Category: solar power

Tues. Aug. 16, 2022 – and away we go!

Hot, humid, chance of rain… and all that noise.   It was a bit cooler yesterday than it has been, so maybe summer is winding down.  On the other hand, it was still 82F at midnight.

Got the kids off to school, kinda.   Turns out the bus drives by, then picks up some other kids, and returns to pick up mine.  As it was 20 minutes late when it passed the first time,  we didn’t wait.   Kids had a good first day.

I did some auction stuff then went shopping.   Dropped a bunch of money at Lowes on plumbing stuff for the BOL, then hit up Costco.   Dropped a bunch of money there, but got a bunch of meat too.  Freezers are full again, until I move more to the lake.

Today I’ve got auction pickups, home and rent house maintenance, and some other errands to run, but first D1 needs to have her braces checked.   That takes up most of the morning, by the time I’m back home. Oh well. Poor planning to schedule the appointment during the school week, when we could have done it last week, but we are getting near the end of her treatment.  ‘Bout time to get D2 started.

One of the auction items I picked up last week was a solar inverter.   Solar for the BOL is moving up the list.  I just have to figure out how all the pieces work together, and find the time to assemble what I have.   Seems like it should be more straightforward than most people online make it out to be.   Hmm.  Lotta things like that.


The other thing I have to do is some auction listings.   I’ve got some high value stuff just sitting here, getting older, without being listed.   Keeping up with listings is probably the hardest part of reselling, but there isn’t any “selling” without listing.   Seems like there is always something more important to do though.

Dinner yesterday was all from stores.   Sesame chicken “simmering sauce” from HEB, costco chicken from cans, and instant rice.   Came together pretty quickly and tasted good.  Every bit got eaten, and my wife said she’d eat it again…  Starting with the packaged food cuts prep time considerably, reduces cook time dramatically, and makes it easier.  All of those are good things in a disaster, or just when you can’t be bothered to cook from complete scratch.   All of the elements of the meal store for a long time too.

Bulk ingredients are great, and are an integral part of any long term plan, but consider some meals that use less time and energy for the times when you are short of both.

Then stack it up!


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Wed. June 30, 2021 – summer is flying by

Hot and humid, chance of rain. We did get rain yesterday, and sun, and heat (but not terrible heat). Today should be more of the same.

Spent the day mostly indoors, doing a bunch of stuff I’ve put off too long. Paid my toll invoices for driving around without toll tags in my new truck. Put the toll tag in the truck. Did a bunch of other paperwork stuff. Played with the puppy.

Today should be a bit more active. I have to do an auction pickup, and take both kids for their Girl Scout Camp physicals. I’ve got other auction stuff to do too. I was sorting through some stuff to sell in one of the local auctions last night. She’s got a guy who buys all of one particular item that she lists, and I’ve got a bunch of them. She’s waved me off on general items since she has a huge listing backlog, but maybe I can squeeze a dozen of these in. While going through that box of stuff, I might also have found a really good score. I’ll share with the guy who gave me the box though, I’d feel bad taking it all, it’s that good a score, and there were other things in the box that should bring good money on their own.

Part of the fun of thrifting/estate/garage/yard sale hunting is the treasure hunt aspect. You literally don’t know what you will find, and sometimes you do find the treasure.


Got my FCC license for GMRS about 10 hours after I applied. It’s a “pay the fee and get the license” application, and the license covers your whole family. The FCC isn’t issuing actual hard copies anymore, they just send a link to a pdf. I guess there is very little intrinsic value in the paper, that would make it worth forging. In any case, I’m current for GMRS again. FWIW, I got a new license rather than renew my lapsed one. There were two additional hoops to jump through and a huge fee ($210) to bring my old one current, so I just got a new one ($70 for 5 years) instead.


There are a lot of people that would make arguments against paying for the GMRS license, working from at least 3 different points of view. Don’t care. I don’t want to give them (.gov) that handle to use against me.


