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Cuddeback external battery and solar run times

ajtxwi

A good 3 year old buck
The purpose of this thread is to discuss and evaluate different run times (1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, etc.) for the standard array of Cuddeback trail cameras. Of specific interest is documenting whether the cameras are linked, if there is a cell (home) camera, how many daily photos each camera is processing, what size external battery is used, if a photovoltaic (solar) panel is used and what sized solar panel is used. With real world field deployments, trail camera users can make more informed decisions about the types of equipment set ups that would be are required for longer than normal run times, and improve battery replacement efficiencies.
 
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Booner21

5 year old buck +
I have g series and 6 d external packs. I set them out in July/august and have yet to touch a battery pack. Yet. On the last report all were showing external low but have not switched to the internals yet. My cams are set on a mixture of food plots/ trails so don’t take 1000s of pictures. Once I discovered this set up I stopped looking for other options.


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ajtxwi

A good 3 year old buck
I have g series and 6 d external packs. I set them out in July/august and have yet to touch a battery pack. Yet. On the last report all were showing external low but have not switched to the internals yet. My cams are set on a mixture of food plots/ trails so don’t take 1000s of pictures. Once I discovered this set up I stopped looking for other options.


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good information for comparison and thank you for posting - are your G's linked together? Let us know if or when the batteries die. Glad they are holding up four months in. I too am looking for a long term plan for the 3x J series and 1x G series cellular home unit / all linked with straight out of the box 4x D cells that are dying at the 2-month mark. We are considering the 6x D back up as one of our options next year (in addition to other DIY exterior battery / solar backup options).
 

SwampCat

5 year old buck +
Also, consider how much temperature plays a part. I was getting 70 days on standard 4 D internal batteries during 90 degree summer days, and now just over half that. And that is winter in the south with only the rare night below freezing
 

ajtxwi

A good 3 year old buck
Also, consider how much temperature plays a part. I was getting 70 days on standard 4 D internal batteries during 90 degree summer days, and now just over half that. And that is winter in the south with only the rare night below freezing
Thank you for that input. I was talking with Expert Power (battery manufacturer) over the last couple of weeks and they informed me that battery capacity is reduced to about 83% at 32 degrees and reduced down to about 65% at 5 degrees.
 

SwampCat

5 year old buck +
Thank you for that input. I was talking with Expert Power (battery manufacturer) over the last couple of weeks and they informed me that battery capacity is reduced to about 83% at 32 degrees and reduced down to about 65% at 5 degrees.
I havent done a statistical study comparing total number of pictures, total night time pictures, pictures transferred through the system through other cameras, and temperature - but in general, my cameras last about 50% longer in the summer than they do in the winter.
 

Booner21

5 year old buck +
good information for comparison and thank you for posting - are your G's linked together? Let us know if or when the batteries die. Glad they are holding up four months in. I too am looking for a long term plan for the 3x J series and 1x G series cellular home unit / all linked with straight out of the box 4x D cells that are dying at the 2-month mark. We are considering the 6x D back up as one of our options next year (in addition to other DIY exterior battery / solar backup options).

Yes they are linked to a cell home. We have had unusually warm weather this year. I have used this setup for several year and very rarely do I have to change anything before January


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ajtxwi

A good 3 year old buck
Yes they are linked to a cell home. We have had unusually warm weather this year. I have used this setup for several year and very rarely do I have to change anything before January


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good comparison point. Warm weather, linked to cell home and 5 to 6 months of run time with 4D internal and 6D external. I am trying to personally get out to just past six months in pretty cool weather over the winter in WI (temperature averages from 10 to 40 degrees), but what you have appears to work better than I would have expected.
 

john volkman

5 year old buck +
IN 6 hours of direct sun a 4d camera with the 3600 panel will likely last a full year if not lndefinitley, a 4d camera with the 6 d booster will give you min 120-240 days depending primarily on temps with average pic counts. make sure you use rayovac high energy for your d cells
 

ajtxwi

A good 3 year old buck
J-1521 / 20W Solar panel / 20Ah external battery first test conclusions

System set up in backyard: J-1521 (with no batteries inside), connected to 20Ah battery using Cuddeback Power Cord Model PW-3617 and 20w solar panel with charge controller.

