Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cen-Tech 3-In-1 Portable Power Pack

On my trip to Tioga County on Field Day, I wanted to try operating my Icom 7200 from battery power. As mentioned in my AAR, this didn’t happen because I had issues with my battery. So, shortly after getting back home I swung by Harbor Freight and bought a Cen-Tech 3-In-1 portable 12V power pack, item number 38391. I had a coupon so I was able to get it for $39.99 plus sales tax.

Cen-Tech 38391 3-in-1 Portable Power Pack with Jump Starter
Photo borrowed from HF.

The Cen-Tech power pack has three functions:
  • It’s a jump starter for vehicles with 360 cold cranking amps.
  • It has a small work light. It’s a 3.6 watt incandescent bulb and probably will get little to no use by me.
  • It has a 12V cigarette lighter-style outlet on the side for powering electronics.
All this is powered by a 17 amp hour sealed lead acid battery. Since it’s SLA, you must keep the battery charged or it will be damage. There’s a voltmeter on the front that allows you to check on the state of the battery.

The unit weighs about 14 pounds, so it’s easily portable.

Upon getting it home I removed the back cover of the power pack to verify that all of the connections were secure. That taken care of, I proceeded to charge it for 48 hours per the quick-start guide. Recharges should take 34 hours. Aside from a wall plug it also comes with a charger that allows you to plug it into a vehicle’s 12V outlet, but the manual warns you that it won’t charge the battery as well as mains power.

To go with the Cen-Tech unit I bought a Powerwerx Cigbuddy from Ham Radio Outlet.
Powerwerx CIGBUDDY
Photo borrowed from HRO.

As you can see, it’s a 12V cigarette lighter outlet to Andersen Power Pole adapter. This allows me to plug my Icom 7200 into the HF box.

As I write this I have the Icom 7200 monitoring 14.070 MHz and viewing PSK31 signals on the FLDIGI waterfall, on battery power.

Harbor Freight has a deserved reputation for varying quality when it comes to its products. This model was recommended by Sparks for use as portable 12V power supply* and so far it seems OK, but of course, only time will tell. At $40 it was worth a try.

We’re heading upstate again at the end of July and plan to bring the Cen-Tech battery pack with me for powering my radio.

*He posted a picture here and I asked him about it on Facebook.


Francis Nakamoto said...

The Harbor Freight ad on the CenTech power pack mentions battery use of up to 12 hours. If true, this product could replace my heavy 12 volt batteries to power my trolling motor for my kayak. Do you know if this power pack could be used in place of, or possibly as a back up power source, a 12 volt marine battery for a trolling motor for several hours. If so, it would be fantastic since it would replace 60-80# of weight with 12-24#. Of course, reliability is still questionable. Thanks, if you can comment.

Dave Markowitz said...

I wouldn't use it for that purpose. This contains a sealed lead acid battery, but it is not a deep discharge type like you should use with a trolling motor. If you discharge this battery too much you will damage it, permanently reducing its capacity.

Francis Nakamoto said...

Thanks, Dave. That is good advice!

Judith Williams said...

Does anyone know where I can purchase the AC Adapter for this unit Mine is loss and can not locate it Unit is worthless unless I can recharge it for use Please help reply to jwms9106@gmail please or 214-491-7349

Anonymous said...

Judith... You do not use an Adapter to charge the unit. On the right side there is a standard 2 prong female plug. Just get a standard 2 prong extension cord an plug one side into the unit and the other side into the wall socket.

Anonymous said...

Looking for a schematic...mine won't charge using the AC plug buthe will using the DC jack?
Any help would be greatly appreciated