There are a lot of lists out there. My radio stuff puts me on one or more. My CERT training put me on another. My previous work clients put me on yet more lists. I’m a blogger, which probably puts me on a list. I am on lists with HPD and our Constable’s office, and the associated alumni groups. Purchasing certain items with background checks put me on a list. Visa and Mastercard probably maintain lists based on my purchase history. Amazon certainly does, and likely collaborates with .gov by compiling and selling lists. My school district has me on at least 4 lists. I’ve been to China twice so I’m on lists there, and I’m certain the US State Dept. has me on lists because of my travel to the middle east and the middle kingdom. I’m on a list in Canada, I had a work permit there for several years. I was working on a project subject to ITAR and had to go through that paperwork – that’s another list. At one point in my miss-spent youth, I’m sure I was on some other agencies’ lists as a “known associate”. There may even be criminal enterprises that have me on a list, if they do that sort of thing.

Don’t let the fact that you’ll end up on a list keep you from doing something. There are lots of us on lists, and the more there are, the more noise there is to get lost in. Use the lists to your advantage. I have access to more training activities now that I’m on a vetted list with HPD and the Constable’s Office. The CERT training is very broad based, and definitely worth trading for a spot on a list. So is ham radio. Medical training likewise.

If everyone’s the ‘biggest risk to the US’ then no one is.

Of course, be aware of when you really DON’T want to be on the list, and try to conduct at least part of your life so you don’t get on lists. Especially when it comes to stacking, you don’t want to be on the list of resources to be plundered. And since local is the new hotness, be very careful about getting on your neighbors’ lists… and consider making a few of your own.

You can think of the lists while you’re stacking.


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Thur. June 10, 2021 – wouldn’t it be nice to get something done?

Hot and humid. Yep, we’re in that part of the year. This opening paragraph will be an almost unbroken litany of hot and humid that will occasionally be broken by severe weather. Somewhere in the low to mid 90s yesterday, and somewhere in the low to mid 90s today. Humidity in the same range, 75 – 90 %RH. We didn’t get rain yesterday, and there isn’t supposed to be any today, which is a nice change.

Can I just say that I don’t like people in my house, or in my kitchen? I don’t like them moving my stuff around. And if they want to cook, they should frakking cook, not just make a mess and then hand ME stuff to cook. It was tasty, but it took 3 times as long as it should have, and wasn’t what I’d have chosen, given that we ate the same dish just a few days ago. Of course that was a prepared meal from costco and I just had to heat it in the microwave and make some rice to go with it.

I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective. Daughter one did get to spend the day in the kitchen with grandma. Of course because g-ma likes the idea of doing these things more than the actuality of doing them, there was more frustration and yelling than I would have liked. The kicker for me though, this was a recipe from a magazine she’s made once before, not some family treasure. There are family treasures, but I guess we won’t get to learn them…

Puppy was very entertaining. He is learning to play with toys and it’s as cute as it sounds. Got outside in time more than once, so progress is being made with housebreaking too. He goes in for shots and initial checkup this morning.

After that, I have things to pick up. I’ve got the one item from last week, and some hobby and household stuff from this week. There were a lot of things I didn’t bid on this week and a couple I’m still watching. There is a 300w Jackery “generator” and a similar setup at 600w from another company. I’ll never consider a battery and inverter to be a “generator” no matter how it’s packaged. Handy, no doubt about that, but it’s not generating energy. It does look like a good solution for someone that doesn’t want to or can’t ‘roll their own’, and it’s cheaper than the GoalZero. If it goes cheap enough, maybe I’ll win the bid. If not, the inverter and batteries in the garage will have to do.

I will suggest that you get something to turn battery power into 120v, even if it’s just a relatively cheap inverter with alligator clips to attach to your car battery. I’ve got a small one in each vehicle, and several in the stacks. There might come a day when being able to plug in some device becomes critical. And if nothing else, it’s another tool in your box.

With that, I’ve got kids to feed, and doggies to take to the vet, and I better get started with my day.

Stack something!


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Fri. Dec. 18, 2020 – one week ’til Christmas.

Cold and dry or maybe cold and damp.  But certainly cold.

Cold all day yesterday but above freezing by mid morning.

I spent the afternoon doing pickups that I was going to do today, so that I can go to my client’s house today instead.  And I would really like to drop off a couple of bins, and pickup some stuff, but that auction house has pickups for yesterday’s auction and they’ll be busy.

I’ll also try to get my expired ID exchanged for current for the Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association today.   The training officer will be close to somewhere I will be driving by, and is willing to make the exchange.

