Total novice seeks help!

Need help with a project? Trying to find a component? Post any general technical questions here.
polperrobrian
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat May 28, 2016 12:17 am

Total novice seeks help!

Post by polperrobrian » Sat May 28, 2016 12:29 am

I know little to nothing about electronics but need help with an idea from some patient person who has time! I want to make small self contained stained glass garden lights that give more light and lasts longer than the standard cheap garden lights available. I'm hoping it might be a simple project that I can learn to make myself at low cost. I hope I am not asking too much?

Biffo
Posts: 72
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 3:24 pm

Re: Total novice seeks help!

Post by Biffo » Mon May 30, 2016 10:47 am

Usually the problem with cheap garden lights is the battery..the battery is probably the most expensive part to produce and therefore in budget lights they are of the lowest grade.Usually the rest of the electronics is reliable.
So you can still keep buying budget lights that you like, but as a novice you might like the challenge of opening them up, getting the specs and replacing the batteries from ones from reputable suppliers such as http://www.budgetbatteries.co.uk/ (if your in the UK)

glassman
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2016 8:29 am

Re: Total novice seeks help!

Post by glassman » Wed Jun 22, 2016 8:50 am

Thanks for taking the time to reply Biffo - I appreciate it.

I have already been inside and as you might guess there is very little similarity to a Rolls Royce! There is indeed a battery there and I am quite sure that is the place to start.

Now demonstrating my TOTAL lack of knowledge - can I replace that with a NiMh cell - would the photo voltaic panel charge that? The mechanics of all this are easy enough for me but I am out of my depth theory wise!

On a more general note - I would be happy to try to learn something and have tried in the past but any books I look at go instantly over my head. I am 70 and learning is slower for me these days but can anybody suggest a good way to get started. My ambitions are not great but I just hate being quite so dumb!

Thanks!

glassman
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2016 8:29 am

Re: Total novice seeks help!

Post by glassman » Wed Jun 22, 2016 10:54 am

Me again - doing it properly and investigating.

The cell on the circuit board is a NiMH marked 1.2v 40mAh Charge 4mA 14h

The voltaic thingy produced 1.2v on a cloudy day.

I was wondering if it would charge a 1.2v AA NiMh cell marked 2300mAh?

Would adding another LED (in parallel) greatly alter things?

I am going to extend some wires out from the circuit board and try it but lack of knowledge might stop me assessing results properly.

Tinkering I can do.

magpie
Posts: 32
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2015 11:34 am

Re: Total novice seeks help!

Post by magpie » Wed Jun 22, 2016 5:21 pm

Solar lighting is an art in itself...so try this link as they should be able to help you. Email them with your questions : info@yoursolarlink.com

Biffo
Posts: 72
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 3:24 pm

Re: Total novice seeks help!

Post by Biffo » Thu Jul 14, 2016 12:21 pm

Fitting a higher capacity battery will mean it will need to be recharged for a longer time to fill up - so you probably not gain anything as your charge time is limited by the daylight time. The best thing to aim for (IMHO) is the quality of the battery and a modest increase in capacity of said battery...in the case of cheap garden lights

If you want to be more adventurous, then you can get a car solar panel from Maplins which runs at 12V and a 12 volt lead acid battery as a storage unit

glassman
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2016 8:29 am

Re: Total novice seeks help!

Post by glassman » Wed Jul 20, 2016 8:10 am

Thanks Biffo - that was helpful. I had almost stopped checking the board!

One more question and I will stop annoying everyone.

Charge limited by daylight hours - ok I understand that - what if I add another photo cell or 2 in parallel?

I would happily go the 12v Maplin way except that I need to whole thing to effectively fit into a 3" square glass box made to look like a small building. The photo cells would be part of the roof and each and each building to be a single unit - not a chain.

I started off with a set of cheap lights but would happily go up scale of better quality would ease the problem.

Hard work this - pleasing grandchildren!

Biffo
Posts: 72
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 3:24 pm

Re: Total novice seeks help!

Post by Biffo » Tue Jul 26, 2016 10:21 am

Yes you can daisy chain panels and that will shorten the charging time.

IF your building what I think your building (a doll's house maybe?)

Then here is an idea, the bulb in this kit has 15 leds so if you remove it you can effectively have 15 separate leds to place on the load.

It's cheap n cheerful and looks like the seller makes bespoke kits so he maybe able to supply separate leds instead of 'the bulb' ?

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/SOLAR-PANEL-W ... SwyKxXhfHc

hope that gives some inspiration?

Alternatively if it's still not beefy enough then have a look at the caravan solar panel kits and coupling it to a small 12v lead acid battery from maplins.The advantage of this would be that you could hide the panel and battery ( in a nearby tree for example) and it would have enough oomph to run back a cable of a few metres to your display.

As you probably know if your using a bare LED it will need a resistor and you can use the calculator on this site to give you the resistor value of what voltage your applying to your light.

glassman
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2016 8:29 am

Re: Total novice seeks help!

Post by glassman » Fri Jul 29, 2016 5:06 pm

That's great - I'll try that trader.

A clarification please! What do you mean by "Daisy chain"? Would connecting in series double the voltage or is my total ignorance leading me astray? I do understand the difference between connecting in series and parallel. Would parallel "beef up" the charging - the voltage produced being the same?

Sorry to so thick!

Thanks for your help - bet you didn't expect a marathon!

Brian

Biffo
Posts: 72
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 3:24 pm

Re: Total novice seeks help!

Post by Biffo » Sat Sep 03, 2016 11:05 pm

glassman wrote:That's great - I'll try that trader.

A clarification please! What do you mean by "Daisy chain"? Would connecting in series double the voltage or is my total ignorance leading me astray? I do understand the difference between connecting in series and parallel. Would parallel "beef up" the charging - the voltage produced being the same?

Sorry to so thick!

Thanks for your help - bet you didn't expect a marathon!

Brian

Sorry I didn't see your post earlier.

and may have confused things with 'daisy chain'

basically if you connect anything parallel ( several batteries for example or solar panels) the voltage will stay the same,
so several 12volt batteries parallel connected and the output will still be 12 volts but there will be an accumulation of extra amps from each battery so 7 batteries at 1 amp each will now mean you have an output of 7 amps .

In series (the proper ref to a daisy chain) which is used in small appliances. each additional battery will increase the voltage output so four 1.5v AA batteries will make a voltage of 6 volts but the whole amp rating will only be as good as the worst battery in the chain.
Likewise old Christmas lights were daisy chained each bulb was rated at about 12volts but put about 18 in a daisy chain and they could safely be connected to the mains voltage.

hope that is of help?

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