Newsletter Archive

E-News Issue #25

5 October 1999

Web Page

During the past couple of months, we've been making a lot of changes to our web page, including new background colour, Glockemann specs, RPC hydro specs, newsletter archive, Spanish section; on line registration for the e-newsletter; some new links; etc. More improvements and additions are planned for in coming months. Thanks to Daniel Mugnier in France, Raul Duran in Chile and Ian Smith in Nimbin for their work and co-operation.
Any suggestions are most welcome.


A couple of newsletters ago, I discussed the advantages of eutectic fridges. Chris Meagher has a 12V Trailblazer (which isn't eutectic) and he suggested: "Anyway, I have to agree with the idea of getting the most cold while the sun shines. To this end I have packed the bottom with a layer of cooler bricks (the blue ones) to greatly increase the thermal mass, particularly so when there isn't much food in the fridge. I turn it off at night and it holds the cold very well. It would be interesting to try this with other types of fridge."

Pedal Power

We are sometimes asked about pedal power devices, so I've asked Peter Pedals to give us a short article:

I have done a number of experiments with pedal washing machines and concluded that to convert a standard washing machine or build a pedal washing machine from scratch using the same washing principles was probably not a very cost effective exercise. A pedal washing machine of this type ends up not being a labour saving device where you cannot do anything else but pedal for the entire duration of the wash. You could achieve a similar result by throwing your washing into a bathtub and walking on it without incurring the expense.

It is possible to charge a battery with pedal power where an achievable charging current may be about 10 Amps into a 12 Volt battery. To keep this up for an hour would be very hard work to put 10Ah into the battery over that time. An 80W solar panel would give you 25Ah each day at a similar set-up cost and no hard work.

It is very inefficient to use a pedal generator to generate electricity and then convert that stored electrical energy to power an electric motor driving an appliance. You can purchase a set of photocopies giving information on how various pedal machines work and how to make your own pedal machines including directly mechanically driven appliances which end up being many times more efficient than converting mechanical energy into electrical energy, storing it as chemical energy, reconverting back into electrical energy and finally back into mechanical energy with the electric appliance.

Telecommunication Applications

I recently wrote this article for another newsletter which you might find of interest.

Rainbow Power Company Ltd is an unlisted public company which specialises in the manufacture, sales and installation of Renewable Energy products based on solar, wind and hydro sources. It also provides consultancy and training programs through its subsidiary, RESHAPE Pty Ltd.

The bulk of the Company's work is related to the provision of power for homes not connected to the grid. However, there is an increasing interest and market for grid connected photovoltaic installations.

The Company manufactures an innovative 300W pelton type micro hydro generator which uses a three phase induction motor as the generator. This output is then rectified and regulated as a battery charging unit. On a good site this micro hydro can generate power at some 1/5 the cost of solar. This unit has been sold in two dozen countries around the world as far away as Ecuador and Peru.

Some of the more interesting work done by the company involves the provision of power for telecommunication and telemetry purposes. Telstra has been using photovoltaic panels for 20 years for remote transmitter and repeater sites as well as for individual pay phones in the Australian outback. In fact, it was the space and telecommunications industry that first developed solar PV modules. Today they are regarded as one of the most reliable forms of power for critical loads on satellites, radio and lighthouse beacons etc.

The Rainbow Power Company has undertaken a number of projects for various telecommunication projects.

Somalia, Africa: This involved the supply of a portable power pack comprised of solar modules, battery and a 230V inverter. This was used by Aid workers to communicate with their European base by short wave radio during the crisis there some years ago.

Rabi Island, Fiji: This is a small island about 20km long which had no phone system. Ten solar powered CB marine radios were installed, 8 circling the island, one on their fishing boat and one on their taxi truck. This system allows families to keep in touch with each other and has been invaluable for medical emergencies etc.

NSW Police: A number of remote repeater stations have been installed for the Police radio network using a combination of solar panels and wind generators.

Water Authority Telemetry: Several sites in Tasmania, NSW and WA have been provided with micro hydro generators to provide small amounts of power which is used for monitoring river and dam flows or water levels. Actuators can then be energised to open or close gate valves to control the water level as required.

On several of these sites, the customer preferred to use micro hydro rather than solar for a number of reasons. Some sites are located in heavily forested areas which are unsuitable for solar. Removal of the tree cover in these areas is often unacceptable as they are located in National Parks or gazetted water catchment areas. In other locations, the use of solar panels was deemed to be at a high risk of theft or vandalism due to their isolated location. A micro hydro generator can be locked inside a secure shed.

The Company can assist clients with all aspects of the full design and supply of a Renewable Energy system.

That's all for this month folks. Please get back to me with your comments, articles and orders!!!!

Cheers from Dave and all the RPC crew.

Dave Lambert (Director)

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We install solar systems in Northern NSW and Southern QLD.

Gold Coast (from Coolangatta to Southport), Nerang and Hinterland (Beaudesert) and out West (Warwick, Stanthorpe, Killarney)

Northern NSW (Tweed Heads to Iluka, including Evans Head, Byron Bay and Ballina); the Far North Coast Hinterland (Yamba via Lismore to Murwillumbah) and out West (Casino to Tenterfield, including Drake and Tabulam, as well as Woodenbong and Bonalbo)

We also have sales agents in
Grafton:contact Andy Wilkinson directly on 0409 508 144, and
Tenterfield:contact Diamond J Legend directly on 0425 769 444.