Weatherizing (sort of) a battery for portable QRP ops
With the weather warming up, it’s time to take the radios to the field — and the battery(ies) to power them.
Last summer, I put together a tight little field battery pack for my Elecraft KX1, housed in a small Really Useful Box from Staples. With the addition of an FT-817ND QRP radio to my shack, I needed a battery with a little more oomph. So, during Lobstercon last summer, I picked up (for a song) a small UPC at the event’s mini swap meet and copped its 7.2 amp-hour battery.
But with a pair of bare terminals, the battery is not the kind of thing you want rattling around loose in a day pack. And if it sits out on a table when the rain comes, well, that can lead to major unpleasantness as well. Which led me back to the Really Useful Box collection at Staples.
The battery fit into a 1.6 liter box snuggly end to end, and with room to spare front to back. I used the box to carry it to several outings last year. But what about using it to run more than one black box — maybe some accessories to go with the QRP radio, such as an outboard keyer or my NEScaf audio filter. And just maybe, a place to connect the A & A Engineering battery charger kit I’m wrapping up this week. Or a solar panel/charger at some point.
And so, a new battery case was born, but not without a learning curve.
We’ll take a little journey through the project via photos, with a side trip or two for self-depreciating editorial comments.
And now comes the first self-depreciating editorial comment:
I picked up the Power Pole parts at a hamfest in Framingham, Mass., in early April. I’ve assembled several Power Pole connectors for various projects, but this is the first time I tried to build an array of Power Poles. All went well, and my trusty digital multimeter showed no shorts or misconnections. But, really, it would have been a lot faster buying one of these pre-assembled from the guy at the hamfest selling the Power Pole products. Note to self: Sometimes, do-it-yourself bragging rights are over-rated.
…and therein lies self-depreciating editorial comment No. 2:
These boxes are a bear to cut. Easy to scratch, but cut? Razor-sharp pocket knife (the safest kind)? Multiple passes along the scored line only slightly deepened the grooves each time. Same with a box knife plus fresh blade. In the end, I finally broke through along one section of line, but not before cracking the adjacent plastic. So, it was off to Staples for another box, and they were out of blue. Purple isn’t my color, so I opted for clear.
And here’s what happened next.
That’s about it. For true weather-proofness (now there’s a word!), I’d still have to cover the box with a plastic bag. (“Is it really that ugly?” he asked.) The Power Pole connectors are exposed to the elements. But at least the box buys an extra couple of minutes to hunt down that bag before the skies really open!
And, of course, only after finishing the project did I learn that Anderson makes some truly waterproof connector assemblies. Oh well, maybe at the next hamfest…
This entry was posted on 2011/05/11 at 23:00 and is filed under Miscellaneous, Portable operations, Projects, QRP with tags amateur radio, batteries, camping, Ham radio, ham radio outdoors, portable operating, QRP. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.