This Site Is No Longer Solar Powered (for now…)

28 January 2023

Been a while since I wrote anything on here and the reasoning actually has little to do with the subject matter: I’ve just been busy/slack/distracted, whatever you care to throw a dart at, it will hit a target.

Anyway, I made this post back in September 2021. All was trucking along fine until just a few months ago from the time of this writing, when one day I realised I no longer had the Raspberry Pi responding to pings and well, no internet access either.

Upon investigation, no this was no power loss or lack of sun… the little Netgear AC800s modem had blown up. No, not figuratively, LITERALLY.

Images speak for themselves…

Figure 1

Figure 2

So yes, lesson learned, lithium-ion batteries do indeed go boom sometimes. I was actually aware this could happen and technically shouldn’t have left the battery in the device while it was hooked up to power constantly… but the thing is, the device was never stable unless it was plugged into both USB power and had it’s battery inserted. External power was never quite enough, with enough activity the thing was liable to randomly reboot.

Anyway, so that’s that. Remarkably, only the modem and a few surrounding cables were destroyed. The solar charge controller and the Raspberry Pi were, remarkably, unharmed, if not carrying a bit of spare black soot on their surfaces. Where to from here? Well, my internet situation is quite different now. I have Starlink and no longer the old satellite broadband now, as a primary internet connection, so the Optus 4G connection was becoming a bit superfluous anyway (except for when the power goes out at home, obviously). But with Optus’ data breach scandal and what not, I wasn’t going to be running back to them either.

So, for now, I have no solar powered internet connection but if something cheap and cheerful comes along I would be tempted to set it up again (this time a mini modem/router that doesn’t require a constantly inserted battery to function properly).

How is this site running right now, you might ask? Easy, I took the Raspberry Pi back inside my home and hooked it up to the internet there. The RPi does need a new SD card though, as it’s been failing for a while now, so I will likely shift this site to my Vultr VPS, but that’s the beauty of a lightweight static website – can move it around willy nilly, no problem at all!

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