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Ridged Solar Generator


EEtwidget

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Hello TIA. I have been busy and haven't posted much lately. Work has been consuming and Unfortunately I was laid off, but it's for the best. I'm back at school and working towards becoming a professor (electronics/Automation). Anyway, you clicked on this post to see a Ridged Solar Generator right?

But first the backstory:

It's July 4th weekend and a day most Veterans fear. Bombs bursting in air often trigger PTSD. Unfortunately many veterans won't be able to deal with their demons and 22 a day will commit suicide. Most likely even more this weekend. I don't mean to bum you out, but instead bring to light a serious problem.

Withe the support of my wife and family I have started a non-profit. OG Vets, Off-Grid Veterans. Our goal is to provide education and assistance to Veterans who would benefit from an off-grid lifestyle. I have a little team and some land. My brother-in-Law bought some land in Arizona and has donated it to the cause. ogvets.org (don't expect much, godaddy special and not much content. A work in progress)

Being an electrical guy the first project I wanted to tackle is a solar generator. A solar generator is a battery system that is recharged via solar and can source both AC and DC voltage. I had the idea to build the generator into a Ridged stacking toolbox case. I like how the feet fit together and I'm sure I can rig a "pad" that transfers power between boxes.

Well last night I prototyped the build. I had to really rush the work because some of the crew is driving out to AZ (this morning) for the 4th. I'm staying behind to study. I worked all night and finished a simple iteration of the box. Really just a proof of concept. I had to scavenge parts and wires from my workshop, McGiver would be proud!

Inside the box is a 12vdc deep discharge battery, 450Watt inverter, 4xUSB chargers, led light-bar, and some control/charging circuits. My next prototype will be more complete but for now this box really kicks butt!

I bet you want to see it? Well, I finished about 10min before the crew left. I didn't get a chance to pictures and I didn't take the time to photograph the build because time I did not have!

I'll text the crew though and ask them to send some photos. And they really have no excuse not to, considering they have 4g and unlimited power!

Edit: add link for ogvets.org

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That sounds really cool EEtwidget!! Thank's for you and your brother in law doing this for the veterans. I don't waste my money on fireworks because I'm cheap and would rather buy tools,  but seeing what it does to vet's makes me feel better about my decision.

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Protoolnut; I like the idea of a solar lawn mower, hell just hack the mower to self-drive and your in the money. I wanted to be able to provide lots of light with this generator so in the short term I bought one of those $100 husky LED work lights and rigged it to the system. Then I saw Milwaukee's new m18 work light and new monster battery. I'm thinking a red team branded solar generator that accepts M18 batteries could be cool. Dual purpose generator/cordless tool charger. After all when your building in BFE you can't just plug in a charger.

The guys made it to AZ. I asked them to take some pics so I expect them tonight. They did send me this pic. 2015 Chevy Colorado Crew Cab Shortbed z71 4x4 . Not my truck but I'm doing all the build work. Not many upgrade yet but soon it will be an off-grid "Overlander". Installed some LED bed lights, CB, sliders, roiling bed cover with bed rails, rack, rack mounted folding tent, .. And a few other little things. I want to build a "port" - something for the solar generator to lock into. Charge from the truck while driving and power the truck while camping/working.

post-28428-0-19964700-1435956486_thumb.j

Milwaukee Worklight: http://professional-power-tool-guide.com/2015/06/new-milwaukee-tool-lights-for-2015-first-look/

Milwaukee Battery:

Husky Worklight: post-28428-0-09519400-1435959231_thumb.j

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This is the Ridgid case I used. I also have a roller version with a much bigger battery. Everything is indeed modular and because it's also custom, I'm not worried too much about fit. I can hack, cut, and 3d print what I need to make things work. But if I go the M18 route, I'll switch over to a Milwaukee case so everything matches. :)

post-28428-0-48119900-1435958883_thumb.j

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that Yeti is insanely overpriced. But in fairness they do make a $400 unit that works very well. I'll have a build log of this thing, I'm not trying to sell them so I don't mind sharing what I learn. This first build was quick and dirty. I wanted to get a system up and running and start testing. The next unit will offer more protections and capabilities.

This build was cheap, but mostly because I already had most of the parts. I had the battery, new from one of those solar powered parking ticket booths. Bought a cheap 150Watt solar kit with charge controller. $50 inverter, USB waterproof panel mount chargers were about $20 on Amazon. I had wire and fuses, the Ridgid box, and LED strip lights.

I want to upgrade to a pure sine wave inverter, better charge controller with auto AC charging switch, and the bigger battery. I think a proper inverter will be the bulk of $$$. But being an electrical engineer I'm certain I can build one, still the transformer is $$. I'm co-teaching a microcontroller class and have a few ideas for building a 'smart' generator but I don't want to get ahead of myself. The goal is to build a cheap unit that's easy to use.

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