|Solar panels and new antenna|
Quick and simple FM radio station goes solar
See part two of this series here:Solar powered low power radio, part two
See part three of this series here:
Solar powered low power radio, part three - more mistakes
In part three of this series I had retreated back to the Scosche transmitter powered by two solar panels and a five amp hour deep cycle 12 Volt battery.
Digging around in my transmitter inventory, I pulled out an old 2004 edition of the EDM Designs 10 milliwatt PLL FM transmitter.
I also dug out a 2009 version of a Comet antenna knock off to help that 10 milliwatts get out a little better.
After re-crafting the transmitter enclosure and mounting the new antenna, I was ready to try again.
The result - very encouraging!
Range was far greater, with my signal strong for several blocks. Power was lasting through the night even thought the fall days were getting shorter.
|Transmitter, voltage manager and MP3 player|
Not only do the days get much shorter, but the shallow angle of the low sun means the the sun's rays must pass through exponentially more atmosphere to reach us.
In mid-November, the station was no longer able to collect enough solar power to adequately charge the battery for overnight operation.
As we approached the winter equinox, the station only operated for a few hours between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm. On heavily overcast days, the station didn't broadcast at all.
Adding two more 10 watt panels helped a little, but these short, overcast winter days just don't deliver any meaningful solar energy.
With 40 watts of solar panels unable to do more than power the station an hour or two each day, the situation looked pretty grim.
The short, wet days and long dark nights meant the ad hoc, hook-it-up-and-see-what-happens approach was no longer an option. I would need to use a different approach to continue to explore this concept.
What would be next for solar powered low power radio? Watch this space for more!