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Mr Chips 03-01-2011 09:30 AM

Solar Powered Entertainment Generator (long winded--sorry)
Have an idea that I have been kicking around for some time, and although from a cost standpoint I realize it's totally impractical, I am tempted to try it never-the-less.

Every year in late spring and early fall, while it's dark & warm enough in early evening, I put on outdoor movie nights for my kids and their friends, by setting up chairs in my driveway, and projecting movies onto my garage door. The kids and parents love it, and we always have a good time. When i started doing this i would set up a table in my driveway that i would put my projector, dvd player, and stereo receiver on. I would then put two house speakers on each side of the garage door, and run an extension cord from the house to the table to power it all up. Needless to say, it took some time to get set up and break down, and i had tripping hazards with the extension cord and speaker wires laying around in the dark with kids who rarely sit still. And i always had to worry about someone bumping in the table and knocking something to the ground. Last year I mounted outdoor speakers under the soffit at each corner of the garage door. This allowed me to keep the receiver and dvd player in the garage, so all I needed to have outside was my projector. i would run an extension cord to my projector and a long video cable from the dvd palyer in the garage to the projector in the driveway. This was a lot better as far as set up and take down, but i still have two cords laying around that i had to cover with an old carpet runner to lessen the tripping hazard, and had to run inside and back out to adjust the volume and such.

Last year I came up with an idea to make a self contained, portable unit. Here's the plan:

Get one of those heavy duty four wheel garden wagons. Mount a wooden box that will hold 2-3 deep cycle marine batteries, wired in parallel in it. Mount a 12v car stereo head unit, with DVD to it, put speakers on the sides. add an inverter that can power my 300w projector. I could use the top of the battery box for a table for my projector ( i could even flip a projector ceiling mount upside down and mount it the the box top, to eliminate the risk of the projector getting knocked over).

I plan to store the thing in my shed, so I am thinking i could mount a solar panel on the roof of the shed, and add an Anderson connector to be able to easily connect/disconnect charge controller to/from the wagon. This way it would always be charged and ready for action.

This would allow me on a movie night to just unplug the unit from the charger, wheel it into my drive way, chock the wheels and turn it on. No wires at all laying around, nothing to get knocked over and broken by rowdy kids, and all the controls at my fingertips.

I could also wheel the unit close to the house during a power outage, and run an extension cord into the house to power a couple lights or the coffee pot, which is great for the night and early mornings, when it's too early/late to wake my neighbors up with my gas generator. It also gives more power to access in my shed (no electricity other than solar out there now) and a mobile entertainment center for backyard parties and bbq's.

I realize it isn't going to be cheap, but I already have the projector, car speakers, a couple inverters, a couple 15w solar panels, charge controllers, 12v LED lights and misc stuff like wire, connectors, fuses etc. Plus I like fooling around with stuff like this, and it just sounds like it would be way fun to make and use.

I figure I'd have to purchase the following:
yard wagon ( approx $100)
12v deep cycle Batteries ( approx $70 each)
12v car/marine stereo with dvd ( approx $150 with no built in screen)
misc stuff I don't have or am forgetting ($100 +/-)
So not counting the stuff I already have I figure it's going to run me somewhere in the neighborhood of $500

If you've made it all the way through this let me say thanks for reading, and I'd love to hear any thoughts, suggestions, or alternative ideas.

NCpaint1 03-01-2011 03:09 PM

You rock as a dad! My dad made me chase fire flies......

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