I'm a bit worried about going cold turkey

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by Living Tranquil, Nov 22, 2015.

  1. I grew-up and still love camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, scubadiving and so forth, but I am worried about going totally off the grid without some comfort. I was told phone service is not a option where I am at. I must go 10 miles to use my cell. Is there anyone who is on solar only who can give me some tips on what I would need to be able to run a fridge, small hot water tank, window unit A/C since it is mostly hot here where I am, and a few lights in the cabin? Am I overdoing it? Should I think smaller? Any help would be great.
  2. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Ham Radio may be an option that you might want to look into for Emergency Comms, at your new Place.... The Tech Class License gives you VHF/UHF Privileges, and there is NO MORSE CODE Requirement any longer.... The test is 30 Questions, Multiple Guess, and you only need 75% correct to Pass....
    AC is going to be a POWER Issue.... Might I suggest, that you look at Evaporative Cooling instead.... Only requires a small Electric Pump, and a Water Source.... Again, Hot Water made electrically, is going to be an Issue, so look at a Propane fired, Tankless Water Heater that only runs, On Demand... Or, if you heat with Wood, build in a ThermalSyphan Domestic Hot Water System into the Wood Burner.... All these things have been covered somewhere, here in the Monkey Forums... and we have a Good SEARCH Tool, for you to use....
  3. Thank you for your suggestions. I will look into the A/C option. It gets really hot here with the heat and humidity.
    tacmotusn likes this.
  4. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja|RIP 12-25-2017

    kellory, Dont, pearlselby and 2 others like this.
  5. I know people have dug out huge ponds 20 feet deep.
    Mindgrinder likes this.
  6. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

  7. Thank you
    Mindgrinder likes this.
  8. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja|RIP 12-25-2017

    Seems to me a 20 ft deep pond would make an excellent "cold sink" with tubes and a fan to rinse air through it.
    kellory likes this.
  9. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    Living Tranquil,
    We have a place in the mountains. Nearest neighbor is Mr. and Mrs. National Forest. Stream near and a lake is about . 3 miles.

    No cell service and until my Mom passed I needed a cell. I added a cell booster and a Yagi antenna. It runs on DC or I modified it to run on DC.
    We both enjoy reading and the internet is the biggest free library we've found. So as long as it would exist, I tether the tablets to the phones.
    Our fridge sips propane; all propane camper fridges sip propane. I cannot say that about the stove; however, we cook outside. The hot water runs on AC or propane.
    Buying and/or gutting a camper; provides a lot.
    The camper has 2 30# propane tanks plus I have another 4 20#. We have solar panels on the roof and quite a few batteries.
    It is so quiet and peaceful; enjoy..
    kellory, hitchcock4, Brokor and 2 others like this.
  10. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++

    Several things:
    1. There are now some nice DC air conditioners intended for off grid application and hybrid solar/grid systems. I think most of these are a mini split type system and I know there is at least one 1 ton unit that as I recall uses about a 1000 watts of solar panels and several batteries. Probably not cheap but if you live in hot and humid, a break can be very nice. These aren't going to run at night so a well insulated and fairly air tight domicile with some thermal mass inside can probably coast through the night pretty well if you can dry it out and pull the temp down during the day.
    Solar & DC Air Conditioners | 48v DC Solar & Telecom Air Conditioner Heat Pump | Off-Grid Air Conditioning

    2. Be very careful with buried pipe systems that do not use a heat exchanger and flow the air thru the pipes and into the house. These can be killers if not done correctly. The issue is condensation in the buried pipe. Smooth pipes buried with a pitch that allows them to drain well into a sump is required. Corrugated pipe like shown in the picture above (it has a sock covering and that is probably a drain pit, septic, water filter, etc.) would be a horrible health risk. When the warm humid air flows through the cool pipes, some of that moisture condenses on the walls of the pipe. If the water can't completely drain out, nasty stuff WILL grow in the small puddles inside the pipe. Mold will be likely but the real killer is Legionaire's Disease. That bacteria likes to grow in wet ventilation systems and garnered it's name by doing exactly that then consequently killing a number of veterans breathing the air borne bacteria.

