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Solar HF/VFH/UHF portable breif case

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KI7NPM, Jun 5, 2018.

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  1. KI7NPM

    KI7NPM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Greetings friends,

    I am aiming to make a solar powered briefcase for my Yaesu FT-857D. I was hoping some one more experienced then me with solar and radios can let me know if this is going to work. I can only seem to find videos for like ammo can solar systems.

    Solar Panel for System.

    This is a 12v 20W solar panel. My fear with this panel is that it wont recharge the Deep cycle batteries fast enough for continues HF listening (and a bit of talking). What I like about this panel is it will fit on the outside of the Brief case keeping it very portable.

    Batteries for System

    I was going to daisy chain these batteries together. I do hope they will work just fine with my Yaesu FT-857D and my selected solar panel.

    Charge controller.

    My concern with the charge controller is it is large. But I like the display for batteries and voltage and if I wanted to add solar panels later I can. Can any one think of any other issues this could have?

    Safety Kill Switches

    This is what I was going to use as a kill switch from the batteries and the Solar panel and use the last switch for DC lighting later.

    Then naturally my grounding Plate

    Might be a bit large for what I am doing but that's ok.

    Please let me know if you find anything that wont work together? I shared my concerns with each piece. I also would like to know what wire gauge I should probably use for this thing I have some 12gauge copper wire? Additionally I am open to suggestions on HF antennas, if no suggestions then I have to wait until I can make or buy a magnetic loop antenna.
    AF4LY likes this.
  2. AF4LY

    AF4LY Ham Member QRZ Page

    Everything looks good to me. Are you going to use an ammo can? or something bigger? I'll probably create something similar in the near future. Except it will have a power supply for when I'm home.

    As for the antenna, are you planning on setting something with you really quick or are you looking for something you can carry with you as you walk along. You could do something like the MFJ-1625 or the Tak-Tenna.

    I personally use an MFJ Loop Tuner. It's a little expensive ($200). Mag Loops would be the most efficient small HF antenna. However, you want to use high gauge tubing for most efficiency. I can't remember the ham's call right now, but there is someone who makes copper loops that can be broken down and easily transported.
  3. K3KIC

    K3KIC Ham Member QRZ Page

    What is your budget?
    A 20W panel is unlikely to support continuous usage. Your location also plays a factor in solar energy planning.
    Another factor is what power level you plan to transmit at? For how long? What time of day?
  4. KD0CAC

    KD0CAC Ham Member QRZ Page

    1st off stay away for Amazon / far away .
    Learn Ohm's Law .
    Also batteries & charging .
    Home Power magazine is one of the best sources for DIY alternative energy .
  5. KV4PD

    KV4PD Ham Member QRZ Page

  6. KI7NPM

    KI7NPM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would plan to listen to the radio more then transmit in general. When transmitting I expect most if it will be from the small VHF/UHF antenna I have, at 10w. I may do some 100w, 10m transitions but these would not likely last longer then 20-40 min before I am back to listening. Glad to know the magnetic loop antenna is probably my best bet. Was hoping to get one to fit inside the brief case for use while moving.

    Tnx for Feedback guys glad it seems like this will work.
  7. K3KIC

    K3KIC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have the 25W version of that panel. It's not enough capacity to keep my battery fully charged when I use my FT-817. I'm in PA.
    I have a number of other panels so I can experiment. If you haven't ordered the panel yet I'd upsize to at least 50W.
    If you really need portability and have a higher budget there are military surplus roll/foldout panels that are in the 40 through 70 W range.
    But they run $150 and up.
  8. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    In terms of appropriate "wire" to use, go to Home Depot and buy some low voltage, direct bury outdoor lighting wire. Install some Anderson power poles on this wire and use it like it's a DC extension cord.

    Outdoor low voltage wire is UV resistant and super tough wire that's perfect for outdoor portable DC voltage applications.

    Don't skimp on solar power. Some of the panels posted here cost not much less than higher capacity panels. I guess you just need to find the right place to look. I see many 100 watt semi-flexible panels selling on eBay for $75-$100 so why settle for only 20 watts?

    This is my military solar panel setup which is a little more expensive but worth it.

    global solar 42w.jpg

    X2 = 84 Watts..


    The 2- 42 Watt panels folded up with Genasun charge controller, low voltage wire and green padded military surplus carry case.


    The yellow box beside it is a portable HF station with LiFePo4 batteries inside.

    battery setup.jpg
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2018

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