OAUSA Net - March 2, 2017 - Alternate Power in the Wilderness

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OAUSA Net - March 2, 2017 - Alternate Power in the Wilderness

#1

Post by DaveK » Mon Feb 27, 2017 1:08 pm

ALTERNATE POWER IN THE WILDERNESS

This week we will explore different alternate power options which can be helpful when you leave the "grid". Our travels normally take us into remote areas where none of the accommodations of “civilization are to be found, and when the trip lasts for a week or more, these options can add a real measure of safety and comfort.

If your goal is to get as far from civilization as roads will allow, sooner or later you will need to consider the benefits of some alternate power options. For many back country travelers, the necessities of survival means an increased need for power. The average vehicle battery can only supply so much before it dies or the engine must be started to recharge it. When you add up the power needs of things like freezer fridge units, charging batteries for various electronics, Ham radios, APRS, GPS units, lights, computers and the like, it is very easy to run the vehicle battery down in a hurry. For extended trips, where fuel is scarce, starting your motor just to charge your battery, may not be an option. This is where alternate power options can help.

If you enjoy the opportunities that these remote county trips offer for Ham radio users, then having alternate power becomes an absolute necessity.

Although most people think solar when the discussion turns to alternate power, and while solar can be an important component to an overall plan, there are so many other options that should be considered to help meet your energy needs. We will cover as many as time allows during the net, and urge everyone who has alternate power ideas to post them here.

These are the alternate power options we expect to cover:
  • 1. Solar
    2. Wind
    3. Dual batteries
    4. Power supplies / jump starters
    5. Generators
    6. Vehicle batteries
    7. Batteries for small electronics, e.g. GPS, cell phones, flashlights, cameras, pumps, camp lights, etc.
    8. Inverters (DC to AC)
    9. Charging cables and ports
Several posts will follow with information, pictures, and links.
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Re: OAUSA Net - March 2, 2017 - Alternate Power in the Wilderness

#2

Post by DaveK » Mon Feb 27, 2017 8:45 pm

HARNESSING THE SUN

Alternate power most often brings the subject of solar panels to mind, and for good reason. There are many advantages to solar, but it requires some planning and research to make the right choice. In this post, we will suggest some guidelines and some suggestions. When it comes to selecting the right solar for your needs, consider the following:
  • 1. your energy needs
    2. Whether to permanently mount panels or deploy at camp
    3. space available on the vehicle to mount panel(s)
    5. cost
    6. controller type
    7. battery configuration for charging
    8. how to angle panels for optimum efficiency
    9. panel efficiency
    10. panel warranty (and company history)
    11. Origin of manufacture (USA)
Careful research on all of these items will pay dividends when you are on that long trip, a considerable distance from the nearest town. Which solar panel is right for you??? Join the net!

Here are some mounting suggestions:

Permanent Mount
IMG_0338 (Large).JPG
IMG_0338 (Large).JPG (190.52 KiB) Viewed 950 times
Roof Rack.jpg
Roof Rack.jpg (351.76 KiB) Viewed 950 times
Bumper Mount
IMG_0198 (Large).JPG
IMG_0198 (Large).JPG (122.47 KiB) Viewed 950 times
Deploy at Camp (note: on the hood)
IMG_1028 (Large).JPG
IMG_1028 (Large).JPG (154.32 KiB) Viewed 950 times
GCO Solar Power.jpg
GCO Solar Power.jpg (408 KiB) Viewed 950 times
Controller Mount (Note: This controller was hardwired into the lower dash)
Charge Controller In-Dash.JPG
Charge Controller In-Dash.JPG (55.03 KiB) Viewed 950 times
Note

For the outdoor crowd, solar efficiency is an important consideration. For many reasons, the efficiency of solar panels has improved, as shown in the graph, below, and to a certain extent, it has benefited us. We will discuss this in greater detail on the net. This graph is from The Energy Sage, https://www.energysage.com/solar/buyers ... fficiency/, and shows the rapid rate at which panel efficience has been improving. This link also some very useful information concerning solar panels, and should be one of the starting points for your research:
Solar Panel Efficiency.jpg
Solar Panel Efficiency.jpg (57.87 KiB) Viewed 727 times
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Re: OAUSA Net - March 2, 2017 - Alternate Power in the Wilderness

#3

Post by DaveK » Mon Feb 27, 2017 10:26 pm

HARNESSING THE WIND

One of the unavoidable disadvantages of solar is that they don't produce any energy once the sun goes down. At this point, especially for the HF operators out there, alternate power becomes very important. Evening time for many bands is when things get into high gear and this is when it is especially nice to have an alternate source of power. When you key down at 100 watts, it can draw in excess of 20 amps, and at that rate, it doesn't take long to take the battery below safe levels.

