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Tag: Solar

January 2016 Visit

by on Jan.31, 2016, under Electrical, Security

We’re doing some remodelling down in the valley, so I needed to come up and borrow some of my tools that I had stored at the Ranch.  Since I was making the trip, I used this time to upgrade one of the security cameras to provide a much more detailed high-resolution capture when motion was detected.  With the old camera, I had a hard time distinguishing who had been captured by the camera, because the photos were of such low resolution.  The new camera takes much clearer pictures, and when I view them at full resolution, I can zoom in to see minute details.

HikVision Security Camera

HikVision Security Camera

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Remote Monitoring of Solar Charger

by on Sep.25, 2014, under Electrical

Over the labor day weekend, I installed a new add-on for my Midnite Solar Charge Controller.  It is called a Whizbang Jr.

Basically, this allows the charge controller to measure the actual current directly into and out of the battery, without worrying about what loads I might have turned on at any point in time.

This allows the charge controller to make better decisions on when to stop charging on any given day, putting less strain on the batteries.  It also will allow me to more effectively monitor the actual state of charge of the batteries, rather than guessing based on battery voltage.  But that part hasn’t been added to the software, yet.

I haven’t grabbed any photos of my install yet, but here is a generic one that I’ve borrowed from the manufacturer…

Whizbang Jr.

Whizbang Jr.

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Winterizing 2013

by on Oct.30, 2013, under porch, Security, Trim & Paint

Wow, time went fast this year.  We didn’t get up to the Ranch nearly as often as I would have liked.

With October coming to an end, it is past time to go up and winterize.  I got a late start on Saturday, and started work in earnest on Sunday.

To start off, I wanted to take take some readings on the batteries for the solar install.  Since the hydrometer that I bought on the last trip was broken when I opened it, I stopped by a Checker Auto and picked up another.  I let the batteries charge until they reached the float stage, then let them sit there in float for 1 hour.  Then I let the batteries rest for 1 hour with no charging and no load.  The hydrometer showed all cells (3 in each battery) fully charged.  So I have a good baseline reading.  IN the future, as I make the reads again, I will have something to compare against.

The hydrometer was kind of hard to read, but the line in the picture below was at 1.275 specific gravity, which represents 100% charged.  Specific gravity is reportedly the only way to be sure of the charge level of a battery.  Voltages can be deceiving.

Specific Gravity showing 1.275 = 100% charged, cell in good condition.

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Solar Panel Installation

by on Mar.17, 2013, under Electrical

Well, Spring is here, and it’s time to get back to work.  For Spring Break this year, we came up to install the solar panels on the roof of the LittleHouse.

Panels installed

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Getting ready for Satellite Internet

by on Jul.07, 2012, under Security

We decided that having internet available at the LittleHouse would have several advantages…

1. We could have 24×7 video surveilance of the place

2. Our cellphones (mine for sure, maybe Tara’s) can use the wireless router to connect to the cell phone network, instead of having to remote down from the mountain, as we do now.

3. Several Ham Radio possibilities, including echolink (easy) and remote HF operation (harder and more $$).

4. Remote monitoring of water levels, power generation, power usage, weather conditions.

5. Remote control of site facilities (forgot to turn off water pump? No problem!)

So we ordered Satellite Internet from ViaSat (formerly WildBlue).  They just launched a new satellite, and promised very good service (5 MB/sec download, 1mb/sec upload).

Since we have a metal roof, I did not want any holes in it, so we decided to pole mount the dish.  This requires an 8′ schedule 40 steel pole, set in concrete 3′ deep. and filled with concrete to make it stiff.  The provider said he normally charges $160 to put such a pole in, and that would have been a bargain, but I wanted to do it myself, anyway.

Here is what I ended up doing…

Pole set in concrete, with riser column to protect it some

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