Some time in November I removed the fence around the chickens in preparation for the snow which damages it. Chickens never go far in the snow and they knew where home was so I felt ok letting them roam around. They enjoyed their liberty enormously and did very well coming back at dusk. Problem is they also started laying; not all picked the coop as their laying spot.
The past few weeks have made it clear that out 2 solar panels weren’t enough at all for the Winter months. Short and overcast days weren’t enough to keep the battery charged with even very minimal use and we went dark a couple of days. I don’t have numbers yet but these 3 panels should do a lot better than the 2 I had. I also doubled the batteries’ amp-hours to have more buffer.
This blog is now powered by a Raspberry Pi using 100% solar energy. Nicole instrumented the Phidgets sensors so we would gain some visibility into our electricity production & consumption. This has already given us some great insights. We can see the effect that each device we use has on the system: how much the LED lamps take to charge, the hole that the inverter blasts through the battery when turned on. We can tell that not all sunny days are created equal in their ability to give a charge. We can even tell the increase in electricity consumption that rsyncing a whole bunch of data to the Pi has: 0.03A.
- solar panels volts (a good indicator of sunlight)
- input amps (indicates when the charge controller uses produced electricity)
- output amps / load (what we consume with various devices)
- battery volts (whether this blog will make it through the night or not)
For now I’m only graphing using the Gnuplot one-liner from Hell. More to come…
Charge controller (top), Raspberry Pi (top right), Phidgets interface kit (bellow the pi), Phidgets current sensors (bottom).
My new favorite project screws
The volt-meters (left) aren’t live yet but the amp-meters (bottom) are.
With the inverter hooked up and a properly fused distribution box
The Pi reading its sensors, Nicole is taking on the data aggregation.
The goal is to move Akrin to the Pi to have a solar powered server.
We found ~20 apple trees on the land so far. These that were not good a few weeks ago are starting to turn and become sweet. The deer apparently have a sweet tooth like we do, they are an excellent indicator of when an apple tree is good to eat. Unfortunately they are getting the lion share of the apples this year. We saw them bump into a tree to make apples fall and stand on their back legs which allows them to reach quite high.
I love old tech, this thing translates spinning into peeling, coring & slicing!
Wood fire is really interesting to cook with
Since the modifications I’m making to the house now are quite specific to our living arrangements, I’ve stopped updating the 3D model I made to design the house. I’ve also gained in confidence and experience such that I don’t need to do everything virtually before I grab a hammer.
Before launching into this adventure, I spent a good deal of time online reviewing designs, techniques and best practices. In case this is useful to someone else I’m publishing the core design here. This design was critiqued over multiple iterations by many carpenters, builders, furniture makers & all around smart handymen.
A few points:
- it is very modular
- a few features are specific to us
- the gambrel design is balanced (every angle 22.5 and equal lengths)