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Our favorite charge controller (after adverse circumstances)


SEAMONSTER (technical) is a big jigsaw puzzle and power is an important set of pieces. Some power logic for example:

  • Radio communication might cost 4 watts
  • This will run down a decent sized truck battery in a matter of a week
  • There is no sunlight to speak of in the Arctic for four months out of the year
  • Conclusion: Run intermittently (duty cycles) to conserve energy.

Suggest starting out at Polar Power Dot Org for an existing introduction to power devices in cold regions.

We have four components involved: Generators, energy storage, loads, and controllers, or more commonly:

This page describes some of the basics of power management, consumption, and regeneration.

Interesting suggestions (Matt Nolan) and pursuant links

Use Concorde or any deep-cycle non-spillable gel cells NOT lead acid.

Wind generators: Forgen 500 or Aerogen4, depending on application.

Non-rechargeable air alkalines are lighter weight than rechargeables (1200 useable Ah weighs about 100#). Program a relay to switch you between rechargeable and non-rechargeable systems depending on voltage of the rechargeable system. This is done with some success on a number of remote polar measurement sites with a high draw.

Advantages of multiple smaller solar panels in comparison to single larger ones:

  • Smaller multiples are uch easier to pack and ship without damage, especially the ones with no glass, which are also much lighter.
  • In the field they are easy to handle and individually catch less wind.
  • Multiples require a little more mounting hardware, but can also be split apart and redeployed as new ideas emerge.
  • If one breaks or blows away, you still have others so you're not out cold.
  • Smaller panels are more expensive to purchase than larger ones, all else being equal, but whether they are cheaper in their whole lifecycle depends on many other factors.
  • A 75W panel is very difficult to transport in a helicopter, and I doubt you could strap that to a skid, so the awkwardness of loading it into the interior may necessitate more helicopter flights, which quickly offset any cost savings in initial purchase.

Rob left off here

I hope to be able to hire a UAS student to do some battery and power generation tests as part of SEAMONSTER and have them help fill in the web pages at

PolarPower.org - Remote Power Systems for Polar Environments

The website is available at: http://polarpower.org/

It should be a great reference!

I was recommended the Bescor Gel battery (it comes in 6V "chunks") --Matt

Solar Panels

  • bp solar
    • Model SX30U
    • Price about $230 US, may be quantity discount
    • Part # 5200.0015
    • Dimensions in inches < 24 x 20 x 2 in cm < 61 x 51 x 5
    • Peak power 30W Warranted Minimum Pmax 27W
    • Current 16.8V (loaded) Current (Imp) 1.78A
    • Open circuit voltage 21V
    • Short Circuit Current 1.94A Min Bypass Diode 3A Max Series Fuse 5A
    • Back has 6 mounting holes, both sides x 3 on long dimension

  • Shell SQ70 70 watt panel
    • Cost $350 apiece for 8+
    • Peak Power (Pmpp) 70 W
    • Cell Type: Mono-crystalline
    • Peak Power Voltage (Vmpp) 16.5 V
    • Cell Dims: 125 x 125mm
    • Peak Power Current (Impp) 4.25 A
    • Open Circuit Voltage (Voc) 21.4 V
    • Short Circuit Current: 4.7 A
    • Max. System Voltage: 600 V
    • Nominal Voltage: 12 V
    • Max Series Fuse: 15 A
    • Length: 47.2 in.
    • Width: 20.8 in.
    • Weight: 16.7 lbs.
    • Depth incl. jbox: 2.2 in.
    • Depth excl. jbox: 1.3 in.
    • Box Quantity: 2
    • Limited Warrantee: 25 years

Power Consumption Comparisons

Different scenarios were tested to see how much power the slug, the memory stick and the iMic take. We tested the power consumption from just the iMic, from a USB Hub (Targis) and the i Mic, from the USB Hub, iMic and USB drive. We also looked at power used when plugging in USB WiFi from Ed. We also compared power consumption from different memory drives. ~Carrie

1. little Watt's Up to Slug06 + Memory Stick (8GB Flash Voyager) + USB Hub with iMic

  • Power: 3.6 W and 0.71 Amps

2. Little Watt's Up to Slug06 + Memory Stick (8GB Flash Voyager) + iMic

  • Power: 2.6 W and 0.52 A

3. Little Watt's Up to Slug 06 + Memory Stick (8GB Flash Voyager) + USB Hub with iMic and with Big USB Drive connected to big Watt's Up

  • Power a. (little Watt's Up): 3.7 W and 0.73 A
  • Power b. (big Watt's Up): 10.2 W and 0.17 A

4. Little Watt's Up to Slug06 + Memory Stick (8GB Flash Voyager) + USB Hub with iMic and with USB WIFI (no antennae) and with big USB Drive connected to big Watt's Up

  • Power a. (little Watt's Up): 4.2 W and 0.84 A
  • Power b. (big Watt's Up): 9.9 W and 0.17 A

5. Slug (brand new) + 8GB Flash Voyager Memory Drive connected to little Watt's Up

  • Power: 2.7 W and 0.54 A

6. Slug (new) + 2GB SONY tiny USB Drive connected to little Watt's Up

  • Power: 2.0 W and 0.41 A

7. Slug (new) + WIFI - Link (no antennae) connected to little Watt's Up

  • Power: 2.8 W and 0.57 A

USB Power Control under Linux/7260

From Will Otte's email of Mar 24, 2008

BTW: Now that I have time (yay!), i did some digging around and it turns out that it, while ordinarily not possible, it IS POSSIBLE on the 7260 to turn off the 5v supply to the USB. This is done by setting the 1th (not 1st, 1th) bit of the 8 bit register found at memory location 0x1200_0000 to zero. Guess thats why we pay a premium for the 'low power' version :-)