Living in the Projects
The simplest solutions to problems give no clue to the complexity for their determination.
Head of the list, the head.
Counting the number of needed improvements to the venerable Sunmar Mobile composting commode is a worthy endeavor. Even though the unit has been around for decades, is appreciated and of thoughtful design, it has its shortcomings.
Finding solutions is easy but making those solutions small, energy efficient, simple, user friendly, and automatic while occupying the same foot print, is a most contemplative task. The task and machinations, I will spare you. Suffice it to say there is now a solution that should allow the '1' user unit to work for at least two full time users on the boat.
|A few pieces have been added most of which go unseen in this picture.|
All the individual parts work singly and as a complete system.
The effort now is to connect all the parts and wires in a workman like manner and field test the head. One of the unique modifications was to elevate the voltage to the liquid evaporator section from 12 volts DC to 24 volts DC while completely removing the 110 volt AC heater. This cuts out the loss from inverters and larger 12 VDC cables. The base voltage for the whole boat is now 24 VDC with only the microwave, AC units & TV as 110 VAC (inverted) from a 24 VDC full sine inverter.
From the roof top, to power all of the systems aboard, are the new photovoltaic (PV) modules. The PVs are made by an American company noted for their quality, performance and longevity of product. The new modules are lightweight, thin and slightly flexible. Some folks say they can be walked on but I would no more walk on a PV than I would intentionally walk on somebody's clear plastic deck hatch.
Testing and mock up of the roof frame system is underway with the main idea of the entire roof array being divided into three or four panels of modules, allowing them to be removed in about one half hour. That means the 40 modules of 100 watts can be stowed for long term while in the slip or stowed in case a major storm is approaching. The whole bundle will fit in the two shallow roof containment areas that are now atop the boat roof. For longer storage the whole folded array can be placed inside the boat. Stacked, all four array panels would total about 8 inches deep, occupy a twin bed and weigh about 160 pounds.
The key is the framing, articulation, folding, wiring, assembly, layout and access of the 40 modules to be linked. An origami project indeed that involves strong, lightweight hinges, quick connects and rapid, strong frame attachment points.
There is much to do this winter that was not helped by being physically sidelined this summer. No major ailment or problem, just enough 'stuff happens' to put a crunch on the schedule. I can now see some light at the end of the tunnel, it is not a freight train and probably stays lit from storing solar energy.
Keep the faith.