My attempt at the 5 gal bucket cooler went pretty well, though not perfect. Notes from my experience:
- Get construction started early. You'll have to get things from online sources, and if anything goes wrong, you won't have time to recover.
- The fan Figjam recommends does indeed put out of lots of air - much more so than the one I bought at Rat Shack first. Just follow his recommendation.
- I note, though, the the place he linked to as a source was backordered when I wanted one, with no ETA for restocking. I found another source for this fan after some extensive searching, but ended up making 2 attempts to get it. The first time I mis-ordered a different, 4-wire model of the same fan, which used the 4th wire for fan "control" (and which could not be jury-rigged to make the fan start). I discovered this after receiving it and an unsuccessful attempt to make it work (which was debugged by a friend who is an electronics expert). The 3-wire one I got on second order worked fine (using only power & ground wires).
[*]Don't economize by waiting until you get to RNO (or similar) to buy the cooler pad & attempt to build it there. In Boston, it's humid, and nobody uses swamp coolers, so no stores stocked any. I'd have had to have one shipped to build before leaving here, which seemed silly for a $5 component. So instead, I built everything except
the pad here in Boston, shipped it out, and bought the pad in RNO, then added the pad at the Burn. Bad idea for three reasons:
- Less precision available when constructing away from your normal construction workbench.
- High dependence on getting it right the first time.
- In particular, do NOT attempt to cut the pad on the Playa. Talk about MOOP CITY! Fortunately, I cut it on a floor where I could collect all the little blue bits before they Mooped up the Playa. But cutting blue cooler pad on the Playa is a BAD idea.
[*]The 7 volt pump in the original post was a pain in the butt; find the 12-volt Figjam currently recommends. I didn't realize this until too late, and used the 7-volt one with a voltage converter. It was an electrical hassle, and the pump didn't put out much water. I think it under-wet the pad. Next year I'll switch to the 12-volt pump.[/*]
- I think Figjam's recent recommendation to put a little air hole on the _far_ side of the drip ring is a good suggestion. I'm betting part of the problem with my 7-volt Harbor Freight pump was that the pump had to work too hard to overcome the air-bubble on the far side of the ring from the T connector. My ring definitely wet the side of the pad closest to the "T" much more thoroughly.
[*]Don't use a bunch of plastic car lighter accessory plugs / splitters / cables as a convenient way to wire together all the different connections, then set your full bucket of water down on all the car lighter parts right on the Playa and shatter them all to pieces just as you are setting up your cooler for its first production use, forcing you to re-wire everything by hand, cussing and fretting the whole time. I can vouch for the fact that this is a big bummer.
[*]Don't try the trick of putting the cloth thingie somebody recommended around the outside to cutdown the dust. It a) gets clogged with dust quickly, which b) causes the fan to suck the cloth against the bucket and (importantly) the cooler pad, which c) causes it to get wet, and muck up the whole thing. I did this, and removed the cloth bag mid-week. Just make sure you have the proper gap between the pad & bucket & let the pad filter as it will.[/*]
- I note that getting the pad size correct was probably the biggest hassle to figure out, since the orange kit buckets all seem to vary in size. We should probably come up with a method to a) precisely measure the inside base of a bucket, and b) compute the appropriate pad size from there. Using a metal tape measure (particularly on-playa) didn't work so well. I must have cut my pad 3x to get close to the right size. Also, the construction process should suggest measuring the inside height with the lid attached after you've cut the hole for the fan, but before installing the fan.
[*]Another harder-than-expected thing for me was to figure out clean wiring to the power sources. The little 12-volt wires are often so small that crimp splicers won't hold them together. Plus, it's important to not over-complicate the wiring; fixing overly clever electrical on the Playa is a pain and a waste of Playa time. Fortunately I found some nice clips & stuff, but this was lucky, and overall harder than anticipated.[/*]
[*]I felt that my 5-gal bucket adequately cooled my H12 yurt. No, it's not as cool as the big version of the cooler would have been, but it made more than enough difference to bring down the mid-day heat to a comfortable level.[/*]
[*]I think my big, deep-cycle battery was overkill. I didn't want to leave the cooler running all the time, since I wouldn't be there to refill the water every time it ran dry. So I ran it from roughly 10am-3pm each day, which was about 1 full bucket of water. It ran 6 days. I don't think I came close
to exhausting my battery. Next year, I'll do some calculations to see if I can use a smaller battery. (Actually, hopefully next year I can get 120v power, and use a wall wart to step it down to 12v.)[/*]
All in all, it did the trick. Thanks, Figjam. IMO, a full repeat of the bucket design, under a new thread title, started by you, with current supplier links, stuff about the air hole, varying bucket sizes, etc., will be in order before next year.