Office on a desert island - reality

    It is hard to remember when and for what drinks the idea occurred to us for the first time that if you cannot travel all summer, and still need to work in between trips, then you need to do this in the Ladoga skerries we love. But last year we did it - organized a month-long coworking office on a granite basis. And we repeat this year. On the way, we gained some experience, which we want to summarize in this article. Who knows, come in handy to whom.

    Office Veranda

    We are a few people united by friendships and the habit of traveling together. At the same time, we are part of the Northern Way multisport club , which in a fractal way is exactly the same, but bigger. And also a gray cat and a ginger cat. And dozens of guests who come to us.

    Our flag

    Why is this possible for us?

    Because we are loafers and parasites. Because we are freelancers. Mostly translators. This means that we do not need fast Internet. Only stable. We have scanty traffic - the translation program exchanges memory with the server. But a PR colleague is sometimes worse off.

    Technical statement of the problem

    What separated us from comfortable work? Communication and electricity.


    It was known that MTS and Megafon are caught in our favorite place. Last year, we did not use MTS through ignorance. We thought that the router that Megaphone sold to us was locked. Until this summer I tried to unlock it and found that it was all branding husk, but inside there was order. And two of these routers to buy strangled us toad.

    3G / Wi-Fi router Huawei E960

    This is a router in which on one side a SIM is inserted, and on the other a life-giving wifi flies out. We can’t evaluate his work with 3G, because we have only EDGE here.

    Purchased from Megaphone for 9000 rubles, of which a thousand was an unnecessary contract for us, which could not be abandoned at that time (June 2009). The device proved to be excellent in terms of basic functionality.
    • He works.
    • There is an input for an external antenna, a SLA connector (it seemed to us that this is very important).
    But not without features.
    • The light bulbs on the device are very indirectly related to what is happening. That is, with the answer to the most exciting question: is there a connection, and if so, which one.
    • It somehow gives out IP addresses more randomly than ordinary routers. Does not try to leave to the consumer the address given to him last time. Therefore, an appeal to a shared directory of a neighbor always precedes the question: “what are you now?”


    Our reception conditions are as follows. Both Megaphone and MTS are sitting on the same tower, from which there are 8 kilometers to us. The distance is small, but, unfortunately, exactly on a straight line 250 meters from us ten thousand years ago, the glacier left a 50-meter cliff. This fact makes telephone calls unstable on our part of the island.

    Therefore, it seemed to us that we needed to somehow strengthen this business.

    We tried three antennas, from a small non-directional last year to a meter directional in this. Plus a built-in router antenna. And for now, the only conclusion we can make: in our conditions, an external antenna seems to be pointless.

    When our directional antenna hangs on a pine tree and is precisely aimed at the honeycomb (through the rock), it gives the same result as the built-in antenna of the router. Note that we did not carry out detailed studies with measurements (nothing), but are based on the empirical "there is an Internet, such and such a speed."

    That is, it seems that our limiter is not the reception quality, but the cell capacity. This is confirmed by the excellent connection at night and mediocre day and worsening at the weekend compared to weekdays. In addition, after the recent cold snap, the observed number of people in these parts fell sharply and the quality of communication in the afternoon increased, which again confirms. Given that GPRS traffic has a lower priority in GSM networks than voice ... in general, local residents and summer residents, what do you need these phones for? Watch better TV.

    MTS is almost always worse than the Megaphone, but sometimes it helps out if the latter dipped.

    By the way, the quality of communication has grown over the year.

    Speed, traffic and money

    Well, here everything becomes easier every year. If last year we paid a ruble per megabyte, then in both sims we bought anlims. Moreover, MTS has a cheap anlim at low speed, and we have never seen high speed here.

    Nevertheless, we try to save traffic and not to clog the channel unnecessarily. For this, the majority uses the Opera with the turbo function turned on (traffic goes through the Opera's servers and is compressed there, including the pictures being compressed). As a firewall, convenient for accounting and control, we chose NetLimiter last year. He is with a temper, but works.

    On average, the speed ranges from 3-4 kilobytes per second during the day to 15 at night, sometimes dropping to 1 Kb / s. Download 1-10 Kb / s. The average ping at night is about 500 milliseconds, during the day about 1000, sometimes sags up to 4000. Yes, up to four seconds. Fortunately, this happens infrequently.

    After the cooling, and in general, as they deepened in August, daytime speeds came close to night speeds.


    The power supply scheme, as it was conceived before last year’s event, is as follows. There is a generator and a battery. We charge the battery from the generator, work from it through the inverter until it sits down, then we work from the generator and charge the battery at the same time. And so on. In general, she remained such.