Observations: with trail camera connected, battery started off at 90% state of charge (12.81V) at 11am and recharged to full capacity (13.0V) in less than four hours. Solar panel was exposed to varying levels of shade, clouds and some full sun for the duration of the four-hour test. Solar panel output wattage was measured with a volt / amp meter at one-hour intervals and ranged between 2 to 11 watts (in a separate full sun test, it measured 19 watts). It is generally understood that the J-1521 uses between 1 and 2 Watt-hours per day (while linked and taking approximate 10 to 15 pictures per day). Set up was then evaluated the next day and (using the trail cam battery test function), the battery held a charge at 99% for the duration of the 8-hour test.

Initial conclusions: 20Ah battery is a probably a little oversized and could be reduced to about a 8 to 12Ah battery. 20-watt panel is also probably oversized if deployed in a more wooded environment (with more shade), a 5 to 10 watt solar panel could probably do the job.

Will probably deploy this set up with a 12Ah battery (rather than the 20Ah battery) in the field and see how it functions in an even more wooded environment over a longer duration of several months. Will also see how long the 20Ah battery will last with NO solar back up.
 

ajtxwi

A good 3 year old buck
IN 6 hours of direct sun a 4d camera with the 3600 panel will likely last a full year if not lndefinitley, a 4d camera with the 6 d booster will give you min 120-240 days depending primarily on temps with average pic counts. make sure you use rayovac high energy for your d cells
This is definitely a good baseline and may work for us. Our deployment is wooded (will not be able to get six hours of direct sun) and in Wisconsin (lots of low temps). The test rig I have built is pretty bulky though... so going with the 3600 plus booster may be the right choice just for simplicity's sake.
 

Hoytvectrix

5 year old buck +
J-1521 / 20W Solar panel / 20Ah external battery first test conclusions

System set up in backyard: J-1521 (with no batteries inside), connected to 20Ah battery using Cuddeback Power Cord Model PW-3617 and 20w solar panel with charge controller.

Observations: with trail camera connected, battery started off at 90% state of charge (12.81V) at 11am and recharged to full capacity (13.0V) in less than four hours. Solar panel was exposed to varying levels of shade, clouds and some full sun for the duration of the four-hour test. Solar panel output wattage was measured with a volt / amp meter at one-hour intervals and ranged between 2 to 11 watts (in a separate full sun test, it measured 19 watts). It is generally understood that the J-1521 uses between 1 and 2 Watt-hours per day (while linked and taking approximate 10 to 15 pictures per day). Set up was then evaluated the next day and (using the trail cam battery test function), the battery held a charge at 99% for the duration of the 8-hour test.

Initial conclusions: 20Ah battery is a probably a little oversized and could be reduced to about a 8 to 12Ah battery. 20-watt panel is also probably oversized if deployed in a more wooded environment (with more shade), a 5 to 10 watt solar panel could probably do the job.

Will probably deploy this set up with a 12Ah battery (rather than the 20Ah battery) in the field and see how it functions in an even more wooded environment over a longer duration of several months. Will also see how long the 20Ah battery will last with NO solar back up.
Any chance you can share some photos of the setup? I'm curious how you are connecting the battery and the solar panel.

Thanks for documenting this. It is really well done and very informative!
 

ajtxwi

A good 3 year old buck
Any chance you can share some photos of the setup? I'm curious how you are connecting the battery and the solar panel.

Thanks for documenting this. It is really well done and very informative!
This is the battery box that holds most of the connections.
 

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ajtxwi

A good 3 year old buck
Any chance you can share some photos of the setup? I'm curious how you are connecting the battery and the solar panel.

Thanks for documenting this. It is really well done and very informative!
this is the whole set up (pardon the mess in the backyard). Not sure I like the homemade solar panel frame and reused strap attachment to the tree - a work in progress. I am thinking about moving the battery box up to within the solar panel frame, but that would require even more metal framing - hoping for inspiration in the coming new year!
 

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john volkman

5 year old buck +
This is definitely a good baseline and may work for us. Our deployment is wooded (will not be able to get six hours of direct sun) and in Wisconsin (lots of low temps). The test rig I have built is pretty bulky though... so going with the 3600 plus booster may be the right choice just for simplicity's sake.
im in wi also and my G cell unit has been running on a 3600 solar for months with 10 cameras connected to it, i think almost any remote will run for a long time with this set up if the panel is facing south and gets hit by some sun each day.. There is an additional, new, larger panel coming out in 2022 that will work in wooded terrain and should do the trick as well.
 

