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Author Topic: Any solar powered rigs out there? I have an idea for one, check it out!  (Read 7482 times)
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July 16, 2011, 04:07:22 AM
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I'm kinda into eletricity and inverters and batteries and all that for no real reason.  I even rigged up an 800W inverter in my car so I can run whatever I want in there except apparently a hair dryer and toaster cuz their power usage ratings on the label are A LIE!!!  Angry  Grin  Compared to computing, simple electrical circuits like that are a piece of cake so don't get intimidated.  Since electricity costs are such a huge factor and almost the only ongoing expense, it makes perfect sense to cut it out.  So did anyone already make a solar powered or I guess wind or anything else "power out of nowhere"-ish?

Cuz here's my idea for one but I'm definitely open to suggestions.  Solar power sounds bad because you can't have your computer losing power every time a cloud crosses the sun and a USB shutdown-command-giving uninterruptable power supply is safer but loud and annoying and expensive and then your computer is still off a lot Tongue And I'm all about low costs so what I'm thinking is get a 50W solar panel or two over at Harbor Freight for about $110 (no idea where they all are in the US but just go to whatever mega cheapo demi-hardware store is near you Tongue).  I dunno what kind of voltage regulating capabilities those would have though so that may be a significant expensive.  Then get a 400W or so inverter at the same kind of shop or on newegg or whatever.  That could handle a midrange card, CPU, and hard drive pretty sufficiently.  They're only like $35 and an 800W pretty high end one is about $75 if you had to go that high, but you really wouldn't want to because the last piece is a battery.  A really big, high capacity, high output interstate battery is like $120 so screw that Tongue Walmarts carry a $25 riding lawn mower battery (+$5 lead core surcharge if you don't trade in a battery so $30).  I bought one just for testing subwoofer amps and stuff and when the power was out for half a day here after a big storm a few months back, I got my 200W inverter out and that battery and ran my 32" LCD TV for about 3 hours then ran my 120W gaming laptop off it for another couple hours and as far as I could calculate, it was maybe 30% of the way to a voltage that's too low for my inverter to use.  So those cheap batteries pack a lot of power!

So here's what I'm thinking.  Use your computer during the day and keep your solar panel hooked up to it.  Hopefully it's sunny Tongue then your battery charges and then near sundown, you bring the battery inside and hook up your inverter to it.  Most have jumper cable style clamps so it takes no wiring and like 5 seconds.  Turn it on and plug your computer into its AC outlet then boot it up.  It'll run off power from the battery via the inverter.  Start mining and hope that your battery has enough juice to not drop below approximately 10.4V before morning.  Then wake up, make delicious eggs, read slashdot, brush your teeth, then go shut down your computer.  Then unhook the inverter and put the battery back outside on the solar panel and repeat daily.  If you find your battery running out, calculate the draw and overall capacity of the battery via one of many methods and then add 1 or more additional batteries in parallel to have enough power.

Now, this would technically work for a total equipment price tag of as low as $175.  But if you REALLY wanted to do this long term, here's the ideal setup I'm imagining.

Several solar panels for ultra fast charging.

A voltage regulator for the solar panels to keep it under xx amount of volts.

A DC based battery charger with auto-shut off so you don't overcharge the battery (this is actually pretty much mandatory unless you want to check on the voltage every 15 minutes otherwise it will explode in a flaming ball of hydrogen and acid from overcharging)

A voltmeter and amp-meter so you know what's going on with the whole system at all times.

a really high end, efficient power inverter (or a 12V DC computer power supply instead if they make those)

A UPS that automatically shuts the computer down if the voltage dips too low

Proper fuses Tongue

A deep cycle marine battery that's build to perform many, many draw down and recharge cycles.  $30 walmart batteries may not last real long if you use them daily in this fashion Tongue

