built a portable solar bank

built a portable solar bank

Finished face plate with a little bit of dust collected on it.
Cutting board used to make face plate supports. i needed to find a 1/2 thick plastic material that could be used to support the face plate and a cheap cutting board seemed to do the trick just fine!
Large water proof tool box I decided to use instead of paying way more for a pelican case. This type of case is designed to stack on top of other cases and clip together. the largest size has wheels and a handle which will come in handy in the future and a separate battery bank that can be plugged into this main center.
i removed the tool tray and used a multi-tool to custom cut the inside of the tool box. there were several rails inside the box meant for supporting the tool tray as well as the structural integrity of the tool boxes walls.
here you can see i have cut a notch on the top of a rail in the box. there are several of these rails and they are all cut at the same height from the bottom of the box so the face plate will seat nice and flat once installed.
here is another rail along the back of the tool box which i have modified same as the once before again at the same height.
this was originally one large cutting board that i ripped down on the table saw to size and then cut in half so i would be able to fit both sides in separately. fitting it all in one piece would have made for much more work that i was trying to avoid.
its hard to see in this picture but i have marked out the shape i was to cut from the cutting board halves. make sure to measure carefully when doing this as the box might not be perfectly square when the lid is not closed!
Once cut I dry fit the pieces in the box to make sure they fit the way i wanted them to. they two pieces sit at exactly the same height on top of the rails i cut down with my multi-tool.
i super adhesive to hold these pieces together initially and later i will add screws for more support. supporting these pieces correctly is very important because its going to be the main support later for most of the face plate/electronics.
Several clamps were left on overnight to ensure the glue had cured fully. this picture helps to give you a scale of how large the box is and what size batteries can be installed.
This is a piece of 1/4 clear plastic sheet I have taped over and began marking my faceplate out. be careful when cutting this plastic as it likes to explode in small fragments if you are not using a smart blade. i used a table saw and Dremel for most of my cuts here.
Once cut I drilled several holes for screws so it could be held in place securely to the mounts i have already glued in place (cutting board). I also used a touch to lightly glaze all cuts and holes which removes the sharp edges and gives it that factory look.
Face plate fit perfectly! I drilled all my holes into the cutting board now and tapped each hole with a screw. this project is a prototype but once i begin my actual build i would also instal rubber gaskets around the edges of this faceplate for water proofing.
now that the adhesive is nice and dry its time to secure the mounts better with some screws.
you can see i have screws coming down through my faceplate at this point and also i am installing screws all the way around the box to hold the mounts in place permanently. again, on my final project i would be using rubber washers on my screws.
so far so good.
one thing i would change on the next project is to lower the face plate another inch. as you can see i am only about 3/4" blow the top of the box. there is also space in the underside of the lid which gives me closer to 1 3/4" overall.
i will remove the faceplate and begin installing the fun stuff now! also i am going to paint the bottom side of the face plate black. i chose to pain the bottom so it would not be able to get scratched when the box is in use.
Added terminals to the front of the box for jumping cars or any type of charging. these terminals will have their own direct line to the batteries. be careful when wiring these as to not run the power through anything that cant take a high load! if you try to jump and car and it pulls through your charge controller your going to be ordering new parts!
Installed (2)12v fans one for incoming and one for outgoing air movement. i want to be able to control the temperature inside the box, batteries temp to get a little when when they are being used, also i will have an inverter inside on the box, even though the inverter is built with its own internal fan, i still want to be able to give the hot air some where to go. on the next project these fans will be covered with a hood that will draw air from a downward position much like a vent on a roof, this is to stop water from entering the box.
more parts arrived today and its time to install and begin laying out the faceplate.
This is a thermostat relay I will use to control the fans, i found this model on amazon for very cheap. its 12v and uses very little power.
From Japan I believe, there is a model number on the side if you are interested in finding one. i played around with several different relays before i chose this one, it has several features and seemed to be the most accurate on temperature.
here i have mounted the thermostat relay to the faceplate and i have also mounted two usb charging ports on the side of the unit. i will add several more in the future but for now this will do.
More parts have shown up! so we can can the charge controller and begin the wiring.
this charge controller i purchased on amazon, very simple model, but will not work with lithium batteries which is what i will be using on the next project. as long as your using conventional batteries it perfect and easy to set up!
A better view of the face plate so far, face the face plate being so close to the surface it hard to decide where to put everything, and also where i have enough depth.
LED switch diagram for a simple switch i added to the thermostat relay. i added this because if i am using this in the winter and i dont need to worry as much about the batteries getting warm or the inverter overheating i can choose to shut down the relay and save the little power it uses.
Switch installed for relay. when the switch is off the led turns off as well. very simple setup.
for now i have made a base and installed some batteries which are being held down by a strap. the base is screwed from the bottom up through the box and into the wood. these batteries are very small and are only temporary. eventually i would like to use lithium batteries with modules to charge them individually, but for now i have hooked these batteries in parallel.
here i have installed a shunt to monitor the batteries.
I painted the back side of the face plate and taped over the top to prevent scratching. i began wiring, looking back i should have spent more time with the wiring, and i will probably end up redoing this in the future, you cant tell in this picture but it ends up getting messy!
almost everything is installed on the face plate now. to the left of the charge controller is an LCD display multimeter which is for the 100 Amp shunt i already installed. above that is a voltage meter for the incoming solar panel. this meter only works one way so when the panel is not plugged in or not producing the meter shuts down.
face plate looks good in the box! now i just need some switches for main power and inverter power.
this is what i meant when i said the wiring gets messy! i will take the time later to clean this up and condense the mess i have made.
One final look before I close it up for a while! At least until I change the type of batteries. its hard to tell but i also added a inverter to the front of the box. its located to the left in the picture and is red. sort of hidden under the faceplate mount. the inverter is running and outlet which is at the top of the picture.
all turned on and ready to go! everything seems to be working great so far! i added to aircraft toggle switches to the face plate in the bottom right corner.
here is the water proof outlet cover mounted on the side of the box.
USB port mounted on the other side of the box. there is also a cable coming out below that which with has plugs to connect the solar panels. i have ordered a SAE mount that will replace this soon so i would have to have a cord hanging out of that box.
when the lid is closed its completely waterproof. and only about 60 pounds. very portable and easy to use. also a fun build! if you have any questions let me know! i will be starting my next build soon and its going to be a lot more complicated but also a much better product, i will take some videos of the build for you guys!
Source : wsw4jr from Reddit