Saturday, September 24, 2016

Solar Shed: Part 11: Panel Mounts Revision 1

It's time for a few more posts about my Tuff Shed to Office conversion.  This post and the three following will focus on the details of my solar panel mounts and backup power systems, highlighting what I did, and what I wouldn't do in the future.

All of this started with a stack of 10 solar panels delivered on a pallet.  Which, of course, I didn't bother to take a picture of.  My panels are the SolarWorld SunModule 285W panels (details in my main post about the power system). 

Now, a stack of 10 solar panels on a pallet is a pretty cool thing to have, but it's not a particularly useful thing without a bit more work.  Solar panels are like lizards.  They are happiest lying out in the direct sun, just soaking up the photons.  I needed something to take my panels off the pallet and let them soak up the sun, so I could extract their high energy electrons to run my computers and air conditioner.

So I built such a thing!  This is revision 1 of my panel mounts.  It's a terrible design, for reasons I'll go into later, but it does indeed work.

Read on for the details!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

HexBright Flashlight Battery Teardown and Replacement

The HexBright flashlight, from 2011, is an interesting little device.  It's a flashlight with an embedded Arduino for control, so you can reprogram it to do whatever you want.  Which, being a flashlight, mostly involves turning the light on and off and changing the brightness.

In 2016, it's abandonware.  The creator has left a nice little note saying, essentially, "So long and thanks for all the fish."  It lives on in a weird state - what was claimed to be an "open source flashlight" is left without that much information available, a half-finished community wiki, and... that's about it. 

One problem is that the design of the battery holder is very, very touchy.  The flashlight fits the provided battery like a very tight glove, but protected 18650s vary in length by more than a little bit, and it's nearly impossible to find one that specifies the exact length accurately.  Of course there are no HexBright replacements available.

And, sadly, my battery died after a few months of sitting in a box when I moved.  I suspect I'm not the only one with this problem.

So I set out to replace the battery, succeeded in two different ways, and am sharing them with the world!

Read on if this is at all relevant to you.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

DeWalt 20V Max 3.0Ah Battery Pack Teardown & Analysis

It's been a little bit since I've torn apart a new battery pack!  The last new-to-me pack I pulled apart was a 26v BionX battery (which, I'd add, I rebuilt to nearly twice the stock capacity by filling all the space with cells).  And I've got this cute little DeWalt 20V MAX battery pack (model DCB200, 3.0Ah)  that's just not behaving right.  It would charge, but then only show one LED on the status bar.  I got it for $6 at a pawn shop when I asked for defective batteries.

Well, I've got a dead battery on my bench - that means that it's time to tear it apart!

And you know you want to see what's inside!

Read on for an awful lot of photos inside this solidly built battery pack.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Building a $10 ESP02 based ESP8266 Arduino WiFi Shield

I started a project of mine with a SparkFun ESP8266 WiFi shield.  After several frustrating weeks caused by a variety of issues, but mostly a bad U.fl connector (external antennas were unreliable), I gave up on that one, and decided to build my own, because I can.

This is what I came up with - cheap (under $10), effective, and so far, quite reliable!

Read on for the construction details, costs, and a lot of suggestions on working with the ESP02 wireless modules.