Beginner’s Corner April 2017

Power Your Radio When the Power Goes Out

As I write this we are having a severe thunderstorm.  All the meteorologists are predicting the possibility of power outages.  I am a member of Gwinnett ARES and Skywarn (You are a member, too, right?) and I need to be in contact on our two meter net at 147.075 to send and receive warnings.

What happens if we do lose power?  If your HT (handy talkie) is fully charged, it will likely run for hours. During an extended power outage at your house, what would you do to communicate?  There are several ways that you could power your radio for an extended period.

  1.  Get a replacement battery for your HT.  If your HT is a recent model, there should be no problem ordering a replacement battery.  Remember to keep it charged!  If you have an older HT, you may be out of luck.
  2. Purchase a “cigarette lighter adapter”, more recently called a power adapter for your HT.  With this you can use your vehicle battery to keep your HT on the air.  HTs transmit from four to eight watts, not enough to be a major drain on your vehicle battery for a long time.
  3. Purchase a deep cycle battery.  When using a mobile or base station, you will need a larger battery, perhaps rated at 35 amp hours or larger.  Home improvement and some sports stores sell small batteries for about $20.00.  An 8 amp hour battery will last a long time when powering an HT.  Be certain it is rated at 12 volts DC.  You will have to do some research on how to recharge it. (Don’t let the voltage drop below 10.5 volts!) You should be able to trickle charge it with a special trickle charger.  I got one for about $5.00.  How do I hook the battery to my HT?  You can purchase a battery clip power adapter.  I picked one up at an auto store for under $5.00.
  4. Solar power might be an option for some.  This is the only way the author knows of that will power a radio for weeks on end.  After an initial investment in a system, the electricity is free!  I have heard of amateur radio stations that operate completely on solar power!  You will have to get a system that is rated for 12 volts at whatever power your rig(s) need.  A complete system consists of a solar panel, controller, and a deep cycle battery.

This article is just a primer on alternate power for your rig.  Hopefully it is enough to whet your appetite.  Having several sources of power for your radio is not only a good idea, it could save lives.
David Harden


Gwinnett Amateur Radio Society ©