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Rolling solar rig for marches/rallies (and more)

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mlenny View Drop Down
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    Posted: 15 December 2019 at 11:02pm
I built out this little system - primarily for going way beyond bullhorns or crappy little suitcase/rolling speakers. This is self-contained and rolls easily on a janitor cart (with upgraded pneumatic tires), and is a great little platform with loud, quality audio that doesn't require a loud, heavy generator.

Technically - it's a 12v system in that the lower shelf has an expandable bank of 12v deep-cycle batteries, with a 1500w continuous inverter/charge controller (Inergy Kodiak usually, but I also have other 110v inverters).  I have a 100ah battery, and also several 35ah batteries that I can chain together with a fused bus bar. All interconnect is via Anderson Power Pole connectors for quick and foolproof setup. With a Ram Mount tough claw, I also carry a 100 watt solar panel.

On the top bench - I can roll with a pair of tops (usually QSC K10.2) on a dual-pole stand. I cut a hole through the top and mounted a base plate/receptacle on the bottom for an M20 threaded pole.  I usually have a small A&H mixer and pair of Sennheiser G3 wireless units (or for cheaper/simpler gigs a pair of 2.4ghz Xvive wireless units). I can easily add a laptop for playback, and have some "desk space" for things like a Radial ExoPod 14 output press/mult box. 

Power-wise, it's shocking how little power these boxes draw with their Class D amps. With 2x QSC boxes, a small mixer, and the wireless - at idle I'm looking at ~100 watts. If it's just people speaking/chanting - it might be pulling -150 watts. Music is obviously a bigger draw, butt still really efficient. And with the solar panel bringing power back into the system - depending on the program, this rig will run all day long.

For events that don't need the mobility - I can bring a KW181 sub and/or additional QSC tops (either as monitors, or outfills/delays for more coverage). I can power 4 boxes (plus the mixer/wireless) off this setup if I need to. And additional boxes can be added on a 2nd inverter/battery setup if need be.

I've thought about marketing this to weddings or outdoor events that that don't have grid power available (and don't want the noise of a generator), but still want quality full-range sound.




Edited by mlenny - 25 January 2020 at 1:18am
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studio45 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote studio45 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 December 2019 at 2:05pm
Awesome! 
I'm surprised to hear how efficient the QSC's are. I tend to assume anything mains-powered will be so inefficient it's not even worth considering for mobile use. But a ~12 watt idle draw per channel is about what my current 48v DC system has, especially if I'm using any of the lighting, so that's really not out of the question. When you use the sub, what's the idle draw like?

Looks like you had a decent budget for this project - did you look into lithium battery packs to save on some weight? 4s LiFePO4 batteries are compatible with lead-acid in a voltage sense.
Studio45 - Box Builder Commotion Soundsystem -Mobile PA
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Phil B Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 December 2019 at 3:10am
Awesome little rig. Very similar to what I've been doing down here in Melbourne. We have a rolling SLA battery pack with a small B52 setup ( 18" Sub with built in amp plus two satellite 12" + 1 " tops). That pulls very little on idle, I've never clamped it for a true reading but running the system at about half volume, 2 x 250 watt panels in direct sunlight keeps the voltage steady !
Or if REALLY portable is needed we have a wheelie bin system ... ( 2 x 12" sub in ported enclosure inside the bin with battery, amp, and charger with 2 x tops ( Car 6x9s in sealed boxes on poles).
Been using it a lot for various climate demos etc etc. Would love to get some small Li=Po's for the B52 rig and then build them into the sub enclosure.

More panels would help when you add the sub. We use old music stand tripods to rake the panels and they are easily portable !

Your trolley is something I would like ...we just have an old wheelboard with pull rope !

Doing a gig just using sun power is strangely satisfying and lots of people are shocked that it's not using the batteries. We are lucky to have the sunshine but that also means the heat and right now we are burning ... literally :(





Mostly harmless.... except if catering is shut.

Solar & Wind Sound System Shennanigans..http://diyhifi.biz/
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mlenny Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 December 2019 at 4:09am
Yeah - at idle/standby I think the QSC's draw something like ~20 watts. The sub is the same - all the new QSC K series (8.2, 10.2, 12.2, and KW181) all have the same amp I believe. And for most rallies I do - the sub really only is in use for some occasional playback music.