An interesting option is a compact wind turbine. There are a few on the market, and you will need to do your research, but with the right equipment, this can be a great way to get yourself some free power. Like solar, wind turbines have their limitations - no wind, no power, but when the wind kicks up, it can work very well. A couple of years back, Hector (KE6VRl) and I were in a very remote section of Utah, and as most of these trips go, we used the quiet hours of the evening to play radio. For three days in Beef Basin, we had constant wind, and I took full advantage of this free power. For these three days, especially at night, I was able to operate the radios, at full power, while still keeping the batteries within safe levels. In the morning the batteries were at full charge, despite the refrigerator cycling on and off all night long (yes, the nights were warm).

Having learned the hard way, I have found that there are a couple of caveats if you plan on using a wind turbine. While my WT was very compact, and fit into a bag not much larger than a bowling ball bag, it was a major PITA to assemble and disassemble the WT at every new campsite. That's when I fabricated a mount on the roof rack that allowed the fully assembled WT to be installed, ready to go to work. With this set-up, it takes just a couple of minutes to get it ready to go.

Wind Turbine at Work
DTK Wind Turbine.JPG
DTK Wind Turbine.JPG (102.17 KiB) Viewed 950 times
Wind Turbine Stowed
Wind Turbine Stowed.JPG
Wind Turbine Stowed.JPG (117.33 KiB) Viewed 950 times
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Re: OAUSA Net - March 2, 2017 - Alternate Power in the Wilderness

#4

Post by DaveK » Mon Feb 27, 2017 10:33 pm

DUAL BATTERIES

When you are 100 miles from the nearest town, that's the wrong time to have your battery fail. Having dual batteries is a great way to make sure that you get back. Generally, our travels take us well beyond the range of the Auto Club, who, BTW, does not make rescues off road. As is generally true, this is one area where you will need to do your research to determine which dual battery set up will work best for you. I will mention two that deserve your consideration if you plan on making this vehicle mod. We will discuss this in more detail on the net.

There are two different configurations that are available for a dual battery set=up:
  • 1. The second battery is isolated from the main battery and is unavailable for use when the ignition is off. This means that should you drain the main battery, or if it fails completely, you will have the secondary battery to perform all the necessary functions of the main battery. Some systems allow a manual connection, even when the ignition is off, in the event that additional power is needed. When the ignition is on and the motor is running, both batteries are charged.

    2. When the ignition is off, the main battery is isolated from the secondary battery and is unavailable for any use. In this case, the main battery cannot be used for any purpose and thus not be drained. All battery needs are met by the secondary battery. As with the first configuration, both batteries are charged when the motor is running.
Regardless of the set-up you prefer, there is security in having this alternate source of power.

HELL ROARING http://www.hellroaring.com/

Their manufacturing facility and corporate headquarters are located near Polson, Montana, overlooking Flathead Lake. Hellroaring Creek and Hellroaring Pass are nearby, thus inspiring their name.
HellRoaring Battery Isolator.jpg
HellRoaring Battery Isolator.jpg (9.59 KiB) Viewed 947 times
This is what they have to say about their BIC-75150A system"
This device allows you to isolate your starting battery from all your deep cycle or accessory loads and provide the most efficient charging to both battery systems. Probably the best connection method is to connect your starting battery only to your starter circuit. Then isolate this circuit from all other loads and your deep cycle battery using the BIC-75150A. And, since all your accessory loads and deep cycle batteries are connected directly to your alternator, you can use any size alternator! A 300+ Amp alternator will not affect the BIC-75150A battery isolator / combiner when connected in this way!
NATIONAL LUNA

National Luna is a South African company that has gained a solid reputation for its off-road line of products. Their dual battery system is available from Equipt Outfitters , http://www.equipt1.com/item/12V-split-c ... face-mount. From the Equipt website:
National Luna Dual Battery System.JPG
National Luna Dual Battery System.JPG (130.05 KiB) Viewed 893 times
Hers is what they say about their dual battery system:
The National Luna 12V Split Charger System allows you to maintain two or more batteries in your vehicle. The Intelligent Solenoid manages the charging of both batteries when the vehicle is running, and isolates them when the vehicle is off. This is all automatic. With the Dual Battery Controller, you are also able to monitor the status of the batteries and manually override the connection.
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Re: OAUSA Net - March 2, 2017 - Alternate Power in the Wilderness

