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 Post subject: Solar powered build?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2017 5:17 pm 
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Gentoo
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Joined: Fri May 28, 2010 10:45 pm
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Location: British Columbia
I did a quick forum search and there seems to a few people using solar to aid in powering units. Most of the topics I came across were dslr related builds. Is anyone having success using solar to power panny or Sony point and shoot units. I would like to have a few units capable of filling 8 - 16gb cards without running out of battery life.


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 Post subject: Re: Solar powered build?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2017 12:18 pm 
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Galapagos
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Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 6:42 pm
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stone wrote:
I did a quick forum search and there seems to a few people using solar to aid in powering units. Most of the topics I came across were dslr related builds. Is anyone having success using solar to power panny or Sony point and shoot units. I would like to have a few units capable of filling 8 - 16gb cards without running out of battery life.




Nobody's piped up so thought I'd throw in my 2 cents. You can use solar, I did know a few people who have but they aren't on the forums anymore. It wouldn't be that hard to set up, but thought I'd share with you why I chose not to. Really depends on your application, so you may very well need it...that is a TON of pictures assuming your file size per picture/video isn't massive. If you're doing long term timelaps I could see that many pictures, but on a normal set, that's a ton of pictures...so make sure you really want that many ;) This is just my 2 cents as to why I chose not to use solar:

First, I can put enough batteries in the case to run it for a long time, for me I run cameras for over a year (for camera like the s600 or P41-that is 4 external D Batteries and two rechargeable internal AA, although it sounds like you're going for a high res camera with those memory card sizes). Solar adds size, complexity, and in my sets it's just one more piece that's likely to fail IMO. The moose, squirrels, and bears in particular would break the wires. Charging batteries with a trickle charger is straightforward but still one more thing to go wrong IMO. So in a set that's hours from home, I'd might end up trying to fix broken wires in woods because animals chewed on them and have to keep taking the set out again..even if that happens once it's not worth it to me because it means a lot of camera downtime. It also increases visibility of the set to others if hunters are walking nearby but maybe that's not a problem in BC.

Again, I don't know your particular setup, but I'd be worried about snow covering the panels (even if the current generated in that can be calculated), etc, so if you're counting on energy from the panels and it doesn't come you could be in trouble. For me, I'd much rather have a single camera box with everything enclosed inside, known battery capacity, and you know what you will get out for amount of pictures every deployment because you've taken any weather variability and other variable out of the equation-even if the panel is sized right. I would think solar would be best for a long term setup, where only a few photos a day will be taken, but given the option, I'd try to stick everything in one case if possible, or have a separate case on the ground with replaceable batteries. Less connectors, connections, smaller overall size, less visible, but if you have your heart set on it don't let me talk you out of it. If you haven't already, I would encourage you to make some measurements to determine how many mAh you actually need for that many pictures, etc, and focus on making your setup more power efficient if possible. Maybe solar is best or maybe an external battery supply wouldn't be as big or expensive as you might suspect. Just a few thoughts.


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 Post subject: Re: Solar powered build?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 4:40 pm 
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Gentoo
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greengrass wrote:
stone wrote:
I did a quick forum search and there seems to a few people using solar to aid in powering units. Most of the topics I came across were dslr related builds. Is anyone having success using solar to power panny or Sony point and shoot units. I would like to have a few units capable of filling 8 - 16gb cards without running out of battery life.




Nobody's piped up so thought I'd throw in my 2 cents. You can use solar, I did know a few people who have but they aren't on the forums anymore. It wouldn't be that hard to set up, but thought I'd share with you why I chose not to. Really depends on your application, so you may very well need it...that is a TON of pictures assuming your file size per picture/video isn't massive. If you're doing long term timelaps I could see that many pictures, but on a normal set, that's a ton of pictures...so make sure you really want that many ;) This is just my 2 cents as to why I chose not to use solar:

First, I can put enough batteries in the case to run it for a long time, for me I run cameras for over a year (for camera like the s600 or P41-that is 4 external D Batteries and two rechargeable internal AA, although it sounds like you're going for a high res camera with those memory card sizes). Solar adds size, complexity, and in my sets it's just one more piece that's likely to fail IMO. The moose, squirrels, and bears in particular would break the wires. Charging batteries with a trickle charger is straightforward but still one more thing to go wrong IMO. So in a set that's hours from home, I'd might end up trying to fix broken wires in woods because animals chewed on them and have to keep taking the set out again..even if that happens once it's not worth it to me because it means a lot of camera downtime. It also increases visibility of the set to others if hunters are walking nearby but maybe that's not a problem in BC.

Again, I don't know your particular setup, but I'd be worried about snow covering the panels (even if the current generated in that can be calculated), etc, so if you're counting on energy from the panels and it doesn't come you could be in trouble. For me, I'd much rather have a single camera box with everything enclosed inside, known battery capacity, and you know what you will get out for amount of pictures every deployment because you've taken any weather variability and other variable out of the equation-even if the panel is sized right. I would think solar would be best for a long term setup, where only a few photos a day will be taken, but given the option, I'd try to stick everything in one case if possible, or have a separate case on the ground with replaceable batteries. Less connectors, connections, smaller overall size, less visible, but if you have your heart set on it don't let me talk you out of it. If you haven't already, I would encourage you to make some measurements to determine how many mAh you actually need for that many pictures, etc, and focus on making your setup more power efficient if possible. Maybe solar is best or maybe an external battery supply wouldn't be as big or expensive as you might suspect. Just a few thoughts.



Thanks for the response greengrass. Extra components could definitely lead to more problems and good suggestion on a second external battery case. I do have to do some research on what picture count I could achieve from different battery combos that would fit in a case size I prefer. I know several members on the forum are having great success with 18650 that I haven't explored yet. Ideally I would like a build that could get 4000-6000 pics for use A few remote summer scouting sets that I simply can't get to more then once in a few months. I'm getting picture greedy and could get away with simply using a longer delay problem. Only problem I personally have with that option is missing a good picture opportunity when an infrequent visitor shows up (eg. Grizzly). Thanks again


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 Post subject: Re: Solar powered build?
PostPosted: Sat Mar 04, 2017 1:13 pm 
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Galapagos
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As far as I'm aware, the 18650's are the best you can get for power density so that seems like a good choice. I am unfamiliar how they perform in cold temps but I'm guessing they're fine. Just make sure you get legit batteries from a good source. There are a lot of fakes, Ebay, Amazon, etc... where they just re-brand old batteries and lie about the battery capacity. Charging is a bit tricky to and the batteries do have the potential to be extremely dangerous if mishandled or charged. I use a hobby charger and keep all of mine in an open metal ammo container (If you close it it would explode if a battery decides to go). I bought some protected 18650's from IMR batteries, a company in Texas that worked well. The typical number of pictures I get for a year long set on a trail is usually under 1000 but they aren't the most active spots. Can't blame you for not wanting to miss a good picture, it's always a balancing act :)


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