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  1. #1
    Captain Randombloke's Avatar
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    Off grid - no power or landline Internet?

    I'm looking at an integrated power solution that might work with a number of devices in an off grid situation.

    This would be very helpful where we want to be able monitor airfields remotely.

    However, for obvious reasons we don't want to talk about actual airfields.

    We just want to talk generally about solutions.

    We could run all the devices individually with their own solar and Internet connections, but this would be costly, as we duplicate functionality.

    What I'm looking for is ideas on is a budget 12V system that would provide power for a number of devices, and recoup the outlay in each device's saving on power/solar/battery and also in one mobile broadband router for Internet. This would also allow DDNS and port forwarding.

    I'm looking to run cameras, a ground station, maybe a weather station, and some other stuff, all on 12V, 5V step down for the PAW.

    As an example of one of the components integral to this sort thing, this is a power failure alarm alerting you of power failures and a contact closure/opening, all by text over 2G.

    GA01P.png

    If you power it with a mains adaptor, it will alert you of a mains failure, but only if it has the back up internal battery fitted. One eBay seller will sell it to you with no internal battery, which is no use.

    I'm looking at a solar panel, regulator (PWM/MPPT?) and a sensible size battery. I'm working out power consumption at 12V.

    I imagine that the path has already been trod by camper vans and boat builders.

    Thoughts on components, kits or the finished item? No location specifics here please...
    Steve U.
    PG, HG & microlights
    "Weekend bimbler, day to day car driver & genuinely undeserving Southern oik who has never done anything of any worth"


  2. #2
    Trainee Pilot Mike Calvert's Avatar
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    12v systems are really common because of their application to campers, caravans, boats etc that all use 12v

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/ECO-WORTHY-...01N1H66G5?th=1

    that means plenty of choice of ready systems, you'll then just need to add on what you need to configure it to your needs.

    On the automatic low power warning side, I imagine there will be ready created solutions out there already, or various homebrew solutions probably using a raspberry pi and a few components??

    I had wondered about a more complicated solution that used both wind and solar, but with the efficiency of more modern solar cells, and the applications you want to use it for all being pretty low drain (compared to running a fridge say) then that would almost certainly be overkill.

    The only weakness with solar cells is I understand they do need to be kept pretty clean to get maximum efficiency - and obviously if snow settles on them, they aren't gonna output much, if anything...


  3. #3
    Trainee Pilot SafetyThird's Avatar
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    Forgive me if this is stuff you already know.

    First thing is to work out the load rating of each device you plan to use and for how long you'll use it per day. Then how many days you want to operate without charging, which will give you the battery size you need then find a suitable charging system, either solar or wind turbine, that can give you enough charge to keep the battery topped up.

    The best place to ask for specific advice is over on https://www.navitron.org.uk/forum/index.php where you'll find the most knowledgable folks about off grid stuff in the country, many of whom have lived off grid for years. They'll know the kit that works and what doesn't. Hopefully you'll be able to get specific advice on the items you need there.

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  5. #4
    Captain Randombloke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SafetyThird View Post
    Forgive me if this is stuff you already know.

    First thing is to work out the load rating of each device you plan to use and for how long you'll use it per day. Then how many days you want to operate without charging, which will give you the battery size you need then find a suitable charging system, either solar or wind turbine, that can give you enough charge to keep the battery topped up.

    The best place to ask for specific advice is over on https://www.navitron.org.uk/forum/index.php where you'll find the most knowledgable folks about off grid stuff in the country, many of whom have lived off grid for years. They'll know the kit that works and what doesn't. Hopefully you'll be able to get specific advice on the items you need there.
    Many thanks, the first para is already growing in a spreadsheet, the second para is complete news to me so that's absolutely brilliant.

    I'll be on that over the next few weeks!!
    Steve U.
    PG, HG & microlights
    "Weekend bimbler, day to day car driver & genuinely undeserving Southern oik who has never done anything of any worth"


  6. #5
    New Member CharlieW's Avatar
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    Hi,

    I was looking at this thread and it spurred me to finally join the forum to reply. I deal quite a lot with mobile internet connections, putting them in obscure places controlling machinery. A few things to consider... I don't know what your budget is for this, but try to avoid the cheaper end of the market. The kit is truly awful and you will spend more time trying to reset it than it is working. Although 12V is common for caravans etc, industrial kit is 24V. Also a lot of decent kit is wide input so 9-36V or 9-48V which gives you lots of options. You also need to be aware that a 12V battery may swing between around 9V and 14ish, and cheap kit may not tolerate that. It is easily worked around with a DC/DC converter.