JonJ

5 year old buck +
J-1521 / 20W Solar panel / 20Ah external battery first test conclusions

System set up in backyard: J-1521 (with no batteries inside), connected to 20Ah battery using Cuddeback Power Cord Model PW-3617 and 20w solar panel with charge controller.

Observations: with trail camera connected, battery started off at 90% state of charge (12.81V) at 11am and recharged to full capacity (13.0V) in less than four hours. Solar panel was exposed to varying levels of shade, clouds and some full sun for the duration of the four-hour test. Solar panel output wattage was measured with a volt / amp meter at one-hour intervals and ranged between 2 to 11 watts (in a separate full sun test, it measured 19 watts). It is generally understood that the J-1521 uses between 1 and 2 Watt-hours per day (while linked and taking approximate 10 to 15 pictures per day). Set up was then evaluated the next day and (using the trail cam battery test function), the battery held a charge at 99% for the duration of the 8-hour test.

Initial conclusions: 20Ah battery is a probably a little oversized and could be reduced to about a 8 to 12Ah battery. 20-watt panel is also probably oversized if deployed in a more wooded environment (with more shade), a 5 to 10 watt solar panel could probably do the job.

Will probably deploy this set up with a 12Ah battery (rather than the 20Ah battery) in the field and see how it functions in an even more wooded environment over a longer duration of several months. Will also see how long the 20Ah battery will last with NO solar back up.
Curious, when you did the hourly wattage readings, I assume wattage increased as sun moved to perpendicular to panel, then decreased again. You would think someone would design a curved panel with zones that would be at max output throughout 8 to 10 hours of daylight.
Are you able to easily change tilt of your panel so you can adjust it, maybe 3 times a year to allow for north/south changes in path of sun?
 

ajtxwi

A good 3 year old buck
Curious, when you did the hourly wattage readings, I assume wattage increased as sun moved to perpendicular to panel, then decreased again. You would think someone would design a curved panel with zones that would be at max output throughout 8 to 10 hours of daylight.
Are you able to easily change tilt of your panel so you can adjust it, maybe 3 times a year to allow for north/south changes in path of sun?
Yes, the wattage increased when the sun moved into clear view of the panel, when the sun was perpendicular to the panel and then again was lower in the morning and lower in the afternoon. Most of the measurements were in partial shade as I am attempting to simulate a wooded environment (actual field deployment conditions). The current set up (rigid metal framing) and my schedule does not allow me to easily change the tilt throughout the year, but I might be able to get an adjustment in early summer and late summer. These adjustments would also require adding some type of hinge points to the current frame (not impossible but does change things some). But adjustments and moving and changing batteries is what I am trying to minimize - ultimately, I am trying to build something that will last for 6 winter months.

But funny you mention that "curved panel" option (in lieu of the flat 20watt panel that I am currently testing. I am considering a flexible panel that might be able to do just that. In a perfect world, I could face a curved panel that could face SE (morning sun), S (noon day sun), and all the way around to SW (afternoon sun)... maybe just by wrapping it around a tree trunk - the difficulty would be determining what size panel to use. Right now, I think the 20 watt flat panel is a pretty good candidate that might be able to get a little smaller. Should I go with a curved panel, probably only 25% of the panel would be in an optimal position to collect sun light, so maybe I would need another 20 watt panel. I have my eyes on a very cost effective semi flexible 8 watt panel that has holes (grommets) in each corner that I could tie onto a tree trunk or attach to available smaller limbs with rope, cable or other zip tie - what is fun about the flexible set up and the cable connections, I should be able to eliminate any type of structural frame (that was previously required to support a glass faced rigid type panel).

What is interesting... I think the Cuddeback cameras need about 1 to 2 Wh per day (based on my last set of 4D batteries lasting 60 days). Assuming that a nominally 20 watt panel could generate up to 20Wh per hour, you only really 10 or 15 minutes of full sun to get 2 Wh each day. If that same panel were to be placed with the worst sun exposure possible, I would think surely you could get 2 watts of output for an hour or two each day... this is why I am thinking that I might be able to make a flexible 8 watt panel work with just a little sun each day. This is the next experiment (if my wife lets me continue to buying solar panels and batteries to see what works best).
 