I would love to do Lithium batteries - but the Inergy Kodiak can't do external lithium batteries (even though it's internal battery is lithium!). The new Apex units do I believe, but I'm stuck with the heavy beasts. 

Even fully loaded down (batteries, inverter, mixer, wireless, and 2 QSC tops) it's pretty easy to roll. I wouldn't want to go uphill for miles, but usually I can recruit 1-2 volunteers to push/pull and it's easy.


Edited by mlenny - 25 January 2020 at 1:19am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mlenny Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 December 2019 at 4:10am
Originally posted by studio45 studio45 wrote:

I'm surprised to hear how efficient the QSC's are. I tend to assume anything mains-powered will be so inefficient it's not even worth considering for mobile use. But a ~12 watt idle draw per channel is about what my current 48v DC system has, especially if I'm using any of the lighting, so that's really not out of the question. When you use the sub, what's the idle draw like?
  
Yeah - at idle/standby I think the QSC's draw something like ~20 watts. The sub is the same - all the new QSC K series (8.2, 10.2, 12.2, and KW181) all have the same amp I believe. And for most rallies I do - the sub really only is in use for some occasional playback music - otherwise not much content in it's frequency band.

Originally posted by studio45 studio45 wrote:


Looks like you had a decent budget for this project - did you look into lithium battery packs to save on some weight? 4s LiFePO4 batteries are compatible with lead-acid in a voltage sense.
  

Well, I had much of this gear lying around (past life as a live sound engineer), and it's all multi-purpose.  Easily pulled for more "traditional" uses or rentals.  And with my background, I very much believe in the "buy once, cry once" mantra with gear. None of this is high-end, just reliable pro-sumer level that I can count on working and sounding good.

I would love to do  lithium batteries, but the Inergy Kodiak  doesn't allow external lithium batteries (even though it's internal battery is lithium!). The new Apex units do I believe, but since I already had a few lead-acid/SLA/Gel batteries - I've stuck with those , even though my other inverters and chargers that could handle lithium.
 




Edited by mlenny - 17 December 2019 at 4:15pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mlenny Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 December 2019 at 4:17am

Ah - another climate activist! Nice XR banner in the background (and I see the Red Rebel Brigade!). I work quite a bit with XR here in the San Francisco area. And I manage finances for XR US nationally as well. My day job is at 350.org. I was a live sound engineer when I was younger, and still do some occasional production management/rigging for some aerial dance -  so a lot of this gear I already had lying around.

Originally posted by Phil B Phil B wrote:

Or if REALLY portable is needed we have a wheelie bin system ... ( 2 x 12" sub in ported enclosure inside the bin with battery, amp, and charger with 2 x tops ( Car 6x9s in sealed boxes on poles).  Been using it a lot for various climate demos etc etc. Would love to get some small Li=Po's for the B52 rig and then build them into the sub enclosure.

I love the wheelie bin. But how loud do those 6x9's get? I thought about building a straight 12v systems with car-audio components, but figured most of those speakers are really designed for indoor/small volume spaces - and without horn-loading wouldn't really have much "throw" or volume for outdoor events.

Originally posted by Phil B Phil B wrote:

Doing a gig just using sun power is strangely satisfying and lots of people are shocked that it's not using the batteries. We are lucky to have the sunshine but that also means the heat and right now we are burning ... literally :(   

Yeah - I do charge everything back home with solar, but usually bring the panel mostly for show and symbolism. But when there is good sun exposure - the panel really does keep the system topped off unless I'm driving it hard with nonstop music.



Edited by mlenny - 17 December 2019 at 4:16pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Phil B Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 December 2019 at 5:15am
Originally posted by mlenny mlenny wrote:



I love the wheelie bin. But how loud do those 6x9's get? I thought about building a straight 12v systems with car-audio components, but figured most of those speakers are really designed for indoor/small volume spaces - and without horn-loading wouldn't really have much "throw" or volume for outdoor events.


They are actually pretty good outdoors, obviously not amazing range but on the demos the bin has covered a couple of hundred dancers on a street easily. The sub is pretty damn good a well ! Again with a 100w panel added to the system the voltage remains a steady 12.4 to 12.8 in full sunshine at 3/4 volume. Job done !
Mostly harmless.... except if catering is shut.

Solar & Wind Sound System Shennanigans..http://diyhifi.biz/
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