Thursday, July 11, 2013

Wiring the Jimmy

I've got a 400 watt inverter I was going to hook up directly to the battery because it only provides 100 watts when going through the [cigarette lighter] DC connector. That turns out to be a bad idea because even with the battery isolated from the rest of the vehicle by a cutoff switch juice still flows when the inverter is turned off. So plan B. First I realized I don't have to run a line to the negative pole of the battery since the chassis should be ground. The negative pole of a side mount battery has a boot over the connector which is really the first clue that it doesn't like added wires. Second the live wire will connect to the other side of the cutoff switch rather than the battery so the inverter is cutoff like every other circuit when I throw the switch. The 1.8 watt solar battery charger I am going to connect directly to the battery so it provides juice regardless of the state of the cutoff switch. I'm not at all worried about over charging. That's not been a problem. The only thing I'm missing is one inline wire connector. Too bad I couldn't find a variety pack with everything I needed. I ended up buying dozens of each kind of connector when I only needed less than a handful.

I'm using 14 gage wire because it's the largest gage that works with the connectors I bought. I'm sure this is fine for the solar panel but not sure this is enough for the inverter. I suspect if I ask too much of it I will find out. Laptops only draw about 90 watts and I don't have one yet. The only other current use I have is to charge my cell phone and that will work fine. I should have it all done tomorrow. I've already got two wires routed through my truck's firewall. A red one, connected directly to the battery, I will change from my inverter to my solar panel. A blue one I will connect to the other side of the cutoff solenoid and replace the red wire currently connected to the inverter with that. Then all I've got left to do is ground both devices to the chassis.

The only trick now is to figure out which is red and black on the solar charger. The wires are both black. I know the center of the DC connector is red, but I'd have to take it apart to figure which wire goes to the center pole. The guy at the parts place gave me a free new 9 volt battery for my VOM (I did a Becker complaining about how the other parts place wanted to charge me $4 for it and a miracle happened.) I just have to find out where in the garage the meter is. I'm also going to look for some nylon ties in the garage. I have three bucks left to last me the next two weeks. Otherwise I'm using string temporarily.

Update: Also I decided against the air mattress. It takes up too much room denying me storage space. I do not want to use my front passenger seat for storage. I gave it to my mom and she said I didn't have to repay a $100 loan. Normally I wouldn't accept, but things are tight. Not bad for the $25 I invested in the air mattress. My sister has a smaller regular mattress still in plastic that she's donating to my cause. That will leave room for the four clear plastic containers I bought the other day. Only two are full but I should fill the third before I'm done. I'm taking the fourth along just because. I'm going to forgo sleeping bags and just take some blankets.

Other stuff... I'll have about 5 gallons of water with me and I use that generic crystal light stuff for flavor. I have two almost full multi-vitamins plastic jars because I once couldn't find the first and I only take one every other week when I think about it. Peanut butter, honey and crackers don't require refrigeration, but I need my best foods mayonnaise so I may have to invest in one of those plug in camp coolers down the road. Anyone know which fast food chain uses best foods packets? I promise to pay for an overpriced sugar drink with meal if I need some extra condiments.

So what's the equivalent of an MRE for the homeless? All suggestions welcome.


john hare said...

MRE, I don't know with no personal experience. From necessity a few years back, I learned about Ramon noodles for about $0.17 per meal. Plain white rice cooked with a can of condensed soup stirred in just before eating is quite cheap. A lot of breakfast mornings can be had from a regular box of oatmeal with a little plain sugar and margarine. There are a lot more discount bag-your-own grocery stores around than years ago with cheap canned goods. Day old bread stores seem to be less available recently, but had bargains several years back. Being ready to stock up on real bargains from advertised "loss Leaders" in a store sometimes results in monotony, but not hunger.

Good luck from one that believes that most moral support is neither.

Arizona CJ said...

An MRE for the homeless.... Well, I've traveled a lot by road so I might have a few ideas. (I wasn't broke, but I'm a cheapskate).

First, I avoid restaurants, fast food and otherwise; I hit the grocery stores for my meals. I make a lot of sandwiches (Tortillas are great for a change) which helps. Eating even fast food gets expensive.

For a meal on the road, try Costco if there's one handy. They have a huge hot dog plus drink for a buck and a half, and you don't need to be a member to get to the food stand. Sam's club has the same deal, but I have had to hassle at the door a time or two to get in those. (I just tell them I want to go to the customer service desk to see about a membership, and head right for the food stand).

Truck stops SOMETIMES have good deals on food. One chain I was fond of was FlyingJ. It had kilbasa and green pepper shishkabobs for a buck each (though this was a few years ago). I do find it very worthwhile to buy my gas at truck stops; they usually have the lowest prices. I also check sites like gas buddy to get pump prices. Truck stops often have showers, too.

Another favorite food of mine, whether on the road or not, is tortilla chips and salsa, or just the chips alone. I get the resturuant style in the big bag, far better IMHO than the doritos type, and a hell of a lot cheaper too.

I'm rather fond of some canned soups, and I don't mind them unheated, so that helps me too. If I want them warm, I just stick them on the dash for a while if it's sunny.

Many places have roadside BBQ pits, so that serves well for an occasional cooked meal.

On SOME vehicles, there's room next to hot areas under the hood (like the exhaust manifold) to secure a tinfoil wrapped TV dinner to cook it. I did this a time or two, but found it not worth the effort.

ken_anthony said...

Good ideas. Some I've done. Some new. You guys came through again.

All that lovely heat in the engine aught to be good for something, eh?

I'm thinking of heading west first, but if I go east I'll not be closer to Spaceport America unless I come back through this town. Socorro is just east of Springerville. This tour looks interesting.

ken_anthony said...

My last two attempts to comment at Selenian Boondocks did not take. Hmmm...

Arizona CJ said...

Ken, if you do try that tour or similar, or for whatever reason end up near Carlsbad, I have some advice.

Enter the park early enough to be at the visitor center when it opens on a weekday (offseason is better, but should be good anytime). The reason is the cave walk. There's an elevator from inside the visitor's center down into the main room of the cave. My advice, DO NOT take it. Take the walk instead. The walk into the cave, when done alone and without other tourists around, is one of such magnificent solitude as to be almost spiritual. It is well worth it.

BTW, if you do that, you will encounter rangers hiking from the bottom to the top (visitors have to go the opposite way). They can startle you if you don't expect them.

At the end of the hike you reach the great room. There are several trails through it, and I advise taking them all.

You'll have to take the elevator on the way back, and that's an interesting experience in itself.

BTW, John Hare had some good advice above. My own, I now realize, was biased by my own experience; I'm low-carb, so tend not to think of the higher carb options. One thing I do remember from my college days though; Walmart and some other supermarkets often have pre-made sandwiches and salads that are far better, and far cheaper, than what's available elsewhere.

ken_anthony said...

I've never been to Carlsbad caves. They have some caves southeast of Phoenix, but it's like a kiddie trail for tourists. That sounds like a really good idea. Thanks.