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Power Wireless Networking Hardware Technology

Solar Powered Wi-Fi 119

Posted by samzenpus
from the wireless-anywhere dept.
inkslinger77 writes "A small US startup has announced it has created a system for running Wi-Fi routers in remote places using only the power of the sun. Among the first round of products from Solis Energy is the Solar Power Plant, touted as being capable of supplying 12, 24 and 48 Volts DC for use in stand-alone applications such as surveillance cameras and outdoor Wi-Fi."
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Solar Powered Wi-Fi

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  • Bright idea (Score:4, Funny)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @04:03AM (#20408779) Homepage Journal
    Its always illuminating to see developers take a lateral step towards problems.

    Here in the UK we use the tiny amount of light to power calculators but I think you would need a panel at least 3km square.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)


      this is news ? they have been doing this for ages loads of equipment thats installed along side roads have been using solar and windpower for years in the uk
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Stooshie (993666)
      Solar panels don't need high temperatures/direct sunlight to work, they just need light and they work perfectly well in the UK.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nmg196 (184961) *
        > Solar panels don't need high temperatures/direct sunlight to work
        > they just need light and they work perfectly well in the UK.

        No they don't. They can *just* provide enough power to power a calculator if you're sat near a window. In the UK, photo-voltaic solar panels are almost never used for anything commercial because it just doesn't lack of direct sunlight we have over the winter months. If you go to sunny countries, you'll see solar panels powering phone masts, traffic flow monitors, road sign
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Tony Hoyle (11698)
          Solar powered calculators work perfectly well indoors in the UK - the ambient light is enough to power them. I have one sat on my desk here..

          PV cells are used for lots of stuff in the UK including some of the the things you list above.
        • by Stooshie (993666)
          I have an uncle who built his own solar panels (basically just lots of thin water pipes under glass) on his roof to heat the water for the house, and the water actually got too hot at times. (and we are in Scotland).
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by ppc_digger (961188)
            Here, in Israel, about 95% of all houses have such systems, as they are required by law.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mwvdlee (775178)
      So.... how were they planning to connect the wireless routers? Using another wireless router that is connected to yet another wireless router that connects to... well, you get the drill.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by wvmarle (1070040)

        You are talking about a mesh network [wikipedia.org]. Should go fine. Maybe add a directional aerial to connect to it's peers over slightly longer distances, saves a 100% overlapping network.

      • Re:Bright idea (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Thursday August 30, 2007 @05:55AM (#20409251) Homepage
        Yeah. Why not ? A mesh-network is ideal in many parts of the world with poor infrastructure. Sure, the mesh needs to connect to the internet at *some* point, if internet-access is desired, but it's sufficient for a small portion of the nodes in the mesh to have internet-connection that can then be shared with the others.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Dye-Sensitized solar cells [wikipedia.org] will solve that; They have no PN junction and thus no recombination problem at lower light levels.
    • We tried to do this in southern England. Worked great till October. Then we had to send our technician every couple of days to replace the accumulator.

      Strange thing that accumulator seemed to be 100% full all the time during the summer, so we thought that it would be able to survive at least the fall if not the winter.
      • by Soruk (225361)
        That just sounds like the solar panel (and perhaps the accumulator) were hopelessly underspecified. Assuming we're talking the good old lead acid battery, those things really do not take kindly to being run down completely.
      • by hostyle (773991)
        That was me! I've been stealing your accumulators, replacing them with faulty ones - and will use them to take over the sun!
    • Here in the UK we use the tiny amount of light to power calculators but I think you would need a panel at least 3km square.

