The solar panel arrived today. It's about the size and shape that I expected and thankfully doesn't seem to weigh too much.
Obviously, the point of a solar panel is to sit outside and soak up the sun's tasty, tasty rays, converting them into electricity as it does so. But for this to happen I need to figure out how to safely attach it to my balcony, so it doesn't fall and kill anyone.
It has some mounting holes on the back of the frame, so I've got a feeling I'm going to acquire some cable ties and use them to attach it to the railings... But this is getting ahead of myself a little, as I'm still waiting for the other components, and even when I receive the rest of the stuff, most of it isn't waterproof.
That hasn't stopped me playing with it from the safety of my living room, however. After some faff trying to strip the plastic casing from the end of the cables, I discovered that by attaching the red probe to the red wire, the black probe to the black wire, and turning the dial on the multimeter to "V~ 200", I was able to register a value of around 15.6.
Further experimentation resulted in different values, with it dropping to 6.5 when I used an A4 sized book to cover part of the panel, and rising to around 44 when taken outside and pointed at the sun. Of course, I have no idea what this actually means, but learning this stuff is kind of the point.
In addition to the solar panel, I also received the charge controller. I've already gone ahead and screwed the relevant wires from the panel into it - but without a battery being attached it doesn't do anything (either that, or it's broken), so this will need to wait before I can play any further.
Finally, I received my copy of Getting Started in Electronics by Forrest M. Mimms III, but having not had a chance to read it yet, I can't comment on it any further than to say the drawings inside look fantastic.