good sun, terrible menudo, sore feet, water monsters

solar harvest

Forecast said foggy today, but it’s been completely clear since sun-up.  If it holds up this could be the first “full pull” charge in 10 days.


There’s a Latinx subpopulation in Newport, and a few Mexican restaurants.  One claimed “menudo every day” which to me is like a red flag to a bull.

The whole experience was pretty  bad, but the menudo was tragic.  I think it was just their pozole with some lovely honeycomb tripe and una pata thrown in.

Small bowl, $14 FFS.


Dog and I do a lot of walking, and I did something to my feet in the last couple of days. I think it was a few trips up/down a long steep roadway 2 days ago that did it.   Not an unnoticed injury from an errant step or hole, as it;’s the same in both feet.

They are stiff and they hurt like they are half-cramped.  I hobble pretty good when I sit for a while but after a few minutes they are just uncomfortable.  I was walking in sneakers and may switch to hiking boots today to see if it helps.

water anomalies

One of the places I was hobbling walking yesterday was along the Newport pier area.   I saw something brownish break the surface and thought it might be a sea lion’s head crowning.  I’ve seen them do that in the immediate area.

When it came back up I realized it was pulsing:  it was a jellyfish floating right at the surface.  I hadn’t seen any jellies here so I watched for a while.  Those things are weird.

I walked a ways down the pier and saw a bunch of them in the shallows.  There are reflections and zoom issues but hopefully you can make them out:

I assume jellies don’t have a plan to go anywhere specific, although since some have photo- and other receptors they might be able to orient and control their depth in the water column.

Apparently their locomotion is hyperefficient:

…jellyfish have been shown to be the most energy efficient swimmers of all animals….  Muscles are used for the contraction of the body, which creates the first vortex and pushes the animal forward, but the mesoglea is so elastic that the expansion is powered exclusively by relaxing the bell, which releases the energy stored from the contraction….

Jellyfish achieved a 48 percent lower cost of transport (the amount of food and oxygen consumed, versus energy spent in movement) than other animals in similar studies.


skies continue to clear

Even though I cannot tell the difference with my eye/memory, the particulates must be clearing.  At 10:38am (two hours before solar noon) the solar is pulling in 99.28w.

Update:  at 12:38p (same time as previous days) the solar was making 131.54w.  Yes!

NOT recommended: Renogy Rover Elite solar charge controller

Reasons not to get involved with the Rover Elite controllers from Renogy.

  1.  the setpoints are unconfigurable, except for the Absorption setting in Li mode
  2. even in that mode Vabs is settable only in .2v increments
  3. the cable interface (or chip behind it) is nonstandard for Renogy (and its sources).  The external display for it costs more than the options on other Renogy controllers (surprise!).  It does not offer any more info that the limited set on the unit’s display.  Example:  no way to see panel amps.
  4. it costs more than the 2210AN that is highly configurable and supports normal external meters/dongles/etc

Why did Renogy do this?

Continue reading “NOT recommended: Renogy Rover Elite solar charge controller”

battery checkup

A few days ago I noted the tall conifers were impeding my ability to get a full charge on the SLAs.    I ended up setting Vfloat == Vabs to get more absorption time and let endAmps drop further.


After four charging days of eternal absorption endAmps finally fell back down to normal levels and was still dropping slowly.  This suggests (but does not prove) there was no permanent loss of capacity.

I’ll keep the controller configged this way for the near future to see what happens.     I do not have the option (or desire) to upgrade to a top-tier controller with serious endAmps monitoring.  The mid-range Victrons’ adaptable absorption feature is reported to get confused with “false sundown” events and can short-stroke Absorption.  Then I’m in the same situation only with less money.

my WAG (wild ass guess) about what was going on

In general,

  1. Slow charging extends Bulk and truncates Absorption.   In my normal open-air camping the somewhat overpaneled system (2:6:1) starts making power quite early.  there’s not a lot of power available at those solar angles, but it’s something coming in rather than nothing.  I think this slow, gradual charging was making for short absorption that fit in the 180min window.
  2. Fast charging  makes for quicker bulk and longer absorption.  In this case the sun was largely blocked until it was quite high in the sky, about 11am.  Bulk was shorter and Absorption would have been longer but it was chopped off by my controller’s 180min max.

solar charge controller analogies

I was in a weird mood today:

PWM is like a turtle on its back when battery voltage is low. It struggles until it can get back on its feet, after which everything is fine. Adding in isolator charging turns the turtle over and onto his feet.

Example: When the battery is 10.5v a 100w Renogy poly {on PWM} would make a maximum of 59.91w (5.63A x 10.5v). At 12.1v it would make max 68W. At 13v it makes max 73w.

MPPT is a weeble that can’t get flipped onto its back, but costs 3x as much.


backchannel: solar calculators

from this old post I found while Googling a different topic:

I have about 364 watt [daily use] total. I don’t know how accurate that is becuase im guessing on hours used and wattage of leds but 364  is what i inputed.  Alt e gave me 300 watts panel, 310 ah battery, 25 amp charge controller. Renogy gave me 196 watt solar and 60 ah battery

Battery sizing

364w/day would be about 30Ah usable capacity needed, 60Ah usable.

Option 1:  Compact:  Trojan type 27 AGM, 89Ah.  My interpolation of published data suggests Continue reading “backchannel: solar calculators”

trashwalk, abandoned antique car, and continuing charging adventures

Not being able to make campfires isn’t a problem for me, but the inability to burn trash in the rocket stove is.  I had a plastic bag of trash and the dog was a bit feisty so I figured we’d walk back to the paid campgrounds to drop off the trash in those dumpsters.

Looking back at the van before we left, you can already see some light hitting the van through the trees:

Since it’s mid-week the campsites were mostly empty.  I took advantage of that to make a shortcut through the first site I saw.  It turned out to be a time-saver;  it did cut off a lot of trail time but more importantly Continue reading “trashwalk, abandoned antique car, and continuing charging adventures”

Mea Culpa: my own battery charging

I grouse enough about the mistakes others make;  here’s how I am undercharging my own batteries and doing some amount of damage.

My campsite is in the Mount Hood national forest.  Tall conifers of some kind make solar charging problematic, even with a 2.6:1 overpaneled system.   I moved spots a few times to maximize the amount of sun I can catch.

Normal situation:

  1.  run the bank down to ~12.4v-12.5v overnight
  2. hit Vabs after 10am and finish Absorption some time after noon.

Reminder that my batteries are fully charged when current acceptance Continue reading “Mea Culpa: my own battery charging”

backchannel: thoughts on gnomad home’s INSTALLING A SMART BATTERY ISOLATOR

From this article:


As I whined earlier, Keyline’s use of the “smart” descriptor is misleading.  It’s not smart in the normal sense;  it’s a voltage sensing relay (VSR).

A battery isolator is a great way to supplement your solar panels


and make sure your batteries stay topped off no matter the weather

Topped off != fully charged, and the difference kills lead batteries.

And if you’re on a tight budget, you can even skip the solar and still have basic electricity with nothing but a good isolator and a deep cycle battery.

At least until you murder the batteryContinue reading “backchannel: thoughts on gnomad home’s INSTALLING A SMART BATTERY ISOLATOR”