Need ideas for SKY Installation in remote area without WiFi or power with cellular connection

Hi all,

I am probably not the only one with this problem to solve. I need to install the Wind Station (SKY) at the beach where we kitesurf. There is no power or WiFi in the area where I want to install it.

What I need is a waterproof box with a battery powered Wi-Fi hub that would also have a SIM card to be able to connect to cellular network. ie: self contained SKY that can transmit data from the beach with its own self contained ability to transmit data.

What are my options?

  1. Would Weather Flow build such device to hook-up with SKY? (this would be great, but I don’t hold my breath)

  2. I hope there is some Raspberry PI or some other DIY project I could use to build such box… Then I could have SKY connect to my own WiFi and send data out…

  3. Maybe there is already not too expensive commercial offering I can use to achieve the same?

If anybody already solved this problem and can share their experience and schematics of how they did it, that would be awesome.

I searched this forum, but did not find anybody asking this question. I can not be the only one having an idea of a “hidden” wind station on the beach?

Thank you all in advance.

-D.

I needed something similar for my RV. I have a Raspberry Pi 3B+ with ArchiveSW - Display & Data Archive Storage running on it. I have setup the RPI with an access point which I then hook the WF Hub to. I added a WiFi dongle which I can pair with my home network when I’m at home or teather to my phone, tablet, or other WiFi source with internet access. I don’t see why you couldn’t just get a cellular modem to install on the RPi. I have a PiJuice HAT for backup power but I found a UPS Pico HV3.0B+ HAT from pimodules.com which I’ll be using for my RV since the advanced version can use an input voltage range of 7-28V. This will save me from a double conversion and I can just run off the 12V system.

I do have an install running on a 2B and it is doing just fine, though you might want to make sure you get an RPi with built in WiFi. I assume that the built-in WiFi is more power efficient.

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A Raspberry Pi 3B+ with battery backup and solar panel. Run ArchiveSW and you are all set.

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Assuming that you are setting up a temporary station for the day, I wonder how something like this would work?

https://www.amazon.com/KuWFi-Portable-5200mAH-Wireless-included/dp/B01EWKZI1Y/

Plug the WF Hub into the power bank USB port, pair it via wifi to the unit, and stick in one of those free limited-use SIM cards for the ultimate travel bugout bag.

Outstanding questions:

  1. Does the power bank have issues with turning off the supply thinking that the WF Hub’s low power draw is a signal that the “phone” is fully charged? (Issue with some power banks.)

  2. Does whatever carrier the free limited-use SIM data folks use have coverage at the beach on whatever frequencies/channels this (or a similar device) use?

  3. Will the free limited-use SIM data card even work with this device?

I don’t remember the name of the company off the top of my head, but there was at least one business selling limited-use SIM data service with no monthly fee and the first 500 megs of usage per month free. When I was running the racing program a few years ago, we were using this service to send live results from the timing/scoring computer straight to the cloud as each car triggered the timers. My rough napkin-math says that the Hub should use 40 megs in a 24-hour day, so I think that this will work for a non-permanent beach setup…

If I understood your question correctly, you might be looking for a wifi router with sim card. Just like these https://thedroidguy.com/2019/04/7-best-routers-with-sim-card-slots-in-2019-1086146. As mentioned there as well, an old mobile phone could work just as well (but your provider needs to allow tethering to do so)

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Hi @dima.avramenko,

I have a similar challenge as you do. I have carried out some experiments prior to purchasing some more Sky units for along my coast. I intend to mount Sky units with solar panels and paint them camouflage and mount them along my headlands. The Sky units with the solar panel might last several years without any maintenance. I will mount a Hub on a pole above my house to communicate with my wifi. The frequency between the Sky and the Hub is designed for long distance low power data communication. You can read about my distance testing here:
https://community.weatherflow.com/t/sky-maximum-distance-from-hub/3292
The parabolic antenna is designed for wifi. If I need extra distance I would only use that with my hub above my roof to extend the distance to the Sky. I carried out the test in the reverse direction. In my situation I will not need to use that, but I just tried it as an experiment to see if it would work to extend the normal distance further than normal and only using the parabolic reflector at the hub end. The Sky was simply on the pole above my roof on the top of the headland. This is the location of the Sky during the tests up to 12km away:
IMG_1799
cheers Ian :slight_smile:

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just one question, if you use parabolic antenna, isn’t that directed to just one of your Sky units? or are they more or less in the same direction from your house?

