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Friday, June 17th, 2016
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Radio Trailer

This is the front inside wall of my solar-powered 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 noise, set the antenna up, and operate all day, and then into the night on batteries. If I want to, I can power the system from the pickup, too. Diodes are wonderful things. 😊

The solar system supplies four amps continuous in the sun, and the 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 battery system is 100 AH, so when the sun is down, I have 100 hours of pure receive operation, or several if I transmit continuously (which I never do... I listen far more than I transmit.)

I can increase the capacity easily too, and probably will before the summer is out. One more battery and one more solar panel, plus cabling, will run about $250; that's 200 AH of running capacity and 8 amps of continuous current to charge from in full sunlight.

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.

I built LED lighting into the trailer for night operations; there are three bulbs, they light it well and consume about one ampere in total doing so.

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.

I plan to be "out there" this field day, June 25th-26th, and I'll be operating on 20 meters for sure. Might take along a multiband wire dipole too, who knows... but I'll definitely be on 20 meters. I'm an extra, so you might find me anywhere on the band.

I built a portable frame for the solar panel that puts it at the correct angle for our latitude; the frame folds flat for transport in the pickup bed or inside the trailer.

Down at the lower right, you can see the coaxial cable exiting to the antenna system; that's going to be a wall mounted set of UHF connectors as soon as I can get the assembly built. For now, the UHF F to F connector serves the purpose so I can operate immediately.

There's a standard analog shortwave portable receiver on the left and another transceiver off to the right that will be providing 144 and 440 MHz capability. It's a great setup for emergency communications, should that ever be needed.

I'm still working on this; added a shelf today, will upload a new image when that's all set up — probably before field day.

#mobile #hamradio #swl

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