Standalone Solar Powered Mailbox


#28

I would love to have the specs.


#29

What exactly are you looking for Tim? I’ve listed the parts above in the thread. If you have specific questions, I’d be happy to help.


#30

Wow, that’s a great looking mailbox and you did a great job with the Wyze cam. I can’t do it, but I enjoyed reading what you did.


#31

Thanks for sharing! Very inspiring and great craftsmanship!.

This past summer I installed a 100 watt solar panel on my roof wired into my garage with a charge station with similar components, pretty much just for the learning experience as I think it will take a while to break even on the cost. I use it to charge cell phones and rechargeable batteries, powers a google home and chromecast music and small amplifier for music in the garage. Over Christmas used it to power our outdoor Christmas lights. There are many days that go by where I am not charging anything and I often think about how all this energy the solar panel is generating is going to waste! Reading this reminded me that I have 2 Wyze cams (actually 3 one is daisy chained to another) in practical wiring distance to the solar charge station. So I am going to hook one of them up and see how it goes powering for 24 hours a day. Thanks again for the inspiration!


#32

You’re welcome Codacon. My next project is a pergola for my backyard. I’m going a bit larger with four 300 + watt panels for it’s roof. It will provide shade and enough juice to power landscape lights and my pool pump.

Yes, you may as well use that energy. You paid for it up front, squeeze as much as you can out of it to get your return on investment. I’m not sure what “practical distance” is, but I’d caution you to be aware of voltage drop as DC drops very quickly. …or are you using an inverter to distribute?


#33

Is that connected to your home wi-fi? It appears to be 100 feet away from your home. How stable is the connection?


#34

I have an extender that I can actually pick up 80% about 1/4 mile away. So it’s possible.


#35

Couldn’t you just add a female USB connector to the buck thing, to plug in the camera?


#36

Great project!


#37

Yes, or buy one with USB connectors built in like I posted above.


#38

Yes, it is connected to my home WiFi. It’s surprisingly a very stable connection. I did not expect it to constantly communicate and thought I might have to fall back to the SD card to grab a video clip if I have an incident. I mentioned previously I am an engineer, I’m actually an RF (radio) engineer. So, I tested with a WiFi Analyzer app on my phone prior to mounting. My WiFi channel was completely clear of competing broadcasts in the house, but marginal outside as my neighbors across the street were obviously using the same channel. I changed the channel several times (testing inside and out) and found a channel that was still very clear from interference inside the house and “workable” at the camera location. The throughput still drops down a bit at times causing a VERY brief stutter but compared to even some of our “professional” cameras where I work, this Wyzecam crushes it. Great little radios in these units.


#39

Yah all great until some kids come by and wack it with a baseball bat or a someone who doesn’t like you monitoring your street so close to the street comes by and yanks it all apart. This thing will be gone in a month or two stolen or broken… didn’t think it through very well with that camera sticking right how the bottom like that so low to the ground and accessible. Engineers never see the real world around them.


#40

Just a ray of sunshine. :sun_with_face:
Welcome to the forum.

I suspect buccscott isn’t too worried about it.


#41

Nah, not as worried as viscara obviously. Must have had a bad experience with an engineer in the past. Maybe a parent was and engineer and never showed you love, maybe you were married to one and were cheated on, maybe you are an engineer yourself and aren’t talented enough to keep a job. Sorry for your pain, please feel free to spew some more venom my way. We never see the real world around us anyway!

BTW, you seem to be the only person who doesn’t like me…so if you were to come and whack it with a bat or yank it apart, I can access a video of you doing so for 14 days on the wyze cloud storage. If you were to sneak up from the other side, my neighbor across the street has one facing the opposite direction and will also be able to see you doing the damage (I mentioned this in an earlier post).

So, whack or yank away my friend (that’s what she said). I’ll slowly and calmly download the video, give it to my local PD, and order another one from Amazon for $25.


#42

On a serious note, I am here to help and answer questions for those who have a genuine interest in this type of project. I don’t claim to know everything (far from it) but I am willing to share the knowledge that I do have with anyone who asks. I even learned I could get a buck transformer with a USB on the 5v side from Angus. You better believe I’ll be ordering one of those next time!


#43

Haven’t we all really? :smile:

There’s a thread about this. The consensus seems to be that it wouldn’t actually record it’s theft (or death) because of the 5 minute cool down between clips and the amount of time it takles to actually upload to the cloud.


#44

They’ll smile, thank you and add it to some file and that will be that. That ‘crime’ is not on their radar, unless you live in Mayberry. I think the design is very cool, but I also think @viscara points out a valid weakness, although he should have stuck to the point and not gone off track. I wouldn’t expect it to last a week here without something happening to it. That depends on your neighborhood of course, but if you need cameras in your neighborhood, you probably don’t want them so exposed.

That said, how hard would it be to step up to two cameras? Two cameras, recess mounted in the corners, would give you a 220 degree view, protect the cameras, eliminate the external housing and discourage vandalism. Also, being recessed, they may not even look like cameras. Obviously, it would double the battery drain. Would you be able to upgrade the solar panel and go with the 65AH battery from your earlier design?


#45

This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


#46

Angus…yes, I’ve had many bad experiences with engineers myself. That’s one of the reasons I resigned my position after 20 years and am in another field now. That and flying back and forth to NYC every week for years got monotonous.

Overwatch - My initial design integrated the camera into the structure to protect it from exactly these scenarios. It came down to function vs. design/aesthetics. I had cut a hole in one of the side slats (actually several to get it perfectly square and properly sized). That design didn’t make the final cut as I was on the fence and the wife absolutely hated it. Sometimes we have to bow to a higher power in life. I’m sure some here can relate.

I also thought of multiple cameras. This is not a heavy lift. The problem came down to how large of a structure can I get away with before looking totally out of place in the yard vs. capacity/backup time of the battery. To get two plus days of backup (my hurricane scenario) I had to restrict it to one camera to maintain the proper balance. To go with dual cameras, and have two plus days backup, I’d have to utilize a bigger battery (which would not be an issue), but a much larger solar panel. The structure is fairly large as is and stands out on my block. If I made it much larger, I might not have to wait for delinquent teens to destroy it. One of my neighbors might take it upon themselves as it would be an eyesore.

If the camera ever does get yanked off or destroyed, I assure you, it will be placed inside the box. It’s been nearly two months now (finished in January) and I haven’t had any issues with anyone so much as bumping into it. I don’t necessarily live in Mayberry, but we have the occasional petty theft carried out by local teens like most places. I know the police won’t do much with any video I might capture unless it’s a violent crime or the perpetrators happen to be driving and I capture the license plate. I think having it visible also might act as a bit of a deterrent. The Wyze forums aren’t most 16 year old’s hangout of choice. They may not be aware of the limitations/time delays/cool down period’s etc. The probably see a camera and assume their image has already been captured. Hopefully, they’ll move on to the next block.

If I reflect back, the project was more about enjoying the creative process vs. the actual function of the camera for security purposes. The security camera was more of an excuse to do it. That being said, I do like to watch the events captured and occasionally look at it live to see if it’s raining at my house, watch people come and go, etc. I am willing to live with the risk of it being destroyed and losing the $25 at this point.


#47

Viscara - Of course I’ll tell you if it gets vandalized or stolen. Why would I care if you know.
I’ve already admitted it’s possible and I’m willing to chance it for the $25. If/when it does happen, I’ll present the case to my wife and integrate my next camera into the mailbox. I’ll then post that modification up here so everyone can learn from my experience.

I also have several Nest Outdoor cams that are not readily accessible without a ladder that cover my entire front and back yard (including the mailbox). I just built this for a street view to see who is coming and going on our block. I have an agreement with the guy across the street to cover the West view and he’s got a nest cam covering the East. The camera is as much for the neighbors as for myself.

BTW, it’s raining rather hard down here at the moment. Do you think it’s OK to look up into the sky or is the risk of drowning too high? :slight_smile: