Friday, September 2, 2011

Electrical System

Starting to build the electrical system, which will run on one or several 12v batteries. A few years ago I designed and installed the 12v system on my friend John Haslett's 30-foot sailboat, and the book I used--Casey's Sailboat Electrics Simplified was so good that I still remember it, and picked up a copy to guide me along. On the distribution panel (click image to enlarge) you see, from the top, switches for the VHF radio, a low-amperage light (red, to prevent loss of night vision) to illuminate the instrument panel, breathing gas (oxygen) heater, propane fuel heater (to clear frozen fuel could be -70F where I'm going!), suit heater (should not be needed at all, as the pressurizing gas in the suit is an excellent insulator, and military high altitude balloon pilots, it turns out, more often overheated than became cold!) and suit coolant pump, which will circulate cooling fluid through hoses sewn into my pressure suit liner. Getting the power to do all of that from 12v batteries is going to be a challenge, and I am considering a solar panel array to keep the batteries charged. I'm also researching chemical methods to keep the propane burner fuel lines from freezing, as I'm skeptical that the 12v system will actually have enough power to keep them cleared. Casey's book is a wonder, and I recommend it for anyone working with a system like this. The suit I'm leaving alone for a bit, just thinking through some fixes to a couple of issues. The electrical system is a nice diversion. It is thoroughly fulfilling to design and build something that works!

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