Monthly Archives: March 2020

How To Improve The Jackery Experience

I’m a huge fan of Jackery Portable Power Stations.  In fact I’m not sure how I ever lived without them.

The pic on the left is the Jackery Explorer 1000 and does it ever pack a punch.  You can look up the specs and how many things it can charge and how many times.   That’s not what this blog is about.

It’s about improving the experience and maybe saving a few dollars along the way.

A device like this lends itself to being used in an outdoor, camping type environment.  There’s not a real need to use one in a home or office that has plenty of outlets unless you are frugal and like to charge your items for free to reduce the electricity bill.  To be frankly honest though, charging your cell phone by portable power station won’t save you that much money but of course every little bit helps.
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Building a DIY Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) Battery for Solar

This project was/is a tiny bit of a mess. But I’m still going to declare it a success but it was fraught with issues.  Issue number one is political.  For some reason the US is not a major supplier, and barely a supplier at all, of high tech Lithium batteries.  They all just about come from China.

I read on a website recently where someone stated that the Chinese had perfected the art form of lying.  That’s a stone cold fact.  Dealing with Chinese companies, manufacturers and shippers and you can expect to wallow in the bullshit at least once.   Enough of that.

So if you want LiFePO4 cells you have to go to China.  I got mine from Alibaba.  They are 3.2v, 200 amp hour batteries.  I bought 4 cells which would equal 12 volts when wired in series.  Total cost with busbars (to connect the cells together) was about $505.  In comparison to buy an off the shelf 12v, 200 amp hour LiFePO4 battery from a supplier would cost nearly $2000.

You also need a Battery Management System.  This cost about $90.

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Jackery Explorer 1000 First Impressions

Jackery has released a new Portable Power Station, the Jackery Explorer 1000.  I’m very familiar with the line as I own the 160, the Honda by Jackery 290, and the 500 already.

I’ve obtained much satisfaction and value from the Power Stations and I keep one on my desk at work and I travel almost nowhere without one in the truck.

I work in places that don’t typically have power such as on the side of military runways and Landing Zones (LZ’s).

I also love to camp and I wouldn’t dream of going out without a Portable Power Station these days.   The 500 was darn near perfect for me and I even found some low wattage AC devices that worked with it such as a 600 watt coffee pot (that works on the 500 watt Jackery) and a low wattage hair dryer among other normal devices that consume way less power.

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Raspberry Pi’s and Solar and Stuff

Venus Firmware

Problem:  My Victron Solar Charge Controller and Victron Battery Monitor are bluetooth only.  This makes it very difficult to observe the status of my solar power system while I am away from home.

 

How I deal with this is to take a laptop and run VictronConnect software on it and then I can VPN into my network and then VNC into the laptop and observe VictronConnect.  It works well 90% of the time with the 10% downtime as being the most important times I actually need to observe it.  And it ties up an entire laptop which must be kept powered on and within bluetooth range of the Solar board.

Solution:  Victron has software or more accurately firmware that emulates their Color Control GX / Venus GX monitoring devices and it runs on a Raspberry Pi.  A Venus GX costs nearly $300 and a Raspberry Pi costs about $30.  It even runs on older Raspberry Pi’s which are even cheaper. I’ll be using a Raspberry Pi 3 for this.

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It’s The End Of The World As We Know It – I Feel Fine

This last week or two has been one of the most bizarre in my 57 years however the chaos all seems confined to Social Media and Media in general.  People are still nice, commerce is still chugging along.  If we didn’t own TV’s and computers we’d never know much was up.

In an attempt to get the REAL story I’ve been creeping on the Police Scanner and the State medical communications.  It’s not been very interesting.  Boring in fact.  If there is a coverup, the people with the radios are covering up their coverup.

Anyway, like REM says, “I Feel Fine”.  Not just figuratively but literally as well.  I’m ready for the whole of humanity to let the crazy out.  I have ample food, a gun with bullets, clean water, communication devices, and alternative power. And most importantly it would seem……..toilet paper.

Bring it on!
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Stopping The Camper Battery From Dying

Problem:  My Camper battery was dying every 3 to 5 days.

The absolute worst thing you can do for a lead-acid battery is to drain it below 50% of it’s fully charged state.  It greatly reduces the number of battery cycles you can obtain if not outright KILLS THE BATTERY.

So I got a deep cycle AGM battery after I KILLED ANOTHER BATTERY. The AGM battery can be discharged to about 20% remaining capacity without reducing the number of cycles or KILLING THE BATTERY.

Even with the new battery after about 4 days the AGM battery would be at about the 50% state. I paid almost $300 for that battery and I ain’t killing this one.  It’s a real PAIN IN THE A** to hook a charger up every few days and even worse in my garage. I won’t go into that but I don’t have enough outlets, something else gets unplugged and backing the truck over the extension cord (which you aren’t supposed to use with a charger) always causes problems.

Why does the battery drain?  Two words.  PARASITIC DRAIN.

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