I'm currently looking at what to use to build the power cables for the Mesh Extenders.
As previously posted, one end has a D-SUB 25 socket. The other end needs to have connectors for:
a solar panel and battery (4 pins),
USB socket (to allow charging of phones from Mesh Extender, where power budget allows),
12/24v automotive power
and it also needs to have a little serial EPROM in the cable, so that the cable can tell the Mesh Extender which radio regulatory region it is in.
All of this needs to be fairly weather proof, so that it can ideally last for at least a year in tropical maritime or outback conditions.
It also needs to be as cheap as possible.
I'm looking for ideas for all parts of the cable, to make the cables as fast and cheap to build as possible, while maintaining adequate performance.
My current thinking is leaning towards:
Using half of a http://au.element14.com/videk/1125/lead-rs232-25w-d-skt-skt-5m/dp/1525869 for the D-SUB 25 end, then putting some currently unknown small sealed junction box on the end of that, and having the solar/battery, USB and automotive power plugs (not all may be fitted on all cables) come out the other end of the junction box.
Those D-SUB connectors have the problem that they are not UV stabilised or IP rated, however. Are there good simple coatings (like would spraying them with Armor-all be enough) for UV protection? Would the connector, sitting inside a lip at at the bottom of the Mesh Extender exclude dust and water adequeately (we can at least test that once we have complete hardware units on hand)? Or does anyone know an affordable source of similar cables that are UV stabilised, and ideally, IP66 or similar rated?
For the solar/battery connector, perhaps something like http://www.banggood.com/10Pairs-DC-MaleFemale-4PIN-24AWG-Waterproof-IP65-PVC-LED-Connectors-p-1073265.html?rmmds=buy, which are outrageously cheap, and already come with tails fitted, so soldering them up on a tiny PCB in a junction box would be easy. They claim to be UV resistant and IP65 rated, although I must confess I have some suspicions given their very low cost.
I currently have no decent leads on a small junction box that can take a fat cable in one end, and some skinny ones out the other, sealing everything in the middle. Something like the things that Telstra use to join phone cables in pits would be a potential solution (not Scotch-locs, but the bigger things). But I don't know where to source those from (yet).