P.S. since I have almost all that equipment, I'm gonna rig up a demo of it and make a video, which is a lot more exciting than text Cheesy  Oh and if the forum ever decides that 21 posts and about 3 days straight of being logged in is enough to get past newbie status, it'll be posted in the proper forum category too.
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July 16, 2011, 04:53:34 AM
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Seems good, but it's out of reach for most people I think, not everyone knows that much about electricity, and where you get 50w panels so cheap?
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July 16, 2011, 04:59:44 AM
 #3

there is a 60W solar panel on Amazon for $270.90 with free 2-day shipping via Amazon Prime.   still up there in price, but for people with money to burn, have at it

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July 16, 2011, 05:18:42 AM
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Sorry but that doesn't works, lets do some calculations:
a midrange PC with high efficiency PSU will drain at least 280W, if the night is 10 hours long you need 2,8KWh
 lets assume you're using 2 of the solar panel to charge the battery, and that the charger has 100% efficiency you have in the 14 hours of day 1,4KWh of power put in your batteries. Thats means less than 5hr of power.
Even admitting that 5 hours is better than 0  if you do same is calcs come out that this is totally anti-economics: if you pay your current 0,2$/KWh you can save 0,28$/day, or 100$/yr so you need 3 years of full 14 hours of sunny days to pay your investment (or you live in a desertic area or actually is safe to think that you need at least 5...)

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July 16, 2011, 05:23:22 AM
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Oh trust me, a solar panel - battery - inverter - computer setup is about 10000x less complicated than this whole bitcoin system, which I only about 75% understand Tongue it's reeeeeeeeeally simplistic.  Like watch one 20 minutes video I make and you're an expert on it simplistic.

That not a terrible price.  Just to see if my memory was good, I looked up the one I saw in person.  Well...it was $120 on some crazy weekend super blowout price Tongue

http://www.harborfreight.com/45-watt-solar-panel-kit-90599.html

$180 now so that sucks but still Tongue

I'm no solar specialist but I would think 45W is what it would get on a sunny day in death valley or mounted to a satellite orbiting earth lol.  I'm sure in northern US conditions, it'd be less but I dunno how much less.  But pretending that 45W one generates 45W all the time and an electric bill of $0.12/KWh (somewhat close to average I think), it'd pay for itself after 187 days running just 8 hours per day.  That's not bad.  And if you buy 2 for double the price and they generate double the power for double the combined time, they pay for themselves in 187 days.  And if you buy 10, they pay for themselves in 187 days.  Well you get the idea Tongue

I could seriously see people who drop $500-1000 on rigs solely for coin mining spending even an extra $400 on gear that would allow them to operate their rig for free.  And if somehow bitcoins collapse, you can start inverting some nono-fulltime use appliances and lower your electric bill.  It's less convenient but power grid-caliber, power company approved, flow reversing inverters are $2000 on a good day.  Those are the ones people use who have big setups to supplement their own AC power in realtime use and that's the major reason they're not cost effective.
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July 16, 2011, 05:28:39 AM
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The Future Of Bitcoin Mining


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July 16, 2011, 05:53:03 AM
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Sorry but that doesn't works, lets do some calculations:
a midrange PC with high efficiency PSU will drain at least 280W, if the night is 10 hours long you need 2,8KWh
 lets assume you're using 2 of the solar panel to charge the battery, and that the charger has 100% efficiency you have in the 14 hours of day 1,4KWh of power put in your batteries. Thats means less than 5hr of power.
Even admitting that 5 hours is better than 0  if you do same is calcs come out that this is totally anti-economics: if you pay your current 0,2$/KWh you can save 0,28$/day, or 100$/yr so you need 3 years of full 14 hours of sunny days to pay your investment (or you live in a desertic area or actually is safe to think that you need at least 5...)

hmmmm, yeah I hadn't ran the precise math yet but I had a feeling that with 1 medium sized solar panel, you wouldn't be able to run your PC every single night.  And your theoretic machine would require a ballpark figure of 6 small batteries to operate for 10 hours.  That even kills a stepped implementation where you invest a smaller amount up front and use bitcoin profits to fun additional panels over time.  Well that sucks Tongue  But the good news is that that panel kit appears to include a voltage regulator, voltage transformer, and voltmeter Cheesy

But I have another idea, which isn't my idea cuz I saw it on the discovery channel on that faux-post-apocalyptic semi-reality show: The Colony Tongue  Okay, so what charges the battery in your car?  Your alternator.  It spins and copper spinning past copper or whatever creates charge and that charges your battery plus runs your car.  Btw your local power plant does the exact same thing but the spinning turbine is a little bigger but this is the ideal way to create power efficiently.

A minimal alternator in a small sedan could do about 90 amps tops @ 14.4V @ 5000RPM and probably has an idling rating around 20-30 amps.  The average home car battery charger maxes at 6 amps and can charge an average battery in just a few hours.  BUT car batteries can obviously take more than 6 amps because in a car, it could be causing the alternator to supply it with like 50-100 amps if it was really low.  I have no idea the max rate they can safely absorb energy at, I just know it's REALLY high.  I mean, you leave your headlights on for a few hours while your car's off and your battery is at like 6V so you hook it up to your friend's truck and have him rev the engine (to create more than those 30 idling amps) for a few minutes and the thing's back up several volts higher already.

Now, an alternator takes less power away from the engine than an average air conditioning unit and even those don't exceed like 50HP.  In fact, you can spin an alternator fairly fast with just your hand.  So here's what I'm thinking and like I said, they actually built this on The Colony and it worked.  They just happened to find a bank of like a dozen brand new batteries, double zero gauge cabling, and fuses laying around but still Cheesy Grin  Go get an old school stationary excersize bike on a metal plate frame at Goodwill or a garage sale or craigslist for $20.  Buy a small battery or two at Walmart for $30 ea.  Buy two cuts of a couple feet of about 8 gauge cable and some large alligator clamps at your hardware store for about $30.  Call your local junkyard and tell them you want any alternator of any size out of any car that can spin for about $50-75.  Oh and guess what, all modern alternators have voltage regulators built in already Cheesy Get creative with a drill and a thick metal plate (about $30) and some bolts and mount the alternator a foot or two from your front tire.  Get a car belt matching the alternator's pulley size (about $20) and wrap it around the bike wheel, possibly after removing the back tire, and tension it up.  Then pedaling spins the alternator which you wired up to your battery and tada, it's charging your battery REALLY fast.  Oh and keep an eye on that amp meter and volt meter you hooked up to the circuit ($10 ea) and don't exceed like 50 amps and when the battery is at 14V, stop pedaling.  I'm thinking it would probably take just a couple minutes to charge an entire battery that way.  So tada, FREE ENERGY! Cheesy

You know what that means? Are you ready to have your mind blown?  Like clear out the back of your head, blown? Tongue I hope you're sitting down for this!  You'd be making free energy for your bitcoin rig....to make bitcoins and make money.....while losing weight!  KABOOM! Mind officially blown lol.
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July 16, 2011, 06:43:13 AM
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Get a car belt matching the alternator's pulley size (about $20) and wrap it around the bike wheel, possibly after removing the back tire, and tension it up.  Then pedaling spins the alternator which you wired up to your battery and tada, it's charging your battery REALLY fast.  Oh and keep an eye on that amp meter and volt meter you hooked up to the circuit ($10 ea) and don't exceed like 50 amps and when the battery is at 14V, stop pedaling.  I'm thinking it would probably take just a couple minutes to charge an entire battery that way.  So tada, FREE ENERGY! Cheesy

Off-hand without doing the maths and factfinding, I'm going to bet that the average human won't be able to pedal hard/fast enough to drive the alternator to produce significant power. After all, we used to have these things on bikes that powered the lights... took a fair bit of pedalling to get the lamp working bright enough.

Most importantly, conservation of energy. We're going to be converting only as much food energy into electricity as we can absorb (or we'll get another news headline "Man dissipates himself generating power for bitcoin mining") so definitely not going to be enough... unless you run a slimming studio/gym with access to multiple free "workers" to join your "pool" Cheesy


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July 16, 2011, 06:49:11 AM
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Most importantly, conservation of energy. We're going to be converting only as much food energy into electricity as we can absorb (or we'll get another news headline "Man dissipates himself generating power for bitcoin mining") so definitely not going to be enough... unless you run a slimming studio/gym with access to multiple free "workers" to join your "pool" Cheesy


Just for math an average man can produce 70-100W, but the idea of the gym is fun Grin

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July 16, 2011, 06:58:49 AM
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So here's what I'm thinking.  Use your computer during the day and keep your solar panel hooked up to it.  Hopefully it's sunny Tongue then your battery charges and then near sundown, you bring the battery inside and hook up your inverter to it.  Most have jumper cable style clamps so it takes no wiring and like 5 seconds.  Turn it on and plug your computer into its AC outlet then boot it up.  It'll run off power from the battery via the inverter.  Start mining and hope that your battery has enough juice to not drop below approximately 10.4V before morning.  Then wake up, make delicious eggs, read slashdot, brush your teeth, then go shut down your computer.  Then unhook the inverter and put the battery back outside on the solar panel and repeat daily.  If you find your battery running out, calculate the draw and overall capacity of the battery via one of many methods and then add 1 or more additional batteries in parallel to have enough power.

Sounds a bit too many manual operations involved. Why don't you consider hooking things up in parallel, or triple source a cheaper UPS so that it would run off AC, Solar or Battery depending on which is available?

Alternatively, wiring the solar/battery directly to the most demanding +12V (with a regulator of course) auxilliary power inputs of the graphic cards so the solar powered stuff will just drive about 80% of the cards requirements and theoretically easier to expand to more cards simply by adding another set of panel-batter "modules"?

After all, 3 sets of 120W panel +  battery each capable of handling 3KWh is going to be cheaper and more reliable since a single failure doesn't take out your entire setup

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July 16, 2011, 07:42:01 AM
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Well if you're gonna go and use actual real world tests instead of roughly estimated numbers then of course it's not gonna generate enough electricity rofl.  Darn Sad that explains why The Colony bike alternator was shown in like 1 episode for a few minutes followed by a montage of people complaining about it and giving up and getting off the bike lol.  They had one hell of a like $20,000 solar array too which, coincidentally, they also found just laying around lol.

Hmmm so you're saying get a seriously regulated solar panel system that will not under any circumstances go above 12V and then splice it directly into the 6 or 8 pin supplemental power and cut out all that nonsense in the middle and have automatic "who cares what the solar panel wattage is, the computer is still running" handling with no UPS?



Btw, cheezburger is ripping off wordpress's bandwidth for photo hosting on their site?!?

Anyway, that's a good idea.  But how is it 80%?  I thought if the PSU is sending 12.0V and the solar panel is 12.0V then in parallel, they each supply 50% of the current.

Since I know this one is coming, yes, I already considered charging a 2nd battery with a spare 12V line to my car's main circuit while driving around during the day then unhooking it and using its power overnight.  The most basic, undetailed estimate puts that are WAY more expensive gasoline-wise than getting power from the power company and I don't think it's gonna get any prettier if I add more accurate variables.  Oh, and it'll burn out your alternator real fast.
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July 16, 2011, 08:29:20 AM
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Hmmm so you're saying get a seriously regulated solar panel system that will not under any circumstances go above 12V and then splice it directly into the 6 or 8 pin supplemental power and cut out all that nonsense in the middle and have automatic "who cares what the solar panel wattage is, the computer is still running" handling with no UPS?

For practical purposes, the large battery connected to the solar panel is an UPS Cheesy

Panel -> Battery -> Voltage Regulator -> direct to Card 6/8 pin or the mainboard's 6/8pin as well

Quote
Anyway, that's a good idea.  But how is it 80%?  I thought if the PSU is sending 12.0V and the solar panel is 12.0V then in parallel, they each supply 50% of the current.

Well, 80% was referring to the amount of current delivered through the +12V line, as compared to the the total from +5V/3.3V Cheesy

Also, depending on the graphics card and where it connects most of its power pins to, the draw is not the same as a single load drawing from two parallel voltage source.

e.g. if the card has 3 regulators running off the +12V line, 1 is connected to the PCI-E slot, 1 is connected to the 6pin and 1 is connected to the 8pin, theoretically 67% of the draw would come from the now external solar source. This assumes the card distribute the load evenly of course. But if they draw mostly from the aux connectors (most of the high end card won't even boot if they find it disconnected), then it could be as high as 80% I suppose. I don't know enough about graphics card PCB layout to be sure they don't just merge all the incoming inputs though Cheesy



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July 16, 2011, 11:30:52 AM
 #13

TL;DR...

sorry trying to goto bed, I'll read later.

anyone link to this yet?

http://forum.bitcoin.org/index.php?topic=16377.0;topicseen

my dad used to have ~6 tons of AGM batteries he got from an auction for $1k for various projects, they ended up in some boats, and some guy's basement.  He's also worked on the SoCal's water pump in the middle of nowhere from the Colorado River, its got a backup generator, some batteries inverters and Solar Panels.

Set up the same thing..
http://bit.ly/btcrefs
Get more bitcoins.
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July 16, 2011, 04:15:31 PM
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oooooooh neat thread!  That guy's awesome.  Of course he's proving my point with his estimation that the cost of supplementing power plant power with solar is fairly cheap but replacing it completely and not even using it as a backup takes the system cost up into the many thousands.  A really good long term storage system and power regulation system puts the price through the roof even if the solar panels and wind and fat guy on a bike with an alternator were free Tongue

You should totally grab like 8 of those batteries and buy a couple feet of some 4 to 8 gauge welding or car audio cable.  That's usually like $0.80 USD per foot.  Then just wire up all the batteries in parallel and get a cheap inverter and you've got a nice, almost free energy storage system.  People think that if each battery can output 700 amps then they need thicker and thicker cable as the chain of wire gets closer to the end with the thing drawing power.  That's not true.  Your PC is drawing let's say 300W so the entire chain needs to carry about 21 amps and that's it.  It'll be somewhat evenly across the batteries too.

It's seriously about this complicated Tongue


But back to the solar panel supplementing DC current after the power supply idea...yeah, 12V is easily 80% of the total system power.  I certainly could remove the 12V wiring from most devices inside the computer and put it to a solar panel but as soon as the sun goes away, the system crashes.  So what I was thinking is splice in a parallel circuit to the solar panel on a dual molex to 6 pin graphics adapter.  Like basically hook one 4 pin molex into the PSU and the other 4 pin molex into a snipped molex to bare wire connector then run that to the solar panel.  I think power-wise it wouldn't be able to supply more than 50% of the power since it's in parallel BUT if the solar panel suddenly stops supplying voltage, the computer's power supply would jump to 100% without the system crashing.  I'll have to experiment with that idea.
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July 16, 2011, 05:43:36 PM
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But back to the solar panel supplementing DC current after the power supply idea...yeah, 12V is easily 80% of the total system power.  I certainly could remove the 12V wiring from most devices inside the computer and put it to a solar panel but as soon as the sun goes away, the system crashes. 

That's why the battery is always the last step before the voltage regulator and the actual component Cheesy

In a way the solar panel is charging the battery rather than supplying the gpu. So once the sun goes away, the battery will start draining. The PSU doesn't have to handle 100% of the load suddenly. You could set a schedule to shutdown the GPU miner once it is say 10pm if you estimate the battery will only last say 5 hours after sunset at 6~7pm.

Alternatively have a simple circuit that kicks in an AC connection to the battery once the solar input goes out if you don't want disrupted mining.