    At the heart of everything is a Hitachi E24SB gasoline generator. Diesel models last longer and buzz a little louder, but lower, i.e. less interfere, but cost significantly more, and still weigh a minimum of fifty. We did not consider silent liquid-cooled diesel engines at all because of the prohibitive price and weight. The gas ones didn’t look either: budget models are already very unreliable, and gas production is not as easy as gasoline, which it poured into a handful and brought. They were not interested in cheap gasoline because of their low motor resources (we would have been left without a generator today), and inverter ones because of the high price and very low power (but you never know, it will come in handy for garage use).

    I was pleasantly surprised by the operating time: instead of the 3 hours declared by the manufacturer on a full tank (3.8 liters), this engine, with our average load of 150-200 W, gives out 5 hours 15 minutes of reliable power; at a load of 1 kW (fan heater + laptops, bulbs, etc.) - 3 hours. The choice of this particular Hitachi model was due to a number of reasons. Firstly, it is a four-stroke engine with an overhead valve arrangement (OHV) manufactured by Mitsubishi, whose service life is not inferior to inexpensive diesel models; so, at least, users say; our experience so far confirms (for 250 hours we only changed the oil, did not even clean the candle and filter (hands did not reach), and the generator not only works like a clock, but also starts from half a turn of the starter). We probably can’t work out so many motor resources for life, but it’s definitely enough. Secondly, it weighs only 37 kilograms, this is at 2.1 kW of the rated power of the generator. For this, he has a small tank and not the best muffler, but we are not afraid of it: to add not laziness, but we hide the noise behind the hill mentioned below. Thirdly, it is not very expensive (about 20 thousand); about three push-pulls, but at the cost of an hour of a motor resource and a kilowatt of power there are practically no equal to it. Fourth, this is Hitachi, hence the pleasant surprises with the operating time from a full tank (they probably considered under nominal load, and not the maximum, although they wrote "maximum"), and (I want to believe) reliability. about three push-pulls, but at the cost of an hour of a motor resource and a kilowatt of power there are practically no equal to it. Fourth, this is Hitachi, hence the pleasant surprises with the operating time from a full tank (they probably considered under nominal load, and not the maximum, although they wrote "maximum"), and (I want to believe) reliability. about three push-pulls, but at the cost of an hour of a motor resource and a kilowatt of power there are practically no equal to it. Fourth, this is Hitachi, hence the pleasant surprises with the operating time from a full tank (they probably considered under nominal load, and not the maximum, although they wrote "maximum"), and (I want to believe) reliability.

    Another important factor that we underestimated in our time is the uniformity of fuel. Generator, boat engine, chainsaw and personal cars of the participants - everything runs on 92nd gasoline. When choosing a generator, we took this into account, but this did not seem critical to us. Now it’s clear that as a result we are saved from a large number of completely unnecessary troubles and can keep track of and forecast gasoline consumption simply by the remaining fuel in cans.

    generator in its nest

    We took the generator over a hill 50 meters away, laid it on a log pallet and covered it with an awning. In the camp, the noise of the generator is perceived as a distant motorboat - low and quiet, pretty soon you stop paying attention to it. Great appliance, recommended.


    We did not want to live all the time with the generator turned on - neither the noise, nor the excessive consumption of gasoline in the forest was encouraging. Therefore, we planned to work on batteries part of the time. We bought 2 copies. 132 ampere hours "Kursk battery" and 48 ampere hours Optima YellowTop (AGM). The Kursk battery is a simple starter battery and requires careful handling, but the second one (bought originally for the car of one of the participants) is a traction starter, it can be discharged cyclically to almost zero and it will not be anything, so we have it as a backup for a rainy day as a launcher for a car, as a reserve, if you need to refine a couple more hours, and the generator is reluctant to start up.

    Last year, we used almost exclusively a 132 amp-hour battery and it turned out that the work from the battery and from the generator was divided approximately in half. This year there were more people, August became, so in the evening I want a light bulb; therefore, the generator spun a little more often. However, somewhere slightly in the middle of the event, the large battery quickly and decisively died. After that, I had to completely switch to a small one, that is, to start the generator much more often (it has a charging current of 10 A, and four charging laptops consume more than 20 A).

    In general, we could solve the issue of electricity by adding 50-60 thousand to four 200 Ah batteries and a 80 A charger to the budget, but such a budget scared us a little, along with a weight of 200+ kg and the unnecessary use of such an arsenal in everyday life. Then we could start the generator for only one or two days for the whole time. But we don’t feel sorry for gasoline, but on the contrary, we feel sorry for money and backs.

    View from the camp
    View from the camp towards open Ladoga

    We charge the batteries while the generator is running with the Pendant 715d charger. This charger states that it gives a charging current of 15 A, allows you to adjust the current and voltage, and also talks about the whole process on a convenient screen. We charged a large battery with a current of 13.2 A, and a small one with 10 A (it is gel, so it can be). Charging a large battery from 50% to full takes, thus, about 7 hours (by the end of charging, the current is reduced so that the battery does not boil), the average work from this also turned out to be 7 hours (this is an inverter, router and charging two laptops). It often turns out that electricity is needed for a short time or only for the Internet, then the battery pretty much saves us gasoline and generator life.

