Sunday, December 23, 2007
A Christmas present for Pat
The FedEx truck arrived a bit after 13:00 Thursday, just after we had finished eating lunch. Pat's two grandkids were over for the day as their school ended for the holidays the day before. N was helping Pat bake cookies, B and I played billiards and some other games. Anyway, the kids got to see the flowers about as soon as Pat did. She recognized what they were as soon as she saw the label on the package. They should last about two weeks in very good condition, then we stop watering them and they begin the drying process. I'll let you all know later how that goes. Anyway, here are some photos I took today of the Maui Protea flowers:
This first photo shows the basket sitting on our dining room table, with the Christmas wrapping paper that I used for a background. There is one very large bloom that is known as a King Protea in the center and it has many others of various varieties grouped around it. We placed it on a small plate as the basket is not water tight, so it leaks.
Here is a closer view that still displays the King Protea pretty well but also gives a glimpse of some of the others.
A different angle showing a better view of some of the other blooms. We bought seeds while we were there that should grow some similar to the purple and black one at the center left side of the photo. However, we have learned that it is two years after planting before you should expect to see your first flower. And that is assuming that we will eventually get our sunroom built!
I've turned it a bit to get a different view of some of the other blooms.
And here is a still slightly different view.
A closeup shot of the King Protea. It measures about 4 1/2 inches across so is pretty large.
I had fun taking these photos but they really don't do justice to these amazing plants. Follow the link I included above to go check their web site and you will see other photos and what they offer to order. I don't know how well those we want to grow will do but it will be fun to try. In the meantime, we will have these to enjoy and, hopefully, continue enjoying after they dry.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Photoshop Elements play- a panarama photo
This is made up of three original photos that have been combined into one. If I printed it at it's original 300 dots per inch it would make a photo 33 inches wide by 8.5 inches tall. I figured I would have to reduce it a bit in order to fit it into my blog and hope that I guessed about the right amount. I'll find out when I check the blog after I finish this post.
The process of making it was very easy and I'd recommend to anyone that they try the process. It sure makes a different photo from what the original looked like and makes it a lot easier for the viewer to get the overall picture. I know there are other programs available to stitch photos- the one used by Jude is different. PSE v6 has made quite an effort to improve their process and I'd say it is very easy- the computer does most of the work.
Our sunroom is still in it's 15 packages. No one has shown up to start to do anything in the way of assembling it. At this point I'd guess nothing will happen until after at least Christmas Day and probably until after New Years Day. We are starting to think of it as our phantom sunroom. I don't think I would recommend that anyone use the company that we did if they want a sunroom, unless you just want a phantom one. They do that well.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Wow, over a week since my last post!
My former next door neighbors are heading out today with their RV for the southwest. I envy them but I'd wait at this time and not leave until after Christmas. Annie & I did leave on Dec. 9th on what was to be her last Snowbird trip and we really missed being with our kids & grandkids for the holidays. I can maybe understand it if we were heading south in mid-Oct or something like that but this close, naa, I'd wait. I do know some who go south, then store their RV and fly home for a two week "vacation" or something like that in order to be home for the holidays. I still hold out slim hope that maybe we can do it (Snowbird) for 3 or 4 weeks in Feb/Mar.
We did get a phone call this morning saying they should be here today to start installing our sunroom. That is the sunroom that was supposed to be finished before Halloween. I'm not going to hold my breath waiting but it will be interesting to see if it happens. I'll plan to take some photos of the project as it is built.
Enough for now- time to start back to my wrapper job.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Our RVs solar system
Firstly, a solar system is a way of charging batteries from sunlight. The main advantage is to keep the batteries charged even while the rig is not connected to the power grid, like if we are boondocking out in the desert. The panels take the sunlight and convert it into an electric charge, the solar controller handles the monitoring of the charge condition of the batteries & sends power to them when needed from the panels. We have two 100 watt panels that are high output type panels, delivering enough voltage that the controller can take the extra voltage and convert it into amperage so that under good conditions the panels will deliver more power to the batteries than just the 200 watts the panels are rated for.
The first five photos were taken by the folks at AM Solar when they installed the system.
This shows the entry to our motorhome with a light switch and the monitor panel for the solar controller on the wall beside the entry steps. This panel tells us how much power we are getting from the system and what is or is not going into the batteries, as well as the charge state of the batteries.
A closer view of that monitor. Our system will charge two battery banks so it also keeps up the engine starting battery, which is important if you will be stationary for a couple of weeks and not running the RV engine. You would be surprised how large the phantom loads on batteries in vehicles really are.
Here is the actual charge controller which is mounted out of sight under the kitchen cabinets. The batteries are located in a storage compartment directly below this which is good as you want to keep your wire runs as short as possible in order to avoid loss of power.
The actual solar panels are about 2 feet by 4 feet in size and mounted on the roof. We can tilt them which adds about 50% more output in the winter by aiming them at the sun rather than just leaving them flat on the roof. This isn't as important in the summer when the sun is higher in the sky so it shines more directly at a flat mounted panel. These panels should last almost indefinitely as there are no moving parts to wear out and the glass surface will resist direct hits by large hail and other road hazards. The wires go to a combiner box and from there down the fridge vent into the interior of the RV, so no new hole had to be cut in the roof. I like to keep holes in the roof to a minimum as they can turn into water leaks if you are not careful in keeping them caulked.
Most RVs come with pretty small batteries for use as house batteries. We upgraded to two Lifeline brand absorbed glass mat (AGM) 6 volt golf cart type units that together provide 220 amp hours of 12 volt power. This is only half the battery capacity I had in the Sea Breeze motorhome but I think it will be enough for our needs. I love the AGM type units as they are totally sealed and need no maintenance, plus have some other advantages. We can even run a small inverter to power things like the entertainment center that need 120 volt AC power.
Here we are parked in our overnight space in a campground in Centralia, WA on our way home. You can see the typical RV hookups and my Saturn tow car connected to the tow bar and also one of the solar panels on the roof. Here we had power from the grid as you can see from the cable running from the side connector on the RV.
This telephoto shot shows both of the solar panels on the roof. They are pretty easy to reach to tilt toward the sun when that is needed. We do not carry anything else on the roof so didn't loose any storage by locating the panels there.
I really like having a solar system as it is working all of the time. If I leave the rig parked in it's storage lot for a period of time, even without a power hookup, it will keep both the engine starting and house batteries charged. They are also gentle and charge batteries properly and fully, tapering the charge down to just a trickle when they come up to full charge. These systems are fairly expensive but I think well worth their cost. Especially if you like to boondock away from power hookups.