Community

K&A boaters action group next meeting 10th April, Wilcot

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

The next meeting of the K&A boaters action group will be on Monday April 10th 2017 at 7.30pm at the Golden Swan, Wilcot SN9 5NN – a short walk across the green from the canal bridge. All are welcome.

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Cheap 10A and 20A MPPT controllers

Monday, March 27th, 2017

Now that Spring is poking her head out of the clouds, it’s absolutely the best time to invest in a bit of solar. And all solar installations need a controller which, if you want MPPT technology – and you may not know it but yes, you do, can be the most expensive part of the install.

There are two types of solar controller PWM, the standard, cheap offering, around £15 from Maplins in Bath, and MPPT, of which it is usually recommended to go for a Tracer, £65 from Bimble Solar. MPPT can offer a substantial increase in power harvested by matching the panels and batteries to the best voltage for maximum power (MPPT = Maximum Power Point Tracking )*. By contrast PWM simply switches off part of the time to avoid over-voltage. Going a bit techie, this means that the greater the difference between the VOC of the panel and the voltage of your battery (12V–14.8V) the more power is wasted whereas with MPPT you can string panels in series up to the maximum input voltage of the controller without losing power. The cheapest solar panels are those used for domestic arrays and are generally around 36V which either won’t work or waste most of their power with a PWM controller.

You have to be careful when looking for an MPPT controller, there are a lot of cheap solar controllers on eBay claiming to be MPPT which are, in fact PWM, but this model checks out as a genuine MPPT at around £20 to £25:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05IcvuI7kJ8

Charge voltage is fixed at 14.7V which may be a little high for some, though not high enough to properly charge or equalise traction batts, but will give them more than a tickle. Max solar input is 50V.

A couple of links for these on Ebay:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/MPPT-Solar-Charger-Controller-12V-24VDC-10A-20A-Battery-Regulator-USB-5V-Output-/142188324794
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/5A-10A-12V-24V-MPPT-Solar-Panel-Regulator-Charge-Controller-100V-Input-DC-USB-JS-/181861868553

Not as good as the latest Tracers and may be not as reliable, but possibly a good budget option for a small setup.

From Bimble Solar’s website

PWM vs MPPT charge controller test

We often get asked about the actual difference you get between an MPPT and a PWM controller so we setup a side by side test using our Yingli part used panels onto 2 separate 12V batteries, 1 with a PWM controller and one with our Tracer MPPT. Panels were set-up side by side angled south.

With early March sun the MPPT was giving 3.7A into the batteries while the PWM gave 2.5A which was 32% lower than the MPPT.

In cloudy conditions the MPPT was giving 1A when the PWM was giving 0.8A (20% lower with PWM)

Both charged the batteries well, but 20%-32% more power was gained by using the MPPT.

http://www.bimblesolar.com/beginnersguide#mpptpwm

 

(with thanks to Smiley Pete on CWDF for spotting it)

Boats Are Homes campaign stall in Bradford on Avon, Sat 18th March

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Liveaboard boaters on the K&A are to hold an information and campaign stall in Lamb Yard, Bradford on Avon BA15 1FG on Saturday 18th March 2017 from 10am to 4pm.

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Boat Fire Safety Talk, Pewsey Wharf, 14th March

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

There will be a boat fire safety talk by Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service on Tuesday 14th March 2017 at 7.30pm at the Waterfront, Pewsey Wharf SN9 5NU.

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K&A boaters action group, 13th March, Bradford on Avon

Monday, March 6th, 2017

The next meeting of the K&A boaters’ action group will be on Monday March 13th 2017 at 7.30pm at the Canal Tavern, 49 Frome Rd, Bradford-on-Avon, BA15 1LE.

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Outreach boat to run once a month with free hot food, health checks, food parcels and internet access

Friday, February 17th, 2017

The Julian House Travelling Communities Support Service will be running a monthly outreach boat with the Canal Ministries narrowboat Litania on the western K&A. STOP PRESS: ON TUESDAY 7TH MARCH THE OUTREACH BOAT WILL BE AT BATHAMPTON WHARF

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K&A boaters action group next meet Bath, 13th February

Monday, February 6th, 2017

The next meeting of the K&A boaters’ action group will be on Monday February 13th 2017 at 7.30pm at The Barley Mow, 32 Bathwick St, Bath BA2 6NZ.

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Boat fire safety talk, Seend, 6th February

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

There will be a Boat Fire Safety talk by Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service at 7.30pm on Monday 6th February 2017 at the Brewery Inn, 69 Seend Cleeve, SN12 6PX.

A massive 28% of boat fires cause fatalities. Don’t let this happen to you!! Come and find out how to prevent fire hazards on your boat. There will be FREE smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and firefighters will be giving advice on how to minimise fire and carbon monoxide risks from solid fuel stoves, generators, engines, fuel and electrics.

There will be a series of boat fire safety talks this winter in canalside pubs along the K&A, organised by Julian House Travelling Communities Support Service in conjunction with the fire service. If you can’t make it to Seend, the next one will be at the Waterfront in Pewsey on 14th March.

See also https://dwfire.org.uk/safety/boat-safety

https://www.facebook.com/GRTBSupport/

http://www.julianhouse.org.uk/projects-and-services/travelling-communities-support.htm

fire safety event poster 6 Feb 17

West Berkshire Food Bank open to boaters.

Monday, January 9th, 2017

church_collectionOne in five of the UK population live below the poverty line and, of course, this includes boaters. If you are experiencing hard times and could do with some help getting through it, help may be available.

West Berks Food Bank recently helped a boater in food crisis in Hungerford. It made them aware that there might be a greater need amongst boaters on the Kennet & Avon Canal.

In order to get help, ring the Crisis Help Line 01635 760560, open from 08.30 to 18.30. After answering a few questions about your situation you will then be given the information to access the nearest Foodbank and receive help.

They have 4 distribution centres on the Eastern end of the Kennet and Avon, opening hours are;
Thatcham Baptist Church – Monday 1-3pm, Thursday 1-3pm
Newbury Salvation Army Citadel – Tuesday 1-3pm, Friday 1-3pm
Hungerford Methodist Church – Wednesday 1-3pm
Lambourn RC Church – Monday 1.30 – 3.30pm

Park_HouseMore information can be found on the West Berks Food Bank website: westberks.foodbank.org.uk

Of course, if you don’t need their service you may be able to help in some way, further details of how you can get involved are here; westberks.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/

Fire safety talk and boaters action group, Devizes, 9th January

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

There will be a Boat Fire Safety talk by Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service at 7.30pm on Monday 9th January 2017 at the Black Horse, Bath Rd, Devizes SN10 2AU, followed by the K&A boaters action group meeting.

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