    In terms of internet access, without going for an expensive commercial contract, you cannot get a static IP address for mobile broadband, and even with DDNS, it tends not to like port forwarding as the device tends to be NATed within the cell system so the IP address you are given isn't a public IP. Port forwarding really isn't secure either. You would be better off having the remote site create a VPN tunnel back to your home/office or another location. This could even be a cloud provider such as AWS just to use as an end point. This then give you access to all devices as if they were on your network over an encrypted connection.

    I'm quite happy to give you a hand, and point you towards equipment that would be suitable.

    Charlie

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  8. #6
    Captain Randombloke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlieW View Post
    Hi,

    I was looking at this thread and it spurred me to finally join the forum to reply. I deal quite a lot with mobile internet connections, putting them in obscure places controlling machinery.
    Thanks for joining, it that machinery stuff on M2M on 2G?

    For low data requirements, like weather stations and mains loss alerts, tihs is brilliant as it's cheap, very low power consumption and robust.

    Quote Originally Posted by CharlieW View Post
    A few things to consider... I don't know what your budget is for this, but try to avoid the cheaper end of the market. The kit is truly awful and you will spend more time trying to reset it than it is working. Although 12V is common for caravans etc, industrial kit is 24V.
    I was hoping to avoid going up to 24V as a lot of the kit that would potentially be on this is 12V or 5V. 12V keeps the batteries affordable, I think, but I have yet to research that as work has been busy and my power consumption spreadsheet is not finished.

    Thing is, over a certain budget for the power side of it and it's cheaper to buy autonomous devices for the cameras, as they then do everything in one box. Microlight pilots are tight.

    Quote Originally Posted by CharlieW View Post
    Also a lot of decent kit is wide input so 9-36V or 9-48V which gives you lots of options. You also need to be aware that a 12V battery may swing between around 9V and 14ish, and cheap kit may not tolerate that. It is easily worked around with a DC/DC converter.
    I'm looking at providing for one or two cameras, a weather station, and a PilotAware ground station.

    Quote Originally Posted by CharlieW View Post
    In terms of internet access, without going for an expensive commercial contract, you cannot get a static IP address for mobile broadband, and even with DDNS, it tends not to like port forwarding as the device tends to be NATed within the cell system so the IP address you are given isn't a public IP. Port forwarding really isn't secure either. You would be better off having the remote site create a VPN tunnel back to your home/office or another location. This could even be a cloud provider such as AWS just to use as an end point. This then give you access to all devices as if they were on your network over an encrypted connection.
    I'll look into that, I'm currently using DDNS but it looks like the camera would have to go in the DMZ for it to work. The cameras would have to be shared with others. PilotAware uses its own encrypted network.

    Quote Originally Posted by CharlieW View Post
    I'm quite happy to give you a hand, and point you towards equipment that would be suitable.
    Brilliant, thanks, just need to get some idea of what power requirements would be.
    Steve U.
    PG, HG & microlights
    "Weekend bimbler, day to day car driver & genuinely undeserving Southern oik who has never done anything of any worth"


  9. #7
    Trainee Pilot SafetyThird's Avatar
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    Oh and I highly recommend Victron gear. I have one of their small solar charge controllers on a system and it's very reliable, has bluetooth for logging and control and they're a well known manufacturer dealing in everything from small 12v systems to large industrial stuff. Something like this https://www.victronenergy.com/solar-...-100-15-100-20. Also works on 12v/24v/48v

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  11. #8
    Captain Randombloke's Avatar
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    Power consumption:

    Figures are now easy to come by.

    I've got a clever mains plug that measures things like voltage, power, current and power factor.

    I'm going to measure the consumption with the mains adaptors these devices use down to 12V, what sort of efficiency should I factor in?

    I think using 100% gives me worst case at 12V?

    E.G. 240V 0.1A at 100% is 24W is 12V 2A, if 50% is 1A, so if the efficiency is understated then the power consumption at 12V is also understated?
    Steve U.
    PG, HG & microlights
    "Weekend bimbler, day to day car driver & genuinely undeserving Southern oik who has never done anything of any worth"


  12. #9
    New Member jameslin's Avatar
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    I also just decide to install solar panels in my house.


  13. #10
    Trainee Pilot SafetyThird's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jameslin View Post
    I also just decide to install solar panels in my house.
    Look into a solar diverter to give you hot water for free. If we're producing more power than we use, it's automagically diverted to the immersion heaters in our thermal store. Immersun, is one of the devices that does this, we used to have one but now have an Eddi https://myenergi.com/product/eddi/ which has proven to be more reliable than the immersun.


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