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…… 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 eh???)

New uploads!

New photos have been uploaded to our gallery, bringing the total photo count up to 700+ now! Due to a camera crash, we did lose about a day and a half worth of photos, but the crash has been resolved and was happening because the SD card had gotten full again.

Photo gallery up!

We upgraded our hosting to the top tier offered by our host. We should have plenty of disk space to host a ton of photos generated by this project over the course of its life cycle. And as far as needing our users to mirror things such as time lapses, no long an issue, as we have unlimited bandwidth on our plan now.

With this being said, our project is proud to announce the newest addition to our project, the photo gallery that is being offered at! Also, it is in the works currently, but we hoping to get our media director setup with an email address to allow outside projects to email us pictures made from the data or setups for us to host. Until we get her email setup and working, that will be something to come down the road.

HTTPS Enabled

I found out that our webhost generates an SSL cert from “Let’s Encrypt” and have enabled HTTPS to encrypt some of the website’s traffic. Figured this was best since a small bit of the data we handle could be viewed as sensitive information.

Woo! Milestone reached!

So, if you’ve been keeping track of things, you know that we recently did some upgrades to the power supply! We upgraded to a new 50 watt solar panel, a new PWM charge controller and a marine deep cycle battery.

We have been running a test stream for over 37 hours straight now, meaning there have been no resets under the new beefed up power system!

SkyCam Picture – 04/12/19

Seems the camera is getting rained on a bit, wonder what all it will capture today. The roof/ground mount is deployed out in the yard, with the camera setup to make 100 second video clips on any sudden noise and to send a picture every minute to my PC using FTP over the mesh network.
Looks rather spooky, but with the exposure and image gain turned down a little, you can see the cloud formations as they move over our area. Still getting rained on, you can hear the droplet hitting the camera’s face on the audio. (The camera does run a media server that anyone connected to the mesh network can access!)
It actually starting to get fairly dark outside, might have a small storm moving in or just a really big rain cloud. Not sure since I haven’t checked the weather radar today.
I will have to say, the camera getting wet does take away from the imagery a little bit, but what can you really do about such things.
Hmm, seems the little storm cloud has decided to leave for elsewhere.

Additional overflow pictures, seems the storm cloud didn’t like being called small and has come back.

Possible Committee Meeting

Good afternoon everyone,
We met with the Park Manager for Huntsville and presented our project with its goals and current structure. After discussing things such as how the project is powered, making sure the project doesn’t capture photos of passerby’s and so on; I think it is safe to say that we at least have a foot in the door.

After going over some documentation and explaining various aspects of the camera node and its requirements, the Park Manager (Colleen MacDonald) has brought up a point of possibly having us attend a town committee meeting to showcase the project to other folks involved in the town’s operations. In reaction to that, we have began redesigning our project to fit into a small and easier to move PVC frame. We went to Home Depot and purchased all the materials to build the frame, as well as made a stop at Canadian Tire to purchase a higher output solar panel and better charge controller. Up next would be purchasing a better battery.

Oh yea!

We finally located one of the main flaws in our power system!

After much hunting through the system and troubleshooting, it was discovered that the small heatsink on the LM7805 regulator for the camera was not enough to keep the regulator from entering thermal shutdown when the camera was placed into 1080p operation. After moving the regulator to a much larger heatsink, it seems that the random resets have been cured. As we still have not had enough sunny days, we are on the fence about purchasing a bigger battery for the node. We are still going too low in voltage on the battery within a few hours after dark. If we get a sunny day, we will be better able to evaluate if we actually need a bigger battery. My conclusion so far is that it will be a needed improvement because the current battery can only provide nine hours of power in no/little sun time periods. Good enough for a night’s power, not good enough for a few days cloudyness.