      Not at all- ThinkGeek [thinkgeek.com] has a $99, 216 cm^2 panel that can be used to recharge your cell phone while using it; your average Wifi router doesn't use more than that. The next thing we need is for Cisco to come out with a mesh router- A Wifi Router that takes a standard 5v or 12v input, but has two radios- a Mesh Mode radio and an Infrastructure Mode radio, so that you can put a forest of
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by BillyBob23 (1149813)
      There is a company called MikroTik(mikrotik.com) that produces incredible long/short range 802.11 equipment, and they have been using solar powered stuff for quite some time(I think it might be third party, but the community has been embracing it for a while). If any of you are looking for some cheap and very powerful linux platform wifi solutions, I suggest you give them a good hard look as my expierence with them has been bliss.
      • Can confirm this - there is a bunch of long range links powered by Mikrotik routers where retransmitters are basically a 10m pole with a router, two antennas, solar panel and an accumulator on top. As the Mikrotik RouterBoard design draws 5 W of power at full load, the accumulator can hold for a week without the solar panel. I am told that some of these devices are working for around 5 years now without any maintenance. Having no moving parts helps a lot in a sandy dessert situation these things are used at
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by niceone (992278) *
      Don't worry, they are working on a rain powered version for the UK.
    • I have my own home built system powering part of my wifi system. It has been running happily for months on a 80 watt panel. I built the whole system for less than $1000 usd. I used parts sourced from a local vendor and Staros on a wrap board.
  • WTFA? (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by yotto (590067)
    For once, I tried to read the article, but there's no link to it.

    I think it's a great idea, assuming they can charge a battery to run all night.

    I'd have read the article, but there isn't one.
  • for use in stand-alone applications such as surveillance cameras and outdoor Wi-Fi
    Perhaps this is a whole new reason for bank robbers to throw their masks over the cameras...
    • Forget bank robbers - now the little hacker kid next door, in addition to stealing your bandwidth, can actually just steal your router right off your rooftop.
  • Struggling... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Thursday August 30, 2007 @04:05AM (#20408793) Journal
    I'm struggling to see what's newsworthy or innovative about what will essentially be a silicon solar cell, battery, and DC-DC converter. I've had a similar home-made system on my shed roof for a while now. No doubt it'll come with a confetti like stream of patents :/
    • I'm struggling to see what's newsworthy or innovative about what will essentially be a silicon solar cell, battery, and DC-DC converter.


      AND WIFI!!!
      or didn't you get that part?

    • by Loligo (12021)

      My previous response got lost somewhere, so I'll try again:

      I agree. I can attach a solar cell to a UPS and a $50 Netgear WAP.

      Where's MY check?

        -l
    • It's just a set of products. Nifty, but not revolutionary, well to those with a reliable electricity supply anyway. The nice thing is you can plonk it down literally anywhere in the world.
       
      • by choseph (1024971) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @05:13AM (#20409049)
        And that is the key -- it is a pre-built set of products.

        I could also create something for my shed if i want to look into manufacturers for quality and price, choose the individual components, ensure I knew how they all went together (safely), and mount it on the shed. Just like I don't have the time or interest in building computers from scratch anymore, I don't have the interest in investing all this time into building a custom solution. If they can give a warantee that covers their whole package, they can test the configurations and crazy outdoor conditions, and they can build thousands of them in the time it takes me to assemble one, then super. They aren't stopping you from creating your own custom product for your shed.

        I wish someone would make some entry level package like this for homes -- a solar cell, simple cables (as easy as a power cord you can plug into each side), and a battery. Then give me some ways to go battery-out to random appliances and I think it would be a good way to let people try solar without the 10K+ investment and installation knowledge. Even if I only get enough juice to charge my laptop, it is at least a way to get started/interested.
        • by dintech (998802)
          Also I can imagine these being chained up to form a larger network of routers and gateways. I wonder exactly how big a network like that could get?

          This could be a cheap way to build a campus wide or even city wide network.
        • by sumdumass (711423)
          I don't think there will ever be a turn key consumer level solar system for regular consumers. For one, the voltages are still strong enough to cause damage to you or your home so there is a need for a competent home owner or an electrician. Two, running the DC supplies means that a lot of appliances would need to be swapped out from Ac to DC or even more complexed would be running on both. Then you have the problem of inverters that waisted a lot of energy converting to AC in order for most devices to conv
          • by dbIII (701233)
            Fifty years ago my parents ran their house on 12 volts DC. It's never been a difficult problem to solve - there are a wide variety of appliances designed for that. Companies that sell appliances to fit into ship, boats, trucks and caravans can give you the answer. You don't really think refridgerated trucks run on 240 Volts do you? As for computers, swap out the power supply or the transformer brick for a laptop - no big deal since you don't need more than 12 volts.

