Solar Node mounted in a tree

First Solar node is up and running. It’s very first week active will be a good test if it’s sustainable. 4 days of rain and clouds expected.



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I am very curious to hear how this goes. I would like to mount a solar tbeam up high. However, I have found that my tbeam will sometimes go unresponsive and requires a reset. I would hate to have go up and reset it on a regular basis.

One thing I have considered is whether I could extend the reset button to ground level or at least a height that doesn’t require a very tall ladder.

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I wired a second battery into it and left a pigtail to expand it even further if needed. I’m hoping two batteries will be enough to hold it over on cloudy days but if not I can fit a third battery in the box. I was also considering getting one of those square 3.7v 10000mah batteries. They run like $20 but it would fit perfectly in my box and would sustain the node for plenty of time. I didn’t get my box as high as I would have liked but I was kind of surprised by how little of a difference being 17 feet in the air made. At ground level I was getting about 1.5 MI during testing. After installing in the tree I’m only getting about 1.75 miles. And that is highly dependent on which direction I’m trying to go. My area is extremely hilly with lots of massive variations in elevation and dense foliage

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I wonder if there is any OTA reset in the works. That would save a lot of hassle if it would boot back up and reset itself when the battery got charged back up

Yesterday I had a node that had gone flat, but didn’t turn back on when the external power was switched on - I had to press the reset button to make it work. I think there is an issue with how it handles a flat battery.

I’m very interested to hear how you get on with this! I have some solar repeaters already but no tbeams, I want to replace one of them with a tbeam though. Keep us updated!

That looks really interesting, what config options have you got set on it?

Long and slow, 900 broadcast 300 sleep. Probably need to change the sleep period to longer. I suspect it’s going to die tomorrow, there has been virtually zero Sun with heavy rain here for 2 days now and it’s down to 40% battery. Supposed to be 2 more days of rain and clouds.

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Day 5 up and running, day 3 of heavy clouds and rain, she’s officially dead. Guess I will get it down in the next week or so to reevaluate my design. I’m thinking a 10,000 mAh 3.7v battery will hold it over during stretches of heavy clouds and rain way longer than my x2 1800mah batteries. Also thinking I will play with the sleep setting to up the sleep time. Only issue iv ran into with upping the sleep time is that I seem to lose substantially more messages the higher the sleep time. I tried to synchronize the boards sleep time by restarting them all at the same time but that seemed to do absolutely nothing because as soon as the solar kicks in the boards stay on without sleeping and then fall into they’re own sleep cycle when the solar goes off. This is the battery I’m considering, thoughts?

Man I wish there was a way to restart the boards without climbing a tree and pressing the button :joy:

Also would be nice if they would auto start when a power source is applied. Kinda sucks as it is because the solar panel on a sunny day puts out more than enough juice to power the batteries back up, just won’t happen until the board gets reset.

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sleep only affects the end user device side (bluetooth, screen, etc) and not the LoRa radio.

is_router power setting is for this specific use case, when the device doesn’t care for a user connection and is only used to retransmit LoRa packets. if your solar panel charges using the USB port you might want to set is_low_power too.

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Not sure then but I definitely noticed a dramatic difference in the amount of messages going through when I set the sleep time to 900 in testing.

is_low_power what exactly does that do?

by default USB power prevents sleep (when enabled), is_low_power changes that. shouldn’t be needed when using is_router.

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Yep mine did the same exact thing! Guess I’m going to have to break down and spend the money to get a large enough battery backup that I never have to worry about it cutting off.

Have you disabled the GPS? That may make a little bit of difference

I have not, I wonder how much that would increase battery life.

There are some power numbers from early days somewhere on this site.

You may get better performance if the antenna isn’t as close to the tree trunk. I think even being a few inches away could help.

I know it makes weather proofing harder but running this without the ‘pig tail’ connecting the antenna to the board could help as well.

Your antenna may be more empty space than you realize and if the protective case is removed, you may find it fits in your case when directly connected to the board.

Antennas are basically voodoo if you don’t have a deep and expansive understanding of the many things that interact on various levels. Hence so many rules of thumbs we use to make radios more practical.

I was already considering moving the box off the tree a bit with some kind of little L bracket.

I don’t know enough about antennas to be comfortable hacking away at one, that’s just the antenna that was recommended by ham radio crash course on YouTube. He claimed it got him dramatically better performance, I really haven’t seen much of a difference at all though and I noticed ever since I installed the antennas my snr is all over the place I’ve seen it as low as -18 and as high as 16. Considering replacing them

Something to consider is maybe take a try at hacking off the case of the stock antenna that came with the device. Often pulling at the right place on the base is all it takes.

A lot of the ‘rubber ducky’ antennas are just something like this image with a protective plastic tube and a connector.

868MHz-915MHz-spiral-Copper-Coil-Antenna-for-Lora-Sigfox-Usage

Get a voltaic battery bank that supports pass through charging, like this:
Voltaic Systems V25 6,400mAh USB… https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZS3WYZY?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share

What advantage would that provide exactly?

Best advice from me would be to invest in a much bigger panel (20 Wp) and MPPT board before even considering a bigger battery.