It will be a busy couple of days today and tomorrow.

On my way home yesterday I stopped in the Goodwill Outlet.  In the weird items category, I grabbed two new sealed tubs of Cascade dishwashing pods.  These are the very same ones I buy normally.  At ~$3 each, that was a pretty good deal compared to $19 each in the store.  I grabbed a dozen DVDs for me, and a dozen name brand ladies’ purses for the auction with the money I saved.  I should make good money on the purses, they’ve been selling really well.

The batteries I picked up will add to my future solar bank.  I now have 4 or 5 identical 65AH batteries, 3 or 4 identical 55AH batteries, and a mix of others mostly car or truck batteries.  I’ve got a 100w panel, and 70 panels at 10w.  I’ve got a couple of big inverters.  Still need charge controllers though, as the one that I have is NFG.  Once I have all the pieces, I’ll start on cobbling some sort of system together.  Or maybe 2 or 3 systems right next to each other.  Future project though.

If CWII breaks out and the Monkey Wrench Gang goes to work, solar and supplemental energy will be really important.  And if not, it will be an interesting project that I can use to run the air conditioner in my garage.

Cisterns for water, local solar and batteries, these are current tech and part of everyday life in places like Cancun Mexico.  I think we might see them here too, and too soon.  So I’ll keep stacking the stuff to make that work.

Keep stacking the stuff you think you’ll need.



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Thur. Dec. 17, 2020 – hace frio hoy!

Cold.  Damp.  But maybe no rain, and maybe some sun.

Yesterday was overcast and cold until late in the day when the sun finally peeked through the clouds.  Didn’t do anything outside.  Didn’t get much done period.  What little I did do was needful, but it wasn’t my most productive day.  It was 34F when I went to bed.

So today I’ll be visiting my client.  He’s got a bunch of stuff that was working after my last visit that isn’t working anymore.  I’ll be troubleshooting and moving gear around.

Before that, I’ll going to maybe do a bit of in person shopping.  I’m hoping to pick up my prescription in the store, and there are things I would like to have in the fridge.  We’ll see how much of the list I get done around the house first, then getting ready for my site visit, then maybe the store.  Once I head to my client’s house, I’m there until dinner.

Friday will be full of pickups.  I got some Christmas presents, and a bunch of batteries for my solar project.  I grabbed a handheld ham handie talkie too at one of the auctions.  I really didn’t get too much radio gear this year.  I guess that’s a blessing with the Hamfest being canceled.

So much to do, IRL, for the Holidays, at my secondary, with auction selling and buying, and I’m falling behind because I’m just not as motivated as I was.  Mild depression?  Who knows.  This is certainly the time of year for it, and the year has been heaping on reasons in spades.  You could describe the change in mask and stay at home compliance as a sort of ‘cabin fever’ too.  Whatever, if I’m affected, lots of other people must have it worse.  If you’re feeling depressed, you’re not alone, and there is help out there, and right here for that matter.  Talking seems to help, and is the usual prescription.

I always feel better looking at the stuff I’ve put away to secure my family’s future.  I’ve got stacks of stuff to get rid of, true.  But I’ve got stacks of stuff to get us through what’s already started, and will be a long time finishing.  The trick is knowing what to stack.   Food and ways to prepare it, water and ways to purify it, shelter and ways to defend it, health and welfare materials and the knowledge to use them, these are ALWAYS good to have.  Keep stacking these and you’ll probably be alright.


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Sun. Aug. 16, 2020 – same old same old, but with better music

Hot hot hot.  Humid.  So humid.

Saturday was both kinds of miserable, hot and humid.  So of course I had outdoor work to do.  I picked up the pecans in the back yard- all waste from the squirrels eating them before they’re ready.  And the dog bombs.  Then cut the grass.   With breaks, that took a couple of hours.

I hung a new solar motion light on the back of the garage.  LED and lithium batteries are huge improvements over the one it replaces.  The old one will get a new battery and be redeployed somewhere else, even though it’s lead acid an incandescent light bulbs.  This will be the second battery replacement.

