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Old 01-19-2015, 09:08 PM
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JidoukaSS JidoukaSS is offline
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Default Homemade Long Range Ice Tip Up Alarm

Well I was recently commissioned by a buddy of mine to build a wireless tip up that had enough range so as to fish from his house; yep, he's a hardcore fisherman . He lives close to the lake, but most other wireless tip up alarms have a range of 300-600ft. That's barely enough range to get him a 100ft out on the lake. I don't care for fishing, so this is a wireless sensor network for me. The development is still in the alpha phase and the R&D is getting expensive, but I'm learning a bunch of new things so I'm trying to look at it as an educational experience rather than profitable business venture. I'm also now starting to see why R&D is expensive. I'll come up with something that I think is a good idea and then order parts. While the parts are still on their way, I'll come up with something else and order parts again; on to the next version before the previous version parts arrive.

So, his only parameter was distance, but I decided to take a bit further.
My main concerns are distance, battery life, and elemental integrity.

Distance: I initially tested using one Xbee Pro radio (1 mile LOS range) in the base station and one Xbee low power radio (300ft LOS range). I figured that the Pro radio's 1 mile range would overlap the standard radio's 300ft range and still theoretically work at a mile. When testing in a sealed plastic enclosure the range test failed at about 1200ft. 1200ft is still relatively decent, but not good enough to fish from his house. Now if you actually liked to ice fish and were on the lake, 1200ft is probably enough. Plus using the standard radios would increase battery life would cost $19.00 versus $32.00 for the Pro version.

Since that was a flop, I ordered every antenna version of Pro module (chip antenna, mini wire whip, u.fl with flexible patch antenna, and RPSMA) to see which version would work better. I know that the RPSMA connector with external antenna would be the best, but that conflicts with my third parameter of elemental integrity; more holes in the box increases the chance for water damage. All of the Xbee S1 Pro/Standard radios have the same footprint, so it's easy to swap one for another. When I did the Pro to Pro range test, all antenna versions worked the same, at a distance of 3500ft. This is as far as I could go with the Rokon down our field. This is definitely a big improvement, and I'm hoping it will actually be good for 5280ft with radio/antenna in a sealed box. If all else fails there’s the option of using 900MHz radios which are good from 6-30 miles, at risk of severe radiation exposure.

Last edited by JidoukaSS; 01-19-2015 at 09:28 PM.
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Old 01-19-2015, 09:10 PM
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Battery Life: I have three versions drawn up for battery power. The first uses a 9v 2100mAh lithium battery, the second uses two AA 3.6v 2100mAh tadiran lithium batteries, and the third uses a 2000mAh 3.7v rechargeable lithium poly battery.
Rechargeable 3.7v LiPo: The first prototype contains the rechargeable 3.7v battery. The pros with the rechargeable battery is that while it has a slightly higher initial cost, it’s rechargeable for up to 300 cycles, so you don’t have to keep feeding it. The battery pack is only $12.95, but it requires the booster/recharger board which is $14.95. The cons with this setup is that it’s not very efficient, since it takes the 3.7v and boosts it to 5v, which I then have to take back down to 3.3v. According to the formulas from Adafruit, the effective mAh is actually only 1350; battery mAh x .7(booster loss) x .9(regulator efficiency). Using the battery life formula (batt mAh / load milliamps x .7), total run time would average out to be about 10 hours worst case. Keep in mind that this is run time. This first proto type features a power down mode which draws .016mA, and in that mode the theoretical run time is 59062.5 hours. If you can reset the tip up in about ten minutes, the rechargeable battery should last for about 60 fish.
9v Lithium Battery: This version is far more efficient and cheaper but does require you to keep spending money on it. I’m going to build this version within the next couple of days in order to get some power usage data but just estimating, battery run time should be around 14-20 hours when it’s on and transmitting; 70000 in sleep mode.
2 AA 3.6v Tadiran Lithium: These batteries are by far the best for cold weather applications but they’re pretty expensive at $6.00-8.00 apiece. I do have a holder and batteries, but probably won’t bother because they’re expensive and not available locally.

