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'Bird Projects & Modifications Share with us that latest project or modification that you have done to your 'Bird right here.

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  #41  
Old 02-17-2010
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brcn brcn is offline
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Default Solar Panels

Sticky,

You are really going to town on that coach. Very much interested in the solar panel application. We do you have panels on the roof (4) I believe from memory but they are flat mounted. Would be interested to find out more about the tilt system on the panels, as we are thinking about retrofitting to a tilting system. Any information you could share I would be interested in.
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  #42  
Old 03-31-2010
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JerryKessler JerryKessler is offline
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Default Solar Panels, Inverters, Batteries, Misc. Done!...Almost

Well, it has been a long road (pun intended) this winter getting a bunch of upgrades to our coach. In the last 4 months we have installed:

Bamboo wood floors (with Ernie of course)
8 Sanyo N 210w solar panels (1680 rated watts) complete with custom electric tilt mechanism
2 Outback solar charge controllers with network to inverters
2 Outback inverters in sync (for redundancy)
Generator auto start module tied to Outback system.
Six 2-volt Sun Extender batteries (1440 amp hour capacity)
Dometic air conditioner/heat pump middle roof unit
Samsung Refrigerator
3 "Li'l Stanker" tank vent fans
1 new toilet
Motosat HD automatic satellite dish
A slew of minor modifications too small to mention.

We are exhausted! We involved ourselves with the work throughout all projects and some we completely did ourselves. Sometimes we got too involved. I feel much more knowledgeable about how my coach is put together. Every time I tear into it and finish a project, the coach becomes less intimidating. Our new inverter and electrical system is a little intimidating at the moment until I learn more about the programming and how it all works as a tight-knit unit. It really is an amazing system.

Yes, we have had a glitch or two that have come along. We check things out and find out what happened, and then we correct it. So far, things have gone quite well for such an extensive remodel, but it has only been a week. We will see if anything pops up. We are currently purposefully boondocking in a tent section of a big RV resort above Santa Barbara. We want to put her through her paces and see if any problems develop. It's real nice to be alone in the quiet tent section of the resort rather than crammed together in the hookup sites. It is a whole different world and we like it! Mission accomplished I guess.

Larry Crutcher at Starlight Solar in Yuma was absolutely amazing. He put in numerous hours (on his own time) designing and implementing the electrical and solar panel installs. He even designed and built a custom circuit board to operate the solar panel lift mechanism in the complex way that we requested. It was fun to see how he jumped into the projects with great enthusiasm. This was the first time he had a customer tell him to go nuts and pull out all the stops in designing a truly unique system. If you want your solar and electrical system done extremely well and done right, Larry is the GO TO guy. He is pure genius.

All that is left to complete the projects above is to do a module exchange on the auto generator start and have Dometic replace what will be the third heat pump that was sent to us. The first one was rejected due to damage that was clearly done before shipping. The second only pumps out heat no matter what. We have not been impressed with Dometic considering the extremely slow shipping (6 days when overnight was promised), the damage of shipped units, and the failure of new units to work properly.

Here are some links to our all pictures of the solar panel install and electrical installs. As I have time, I will try to write about the complete installs on our soon to come revamped web site. Also, I will try to take better pictures of the final results. Almost all of the pictures are of the installations in progress. There is a sneak peak of the finished open inverter box with Larry and I standing beside it.

Solar Panel Installation Pictures:
http://gallery.me.com/jerrykessler#100536

Inverter/Battery Installation Pictures:
http://gallery.me.com/jerrykessler#100551

Here is a short video showing the solar panel raising mechanism and the locks that are installed for traveling:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRTidx71IGk


Have a great day!

Jerry
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Jerry Kessler
1994 Wanderlodge PT40 WBSA
2007 Roadtrek 190P 4x4
1992 Ford F250 4x4 Toad

Last edited by JerryKessler; 03-31-2010 at 11:01 AM.
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  #43  
Old 03-31-2010
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Jerry Kessler


YOU ROCK!!!!!


Outstanding upgrade.

What is your clearance height with the panels secured for travel?

I'd guess it's still under 13' ????

Inquiring minds want to know, and just to be nosy how much was the upgrade?

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  #44  
Old 03-31-2010
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Ernest Ekberg Ernest Ekberg is offline
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Kurrt, I was happy to work for Jerry BEFORE he spent all his money on the other stuff.
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  #45  
Old 03-31-2010
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By the way Ernie are you booked up un early Oct?
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  #46  
Old 03-31-2010
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Ernest Ekberg Ernest Ekberg is offline
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Kurt, after we get finished with my daughters legal issues, I need a job after we get home the 10th of April. If you have to wait till October, I'll be available then , too. Business has kinda gone the opposite of oil prices
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  #47  
Old 04-01-2010
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JerryKessler JerryKessler is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bumpersbird View Post
[B]Jerry Kessler[
What is your clearance height with the panels secured for travel?

