Day 407 WindGen. Solar panels
The MarineX wind generator has sat in it's box for the better part of a year now, like a caterpillar in it's cocoon. Today is the day it will "fly"! A strong pole ( the manufacturer was very specific as to the schedule of the pipe! ) is required and must be solidly mounted to the boat. Stainless is a given, and mounting to the radar arch is obvious. The height must be such that nobody looses an eye, scalp, or ear. The blades are very sharp as noted all over the packaging, in the instruction book, on the blades, and by Gena's son who has been using the "land" version of this generator.  
Sound dampening is a strong concern as many a sailor has complained about the noise these machines make, particularly on steel boats. As can be seen in the photo ( right ) the rubber from 2 compression plugs was used to isolate the bottom part of the pole. A small grommet must be used to isolate the bolt between the two.


Notice how I ran the wire through the deck? It's a square of 1/2" lexan chewed out underneath to allow the wires to pass through. Some silicone was pre-applied to create a gasket, then fresh silicone to screw it down. A fellow at work gave me the idea when he was trying to figure out how to run coaxial cable through his motor home roof. Thanks, whoever you are! The wire is 8 gauge as there could be as much as 40 amps flowing to the batteries in a good breeze.

The top bracket was a little less obvious, but went in easy enough. This one also gets acoustically isolated the same way, but may require the additional rubber pads on the "U" bolts. Only a test will tell. The corners have been rounded for ergonomics sake.




Now the only problem is, there has been no wind! A few breezes came by but no movement. In the manual, they mention the generator needs a burn-in time of a couple of hundred hours and until then the generator may seem sluggish. Sluggish must mean "doesn't move at all".





Later that night a T-storm came through and he went very fast! It seems there needs to be sustained winds though. Here there's trees everywhere and the wind blows everywhere, never in a straight line.

I guess the real test will be once the boat is in the water. I had hoped we could get some free amps for the batteries but seems it won't be so... yet.

This brought me to the mounting of the solar panels. This will be a guaranteed charger of the batteries.

We have decided to start out with 4 panels. These are the flexible type, designed for hanging from stanchions, temporary use on decks, roofs etc. hence the grommets. 
They are about as thick as cardboard and yes are very flexible. We have pandered how to mount these for ages. Drilling 24 holes through the roof ( one screw for each grommet ) or 48 using proper mounting clips is horrifying to us! Glue ( goop for holding power ) and silicone are the next choice. Silicone ( silly cone as I call it! ) sticks like, er..., glue to the hippo coat on the deck. It is basically unremovable so hopefully this works.

128 watts of power!..Well, potentially..
The same method of feeding the wire through was utilized, just smaller pieces of Lexan. This took the rest of my day as I broke a tap while tapping 10-24's for the wire clamps. Searching for a new one took time. Too much time.

The weather was hot, 35C, and so was I. Arg!

As soon as I connected up the panels ( all in parallel is the standard for 12 volts ) I noticed the battery monitor showing a couple of amps. It got up to near 4 amps even though these panels together can do 8 in full sunlight. That's the key word, "full". Upon inspecting the panels I realized the sun is partially obstructed by trees! The only time trees aren't blocking half of the panels is first thing in the morning when the sun is at too much of an angle to make a difference. With all of the "stuff" these poplars and accompanying birds drop continually onto the boat, now blocking the sun, I am considering chopping them down.

These panels have diodes across the cells. This means that if some of the cells are blocked, the diodes carry the current across from the ones that are. Good idea in a situation where sails will be blocking sunlight.

One more thing, if you haven't heard enough about solar panels already, in low light conditions i.e. T-storm, sunset, the voltage still measured around 20 volts, but the amps were down to .1 ( 100 mA ) or 1.2 watt. Not bad!


 Gena worked inside the hot boat ( remember it was 35 outside? ) which had become almost unbearable until I opened the hatches over the pilothouse. She put in the big black water tank to start. ( Photo above ) and hooked up as many joints as possible. It's time for yet another trip into town for more fittings! There must be a bypass on the cooling system as previously mentioned. This will enable "fine tuning" of how cool the engine runs by not allowing all of the water flow to go through the hull cooling system. Something like how a thermostat works in a car. There is also a thermostat here, but because of the size of the cooling panels, the thermostat will likely oscillate wearing it down and creating an uncontrollable scenario with engine temperature.

Gena figures the system will take 16 gallons ( 8 anti-freeze & 8 bottled water ) to fill. She still needs to get some fittings for the bleed-offs at the ends of the hull cooling boxes. Guess valves are needed there.

Next in line was the fuel system lines and valves. As we have 3 tanks, 3 way valves are needed for the fuel intake / return lines. This looks complicated to me, but Gena assures me it isn't.

Labels! I want labels!

One valve controls which tank the fuel is coming from, and the other controls where the return is going to. This will allow us to move fuel from one tank to the other, good for emptying the upper tanks to fill the lower tank. We must be careful though as the overflow/breather line will only hold so much before fuel starts shooting out the end!

As everything is copper lines ( pretty now but will probably end up green if we don't paint them) flaring is required to mate connections. Gena has had lots of experience with this tool during the building of her house and connecting up out diesel furnaces at home and at work. Guess she has a "flare" for it (lol!) whereas I haven't a clue how to use it. Guess I should have been paying more attention.
Just an update on the continuing dash project:
The arrangement of the gauges has become quite different from the 3d draft I did as more needed to be added. The temperature gauges mounted are for the engine oil, water out, water in and transmission. Handles have been added to make it easier to remove the panel, plus it looks cool! The GPS, autopilot, & compass displays have been re-arranged  to allow for easier viewing. For the GPS, directly above the steering box, I made some lexan shims to angle it up a bit.

Another expensive LCD product without polarization adjustment!! I don't understand why polarization adjustment isn't a standard feature in everything. At work we have the same problem when installing AM/FM radios in big trucks. Most of them are up in the head liner and the displays are made for dash mounting, i.e. looking down on. When up there, the display magically disappears. 

The compass LCD has driver chips I am familiar with so I pulled it apart and put in a potentiometer so it can be adjusted. I think the Furuno would require a negative voltage so that's out.

Day 407:
14 hours - Mounted Solar panels, wind generator, wired everything in, mounted coolant header tank, connected up fuel system ( except filters ) to engine from/to 3 tanks.

To DAY 406
Follow Iwalani's voyage around the world

...this is not a watered down, sugar coated tale, but a "no holds barred"
account of just what it's like to live a dream.

To DAY 408+