Project 1

Here is a schematic of the new charge controller circuit. Click on it for a larger, clearer version. I was careful to use only easy to find parts. The NE555 is probably the most popular IC in history. Billions of them are made every year. It should be easy to find just about anywhere in the world. I also switched to a 5 Volt regulator from the 8 Volt regulator the earlier version used. People were complaining they couldn't find it. The transistor is a 2N2222, NTE123, 2N3904, or other similar general purpose small NPN transistor. The MOSFET is an IRF540 or similar power MOSFET. I just happen to have a bunch of IRF540s on hand, left over from other projects. So I used one of them rather than buying something else. Use whatever you can find. All the resistors are 1/8 watt. 1/4 watt or higher resistors can be substituted if you don't have 1/8

2N2222 Or Similar NPN Transistor Q2 . or salvage one from a junked car in a scrap yard.33uF 35V 10% C2 .IRF540 Or Similar Power MOSFET C1 . but ordinary single-turn units can be substituted. Get one from an auto parts store.40 Amp SPDT Automotive Relay D1 . The two trimpots. You may start with only one small solar panel.com.1K Ohm 1/8 Watt 10% R6 .0. but it allows for expansion in the future. It should be very easy to find. You might find the online suppliers to be much cheaper. especially if you plan on building several units and need multiples of each part.0. Eventually the charge controller will need to switch some serious current.100 Ohm 1/8 Watt 10% Q1 . with a slight loss of precision in the tuning. The relay is a general purpose SPDT automotive relay rated at 40 amps.1N4001 or similar R1. 40 Amps may seem like overkill.NE555 Timer Chip PB1. There is no need for any precision parts in this circuit. R2 . I buy my automotive relays on Ebay. then add a few more later. PB2 . I have included a pinout for the relay for ease of connection. Most of the parts can be purchased at your local Radio Shack.330 Ohm 1/8 Watt 10% R7 . I used 10K trimpots because I already had them on hand.Watt resistors. should ideally be multi-turn units. You could also try looking for deals on parts on Amazon. Any value between 10K and 100K ought to work just fine. Even with shipping it is cheaper than the auto parts store. The rest of the parts can be found at auto parts stores. and they are delivered right to my mail box. and online electronics suppliers like Digi-Key.7805 5 Volt positive Voltage Regulator IC2 . possibly a wind turbine.Green LED LED2 .Yellow LED RLY1 . R4. and a bigger battery bank. etc.10K Multi-Turn Trim-Pots R3. R5 . R1 and R2. IC1 .NO Momentary Contact Push Buttons LED1 .1uF 35V 10% . 10% tolerance is plenty good enough on all the passive components. Newark. Why not build in the capability from day one? All other parts are specified below.

Note that on this board I have chosen to use the 78L05 version of the 5 Volt regulator.9 Volts.1 Volts.7 and 15. This more rugged version will get mounted in a box and given a thorough testing in the field. It is the small. which is much more common.9V as my low and high set points for the controller. Measure the voltage at Test Point 1. It is in a tiny TO92 package. Probably the best way to tune the circuit is to attach a variable DC power supply to the battery terminals. the same size as the 2N2222 transistor.333V as you can get it. consider that the battery voltage isn't normally going to get that low except under . It came together in only a couple of hours. Adjust R2 until the voltage at the test point is as close to 3. In between the two set points the controller should stay in whichever state it is in. I use 11. Now set your variable power supply to 14. but that is plenty enough to power this circuit.9V and measure the voltage at Test Point 2.9V and 14. It saves a lot of board space. Adjust R1 until the voltage at the test point is as close to 1.Once I had the prototype working on the breadboard.9 Volts and open at about 11. and vice versa (a dummy load is only needed if you are using a wind turbine. These are the points where it switches from sending power to the batteries to dumping power into a dummy load. if using only solar panels. and again. the dummy load line can be left open). It can only handle 100 mA. Set the power supply to 11. it is time to tune or calibrate it. Before you write to me and tell me that my lower set point is too low and I am over-discharging my batteries. There will be no penalty other than using up a little more board real estate. If you can't find the little 78L05. worked the first time (I must be living right lately). Once you have the circuit built.9V. You should hear the relay pull in at about 14. you can use the full size TO-220 version of the 7805. I just happened to have a few of the 78L05s left over from another project. I built another unit on a piece of Radio Shack Protoboard for use in the field. Test the operation of the charge controller by running the input voltage up and down between about 11. The Charge and Dump buttons can be used to change the state of the controller when the input Voltage is between the two set points.667V as you can get it. black rectangle on the upper left corner of the board.

