Meshtastic – Solar Options

Meshtastic has been well documented on other pages, so if you have arrived here you are probably already aware of the mesh network and its usage. This page is going to document my solar powered project and the learning points.

868 MHz is the band of choice now, with virtually no activity on 433 MHz

Not all mesh low powered LoRaWAN are equal, and when you are planning a solar powered node you need the unit to be power efficient. Some mech transceivers are better suited to plug in the wall then outdoor off grid.

After some advice I selected the RAK WisBlock Meshtastic Starter Kit

The Basic RAK4631 Meshtastic Kit for LoRa is available on 868 MHz from various suppliers and the source may vary depending on your country. The unit has a very low power consumption, although you may need an external solar controller depending on the panel voltage.

10w Solar Panel
Lipo Battery 3700 mAh
Waveshare Solar Power Management Module for 6V~24V Solar Panel 

And probably the most important part is the waterproof box, something like this may be suitable.

Waterproof box

Hopefully once complete the setup may look like this

Assembled box
With external antenna.

The next consideration is a good quality antenna, experience has told me many of the antennas on ebay and amazon are not specifically tuned for 868 MHz, more likely cellular 920 MHz.

These will work, but at reduced efficiency.

Paradar are very good, and produce some excellent products and you can check them out here.

Points to note

The box suggested may not be waterproof without adding some further re-enforcement to the seams. I have yet to re-visit, but suspect it may have some water ingress. I will add some further comments once visited.

The LiPo battery had the correct terminal plug to connect to the Waveshare Solar controller, but the polarity was incorrect. This needs to be checked carefully, I simply cut the wire and connected black to red! So you may see this in one of the pictures.

I connected the RAK to the Waveshare solar controller via USB, this is not the preferred method, it would be more power efficient to use a direct connection to the RAK but I have not yet explored this option.

The Solar panel is very cheap, its rated power seems realistic although beware many are showing vastly over rated power and are probably not useful for this application.

Solar power technical info

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