I also made ready a new motion LED light to replace my current incandescent floods in the back yard.  They’re about to fail, and I don’t see the benefit of putting two new incan lamps in them.  I did have to cut out the motion sensor, as I just want these lights to be switched.  Since I got them super cheap at auction, there’s just a bit more work to do.  It’s a simple matter of clipping 2 wires, and it’s done now.   Unless they aren’t bright enough, or cause flickering in the cams, or noise in the RF band, I’ll put them up soon.  Maybe today.  I’ll save the incans for a bit until I’m sure I like them.  They’ll be a bit cheaper to run at 40 watts total, instead of 200w, which was down from the 600w the fixtures came with.

Speaking of auctions, I won a couple of big batteries for my solar system last night.  They are 12v 65AH SLA batteries and I got 2.  They are supposed to be new, sitting on the shelf.  Before fees I paid $40 each.  They should be a good match for my big inverter, and will motivate me to get some panels up, and a charge controller for them.   I missed a bunch more because I was eating dinner and not watching the bids.  (4, NIB, at 12v and 55AH went for $35 each.  I was crying when I realized I didn’t get to raise my bids.)

I also got some really heavy wire that should be good for battery connections, and some other industrial stuff like a lifetime supply of wire wheels for the benchtop grinder.   I clean up a lot of rust, so I use up a lot of wheels.  I should be good for a long time now.

Today I’m hoping to get a few more things knocked out around the house and garage.  I’m sure it will be hot, so I’ll need breaks indoors to cool off.

The insurgents in Portland, Chicago, Atlanta, and elsewhere aren’t cooling off, in fact the conflicts are heating up with some people starting to push back.  CWII could be about to go hot.  What do you think the elections will look like if there is martial law in a dozen cities?

Keep stacking.  Keep training.  Keep your head on a swivel.


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Friday, 6 January 2017

09:52 – The cold weather is moving in. We’re expecting 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) of snow over the next couple of days, with the low temperature Sunday evening to be 8F (-13C). And, as nearly always, a stiff breeze and gusty winds.

In accidental prepping this week, I doubled our PV solar capacity. Back in early November, I ordered a Renogy 400 Watt 12 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit with Wanderer. When we were de-cluttering the garage Tuesday, we finally opened that package, which was a box about 2×4 feet plus and a foot or so thick, weighing close to 90 pounds. Inside that outer box, we found two slip-fit thinner boxes, apparently identical, each of which obviously held two of the four solar panels. We opened one, and indeed found two solar panels and nothing else. I assumed, foolishly as it turned out, that the second internal box was identical to the first and that therefore we were missing the other components (charge controller, cables, connectors, etc.) that were supposed to come with the starter kit.

So Wednesday I called Amazon Business tech support and spoke to a very helpful woman named Diana. Based on shipping weights, she agreed with me that there must have been a second box, and couldn’t figure out what had happened to it. So she shipped me a replacement solar starter kit and said just to have UPS pick up the initial partial shipment. Amazon shipped it that day. Then yesterday as we continued cleaning up and organizing the garage, we opened the second internal box from the initial shipment, which (like the first box) looked large enough to contain only the two solar panels. But in fact it also included the rest of the components. placed against the back of one of the solar panels.

I talked to Barbara about it, and said that I’d intended to order a second kit this year, so why not just keep the second kit. She agreed, and I emailed Diana to confess my mistake and tell her just to charge our credit card for the replacement shipment as though it were a new order. That order is to arrive today, so we’ll now have 800W worth of PV solar panels, two Renogy Wanderer PWM charge controllers, and associated cabling and connectors.

The Wanderer charge controller supports four panels feeding a 12VDC battery bank, or eight feeding a 24VDC battery bank. I haven’t decided yet whether to configure it as a dual 12V system or a single 24V system. There are advantages either way, and of course I could if necessary reconfigure it on-the-fly.

But what really matters is that 400W of PV panels was marginal for our emergency needs, while 800W should more than suffice. Renogy claims that “ideal output” of the four-panel setup is 2,000 Wh/day, which obviously assumes five hours/day of full sunlight with a non-tracking mount. Taking into account cloudy days, losses in cabling and the inverter, and so on, it’s much safer to assume actual output at 1,200 Wh/day. With eight panels, that gives us 2.4 kWh/day, which will suffice to let us use our well pump normally, provide minimal LED lighting, communications, etc.

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