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Re: SKarosser Copy Scratch Home build?????

Posted: June 8th, 2020, 3:41 pm
by wonkywheel
Zildjain, (I might have spelled it correct?)
I was able to walk around the door when opening the opposite way but with reflection, it did seem ridiculous to shield the view of the toilet from the camper just to expose it to the rest of the world if the door was open.

The rear door awning is well underway, although a trial fitting showed up problems that need modifying. I would like to be able to have support poles that sit horizontally from the back of the camper but I am finding it difficult to find suitable fixings. I am hoping that this will prevent the awning from being too low obstructing the view from the door but low enough to be a sunshade for the morning sun. With the door open, the support pole will need to be near to the outside edge to miss.
The awning material was only 1500mm wide while the camper is 2000mm...... more sewing then :roll:

Re: SKarosser Copy Scratch Home build?????

Posted: June 13th, 2020, 5:53 pm
by wonkywheel
Warm weather and sunshine encouraged more outside camper work.
While it was cold and wet I did more sewing on the awnings. Not very successful sewing as it turned out. I was struggling to get the bias binding to go around the curvy frill I wanted at the end of the awning. Sort of retro-looking :lol:


I tried doing each frill separately but I'm not altogether happy with the look. Even less if you can spot where I sewed a couple of folded back frills out of position. Still small progress. It's now the width I want I think I know where the stays need to be put. So after a bit of unpicking and remachining, it should do. I might have another go at making the frill in one piece again now that I have a little more practice at working with bias bindings :geek: :lol:

I always intended to enhance the back of the camper with angular finish rather than the funny two steps that I had with the storage boxes at the bottom.
I intended to move the water container from the rear cupboard to under the footrest in the dining area. I needed to be able to fill it from the outside so I thought this modification would allow me to run a water pipe under the outside to keep the inside tidy and have somewhere to put the filler door. All will become clearer later ;)
I welded up a "Y" piece to fit where I wanted an outside panel, screwed it in position, and started to cut some of the fiberglass sheet offcuts to fit. When they are glued and screwed finally in position with an angle edging I am hoping a bit of the vinyl wrap will hide the joins.Image Another bit to fit......Tomorrow????? :roll:


Re: SKarosser Copy Scratch Home build?????

Posted: June 19th, 2020, 10:03 pm
by wonkywheel
I noticed that with the recent overcast skies my small 40 watt solar panel does not manage to keep the voltage up on my leisure battery.
They are both parts salvaged from "Lightning" my now demolished teardrop trailer so I have had my monies worth out of them. The camper has a more powerful radio in it which drives 4 off (40watt max), speakers which when turned up show about 12 amps current draw. The voltage on the tired battery soon falls while I am enjoying a headbanging/ karaoke session while working on the camper. The load connection was ignored on the mppt solar controller as it used to cut off all power to save the battery if there was low voltage. I choose to monitor it myself and just turn the volume down as the voltage falls or reconnect the mains run battery charger.

With my optimistic view, 8-) I expect things to slowly improve and I will be let out into the world again. Instead of creeping around Irchester country park at some ungodly hour in the mornings. If this is the case I will need a better battery and more off-grid charging available.
I have been looking around at the various camping/vanlife/caravanning sites and forums for inspiration. Nearly all seem to say get the biggest that you can afford. :o
My considerations were size, weight, cost, type of construction.
The super-thin flexible type ticked a few boxes being light and easy to stick to the roof but were expensive and there were quite a few negative remarks about there being no cooling air underneath possibly leading to overheating, power drop off, and failure. :o True or not the sort of money they commanded meant I wasn't prepared to find out.
I found that the bigger panels usually ran at a higher voltage than my little controller could cope with so it meant if I had a big panel I would need an equally big controller. I needed a new controller anyway as it had been playing up with the USB socket not working nor the load out.

I settled on a quite large area 320watt panel which I hope will see to all my needs in the foreseeable future. I do have reservations about it as it weighs in at a little over 20kg. All that weight so high up is bound to have a detrimental effect on handling but solve one problem at a time. With any luck, the panel will arrive, intact on Monday with the controller, wiring, cutout, remote control panel etc all arriving later. The panel apparently comes by a specialist carrier?
I would like to be able to tilt the panel at some stage but that will have to wait.

Next months purchase will need to be a couple of 110ah leisure batteries to be able to store all this power, assuming the sun shines :roll:

Pictures as and when :lol:

Re: SKarosser Copy Scratch Home build?????

Posted: June 20th, 2020, 8:14 am
by zildjian
Guessing a move to a softer genre like 'easy listening' with masters like James Last and Mike Samme singers
isn't possible,

played at moderate volume you should be able to enjoy cheerful wholesome songs for many more hours on existing PV set-up :)

The Flexible panels I looked at too initially together with another guy here, but in the event another member beat both of us too it and bought, only to lose it on the road somewhere,
seems the adhesive wasn't up to it, either that or the roof wasn't properly cleaned on application, either way I don't know of anyone that bought any.

