Portable solar system test case

At one point I was tasked with re-designing a solar company's 'test cart'. The test cart contained some neat equipment, including a Keithley sourcemeter, switch unit, laptop computer, and various odds and ends. The problem was, the owner of this equipment wanted an easy way to air-freight this equipment around without having their techs monkeying with too many wires and things.

They had hired an outside design firm to put a case together, but they were way behind schedule, and people kept asking for a test case. In order to satisfy the initial need, I researched the largest air-freightable rack that could be easily and cheaply checked into airports, and then designed and rebuilt their test cart into this rack. My theater experience has trained me well in how to ship gentle things in a way that they can be rapidly packed, transported, and unpacked without getting damaged.

This is a front view of the test case. Their Dell laptop could be sat on top. During shipping, this laptop and all the test cables could fit into the two drawers in the lower 4u of the rack case. The top 2u are occupied by the Keithley sourcemeter and its switch unit, and below that is the breakout panel for all the test cables.

The breakout panel includes thermocouple inputs, connectors for the solar panels under test, BNC connectors for solar insolation measurement, and an extra connector for string voltage. Because the test equipment could be reconfigured for various tests, the source meter's front panel inputs were jumperable via banana jacks which went to various points on the breakout panel's connectors.

This is the back view of the test cart, at left is the sourcemeter, at right the switch unit. All the cables coming out were lengthened and heat shrunk to reach the front panel. The Keithley meters have GPIB for their data, and the requirements of this GPIB to USB adapter meant that the case had to be much longer than otherwise.

In an effort to keep the temperature within the rack somewhat under control, the enclosure was spray-painted white. In actual course, were these to be shipped via air freight as proposed, I would have ordered foam-damped or coil-spring damped cases made out of white plastic instead of black.