The relay is on the left side. Click on the image for a larger view. Once I had the circuit working. So the batteries aren't as deeply discharged as you might think at first glance. I mounted it inside a semi-weatherproof enclosure. For permanent outdoor use I would prefer to use a more rugged and weather-proof enclosure like I did for my original charge controller design. Here is another view with the lid in place. not because it is the best one for the job. the voltage would recover over time back up to well over 12V. This box will work for field testing purposes.load. . If the load were removed. I used heavy gage wire for all the high-current connections. I like the fact that I can see the LEDs through the translucent lid and tell which state the charge controller is in at a glance. However. I used this enclosure because I happened to already have it on hand. and I didn't have to drill any extra holes in the box for the LEDs. Click on the image for a larger view. I also included a fuse in line with the solar/wind input line. This thing was designed to switch up to 40 Amps after all. I used a barrier strip to make wiring everything together easier.

and three ground connections. or using only solar panels. You can learn more about dummy loads on my wind turbine page. the positive side of an optional dummy load. These buttons allow me to manually toggle the charge controller between the two states. There are connections for the positive side of the battery(s). It is only the presence of a constant load on them that prevents them from over-reving in high winds. When hooking up the charge controller. the controller is liable to wildly oscillate between states. That way the electronics will have a stable source of power. I should explain about dummy loads. the positive input from a solar panel or wind turbine. . If you are using a commercially made wind turbine with built-in over-rev protection. The type of wind turbines I build have no real provision for braking or furling in high winds.Here is a side view of the unit showing the feedthrough barrier strip with all the connections to the outside. The charge controller will automatically switch between charge and dump when the battery voltage reaches the low and high set points. Here is another side view showing the charge and dump buttons. then the dummy load isn't necessary and you can leave the dummy line unconnected. If a solar panel or wind turbine is connected first. So when the charge controller senses that the batteries are fully charged and switches them out of the circuit. Between the set points the controller will remain in whichever state it is in. it switches in a dummy load (just a big external bank of high-wattage resistors) to soak up the power output of the wind turbine and keep it under load. the battery should be connected first.

It seemed to be working good in my bench tests. So I set up one of my home-made 60 Watt solar panels outside my workshop and used it to charge up a deep-cycle battery using the new charge controller. The Volt meter is showing 12. The only issue I had during the test was seeing which of the LEDs was on in the bright sunlight. Perfect! larger version. It worked great. I find that they work well in small-scale wind and solar power systems. .dumping Click power on so the as not photo to over-charge for a Here is a photo of the first real field test of the new charge controller design. highly successful Here is a closer photo of the setup.64 volts on the battery. It took only a short time for the solar panel to top it off and the charge controller to switch over to dumping. but I wanted to make sure it worked right under realworld conditions. A test. The battery is a 36 AH deep-cycle unit often used in personal mobility scooters and motorized wheel chairs. The charge controller let power run into the battery until it was fully charged and then switched to the battery. which is essentially fully charged. The battery was nearly fully charged when I started this test.

Instead of that juice cooking the batteries it is burned off as heat in the 5W rated zener. Looking at the arrangement of C3.3V (ie 15-0. . Here's my personal quick rundown of the circuit:    D3 stops current from flowing out of the battery and back into the circuit. Yep. If the batteries are fully charged the solar panel will try to bring them above 14.In normal use though the charge controller would be mounted in a sheltered and shady spot out of the direct sunlight. Project 2 ou need a regulator circuit to ensure that the voltage output never goes above 14V (a good 12V battery charging rule of thumb) and that current never travels back from the battery into the solar panel at night. The 555 hard switches Q1 at T= (R2+R3)*C2 = 3. ZD2 clamps the voltage at 14. You get that. panel voltage can never go above 14. sorry) from ETI and built it.7V off the top of the operating voltage (from using a didode) but it's the only way.3V and even when the panel voltage output is as low as 6-7 volts it is still capable of charging a 12V battery.1kHz.3V. Cost is a continous 0. Pretty much the rest of the circuit is a capacitive doubling charge pump into C4. potentially useful solar power is wasted to nothing. This regulator circuit achieves 3 things: battery cannot discharge into the panel. D1.7 of D3). I nabbed the following circuit (used without permission. it gets hot.

Now when Q1 turns off the negative plate of C3 is forced to Vcc through R5 but it still has a charge of Vcc across it. Anything less is detrimental to the battery's health. without it any solar panel output below the battery voltage would have no effect .D2 and C4 you can see when Q1 is on the negative plate of C3 is held close to ground and thus charges up to close to Vcc via D1. Now this will find a stable level at the battery voltage but you can see that if Vcc drops to 6-7 volts (ie a cloud goes across the panel) the output on the battery is still 12-14V.for example solar water pumping.32 @ 13. Specially made lead acid batteries such as marine and gelcels can handle many deep cycles. I calculated the loss due to the regulator at 0.due in part to the fact that they do not consume the anode.2A @ 14V = 2.8W. C4 also charges up to close to Vcc. I'd pefer it to be continuously logging data to my PC. C4 now has 2xVcc across it. Because of D1 does not allow current back to Vcc. . but for now an instantaneous readout was fine. and thus the voltage is doubled. For now they are keeping the first spinoff solar project alive . Car batteries are *not* suitable for solar sites. in fact they don't even like losing any charge. A couple of old car batteries lying around serve as the "battery bank". What you want are batteries that don't mind a deep cycle. As you can see I grabbed a couple of meters and "neatly" mounted them on a bit of placcy. Nicads/ NiMH/ etc are much more suited as they actually don't mind being fully flattened .4W. Readout pictured was 0.4W. This is a nice feature.the solar guitar amp.8V = 4. Best I've seen is 0. However a better way of using solar power is to not use batteries at all .but in this case that voltage is still useful. Car batteries do not like to be flattened. where a deep cycle is defined as 50% charge used.

.Parallel those old car batteries. Project 3 ..

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