    Last year, this same Pendant proved to be excellent - it charged, did not hum and did not complain about a difficult life. In this, almost immediately, one terminal melted from overheating (the nut was unscrewed), then the next one, then we had to replace the wires (apparently, some of the wires burned out, the voltage drop from charging to the battery became more than a volt), and then the charging just stopped periodically charging . What is the matter, we do not know, but certainly not in overheating; helps to disassemble, angrily look at the contents and assemble back. The conclusion can be drawn as follows: recharging the battery from the car in winter is an excellent device. To expect that it will run smoothly and charge large batteries in the forest, where you have no way to get another charge ... not worth it.

    To monitor the state of charge and current consumption, we use a multimeter with current clamps. It would be more convenient to connect an ammeter in series, but where can I get it, and even better would be a device that distributes the consumed current and the remaining battery capacity via the web interface ... But this is another story.

    Cats spend time on the island for the second year. The populations of small rodents were thoroughly undermined.


    The inverter is needed because the battery supplies 12 V, and the devices consume 220. In fact, many of the devices would even prefer 12 V, and here it would be possible to avoid losses on the inverter, but then you would have to tinker with them non-standard power supplies and lay the second low-voltage wiring with thick wires, which is also limitedly functional, because it implies large losses from the distance. So when we work from the generator, we stick the "main plug" into the extension cord, and when from the battery - into the inverter.

    We tried three inverters during this time.

    The first (last year) was a Chinese device of the Soyuz trademark with a rated power of 400 watts. He served us faithfully and slightly, and then burned down.

    We drove ashore and brought from the car a device of the same manufacturer, but at 300 watts. He worked, but did not pull the Dell laptop power supply rated at 90 watts (the most powerful of all).

    This year we bought an industrial inverter MeanWell A301-600-F3 for 600 watts. He looks brutal and has been working without any complaints for three weeks now.

    View from the camp to the strait

    Other household

    An inflexible wire with a cross section of 1.5 mm 2 is stretched across the island from the generator to the batteries , it is enough. On extenders to tents and for wiring under an awning, a flexible wire with a cross section of 1 mm 2 is used . In total, we use about 70 meters of wires and still have stock. From the inverter to the battery are wires with a cross section of 16 mm 2 , just in case. We attach to the batteries with car terminals, it is reliable, durable and (complete with technical petroleum jelly) eliminates corrosion from moisture.

    For the sake of saving energy, we were going to work through ethernet, but after the first measurements it became clear that the savings were cheap, and reluctant to mess with wires.

    What can / should be improved

    Battery. It seems that the starter battery from the truck in our mode cannot be a long-liver. It is designed to give an inrush current and relax, and sometimes it somehow seriously discharges accidentally. In fact, all of its large lead-acid capacity is for the sake of a large inrush current.

    Therefore, if we get together yet - you need to buy a gel for 200 Ah. Of course, it will cost three times more expensive, and weigh one and a half to two times more (60 kilograms when loading on a wave, for example, this is unpleasant), but the advantages outweigh. Such a battery is designed to maintain the life of the cottage, that is, to cyclic complete discharge. In addition, the current supplied to him drops more slowly with the capacitance, which means that we will not encounter a situation where the ampere clock is still inside, and the inverter is already against it.

    Maybe a charger. There are smart chargers that include an inverter too. That is, we plug the plug into the outlet and, ideally, at the command of the electronic brain, we go with the gas canister to the generator. However, even this could have been avoided by changing the generator to an instance with electronic start-up and an external tank. But we are not so rich / lazy, and indeed, sometimes we need to get up from a chair.


    Last year, we worked as necessary. Tired of it. Therefore, as you can see from the title picture, this year we built ourselves an office-veranda with folding walls and a long working table with four seats.

    Office Veranda

    It is very simple, it requires awnings pre-purchased for measurements, a few hands not from the ass and 200 kilograms of boards (floor and table).

    Some more tips

    • If your laptop has a glossy screen, throwing it away will be difficult for you.
    • Take wet wipes with you. There is a lot of dust, it greatly interferes with looking at the screen at low brightness (energy saving). And generally speaking.
    • Do not expect to be sitting on a stump. The back will fall off. Take comfortable chairs with vertical backs.
    • Energy-saving light bulbs are so energy-efficient.
    • Damp. Mount any appliances on pallets that raise above the ground.
    • Even people who do not drink in the city admit that maintaining a constant level of alcohol in the blood along with fresh air has a beneficial effect on productivity.

    Still useful and enjoyable


    Oh yes, I almost forgot. Of course, we will be happy to sponsors and those who wish to provide us with equipment for testing.

    It can be:
    • Food products, including freeze-dried
    • Travel clothing and other equipment
    • Power equipment (including wind, solar, and also completely traditional)
    • Computers, especially protected
    • Boats and outboard motors
    • Cameras and camcorders, protected and not

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