Power for the Radios

First things first, I know there are folks out there who run with big power supplies or their rig plugs right into the wall.  I don’t! I run with a big battery because I want the radios and scanners to all be able to operate if the power is out. I do own an Astron 30-SS switching power supply, I keep it as a back-up in case my battery gives up the ghost, which it recently did.  Power for my radios at my home shack has always been a deep cell marine battery.  I’m on my third.  Here are my lessons learned.
The first one only lasted a year, I used to run it down and then quick charge it with a quick charger.  The battery couldn’t handle the fast charges and I think I might have taken it down lower than I should a few times before charging it.  The second battery lasted me seven years, 2008 until just a week ago.  You might ask, “What changed?”  My answer is, a lot has changed.  The first battery was a cheapie I paid little, went with a no name brand and I got what I paid for.  The second was actually a Sears Die Hard 120 AH.  It lasted me seven years because I hooked it up to a battery maintainer and left it connected continuously. The maintainer gave a green light at 13.4 volts and trickle (amber) when it was lower than 13.4.  When this one died last week, I discovered it had a dead cell. It gave 10.5 volts (perfect voltage for 5 cells and a dead giveaway on a dead cell). I went to K-Mart to get another Die Hard, but they don’t carry any more. So I went to a marine (boat) store went into their parts section and picked out a big marine battery and a new box to keep it in.  Hopefully this battery is a good one.  Time will tell.  When the power goes out I’m able to run the radios for a while before needing to figure a way to charge the battery. Future upgrade to this will be a solar charge controller, a solar panel, and a second battery in parallel with this one which should pretty much make the power situation 100% “off grid”.
I have an MFJ-1126 to distribute power from the battery and all of my radios and scanners have Anderson Powerpoles on them which means everything runs on the battery.  I have a couple of shortwave recievers that plug into the wall.  I need to convert one so it’ll do 12 volts, but the other has a 12 volt power socket, a trip to the thrift sotre should turn up a wall wart with the right connector that I can cut and replace with power poles. The bottom line (You should strive to be able to run your radios, monitoring scanners and recievers regardless of the availabillity of commercial power. Make it so…
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Welcome to the World of Communications

I’m starting this blog as an outlet for ideas related to amateur radio, emergency communications, and general radio monitoring. There are so many niche specialties that I can not begin to say I’m an expert at any one.  However, I think there are things that I can pass along to others that could help them learn more about communications tradecraft. I say communications tradecraft because that’s what a radio operator strives to be, knowledgeable in the trade of communications. There are a lot of tools available to those who are experts of the trade, in the end we find that we can’t know EVERYTHING there is to know.
I’m relatively new to the amateur radio world, A mere youngster; licensed since 2007…  Yes I’m a no-code extra, but I do know the code, but haven’t perfected the recieve side, I send faster than I can recieve.  I am interested in digital modes available via fldigi, home-brew antenna systems, and trying to see how much can be done with little power.  As I said earlier, I’m no expert, but I’m here to share, and learn from others.
Officially, I am a comuter scientist by trade (there’s that trade word again) but I’m also a radio communications enthusiast and look forward to learning more about field communications, communications during times when power infrastructure doesn’t work. You can use your imagination on ways power could fail, disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes Joe Blow crashing his truck into a power pole knocking out power to a neighborhood… you get my drift. When disaster strikes I feel it’s important to know what’s going on around my location and I’m interested in learning more about radio monitoring.  Think about the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina, or the aftermath of the Earthquake in Haiti.  Things really got bad.  Amateur radio and monitoring to find out what’s going on are the last ditch communications methods left if you’re ready. Being ready is the goal, and the only way to be ready is to play with your gear, learn how it works learn how to program it without a computer and continue learning.
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