night. I heard a statement this morning "This is not what I signed up for!!". I don't know what the correct number of exclamation points is. It was partly sunny by mid-morning, and the high temperature for today will only be 43°F. We'll see if that's warm enough for the hot tub...

I'll be doing a couple of test sessions today. That's about the only time I dig out the laptop these days. Occasionally, I think that I need to replace the laptop since, at six years old, it is no longer supported by Apple for OS versions. But it runs fine and has 16GB memory, dual-core 3.3GHz I7, and a terabyte of SSD. I did install the newest OS by using a hack but the disadvantage is that for every update, I need to do another re-install. A real hassle when on cellular data.

Later - Around 12:30 or so, I figured that it wasn’t going to warm up any more so I headed for the hot tub. It was wonderful and, not surprisingly, I was the only one there. It was a breezy 42°F with scattered sunshine.

Tuesday - The overnight low was 19°F. Pretty cold. The water faucet was frozen but was flowing again by 9:30. Another early afternoon visit to the hot tub. At 47°F, I figured that it wasn’t going to get much warmer. It was very relaxing…

Wednesday - Another quiet afternoon. It’s 53°F, sunny, and very little wind. So we are sitting outside for a change. I did put away the awning as there has been winds gusting to 30mph every afternoon since we arrived in Benson. And the forecast is for more of the same just about every afternoon. 

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Visiting Friends and Benson, AZ - SKP

Thursday - We drove east to south of Bowie, AZ, to visit friends who are dry camping a few miles south. I neglected to take any pictures while we were out there and this sunset is on the trip back to Benson. 

Photo by Dom
It was great to see Chris,  Lori, and Dom again and it turned out to be a beautiful day though it was a little on the cool side. 

 - There is a morning test session on this clear, cold morning (27°F last night and 44°F at 10:30AM) but all of the heating stuff worked well. We could simply leave the thermostat set to the heat pump and when the rooftop unit decided that the outside air temperature was too cold, it switches on the furnace. Sometime after it warms up a little, it switches back. The old one was supposed to work the same way but it didn't really work. The new A/C unit was a great upgrade.

This afternoon, we went on a tour of this SKP Co-op park. It looks pretty nice and, since it is built on a slope, the views are great. Plenty of common space and activities. Seriously thinking about getting on the list here as well. The waiting list is much longer and they said that the wait is about four years. 

- Mural done by residents in panels. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Benson, AZ - SKP

Sunday - Today was a  travel day. We headed east through Tucson to just south of Benson, AZ. Usually, we stay at Valley Vista RV Park bus since it is another Encore park, and, according to the rules, we need to stay at a non-Encore location for a week.

This week, we are at an Escapee Co-op similar to the one in Hondo. Since this is our first time staying here, it is only $85 for the week. A good deal for a great spot. The first picture is the view through the windshield of the approaching storm. No pool or hot tub here. 

Monday - Here is where we are staying for the week. Nice roomy site with a concrete pad for the RV. It rained for most of the day but it’s supposed to be clearing up. With the clear skies come lower temperatures. Not really looking forward to that. 

We had a wonderful visit with Michael and Layne in their class B van. They are on their way south into Mexico and beyond starting in only a couple of days. I had met them briefly back in July 2010, in Bend, OR, at a Moto blogger meetup. They just happened to be passing through and saw my post that we were in Benson. Michael, aka Conchscooter, is another moto blogger turned RVer. His blog is The Golden Van.  Be sure to follow their adventures. it should be good! 

Tuesday - After the morning test session, we drove into Benson to meet up with Garrett and Carolyn from Diary of a Family. We’ve known them for several years and have met them on the road several times. And we happen to be in Benson at the same time. They are headed to Quartzsite and, I believe, that we may head out there for a week or so in February. This is after the big RV show that brings way too many RVs to the area. Hopefully, it’ll be quiet by then. 

The forecasted lows for the next week are for below-freezing temperatures. I moved the water pressure regulator into the wet bay and have the little electric heater running in the wet bay and used the heated water hose. Probably overkill but better safe than sorry. 

 - I expected the temperature but not the “Snow Stopping” message this morning. There wasn’t anything sticking but still a surprise. I guess I really should work on that ice maker line behind the refrigerator. I had turned off the shutoff valve but water still flowed out of the line. 

We did get a little dusting of snow on the Jeep this morning. We drove into Tucson to run some errandss and picked up a few groceries at Fry's. At least we some fuel points there gas discounts. And, I'm assuming, the grocery prices are probably slightly better than in Benson.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Casa Grande, AZ - TT

Friday - Another cool morning with a low in the 40s (°F) but it's supposed to be warming up into the mid-70s. I just finished the early test session with a candidate from Fairbanks. He passed easily and quickly. After that, I modified the ESP32 wiring and configuration of the microprocessor monitoring the living room temperature and humidity. Just moving a wire from digital I/O 4 to I/O 5. Apparently, I/O 4 is could also be used for something else and it was causing the display to blank out occasionally. No one signed up for the later session so now I’m looking for something constructive to do.

I brought back my small jump starter, an Anti-Gravity XP-3), back from Fairbanks in my carry-on bag. It’s way too small for the RV but more than enough for the Jeep. Plus, it’s a handy 12VDC source when testing things out. What surprised me is that after four years of sitting in the Ural trunk, it still registered over 50% charge. Not too shabby. 

