Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Just A Little Update

Just wanted to update you on some of our little projects going on here.  Back in March, I posted about the movable little planters we picked up.  This is what they look like four weeks later to the day:

There's tomatoes, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, jalapenos, another hot pepper, a watermelon and a strawberry plant (one so far).  The lettuce is in smaller pots closer to and behind the camera, along with more peppers and other herbs, too. Several tomatoes have already fruited and are ripening, the zucchini has set its enormous flowers, and cucumbers are ripening.  So far, so good.

The sun oven is at the opposite end of the back porch, cooking some eggs.

Every now and then, I use this little piece of "resilience", too:
That's my 40W solar charger based on the Small Solar Project page (that solar project still gets a couple of Spam comments a week, to this day).  Visible at the top is the 35A-Hr. AGM battery I use with it.  As you can see, I never built that fancy cart, but it's usable by pulling it out into the sun and keeping an eye on the charge controller on the back.  The charge controller is very similar to one of these - no connection with the seller (I don't even remember where I got it, except for being pretty sure it was on Flea Bay).  The panels together deliver about 3.5A and the controller is rated for 10, so that's a healthy safety margin. 


  1. Spiffy solar setup!

    I've got two 100 Watt panels, and two of the largest Optima "Yellow Top" batteries they make.

    I can run my 100 Watt HF station, my 2 Meter FM radio, and a whole lot of of other stuff almost indefinitely.

    The panels were given to me when I helped decommission a repeater site, and I had the charge controller for a 'future' project, so all I had to buy were the batteries and some hardware.

    1. Have you ever considered making a panel with the "scratch and dent" solar cells you can buy on eBay? There's a lot of videos and posts online by guys who built a solar power system starting with soldering cells together.

      A friend did it and was really happy with his results. He even made it grid tied so he can sell power back to the utilities.

      It's a load of work from my way of looking at it, but maybe the frugal (read "cheap stingy bastard") way to get a lot of power.

  2. WELL......I've got friends who had exactly the opposite results, and they knew what they were doing.

    The problems they had were that the panels they made just weren't very durable. They'd work fine for a few months, and then start to fail. Either the individual cells would crap out, or moisture would get in between the glass cover and the cells, or the cells would pop loose from the backing due to thermal cycling, etc, etc.

    Sure, you can do it, but considering the amount of time it takes to build a panel, and the cost of all the individual bits and pieces, I just don't think it's worth it.

    Even I'm not that cheap and stingy!

  3. Nice plants! you are in FL right? Up here in Zone 6 things keep freezing. I have pea and arugula seedlings about an inch tall, and the turnips are starting to sprout. I think it froze my taters so I will have to try again.

    1. Yes, Central Florida, just south of the Kennedy Space Center.

      We probably have inverse growing seasons, with something available almost all year. The most stressful time on the plants appears to be mid-July through mid-September, but prime season for citrus fruit is in mid winter. Some of it tastes best once night time temps go down into the mid to low 30s, although hard freezes (mid to low '20s here) will kill the trees.

      We appear to be transitional for citrus, though. I had three trees at one time and they were all killed by freezes by about Y2K. They say that back before global warming, the citrus belt extended another 150-200 miles north of me. Now places near Orlando that used to be citrus groves are growing wine grapes! Srsly