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July 16, 2011, 06:18:47 PM
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ooh, that's even smarter Tongue cuz then I could eliminate the 12V completely.  If the computer shuts off for some random reason though, there's power coming from the solar panel but no draw so the battery overcharges and blows up. 
Also, I dunno if there's reverse flow controls out the back of the graphics card though.  I would think there is.  Otherwise the battery would charge off the PCI-E 12V line cuz that is typically connected together with the card's supplemental power circuit.  I think the computer would crash due to lack of voltage before that happens though.
All I know is my old Nvidia 8600GTS OC had a cool feature.  You forget to plug in the 6 pin and the computer will boot but the driver will pop up a warning window saying insufficient power is getting to the extra power plugin on the back of the card so it clocked the GPU down to a super low clock speed and is running it off the PCI-E slot power, which caps at like 30W I think.  So when you do plug in the 6 pin, is it running 30W off the slot and maybe 100W off the extra circuit or does it switch to 100% extra power?  Who knows.  And someone said radeon cards just crash the system if you don't plug in supplemental power Tongue So maybe those are 1-circuit cards that ignore the available PCI-E wattage completely.  Either way, I'm gonna test this whole system with a less sensitive device than my card Tongue I have a molex 36W neon case light/neon inverter kit I can hook up to it first Cheesy
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July 16, 2011, 06:36:50 PM
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I'm kinda into eletricity and inverters and batteries and all that for no real reason.

Look, there is no way in hell that you are going to be able to run a mining rig on Solar cost effectively. In fact if you just take a basic mining rig with a couple of 5870's in running at full, you would need to probably cater for around 750w continuous drain.

As you would only be able to get any sunlight during the day, you only have around 8 hours max (if you're very lucky) of any usable light. So to power it up you would need (in good conditions) around 20 80w panels. Hmm add that up. Ok, then you would need about 6 40w charge controllers (They're going to set you back around $150 each!!). On top of that, the batteries, the inverter etc,.... There is simply no way that this is worth it,...... Jeez, let's get real here. And if there was another way, then we would already know about it. Better off looking at fuel rods or something.
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July 16, 2011, 06:57:22 PM
 #18

Also, I dunno if there's reverse flow controls out the back of the graphics card though.  I would think there is.  Otherwise the battery would charge off the PCI-E 12V line cuz that is typically connected together with the card's supplemental power circuit.  I think the computer would crash due to lack of voltage before that happens though.

That's why the voltage regulator is there between the battery and card it should have reverse current protection.

Quote
All I know is my old Nvidia 8600GTS OC had a cool feature.  You forget to plug in the 6 pin and the computer will boot but the driver will pop up a warning window saying insufficient power is getting to the extra power plugin on the back of the card so it clocked the GPU down to a super low clock speed and is running it off the PCI-E slot power, which caps at like 30W I think.  So when you do plug in the 6 pin, is it running 30W off the slot and maybe 100W off the extra circuit or does it switch to 100% extra power?  Who knows.  And someone said radeon cards just crash the system if you don't plug in supplemental power Tongue So maybe those are 1-circuit cards that ignore the available PCI-E wattage completely.  Either way, I'm gonna test this whole system with a less sensitive device than my card Tongue I have a molex 36W neon case light/neon inverter kit I can hook up to it first Cheesy

The Radeon cards simply refuse to start if they don't detect the aux power connector. I don't think they are one circuit card or else they wouldn't be able to tell if the aux power was connecter or not since a +12V/gnd connection would be present no matter where it was coming from. But the way it used to be detected was really stupid, the circuit only test for a ground connection and I was able to trick it into working simply with a piece of wire... Cheesy

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July 16, 2011, 07:30:26 PM
 #19

Seems good, but it's out of reach for most people I think, not everyone knows that much about electricity, and where you get 50w panels so cheap?

How about this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTvAL7ty53M&feature=related
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July 16, 2011, 07:52:37 PM
 #20

Ok, this would do what you want (cheapest possible solution).

http://www.aliexpress.com/product-gs/473114247-Free-shipping-10-100w-solar-panel-grid-solar-power-system-800w-wholesalers.html

So just a bit over $2300 for a solution. Is it worth it?
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