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Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016
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Ready for Field Day - or The Apocalypse, LOL

My setup for running fully independent solar powered radio.

This is the front inside wall of my dedicated radio trailer. I can throw an antenna and the solar panel in the back of the pickup, hitch up the trailer, and drive off into the Montana countryside where there is no man-made radio frequency interference, set the antenna up, and operate all day, and then into the night on ultracaps. If I need to, I can charge and power the system from my truck, too. Diodes are wonderful things. 😊

The solar system supplies five amps continuous in the sun, and the main radio there (an Icom IC-7300, a software-defined radio, really fun to operate) uses less than one ampere on receive, about 21 amperes on transmit (for 100 watts of RF output.) The ultracap-based energy storage system is, once the electronics are accounted for, equivalent to just a bit more than two 110 ampere-hour batteries, so when the sun is down or charge current is scarce due to weather, I have 220 hours of pure receive operation, or several hours if I transmit continuously (which I never do... I listen far more than I transmit.)

There's an AC inverter (and associated RF noise filtering) for any device that I need to run that way, which also provides USB power, but generally speaking, 12.6 to 13.8 VDC is what I generally pick equipment to use, and that's what the UC system produces on the supply side of the voltage converter.

I built 12 VDC LED lighting into the trailer for night operations; there are four bulbs, they light it well and consume about one and a half amperes in total doing so. I can switch them off individually and just run with one, two or three to save some power, or I can just turn them all off. I almost never run the 4th bulb.

The antenna I take out for this is a GAP 20 meter monogap, which is an offset-fed vertical dipole. It's agreeably low-noise, much more so than a standard vertical, and is portable in two pieces about 8 feet long each. There are also whips for 11m, 2m and 70cm.

It's a great setup for emergency communications, should that ever be needed.

The trailer itself is an old hand-built ice-fishing trailer that began its life in Minnesota. The floors, wall and ceiling are all well insulated (because it was intended to be used in cold weather) which works really well here for both summer and winter; hot sun on the sides doesn't get me instantly cooked, and in the winter, it's considerably less brutal inside than outside. It's pretty beat-up, but still 100% functional.

#mobile #hamradio #swl

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