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GMRS Repeater - Solar Powered


JeepZJ
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We are in need of communications between our hunting cabin (0ff Grid) and our hunting grounds. They are 2-10 miles away from each other with a significant hill between them and lots of other hills in the area. This is a very heavily forested area far from civilization.

I want to put a repeater at the top of our hill, which is part of our property.

I'm considering the following equipment for the repeater site:
(2) 25 Watt  UHF radios
Celwave 633-6A Duplexer
Comet CA-712EFC Antenna
Renogy 50 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline Solar Panel
PowerStar 12V 35AH U1 Deep Cycle AGM Solar Battery
Genasun GV-5-Pb-12V, 5A MPPT solar controller with LVD
1/2" Heliax Hardline Cable

What I'm not sure about is the need of a repeater controller. They seem to offer lots of bells and whistles, but do I need one with modern radios?

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Disclaimer:  MyGMRS and it's staff takes no responsibility or assumes no liability regarding suggestions concerning the use of equipment that is not type certified for use on GMRS frequencies.

 

We caution members that we will carefully monitor such posts and we reserve the right to remove posts that do not comply fully with the stipulations in our posted caution located here:

 

https://forums.mygmrs.com/topic/51-equipment-technical-information-and-personal-responsibility/

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You are going to need More Array and More battery. You need to run an energy assessment on this equipment before you deploy this gear in the field. set up an antenna for testing. place a shunt and meter in power line to radios and take measurements of amp draw and do the math to find your daily Watt hour. go with the worst winter case and scale up at least 2 to 3 days anatomy. You will also want to balance/initialize brand new batteries on an AC powered smart charger first. Solar is only good for a few hours and can not do this. If you expect the batteries to last more than 6 to 8 months, you will need to go to the field site and run a generator and battery charger every few month for several hours. or whenever battery SOC is less than 70% after a full day of solar.  I have done this project and it requires a lot of thought. My set up uses 2 X 100 watt panels  MPPT charger and 2 X 100 AH batteries @ 24 volts, with a 13.8 volt step down. My system is a bit elaborate but still seems better than running a 12v system. MPPT CC's are expensive, you can do this with PWM @ 12v but plan it as 300 watts of solar. There is also a thing called a split array, or virtual tracking array. By aiming Multipliable panels SE, S, SW, can give you longer solar insolation and reduce the need to lug a generator to the site as often.

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Get yourself a couple of the 40 watt Motorola M1225's. They are readily available and reasonably priced, usually $150 or less each. Ebay seller mre1032 offers several versions of Motorola repeater controllers for extremely reasonable prices.

 

Program both radios the same so they could be swapped if needed. Drop the power down to about 50% or lower and let 'er rip. Perfect for your needs.

 

They're moderately rugged (compared to any of the CCR crap) and they are Part 95a legit. You can set them up wide band (25 Khz) or narrow band (12.5 Khz.)

 

If you don't need 15 to 20 watts out, the 25 watt versions will do just fine. Again, knock the power down at least 50%.

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I got my M1225 35 Watt Repeater setup for me. I'll get a link when I get home. It included:

 

2 Motorola M1225 Mobiles (20 channel version, 20 channels = 20 different tones for input and output..  ;) )

Celwave Duplexer (tuned to GMRS)

Power Supply (car charger or wall plug)

All cables supplied

 

It was put into a little tool box, plug and play operation, all I needed to get was a antenna. 

 

In terms of getting it to repeat he wired the back of them together, I bought online a plug you put into the back of each and it has a hang timer, although I'd rather get a real RICK to do some of the cool features.

 

All for about $330 not including the antenna, but he did provide free programming.

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I'm just gonna point this out, Motorola PA's are notoriously narrow in their efficiency. A 40 watt rated PA on a Radius series mobile is 23% efficient from 40W to 25W, beyond that its efficiency dwindles. The 25W version is 24% efficient from 25-10 W (but has the same heat sink as the higher power model). In retrospective, the 20W GE custom MVP is 29% efficient from 8-20W.

