June is just around the corner, and with it one of amateur radio’s signature events – Field Day.
For OVH members, it’s a tasty BBQ, family get together, and a chance to have some fun outdoor hamming. And, of course, a chance to hone our emergency communication skills.
Emergency power plays an important role in our preparedness. For multi operator fixed stations, that power usually comes from a gasoline generator. Mobiles can work as long as the engine can keep the battery charged.
What about a scenario where you need to forward deploy with emergency services? Vehicles can get close, but fallen trees and other obstacles mean you’ll need to carry your gear on a pack frame a mile or more to reach a good comms location. You could go with the ham’s traditional choice for this scenario – sealed lead acid gel cells. After hefting a few of these in my battery collection, I started looking for something a little kinder to my aging body.
I found a solution in a relatively new battery technology known as Lithium Iron Phosphate or Life Po(LiFePO4). Higher energy density makes the Life Po much lighter than a similar gel cell. For example a 12 volt 12Ah Life Po weighs 3.5 pounds, compared to 8.4 pounds for its gel cell cousin.
Life Po does have its down sides. An internal controller ensures cell balancing and safe charging but prevents paralleling batteries for higher capacity. And there’s cost. A 12Ah Life Po costs about $125 compared with $34.99 for a similar gel cell.
I’ll close by inviting everyone to this year’s signature OVH event, the Mansssas Hamfest to be held on Sunday June 3. We’ll have some interesting presentations, including a wireless weather station demo, a tutorial on software defined radio, and the Virginia QSO Party awards ceremony. Hope to see you