            The two problems are cost for the diff

            • by dbIII (701233)
              OK - so you need more than 12 volts for some laptops (19 volts - nasty non standard expensive things to get that users alway lose just when they need them for a trip - I hates them precioussss).
            • by Gordonjcp (186804)
              You don't really think refridgerated trucks run on 240 Volts do you?

              They do when they're on "ground power". Most of the time when they're mobile, a small diesel engine drives the compressor.

              Very very small units on refridgerated vans can run off 12V, but they typically can only cool to fridge temperatures (0C-4C) rather than freezer temperatures (-18C).
            • by sumdumass (711423)
              Well, you hit the nail on one of the problems with going AC. Buying all new appliances, rewiring the house for the 12 volts which probably should be 48 volts (it is just easier to work with), and most people aren't willing to do one thing or the other because they are used to doing everything at once.

              BTW, the refrigerated trucks, motor home air units, and all that use diesel or gas motors to power them for the most part. Some of the units have inverters and the ability to run off 12 volts for short periods
        • And that is the key -- it is a pre-built set of products.

          I've got a page saved on my machine dated 7/11/2004 from hyperlinktech.com with that very thing. I think it was about $1200 at the time. You had to plug your own WRT54G into it, but everything else was included.

          The page I have is called "12 VDC Solar Powered Outdoor System", but I didn't find it currently at hyperlink.
  • by butlerdi (705651) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @04:11AM (#20408809)
    There have been several such projects such as the MIT http://www.green-wifi.org/ [green-wifi.org] which is itself beholding to the MIT Roofnet project http://www.comclub.org/roofnet/ [comclub.org].
  • And this is 'news'? (Score:5, Informative)

    by chris_sawtell (10326) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @04:17AM (#20408841) Journal
    Here's a link for an historical perspective.

    http://www.wi-fiplanet.com/news/article.php/144812 1 [wi-fiplanet.com]

    Note 2002, FIVE years ago.
  • by egumtow (410320) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @04:49AM (#20408975)

    The issue of power has always been a problem for wireless technology. Even though the signal can, in theory, go anywhere, in practice the lack of available - or affordable - power can often stymie installation.

    I disagree.

    At least for outdoor municipal wifi, the routers are usually mounted on utility poles. There's no shortage of cheap power on utility poles!

    You can make the argument that it might not be mounted on a utility pole. Like somewhere indoors. But then that renders the solar aspect pretty useless.

    What we really need are solar powered wireless wifi routers that can autonomously position and hover themselves at a fixed location. Now that'd be cool, and useful.

    • by IBBoard (1128019)
      And then you'd just get bored kids trying to shoot it down as target practice just because it hovers.

      It would be cool to see it hover, but given the power needed to make it actually hover then I think the solar energy they'll be getting at the moment is probably best used on the WiFi for now.

      The idea is good, but it's not as if it'd actually work for a whole day solid here in the UK for a good proportion of the year!
      • by salec (791463)
        Solar-powered hovering device? No problem... solar heated hot-air baloon! (there is also a prior art out there, in some kids' TV show)
        • by salec (791463)
          Err... I found this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_balloon [wikipedia.org]
        • by IBBoard (1128019)
          I'd have thought they might have had a problem with floating off. Either that or you tether them to something, at which point people will pull it in by the tether or else you're tethering it to something tall like a utility post, which you might as well have stuck it on top of in the first place ;)
          • by salec (791463)
            Well, the lift is there, at least during daytime... now, for steering and staying in place strap additional solar panels and DC motors with propellers, or some kind of thermo-solar pulsejets (I don't know if such things exist already but I have some vague idea that it is doable...).
    • by dbIII (701233)
      Nice joke - but some people live outside of cities so a wireless router that does not have to connect to mains is useful for them. Temporary situations like sporting events would be other uses.

