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Budget Workshop Project,End Cuts,Equipment,Power generation,Solar Power Projects,Wind Turbine Projects

Summer 2015 Solar and Wind Power Update

3 Sep , 2015   Video

Since the budget was drained from the Epic DIY deck project, there wasn’t much wiggle room for new equipment. Had to make do with what I had, and do some clever reconfiguring of the solar and wind power equipment for 2015 summer.

Solar Panels
Moved the factory made, 100-watt panel to the new main cabin battery bank. For some reason, the voltage was really spiking (21 volts, with load). I thought it might be the charge controller or a loss connection to the batteries. Happened during July, but not during August.

The DIY 80 watt solar panel is working just fine. Putting out about 6 amps on a good sunny day. The only downside was the backing was starting to peel off. Some red tuck tape helped seal it off. Hopefully, I can get 2 more years out of it.

New addition. Bid 99 cents on a small 5.5 watt panel and won. Using it as a trickle charger for the generator and water pump battery.


Charge Controllers
Earlier in the year, the Morningstar TS-60 was taken out of service until I can determine why it was showing a fault. Did some basic tests and couldn’t find the problem. It sat in my tool box for 9 months and in July, I hooked it up to the DIY solar panel. Seems to be working OK.

Picked up a 99 cents eBay special (plus $29.00 for shipping) for a programmable charge controller with load control and temperature gizmo. It will be used in the main cabin battery bank. I like to test the system out for a full season before upgrading equipment.

It’s a good plan to have some spare, inexpensive charge controllers. I use eBay as my buying source and try to find a good, previously used, charge controller. If not, an off-shore made controller can be found for around $30.


Last fall, I purchased (4) 6 volt, US Battery off craigslist for $40 each. They were lightly used and 3 years old. Came from a backup power system for a data security company. The plan was to use them for the battery bank in the main cabin. The box would be located directly underneath the charging/entertainment center. Then I could avoid long cables and it was easier for access. Built a large box that featured space for more batteries or equipment.

I found out my homemade booster battery cables were not up to the job. They were making the voltage jump around erratically. I think one of the reason was the wire was not soldered to the eyelids or lugs. (Have to work on that for next time). Fixed the issue by spending $45.00 for a pair of  factory made 4 ga. battery cables.


Wind Turbines
The small, 100-watt wind turbine is working fine after 5 years. The PVC blades are in good shape and every year, I lower the tower and pump grease into the gear system. The roof top mount help up pretty good, but I’m concerned how the rooftop ice moved the base around.

Solar Panel Mount- Figured out a nifty mount for the solar panel. Used a satellite dish mount. Fun project and it works really well. The only downside was the mount can hold lightweight solar panels.

Battery Box- spent some time planning the second battery box, building and figuring out an effective passive venting system. Some say venting isn’t required, especially the low amps I’m producing, but it’s a piece of mind knowing there will no hydrogen build up.

Have a few more items to add, but I’m waiting on some pictured. Thanks for visiting the Cedar Workshop website!


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Appliances,Food,Heat and Cooling

Part 3 – Solar Panel and a Modded Electric Cooler

23 Jul , 2015   Video

DIY solar panel

Frankenstein DIY 60 watt solar panel


Inside fan turned “Off”

Ran some tests on the modified 12 volt Coleman Cooler in the first weekend of July.
It just happened to be one of the hottest weekends in our area. Afternoon day temps hovered around 28*C or 81*F and it was a dry heat. Living on the West Coast, I’m just not use to that type of heat. I’m so glad the lake is nearby and I can go for a swim to cool the core off.

To power the fans and the cooling Peltier module, I pulled out the old 60 Watt Frankenstein solar panel I made a few years ago. It was easy to set up, but it may not produce another amperage for the Peltier module. But this was for testing only. Hooked it up with some basic alligator clamps and switched on the power.
For testing the temperature inside the cooler, I used the refrigerator/Freeze thermometer from the Frost King Ice Box.

Starting temperature was at 80° F

At 12:17 (high sun) Checked the cooler. It read to 70°F. Not really impressive.  So I repositioned the solar panel to get maximum sun.

3:30 pm – The thermometer read 80*F. What, back to the starting point? Could it be the lower solar output. The fans were turning, but not enough juice for the Peltier module.

Inside fan turned "On"

Inside fan turned “On”

5:00 pm- No change, 80°F. Almost no sun in my location (It was hiding behind the trees)

What I did next, was hook the modded Coleman Cooler right up to four, 6-volt deep cycle batteries. The batteries would produce the amperage required for the Peltier.

7:00 pm- Slightly cooler by 2 degrees, but that could be due to the ambient temperature.

The end result: Not a total fail. Some upgrades will be necessary to get it running properly. I would conclude the bottleneck is the size of the wire/fuse on the power plug. The wire and fuse set up was taken from a DC power vacuum for a car. Judging by the size of the motor, it only needs an amp or two to make it run. A YouTube reader suggested a power cord from a heated seat mat or DC heater fan. They are rated at 8 amps, which will provide the necessary amount of power to run the Peltier cooling module. I’ll keep my eyes open for one at my local recycle center and then make another video.


Starting temperature

3:30pm temperature

3:30pm temperature

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Appliances,Food,Heat and Cooling

Removing the Cooler Gizmo from an Electric Coleman Cooler

2 Jun , 2015   Video

This video starts with another treasure found at the local recycling center. In Canada, residents can take bottles, cans, plastic and cardboard into a township recycle center. It’s a volunteer program and unsupervised. It’s a real plus for homeowners who miss the weekly pickup by the city.

On the flip side, many residents use the unsupervised recycle centre to dump off garbage. I can think of a few reasons why, but one of them is the cost to dispose of garbage. In the spring, I took in an old door, melamine shelving, and other stuff. The total weight was 88 lbs and it cost $15.00. What a rip-off, last year it was only $6.00. So, many people don’t want to pay and drop it off. The sad part, the landfill also has a section for free drop off of electronics, batteries, paint cans and more. It’s too bad that people are not aware that their stuff and be properly disposed of at no cost.

To view of cooler

A little dirty, but still might have some life left in it!

So, when I arrived with my bag cans and parked my car, there was a plenty of microwaves, big TV’s, plant baskets, and junk spread around the dumpsters. I spied a dirty cooler at the back of a pile and thought about Solar Burrito’s portable stereo in a cooler hack… hmm. I turn it over and notice it’s in good condition and has a motorized fan to keep the contents cool. I brought it home and looked up the model number on the internet for specs. Found out it was a PowerChill 40 Quart Thermoelectric Coleman Cooler and retails for $149.00 (Canadian funds). It also includes a device called a Peltier module. With the aid of a fan, a large aluminum heatsink, and a Peltier module, it can cool the inside temperature to 4°C or 40°F. The cooler was designed to be connected to vehicle 12 volt DC power plug. As you drive, to your off-grid property, it keeps food/beverages cool while in transport. It’s a clever invention for long distance driving.

Side view of cooling unit

The opening is where the power cord and fuse should be.

Unfortunately for me, a scraper, had cut the 8-foot long cord for the copper strand cord. I went online for a replacement cord and found a PDF manual claiming the PowerChill cooler unit requires 12 volts DC at 8 amps. That is a fairly large draw of power to run 24 hours a day. (It works out to 2,300 watts!) No low setting, the fans are running full blast all the time. When not hooked up to a running car, it would drain a standard battery quickly. I can back up that claim with an experience. When we first purchased the cabin, it didn’t have a refrigerator. We couldn’t afford a propane fridge and lived out of coolers for a year. Eventually, we picked up a Mobi-Cooler on sale from Canadian Tire. The plan was to load it up with food at home, drive the 4 hours to the cabin and then attach it to (2) 12 volt, 70 amp hour deep cycle batteries. It didn’t work. We were lucky to get 12 hours out of the batteries before they were completely drained (and eventually killed the batteries). Those were the learning days.

