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2 Days Off Grid with PowerFilm, Ham Radio and a Raspberry Pi

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by OH8STN, Jun 9, 2018.

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  1. MW1CFN

    MW1CFN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Julian's video work is always very good, and very relevant to a lot of people. Investing in a home station can be nice - provided someone doesn't come along in the neighbourhood and install something that ruins it all for you. This happens to most of us, sooner or later.

    Much better to stay fleet-footed and ensure you can enjoy radio from wherever you want to go. I'm able to operate FT8 from one of those supposedly 'hopeless' 1/4 wave verticals at about 15-20W, or the same output I use back in the home station, in a field shack, also using a Raspberry Pi and 7" touchscreen. The UK is not noted for its sunshine, but a 100W panel keeps me going just fine, even on a less-than-blue sky winter's day.

    Radio is what you want it to be. There are plenty of people who want to shout that you can't operate PV portable, but that's usually because they've never tried, or too attached to big, power hungry operation.
    K7III and OH8STN like this.
  2. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    This forum thread motivated me to do some of my own field testing yesterday. So I had my CIGS panels out to do some battery charging / testing.

    panel and wire.jpg

    With around 80 watts of portable solar power connected to a Genasun MPPT controller, I managed to charge a fully depleted 5.5 AH LiFePO4 pack back to full capacity in approx. 3 hours on a partly-cloudy / mostly sunny day.

    Thinking about this further, this is really not much different than charging the same battery pack using the recommended Bioenno AC charger at home. I can charge the same battery up in around 2.5 hours on AC power. I think I can live with those results in an off grid situation. lol

    In my setup, I typically alternate my LiFePO4 battery packs in a manner so one is always charging, while the other battery pack is in use. So by the time the battery I am using runs out, the other one is already charged up and ready to go.

    It seems I even have an additional surplus of available battery power doing things this way. So perhaps even with this setup, operating at even higher power levels of around 20 - 30 watts for a limited time isn't entirely out of the question.

    I also think using two individual battery packs instead of using one larger one, also provides me with entirely uninterrupted solar charging. Perhaps this also provides an additional layer of redundancy should one of the battery packs ever fail or malfunction too.

    So I dunno, maybe this added redundancy is something else to think about when operating your portable setup in an off the grid, while in the middle of nowhere scenario.

    battery setup2.jpg
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2018
    AK2M likes this.
  3. AK2M

    AK2M Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    That's ridiculously obvious. So much so, that I should have thought about it myself. ;)

    In my VHF/UHF go-box, I have a 12Ah Bioenno LiFePO4 battery, with the AC charger stowed inside for handy use. I don't currently have a capability to charge lithium with my solar panel. The more I read about the Genasun controller - ie, posts from you - the more I think I should replace the stock Renogy controller that came with my suitcase. I note that Julian recently posted a video on the Genasun, too. I'll watch that next. Of course, I could just leave the stock Renogy controller on the suitcase, and get the Genasun for a 30W CIGS panel. Living in the Mid-Atlantic, that should provide me with enough power versus money spent.

    If I build an HF go-box, I'll definitely think about getting two smaller lithium batteries to do as you recommend. The way my ammo can VHF box is set up, changing cables to swap batteries would be a nuisance. I should probably tweak the layout to give me better access to the battery in any case.

    Still reading, still learning. Thanks.
    KC8VWM likes this.
  4. K7BMG

    K7BMG QRZ Lifetime Member #55 Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Julian your a rock star on this subject.
    Thank you.
  5. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I guess I should mention you can get one for less than $100 bucks here:

    Genasun GV-10 LiFePO4 Controller

    I used "Make An Offer" and stole one for $90 bucks with free shipping... I think you can too. :)

    AK2M likes this.
  6. AK2M

    AK2M Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well, that solved that problem. I got one for $90, too. :)

    KC8VWM likes this.
  7. AK2M

    AK2M Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    @KC8VWM - got my controller yesterday. Pretty sure it’s compatible with my Renogy folding 100W panel. I guess I just need to take off the Adventurer PWM CC and wire in the Genasun. Perhaps some Anderson pigtails are in order, so I can still charge my SLA batteries swapping with the old controller.
  8. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Should work fine. Anderson power poles is the way to do everything up if you're connecting everything together while portable. It permits you connect things together in various configurations if you ever need to do things that way.

    That's a good deal on a Genasun controller wasn't it... :)
  9. WA2LXB

    WA2LXB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    We activated Buttermilk Falls State Park in New York last weekend (SPOA). Inside the Portable Zero backpack is the IC-7300 with Bioenno power 20AH LiFePo battery, PAR end fed 40-10, MFJ 939 (optional), etc. I normally use a light weight headset and the hand mic, but I brought the Jeep vs. hiking so I was able to enjoy the Heil headset. This outfit is going to get mounted to an external backpack frame, which will allow me to include shelter, chow and water. I may also mount VHF/UHF and HF verticals to the pack frame. Solar panels and charge controller from Bioenno are in the queue as well.

    This same xcvr is my field day and primary base station rig.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018
    KC8VWM and AK2M like this.

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