      The funny think is I saw a solar powered microwave repeater over a decade ago - the difference here I think is that they are talking about a consumer product. It would be nice to have freely accessable wireless routers on the sides of major highways in the middle of nowhere - we could call them belltrees if you want

    • by Burrfoot (1081715)
      > At least for outdoor municipal wifi, the routers are usually mounted on utility poles. There's no shortage of cheap power on utility poles!

      You would think so, would you. However as they just discovered here in St. Louis, they only turn the power on to the street lights at night! D'Oh. RTFA here [stltoday.com]

    • by FooAtWFU (699187)

      What we really need are solar powered wireless wifi routers that can autonomously position and hover themselves at a fixed location. Now that'd be cool, and useful.

      I recall an article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal some months ago about how some telecom/television/something companies were looking into high-altitude blimps as an alternative to satellites. They'd be equipped with the usual satellite stuff, have a little fuel on board to adjust for drifting (there isn't too much way up there), and when it's time to upgrade or replace them, you can fly another one up to take its place.

      But that's not solar, and certainly not regular 802.11-etc wifi. I mean, gu

  • It's a great idea for remote small communities. It makes the world - again - much smaller.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    thanks so much for posting it.
  • This is old old old (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2007 @05:30AM (#20409125)
    We have been doing this in ham radio for better than 20 years! There are several repeaters in the porltand area that run only on wind and solar, one entire repeater network (AB7F) runs only on wind and solar. Even more impressive when you consider the fact the transmit power can range from 20 to 100watts. They also usually have computers and RF based internet links at these sites to provide IRLP access, which is used to connect repeaters via voip. If anyone thinks this technology is new, and cutting edge, they should have the shit slapped out of them!

    Ben 'Polyhead' Smith
    KE7GAL
    • by BTremblay (896672)

      We have been doing this in ham radio for better than 20 years!

      Ahh, ham radio. Nearly as modern as sending your aeromail letter to the Prussian Consulate in Siam via the 4:30 autogyro.
  • by wvmarle (1070040) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @05:31AM (#20409129)

    City-wide or country-wide WiFi sounds very cool to me. But - walls are a serious problem for WiFi. This in contrast to GSM signals, however in the concrete jungle called Hong Kong (with like 6 or 8 networks), even GSM is not everywhere available, particularly indoors.

    I've wireless at home. It has a problem sometimes penetrating the two concrete walls between my living room (where the access point is) and my bedroom (where I sometimes use my laptop as well). I live on the 16th floor, a wireless access point on the ground level will never reach my living room. The penetration is too poor, and the distance is too long. So for city-wide WiFi, are there better solutions available?

    In the countryside the problems are of course different - mountains are in the way and distances are often huge. Yet GSM networks are already fully covering even sparsely populated countries like Sweden and Norway. Is there a way do do so for WiFi without setting up repeaters every 500m? Is there a way to penetrate walls like GSM signals do?

    The technology is nice, I love it. But at this moment for wireless networking on the go I will continue to use my mobile phone, over GPRS (yes we have UMTS available but that is mighty expensive, not worth it for me). It ain't fast, but it is virtually everywhere available, and has no problem keeping a connection when sitting in the train (try that with WiFi that is not in the train itself).

    All and all I wonder, why not use the existing GSM networks? Most developed countries have UTMS available everywhere (USA is a developing country when it comes to digital technology, sad as it may be). Isn't that much more convenient, and cost efficient to use than a newly built WiFi network? There are more and more unlimited wireless plans (in Hong Kong you pay about US$80-100 per month for unlimited UTMS, add say US$200 a month for unlimited UTMS/GPRS roaming in mainland China). It's there, it's ready, and it's getting cheaper fast.

    • by Archimonde (668883) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @06:00AM (#20409265) Homepage
      I know it is a bit OT, but in my experience penetration of wifi signals is pathetic. I have wrt54g some time now and I had problem connecting to it from my laptop just three walls/rooms away (same house, thick walls though). After a while I decided to have a computer in the house opposite to the house mentioned previously. It is around 50m distance and 2 walls (wireless router is behind the window). Not a chance. I then had to drill a hole in the wall, put the pc's antenna outside and then eventually had a weak signal even though the router and pc's antenna were in LOS. It was working ok for a few weeks and in that time I certainly noticed degradation of signal and consequently the speed. After a week or so, I completely lost the signal. I realized it was some leaves (wtf?!) from a tree blocking the LOS. I had enough of it then, and decided to spend 10euro and stretch a cat5 cable. It works amazingly now. High speed, reliability, no 1-minute ping spikes (especially in vista, I don't use it no more though), or additional drivers.

      I just have a feeling from my humble experience that wifi is overrated concerning real-world range.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        About the tree leaves: The 2.4Ghz wifi signal is right in one of water's absorbtion bands, so if the leaves weren't dessicated I guess your WiFi was very gently microwaving them.

        Anyway, I had the same experience with WiFi. My room was one wall away from the router, about 20 feet. 70-80% signal, and roughly 10mbps actual throughput (measured by scp of large files). We tried to set up a computer on the other side of the house. It got either the speed of cheap cable or just enough signal to stall out but st
        • by Inda (580031)
          And yet I get free wi-fi in my house with no problems.

          My two next-door neighbours do not even own a computer.

          Five doors away has wi-fi - I helped set it up - and I can see that on my Wii. Minimum of five walls. (shame it's password protected).

          Someone around here has an access point and it must travel through a minimum of two walls, unless they have it mounted outside.

          *shrugs*
        • Just remember that all wireless access points are not created equally. The Linksys routers that can run DD-WRT and similar are typically locked under 100mW with their stock firmware and can be boosted to 270mW or so once that's gone.

          If you're running DSL I'd recommend a 2Wire gateway (1800HG, 1701HG) from eBay, since you can boost the output to 400mW and it has a 3 antenna configuration (pre-mimo) to minimize throughput losses from switching antenna states.
          • Interesting, but then you no longer have an FCC* type-accepted device, non? So you need to apply for a license, or find rules that allow you to use experimental devices without license at the power level you've specified.

            *or whatever regulatory agency operates in your country.

      • by khallow (566160)
        You can get about ten to twenty miles line of sight (LOS) with good antennas. In your case, I think you need better antennas, then even a tree won't block enough signal to cause trouble. To give you an idea, a couple of friends and I were able to get about five miles wifi LOS with antennas made from soup cans of appropriate dimensions. We did have troubles with trees obviously. But a lot of the time we were able to get signal.
        • True enough. Both antennas are omni-directional. I was looking on the web to make an antenna but I just couldn't find a good guide. Some of them were too technical, some of them were too simple (lacking information). Dunno, maybe I just were just looking on the wrong places. I did consider buying a directional antenna, but after some researching I found them to be absurdly expensive unfortunately. Then I were just pissed off and bought 50m of cable. One of my better investments in life;) Saved a lot of nerv
    • Don't be misled by GSM, it suffers from the very same problems as WiFi, not quite as bad depending upon the frequency the phone wants to use at any given moment. The reason it works so well is simply because they install their antennas directly inside buildings, subways, and just about every walkway that has high enough traffic to earn the carriers extra money. Take a look on the ceiling of just about every shopping center in Hong Kong and you'll see small domed antenna with telco logo's. This is for GSM/3G
    • by div_2n (525075)
      There are four things going for cell signals that give them a big leg up on wifi:

      1) The frequencies for cell signals are much lower in frequency giving them a better penetration of buildings and other objects
      2) The equipment is, as I understand it, more powerful
      3) The antennas are larger and directional
      4) The antennas tend to be mounted higher and therefore cover more ground

      Now, you could mount directional antennas for wifi on tall towers or buildings to help level the playing field for 3 and 4. You can als
  • by 6Yankee (597075) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @06:08AM (#20409301)
    TFA is taking an age to load. Either it's slashdotted, or the sun went in...
  • yikes! (Score:1, Funny)

    by ardor (673957)
    What? They run on solar power? And its getting dark? Oh boy, I hope I have enough time left to finish this commen^%$#^%!.+^&[NO CARRIER]
  • Unwirer [craphound.com] - The mini-sized mobile wifi devices described in it were the first thing I thought of when I read this story. Personally, I think it's an absolutely *fantastic* idea. Slap solar panel, battery, regulator, and WiFi in ad-hoc mode together, liberally slather with silicone sealant, and attach to roof of buildings!

