by Justin Gray
Ok, so you’ve decided to build a HAM radio go-kit or you already have one and are looking to perfect it. Most of us have a mobile transceiver, a power source (battery) and antenna in the very least; what do you do when your battery runs out?
For field day use, one battery is probably fine – but you’ve built your Go-Kit for emergencies! Let’s look at some of the available options:
A solar panel array is great, but will only get you so far; they’re large, bulky and do not put out enough power to keep you going – you need sunlight and a battery for them to work.
These are a great solution if you have the space and the ability to carry them as they’re heavy and cumbersome.
I believe this is the best solution in any grid-down type of emergency. Small, lightweight, and affordable, the power inverter offers AC and USB power from any 12V DC source. If there is anything that is plentiful in a grid-down emergency (weather related, civil unrest, disaster), it is a plethora of broken down vehicles with good batteries. What’s more, the power inverter can be tied to your solar panel and battery to provide you AC power for your rechargeables including your HT, phone, and other necessities such as lighting.
Power Inverters come in all shapes and sizes, but this article is pointed directly at our Smart AC Inverter and Slimline Inverters as they are easy (see SIMPLE) to use, have AC & USB power outlets, and provide up to 2000 watts! The Smart AC and SlimLine Power Inverters are ideal for in-vehicle use too.
SIMPLE - How do you use them?
For applications up to 100 watts, the Smart AC 100W simply plugs in to the car's interior 12V DC accessory/cigarette lighter socket. If you need more than 100 watts while inside of the vehicle, our Slimline 250W Inverter is the inverter you need; simply plug in the red lead to the red terminal on the back of the inverter, then the black lead to the black terminal. Once the connections are secure, simply plug the cigarette lighter plug into the DC Socket. Viola, you have AC and USB power! For applications over 250 watts, follow the same procedure, except you’ll connect the supplied alligator clamps directly to the battery instead of using the 12V DC Socket.
Another Excellent Option
Portable, lightweight, lithium-ion (LiPo) based power supplies! In my go-kit, I keep an iOnBoost TORQUE V10 jump starter. A jump starter you say? Yep, it is a veritable swiss-army knife when it comes to emergencies; jump starter, USB power supply (for charging phones), and a 12V DC Socket to power my rig! It's a compact and powerful option that doesn't add much weight and nests easily in my go-kit.
A Power Inverter and/or a LiPo power supply is not a single-solution to all of your power needs; rather they offer another viable option to keep you up and running when conventional power sources are not available. Being flexible and capable is more important that any one thing!
Items mentioned in this article: