Palm Trees in southern Florida

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Fall is here

I'm sitting here in northern Georgia, it's late morning the middle of September. I'm outside under cover, clear skies, in the mid 80's having my morning coffee & reading the comics.

A leaf fluttered down next to my computer, it's a shade of yellow & a lot like the others on the ground around me. An up close & personal reminder of what time of the year it is.

During my tour in Chicagoland (CGAS Chicago, 1990-1995) I discovered Tom Skilling, the weather man at WGN TV. He  was  good! When we moved up to Minnesota & got Directv I'd watch his weather forecast just to see what was happening in my area, he was that good.
He said that meteoritical seasons were different than the calendar seasons,  Fall was Sept-Oct-Nov.

It is Fall, the trees seems to know it no matter what the outside temps are as I was reminded this morning..

I'm a west coast boy, besides the ocean smells, there is the wet & the dry seasons... unless you're in Hawaii. There the seasons are hard to pick out.

Then came my 13 year vacation in the upper mid-west, a 4 seasons climate and Fall takes on a special meaning. The nice weather is about done.
Fall means long pants, it means shoes AND socks. Sweat shirts, jackets & maybe even a knit cap.

My friends here tell me that winter is coming, I'll have to "get some winter clothes", "get a coat", "it gets cold".  I'm really not too sure it's any worse than what I had in western WA for that part of the wet season but I'm paying attention.  I went to and took at look at what to expect here.

Besides I still have long pants, sweatshirts, sox, knit cap & a warm jacket. I needed all those last winter (that's what happens right AFTER fall) in Arizona for a day or two.

That leaf that landed on my computer this morning was a reminder to me that winter is coming. FWIW I plan one being in Quartzsite Arizona in January.

Ok, I went camping up in Tennessee the last few days. It wasn't fall by any stretch 30 miles north! No leaves drifting down, just warm & a touch humid... until the last day when the morning went to the low 60's.
Tumbling Creek, it's just over the Georgia/Tennessee border in the Cherokee National Forest.

Our Tumbling Creek, TN camp

Camped with some of the SE GTG people, Cuzzen Dick, & Rae. Leonard with his 40' converted schoolie showed up on his way to North Dakota for the sugar beet harvest. A friend from Ellijay came up too.

Leonard's fine home, he has a jacuzzi bath tub in there! 

It was a good time!!

There is going to be the fall SE GTG here come Oct 8th, it will last a couple of weeks... just sayin.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Solar on a mini-van

I'm going to talk about the solar system on my 2005 Chrysler Town & Country. It's going to be short but will have ten or twelve photos

Various place on the internet people ask about solar for their van or RV. Fairly often I see replies where the adviser has a very different view of solar than I do. When I see thousands quoted as "necessary" I just have to speak up. My system was less than $500.

I thought it would be nice to have what I did written out and some photos of it... Then when I see the question I can write a few words, drop a URL & go do something else

I have a 100w panel on my roof that I bought off craigslist for $90. The solar controller is a Tracer 20 amp mppt that I bought at Amazon for $109. The 12v fuse block was from Amazon & around $32. The two 122 amp hr, 12v batteries were from Walmart, $86 ea ($12 more if you don't  have a turn in, if you buy them in Oregon there is no sales tax).The battery boxes were about $9 ea at Walmart. I bought the 10g dual solar wire from a tent in Quartzsite, 80 cents a ft maybe & I bought 20 feet.  I used 4 sets of NC4 connectors all together ($3 to $6 each set in Quartzsite), just two on the van set up, there others were so I could move the panel & use my 50' 12g extension chord if I wanted the van in the shade & the panel in the sun. I did the remote panel thing in the beginning before the panel was mounted on the van.

The panel is almost hidden in the roof top rack, people have stood by the van as we talked of the solar & I had to point it out to them.

Can't see the panel

Hard to notice if you don't know

Money stuff....
Panel              $90
Controller      $109
Fuse               $32
Battery           $86
(second)         $86
Boxes (2)       $18
Wire               $16
NC4 sets        $20

How much?       $457

Of course there was more, any project costs more but it's still in the neighborhood of $500. Shop around, the controller & fuse box can be had for less today.

This powers two led lights & two 12v outlets plus a 410w inverter (12v to120vac) in case something needs household current.

The 100w panel

Mounted to the roof rack

MC4 connectors

Wires going into the van

The batteries are under the plywood

Ikea cutting mat to insulate the terminals 

View of the batteries in back where the seat used to stow
The 2 batteries in their cases

The solar controller, fuse box & inverter

I did mention using the panel off the vehicle. I made two cables. One hooked to the solar panel & the other plugged into the solar controller, between the two I could run my 50 ft long extension cord. This worked well with very little voltage drop (as measured with my Fluke multimeter)

The left cable to the controller, the right to the panel

I have lights, computer & phone power in the winter desert nights... it's Magic!

Friday, September 2, 2016

The South today...

Reading the title again I realize I can't speak for all "the south", just my part of it.

I've been in "the south" for several months now.
Not a lot of "the south" maybe, but Georgia is still  "the south".  I have also spent some time in Alabama, Missouri & Florida too.  I have impressions of what the south is.

I had a serious talk with a lady who is "born & bred southerner" about my questions & that was helpful.. it caused me set aside at least one preconceived notion that I had about "the south".

What I've seen has been mostly like all the rest of the country, a McDonalds here is pretty much like a McDonalds there as is a Walmart or any of the national chain stores. Best Food's mayo is Hellman's out here, Hardee's burgers looks a lot like Carl's Jr out west but I don't recall seeing a Waffle House restaurant in my travels out west. It seems every small town between here and Atlanta has a Waffle House but it's been some time since I saw a Jack In The Box.

What is different is the amount of water I've seen. 
Water like in rivers, streams, lakes & creeks. Green.. green trees, green grass, green brush & green Kudzu   . Kudzu everywhere in some places...

kudzu covering the bushes

Covering most everything on the hillside

Churches, lot's & lot's of churches. 
A friend in Missouri explained the (rural) churches were built when the buggy ride to church was a big factor in where you went to worship. He was talking about rural churches, there is an abundance of houses of worship in the towns I've seen.

The southern accent is here, usually it's soft and just different enough to say "the south" but it's not been difficult to understand.

The other 'thing' I've noticed is the dollar type stores. Dollar stores everywhere, three different brand of Dollar Stores too, and a number of title loan places. I'm in a semi rural area, not the big city.
As a side note everybody I've met will go to lengths to avoid Atlanta...

Formal & informal flea markets abound! 
None of the local ones are really big but they are all over. There are a couple different 'informal' ones that operate out of a mini-storage. Come the weekend the storage locker door rolls up, table 7 stuff is set out, the 'garage sale' sign comes out & it's open for business. This is not really southern, I've seen it before but I don't recall seeing this this many.

A dollar store in a strip mall

A dollar store sitting by itself off a 2 lane road

I'm thinking with all the dollar stores, thrift shops,flea markets & title loan places that the "the south" that I've seen is a bit depressed.
Maybe it's a lack of jobs? Maybe there is a deeply rooted desire for a bargain & an entrepreneurial spirit?
There are a lot of new cars too. So it's not depressed like some of those boarded up downtowns in Texas but just not real affluent...  The Texas towns were just sad to look at as I drove through.

"The south" has it's quirks from what I've seen, but everywhere has it's quirks. The people here have been watching the same TV and the same Hollywood movies that everyone else has.

I guess I'm just in the modern America, the part called the South.

I do find myself wondering about what I'm going to see when get up the NE part of the country.