Week twenty two

At last we got back to the land after more than a month! The first thing we noticed on arrival was that our new access road had been made 🙂 the neighbour Maneco had told us a couple of months ago that the council would be coming to fix up the road in the area and that if we wanted to we could go halves together (for about R$800 each) to pay them to extend the road through his land to ours as he also wanted that part of his land accessible. They’ve also fixed up a lot of the road leading up to our land and it now looks like it would be accessible in a normal car, at least when its dry. here’s some pictures of the new road, the photo at the bottom shows with green dots where it is on the satellite view, the red dots are the route we used to take before the new road was made (the western end of the red dots are where our bridge is) and the yellow dots are the unchanged route.

The most urgent project for this time at the land was to get the batons on to cover the gaps between the wall boards as winter’s approaching fast and the wind is getting very chilly! We needed to have all the batons chopped in half so that we could bring them in the car because we still haven’t got things prepared for bringing the trailer through the forest. Having them chopped in half meant that we had to nail them in positions that had no frame wood behind to nail them into, so we had to add small pieces and put the sledge hammer behind them to hold them firm while hammering the batons in. But it turns out that this probably would have been a good idea even if the batons weren’t chopped in half because it’s made the wall boards much flatter and stronger.

The next important task was to start getting a supply of firewood chopped up and collected and stored under cover. First we chopped up so much wood that the chain came off! Then we put the tent up again to keep it all in until we’ve created a more permanent place for it (probably the new greenhouse we’re planning on adding to the north side of the house).

In the vege patch our Kumara has got a lot bigger and a tiny capsicum has started to grow. The last photo is a slow exposure of the moon rising above our local hill.

This week ended with my first session constructing our 150W solar panel. In Brazil solar panels are extremely expensive – around three to four times the price we can get them in western countries (if you buy from low-cost Chinese sources like PWG that is). But we found this place that supplies the cells separately as a kit which brings the price down to a more practical level (I also found this one which is a bit cheaper). I watched this video to learn how to assemble the cells into a functional panel. The first step is to solder the tabbing wire onto the backs of all the cells; each cell is 0.5 volts with the backs positive and the fronts negative, so the idea is to wire all forty cells in series which makes a panel with a maximum output of 20 volts and a nominal output of around 16 volts. This output is then feed into the charge controller which adjusts it to suit the battery and load state.

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