Weather Resistance: I ideally want everything to fit in a sealed enclosure so if it gets dumped in the lake or hit by a snowmobile, it should hopefully hold up. The enclosure is plastic mounted on a ½” piece of nylon. The fish caught alarm is triggered magnetically using a magnetic key and $1.00 reed switch. The key is a 3/8” piece of nylon with a ½” magnet facing the switch and two ¼” magnets holding it down on the plate. This setup is non-contact and should pretty much last forever.
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Old 01-19-2015, 09:17 PM
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Prototype 1: The first version contains the following: Rechargeable battery, low battery alarm, tilt/vibration sensor (hit by snowmobile/semi-antitheft), Temp sensor, sealed panel mount receptacle for recharging, Xbee S1 Pro Radio, reed switch with selectable jumpers that change the function of switch.
Low Battery Alarm: The low battery alarm comes on when the batt voltage dips to 3.2v from its charged voltage of 4.2v. In order to use this, I had to add a single bit logic level shifter which is the 6 pin breakout board located between the booster board and radio. This converts 5v to 3.3v. I tied the output enable, which will work at 2.5v-5, to the low batt pin which fluctuates with battery voltage until it gets below 3.2v at which point it goes to 0v; it’s opposite logic, Low Battery Signal on = batt OK, LB off = batt bad. At this point I don’t have a microcontroller to parse out the I/O, so inputs have to be on with action. Since the LB signal is high until it gets below 3.2v, I had to add a pullup resistor to the input on radio and add an additional transistor enabled by logic shifter output, to pull it down (off) when battery is good; Logic shifter is on when good which enables transistor to pull input down/ keep it off when in normal charged state. The 9v version will also have a low batt signal, but will not need a shifter/transistor to make work (another plus for 9v version).
Tilt Sensor: This was kind of an afterthought. I originally ordered this to be the trigger tied to the pole, which later become the reed switch/magnet. So, to not let it go to waste, I thought of adding it as a semi-anti-tampering sensor. The tilt sensor is essentially an opto-isolator. It has an LED whose light is blocked by the ball. When ball moves 30deg any direction or is bumped/ran over, the light shines through to turn on a transistor.
Temp Sensor: The temp sensor is a simple and cheap ($1.00) 3 pin analog chip. Since I have a free Analog Input/PWM Output, I figured why not.
Battery Recharging: The panel mount receptacle on the opposite side of the reed switch is used to hook up 5vdc to recharge the battery. What is nice about the booster board is the LED indicators. Orange=Charging, Green=Charge Complete, Blue=Power On, Red=Low Battery. LED indicators coupled with a clear enclosure cover, allows the user to visually determine the state of the tip up. There are also two additional LEDs, one on either side of the radio. Green is for good signal/in range, and Red confirms that the radio is working.
Reed Switch Trigger: There are a row of selectable jumpers which change the function of the switch. Until I can determine what I ultimately want, this seemed the best way to make field adjustments easy. There are a couple of ways to do this, and each one has their pros and cons. With the jumpers I can select whether I want to kill all power, put the radio to sleep and leave power on, turn on an input, or setup the radio in a cyclic sleep state with pin awake, which will periodically beacon the base station on a set interval or on pin awake from the reed switch. Killing the power is better for battery life but, sacrifices periodic checking to make sure the battery isn’t low or tampering isn’t taking place. For instance, if the power was off and someone decided to take it and didn’t trigger the flag you wouldn’t know. These are things I’ll have to figure out later.

