Editorials

19 months into the internet on the side of the hill

19 months ago I posted a piece about the internet in an ice chest / hill Wi-Fi project. Here’s an update:

The request: provide a way for a house/building under construction at the top of a hill to be viewed remotely both for security and keeping up with what was happening.

The problem: Power consists of one electrical outlet, nearest house is over 1000 feet away down the hill, cell service was believed to be non-existent.

I’d initially ruled out most cell cameras due to the high initial cost and recurring carrier charges. The build couldn’t take that long could it? We didn’t want to end up with a bunch of cameras we couldn’t use afterward due to ongoing cost. We needed three cameras to cover where the building materials were, and another two to ID cars and view the construction process.

One of the very odd benefits here was that due to a fiber node being right down the hill a local fiber provider did an install… to an ice chest next to a power outlet at the top of a hill with nothing around.

19 months in we’ve had field mice attacks, which took out the provider’s fiber optic wire three times. They said this would have happened regardless of whether it was on the side of a house or in a box, and they changed over to a device that does not use any fiber wire from the box, it just hands off an ethernet cable. Since then we’ve had no issues and the box of internet stands, only taken down by occasional longer power failures (like when a worker blows the circuit as the last thing, decides that’s it for the day, leaves.)

We initially purchased three Eufy Solocam E40s (Costco pack,) to test whether this would even work. A small solar capable camera with the ability to jump in and see live whenever we needed was what the client wanted and what we could do with that these had to be mounted in trees, behind rocks, etc as there was no standing structure except one board with the work site’s electric attached to it.

After the first three were set up we added a couple more. One in a casing under a thick branch on the top of the hill, another two placed on boards in a little birdhouse protection with both their solar panels and one on the side of a 94 degree slope using a solar panel for a roof.

A few months in one of the solocams just died. It wouldn’t hold charge, no indication of water intrusion, I suspected a battery failure. A couple of weeks after RMAing it the second one of the first batch died, similar issue. At one year and one month the third of the first batch died. All had the same thing – working one day and not the next. I suspect just a bad run of batteries, which happens to the best of companies because really, nobody makes their own batteries. At three RMAs I started worrying.

The fourth camera died, same issue – seems to have a dead battery as well, going to check with Eufy about whether this was their RMA camera from before or one of our later purchases. I got the fifth camera in today and guess what was wrong with it? You guessed it – lightning blew it up. Yup – that camera survived until enough electricity hit it to take down a very large tree it was mounted in. It was the only one mounted incorrectly.

Of all the things I expected to break and be problems on what I was assuming was going to be less than a year of construction, fiber optic cables and solar cameras were not it.

The Wi-Fi router sitting in a cooler goes on with no issues… the part I expected was going to fail big time has not.

Thus proving enough duct tape will keep anything going.

The construction still goes on.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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