#5

Post by DaveK » Tue Feb 28, 2017 9:42 pm

POWER SUPPLIES / JUMP STARTERS

Microstart Personal Power Supply http://themicrostart.com/xp-1/

The Micro-Start is about the size of a cell phone, albeit a little thicker. It truly is a multi-function power supply, with a vehicle jump starter, power supply and flashlight. Charging your electronic devices while you drive or while you are at camp can really save a lot of time. You can also charge the Micro-start from a standard USB jack. From the Micro-Start website:
JUMP STARTER
Safely and easily Jump-Start your car, truck or powersports vehicles. XP-1 has 200 Amps starting current with 400 Amps Peak. It can start a V8 up to 30X on a single charge! Jump-start vehicles with gas engine size up to 6 liter V8. The included Smart Clamps have a sturdy design with strong pivot points. They also feature multiple built-in protections

POWER SUPPLY
Conveniently Charge & Power your devices. The XP-1 has very high capacity for back-up power: 12000 mAh! It has four ports to charge your electronics: a 19V for Laptops (not compatible with Apple 16V laptops), a 12V standard output (for GPS, mobile DVD players, small fans, LED lights, etc), and TWO 5V USB ports (for Smartphones, Tablets, Cameras, PSPs, MP3 Players, Bluetooth devices and more).

FLASHLIGHT
To assist in lighting your way in dark places or at night, the XP-1 also features an ultra bright LED Flashlight. It has 3 modes: steady beam, strobe pattern, and SOS flash pattern – cycle through with the press of one button. This built-in high-power 110-Lumen LED flashlight can last up to 3 days on a single charge!
Micro Start XP-1.jpg
Micro Start XP-1.jpg (97.96 KiB) Viewed 891 times
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Re: OAUSA Net - March 2, 2017 - Alternate Power in the Wilderness

#6

Post by DaveK » Tue Feb 28, 2017 10:14 pm

GENERATORS

This addition to our arsenal of alternate power sources is really an outgrowth of our Field Day operations. For those that aren't familiar with the ARRL Field Day event, it is the single most popular on-the-air event held annually in the US and Canada. The purpose of the contest is to contact as many other stations as possible and to learn to operate radio gear in remote or impromptu locations with less than optimal conditions. For OAUSA, we locate our camp in the mountains and rely totally on "off the grid" power (generators.)

Generators have come a long way in the last several years. They are smaller, more fuel efficient, and quieter. These features make them a perfect compliment to our back country travel, especially when several in the group are operating HF at camp during evening hours. We have only one caveat - make sure that your generator produces true sine wave power. Many electronic devices (including radios), will not perform well with a modified sine wave generator and it may damage your equipment.

There are several brands on the market, but we have found the Honda line to be very reliable, compact, fuel efficient and an excellent source of alternate power. They also produce a true sine wave.

From the Honda Website http://powerequipment.honda.com/generat ... ls/eu1000i
Honda Generator.jpg
Honda Generator.jpg (508.49 KiB) Viewed 888 times
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Re: OAUSA Net - March 2, 2017 - Alternate Power in the Wilderness

#7

Post by DaveK » Tue Feb 28, 2017 10:54 pm

VEHICLE BATTERIES

We've discussed vehicle batteries in detail in previous nets. Without repeating these discussions at length here, it should suffice to mention that having the best battery, in good condition, is essential for any back country trip. For reasons we will discuss on the net, the AGM (absorbed glass mat) battery is one of your best bets for reliable, powerful, and long lasting power. These batteries combine incredible starting power and massive deep cycle reserve power, all in one unit.