What do I mean by efficient? I mean that the output in RF is that percentage of the total power drawn in current. That means for your average 25% efficient radio you need 4 times the power output just to provide power. It also tells you how much heat is being generated from the circuit (conservation of energy).

When it comes to solar powered repeaters, one is better off running 10W or less and focusing on antenna systems. Avoid the Chinese junk (even antennas) as you want something you only have to buy once. Quality feedline, (avoid LMR in a full duplex environment), and proper installation. General rule of thumb is your solar system needs to be able to carry your load in snow shedding.


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one thing NOT discussed here is your Latitude. where are you located?  Logan is correct in that you will only have a few hours of sunlight per day, however, this is also based upon your latitude and location.

 

I live off grid and use 600 watts of panels to charge my batteries for the house and also have wind power. I run my fridge etc off solar and have only minimal issues. i thus need to add another 300 watts to be excellent.  i have a 60amp charge controller and have NO ISSUES. Also Charge Controllers are important.

 

a 50watt panel may be enough if using one battery,  very limited transmission time(duty cycle) on the other hand if youre in an area where you feel it will be used allot or even moderately. one 150 watt panel and 4 gel cells may be the ticket!! why 4? if this thing stays on around the clock and during winter you will experience current draw issues.  during cold temps batteries give up their energy SLOWER than during warm temps. you will want to have the capacity of having extra amperes in those batteries for the around the clock uses. this also keeps the amperage up so the panels have to work less to charge up making operations faster. keep the batteries charged in the upper 1/3 of the voltage range and it should be fine. 

 

 

you spoke of a hunting cabin type environment.  so this tells me limited use. however, the problem i see now is if the charge controller has a 5a limit and 2 25watt radios installed, it  may pull 7amps. as it stands now id up the charge controller. then if you have a cooling fan that is likely another .5 to 1amp. 

 

 

and  ZAP said it best. if using solar, run power at 10watts or less. we have been using 2 watt repeaters here in northern nevada for a range of 45 to 55 miles with good results. you dont need allot of power. you just need excellent antenna height and as open an area as possible

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Gel or AGM batteries have a fixed cycle life. 300 to 500 is common. a daily cycle could result in battery needing replacement, annualy to every 18 months or worse. For such a remote location Gel/AGM could be well suited, if you don't care to carry distilled water to the site for maintenance. Most importantly is to purchase the appropriate size Amp Hour battery for your load. If you find your self wiring batteries in parallel, You do not have the proper battery and it will fail in short order. Batteries should only be wired in series so charging and discharge is balanced. When batteries are wired in parallel they charge and discharge unevenly and become unbalanced, unless batteries are removed from the parallel for an equalization charge routinely the batteries will fail sooner than later. Yes when using solar and batteries, less is more. No point in TX'ing 40 watts if 10 to 20 will do the job.

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I've been absorbing all kinds of information on the subject, thanks for your input.

 

I've had an off grid cabin, solar/wind powered, for seven years now. The solar system will be no problem with the small amount of usage this repeater will see. It will generally be used on the weekends, during the day when the solar will be charging.

 

I've ordered a pair of Motorola CDM1250 25w radios.  .3 amp standby and max 8 amp transmit /receive x 2

I've got a 50w Celwave / RFS duplexer, already tuned for GMRS, on the way also.

 

I'm going to get a NHRC micro or 3.1 controller.

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I'm going to get a NHRC micro or 3.1 controller.

 

For what you're doing, you'd be better served with a repeater controller from Ebay seller mre1032 - he offers several different versions for the Motorola radios that have the 20 pin accessory connector like the CDM's. have. His prices are reasonable, and his products are rock solid. He's got a great rep with the Motorola fans all over the net.

 

You do need to be able to program the CDM's or have them programmed.

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For what you're doing, you'd be better served with a repeater controller from Ebay seller mre1032 - he offers several different versions for the Motorola radios that have the 20 pin accessory connector like the CDM's. have. His prices are reasonable, and his products are rock solid. He's got a great rep with the Motorola fans all over the net.

 

You do need to be able to program the CDM's or have them programmed.

I'll check the ebay seller.

I purchased the programing software and cable.