I'd guess it's still under 13' ????

Inquiring minds want to know, and just to be nosy how much was the upgrade?
The solar panels are mere inches above the height of the original air conditioners so I would not expect it to be much higher. I will measure when I get a chance. Away at work for a week.

Don't know yet about the full cost as I have not received the final invoice from Larry. But what I have paid so far has been hefty. No expense has been spared in the upgrade. This coach will be our full time home for many years to come as we are only in our mid 40's. We want it to be able to go and function where we want to go to get maximum enjoyment and that is priceless. We still have a ways to go concerning the interior and some exterior touches but we are well on our way to getting this coach where it needs to be in order to keep up with us and what we need.

Thanks for the compliments! We hoped that by sharing our experience, that it will help others decide what they may want to do with their coach. We stick together here and help each other any way we can. We are all we have anymore since Bluebird is no more. I still think that it is the best all around coach out there when everything is taken into consideration.
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2007 Roadtrek 190P 4x4
1992 Ford F250 4x4 Toad
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  #48  
Old 04-01-2010
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Wow Jerry I didnt say anything at first but your power set up is almost exactly what I have specd out for my solar set up. I mean down to the type and high voltage of the panels (Sanyo hit series) outback mppt controler and inverters, battery bank size and all.

The enclosures for the batteries and electronics are beautiful and look very well thought out. Is there any blueprints available for others that may have a 90's PT looking to do the same?

Im really glad to see that the decision was made to make the panel racks tiltable. It seems that spring loaded soleniods could be implemented as a method for locking down the racks to preclude the roof top stowage procedure.

Its awesome to see it all come together! Quite an advantageous investment! One question, were you able to take advantage of any of the local and/or federal incentives for renewable energy?

Peace&Love, Darren
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  #49  
Old 04-01-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kyradawg View Post
Wow Jerry I didnt say anything at first but your power set up is almost exactly what I have specd out for my solar set up. I mean down to the type and high voltage of the panels (Sanyo hit series) outback mppt controler and inverters, battery bank size and all.

The enclosures for the batteries and electronics are beautiful and look very well thought out. Is there any blueprints available for others that may have a 90's PT looking to do the same?

Im really glad to see that the decision was made to make the panel racks tiltable. It seems that spring loaded soleniods could be implemented as a method for locking down the racks to preclude the roof top stowage procedure.

Its awesome to see it all come together! Quite an advantageous investment! One question, were you able to take advantage of any of the local and/or federal incentives for renewable energy?

Peace&Love, Darren
I am not sure about the blueprints. They made a full size mock up of the inverter/battery box using heavy cardboard so that every spare millimeter of space was utilized. Contact Larry at Starlight Solar in Yuma and see what he has to say. He made many computer drawings of his installations so maybe he has it. He created a beautiful manual for me with schematics and drawings but probably no battery box drawings.

The locking solenoids you mentioned are part of a future upgrade to the system when we make our way back to Yuma. We ran out of time to do other neat little improvements. Those will come later.

We found out in 3 weeks of flat panel time in the desert that we needed a tilting mechanism. The coach as we utilize it uses large amounts of power. The tilting mechanism changed the equation of not quite enough power output to more than enough. Although huge solar panels on the roof are not the prettiest thing, I don't put much importance in pretty when in the desert and trying to survive comfortably. So far people have been incredibly intrigued with the panels. You better be ready to talk when you tilt those babies up. Hopefully my girlfriend will take over the tour as she likes to talk alot more than me.

We will see about the federal credits. Will have to check into it.

Cheers!
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1992 Ford F250 4x4 Toad
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  #50  
Old 04-01-2010
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Jerry it appears that they do beautiful work. But just remember unless you are going to maintain the solar system and all integral parts that work with it yourself....then you absolutely need detailed documentation on how everything is designed......your specifications that they designed the solar system to....schematics of all electrical systems, manuals for each of the parts they used to design the system.

There is one thing you have described that worries me and that is the circuit board they designed and built to control the antenna movers that they are using to raise and lower your solar panels. If you are capable of working on this system yourself and repairing it if something goes wrong then there is no problem. But if you depend on others to maintain it there is no way of knowing how long any business will be there in the future and a system without good documentation is a pain to get anyone to work on it.

It appears they are using 24 ( or 36") inch ball screw satellite antenna movers similar to these
http://tinyurl.com/yj7e3rx
. They probably have reed sensors that count the revolutions of the screw and there are control boxes you can buy off the shelf that will very accurately move the screws to any position you program into the box. I use to sell them in the 1980-90's with large satellite antenna systems. They are extremely powerful movers and have enough power to rip your panels right off the mounts if they are not properly programmed and controlled.

And one more thing. From the pictures you have posted (excellent) you have 12V batteries not 2V. They look like 8D batteries.
Good luck and hope it works to your total enjoyment
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