All Posts for materials

cycling on solar power

When preparing for this trip I made a rough calculation that I would need 3 panels to power my bicycle. At each stop I would set up the 3 panels aim them at the sun collecting between 120..200W (total output of 3 panels) depending on the suns intensity. While cycling I still collect some power from the top panel but this energy is only a very small portion (20..30%) of the total energy needed for the trip.

On average the calculation worked out well but it is still a challenge to get the most out of the available daylight. In optimum conditions (crisp blue sky, flat surface, straight path and no wind) 4 hours…

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Travelling with a recumbent bicycle

In France, Spain and Portugal recumbent bicycles are not very common and people often react very surprised. Comforably leaning backward, looking at the scenery and waving at surprised faces is a great expierence. 

For a long distance road trip a recumbent bicycle is a much better choice than a standard touring bicycle. It is almost as comfortable as a car seat and lets you enjoy the scenery without stressing any muscles. There is also less stress on the wrists, no saddle pains, and no need to wear special pants.

However, if you plan to cycle on narrow, gravel…

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Johan recommended to increase the size of my battery and I was glad I listened to him. There were those days that the sun just did not appear and I wanted to escape from places where I did not want to be; like overcrowded campings. At such moments that extra energy is very welcome.

My battery is made up of a 100 type 18650 cells. The 18650 cells format is the most common on the market and are used for laptops, bicycles and even cars. 10 cells in parallel and 10 of these banks in series. Such a configuration is sometimes called 10p10s.

Example 3p2s:

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charging station


After a day of cycling (and navigating) both my power bank and phone need to be recharged. Expecting to camp 'in the wild' without  wall sockets I made my own charging station. This station enables me to charge all my mobile devices from the cycling battery and leave a bunch of wall adapters at home. The fact that the charging station is fixed to the bicycle has another advantage: I will not be able to forget the charger at the campsite.

The energy needed for the charging station is only a very small portion (<1%)…

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Solar panels

Unlike panels that are normally used of roof of buildings the panels that I use are lighter and can flex a bit. The individual cells , encapsulated in very stiff plastic (ETFE) are made of Silicium, which is a material like glass thsat can break.

When this flex panel has no rigid underground it will break easily by for instance by hail stones. The result is very much reduced output. Johan experienced this. To inspect a panel for micro-cracks put a bright light behind it in a dark room and view the panel from the front. When you see micro cracks it is not good news for the panel. You may stil…

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Navigation system

The ideal navigation system for me would select the best and safest roads without distracting my attention from the traffic too much. Unfortunately I have not found such a system yet.

I started my journey with a Garmin Origon 700. This device enabled me to plan trip ahead on a laptop using Garmins planning software : Basecamp. Each day I would recharge two sets of AA batteries and connect the device to my laptop for loading routes that I planned.

It seems Garmin is phasing out Basecamp because the software…

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Electrical system

Because I am an electronic engineer I decided to buy a recumbent bicycle convert it to an electrical bicycle myself. I have designed all the electronic boards with exception of the motor-controller. Below is a schematic of the whole system electrical system:


PV panels : semi flexible solar panels (100Wpeak each) mounted on aluminium frame, source Ali-express

MPPT : this device boosts the voltage from the panels (~15V) to a higher voltage (~40V) for charging the battery. It also adjusts the current drawn from each panel so it will give highest possible output.…

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