I just dropped the price of
the permaculture playing cards
for a wee bit.

 

 

uses include:
- infecting brains with permaculture
- convincing folks that you are not crazy
- gift giving obligations
- stocking stuffer
- gambling distraction
- an hour or two of reading
- find the needle
- find the 26 hidden names

clickity-click-click

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Dale's off grid cell phone reception and computer conectivity solutions. There's a flag pole.  RSS feed

 
Dale Hodgins
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I did some shopping today, in search of ways to stay connected at a site with no grid power, no cable or internet service and poor cell reception. The property is in a spot 3/4 mile from the paved road where phone, internet and electricity are available. The cost of bringing these things to the site is prohibitive. Even if it were not so far, I might still wish to be independent of the electrical grid.

I have a cottage on the property, where I would like to be able to use the phone and the computer. When I stand on the ground, the cell phone gives one bar on it's signal strength graphic. Calls can be dropped and they are crackly most times. When I climb a ladder, the signal is stronger. I'm just below the lip of the river valley. Some neighbors get no reception and must drive up to a sweet spot on my road to get reception. I bought a desk mounted blue tooth speaker phone device that works up to 150 ft. from the phone. It is quite effective with clearer sound than from the phone itself. In order to take advantage of the better reception at elevation, I made a call and then hoisted my phone aloft in a bag on the end of a long pole. It worked perfectly with the phone held 20 ft. from the ground and me talking into the Monster brand speaker. The cottage is 5 ft. lower than the spot where this was done. I get one bar there as well.

The plan is to attach a flag pole to the upstairs deck of the cottage. A weather proof bag will hold the phone as it is lifted well above the roof line. A 40 ft. computer line will run from the phone to a laptop computer on the main floor. I have a data plan which lets me use the net from the phone. The cable relays data between the devices and it keeps the phone constantly charged from the laptop power. In this way, the computer effectively becomes the monitor for the phone when it is used as a computer. The keyboard for the lap top cannot dial phone numbers, but the computer will otherwise work fine at navigating and displaying the internet. My blue tooth device can be voice activated by speaking the names of those from my contact list or by speaking the phone number. This allows the phone to do both tasks but I don't think they can be done at the same time. When I use my phone as a computer, incoming calls interrupt the net surfing. When the call is done, everything resumes. I expect this to work the same. The only thing that my computer/phone guy isn't sure of is whether it will be possible to dial phone numbers while in computer mode and then go back again without having to physically touch the phone. I think being able to take calls is enough for now.

Costs --- One scrounged pole --- $100
Cable --- $100
All other costs associated with powering the system are being installed anyway, to run the TV, lights and water pump. It is likely to consume 50 watts which will be my largest load. At 50 watts, it would consume 1 kwh of electricity for every 20 hours of use. If WiFi were used instead of the wire tether, both the phone and computer would use more power. I get a headache if exposed to a computer on WiFi for very long. Even cell phones give off some radiation. I never hold mine to my ear. Instead I hold it in front of my face on speaker mode. This reduces my exposure many fold. With the phone up the pole, the radiation reaching me would be some very small fraction of hand held exposure. The same goes for desk mounted blue tooth devices.


Other Options --- Some people install a wireless booster that re broadcasts the signal over a wide area. The good ones cost $700. They require grid quality power and they use lots of it. They can't be expected to work for long if slung up a flag pole in a bag. A special turret would need to be built to a suitable height. Quite high radiation levels.
--- Satellite link --- Most expensive of all options in both equipment and usage fees.

We seldom get lightning and the cottage is protected from most wind. Moisture isn't good for phones. I'll put some of those little packing bags that absorb moisture into the bag with it. They can be dried out and re used. Heat is not an issue for most of the year. In the summer, a ventilated box may hold the phone. Most usage will be at night.
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A note on data costs --- When I bought the phone plan for myself and two daughters, it came with one gig of data for each of us. I refused to sign on unless they would triple the data at no cost. They did it. I'm up for renewal soon. I'm going to shop around and push for 5 gigs or more. In my experience, you never have to pay the advertised rates. Those plans are for suckers. I have an alert set up so that I can never exceed my data allotment. The plan comes with unlimited anytime North American calling. It's been 15 years since I had a land line. I don't anticipate going to one ever at this location.
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I expect to do most of this phoning and computing from the comfort of the rocket powered bathtub/spa or from my bed. I will build a movable arm which holds a tray for devices. It will swing between these spots and it will have the ability to drop down to a desk. It will look funny. When it's done, you can call me while I'm having a bath. Let's Skype.
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Does anyone have other strategies that they have used to get better reception and to accomplish something similar. This plan is not carved in stone.
 
