Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Backup Radio Power

The major thing missing from my ham radio setup has been a backup power source. With Winter just around the corner I decided that it was time to remedy this. Today I placed an order with West Mountain Radio for several items:

  • PWRgate 40 package
  • 73 ah gel cell
  • Cable for my VX-5RS
  • Cable for my FT-7800R

The cables have an Andersen Power Pole connector on one end, for plugging into the PWRgate, and the appropriate connector on the other end for plugging into the radio.

The PWRgate allows one to create an uninterruptable power supply for radios. Ugly ASCII diagram:

[A/C power] – [PWRgate] – [Gel cell]

This provides the same basic functionality as a UPS intended for computers. If the mains power goes out an you're using the radio, it will automatically shift over to the gel cell. While the radio isn't being used, it will trickle charge the battery.

My Yaesu FT-7800R consumes only 0.5A in RX mode (squelched) and 8.5A when transmitting, so if I'm just monitoring during a power outage, the 73 ah gel cell should last quite awhile. My VX-5RS HT uses a max of 1.9A when transmitting, so it'll last even longer.

At some point I may invest in a generator but for now our power is sufficiently reliable that I don't feel the need yet.

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