Can anyone give me instructions on how to build a solar fountain? One that fits into a large plastic planter.?

I'm still working on "green" craft items and I am thinking about using soda pop bottoms for the center piece of a fountain that water falls from one bottom down to the next and having it recycle the water. It would have to be a small pump...but would like to find the pumps that work on solar ( and battery) powered and where to buy them...really CHEAP LOL . I am going to use a plastic pot, about 8 " x 14" or more for the base of the fountain.

I could use anyones thoughts/ideas on how to make the pump recycle and what type of pump I should buy? I think I have the rest of this worked out in my mind ....but I'm totally clueless when it comes to power of any sorts  : o


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AndyGadget6 years ago
 
Looking back at you're original requirements and seeing you're in Wisconsin, I think now that what I was proposing below is going to be an over-the-top solution for you.  I think that by far the simplest way would be with one of the small solar fountain kits from eBay.  Use plastic tube from your local hardware shop of the same diameter as the pump outlet and with the climate you have there you should get plenty of flow for a soda bottle fountain / waterfall.

Things are a bit more challenging where I am in the UK where we don't have a climate - we just have weather!  Also, I'm looking for a bit of a higher flow rate and higher lift so those smaller pumps wouldn't have enough power.
terriradke (author)  AndyGadget6 years ago
No climate in Uk??? Didn't know that. Wisconsin's motto is "wait five minutes and the weather will change" Today we have a heat advisory with temps in the upper 90's, but with the humidity, the heat index will be 101-110 degrees! Yuck! The winters we can get temps 30 below with a wind chill of 50 below!! HA! Not sure with "climate is better"?

Thanks again for the instructions, I was actually looking @ mini waterfalls in Mendards. I guess I never thought of eBay....Duh!!

 
I've just realised - I was thinking Wyoming, not Wisconsin! (I am 4,000 miles away #;¬)  Still, I think you still get a fair amount more sunshine than we do. 
We do have a climate - Hot in the summer (usually) and cold in the winter,  but it's a bit like yours.  Within that you never know what the weather is going to be tomorrow.  It sounds like your extremes are more so than ours.  We very rarely see over 90 degrees F in the summer or below zero in the winter.
AndyGadget6 years ago
 
I need to do something similar - A solar powered pump to provide a trickle feed to a pond.  I tried a windscreen washer pump today and it's a non-starter for solar power - It drew 3.3A from a 12V battery.

I've got a 2.4W solar charger which when directly facing bright sunlight will charge the battery at 150mA.  At 100% efficiency, this means that you need to charge at that rate for 22 hours to get 1 hour pump-time.  In practice, it will need much longer charge time.

A possible alternative is a bilge pump.  This has a MUCH higher flow rate - way too much for our purposes, but only takes 1.5A from the battery.  I need to try running this at a reduced voltage to reduce both the current taken and the flow.  Just restricting it won't do the job as current would increase.

I'll report back once I've tried a few things, but it may be a week or two.
terriradke (author)  AndyGadget6 years ago
Thank You AndyGadget! By the sounds of things, you will find the correct combination.
 
I'll certainly give it a go, but as a famous Scot once said, "Ye cannae break the laws of physics, captin."
 
OK, an update on this :-
The bilge pump is the way to go, but even dropping the supply voltage down to 6V there's still too much flow, and there's too much power wastage (as heat) in dropping the voltage.

So, it needs a PWM controller, which can be as simple as a power MOSFET and a 555 timer.  A Pulse Width Modulation controller works by applying the full voltage to the motor for a short period of time and then turning off for a short period, thousands of times a second.  The ratio of on time to off time controls the speed, from nothing to full speed.  This is much more efficient than dropping the voltage.

I'll be doing this with a microcontroller as I'll be including solar tracking and pump on time as well, but I'll be testing it with a simpler setup first.  I'll let you know what happens, and I'll be publishing the entire thing as an Instructable when I've finished the whole thing.


terriradke (author)  AndyGadget6 years ago
English Please LOL!! I am a good crafter, but lousy at science!

And Thank You!
 
I'll make things simple once I've designed and tested the complicated bits #;¬)
terriradke (author)  AndyGadget6 years ago
OK...thanks! :)
terriradke (author)  AndyGadget6 years ago
Englsh Please....LOL!! I am a good crafter, but I am lousy @ science : o
terriradke (author) 6 years ago
A trekkie!!! Awesome. Please do let me know if you find something that works....way too technical for me LOL ; )
There is pump, designed to pump so-called windshield-wiper fluid, from a so-called fluid reservoir, for teh purpose of moving this fluid from the onto the wind-shield of one's car.

It may be the case that you own car, or know someone who does own one. 

I humbly suggest you seeking out this car, belonging to you or a friend, and opening hood, and seeking out this pump for pumping windshield-wiper-fluid, because it is nice pump. Is small pump.  Does not use much power. 

And more importantly, this pump is designed to run from aproximately 12 VDC, and tehre are solar cell modules, also nominally 12 VDC, which are well matched t this pump.

I mean thingk about it:  How often do you really wash your windshields anyway?
 
Yep, I've used a windscreen washer pump for a different sort of project before (vivarium humidifier).  Look out for a 2nd hand one really cheap on eBay.
However, I'm not sure how long they'd last running continuously as they're designed for occasional short burst operation.
terriradke (author)  AndyGadget6 years ago
Thanks! I guess I will have to test one first.
rickharris6 years ago
Even a modest windshield pump is going to require quite a big and expensive solar panel.

There are so called solar motors out there that are designed to use minimal power, a good second hand source is an old battery powered cassette player.

Ther will run off a tiny solar panel - you would need to make an impeller to fit the shaft to move the water round.
terriradke (author)  rickharris6 years ago
Could you give me more information on how to do this?

Thanks!

http://www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/pumps.pdf

Lots of simple pumps described here including impeller pums made from household objects

http://www.electronelec.co.uk/acatalog/SOLAR_MOTOR_____chr_42_____RoHS____chr_42_____.html

Example of solar motor lots available on the web

Lots of small solar panels about. You will need to generate 3 volts or more to shift water.
terriradke (author)  rickharris6 years ago
Thank You!! :)