Jerry Ward
Posts: 194
Location: S.E. Michigan - Zone 6a
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I realize this reply is a bit late but if you go to my blog you will see how I solved a dead spot in my house with a cell phone booster. Of course I'm on grid so I don't mind the power draw of this device which is in the 3w (standby) - 7w (in use) range. However this may be small enough for you. Also you could always just turn it on when you need it, but I'm not sure how useful that would be for incoming calls.
 
Len Ovens
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Dale Hodgins wrote:
The only thing that my computer/phone guy isn't sure of is whether it will be possible to dial phone numbers while in computer mode and then go back again without having to physically touch the phone. I think being able to take calls is enough for now.


For outgoing calls maybe google voice?

In truth, if it was me. There are a lot of wireless hubs floating around for free, (picked one up two days ago) and even new ones are not bad price wise. A lot of them will allow client mode and they all have external antennas. It is possible to go as much as 25 miles line of site with proper antennas on both units (speed does suffer at that DX). I would go less. if you have broadband at the property line, put a wireless router there with a directional antenna and another at your flagpole by the cottage in client mode. If you want to do another wireless around your cottage connect another wireless router in but set it to "ap" mode.

BTW, the 25 miles is a legal limit not technical. The legal output power goes down with the antenna gain, but the erp can still be higher with a high gain antenna at low power than with a low gain antenna and higher power (max 1 watt at 3db gain I think). It was 802.11a/b days when I was reading up on this stuff so things may have changed some, but none of the home units are any where near 1 watt... 100mw if you are lucky. Low enough that you can legally use as much gain as you want.

As for the phone up the pole trick.... why not put an old STV dish up the pole aimed at the cell tower. No active components needed just run the out put of one antenna to another pointed down. In truth both antennas can be made from the small size coffee can. Link to coffe can antenna. point one coffee can at the cell tower and connect the cable from one directly to the other and point it down towards your cell location. The cable should be short... just enough to get two ends on is best

Have fun.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I decided to avoid a whole lot of tinkering and I bought an antenna to help with cell reception. It cost me $120.00. It disconnects from the car in seconds.

My neighbor has one and it works great. I went from one bar to three,  by holding mine against his booster, without sliding it into the saddle that was set for his smaller phone.

I'm buying one of those batteries with built-in jumper cables,  that are used for boosting vehicles. They have two or more 12 volt outlets. This mobility will allow me to use it inside the cottage. The antenna can be placed near the peak of the roof inside or outside by the window.  The antenna may have to rest on a small piece of sheet metal which becomes a block that prevents feedback between antenna and phone.

My telephone and internet station is downstairs. There is supposed to be space between the two units.

The booster battery holds enough power for the phone and antenna to be used for many days.

This system worked really well in my neighbors truck at a lower elevation,  so I'm sure it will work well when the antenna is up high.
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Dale Hodgins
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I have bought a new power pack which will run my phone, my antenna and many other things that run on both AC and DC.

It has one DC outlet and three AC outlets.  Most people buy these as boosters for cars. It has 800 cranking amps.

I'm pretty sure I can connect the battery grabbers to another battery that is fully charged and they will drain down together. This would allow me to have much more power than the power pack stores.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I bought a number of Phillips 10.5 watt led bulbs.

They cast light which is very similar to incandescent. They are in a very durable hard plastic case. This is important for me, since some will be taken to jobsites.

I tried them out in my PowerPack, along with many small appliances and electronics. Everything worked well.
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Dale Hodgins
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This handheld led light is very powerful. I use it at jobsites and when I'm doing things with my vehicle. It can be used as a floodlight or a flashlight. It has magnets on the bottom and a hook for hanging from a nail.
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Dale Hodgins
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I'm currently lying in the cab of my truck at the property. Before getting the antenna, I could make the occasional call if I stood in just the right spot. Now, I can surf the internet and post photos.

The phone battery last a lot longer when there's plenty of signal.

I started building a masonry stove this afternoon.
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Linda Myers
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Location: Tonasket, WA
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Dale Hodgins wrote:I bought a number of Phillips 10.5 watt led bulbs.

They cast light which is very similar to incandescent. They are in a very durable hard plastic case. This is important for me, since some will be taken to jobsites.

I tried them out in my PowerPack, along with many small appliances and electronics. Everything worked well.


In December I bought 28 of these from Lowes, (not the closest one it was selective) for $1.98 each! We will be moving out to our property in North Central Washington State in a couple of months and we will be waaay off grid. Every little bit helps. And, no, I won't be using all 28, I was sharing the wealth, lol.

We are using them now and really like them!
 
Water! People swim in water! Even tiny ads swim in water:
Permaculture Playing Cards by Paul Wheaton and Alexander Ojeda
https://permies.com/wiki/57503/digital-market/digital-market/Permaculture-Playing-Cards-Paul-Wheaton
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