I do not know where to start...

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by UnityInDiversity, Apr 13, 2015.

  1. UnityInDiversity

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 13, 2015
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    Things I can start with:
    1. I am homeless. I rely entirely on my ability to scrounge and the generosity of others. A solution that requires money is of very little use to me.
    2. I have a very basic knowledge of circuitry and electricity (I'm not horribly inept) but I do need ungeekified instruction ... at least to start.

    As hard as I try I can not escape the need for electricity so my problem becomes how to obtain it since I am not likely to find a random outlet in my little slice of paradise; what I do have is sunlight and gobs of it (I live in Florida) so my most logical solution is solar.

    I have a fresnel lens, poached from an old TV. It is partially mounted in a frame very similar to the old moveable classroom chalkboard that could be flipped from one side to the other, a handful of tiny solar cells from solar walk lights and some scraps of wire. How do I safely go from solar cell to energy? What parts am I missing? Any ingenious ideas for scrounging missing parts?
     
  2. Veracohr

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 3, 2011
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    What do you need to power?
     
  3. UnityInDiversity

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 13, 2015
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    This project is for charging the endless AA and AAA batteries I use for flashlights etc. as well as my cell phone and my portable DVD player if possible. I have another idea in the works for larger devices...
     
  4. R!f@@

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 2, 2009
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    Are they rechargeable AA or AAA cells ?
     
  5. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    So you are homeless but you are concerned about charging your cell phone and your DVD player. Me thinks that perhaps your priorities need revisiting.
     
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  6. cmartinez

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 17, 2007
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    You have the vocabulary of an educated person... how far did you go in school?
     
  7. UnityInDiversity

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 13, 2015
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    I graduated from high school and got through two and a half semesters of college before I had a nervous breakdown which brings me to where I am now; homeless. I am in the process of starting a homestead farm literally from the ground up and there are a great many things on a farm more that I expected which require electricity. The project I mentioned is a basic one just to get back into the basics from which I hope to be completely off of the grid so that I do not have to deal with judgmental people that do not bother to know the back story before they make hurtful remarks.
     
  8. UnityInDiversity

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 13, 2015
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    Right now I am dealing with non-rechargeable. This project originated with the want to go rechargeable and the sticker shock related to the transition.
     
  9. cmartinez

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 17, 2007
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    I don't judge you... but I'd suggest you make it a priority to somehow finish your education... Of course you first have to survive and all... but every action you take must point to that direction... otherwise you'll never climb out of the situation that you're into.
     
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  10. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    They are called "non-rechargeable" for a reason. Attempting to recharge them can result in them exploding or catching fire. It IS possible to extend their life, but the hassle factor isn't worth it to most people (you might be an exception). You can't run it until it's dead and then recharge it. For a flashlight use you would need to recharge it for twelve hours or so after every four hours or so of use. And you have to have a circuit that properly controls the charging current -- otherwise you can have them explode or catch fire.
     
  11. dl324

    Distinguished Member

    Mar 30, 2015
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    All you need is something to store the solar power, e.g. a rechargeable battery. The fresnel lense will concentrate the sunlight, but it may not be necessary if you find enough solar cells. Most solar powered lights have NiCd or NiMH batteries to store energy until the light is needed (controlled by photocells); you should add them to the parts you salvage.

    You'll need to wire enough solar cells in series (to get an appropriate voltage) and parallel (to get enough current). A lead acid battery is typically used to store energy. From that, you can charge other rechargeable batteries, or power devices directly with an appropriate voltage regulator.

    Another option is a generator; just about any salvaged motor with windings intact will do. You can use wind, water, or other mechanical energy to run it.

    You can Google to find out how some have gone off-grid; but most will have significant investments in solar arrays, storage batteries, and inverters (DC to AC converters).
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2015
  12. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    You're wasting your time chasing a false dream. You have bigger problems to solve than futzing around with solar cells. They cannot and will not supply enough power to have any significant impact on your life, certainly not to warrant the time spent with them.

    If you get a larger panel, 10W or more, it might be worth your time. But until/unless you do, I suggest you invest in more rechargeable batteries and a way to charge a lot of them when the opportunity becomes available. Or work for a reliable recharging "station". Then direct your energy to the bigger things.
     
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  13. Dr.killjoy

    Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2013
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    I would look into picking up a Solar Battery pack for the cell phone ..I would pick up a couple just so you can use one and have the others charging in the sunlight .. How are you getting power now and how do you have access to the internet ????I don't mean to be rude or start problems.. How do you plan on being off grid with being homeless???
     
  14. blueroomelectronics

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jul 22, 2007
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    Most major cities have internet terminals in their libraries. They also have AC outlets some even have USB outlets so you can charge your gear during the day. Solar won't work at night plus how does someone protect their belongings when they're living on the street?

    As mentioned you need a good solar cell setup, often large enough that it'll be noticed and possibly stolen.
     
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  15. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    I would think that the Fresnel lens set up he has would invite similar interest. But he mentioned trying to homestead farm. I don't know how that works. Around here that sounds like it would involve squatting on someone else's property long enough without them knowing it to then be able to claim that you own the property. Worked for a lawyer up in Boulder a number of years ago.
     
  16. UnityInDiversity

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 13, 2015
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    I know the basics of electronic device safety. I am not a moron. What I am trying to do is reconcile my need for power with my earth friendliness since I can not find an appropriate way of disposing of my used batteries and if someone says "in the garbage" well...let's just say that is a VERY bad idea.
     
  17. UnityInDiversity

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 13, 2015
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    Ok. so we are getting somewhere. Finally! Thank you!!! This is the kind of information I am looking for. As for my mini-producers, they serve a purpose as well since I never really got past the very basics with my dad...some 20 years ago... ...practice makes perfect...
     
  18. UnityInDiversity

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 13, 2015
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    Ok. First, I am a SHE. Second, the owner of the property knows I am there and does not care; third, the issue of theft has been well handled since some enterprising drug addict thought they were going to steal my bag that carries all of my technical devices that I apparently should not have since I am homeless and apparently homeless people have no past and are not entitled to own anything of worth. Last but not least, I am sick and tired of being told that my priorities are messed up. Yeah, I am educated but being educated does not make one capable of holding a job. I am already thoroughly irritated that I cannot manage to hold a job, earn an income and support myself. I do NOT need an arrogant butthead to rub my face in it as well!!!
     
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  19. joeyd999

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jun 6, 2011
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    Pot, meet kettle.
     
  20. UnityInDiversity

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 13, 2015
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    On to bigger and better things. Batteries or capacitors. Which is more safe? Keep in mind that I live in Florida and it stays damp here.
     
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