I'm planning to put my pi in a bird box at the end of the garden.

The distance is 15m away from the nearest power source and the router.

What is the best way of getting power and Internet to it? Can this be done by PoE?

Just thinking about this, I will want to run some sort of light source too.


I've done pretty much exactly this using an 8400 maH power bank w/ a 2 A output. This will run the pi with camera and wifi for about 4 hours. Note I've never timed it precisely and I have not left it streaming over wifi the whole time, which would probably use more power. I have not noticed that the wifi range drops out toward the end of the battery life but I suspect it is possible.

The battery is about the same size as a pi and the whole thing fits inside watertight tupperware. The battery produces heat, and the enclosure gets fairly warm, like 50-60 °C. If you do this you should watch the processor temp (vcgencmd measure_temp) and don't let it get over 80 °C.

For the wifi, I have an extra router and plug it in as close to the pi as I can get. This is too far away from my ISP's router to connect it, so it's offline, but I can still connect to its WLAN with a laptop and thus ssh into the pi. The limit on the range is the pi's adapter. If the router is outside or in a window so it is mostly just air in between, you might get that 15m. I haven't tried beyond 10m (with a nano size dongle).

Can this be done by PoE?

Sure, but then you'd need the equipment for it, since the pi does not have an internal splitter (and most likely your router does not provide PoE). It would be cheaper to just buy an extension cord.

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This question has broad applicability to all outdoor use of a Pi, so I will cover it quite expansively...

Although possible to use a USB powerbank, as @goldilocks notes, batteries will have to be changed frequently and if the goal is to monitor nature without interfering with it, going to the birdbox frequently to change batteries will disturb the birds, potentially keeping them away.

POE is really easy to implement, and once your system is setup will have zero human overhead required to maintain it, running unattended 24/7/365. Even while you're away on vacation which wouldn't be possible with batteries. You require just (3) things which I'll describe in turn: POE Splitter, Outdoor Ethernet Cable and of course a POE Switch

POE Hat or POE Splitter: Since the POE Hat comes with a fan- which I hear come on quite frequently when used with my POE Pi-Cams- this probably wouldn't be suitable for this use-case. So I'll talk about the Splitter used to provide POE capabilities to your Pi only.

£9.90 currently from amazon.co.uk found here. It works by splitting the data from the power and diverting the Power from the POE Ethernet cable to the MicroUSB cable sticking out of the splitter which you connect to the Pi's power port. The Ethernet cable on the splitter of course connects to the Pi's Ethernet port. No tools requires and no instructions required for configuration.

POE SPlitter

Outdoor Ethernet Cable: Now you require an Ethernet cable to connect to your POE Splitter connected to the Pi in the birdbox to the POE Switch in your house (which I'll cover next). You CANNOT use a standard Ethernet cable- the weather will hammer it. You need one designed for use outdoors. The 20 meter cable (shown below) I use to power a wireless AP in my backyard for Internet surfing from my hammock can be bought here from amazon.co.uk for £11.39. Note that this model is sold in different lengths. It's 24AWG, so has thicker copper medium making it more suitable for POE purposes. And it's even Cat6 better still. Outdoor Ethernet Cable

POE Switch: Now you need a POE Switch to connect the other end of that outdoor Ethernet cable to to power the Pi in the birdbox. I use a ZyXEL GS1900-8HP-GB0102F to power my POE Pi's- some using the POE Splitter, others using the POE Hat. In addition to a web interface, it can be managed at the CLI via SSH, has SNMP and IPv6 support. Has a very small form-factor and is fanless so very quiet. You can start the Pi even from a down state- ie you shut the Pi in the birdbox down using sudo systemctl poweroff by accident. Log into the switch disable and re-enable the port and your pi is back to life. Can but it from amazon.co.uk (currently £88.35 ex-VAT) here ZyXEL GS1900-8HP-GB0102F

Hope this helps you with your project-

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If you are planning on running a light source, just plugging the RPi power adapter into that is probably going to be your easiest solution.

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