Getting ready for Satellite Internet


Getting ready for Satellite Internet

by rdpecken on Jul.07, 2012, under Security

We decided that having internet available at the LittleHouse would have several advantages…

1. We could have 24×7 video surveillance of the place

2. Our cellphones (mine for sure, maybe Tara’s) can use the wireless router to connect to the cell phone network, instead of having to remote down from the mountain, as we do now.

3. Several Ham Radio possibilities, including echolink (easy) and remote HF operation (harder and more $$).

4. Remote monitoring of water levels, power generation, power usage, weather conditions.

5. Remote control of site facilities (forgot to turn off water pump? No problem!)

So we ordered Satellite Internet from ViaSat (formerly WildBlue). They just launched a new satellite, and promised very good service (5 MB/sec download, 1mb/sec upload).

Since we have a metal roof, I did not want any holes in it, so we decided to pole mount the dish. This requires an 8′ schedule 40 steel pole, set in concrete 3′ deep. and filled with concrete to make it stiff. The provider said he normally charges $160 to put such a pole in, and that would have been a bargain, but I wanted to do it myself, anyway.

Here is what I ended up doing…

Pole set in concrete, with riser column to protect it some

I dug a hole with the manual post-hole digger, maybe 9″ wide. I could only get down about 2-1/2′ before I hit the limestone ledge underneath. To make up for not going so deep, I used excess cement to fill a concrete tube up about 18″ or so from the ground. That should add some extra stiffness to the mount.

Conduit goes to the house

I also buried some electrical conduit from the pole to the house (about 10′). Then I fished a line through to make the cable pull easy.

Other end of the conduit

The other end of the conduit goes up under the house, and terminates just under the floor. I then drilled a 1/2″ hole through the floor into the top of the junction box, to allow the cable to be pulled into the house. This seemed easier than installing the box in the house, and then running the conduit through the floor. It worked out OK.

Solar Panels

If we are going to have satellite internet, we want it to be available 24×7, to provide security (primarily for the solar equipment, which is by far the most expensive items we will have on the ranch). So which comes first, the satellite internet or the solar installation? Well, we are just trying to get them both in place to protect each other. Here are 6 230 watt panels that I picked up from Northern Arizona Wind and Sun in Flagstaff.

Solar World 230 watt panels

Aren’t they beautiful? 1380 watts of panels should supply about 5 – 6 Kilowatt Hours of power each day. That should be enough to get us by for a while, although we will need to be careful about our loads when we are up there.


4 comments for this entry (from previous blog site):
  1. J Holmes

    How has your internet service been up there?

  2. Randy

    We have been very happy with the Wildblue Exceed service. It is very fast, nearly as fast as our cable internet in Mesa.
    The reliability has been superb, running 24×7 with no outages since we got our power system installed 9 months ago with no interruptions. We run surveillance 24×7 on it, and get emails with pictures nearly every day from the various wildlife setting it off.
    We cannot get cellular internet service in our little valley, so this was the best answer for our needs, I think.

  3. J Holmes

    Thank you. I’d really like to know more about the equipment you used- cameras etc. We have 50 acres off the Fort Rock exit on your way to Kingman and have the same concerns you have regarding expensive equipment and materials walking off. Any advice or tips would be much appreciated.

  4. Randy

    I’d love to provide more details, but I need to be a little generic here, so as not to defeat the purpose of security…

    Basically, for security of a remote site, I would look to use several different methods. You can use game cameras, which will either store pictures or video locally on a memory card, or will send you live shots when motion is detected, via cellphone or other communications paths.
    Another idea is to use security cameras that will do the some thing, but are not as stealthy. They usually require a 24×7 access to the internet, though. In either case, based on my experience, I would recommend getting as high of a resolution camera(s) as your budget will permit. I’ve had two cases now in which friends were dropping by to check on the place for us (which we encourage), but the resolution of the camera at that time was too low to 100% identify who it was. In both cases, I ended up contacting who I thought it might be, and they confirmed that it was them.

    Another nice thing to have is infrared capabilities, so the camera is useful at night, as well as daytime. The only problem we’ve had with that has been that the infrared seems to attract moths, which triggers the motion detection, and sends us some extra pictures. Interesting, but not really useful!

    Be aware that if you need 24×7 access to the internet and power, you will have to take the power to run that equipment out of your power budget, if you are on solar.

    There are two thoughts on hiding/not hiding security cameras. I use a combination of both. Some of mine are well hidden, and some are very obvious. I put the obvious ones up near the house, so as to discourage strangers from approaching. It’s funny how that little light on the front catches people’s attention, and they look straight at the camera for a nice mug-shot.

    Hope this helps. Good luck with your ranch…


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