Portable Solar Panels for field communications

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by OH8STN, Jun 4, 2019.

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  1. OH8STN

    OH8STN Ham Member QRZ Page

  2. OH8STN

    OH8STN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hello Operators
    Todays video is about choosing the right Portable Solar Panels, for amateur radio field day and/or Amateur Radio Emergency Communications.

    In this video I take you through my experiences with portable solar panels from PowerFilm Solar, and hopefully, give you some information needed, helping you chose the correct series for your own field communications requirements.

    In this video we discuss the FM (folding series), and R (Rollable series) from PowerFilm Solar.

    Julian oh8stn
    KC5JSR, NG8M, WA2LXB and 5 others like this.
  3. WA2LXB

    WA2LXB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I want one. 1000 of you send me a dollar each :D
    N3MLB, 2E0CQB and WA5VHU like this.
  4. PP8DA

    PP8DA Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Video is not reproducing anymore...
  5. OH8STN

    OH8STN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Voting for Bernie eh? For now you'll have to stop wasting your money on pogey bait and save up!
    AA0V, W5ZYM, KC5JSR and 6 others like this.
  6. KO6KL

    KO6KL XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    keep a eye on older commercial solar sites ( like at ag sites ) , if you see them removing panels it may be an upgrade from ~170watt older panels to the new newer 300+watt panels
    I was able to buy the older used panels for $20
    KD2DIG, KW4WL and OH8STN like this.
  7. OH8STN

    OH8STN Ham Member QRZ Page

    For portable ops? Good catch but how much do they weigh?
  8. WA2LXB

    WA2LXB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    F4HPX, KW4WL, KF5RHI and 4 others like this.
  9. F4HPX

    F4HPX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hello Julian

    I have the one 20W for KX2 and it's fine (with 3 sets of Li-Ion batteries).
    I have FT-891 too and a commercial LifePo4 battery 22Ah lasting 5 hours at 80W of intense field day like event (140 QSO logged before battery shutdown and it was much more conversations than 59 next please contest style).
    But adding bigger radios/power then bigger batteries then bigger panels it's becoming less and less portable… I can't imagine putting this all in my backpack and walk several kilometers (although I did it once climbing 2600 m volcano only to end up using KX2 with small 30W chinese e-bay amp and 7.2 Ah battery - did not use FT-891 taken in case of on that activation at all - but this was the first and last time I packed 10kgs of ham radio gear on my back).
    KX2 alone with 3W out on FT8 was doing great job when on altitude or close to salt water with a range of several thousand miles using simple linked dipole or Alpha EZ military stick.

    Possibly first limiting factor when portable will be the antenna itself and the choice of operating location. Second the antenna system of the station we are talking to. So I think I will stay downsized.
    I am currently on Reunion Island and was making easily lot of DX QSO on SSB/Phone mode on my FT-891 with 80W and a simple linked dipole on 8m fishing pole - when on altitude. (QSOs including Sweden and Finland). But others had beams at 20 m (...and often several hundred watts from amps BTW).
    When I remember 2 years ago I was really struggling to copy anybody pushing 500W into my Endfed dipole from QTH in France to contact anyone on Reunion, so in opposite direction.

    73 Thomas
  10. OH8STN

    OH8STN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Thomas
    Yeah I totally see where you're coming from. It's one perspective, but definitely not the only one. From my perspective, a fun afternoon of FT8 is different than effective communications. It's fun, but it's limited. Definitely good for its purpose. So we can agree a kx2, ft8, and a good antenna make an effective man-portable ft8 station.

    The idea of the solar panels isn't purely about filling the logbook with FT8 contacts The solar powered field station concept is one with its focus on effective field communications with purpose. Just to be clear, I still go out on a 12km hike, with a small qrp radio, end fed half wave and raspberry pi to operate digi modes for fun. In that case I'll take my small 20w panels and 5ah lifepo4 pack. 8-10 hours of fun. Then there's the other side of amateur radio. The side which takes me out to the field for days/weeks at a time. The side where establishing and maintaining reliable Communications is the goal. In that scenario, a raspberry pi, ft891, 10-20ah LiFePO4, and a larger panel are acceptable. It all depends on what your amateur radio goals are.
    Another consideration is not just running radio gear with my portable power. Lights for my tent, charge my phone or tablet, ... theres no right or wrong way.
    Thanks for the comment Thomas
    Julian oh8stn

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