A repair could be done to the cooler. I have plenty of wire in my stash of electrical parts. I could rig up a DC cord power cord, reseal the cooling unit and flog the cooler on Craigslist for $60.00. The extra money would be appreciated for household bills, but where the fun it that! Why not take it carefully apart and see if it can be used in another location. If it doesn’t work out, I’m back to plan A.

Overhead view of fan

Top view of stock fan and cooling unit

I really wanted to check out how the unit actually works and use in the 1920’s Frost King Ice Box refrigerator. (We currently use the icebox to store beverages and vegetables.) With the fan/module/fan rig on the back, running via two 60 watt solar panel, it should bring the temps down a bit. I think it would be a fun project.

#coolerproject, #colemancooler, #powerchill

Close up of heatsink

Corner view of the stock fan, wires and aluminun heatsink

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Wind Turbine Projects

Cheap DIY Wind Turbine Does Well in Wind Storm

14 Mar , 2014  

DSC02017 PVC blades work great for small wind turbines. Three years have past, the PVC blades on the wind turbine are working just fine, and do well in high winds. A few hours after this video footage was taken, at the testing facility (the cabin), was hit with a massive wind storm. Lot’s of trees were knocked over and roots pulled from the earth. The wind turbine tower didn’t fall over and the turbine provided lots of power to the deep cycle batteries.




Music credit:
Aces High Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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Power generation,Solar Power Projects

Human Powered, Solar Panel Tracker Mount

25 Apr , 2013  

IMG_2257 The short video below shows how I made an adjusted solar tracker from common materials. It can be manually “steered” to follow the 10am – 6pm sun. It can be adjusted vertically and follow the winter or summer place of the sun. This particular solar tracker has been set up for my place. I wish I could get the sun from the morning until night, but, my neighbors trees block most of the morning sun. It would be silly to cut all the trees down. We both like the privacy and shade they offer.

• The solar panels can be “steered” to follow the sun from 12:00 pm to 6:00pm sun. There is a string attached to each “leg” of the panel side. Like the reins on a horse, you just pull one side to steer the panel towards the sun. Once the desired angle is found, the reins are secured to the tree to keep it from turning in the wind.

The solar panel mount can be adjusted for the suns place in the sky. For example, in the winter, the solar panel should be more vertical, like a 60 – 80 degree angle. It will shed the snow more easily and will get a few rays bouncing off the snow. When the summer finally arrives, the panel angle should be adjusted to 45 degrees.(Also depends on your place)

Note: A good guide to go from is to find the latitude you are at and subtract 15 degrees in the winter and add 15 degrees in the summer. Your local library, smart phone or Google Maps should be able to tell you the latitude.

• The solar panel frame was made from left over Cedar deck boards, some angle iron IMG_2256 and door hinges

• Yes, it’s mounted to a tree. Not the best plan, but it died a few years ago from the mountain pine beetle infestation. It can be mounted to a post or the side of a house.

• Aside from one of the legs getting caught on piles of snow. No significant problems and it has been in use for almost two seasons.

• Ideal to hold 1 – 3 home-made 63 watt solar panels.


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Other,Power generation,Wind Turbine Projects

Generate Power from a Hockey Puck!

12 Apr , 2013  

hockey-puck-stator-title-sm1 This video was part of the Garage Door Motor Conversion for Wind Turbine series. Decided to make a stator out of a hockey puck. The stator (in this case, a hockey puck) was drilled with eight, half inch holes. Then 3 sets or rare earth magnets would be inserted into the holes. The modified stator would be insert onto a shaft and slid into the copper wire/housing.

When the shaft turns, like on a wind turbine, electricity will be generated.

This video will show you how to construct a stator from a hockey puck, but, other readily available materials can be used (wood, aluminium, etc).

Note: This was not a fail video. It was an inspiration to go back and fix some mistakes. Part 2 will be coming out soon with positive results.

Aces High Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

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