Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Simple Low Cost Portable Solar PV System

Since upgrading my 45 watt Harbor Freight system that ran flawlessly for 6 years to my now 200 watt system I decided to make the 45 watt system portable and totally self-contained. The reason is if I have to 'bug out' I can take the system with and keep my "AA" batteries for night lighting, AM/FM Shortwave and two way radios charged and operational if in a grid-down situation.

Two years ago the wiring connection to the PV Cells leaked water and shorted out completely one of the three 15 watt panels rendering that one useless. If you install your own system be certain water can not infiltrate the cell area under the glass through the electrical connecting box on the back side of the panel. So the bottom line is I have just two 15 watt panels equaling 30 watts of charging power. This is plenty for recharging "AA" batteries for radios, battery powered lights or power tool batteries.

This project was less than $40 for the new charge controller and connectors. I had an old but still functional car battery. That's it the total cost!

If I wanted to make a brand new system I'd buy a 100 watt panel from Home Depot and the total cost of a very powerful 100 watt system would be under $200.

This is a very simple project that anyone can do.

Here's how I converted my old panels into a portable system.
The charge controller is less than $20 and as you can see very small. It is rated for 7 amps it can handle up to a 105 watt panel.

The polarized connectors I used for the connections.

Rear view of the panels

Close up of the panel wire showing how I used epoxy to prevent ripping the wires out of the panel connector box

All wires connected and ready to work. The alligator clips attach to the battery. The 12v socket next to them is where I plug in my 12v extension cord.

The 12 foot extension cord I made with two 12v sockets to power the battery chargers and/or radios.

Side view of working panels leaning against my van.

The panels are putting out 17.5 volts.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Help one of our readers

I received an e-mail from one of my long time readers asking if I could help her cousin by posting this for her. Please read the website below as it will clearly explain the situation. I can see this same thing easily happening to me and to many of you out there. Here's a case where elected people fail to do their job and follow the options presented in the law that Guy was arrested for. I signed the petition.

"I would like to ask you for your support for my cousin who finds himself in a terrible situation.  At the age of 58 he is facing a potential multi-year prison sentence on gun charges in NJ.  I know, it sounds awful.  Here's the thing, it was an honest mistake and a legal remedy exists for folks that find themselves in his exact position but the local prosecutor is refusing to apply the legal remedy.

My cousin is very active in his church and community.  He is a good man.  He has never been in legal trouble before.  His website explains the details far better than I can in this e-mail"  http://www.wesupportourguy.com

What can you do ?
1.  Sign the online petition
2.  Send letters, call and/or email Chris Christie and the other two politicians on the website
3.  Share the link to the website with your friends and online communities asking for support
4.  Write letters to other officials (I have a long list I can share)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ramen Noodle Soup & Maruchan Instant Lunch

'Ramen Noodle Soup' and 'Maruchan Instant Lunch' are staples of low cost and pretty good eating. They also lend themselves to bulking up by adding other foods to them such as rice, beans, freeze-dried veggies or a variety of can meats. The 'Ramen Noodle Soup' is part of my long term storage. They are also good for camping, back-packing, canoe trips or any activity that the weight of food is a concern.

Another good use for these products would be when a disaster event strikes and your unprepared neighbors come knocking on your door begging for some food they know you have. Just hand then a couple packages of this soup.

What's the difference between these two products?
All you need is water and they both cook in three minutes.

Instant Lunch net weight is 2.25oz, 64g and comes with its own serving cup.
Instant Lunch contains vegetables; peas, corn and carrots.

Ramen Noodle Soup net weight is 3.0oz, 85g is just packaged without a serving cup.
Ramen Noodle Soup does not contain the same vegetables; peas, corn and carrots.

Does one product have an advantage over the other?
Yes, I think so! The Ramon Noodle Soup has 3/4 ounce more noodles than the Instant Lunch cup. 3/4 of an ounce may seem trivial but if that serving is all your eating for that meal or day it will mean a lot.