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Hi @sunny,

You are correct, that it would only aim at one Sky. I only used it as an experiment to confirm if it would work aiming at a distant conventional Sky without its own parabolic reflector. In my situation I can reach most of my nearby headlands without using the parabolic reflector. If I needed 2 Skys over 7km away in different directions then I would use two hubs each with their own parabolic reflector.

I have several friends interested in the wind at the launch at the top of their nearby mountains in difficult locations and I was thinking of their situation when I carried out that very long test.

cheers Ian :slight_smile:

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Hi All. For remote sites that have power, I find the Raspberry Pi 3b+, RealVNC software (https://www.realvnc.com/en/) and Huawei E8372 USB mobile broadband dongle (Telstra Pre-Paid 4GX USB Wi-Fi Plus- see https://www.telstra.com.au/mobile-phones/prepaid-mobiles/telstra-pre-paid-4g-usb-wi-fi-plus) works well. I power my WF Hub and E8372 via the Pi 3b+. I also pair my WF Hub to the E8372, and run Cron job at midnight to power cycle/reboot both the Pi 3b+, WF Hub and E8372.

To minimise power, you could use a Raspberry Pi Zero instead of a Pi 3b+. I’m using a Pi 3b+ because I’m also running a FlightRadar24 flight tracker (see https://www.flightradar24.com/build-your-own).

You can also run the Pi 3b+ or Zero with PiJuice Hat solar battery kit: https://core-electronics.com.au/pijuice-hat.html

Hope this helps.

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Why do you do ?
On my site the hub is running for at least 6 months without any need for power cycling.

it is not so much the hub that needs to cycle, but the pi. Not all the software is well written on those little things and since some use ram to write the logs (avoid cycling the sd card) and space is limited … I have several pi’s with different soft and I end up to indeed cron boot them all … after some days they all finish by locking up or run square … a daily reboot keeps them clean.

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The easiest solution is to pickup a mobile hotspot as mentioned abovethat has a battery pack, SIM, and charges via USB. Typcally $100-200 and adds $10/mth to mobile contract. Put the mobile hotspot and the hub into a waterproof (and shaded) box w/ a USB powerbank that has a solar panel connected to it for recharging during the day. You can have that working in a day.

To get rid of the $10/mth charge, an appropriate WiFi antenna connected to a repeater/router is an effective option. If there’s any business (or house) within several hundred yards, it’s pretty easy to get it working. Especially with the weather data, you may find someone interested in helping. A little further away but still line-of-sight … a better antenna can do the trick, as suggested above.

I’d try out the mobile router from a wireless company … I know of some wireless companies that offer a 30-day trial; that can get you started as you find your ultimate solution.

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I agree with @eric comments

Forgot to add - it is difficult to find a low powered wifi AP with 3G/4G/Lte comms. A while back, I tried to convince WF team to pair up with Particle team. See their cellular IoT kits: https://www.particle.io/cellular
That is, put a Particle cellular module in the WF Hub.

Hi

I have made a fully self contained sky unit with a hub, battery pack supplying power to both tethered phone and hub with a 26000mAH battery continuously charging the 10000mAH battery with 2 X 2.1 Amp outputs. The unit transmits continuously for 2 days in this setting and the 100000 mAh battery allows me to swap out the 260000mAh battery without interrupting the power supply to the hub. My unit is housed in a floating watertight housing so we can measure windspeed and direction on the water of a rowing course during races.

Let me know if you want to see photos

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sure, alway fun to see some home made stuff

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Regards, Tony

Tony Rice PhD
Rowing Science Lead | Pathways
Rowing Australia
​​ESSA ASpS2 AHPM​
Mobile +61 421 011 354
Email Tony.Rice@rowing.ausportnet.com
Skype anthonyjrice
Web www.rowingaustralia.com.au
Location maps.google.com/maps?z=18&t=h&q=loc:-35.29922+149.09885
Address 21 Alexandrina Drive (PO Box 7147), Yarralumla, ACT 2600

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that’s looking realy cool!

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Thanks, it’s a cool project. We have 10 stations out tethered to lane buoys around a 2km rowing course

Regards, Tony

Tony Rice PhD
Rowing Science Lead | Pathways
Rowing Australia
​​ESSA ASpS2 AHPM​
Mobile +61 421 011 354
Email Tony.Rice@rowing.ausportnet.com
Skype anthonyjrice
Web www.rowingaustralia.com.au
Location maps.google.com/maps?z=18&t=h&q=loc:-35.29922+149.09885
Address 21 Alexandrina Drive (PO Box 7147), Yarralumla, ACT 2600

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Really nice work Tony.

Rick Comito