Its advantages are many, including (from the Odyssey website, http://www.odysseybattery.com/design_advantages.aspx):
Better warranty - Up to 4-year limited full replacement warranty — not pro rata.
Longer service life - 3-10 years of service life to save you time, money, and aggravation
Longer cycle life - 70% longer cycle life than conventional deep cycle batteries — high stable voltage for longer periods of time.
Longer shelf life - Can be stored on open circuit (nothing connected to the terminals) without recharging for up to 2 years or 12.00V
Faster recharge - The highest recharge efficiency of any sealed lead battery on the market — capable of 100% recharge in 4-6 hours.
Mounting flexibility - Non-spillable design — can be mounted on any side in any position except inverted.
Vibration resistance - Design protects against high impact shock and mechanical vibration — a common cause of premature battery failure.
Extreme temperature tolerant - Operating temperatures from -40°F to 113ºF, w/o metal jacket) and from -40ºF to 176ºF w/metal jacket.
Totally maintenance free - No need to add water, ever! Drycell design with resealable venting system.
Improved safety - US Department of Transportation classified as a ‘non-spillable’ battery. No acid spills, no escaping gases.
Heavy duty - capable of handling 400 charge-discharge cycles to 80% depth of discharge.

From the Odyssey website (http://shop.odysseybattery.com/p/pc1700t?pp=12)
ODYSSEY Battery.jpg
ODYSSEY Battery.jpg (85.73 KiB) Viewed 886 times
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Re: OAUSA Net - March 2, 2017 - Alternate Power in the Wilderness

#8

Post by KAP » Wed Mar 01, 2017 6:26 pm

Dave,
Please check me in
Kevin
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Large 35 amp/HR and small 2x7 amp/HR battery boxes are handy for tent and Shack. Both have LED light source to use as flash light.
KAP #1 (Large).JPG
KAP #1 (Large).JPG (61.9 KiB) Viewed 736 times
LED backup light attached to battery box and facing up is only light source for Field Day Shack
KAP #2 (Large).JPG
KAP #2 (Large).JPG (45.67 KiB) Viewed 736 times

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Re: OAUSA Net - March 2, 2017 - Alternate Power in the Wilderness

#9

Post by DaveK » Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:58 pm

INVERTERS

Inverters change DC current to AC. There are a number of reasons why this is an important source of alternate power, including:
  • 1. powering various tools
    2. powering lights
    3. powering computers
    4. emergency uses
There are, for the most part, only two types of inverters on the market today, modified sine wave and true sine wave. For most uses, the less expensive modified sine wave inverter will do just fine. There are several electronics and tools that will suffer damage from a modified sine wave and this is where the true sine waver inverter will become necessary. For example, some brands of power tools, with variable speed control, may be damaged with a modified sine wave. Some sensitive electronics will need the stable power of a true sine wave in order to function properly and not suffer damage. Contact the manufacturer of your device to see what it requires.

On just about every trip we take, I have certain power tools for emergency and repair uses. Included are a power drill, a power cutting wheel, soldering iron, and a sawzall. On a trip a few years ago, one of our group suffered a broken muffler pipe which ended up wrapped around the axle. While we had a hack saw, none of us had the patience or time to manually make the cuts necessary to free the pipe. So, out came the power cutter, plugged into the inverter, and in minutes, the pipe was free and we were back on the trail.

There are a lot of different inverters on the market, and you will need to do your research. This is another area where it does not pay to go cheap. Buy quality and check it out before every trip.

Xantrex makes a full line of quality inverters (http://www.xantrex.com/industry-solutio ... icles.aspx).

1. The PROsine True Sine Wave Inverter (http://www.xantrex.com/power-products/p ... osine.aspx)
prosine1800.jpg
prosine1800.jpg (420.81 KiB) Viewed 812 times
2. The XPower Inverter - High Power Modified Sine Wave Inverter (http://www.xantrex.com/power-products/p ... power.aspx)
xp-inverter3000.jpg
xp-inverter3000.jpg (735.63 KiB) Viewed 812 times
3. The Windy Nation 1500 Watt true sine wave inverter.
VertaMax 1500 Watt True Sine Wave Inverter.jpg
VertaMax 1500 Watt True Sine Wave Inverter.jpg (66.94 KiB) Viewed 120 times
Here is the muffler pipe fix in action. If you look closely, you can see the sparks from the cutting wheel.
Fixin' the Muffler - Inverter to the rescue.JPG
Fixin' the Muffler - Inverter to the rescue.JPG (96.43 KiB) Viewed 812 times
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Re: OAUSA Net - March 2, 2017 - Alternate Power in the Wilderness

#10

Post by Jeff-OAUSA » Thu Mar 02, 2017 12:33 pm

Please check me in for tonight's net.

WD6USA - Jeff
Highland, CA listening on the Keller Peak Repeater.
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"If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it."

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