Friday, November 13, 2015

Mulberry Plantation

A few of the wetlands around Mulberry Plantation near Moncks Corner SC.  I was using my Canon T3i with a canon 100-400MM lens shot in RAW edited with Adobe Photoshop Elements.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Denver Vacation

Yes even retired I need a vacation at times.  The following are pictures from a week trip to the Denver area.  I found a round trip ticket on Frontier for $108.00 from Atlanta to Denver.

Silver Plume Loop Railroad Station

Silver Plume to Georgetown Loop Railroad

Echo Lake Lodge  Located at the foot of Mt Evens

Echo Lake

View from top of Mt Evens
The road to the top is 14 miles and paved but no guard rails with lots of switchbacks and drop offs that are breath taking to say the least.  Youtube has videos showing the drive up the mountain. 

And there was a little wildlife to be seen.  Mountain Goats

Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep

Kissing Camels
Garden of the Gods Colorado Springs

Garden of the Gods

Kissing Cames

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods

Red Rocks Amphitheatre Museum
Denver CO

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Beaver Creek Ski Lodge near Vail CO

Friday, August 7, 2015

Solar Panel Installation Update

Solar Panel Installation Update
I have completed the installation and opted to go with 4, 100 watt panels not the 2 I had originally planned on installing.   You may want to skip the next subparagraphJ
They each have the potential to supply 100 watts per hour but that is not practical to get that the panels would have to track the sun as it moved during the day.  I do get that at times during the day and then how many hours of sunlight will I get…4 hours of sunshine a day and 75 watts per panel (per hour) is the average I am using for my calculations.  In the end I am getting around 300 watts per day per panel or 1200 watts total (potential 100 amp hours into the battery bank).

Along with the 400 watts of panels I opted to go with 4 6 volt golf cart batteries.  With the larger battery bank I could now install an inverter in lieu of waiting.  The inverter will supply 120 Volts to all the outlets in the RV, this will allow me to operate everything in the RV as if plugged into shore power except the Air Conditioner.  If I need air conditioning I will need to plug into shore power.  Just too many batteries and solar panels needed to run an AC…at least in an RV.
The original plan of smaller battery bank just did not give me enough reserve for a rainy day or two.   Based on rough calculation I have battery capacity of 2-3 days without having to recharge.  But that would mean I would have to be in a thunderstorm that was nonstop for 2-3 days.  With light cloud cover I still will get some charge into the battery bank.
During the day with partly cloudy skies I am able to watch TV for several hours, run a fan along with lighting and recharge the battery bank.  After sundown I can watch a couple hours of TV at night with the ceiling fan and lights, get up and watch morning news on TV and charge my computer.  This activity will consume approximately 7-8% of the battery bank charge.
The inverter is setup on an automatic transfer switch (ATS).  When the inverter is turned on the ATS switches and the RV is supplied electricity from the inverter when the inverter is turned off the ATS switches back to the shore power.

I have some other operations in the RV that will require a lot of watts to operate, slides outs, and hydraulic leveling system.  They will consume approximately 700 watts to operate.  The length of time will be relatively short but a major power draw for a short period.  This is one of the reasons for over sizing the battery bank to ensure I can move the slides in and out and run the hydraulic leveling system.
I also have one other power hungry item…my coffee maker.  It draws about 1200 watts to operate and that can drain a battery bank in a hurry.  I have used it on the inverter and it all works great, and I was able to recharge the battery bank from this heavy usage (approx. additional 5% battery use for one morning’s coffee).  But if I used the coffee maker and have a cloudy day it would be a challenge to completely recharge the battery bank.  So my coffee maker will be used only on days that have no rain in the forecast.  So on those rainy days it will be hand grind my coffee beans and the old faithful French Press.

I can be completely off the grid except when AC in needed.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Camper Update

Camper update…I sold my tiny home and upgraded to a 33’ fifth-wheel.  My tiny home was maybe 120sf being very generous with my measurements.  My new home has about 306 sf with two storage compartment that equal approximately 80 cubic feet of storage (4’x2’x7’ and 4’x1’x6’). 



To compare the two camper my granddaughter Hannah clarified it for me.   We had been swimming and when we returned she used my bedroom to change clothes…she came out and informed me that my bedroom was larger than the other camper, and I believe she was pretty accurate in her evaluation.


I arrived in the Detroit area late March and made the camper change out.  I knew winter was not over here because the small lakes at the campground was frozen over and it was cold.  But I figured it will warm up soon.  And it did finally warm up somewhere around late May.  Here it is mid July and I don’t think we have gotten past 85 and the nights are around 60 it is great now.  But in March I saw nights down to 8 degrees.  Thankfully my new camper has a good insulation package and tank heater to keep the water and waste tanks from freezing.


I am now looking at my next move probably late August early September headed south.  In planning my next trip I realized that I needed to look at my backup systems.  In my truck camper I had two batteries and small solar panel to assist with battery charging and a built in propane generator.  This setup made it easy to stop just about anywhere and not worry about by batteries and if needed I could run the AC with the generator.

My new camper has no generator or solar panels and only one battery.  I looked at my options and the first was just get a generator…that sounded easy but to have it retrofitted into the camper with propane fuel (propane to eliminate storing gasoline) was going to be crazy pricing.  I then looked at the small portable generator and it just would not be very practical.  The generator would have to be stored in the truck and when I need to run it I would have to run a power line from generator to the camper.  So then I started looking at solar as a power source.  Running the air conditioner on solar is not practical in the RV the amount of panels and battery bank that would be required was just too much. Other than the AC it looks pretty doable to install a system that would allow me to camp unlimited days (without AC).  If I were to get rain for several straight days I may start draining the batteries excessively but that should not be an issue.

My initial solar setup is going to have 4 100 watt panels and 2 6 volt golf cart batteries.  This setup will not have an inverter to supply 110VAC to camper.  It will allow operation of all critical systems and keep the batteries charged.  Once I have this system setup and running I will add two additional batteries and an inverter.  I may also need to add 1 or 2 more panels the system is designed for this option without any wiring or controller upgrades.  With the inverter in place other than the AC all appliances will be operational on solar/battery power including the microwave and coffee maker.



Monday, March 16, 2015

Desert Sunsets and Sunrise with some Flowers

Swansea Ghost Town  This was a Copper Mining operation.  It's 25+ miles off the paved roads.

Swansea's post office was established March 25, 1909 and was discontinued June 28, 1924. Swansea was the headquarters for the Clara Consolidated Gold and Copper Mining company. A railroad connected Swansea to nearby Bouse in 1908 and the camps population grew to a total of 750. Swansea had an electric light company, an auto dealer, a lumber company, even a barbar and an insurance agent. The town was active until 1924 but the original mining company went bankrupt in 1912. There are two cemeteries at the site, and ruins of the smelter are extensive. Swansea was named after Swansea, Wales, where refined ore from the site was shipped. The ore was shipped via railroad to a destination on the Colorado River, where it was transferred to river freighters and then again transferred to ships on the gulf of California for shipment to Swansea, Wales via Cape Horn. -GT

Otto enjoying the desert

Something you don't want to see 25 miles into the desert.  Keys on the seat with all doors locked:-)  My friend Otto and I got out to the truck to take a few pictures and all went well until we returned to the truck.  But thanks to Coach-Net road service we were back on our way in 2 hours.