Hi I have a few questions about a Tx / Rx idea. Description Approximately 10 transmitters and 10 receivers are expected to work in close proximity of each other. However Rx1 only receives information from Tx1, Rx2 only receives information from Tx2 and so on. The information being transferred is a recurring 12 bit binary data (hard-coded).

Technical specifications: Very small size transmitter - 1 inch x 1 inch Very small size receiver - 1 inch x 1 inch Very short range ~ 1m radius

I am curious about a few design issues: 1. Is it possible to have both each Tx and Rx to be solar powered by a 1 x 1 inch solar cell? 2. Do I have to use a different band for each Tx? Eg 315 MHz/Tx1, 316 MHz/Tx2 ….etc? Is there any work around for all Tx’s to transmit on a single band? Also can anyone suggest where I can get the components to build what I just describe? Looking forward to your responses.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You need to give the frequency at which they transmit, and if it's indoor or outdoor. But the receiver will very hardly work with only a 1'x1' solar panel anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – clabacchio
    Jul 23, 2012 at 8:41

1 Answer 1


Solar aspects:

A 1 inch square PV cell (25mm x 25mm) using best available methods will give about 75 mW in full sun. In worst case winter conditions of 2 hours equivalent full sun per day that's 150 mW.hours/day. Energy stored to battery from that will probably be 100 mW.hr or less.
As long as tx_power x tx_hours_per_day <= 0.1 Watt.hours then you will have about enough energy on average. To allow for below average days you'd want battery capacity for many days of operation. A 500 mAh LiIon cellphone battery holds about 1.8 Wh of energy or enough for about 2 weeks of sunfree operation. That's a small cellphone battery but > typically 1 square inch so a smaller capacity one would be needed.

Whether 100 mW.hr/day is enough depends on Tx power, tx burst duration and TX repetition rate. 100 mW.h = 360 Watt seconds or 15 Watt.seconds/hour.
So eg 150 bursts x 1 second x 0.1 Watt per hour
or 150 bursts x 0.1 second x 1 Watt per hour or ...

If operated out of direct sunlight then PV panel output will be lower to much much much lower with resultant loss in transmit energy availability.

Channel reuse

All TX/RX may be on the same channel as long as you have short TX periods as a % of total time and as long as you either detect "collisions" or have a protocol which can accept some collisions.

This Wikipedia ALOHANET article provides a good basic introduction to the considerations when using multiple interfering transmitters on the same channel. Many protocols based on these principles have been developed. The original Aloha net used randomly times transmissioms. Slotted Alohanet arranged for transmissions to start on defined time boundaries and achieved a useful increase in throughput. (See article).
Note that collision detection is not an essential requirement in some cases if the statistical probability of delivery of a given "packet" is high and if multiple transmissions of the same packet is viable.


You have note specified country of use, power level, range and more. All these affect the answer. But, there are numerous low power TX/RX units for sale which could do this with ease. Once you provide more details it will be possible to make some specific recommendations.

Your question has far too little detail to be able to be answered well overall. Some of the parameters are mentioned above, but you need to provide a seamless 'picture' of what you intend.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Carrier sense multiple access with collision detection Best known from Ethernet, but the mechanism is universal en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… \$\endgroup\$
    – jippie
    Jul 23, 2012 at 19:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jippie - "Best known from ..." depends on how old you are :-). I'd have said " ... Alohanet " :-) - which is what Ethernet grew from (very loosely). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ALOHAnet#The_ALOHA_protocol \$\endgroup\$
    – Russell McMahon
    Jul 24, 2012 at 0:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm from the DECnet, thick coax ethernet and IBM 8228 MAU era ;o) Almost forgetting Twinax (which is actually starting its second youth currently). \$\endgroup\$
    – jippie
    Jul 24, 2012 at 6:43

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