Use this forum to discuss modifications to cameras for retrofitting external batteries, solar panels, and case mods not related to camera security.
User avatar
By Chachoze
#127348
Hey everyone, I'm putting together a 6volt solar panal whith 6volt/4.5mah sla battery. After browsing a few posts I see that a blocking diode is recommended on the panels and as best as I can tell mine is basic and doesnt appear to have any.

Could someone recommend a diode or specs for one I could use for this setup, preferably one I could find at Radio Shack?

It looks as if it should be put inline on the positive wire of the panel, any particular hookup direction of the diode? I'm assuming there is one since it is one way flow.

Any help would be appreciated.
User avatar
By Engineer
#127391
Almost any diode will work. There will be a voltage drop across the diode. An 1N4001 is a very common diode but there is a 0.5V drop across the diode. You want about 6.9-7.1v to fully charge a 6V lead acid battery. You can not check the voltage of a charger or solar panel without a small load on it. I don't know the power output of your solar panel but I suggest you put a 10ohm 5W resistor across the leads from the solar panel when checking the voltage in bright sun light. If the voltage is above 6.5v then you can add a "blocking diode". If the final voltage with the blocking diode is not 6.9-7.1V then you can not fully charge a lead acid battery but it will charge some. I know some of the solar chargers have a smart charging circuit to shut the charger off when the battery is fully charged. A blocking diode will interfere with the electronics ability to sense the charge on a battery and will shut it off too early. Before adding a blocking diode, I would suggest you check to see if your solar panel has it already. For this you will need to check the current from your 6V battery through the solar panel with amp meter. Most digital multi-meters can do this. put the meter between one of the lead to the battery and set it to amps (A or mA). Put the solar pannel face down against something that will block all light from getting to the solar array. If you have more than .01A of current, then you may want to add a blocking diode.
User avatar
By Chachoze
#127417
Thanks Engineer, very helpfull information!

I do not know the specs of the panel as there is nothing on the box it came in nor can I find any info on the manufacturers website. It looks like a basic plane jane type panel made/sold by AmericanHunterFeeders and is model BL-EC6. I found it at a Gander Mountain store while browseing around and thought I would give it a try. There doesnt appear to be any diodes or electronics on this panel that I can see.

Here is the web address: http://www.americanhunterfeeders.com/HTML/chargers.html Perhaps you are familiar with this unit.

I dont have a resistor to test with yet but simply hooking my multimeter to the panel leads yields 11volts max so far. When testing for ma's my meter teters between .00 and.01 and when I test the panel it never goes above .01ma (hopefully I'm testing it properly).

This is basically an experiment to see if I can get a primos cam to run significanly longer on this setup than it can on a set of D cells, if it proves to work well I will likely build a few more. I'll put up a couple picks when I get home.

Thanks again for your help!
User avatar
By Engineer
#127527
Chachoze

I did some digging and found that it is a 35ma (0.035A) charger (in bright direct sun light). The Voc (Voltage open circuit) is supposed to be 9V but you measured 11V. There are two versions of this solar panel, a 6V and 12V with Voc of 9V and 18V. There is no indication that it has a blocking diode or any electronics at all. At 9V (or 11V as you measured) add the blocking diode and the .5V voltage drop will help keep the battery from being over charged.

At 35ma (or lower on a not so sunny days or in the shade) it will eventually sulfate your SLA battery. You'll need to use a "Smart" type charger that can de-sulfate the battery every few months if want the battery to live for several years. Charging a battery too slowly causes the sulfur to crystallize and eventually fail the battery.

Most of the small SLA batteries designed for depth finders, UPS, and other electronic devices are deep cycle batteries. That means they can handle being discharged to 20% of their capacity before being recharged without being significantly harmed.

If you can recharge the battery at 2-4amps on a smart charger before the battery reaches 20% capacity, it will be better for the battery. I use batteries I pulled out of my Sea Doos and charge them every 1-2 months. I let the I40 and I50 run on the D cells overnight while I charge the batteries. This works well for me. I did have to leave one of the cameras out with the external battery over the winter for 8 months and it was still working just fine when I retrieved it. If you are in a place where removing the external battery for charging is not an option, then the solar panel can help extend the run time of the camera but at a sacrifice of the battery life. You may end up replacing the SLA battery more often but it will keep you from having to bring the battery back for charging.
User avatar
By Chachoze
#127545
This little panel does typically average 9 volts, I guess I'm just hoping the panel will prolong the draining of the battery for a couple months until it can be charged. I do have a smart charger capable of desulfating a battery, it will charge (1.5amp) and maintain a battery as well.

The projected duty cycle of this battery project is roughly 7months (May-Nov), I would do year round but none of the cams we have will survive a northern minnesota winter. Right now I'm hoping this little guy will make it to deer season in november. Typically we make several trips to the cabin/hunting area throughout that time frame but its possible it may go that long before beeing serviced with a charger.

I see on some solar panel websites that they talk about using a charge controler with the panel but I'm affraid soemthing like that might make this little project too costly, right now I have about $40 invested and dont want to go much beyond that otherwise I might as well go back to using D cells...

Here's a coule of pics of the project.
Image

Image
User avatar
By Engineer
#127559
Chachoze

Try it out and see how it works. The worst that can happen is that you destroy a battery early. PM me with where you are located in Minnesota. I live in the eastern TC area and hunt in northern Minnesota. I've got roll of 1N4001 doides and can give you some if you're close by. Postage is about 10 times more expensive than the diodes cost.
User avatar
By Chachoze
#127650
Thanks for the offer but I live west of the metro area and found a pack at radio shack today and they were inexpensive as you mentioned. So now I got the diode in place on the positive line of the panel with the ring end of the diode on the battery side.( I believe that is correct) Redid my wiring a bit and put the panel wires directly to the battery terminals instead of being tied into the outgoing wires.

All I have to do now is put it out in the field and hope for the best. lol

Thanks again Engineer!
User avatar
By ko4nrbs
#184727
Thanks for the offer but I live west of the metro area and found a pack at radio shack today and they were inexpensive as you mentioned. So now I got the diode in place on the positive line of the panel with the ring end of the diode on the battery side.( I believe that is correct) Redid my wiring a bit and put the panel wires directly to the battery terminals instead of being tied into the outgoing wires.

All I have to do now is put it out in the field and hope for the best. lol

Thanks again Engineer!



How is the charger working for you?
Bill
User avatar
By Chachoze
#184774
It seems to be doing fairly well. On our TruthCams it seems to run about the same period of time as a set of alkalines before needing a full recharge, roughly speaking. Once or twice I accidentlay let the sla discharge to some pretty low levels and i think may have shortend its life some, will probably need a replacement after next year.

There is room in that little box for two 4.5ah sla's so I may try that but the issue with that is that little panel doesnt put out that much juice so i'm guessing it may not be that effective in charging two batts.

Right now I have it hooked up to a replacement DPS to see how it performs with a 32gb card and to see if it will fill it up without issue or shuting down like so many have reported with their DPS cams. The cam is set for 5 second delay with a mid day skip. Hopefully the little battery pack will power it long enough to fill the card.
User avatar
By mikeinkaty
#205928
A 1 Amp Schottky diode will have 0.2 V drop at about 400 ma. Less than that at lower currents. Lots of them available on Ebay. 400 ma is about what my old Stealthcam Sniper cam draws when the LED's are on and it's taking a picture.

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