How I use the Ramon Noodle Soup I stock:
I don't like doing dishes so that's one of the reasons why I purchased 16 ounce paper cups plus they are safer to use than Styrofoam cups if microwaving and I also use plastic spoons. Clean up is as quick as a toss in the garbage. Another benefit is during an event aftermath when clean safe water may be in short supply, doing dishes may not be possible.

I lay the package on a counter top and use the side of my fist gently striking the package to break up the noodles inside. The noodles now being smaller pieces are easier to eat with a plastic spoon after cooking.  Otherwise the noodles are endlessly long and difficult to handle with a plastic spoon.

After breaking up the noodles I put them and the flavor/spices into a 16 ounce paper cup and add water 1/2 inch from the top. If cold water then microwave it for 1:45 seconds or use hot water from a stove top or campfire. Then let the hot water soak into the noodles for 3 minutes and eat!

Ramon Noodle Soup label.

Instant Lunch label.

16 ounce paper cups I use.

Ingredients into paper cup.

Water added to ingredients.

Just out of the microwave and ready to eat in three minutes. Stir well to mix all the seasoning throughout the noodles. Enjoy!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Disposable Medical Exam Gloves

We all should have a box of these gloves around especially during a disaster aftermath. There are many uses for them, chemical spills, bacteria or diseases and other peoples blood we need not come in contact with under any circumstance. The gloves are cheap and effective.

Here are the gloves I use. There are many brands available. I recommend "Nitrile" as it is a very tough material and resists simple blunt punctures.

Disposable Medical Exam Gloves
Exam gloves can be necessary in many circumstances, such as during an accident where people are bleeding and need medical attention, caring for and bathing sick people such as family and friends, painting and staining, cleaning high germ count areas, field dressing game or butchering game etc. I also use mine when connecting and disconnecting my RV sewer hose.

The gloves are made from several different materials and come in different sizes and colors. The four types of gloves are latex, vinyl, plastic, or nitrile which is synthetic latex that's very durable and slightly more expensive. The type of gloves one uses depends on his or her possible allergy to latex and their personal preference. Some latex gloves are powdered on the inside to make them easy to put on and remove. I don't use powdered gloves and find them easy to put on.

How to Measure Your Hand Size:
Exam gloves typically come in sizes from small to extra large, with extended or smaller sizes available on some models. The size of the glove is determined by measuring the circumference of the widest part of one's hand in inches. Size small accommodates someone with a measurement of 7 to 8 inches. Extra large is for measurements of 10 to 11 inches. The only extra guideline is that, synthetic gloves, such as those made of nitrile, tend to run small. People on the high end of a size range should order nitrile gloves one size up. Gloves come in an array of colors, including blue, green, and pink. The colors available depend upon the type of glove it is and from which manufacturer they are coming from.

Where to buy them:
All drug stores handle them and that is where I buy mine. Or search online, Amazon has many choices.

A large online source for Gloves and Information:

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Potato Plants 2014

Here's some photo's taken today of this years 5 potato plants. Last year I grew Yukon Gold from supermarket potatoes (non-organic) and purchased some 'seed' potatoes for a growth and yield comparison. The difference was minimal but to be honest the seed potatoes were on the old side and becoming wilted, they were the last seed potatoes they had in stock.

This year I planted the potatoes below using 'Organic Russet' potatoes to be sure they were not treated with any anti-sprouting chemicals. They were sprouted in my desk drawer and then planted on 2-15-14. The plants have flowers and are 24 inches tall and very healthy looking. Last years crop was much taller at 48 inches before they had flowers. Maybe that's' what Yukon Gold plants grow like, I don't know. I have 1/2 inch electrical conduit driven next to each plant so if needed I can tie the plants up to keep them from falling over.

This year I'm only going to be using aged horse manure and 6-6-6. Last year I used Scotts 21-8-16. I think feeding them all season long the high nitrogen content made last years plants grow so tall.

Here's what hey look like so far:

The 5 Russet plants.

Opposite side of the 5 plants.

The flowers.

Flowers for another plant.

Links to 2013 potato growing: