Greetings to all Element14 members and visitors. This is my introduction on what I plan to achieve with my supercapacitor experiments.
While I await for the components to arrive, I am somewhat apprehensive about the path before me. This is only my second “Experimenting with” design challenge, and it’s my very first using passive components, so you’ll have to bear with me through the ups and downs. The first "Experimenting with" change was titled "Experimenting with Gesture Sensors" and this was a challenging but thoroughly enjoyable experience. I liked the format too.
So I am aware that this challenge is going to stretch me but as I love learning-by-doing, I am certain that this deep-dive journey into the world of supercapacitors will bring forth new ideas, insights, and questions. But before I dive right in and explain my plans, I wish to thank Cornell Dubilier and Element14 for this fantastic opportunity to learn and experiment with supercapacitors. It’s very much appreciated.
Area of Application
In the age of energy conservation, and high energy prices, it is not uncommon to hear people complain about lights being left on when no one is in the room.
Yet, those who use CCTV cameras, whether indoors or outdoors, are essentially switching on a light and then leaving it on for the night each and every night the camera is being used. The difference here is that this light is infrared so you cannot see it. Hence most do not think about it.
So for this design challenge, I aim to create a low powered wireless device using Bluetooth 5.x, a PIR sensor, a camera and some LED's.
I aim to use super capacitors to power everything and a solar panel to recharge everything during the day although it may also be battery assisted and/or main power assisted depending on power usage requirements. The aim here though is not to power the (infrared) LED's constantly but only get them to illuminate if heat movement is detected by the PIR. The trick is to work out an optimum duration to create sequential flash photography (using something like slow frequency PWM).
The design challenge here will also involve determining how many LED’s you can flash at once, using different parallel or serial configurations, and how flashes can you get with a single and with multiple super caps in different configurations. I am assuming for now that you would want to use a good amount of current to get the brightness, if say the leds are in a parallel configuration, and then you don't want these LED’s to stay on for too long as it will consume all your power stored in the super capacitor.
By experimentation I should be able to determine size and number of super capacitors required to last the night etc.
Understanding through Experimentation
One of the primary goals is to understand the nature of charging versus discharging and how you can incorporate this knowledge into your application design.
So for example, when charging I will be looking at inrush current and methods of controlling this through the power circuitry design. Areas of consideration would be evaluating methods of trickle charge versus fast charging.
Then the other focus area will be on power discharge and how to use the unique characteristics of a super capacitor to deliver benefit to my application. This will involve experimentation with different combinations of capacitors in different configurations.
My enjoyment comes through participation, so here’s hoping that the brain remains fully charged and illuminated throughout.
I hope you’ll enjoy reading my blogs throughout this journey.
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... and talk about good timing... the doorbell has just rang and my package has arrived!