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1. THis looks like a cool project... keep us posted with pictures !

2. If I actually get to doing this (depends on the final costs and if the parents will bite), I'll definitely put up a blog and a detailed howto. It's fun already, I'm learning a lot of new stuff, and that's my definition of fun.

3. The suggestion so far is a 30W panel and smallish battery. This will only be sustainable if every single day is bright and sunny. You need to design your solution for at least a week of grim, rainy weather.

From the datasheets, a routerboard will draw between 6-10W. So design for 10W. Over 24 hours you will need 10Wx24h = 240 Watt.Hours of power.

For 7 days, you need 7x240Wh = 1680 Watt.Hours. A single, large deep cycle 110Ah 12V battery gives you about 1320 Watt.Hours of power, almost meeting the requirement.

Now, to look at the solar panels:

A good rule of thumb is to install 6 times the wattage that is drawn by the device. This is because only about 8 hours a day in sunny weather gives you maximum power output from a solar panel. So the other 16 hours you need to draw from the battery. (So already you need 3 times the wattage drawn by the device to break even each day) To generate 1 full day of extra battery power per sunny day, you need another 3 times the wattage. This is how we arrive at 6 times.

6 x 10W = 60W. So at a minimum I would recommend 60W of solar panels.

These figures and recommendations are from reading some forums on solar installations. I would suggest you google for some similar projects as there is some very good advice out there.

But this is a very interesting project, so please keep us updated as I would love to do something similar!

4. Maybe I should look at wind power as well. That might reduce the requirements on battery life and therefore cost.

5. The battery is the 'cheap' part - About R1100 for a 110Ah deep cycle. The panels are about R300-R400 per 10W. I reckon you could still get near your R5k budget.

Wind power might give you some addition power since it is usually windy when it is rainy especially on mountain sides. A Wind turbine on ebay is around R700 for a small 40W unit, but you need at least 13 km/h winds to get a meaningful amount of power out of it.

6. If you run the Highsites in AP mode,then you can connect other customers to it , do not think so in bridge mode.Speak under correction.(not legal if you do not have a license)

There was a posting with someone from Sutherland not too long ago with the same connection, yeah Telkom cannot provide these services, think of the additional services you can run, VoIP, security infra-red cameras or RFID tags for monitoring livestock (wishlist)

7. Ok, so here's a draft of my shopping list, please critique:

Power:
- 1 x 110ah deep cycle battery - around R1000
- 50 - 60 watt solar panels - around R3000 (the sun shines most of the time, it's in the Karoo, so think I can get away below 60 watt)
- charge regulator (around R350)
- cables (around R100)
- enclosure & waterproofing (can put something together for about R100 I guess)

Wifi:
End points : 2 x Ubiquity NS5 (R795 each)
Hisite :
- 1 x 411 Routerboard (R499)
- 1 x RB52 radio (R315)
- 1 x 17dBi 5.8Ghz 90 Degree Sector Antenna (so more than 1 client can connect
to the hisite)
- 1 x enclosure (R219)
- cables (around R200 I'm guessing)

What am I missing, or anything obviously wrong?

8. get a RB433 for the highsite, the 411 has only one mini-pci slot - you are going to want to expand later on or make point to point links to the farm and town, rather be prepared and get proper stuff from the start.

9. Stay away from the 411 for a highsite, its too limited. I'd recomend a 433 or ideally a 433AH for a highsite the AH has a faster processor which later on when you expand and have more clients running off it will become vital.

Also make sure your RB has a level 4 license at least, level 3 can't be an access point.

10. Can both customers see the high site ?
As you have one 90 degree sector.

Customer A <-\
Customer B <--High Site Sector <---> DSL line

Sundries:
Self amalgamating tape and then wrap electrical tape around the self-amalgamating tape and then cable tie the lot.
Guaranteed no water to enter that in a thunderstorm

I see you will baboon-proof it in an earlier posting

When you attach the uFL connector to the R52 stick some tape around that,due to temperature expansion and contraction it can pop off

11. Not sure what charge regulator you are using, but it should have a battery connector, a solar panel connector and then a fused/protected 12V load output to protect your router equipment, also with auto shutdown if the battery gets too low.

12. At the moment it looks like there will be 2 clients. They're about 2 km from each other, within sight of each other, and can both see the high site. Ideally I'd like each client to make their own PPPoE connection to an ISP. I don't want to manage bandwidth and so forth as well.

What would the setup be? Would I set up the high site as a bridge or AP then? Would I need more than one radio in the high site then?

13. Oh, and then licensing: How does that work? I'm guessing I'll need a license of some kind if I want to be completely above board. I see warwickw mentions something about level 3 and level 4 licenses. Is it a yearly fee, or a once off?

14. I have started a blog to document all of this. There are still quite a few questions I have. Please have a look and post a comment if you have any advice or can answer any of the questions:

15. Originally Posted by rbarryza
Oh, and then licensing: How does that work? I'm guessing I'll need a license of some kind if I want to be completely above board. I see warwickw mentions something about level 3 and level 4 licenses. Is it a yearly fee, or a once off?
The license is a once off fee. I got my board long ago ( 133 series ) and it came with a Level 4 license so maybe it's the same with the 433 series

Originally Posted by rbarryza
Maybe I should look at wind power as well. That might reduce the requirements on battery life and therefore cost.
There are some sites which give some nice diy wind generators with good output power. Can't remember the sites name unfortunately but would be a nice secondary project to start and probably turn out cheaper than buying one

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