Archive for the ‘Amplifiers’ Category

As a bit of a ‘greenie’ i like to see what is possible in reducing my own greenhouse emissions and generally being responsible for my impact on the environment. I was browsing the web the other week and came across this article which describes how someone built a solar powered amplifier. To be more accurate it is a battery powered amplifier (12 volts) with solar panel added to add additional power and /or to charge a rechargeable battery. I have been interested in solar for years due to my mate Johnny Grainger (see his solar blog here).

I had an old pignose amp that i bought back in 2001 – it is a basic 12 volt amplifier that pignose ampworks on a small transistor amplifier. It has a reasonable level of overdrive and can output around 5 watts rms. I used my multimeter to work out it uses around 200 ma of current at 12 volts to power the amp.

John Grainger is a guru in everything solar panels and solar power. He is my ‘go to guy’ when it comes to all things ‘green’ and renewable energy’. He has recently started promoting solar battery storage solutions for solar power systems – the idea being that the solar energy that is not used in a home, from its installed solar system, can neatly and efficiently be stored in ‘solar batteries’ so that the energy can then be directly used to power a home at night. This is a game changer for solar power systems and will make, john says, it possible to be ‘grid independent’ or at least 90 percent less reliant on the electricity grid.

This is from John’s blog:

“The biggest ‘game changer’ has certainly been the remarkable level of interest shown by South Australians in embracing solar battery storage technology. It is estimated that between five and twenty percent of new residential solar power installations (yes, it is hard to pin down the precise figure!) are now incorporating solar battery storage technology. The emergency of  lithium-ion battery technology has meant that storage of solar panel generated electricity will become ‘mainstream’ within the next five years and most Adelaide solar companies will be offering a solar battery storage option. Lithium-ion batteries offer huge benefits over ‘traditional’ sealed lead acid battery technology, the main benefits being:

  • Astoundingly high energy densities possible. depending on their design,  lithium-ion batteries can store large amounts of electrical energy in a small physical size. This means that for an ‘average’ home,  lithium-ion battery packs that can run most electrical appliances for a reasonable mount of time to the total night time usage without calling for a huge (physically) battery bank.
  • Minimal ‘self discharge’ characteristic. The problem with many of the traditional battery technologies was that they suffered from internal electrical discharge – so even when no external load was applied to the battery, those batteries would slowly discharge – wasting precious stored solar energy. Lithium ion batteries have minimal self discharge characteristics
  • High Cycle Life Characteristics. Lithium ion batteries can be charged and discharged many more times than sealed lead acid batteries. this is a critical specification as the rated number of charge / discharge cycles is a reasonable measure as to the longevity of the battery system.”
  • (reference:

This is amazing – i will look to install batteries as an adjunct to my 4.2 kilowatt solar system this year.

Anyway, my pignose amp is now solar powered. I used a low cost ET solar 100 watt 12v inverter for solar panelssolar panel and a 12 volt inverter off ebay (which cost only $32!!) to generate more than enough solar energy to run the amplifier even on overcast days.

Conclusion – Going ‘green’ starts with YOU! By combining a few simple solar components i can now run a small guitar amplifier 100 percent off solar panels. I am going to look to see what other devices i can now run off solar and cut my carbon footprint in the process!


Innovation in Guitar Amplification – Go Solar!

I came across some neat stuff today. I was at Kmart, and found 2 nice dvd players, one with one 7″ 16:9 screen, and one with two 4.5″ 16:9 screens. Now, why were these neat? because not only did they play dvd, and cdr/cdrw/mp3, but they had av inputs for other a/v inputs like xbox, vhs, tv/satellite tuner, etc., and were 12vdc native with 120vac adapter. Great for keeping the kids occupied on long trips, or in their bedroom at night when the generator is off. Both are less than $200. second cool thing was at BJ’s. We all have seen those portable air compressor/jump starter packages, but one with a 400 watt inverter intregrated? It’s a 12vdc power pack, a 400 watt 120 vac power pack, jumper cable and air compressor package, with service light (not fluorescent like the jump pack I got previously with no inverter. This one is “Hummer” branded, and costs $99. Last cool thing, which I purchased a while back at sears, was a 15″ LCD TV (not hdtv 16:9). 12vdc native (44watt), with 120vac brick. IIRC, it was about $389. With with PC SVGA input, $599. So where is this all leading you ask? Well a Fender amp is a mains powered device , so you might say how can i run it, like the gizmo’s above, from 12vdc when we are gigging in the bush? Good question well I think that solar panels is a great way to power your amp if you are REALLY remote. They are just too expensive to get power put on in remote properties like my mate Grahams so I will be doing research in  ways of powering the old Fender amp so we can jam on solar power . You need, i am told a solar inverter which will convert the electricity that the solar panels make into a.c. electricity that the trusty Fender amp runs on . I got this info from his website , where they have useful information on solar power in Melbourne and solar rebates etc. About solar- what people tend to forget is  prevention is better than cure. So many buildings are build without proper insulation or considering window placement, front, overhangs, ect, ect. If you do this properly  you can bring the electricity load down dramatically and then your solar power system and the number of solar panels needed will be a lot less. My mate Phil Green ( a great player and solar techie) and I will be going more into solar power for our uisic applications. Phil has 30 solar panels on his Melbourne home and reckons his power bill has dropped 80 percent since he installed it. He got a solar rebate from the Vic Government and the 3kw system only cost him $4K – pretty impressive considering that solar power in Melbourne used to set you back over $20k 5 years ago!! Heres the link to the solar power Melbourne site – here