    3. For hot water I don't understand why people don't do more with a hot water solar collector and a well insulated thermal mass, like several hunded gallons of water or water with large rocks. One can build a large wood crate insulated with 4 inches of polyisocyanurate foam board (or at least 2" polyiso on inside and extruded polyurethane outside). Line it with decorative pond liner (like 30 mil rubber sheet) to make it water tight and put 4-6 inches of foam board over it for a lid. Make a heat exchanger from 50-75 feet of copper tubing coiled up inside and plumb your water thru the coil and then to sinks, shower, etc. Use a solar collector or two to heat the tank water.

    If freezing is not a risk or if you have a good drain back solar system, you can pump the tank water directly through the collectors. If the system isn't able to drain completely when the pumps shut off and it can freeze outside, then you'll need a second heat exchanger coil and flow RV antifreeze through the collector and water tank heater. A decent system can heat the tank to 160-180 degrees F. And with conservative use carry you several days. There are plans on the web for both the storage tank and some decent collectors. One can DIY this for roughly 400-500 bucks for new bits including a small pump and little eBay controller. If you are a good salvager/scrounger, you can easy do it for a whole lot less. You can also power the pump and controls with a small solar panel and battery. It's on my to-do list. A small propane demand heater can be added as a backup or for unusual high consumption (visitors or laundry day).

    4. Phone service. There are personal cell relay units you could employ. These work much like a wifi range extender. You could potentially mount the antenna for it on a pole, tower, hill top, tree top, and then have your own mini cell service area. Some of these aren't too expensive either, couple hundred bucks. Wilson is one of the leading brands and there are some posts on this site regarding these.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2015
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  11. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    This is not an ad, it is a link and they can be purchased for a lot less:
    Triton 5L Portable Water Heater | Camp Chef
    Read the specifications, it is a differential heater or it raises the water temperature by a value. It is really nice for camping. They are available in 2 sizes and the 5L works fine for us.

    In the summer months; free "hot" water is available in a variety of methods; anything from a 36 gallon Army lister bag to civilian bags heated by sunlight.

    I have a Wilson cell booster; pricey but it works. Before I put it up cell service ended about 6 miles or so from the camp. It is mounted on top of a 25' telephone pole. Although I bought a Yagi, I can't aim it directly at the tower as it overloads it. I don't know; however, I'd bet an omni would have worked perfectly fine. As a cell's wave length is short; a omni has a fair amount of gain over isotropic or unity gain.
  12. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    @Tikka. What are you using for coax.... If you use a more lossy coax on the Cellular Tower End, it will attenuate the Signals into the BiDirectional Amp, and keep it from overloading the Input of the Amp... I worked on a 2.4 Ghz link that used 6ft Dishes on each end of a 15 mile link. We had to install a 10db Attenuator in the Feedline to get the RSL down to levels the AGC hardware could handle. This was a Part15 SpreadSpectrum piece of Equipment, and had T1 bandwidth, built by Western Multiplex Corp.
  13. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    O/T, but there's an article in this month's QST that talks about adding an attenuator to control the potential for overloading.
    BTPost likes this.
  14. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Legal question. Is the cell booster on your land, and your pole, or what kind of arrangement had to be worked out with the owner of that property?
  15. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++

    Generally, yes, it's on your land or inside your steel warehouse or factory building that is shielding cell signals from getting outside in or inside out. These are limited range devices for a very local need serving only you and it's not like a full power cell tower. If it needs to be located off your own land, it would fall under contract law as an agreement with the other land owner no different than putting up a small ham repeater or something. Could be as simple as a hand shake or 10 page use agreement.