Something that may be interesting to anyone considering adding solar to their RV is what happens with a shadow. The dips in this graph are from the shadow of a light pole passing over the panels. The dip furthest to the right is crossing two panels. Even small shadows make a huge difference.

Saturday - A mid-morning test session today. After that, I'll start packing some things up for our move tomorrow morning. We will be heading east through Tucson to Benson, AZ. 

Almost everything is packed up. I have the battery charger connected to the chassis batteries as they were at 12.2V. I think I’ll need to come up with a way for them to be charged from the coach batteries. I guess that means some other DC-DC charger to trickle charge them. I did have the chassis battery disconnect switch in the “Off” position but there must be some other draws. Entirely likely as there are around 6 wires on the chassis positive terminal and only one is the disconnect.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Back in AZ

Monday - Spent most of the day flying. For some reason, it’s exhausting to just sit on the plane.

Tuesday - Today’s small project was finishing the battery heater. I used a piece of the ½” rigid foam under the batteries and cut a small indentation where the wires connected to the 25watt silicon heating pads. I wired the pads to the temperature controller and placed the thermocouple between the two batteries about 3” from the bottom. The placement of the thermocouple is all a guess on my part. I will be able to compare four separate temperature measurements. One from the Victron shunt which measures the positive battery post, the thermocouple temperature displays on the controller, and the internal sensors inside each battery which I can see with Bluetooth using the app. Right now, the battery BMS is 22°C, the controller reads 22.4°C and the Victron is 23°C. I’ll try it during a charge cycle when the battery heats up internally. 

This very inexpensive temperature controller just has a relay to turn the heat pads on and off. I may make an ESP32 based controller which will use PWM to vary the temperature of the heat pads themselves. 

Wednesday - After spending the afternoon with friends, we went to the hot tub to relax and warm up. After the sun sets, it cools down pretty quickly. At 7pm, it’s only 51°F which may sound warm but it’s about 20°F cooler than todays high temperature. 

This morning, I tried to make an RV reservation at the next Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta next October but after waiting in the queue, they were all sold out in 30 minutes. 

Thursday - About the only productive activity for the day was grocery shopping. Nothing exciting about that but that’s not why we are here. It’s a bit warmer here than back home and we enjoy the travel. 

Sunday, January 8, 2023

North to AK

 - I’m sitting in the Phoenix airport waiting for my flight to Alaska. Unfortunately, I’m not going to arrive until tomorrow morning. Not the best flight but it was one of the cheaper options. Airfare has really gone up over the last couple of years. 

I made it as far as Seattle today. I was originally planning to spend the night in the airport but decided that I’m kinda getting too old for that… Fortunately, I had a free hotel stay on

 - Off to the airport at 0440, ugh. Not used to this. It’s been a year since I’ve been on a flight. The Apple Lock screen did update my location. Kind of cool! 

I did end up taking a laptop. A MacBook that I haven't used for years as the battery lasts a lot longer than the iPad. I used the hotel WiFi to apply all of the OS and app updates. Unfortunately, at almost 8 years old, it won't run even the previous version of the OS let alone the current version.
Hungry Robot Pizza now has a Dole Whip machine. So I had to stop and pick up a serving. And had one of their pizzas on a mushroom cap instead of a crust. 

Two stops done already, one more appointment to go (for today). 

 - All done for today. Now, time to get some sleep after the early morning start! There was a view of Denali from the back deck now that there aren't any leaves.

Friday - I stopped by the university after my doctors appointment and picked up my stuff from my old office. Six boxes and a bookcase. It’s been almost six years since I retired so it was about time. It took quite a while since I was visiting with former colleagues. I had a great day visiting friends.

Saturday - A quiet day sorting through the mountain of mail, The last time we had gone through it was last September. Probably 80% percent of it was junk mail.

Sunday - Getting packed up to head south again. I believe that I got everything I was planning to do done. Plus a few more. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Tucson to Casa Grande

Monday - Yesterday, we left Tucson in the same place after four months. When we first arrived there, four months sounded like a really long time. The time passed quickly, we met some wonderful people, and we got a lot of RV projects done. The location was fantastic for picking up project supplies and having Sprouts within easy walking distance was great. The lots were cramped but the hot tub was one of the best we've come across.

We moved to an Encore park in Casa Grande which was only an hour or so down the road. I filled up just before arriving and the TSD discount price was $4.227/gallon for diesel. We’ve stayed here several times with the 5th wheel and the motor home. No paved pads but nice and level pull-through sites. 

It has been raining since we arrived yesterday so I finished setting things up today. 

Tuesday - A dry but cool morning. At 10am, it's only 50°F. Too cold to sit outside for the earlier test session. We found turkey breast on sale after Christmas so we picked one up and are having it today with some friends. Galen and Cindy, and Richard and Hope. Since it's turkey, I went ahead and made some cornbread dressing and whole-berry cranberry sauce. The turkey was cooked in the sous vide several days ago so I'm using the sous vide again to heat it back up. They are still vacuum-sealed from when they were cooked.

Participating in the second test session of the day. Possibly the last one of the week for me as I'll be travelling tomorrow. I'm planning to just use the iPad and the phone for the trip and not bother taking the laptop.