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JonJ

5 year old buck +
Yes, the wattage increased when the sun moved into clear view of the panel, when the sun was perpendicular to the panel and then again was lower in the morning and lower in the afternoon. Most of the measurements were in partial shade as I am attempting to simulate a wooded environment (actual field deployment conditions). The current set up (rigid metal framing) and my schedule does not allow me to easily change the tilt throughout the year, but I might be able to get an adjustment in early summer and late summer. These adjustments would also require adding some type of hinge points to the current frame (not impossible but does change things some). But adjustments and moving and changing batteries is what I am trying to minimize - ultimately, I am trying to build something that will last for 6 winter months.

But funny you mention that "curved panel" option (in lieu of the flat 20watt panel that I am currently testing. I am considering a flexible panel that might be able to do just that. In a perfect world, I could face a curved panel that could face SE (morning sun), S (noon day sun), and all the way around to SW (afternoon sun)... maybe just by wrapping it around a tree trunk - the difficulty would be determining what size panel to use. Right now, I think the 20 watt flat panel is a pretty good candidate that might be able to get a little smaller. Should I go with a curved panel, probably only 25% of the panel would be in an optimal position to collect sun light, so maybe I would need another 20 watt panel. I have my eyes on a very cost effective semi flexible 8 watt panel that has holes (grommets) in each corner that I could tie onto a tree trunk or attach to available smaller limbs with rope, cable or other zip tie - what is fun about the flexible set up and the cable connections, I should be able to eliminate any type of structural frame (that was previously required to support a glass faced rigid type panel).

What is interesting... I think the Cuddeback cameras need about 1 to 2 Wh per day (based on my last set of 4D batteries lasting 60 days). Assuming that a nominally 20 watt panel could generate up to 20Wh per hour, you only really 10 or 15 minutes of full sun to get 2 Wh each day. If that same panel were to be placed with the worst sun exposure possible, I would think surely you could get 2 watts of output for an hour or two each day... this is why I am thinking that I might be able to make a flexible 8 watt panel work with just a little sun each day. This is the next experiment (if my wife lets me continue to buying solar panels and batteries to see what works best).
Wonder if a 5 gallon bucket could be cut down to give surface to mount flex panel.
 

ajtxwi

A good 3 year old buck
Wonder if a 5 gallon bucket could be cut down to give surface to mount flex panel.
That's a great idea!! I don't have a spare 5-gallon bucket right now, but do have a couple of 3-gallon plant pots. I cut one up just now and strapped to a tree to see what it would look like. The pot that I used to experiment with is too small, but with a 5-gallon bucket, it should work perfectly and allows for a panel to be mounted to it. it should also provide some PV surface area exposure generally facing up at an angle and the curve allows for exposure in the AM, at noon and PM. Nice idea, low tech and corrosion resistant. I'll probably pick up a 5-gallon bucket at the hardware store and experiment further.
 

JonJ

5 year old buck +
That's a great idea!! I don't have a spare 5-gallon bucket right now, but do have a couple of 3-gallon plant pots. I cut one up just now and strapped to a tree to see what it would look like. The pot that I used to experiment with is too small, but with a 5-gallon bucket, it should work perfectly and allows for a panel to be mounted to it. it should also provide some PV surface area exposure generally facing up at an angle and the curve allows for exposure in the AM, at noon and PM. Nice idea, low tech and corrosion resistant. I'll probably pick up a 5-gallon bucket at the hardware store and experiment further.
The more I think about it, if you cut bottom of bucket in half, leaving enough of sides to hold panel. Now invert, bucket bottom is now top, cut the half circle top into pie shapes, bend them up making tabs that can be attached to tree with screws. Next find something to prop between bucket and tree to hold panel at angle desired to match sun angle. If it's attached and pivots to bucket, then just move it up or down tree to adjust angle. If I could draw, I'd attach image in my head. Could additionally add support(s) across bucket, like on a kite, to reduce arch to more like 100 to 120 degrees. (Full one half bucket would be 180°)
 
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