Social Distancing

Long Weekend, May 21st to 25th, 2020

Our first weekend away since the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders from mid March. We headed South to Carrizo Plain National Monument, which is a wide open space perfect for social distancing.

The first night we stayed at Pinnacles National Park campground. And we were a little disappointed to see that the Park Service is constructing some form of cabins in the campground. Staying in Pinnacles allowed us to escape San Francisco and not worry about finding a place to stay for the night.

As well as getting away for much needed time outside of the apartment, this trip also included a project, to install additional monitoring and logging hardware and software. And to work out what is happening to the battery. and if it is holding a charge. So, up early on the first full day to install a smart electricity meter on the house battery. Had to shut off the power for all of Molly, so wanted to get this done before making the morning coffees.

There is already an electricity meter in Molly, but it is not the “smart” type, and so it is not easy to connect to a computer. So, added another meter, and if it works out, then we will replace the original one. For the moment they are both installed. More details on the batter monitoring project can be found at the Battery Monitoring post.

We took a very scenic route South, avoiding the fast and busy roads. Along the way we stopped for lunch overlooking a very nice valley, and we had internet coverage allowing for the logging software to be installed onto the computer.

We found a nice spot to stop for the night, just below Mc Kittrick Summit. Caroline prepared rabbit for dinner. And surprisingly, we also had internet.

We spent two full days in our home away home, and only saw three other cars the entire time. Because it was hot, we set up the “Woodlands Screen House” for some shelter from the sun. Also installed temperature and Humidity sensors so we could monitor just how hot it was. The sun must be intense, as it was not actually that hot. and only got to 27ºC.

Also installed a new thing-a-ma-jig to monitor how much electricity is being generated off our solar panels. This took a little bit more effort than expected, as the thing-a-ma-jig did not want to talk to the computer network, but finally got it all set up just before dinner. The idea is, if we know what we generate from the sun, and what we export to the batteries, the difference is then our consumption. And we want to know our daily consumption so we can determine what size batteries we need. It will take quite a few more measurements before we work this out, and experiment with different weather and solar conditions. But now we have the equipment in place to monitor it more closely.

Our little setup.
Golden Hour during our evening walk.
Rabbit with Leffe beer. Yummy.
Finally made a connection to the Solar thing-a-ma-jig,