Pity actually as the concept seemed a good idea when they came out

Re: SKarosser Copy Scratch Home build?????

Posted: June 21st, 2020, 3:18 pm
by wonkywheel
On some of the other forum sites "Brimble Solar" seemed to get good write-ups so I have gone with them. They were very helpful on the questions I ask them. The new panel and controller are due to be delivered tomorrow by different carriers??
Being almost 1700mm long and just under 1000mm wide It will take up quite a bit of the roof space. Getting it up there might be challenging too as it weighs just under 20 Kg but I have an able-bodied son on call should I need help.

I do have a very diverse appreciation of music but I'm afraid James Last and the Mike Samme singers are a little beyond my taste.
Brahms and Liszt, on occasion and, even enjoy a little Rachmaninoff.

Re: SKarosser Copy Scratch Home build?????

Posted: June 23rd, 2020, 10:55 pm
by wonkywheel
Well, it all arrived on time. There was one snag though. The solar panel was supposed to be delivered to my back gate while the controller and other bits to the front of the house. When the guy rang me and said he would be 10 minutes and deliver to the back gate I thought great. I was quite surprised when he handed me a carton a little larger than a shoebox. I took it down to the house, wiped it all over with anti-bac wipes and was ready to open it when there was a knock at the front door. When I opened it there was the delivery man hiding behind my big panel. He said his sat-nav would not take him to the back. Anyway it slid into he house on its side ok and up to the top of the yard on my trusty skateboard.

I have put it onto the roof of the camper longways to start with to see how it looks/ performs.

Image The image is a bit blurred off the cctv camera due to a connection fault.

I gave the roof a washdown to try to minimize any scratching as I moved it about. It is positioned to be as unobtrusive as possible but it is still visible from the back as the roof vent stops it going any farther forward. At the minute it is only standing on 2 lengths of 25mm box section to lift it off the roof. I am unsure as to whether to fix it directly to the roof or fit it to a mounting frame. The panel framework is quite lightweight but 30mm tall. I am having to consider heat build-up if fixed to the roof. Wind flexing and damaging the panel if frame mounted. I would have liked to have been able to tilt it up to 30 degrees to help catch the winter sun but I'm not sure if this is possible. Talking to others that have tried it they all more or less say it's too much of a bother or too expensive to have it motor driven.
On uncovering the panel for the first time, in the cool morning light, I was getting 49 volts off it. Even with the cardboard in place over the top, I was still getting 26 volts?? The camper is roughly parked in an East-West direction and it was noticeable that the roof vent, when open, cast a shadow on the panel as the sun was setting in the West. Closing the vent resulted in a 2-volt increase from 41 to 43 volts at 8.30 in the evening. Even in the midday sun, the voltage was 42 volts. Down from the initial 49 I think due to efficiency drop off as the black panel was over 40C while the white roof only 27C. Food for thought or just me trying to overcomplicate things. :roll:
Possible more readings with the panel actually standing on the roof with no cooling airflow able to get underneath.
I will be trying the panel the other way around to see if it can be seen from ground level after I have removed my small 40 watt panel.

That's enough out in the sun.
The new controller, which is a 30 amp version will cope with input voltages of up to 100 volts. There is a more expensive version with an lcd screen that will cope with 150 volts but after consulting Bimble Solar they agreed the lesser unit would suffice particularly as I wanted a remote control box and display and would not be wanting to add more panels in series.


I had not taken the larger size of the controller into consideration. It is over twice the size of my original one and with bottom entry terminals it's not going to fit the intended position. :o

Image More Problems.

The intension was to have the batteries under the dining area seats with the charge controller, fused distribution box in the cupboard above. This was to minimize voltage drop in long wires but I might need to rethink that as the cooling fins on the charge controller with its temperature sensor and overheating alarm indicate it could well get HOT. That means its probably best not to stick it in a small cupboard with no cooling air circulation.
A possible alternative could be putting all the electrical stuff in the wardrobe next to the back door. An outside vent to allow cooling and any heat build-up put to good use warming the clothes. The downside is bigger battery cables to cope with potential voltage drop.

Back on it tomorrow. The outlook is improving on being able to get out so I now need to press on as I thought I would have all year :lol:

Re: SKarosser Copy Scratch Home build?????

Posted: June 24th, 2020, 3:56 pm
by wonkywheel
Moving the charge controller has opened up a whole new bag of worms.
I will need to move the fuse box, the direction of wiring, the solar cables will have to come in at the back of the roof on the left-hand side instead of the front right-hand side. :o Quite a few of the wiring runs are already under the wall paneling but I might be able to just blank off what was the power input end without having to remove too much. The new backing board for the controller and fuse block will give me a chance to get it a bit tidier. The battery boxes will have to have a new gas dropouts put in them as I am a little concerned about the possibility of overcharging with all this extra power available. The charge controller should sort all that but the chance of producing hydrogen sulfide gas in the cabin is not what I want to chance.

The relaxing of isolation conditions took me by surprise. With one of my drag racing buddies having purchased a street racer Chevy at virtually the last meeting last year, he has not had a chance to try it out on the strip yet. That is now on the cards for September so my timing is a bit off for a complete rewire of the camper, if I am to go and play.

Re: SKarosser Copy Scratch Home build?????

Posted: June 26th, 2020, 8:41 pm
by wonkywheel
Quite an eventful couple of days.
To start with I was very pleased with the little remote display and decided to fit that first. I choose to fit it without the big box and put the unit flush into the wall above the cooker burners. The wall is 25mm thick with 2mm PVC on both sides. I only wanted a small exit hole on the inside. Just large enough to get the ethernet type connector through. The front face needed a 75mm hole for the display to sink in. I marked both sides for drilling. Large hole first, with the back Pvc taken off, I drilled through both Pvc and 25mm Celotex. Deburred the hole, fitted the display, marked and drilled the fixing holes, and screwed it in position. After a small pause, I returned to put the hole for the plug through the inside Pvc. My aim and positioning were perfect, dead center. I thought the relatively blunt pilot drill would easily go through a 2mm Pvc sheet. It did, all of a sudden, and to my dismay, and cost, drilled most of the wiring out of the connector socket :oops: :shock: :roll:
A new one should arrive on Monday :oops: :?

Fitting the Controller.
The controller is smart. Smarter than me as it seems. It can work with a 12-volt system or a 24 volt one. It then decides what to do with the power available. To work this out you have to connect the battery to it first so that it knows what it is working with. I did then connected the solar panel to the controller but being paranoid about overvoltage I checked the battery voltage with my multimeter. It said it was 16 volts but the lights on the controller said the battery was only just over half full. I gave it time to stabilize then checked again. 18 volts!! :?: :shock:
I emailed Bimble solar and told them my concerns They suggested I disconnect everything, try to draw some power out of the battery then try again. They were as confused as I was. After putting a 55-watt headlamp bulb on the battery for an hour the voltage had only dropped to 15.7 volts I took pictures of the setup and sent them to Bimble solar. They then recommended I tried a different multimeter. You know just the sort of thing you carry a spare. :roll:
I did have a voltmeter in the "control panel" so I took that out and wired it to the battery. !2.3 volts! :lol: That's more like I expected to see. I never expected to have a duff multimeter. I've been using it for years :(
So it was reconnect everything. Battery first then solar and the system is charging up on bulk as it should. 8-) 8-)

Image The controller in its new position in what used to be the wardrobe. I think part of it will be again for a bit of hanging room and as long as I can keep the controller cool enough the extra warmth might be useful for cold clothes.

The battery was moved from the foot box under the table to the storage box under the seat. With a matching one the other side I will need to get a matched pair of batteries to work best with them connected in parallel. The boxes will have to have dropouts in them. The box from which the battery came from and its smaller footrest will need to be rejigged to accept a water container, later. :roll:

I had always intended to keep the workboxes it the top cupboard area as being vertically challenged I cant see to the back of the cupboard unless I'm on a box :lol:
I saw a friend's VW camper that had Tambour doors on the cupboards. Like a roll-top desk (I didn't know what they were called)

Image Two to go on this side

One on the other and just to have things matching I might fit a vertical one for a wardrobe door.

Plans are at early stages for the framework to fix the solar panel down, still looking to be able to tip it up(when stationary and keep it down when moving :D ;) )
I need more aluminium angle to complete that.

Re: SKarosser Copy Scratch Home build?????

Posted: June 26th, 2020, 9:27 pm
by zildjian
Fancy that, a duff multimeter!
I don't think I've had one of those yet, and I keep them until they literally, get run over or something!

Good it's working straightaway though, I included a sizeable isolation switch where cables from panels enter the camper
don't want to plug them in on roof without being able to monitor what happens inside camper
they are producing something almost all of the time regardless of sunshine/cloud

Sliding doors look a good idea

Re: SKarosser Copy Scratch Home build?????

Posted: June 26th, 2020, 10:09 pm
by wonkywheel
There is a din rail screwed to the mounting board ready for some more breakers. They should come with the second display unit :oops:
It will be interesting to see just how well they perform when fitted. I have a snail track for it to curl up out of sight when open. 8-)