Sunday, February 17, 2013

A New Flavor Of Madness

I saw an interesting ad on Craig's List the other day.....
Does anybody think I have a 'Craig's List problem'?
I can quit anytime I swear!

Anywho, the ad was for the individual solar cells for a Solyndra solar panel.
Yes that Solyndra, the failed clean tech company that the repubs have made so
much political hay over.
The price was right, less than $8 each so I grabbed a bunch.

Check em out
Don't they just look cool?

Closer-up view of the tubes.
They are a dark, dark purple with a silver spiral wound around the inside.
In person they are quite striking. They have the same form factor as a FL tube.
They are about 3' long and 1" in diameter.

Thought I'd run some tests in direct sunlight.

Single one up close on a blue background.

Just lying on the blue blanket in direct sun I got these readings from a single tube.
Open Circuit Voltage
~118V DC! Yowza
Open Circuit Amps
With a whopping .028 Amps.

Then I picked up the tube and held it at a roughly 45 deg angle so that light could hit the tube from all sides the readings changed to this.
Open Circuit Voltage

Open Circuit Amps
So I've got 120VDC and .040A. I supposed this supports Solyndras assertion that these tubes are omni-directional.
I will need to test these under a load but I'm not sure what a safe load would be....anybody got any ideas?

My Crazy Plan
These tubes are so striking that I want to use them in some sort of outdoor art piece.
Maybe the tubes charge a battery during the day and then the piece lights up at night.
Or it could be a kinetic sculpture that moves during the day when the tubes are producing power.

Problems
I don't instantly know how to make use of 100-120V DC.
I'm not sure that DC-DC step down converters exist that can handle this high of an input voltage.
I need to figure out how to charge a battery from this input.

Anybody got any ideas?

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