    kellory likes this.
  16. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    We have a Monkey that uses VoIP for his Telephone, over a "Long Distance" WiFi Link.... (10 Miles or so) He lives in a Valley In Tennessee, and it is the only way for Comms to get out of the Valley. He has a Repeater on a Pole, at the top of a nearby Hill, and High Gain Antennas on both ends of the Link. Haven't seen him around for a while, but I do Know it works well for him.... I just completed an Installation of a Radio System UpGrade that uses a Passive Reflector in the middle of a 14 Mile UHF Link.
    Path Survey on Sunday...... | Survival Forums
    There are many ways to extend Cellular and UHF Comm Links. It just takes someone who has that Knowledge Base, and the time to design a custom system, for that Path. We use a Wilson Cellular Booster, for Cellular Voice & 4G Data... It works a 15 mile Path from here to Hoonah Mtn, where our Cellsite is located. (at 2500ft) The Path is over water, most of the way.
    Airtime likes this.
  17. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    I've held an Extra Class ticket since the 1980s. I was perfectly happy DX'ing with my General until my Elmer said he put 20 Hams on the air and not one made Extra. Then gave me the baleful stare and said you have the code speed. I'm definitely not an Double E or an eight hour a day electronics professional; however, I get by. I'm well aware of cable and adapter losses at any frequency.
    My particular forte is antennas as it is the only place us common folks can drive the pros nuts, LOL.

    If it is located as mine is on my land and my pole nothing else is needed. However, one must notify their cell provider. I gave them a fit by saying I bought it; however it is going back if it doesn't work. The lady said oh.. LOL
    Do not let anyone kid you; every device has identifying addresses; the cell provider and others can and will see them.
    If you want to see, depending on what OS you are using open a cmd window and type ipconfig /all Your ISP, cell phone provider etc can see some of that information so there is no hiding.

    As I can climb the pole and rotate to another tower; it is easier to aim the beam off the tower we use to another. I have the latest issue of QST and haven't read that article yet. Was it designed for UHF?
    Unfortunately, cell phones don't have the ability to dial back RF output as my Ham rig does. When I run QRO, I cut the rig's output back as my amp is an old AMP Supply with 3X 3-500z tubes.
    Applying 117 watts of drive is something I would not do into an antenna. I have run it into a can or oil filled dummy load. Same as most Hams; I stay legal.
    kellory and Ganado like this.
  18. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Good, hopefully, you can teach me something about Antennas. They are currently a foreign language.
  19. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Actually Cellular Networks have ALC built into the protocol between the subscriber unit, and the Base Unit...Cell Base Units, when at Full Power are at 45 Watts Carrier, and when coupled with 120 Degree Sector 12DBd Panel Antennas are in the neighborhood of 250 Watts ERP. Subscriber units are limited to 3 Watts Carrier, and with a high gain Antenna are in the 15 Watt ERP Range. The Base Units Output Power is scaled by the reported RSL, transmitted by the Subscriber Unit in the Handshaking Packets sent Back to the Base Unit. The Subscriber Unit output is also scaled by the RSL at the Base Unit, and sent to the Subscriber Unit in theHandshaking Packet. Keeping the Subscriber Units Output Power scaled back, to just enough to keep a Clear Signal, helps extend the Battery Life of the Subscriber Unit. Keeping the Base Units Power at just enough to have solid signal at the Subscriber Unit helps keep the Base Units Tx/Rx Combiners losses, and IMD Specs within allowed Ranges. Full Power is rarely used, because Cells are usually very small, and most subscriber units are NOT in fringe reception areas. BiDirectional Boosters, coupled with High Gain Wideband Antennas can extend coverage, increase Receiver RSLs, and keep subscriber units in operation, when inside shielded buildings. At the outside of my cabin, I have between 0 and 1 Bar, of RSL. (-80dbm). When inside the near the Boosters Output Antenna, I have between 4 and 5 Bars of 4G Receive RSL... and Solid 4G Data at full 4G Speeds... (-55dbm). I haven't measured the Subscriber Output Power of my 4G Box yet,, but my bet is it is less than 500 mw, and at the outside Antenna likely around 1500mw plus the Antenna Gain in the 7-9 Watt ERP... My path to the CellSite is 15 miles mostly over water, and the Site is at 2500 ft, plus 100ft of TD2 Tower.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2015
    kellory likes this.
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