Turning Point Ranch
On a Budget
Tired of getting up every hour or two to see if your mare is ready to foal..? Of course we all have “been there done that”. But there is a cost effective alternative. We went to “The Source” (formerly Radio Shack) and picked up a relatively inexpensive security camera system. This unit has two cameras and a 2.4 GHz receiver. We mount one camera in one stall and the other camera in another stall. That was the easy part.
Our foaling barn is over 100 yards away from our house! The camera has to dodge between round bales, trees and several bushes. Needless to say… there is considerable signal loss. (these cameras were never designed to go that far). So being a little inventive (or obsessive compulsive my wife tells me), I thought of a better way.
Gadzooks batman… a ½ wave WiFi or 2.4 GHz directional antenna. Huh, you ask, what’s that? Well a directional antenna has the capability to “cut out” most of the unwanted signals (especially when you turn on the microwave and get nothing but snow on your screen). Also, you are “maximizing” the signal from the camera.
Just a wee bit of science talk. A 2.4 GHz camera usually runs on a ¼ wave antenna. These are cheap, small and easy for engineers to build onto the receiver, but they not very efficient. If you were to use a ½ wave antenna, you double the signal and so on.
The total cost of this project can be less than $20.00 depending on what components you have laying around. I used a 5” diameter heating pipe 24” long. A half wave antenna is 2.44” “exactly” long, so the 5” pipe comes in pretty close to double the antenna length. Next go to your local ____ store and pick up a N style female plug.
Next, solder a piece of house type wire 14 gauge or so to the end of the socket.
Now this is “REALLY” important. Measure back from the end of the pipe 2.44” and mark the hole for which the antenna plug will go in to. Drill the hole to fit the plug and also the 4 mounting holes. You can either pop rivet the plug to the pipe or use small screws if you have them handy.
While the pipe was still open, I chose to drill a few holes in the receiver, and mount the receiver directly to the pipe as well.
Next, put a metal cover over the antenna end. Hardware stores sell one specifically for that purpose. (Make sure your wife picks up the right size) or, “get it yourself”. I unsoldered the original antenna from the receiver and ran a short length of cable from the new directional antenna to the receiver.
This is looking down the business end back to the antenna.
On our farm, when looking from the house to the barn, this is what we are dealing with.
This project took less time doing than it took me to write this article. Components were cheap, but most importantly, we watched our palomino mare give birth to a healthy colt from the comfort of our dining room. By the way, the foaling barn is over 100 yards away.
If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to contact me directly.
Good luck with your project and be sure to Check back often…..
Contact: Steven & Jennifer Zachary
P.O. Box 276
Last Updated: April 25, 2009