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I need some mini-uhf connectors to hook these radios to the duplexer.  It came with n x pl-259 cables.  I'd like the solder type pin connectors.  I found some that gave a choice between standard pin and captive pin.  It did not explain what captive pin or standard pin was.  Can someone help me with the difference?

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I need some mini-uhf connectors to hook these radios to the duplexer. It came with n x pl-259 cables. I'd like the solder type pin connectors. I found some that gave a choice between standard pin and captive pin. It did not explain what captive pin or standard pin was. Can someone help me with the difference?

Solder type does t really exist for mini-UHF. It really crimp only.

 

Of if you really want to get energy efficient (the NHRC micro is a good choice) you can run the transmit radio via the ignition sense line. Using an additional timer if there is X minutes of inactivity you can pull power from ignition sense and turn it on and off.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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For what you're doing, you'd be better served with a repeater controller from Ebay seller mre1032 - he offers several different versions for the Motorola radios that have the 20 pin accessory connector like the CDM's. have. His prices are reasonable, and his products are rock solid. He's got a great rep with the Motorola fans all over the net.

 

You do need to be able to program the CDM's or have them programmed.

Checked mre1032's eBay store.....no repeater controllers.

 

Solder type does t really exist for mini-UHF. It really crimp only.

 

Of if you really want to get energy efficient (the NHRC micro is a good choice) you can run the transmit radio via the ignition sense line. Using an additional timer if there is X minutes of inactivity you can pull power from ignition sense and turn it on and off.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

I found mini-UHF connectors that have solder pins at the Antenna Farm....ordered some this AM

 

I'm leaning towards the NHRC micro at this time.  I have everything to make up the cables between the radios and the controller.

store and it shows he only sell and makes cables for repeater controllers, no repeater controllers for sale.

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Checked mre1032's eBay store.....no repeater controllers.

 

I found mini-UHF connectors that have solder pins at the Antenna Farm....ordered some this AM

 

I'm leaning towards the NHRC micro at this time. I have everything to make up the cables between the radios and the controller.

store and it shows he only sell and makes cables for repeater controllers, no repeater controllers for sale.

Um, his RA-0, 1, 2 etc are plug and play repeater adapters. Unless you need fancy extras, they're all you to set up a repeater with 2 CDM's. Since you describe it as occasional weekend use, I would think they would be perfect for you.
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Um, his RA-0, 1, 2 etc are plug and play repeater adapters. Unless you need fancy extras, they're all you to set up a repeater with 2 CDM's. Since you describe it as occasional weekend use, I would think they would be perfect for you.

Thanks for this info. Looks like a good option.

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Always keep this in mind, any battery NON lithium , will be only usable at 50% of its capacity, so if you have a 12v battery 100ahr , you really have 50ahr, draining the battery below 50% will kill it. If you battery is lithium , you can lower use up to 80% of its capacity on good brands.

 

I spent a year playing with solar panels and different types of batteries. And I learned the hard way not to drain the battery below 50% of its capacity if its acid/gel type. 

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I have run batteries for years and have tried a desulfalator and have yet to see any positive affect. I have charged from grid and from solar and a quality Charge controller is the most important element to maintaining expensive heavy batteries. I have seen chargers with built in circuits, batteries still last only around 3 to 4 yrs. I use an Outback Flex 80 for solar charging and I consider it among top of the line. for my AC charger I use a Samlex 2415UL. I maintain FLA batteries and these are the chargers I find work the best.

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I have run batteries for years and have tried a desulfalator and have yet to see any positive affect. I have charged from grid and from solar and a quality Charge controller is the most important element to maintaining expensive heavy batteries. I have seen chargers with built in circuits, batteries still last only around 3 to 4 yrs. I use an Outback Flex 80 for solar charging and I consider it among top of the line. for my AC charger I use a Samlex 2415UL. I maintain FLA batteries and these are the chargers I find work the best.

 

All of those charge controllers you mentioned are top brands, they do have good charging algorithms that will protect the batteries and many have a desulfation stage, Outback has one if not mistaken, but many people use cheap $20-$60 ebay solar controllers, at least many repeaters setups I have seen on youtube are using cheap solar charge controllers that might have a few stages of charging, but do not have a desulfator setting, that's when the desulfator I posted comes handy. 

