We finally got the phone system installed at the Ranch. It ends up looking like this:
It has a 20 watt solar panel charging a Marine battery to run the whole thing.
So, from our last trip up, we concluded that we needed a bigger box or two (or three). I ended up finding all I needed at Bass Pro Shop in Mesa. They had a large Ammo Box that was big enough for the 75 Amp Hour battery…
They also had some smaller ammo boxes with lock rings that were just the right size for the electronics.
All of the electronics was fitted into the three boxes, and mounted on a pole. When I went to plant the pole in the spot chosen on our last trip, I found that there was a ledge of limestone just 6 inches dowm. I could not dig through it, so I needed to find a new spot. I ended up hiking around the property until I found another spot that had 2 bars on the cellphone. The good news was that it was even closer to the house. The bad news was that it was on the side of the mountain!
So I dug a hole to plant the pole up there. Again, I could not go as deep as I wanted, but managed to get down 14 inches. After carrying up the pole and all of the electronics, I set the pole in the hole and started mixing cement. Once the hole was filled, I stacked rocks around the pole above ground and used the remaining cement to mortar them together to form a sort of pyramid to help support the post.
So it works like this… When we arrive at the Ranch, I hike up the hill (2 minutes) and turn on the power supply from the battery that has been charging since the last time we were up.
Next, I put the cellphone in the top box and lock it. The USB cable from the inverter provides charging current to the cellphone, so it won’t run out of battery.
Next, I put the cordless phone handset into the base unit for a few seconds to sync them up. I wish I didn’t have to do that, but with the old tech cordless phone, it is necessary. The Bluetooth gateway has already sync’d to the cellphone, as indicated by the solid blue light on the bottom.
That box is then closed up and locked. From that point on, we have reliable phone service at the LittleHouse and surrounding area. When we leave, we just reverse the procedure.
I may replace the 20 watt panel with a 30 watt in the future. As it is now, the 20-watt doesn’t quite keep up on a day to day basis while the system is in use. This generally isn’t a problem, because we are seldom there for more than 5 days in a row, and the battery easily carries us through that long, with the solor cells charging. When we leave, there is less current drawn, so the charger has a chance to catch up.
But when we start staying here longer, I think we will need a bigger solar cell.