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Barry's lithium powerbox

May 03, 2020 — BarryK

This is a project to build a battery box that is charged from either a solar photovoltaic panel or via the vehicle alternator. I refer to it as a "powerbox". There are many ready-made powerboxes, from highly portable intended for occasional camping trips, that charge from the vehicle's cigarette-lighter socket (as well as solar), to the more permanent-but-still-removable "hard-core" type, that are wired to the vehicle battery.

There are a lot of ready-made powerboxes to choose from on the Australian market. I wrote this short survey, that lists some of these, especially of the hard-core variety: 


Those who want to take the hard-core route, have a choice, either build it in permanently, or as a removable box. The former will be DIY, the latter will be a choice -- ready-made or DIY. If you decide to take the latter path, removable and DIY, I have been this way, and have documented my project. The links that follow are the steps taken in my project...

Barry's lithium powerbox

I will preface by stating that these instructions are how I did it, but are really only intended as a source of ideas for your own design. A "jumping off" point, so to speak, from which you can craft your own creation.


DIY solar water distiller

July 02, 2019 — BarryK

Page created June 16, 2019  

This page has DIY plans for a solar water distiller. This will evaporate brackish or salty water and output pure distilled water. It is powered entirely from the sun, and is very simple to construct, using materials that are expected to be safe for drinking, and long-lasting.

EDIT July 02, 2019:
I decided to remove these plans, as not happy with the efficiency. Currently thinking about a new design with potentially higher water output. To read about progress, see my blog;  

Tags: nomad

Solar power

May 19, 2019 — BarryK

Over the years, I have collected a few photovoltaic solar panels of 80W rating or greater, used in camping expeditions, as well as several small panels used for hiking. The prices have been declining, which is good news, and there are now lighter choices, which I appreciate.

The objective of this page is to document the current setup as a "grey nomad", traveling by car, and often staying at remote campsites without 240V AC power. I need to be able to power fridge, TV, computer, lights, etc.

Firstly, the choice of solar panel...

Photovoltaic solar panels

I prefer a folding panel, as I endeavour to park in the shade, and run a cable to where there is sunshine. Also, with a folding panel, I can reorient it during the day, to maximize energy collection.

One of the early folding panels, purchased 2015 or 2016, is a Powertech brand, rated at 120W. It weighs 13kg, which I found difficult to lug out of the car at times when my back was giving trouble. There has been some effort to find lighter, and higher-power panels, the latter because I found the "120W" panel to be not quite enough.

In 2019 I have been testing my large panels, see these blog posts: 

more to come...


Water desalination

April 15, 2019 — BarryK

Several years ago, I was given a solar water distillation panel. This measures 1.1 by 1.1 metres, and at the time, although I thought it was pretty cool, did not have a use for it, and it got stored in the shed. fast forward to 2019, and I can envisage how it could play a part when camping for extended periods in remote areas. Here is a blog post, showing it assembled:

I have received some PDFs from Martin, the Production & Technical Manager at F-Cubed in Australia.

My panel is the C1000, and is now only manufactured for bulk orders. That means, anyone who wants to buy one right now, will have to choose either the C2000 or C3000. The former is 2 metres long, so could fit on the roof of a vehicle. A sliding tray to hold it, might have to extend out from the roof-rack somewhat.

The C2000 is a much better choice anyway, as the output is at least twice the C1000, better suited to two or more people.

Martin provided some information for the performance of the C1000 panel in Perth, Western Australia, my home. I can expect from 3.3 litres per day in winter, up to a peak of 6 litres mid-summer. But, the panel can also harvest rainfall, and for Perth that will be about 2.7 litres mid-winter, to 0.3 mid-summer.

Add the two together, and we get 6.5 litres mid-winter and 6.3 mid-summer. That is pretty good.

Another invaluable piece of information, was the required input flow rate for the C1000 panel. This is 2 litres per hour. So, it seems that a 20 litre container would do very nicely for gravity feed. I have such a container, plastic collapsible, from Bunnings.

Another important piece of information is the lifetime of the panel, 10+ years. The transparent plastic film top and bottom is very thin, and I would expect that to perish. Apparently, the panel is serviceable, so perished parts can be replaced.