Base Station: I have two versions in mind, both using the same microcontroller so porting one to other shouldn’t be that big of deal. Currently I’m running with no controller, just simple I/O passing. I have the base station radio connected to an audio board that can play 11 different full voice messages with I/O triggering, rather than just having a simple LED or buzzer. The larger box has a 5” touch screen with a proto-board and power supply mounted to a nylon base plate. The audio is played using two 1-1/4” speakers that actually sound pretty good. The smaller board is an all in one 3.2” touchscreen with microcontroller, SD card, mp3 player with headphone jack, battery charger, and 3 axis accel sensor. Coupled with a piggyback proto-board, I can connect a radio and have something that could almost fit in your pocket. The bigger base control box will run on 12vdc with a cig lighter plug so he can take it and plug it into his four wheeler, or leave it in the house connected to a power supply with the same cig lighter receptacle.

That’s enough for now. I plan on soldering up a 9v version in the next couple of days and taking both versions out to the lake and do some real world testing to see how good or bad they work.
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Last edited by JidoukaSS; 01-19-2015 at 09:26 PM.
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Old 01-19-2015, 09:21 PM
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More Pictures.
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Old 01-19-2015, 09:49 PM
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Default A few thoughts

Height of antenna is the key to long range , have you considered mounting the transmitter itself or a beam antenna on a 15 ft or more pole ? A beam antenna would make a huge difference ,

http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/2814864...lpid=82&chn=ps

As for battery life , why not use a 12 ah gel cell battery , it would be good many days out on the ice .
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Old 01-19-2015, 10:14 PM
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You need to know what the frequency of the transmitter is before you order an antenna. If they don't match the SWR will be so high as to make the antenna useless.
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Old 01-19-2015, 10:28 PM
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It would be great to have a large antenna, but I'm trying to keep it compact. The RPSMA antenna that I have now is a small omni-directional with 2.1 db gain. I do have u.fl patch antennas with gains of 2.4, 4, and 5. If I were going to have a large powered antenna it would probably be at the house connected to the base station. We'll see what the testing reveals. As for the battery that's a pretty good idea. I'd lose compactness and portability but I wouldn't have to be so concerned about power usage. I did a quick search and I can get a 6v battery in a small 3x4" package. The linear regulator I'm using is good from 3.77v-10v input. There are many other regulators with much larger input ranges but they are not nearly as efficient and don't have built in power down/low signals. All I'd need to do is extend the nylon enclosure base and mount the battery to that and then connect to the box using the same sealed barrel connector. Thanks for the tip, I may order one depending on what the tests reveal this weekend. It may not be worth pursuing any further or it may work out great.
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Old 01-19-2015, 10:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norm W View Post
You need to know what the frequency of the transmitter is before you order an antenna. If they don't match the SWR will be so high as to make the antenna useless.
They are 2.4 ghz according to the factory datasheet .
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Old 01-19-2015, 10:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JidoukaSS View Post
It would be great to have a large antenna, but I'm trying to keep it compact. The RPSMA antenna that I have now is a small omni-directional with 2.1 db gain. I do have u.fl patch antennas with gains of 2.4, 4, and 5. If I were going to have a large powered antenna it would probably be at the house connected to the base station. We'll see what the testing reveals. As for the battery that's a pretty good idea. I'd lose compactness and portability but I wouldn't have to be so concerned about power usage. I did a quick search and I can get a 6v battery in a small 3x4" package. The linear regulator I'm using is good from 3.77v-10v input. There are many other regulators with much larger input ranges but they are not nearly as efficient and don't have built in power down/low signals. All I'd need to do is extend the nylon enclosure base and mount the battery to that and then connect to the box using the same sealed barrel connector. Thanks for the tip, I may order one depending on what the tests reveal this weekend. It may not be worth pursuing any further or it may work out great.
I strongly doubt you will ever get one mile range with a fleapower transmitter at ground level and a omni-directional antenna , the beam antennas are only about a foot long and would make a huge difference , you may have to sacrifice a little portability to get long range .
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Old 01-19-2015, 11:06 PM
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I have no idea what you are talking about but I will be watching
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