goTenna Mesh is a device for communication that uses a smartphone’s app and establishes its own network without the need for cellular service or internet. Any devices within the range act as relay nodes, so your or someone else’s messages just hop on them until it reaches to the recipient.
To use a device as a relay node, the device has to be powered on, and it’s not necessorily paired with a smartphone. So, you can buy extra goTenna devices and set them up as stationary relay nodes where they work for you conveniently and strategically. Here are some goTenna Mesh stationary relay setup ideas.
Power from the outlet
Whether you use a goTenna device as a relay node or a transmitter and receiver paired with your smartphone, the device needs to be charged. A goTenna has an internal battery charged through a USB cable. If you set up a device as a stationary relay node, and there is a power outlet nearby, you can simply connect the device to the power outlet with an AC adapter and USB cable.
Once you set up, there is no worry about running out of battery. However, places for this type of setup is limited. It has to be in or near a house or building such as a window, balcony, attic, roof, pouch, etc. And you may need an extra long USB cable.
Using a portable battery charger
You can set up the device with a portable battery charger for taking care of its power for a certain period. Since power supply from a portable battery charger is limited, you need to recharge it from time to time. A frequency of recharge depends on the capacity of the portable battery charger you use.
According to the manufacturer, a battery capacity of goTenna Mesh is 589mAh. And it lasts 24+ hours. So, if you set up a goTenna with a 6000mAh-capacity portable battery, it may last a week with staring to use a fully charged goTenna device. 6000mAh*2/3 (a third of energy loses during charging) / 589mAh = 6.79.
In this example, you need to retrieve the portable battery charger to recharge every week. But, don’t worry, while the portable battery is being recharged, the internal battery of goTenna has enough charge for a day. So, the goTenna continuously work as a relay node in this way.
Of course, the actual frequency for a recharge may vary due to many different factors like temperature, reception, condition and quality of the battery, etc. So, it’s important to try out a couple of times to know how long the portable battery actually lasts without a recharge.
With this type of setup, you don’t need an extra long USB cable. Instead, you will need to retrieve and recharge a portable battery regularly. If you want to set up the goTenna on hard-to-reach places like the top of a tree, or roof, it’s not suitable.
Using solar charger
A solar panel converts solar energy into electricity. Using a solar panel to charge a goTenna Mesh seems a perfect solution for power source because it doesn’t need a wall outlet or retrieval of a charger. As long as you choose a solar panel that produces enough energy for goTenna, it can be set-and-forget.
At least how much output does a solar panel need to produce? According to the manufacturers, it takes two hours to charge goTenna. 589mAh / 2h=294.5mA. This is the maximum current flow that goTenna allows into itself when charging. The power output a solar panel requires will be 294.5mA*3.7V=1.09W. However, a power loss is assumed 50% when converting solar energy to electricity to the battery. So, an output for a solar panel requires at least 1.09W*2 =2.18W. So, if a 3W-solar panel is set up with goTenna at somewhere it’s exposed to direct sunlight for at least a few hours per day, goTenna is fully charged every day.
Fortunately, most solar panel chargers on the market have an adequate capability for charging goTenna. However, you have to consider many factors affecting the performance of a solar panel such as weather, angle to the sunlight, duration of the day, etc. You also keep the surface of the solar panel clean so it can produce maximum energy out of given sunlight.
Most importantly, you have to try out first. If you don’t obtain consistent results and think it’s not reliable, you may consider using a combination with a portable battery charger or a 2-in-1 battery charger with a solar panel. It may help to keep goTenna from running out of the battery for a situation like bad weather for days.