    But the idea of putting a solar power unit and radio together isn't new - so why is this news?
  • (Not my idea, mind you)

    Get a few hundred of these, sprinkle them around town, set them to autoconnect to open APs with a certain SSID and you get free volunteer-run Wi-fi for everyone. Provided enough people change their SSID when you ask them.
  • Anonymous reflectors (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chapter80 (926879) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @08:18AM (#20409837)
    One day, very soon, it will become economical to buy a solar-powered wi-fi router, with a built-in software chip (think bit-torrent), and drop it on the ground near Starbucks (or some other open Wi-fi).

    This clever, patent-pending device will act as a distributor/reflector of music and warez (does anyone use that term anymore), and will add to the misery of the mafIAA.

    I can just see hoards of people willing to go spend $69 to buy one of these, and drop it into a remote location... the same people who aren't willing to license all their music.

    What do you think?

    (PS I'm kidding on the patent pending... you want to take this idea and run with it, go for it! I have 5000 more, that are just as bad!)

  • by kaleco (801384) <greig.marshall2@nOSPAm.btinternet.com> on Thursday August 30, 2007 @08:20AM (#20409849)
    "using only the power of the sun"

    Yeah, only the power of the sun. It's such a great power source we should manufacture more.

    • This is a great solution, until the sun goes down.

      Now there is going to be no chance for a programmer to be exposed to the Sun. They won't be able to go outside until it gets dark and the network access is down...
  • Instead of trying to churn out 48 Volts which is serious overkill to run a Wifi router, it seems to make more sense to engineer it for lower power. Slashdotters may remember the articles [linuxdevices.com] announcing Meraki's [meraki.com] stuff. They built a cheap, low power autoconfiguring mesh network Wifi router. The indoor one is $50 and the outdoor is $100. They're bringing a solar product out as well, but apparently it's not ready for sale yet. Oh, and did I mention they run linux? Of course, any solar contractor could hook up a pan
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is EXACTLY what I NEED!!...A solar powered router! I have a terrible World of Warcraft addiction. This invention would limit my time online to just daylight hours! Then, maybe I can have a night life! There are more important things in life than "trying to get my mage to level 70"!
  • One thing I noticed about all my LAN widgets (modem, router, Vonage box and Slingbox) is that they run on 12V DC. Since most solar panels output 12V DC that is used to charge 12V storage batteries, shouldn't it be relatively easy to get that hooked up? You wouldn't even need an inverter, just connect the 12V DC power source to the equipment.

    If anybody's done this, please let me know.

    • You can just wire them up but a cheap charging controller will keep the battery in shape longer. I did something similar with a 12 supply from ac mains to make an effective UPS for my cable modem, AP and voip adapter stack since I wanted phone when the power went out and the cheap UPS's did not have the runtime I was looking for. I have about 2 amps of draw and a 100amp hour battery so I'm good for a couple days.
    • by Soruk (225361)
      You can extend this idea by using it to charge your portable gadgets too, using car charger adapters. I have a relatively small panel (15W) and suitable battery, and I can't remember the last time any of my portable gadgets (laptop aside) have seen mains electricity.
    • PoE specifies a rather huge range of input voltages, so if you're using PoE-enabled devices like the (apparently mostly defunct) MeshCubes, you can hook it up to pretty much every power source with a minimum of filters and transformers/voltage regulation. I'd imagine that using the common "wall wart" inputs could cause problems since those may require inputs in a rather narrow range. A simple car battery with some regulation electronics may do the trick though.

      The main problem I see with the scenario is t

      • The main problem I see with the scenario is that if you don't have electricity, internet access becomes a secondary (tertiary? more-ary?) issue. Get some fridges running first and get clean drinking water, care about pr0n later

        I'm planning on getting an inverter and hooking my fridge up to it, and water is provided by the city, so there's going to be pressure as long as there's water in the tower.

        It's really a first-world problem I'm solving: When the power goes out I get bored. I've got a laptop which is

  • by aunitt (121462)

    This looks a similar idea to the solar wifi mesh box thingy [meraki.com] that Meraki are doing.

    They are a startup, partly funded by Google, that are offering free wifi [meraki.net] in San Francisco and doing some very neat things with simple to setup wifi meshes.

  • I did this two years ago.
    My 80 ft tower in my backyard has a 3 sf solar panel on
    it providing power for my WiFi antenna. Then a smaller 2 sf panel
    providing the point to point from the tower to my house.
  • I'm surprised to heat this as "news". We've had a functional solar-powered mesh at McMaster University for years, the product of a research lab: http://owl.mcmaster.ca/~todd/SolarMESH/ [mcmaster.ca] Although, even then, I'm surprised to find that this is worth a "research lab" ... it seems like a pretty obvious idea requiring things you can buy at Radio Shack.
    • by solakov (1084163)
      Hah! I was waiting to see if anyone would mention Dr Todd's solar mesh project at McMaster! It was the first thing I thought of when I saw the headline. It's definately a "research project" if they are workign on creating new power saving methodologies, including real-time handoffs of solar/battery supplies (take a look through the publications section). I do agree though that you could build a pretty functional unit with just standard off-the-shelf products.

      -- ECE 06 :)
  • Boil the article to it's essence and you get "Hey techno geeks!! If you hook up our big honkin' solar panel to our battery, plop our inverter and nearby, plug in a 'net hookup and a Wifi router, you got a great way to do a rural or remote WIFI point."

    Of course that leaves out the fact that only about 15% of rural America has broadband access to begin with. Or that even if you have broadband nearby and you get the WIFI router set up, you still have to over-pay a telco or cable company, and if your WIFI poi

  • The city of St. Louis Park, MN uses solar-powered WiFi for everything now: http://www.stlouispark.org/residents/wireless.htm [stlouispark.org]
  • I've put together a few of these beasts. One network has 7 solar powered hops to the end node and a satellite connection to the internet. Skype works just fine from the end node, it is a little surreal to be in this isolated, remote location talking in to a laptop!

    The key is having enough battery to get you through a multi day storm when there will be little sun. It doesn't matter how much solar panel you have when it isn't sunny as you are totally relying on the batteries then. Having more panels just ge
  • Doesn't the DOT already have a system like this working? I seem to recall many temporary (and some permanent) road signs, indicators, weather stations and even some cameras with a decent size solar panel on it along with a somewhat large box of what I assume is a battery pack. Couldn't this be adapted to wifi repeaters and AP's?
  • It is rumored that the linksys wrt54g has a DC-DC regulator which will run with between 10-30v of input power. Between this and its ability to run linux, its perfect for a versatile solar powered application.
  • Solar Power ... surveillance cameras

    That's why I only rob stores during eclipses.

    -
  • recycled 'news' just get used to it and have your positive input or just go read something else. :) This motivates me to get together a 'purpose built' geek packaged solar setup for running a computer up to say 3-400 watts/ 24 hours a day. (for my business.) I am DAMN sure many slashdotters would be interested as I am myself.... anyway here is the 'pre'slashvertisment. http://www.aquatooth.com/ [aquatooth.com] Renewable energy solutions
  • Do you think their tech support call volume will pick up dramatically around 6-7pm?

    I went out to watch the sunset, and when I came back, the network was down.

  • 2 years ago I ran wireless 60 miles out to a dude ranch via solar powered relay towers, and a high power Wi-Fi AP in the middle of the compound, also solar. (A drilling company is leasing bandwidth off those towers too for their rigs to communicate over as well, but that's another story.) Tell me I ain't the first to think of letting the sun power remote devices? Please? It's so obvious I weep for the intelligence of mankind if this is so.

Nobody said computers were going to be polite.

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