Entries tagged with “The SPP”.

Updates on previous Things of Merit:

The Face of the FUTURE

The Face of the FUTURE

The Democrats still can’t quite hit that lock-step thing.  Waxman V. other Dem’s over the best way to pass the Environmental Bill continues, with the expressed reason standing against the bill now being: but what if it doesn’t work?? I know!  Lets just not try then, shall we?  Shades of 1994, when Democratic dissent to a popular young Democratic president cast the party out into the wilderness for 10 years.  Let’s see if we can’t get a FEW things passed before the fracture happens, eh?

And, it’s not like they need to be helping.  We still have a loyal opposition.

Also, Paul Krugman says that the fears of death and dismemberment through absurdly high taxes brought about by a cap and trade program might… MIGHT… be a tad overblown.

Progress on the solar panel project has bogged slightly, due to some hardware malfunctions.  We fried the fuse on our trusty multimeter, and now the plastic bit on the end of our inverter has melted.  Too much electrical tape, we figure.  Anyway, scale back the mass purchase of those cheap-ass inverters for a while, at least until we figure out how to keep the heat down some.

Finally: other swatties are out in the world doing actual good things.  My own issues with protests aside, props go to MLR and the crew over at ClimateGroundZero for putting their persons on the line to protest West Virginia Mountain Top Removal mining.  As I wrote for Red, Green and Blue: this kind of civil disobedience can have a redeeming quality in my mind: Halting the madness long enough for a civil discourse on the subject to occur.  Of course, clearly, that is a pie in the sky dream.  I know this.  But it is definitely worth the shot.

Gripes go out to their photagrapher though… be cool man.  Nothing was intended but to help the cause.  I thought that the Climate Ground Zero people giving the OK to use a photo would have been enough!

Assuming that our solar panel continues to work under long exposure to actual sunlight, assuming our wiring doesn’t fall apart when someone breaths funny, and assuming that we can attach the damn thing to a battery long enough to matter, we now should have the ability to charge a 12 volt, at least somewhat, during the non-rainy days.  (whew.  I am exhausted from all those qualifiers.)

But how to spend our ill begotten gains?  The tricky part is getting the power being taken back out of the 12 volt battery into a format that your friendly neighborhood three pronged plug in can recognize.

solar-cell-battery-hook-up What you are looking at here is our Tempest™ Battery and our plug’n'play power inverter (that you can get from most reasonable rest-stops or Radio Shacks® you might stumble into.  Mine cost, I think, $14.99, though I quoted it in the last post at $13.99. On the other hand, I have had it for more then five years…). (more…)

Solar Panel part Two: the experimentation!

After a week and a half of waiting for the mail, and then another 4 days due to communal negligence, I am glad to report that we managed to get back on the Do It Yourself Solar Power bandwagon.  This corresponds nicely with day one of our LtAG tip-o-the-hat to Earth Week (remember when it was just earth DAY, and you could feel good about turning out our lights once in a while and leave it at that?  Those were the days…)

You might remember that we left our research phase having ordered 1 x 12-volt battery 8 x single solar cells pictured below.

Front and Back of one Solar Cell

Front and Back of one Solar Cell 60MM x 60MM

Since Gerrit already had a multimeter to measure the electricities, all we needed to do was figure out how to connect the pieces together to get solar gain and then how to connect the pieces together to use a 12 volt battery for something… useful.

Using our amazing resourcefulness and Gerrit’s knowledge of all thing’s electrical, we discovered that a plastic crate that we were going to use as a work table was actually the perfect size to fit our 60 millimeter square cells.

We then gang pressed into service 1 x an-old-car-plug-in-that-Alan-had-that-converted-from-the-12-volts-in-a-car-and-outputs-at-120-volts ($13.99 at a rest-stop) and we stripped some old co-axial cable that we found on the street for it’s outer coating of fine wire mesh.

It turns out that, on testing the solar cells on the roof, each one was drawing between three and four volts.  Since Sunday was a day of tests, we didn’t want to lock ourselves into anything too permanent.  This meant a simple connection of contact points between cells, which were then set into the slots on the crate.  Because I don’t know much about electric circuits, and because I hope other people can follow along with this who also don’t know much about circuits: please bear with me if the following explanation is unwieldy.


Not enough time to post well today.  Just wanted to share a little update about the Solar Panelz of dreams that we are planning to build: the cells themselves have arrived, causing us to go on a wide range of theoretical plans about what to do with the eventually completed array.  What will we measure!?  What will our system do!?  Keeping in mind that we haven’t actually built anything yet, please read the following sentence, addressed by one G. Hall to me as we planned the future:

“Our Solar Panel is going to tweet the fuck out of their cat.”

Then, click on this.  And wonder at the many myriad possabilities.

Week One: Over the weekend, Gerrit and I started what we hope is a process that will lead to the installation of a solar panel on his roof.  The initial goal is simply to make something that works.  It’s not going to power the house or nothing, but it will be neat to see if we can get something up and running by ourselves, and maybe use it to run the game system for a few hours.

An afternoon of research unveiled the mysteries of the Internets: there are a lot of people looking to sell you solar panels for a lot of money.  There are lots of other people who want to sell you a book to help you make solar panels on the cheap… but these books also cost a lot of money.  Eventually, the lowest pre-fab array that I could find was a little RV rig that came in at $139, and produced something  in the tune of 10-15 watts.  Clearly, you go way up per watt from there, as the solar pieces themselves get higher grade.

G and I decided that were going for that truly slacker combo: the cheapest thing we could come up with after an afternoon of research.  We also figured we could follow along based on this and this.  With his in-depth knowledge of physics and my… well… my powers of rooting, we could pretty much build something from scratch.

The pieces so far:

$43 for a battery – 12 volts. (more good info on batteries here).

$37 for 8 of these small solar cells, which we plan to solder together into something vaugley resembling a 4 x 2 grid.

and, we already had a 12 volt DC meter.

Further analysis of the voltage wattage charge situations to come, but if you are looking to follow in our footsteps I’d say this: Careful… we have trouble walking in a straight line.  Our only real knowladge of circuts rests in Wikipedia and Gerrit’s brillient noggin, so it remains to be seen what we can come up with.

It does look like there is information available for DIY options at pretty much wherever complexity you want.   There are always people willing to do it for you at a huge mark up, but there are also people willing to sell you all the pieces and give you a feeling some DIY magic.  In fact, a lot of people that we came across even suggested calling up companies who are likely to have damaged or broken panels and asking for their cast-offs: a former construction site panel at 60%, if it’s free, is still way way better then nothing.  New York City does not seem like the ideal place to try that theory out, but everyone outside should give it a shot.

UPDATE: Surprise of surprises, you can also go to youtube and see all the lists of the things you can do with a 12 volt battery