When I first started this blog I was living in a small two-bedroom flat in the centre of Birmingham. It was great for transport, shopping, and restaurants, but terrible for project work.
The main problems I faced were the lack of space to work, and my inability to make any changes to the property. As much as I might have wanted to put a sensor on the door to check for intruders (read: my flatmate), or drill some holes to put-up a display - I wasn't allowed.
This means that while I was able to temporally sit my solar panel on the balcony to experiment with [1, 2, 3] I wasn't able to use it for anything pratical, which resulted in an ever growing collection of project components that I needed to store somewhere.
This is why I'm so happy that now, just over two years after I first started the blog, I finally have a house in Worcester to call my own, along with a basement, a large garden, and my very own shed.
It didn't take long for me to dust off the aforementioned solar panel and jerry-rig together a basic control panel:
My original battery bit the bullet a long time ago (I think I run it down too much as I wasn't able to charge it again) so I got myself a small 12volt 1.3Ah one from Maplin (RIP), which is hidden behind the shelf guard. It doesn't have much capacity, but it's the only one they had in stock, and at 75% off it was a bargain.
As explained in the book, the multimeter is in-line between the charge controller and battery, and shows how much power is being used (or stored) at that time.
I've proven that it works by running a USB lamp off the provided socket (and allowed a friend to charge his phone via it), but the initial plan is to power these 12V LEDs from it, to provide the shed with light (see below), with a longer term plan of revisiting the other chapters in the zombies book, and implementing them in a more permanent fashion (that's right, my shed is going to have a zombie detector).
What does this mean going forward? Well, a combination of:
- a house which is crying out for smart technologies
- a long-running interest in learning woodworking
- a newly developed interest in house plants and gardening
- and a bunch more space in which to work
...all contribute to more maker projects, which means more blog posts.
Update - I've added the lights
In among the other tasks this weekend (such as stripping the wallpaper in our lounge), I managed to find the hour or so it took to install the lights.
The pack I ordered had 20 modules, so I figured it was worth installing them all. The sticky pad on the back made it super easy to attach to the wood, then some small screws held them in place.
After wiring up the first strip, it was clear they provided more than enough illumination alone, but my sense of compleness was lacking, so I wired up the second strip anyway.
This may end up being a foolish move, as twice the number of LEDs means twice the energy drain, but I'm not planning on using them for long stretches of time (the shed really is only suitable for storage, it's not workshop worthy), and if I forget to turn them off, the charge controller will do it for me when needed to prevent the battery from going overlow.
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