 

Ones of the rules is to always have enough juice to power your system for 3 days without solar, and never discharge your battery bellow 50-60%

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"
Several companies offer anti-sulfation devices that apply pulses to the battery terminals to prevent and reverse sulfation. Such technologies will lower the sulfation on a healthy battery, but they cannot effectively reverse the condition once present. It’s a “one size fits all” approach and the method is unscientific.

Applying random pulses or blindly inducing an overcharge can harm the battery by promoting grid corrosion. There are no simple methods to measure sulfation, nor are commercial chargers available that apply a calculated overcharge to dissolve the crystals. As with medicine, the most effective remedy is to apply a corrective service for the time needed and not longer.

While anti-sulfation devices can reverse the condition, some battery manufacturers do not recommend the treatment as it tends to create soft shorts that may increase self-discharge. Furthermore, the pulses contain ripple voltage that causes some heating of the battery. Battery manufacturers specify the allowable ripple when charging lead acid batteries. Last" updated 2016-09-22

 

This is from http://batteryuniversity.com

 

I am not aware of a quality charge controller that contains a desulfation stage.

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Many people don't know it, but the best type of solar cell out there is the Amorphous Silicon Thin Film, they require more space but they produce more power in many situations. http://www.ebay.com/itm/UniSolar-Flexible-24V-136-Watt-Solar-Panel-RV-Boat-Battery-Charger-with-Adhesive-/152115254978?hash=item236ac696c2:g:VMgAAOSwARZXi9VO

 

You can buy a 100w Polycrystalline or Monocrystalline solar panel, and to actually get the 100W you need the perfect weather, full sun, cold weather, if the solar panel gets warm or hot, the power will drop very quickly. The Amorphous cell, will work great with cold or hot weathers, and under cloudy conditions.

 

I made a test about 2 years ago using a Unisolar Amorphous 136watt solar panel and a Solarworld 160w monocrystalline solar panel.

Both solar panel facing up, no angles, about 3' from the ground in Florida summer weather.

 

8am readings:

Amorphous  64w

Monocrystalline 17w

 

10am readings:

Amorphous 113w

Monocrystalline 72w

 

12pm readings: (sun angle perfect)

Amorpous 141w

monocrystalline 128w

 

3pm readings with clouds

Amorphous 98w

Monocrystalline 81w

 

We installed 2 amorphous solar panels on my fathers RV and believe it or not, o a full moon or under a bright walmart light pole "depending on the type of light" you can see the charge controller working best we have seen is 7 watts. The only problem is that they require more space, but I prefer them over Monocrystalline or Polycrystalline solar panels, specially on cloudy days.

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"

Several companies offer anti-sulfation devices that apply pulses to the battery terminals to prevent and reverse sulfation. Such technologies will lower the sulfation on a healthy battery, but they cannot effectively reverse the condition once present. It’s a “one size fits all” approach and the method is unscientific.

 

Applying random pulses or blindly inducing an overcharge can harm the battery by promoting grid corrosion. There are no simple methods to measure sulfation, nor are commercial chargers available that apply a calculated overcharge to dissolve the crystals. As with medicine, the most effective remedy is to apply a corrective service for the time needed and not longer.

 

While anti-sulfation devices can reverse the condition, some battery manufacturers do not recommend the treatment as it tends to create soft shorts that may increase self-discharge. Furthermore, the pulses contain ripple voltage that causes some heating of the battery. Battery manufacturers specify the allowable ripple when charging lead acid batteries. Last" updated 2016-09-22

 

This is from http://batteryuniversity.com

 

I am not aware of a quality charge controller that contains a desulfation stage.

 

On the Outback is called Equalization mode, its a more controlled desulfation. Either way, the best way to protect your batteries is to never drain them bellow 50% and keep that water level full. I ran half of my home in Puerto Rico with solar and batteries, and its something I want to do here in my home in Florida too. But I want the Tesla battery $$$$ I have to wait a little. lol

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