Thursday, 10 May 2018

Trees, batteries and the flue

Where to start; I suppose with the flue.  Yes winter has arrived and the temperature in the morning warrants the wearing of a fleece.  However I’m not writing about the onset of a winter cold.  The house flue is attached to a large cast iron wood stove in the living room.

wood burning stove

My father used to collect and chop wood during the summer which they would then burn during the winter.  The firewood was kept in that dilapidated garden shed I demolished last week.  We have decided the stove will have to go.  It will be replaced with a natural gas connection for the gas heater we’ve had for 25 years, but never used <work that one out>.

Obviously the stove has a flue and it’s not the only one in the house.  There is was a second flue for the hotplate extractor fan in the kitchen.   By removing both flues and the old solar hot water panels on the roof we will have a long north facing section of roof clear of obstructions making it ideal for the placement of a large(ish) solar array.  One problem with this idea is the concrete tile clad roof which was installed in 1984.  When you remove flues you are left with “holes” and obviously we need to find suitable roof tiles.  That actually proved to be easier than I’d anticipated.  Yesterday we travelled north to a demolition yard in Yanchep where we were able to purchase six recycled tiles at $1 each.  We probably won’t require six, but it’s good to have a few spares. I need to use the water pressure cleaner to prepare them for installation.


They are the wrong colour, but then the solar panels will cover them.

The second issue is the large gumtrees on the front lawn.  They cast a shadow over the north facing roof of the house and will adversely affect the solar panels.  The roots of one is also breaking up the driveway paving and the other is located directly above the gas, electrical and phone lines into the house.  They will have to go!


They are too big for me to remove at my age (I would have attempted it 20 years ago) so we are paying to have the trees removed and stump grinding done to ensure they don’t re-grow.  The third, smaller tree, I am removing  This process started four weeks ago and have been slowly clipping back the branches placing the foliage in the rubbish bin.  It’s the capacity of the “wheelie bin” that’s dictating the pace of the removal.  This tree is also located on top of the gas, electrical and phone lines.


Had it’s final haircut

There has been some good progress with the lithium battery project.  I’ve “tricked” all six cells from the laptop battery into being recognised by the SkyIC battery conditioner and have been able to recharge all of them.  I’ve then run them through a discharge cycle on the SkyIC to establish their capacity.  The capacity has been written on the cell so I can match up those of similar capacity.  The cells are then recharged.


Identified cell capacity in milliamps

It takes about 24 hours to test and recharge each cell.  When I have six good cells I plan to build a battery for the old 12V drill.  Lithium cells require individual balancing using a Battery Management System (BMS).  I can’t simply plug the new battery into the old charger.  To resolve this I’ve purchased a BMS which will fit inside the battery case.  The BMS was $2.50 from eBay.  My wiring will look like the following


By fitting the BMS inside the battery case I will (I hope) be able to use the portable drill’s original 12V battery charger.

Meanwhile poor Jan has been choking on smoke for the last two days.  Currently there is a massive pall of wood smoke over Perth.  Actually it extends 50km north and south.  The cause is a controlled burn in the state forests and national parks by the fire and conservation departments.  This is part of an effort to minimize the risk of summer forest fires by reducing the fuel loading (branches, twigs, leaves, bark, etc) on the ground.

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