Well, I noticed the field radio and camera went off. When I rebuild circuits for 12 volts, I normally use a DC jack with a diode across it to provide some level of reverse polarity protection in case things goes wrong.
Well, about five AM this morning, the radio went offline and I decided to go check things out, first I noticed the battery was down to six volts, way too low to run the radio anyway. When plugging in a spare battery, the radio still did not come online. So I opened the electrical panel and noticed the casing on my refitted POE injector was melted and the panel smelled like a campfire. Now, this is my fault, I do not have a fuse inline with the test bench. Mainly because CT wants $9 for a glass fuse holder…something I will just had to deal with when making the final version of the tower.
Here is the weird part, there has never been a reverse polarity incident with this setup. The only thing that I can think of is that is that when I removed the battery before disconnecting the solar panel, the system voltage might have gone over 16 volts and the diode bit the dust but the panel doesn’t have the output on a cloudy day to smoke the diode. So…when I plugged in the spare battery, that cooked the broken diode.
Anyway, lesson here is to include a fuse between the battery and system when I do the redesign in a few days……..you would figure a radio guy who plays with electronics would think of these things. (Where is my project staff that is supposed to go over the check list with me..eh eh???)