Author Topic: Power for a VHF base rig in the home  (Read 16423 times)

Offline firetoad

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Power for a VHF base rig in the home
« on: December 20, 2008, 09:08:12 AM »
To all the hammers and radiophiles, what are you using to run power to your base stations?

I have started researching this a little bit, but am not sure the direction I want to go.  I know I could just get an AC to DC power supply, but...  My current thinking is to get a 12V sealed, marine deep cycle with an automatic trickle charger/maintainer hooked up and run my radio directly off of that.  That way, in the event of a power failure, I would have some reserve/backup power if needed.  I am not looking to power my radio and house with a 12V system for weeks of reserve or anything along those lines at this time.  But, I figured a little bit of reserve wouldn't be a bad thing.  The only reservations I have regarding this comes to offgassing of the battery (I know it is sealed, but even sealed units can offgas some) and storage inside of the home due to where my base unit will be set up.  Thoughts/comments?

blar

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Re: Power for a VHF base rig in the home
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2008, 06:18:06 PM »
I will assume that you are talking about 50W output power for now. in that power class I have setup a system like you are thinking about for a fellow ham. We used a modified 12v ATX computer power supply http://www.instructables.com/id/Convert-an-ATX-Power-Supply-Into-a-Regular-DC-Powe/ to feed into a lawn tractor sized (sonic power) sealed AGM battery. The power supply is set for about 13V and is hooked in parrallel with the battery and radio. This arrangement works fine on his HF rig also and provides no gap in use if the power drops while operating. and has been working great for him over 6 month now. his typical use will let him operate 50W on VHF for about 3 days ~8 hours of TX time rest RX without the AC/DC supply powered up. Out gassing should not be a problem as long as your using sealed batteries and AGM are about the safest for indoor use, we have a whole room UPS system at work that is not vented and has about 60 large AGM batteries in it by design so I think you'll be alright with just 1.

Hope that helps... -A

Offline firetoad

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Re: Power for a VHF base rig in the home
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2008, 11:02:53 PM »
Thanks blar!  I guess that would have been helpful to include some information re. my intended power consumption. 

Yes, you are correct, I am looking at a standard 50-60W mobile for my base unit.  I do have a question for you.  How do you regulate/maintain the power to the battery?  That is, how do you keep from overcharging it?

Thanks in advance for your help.

blar

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Re: Power for a VHF base rig in the home
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2008, 11:09:30 AM »
Thanks blar!  I guess that would have been helpful to include some information re. my intended power consumption. 

Yes, you are correct, I am looking at a standard 50-60W mobile for my base unit.  I do have a question for you.  How do you regulate/maintain the power to the battery?  That is, how do you keep from overcharging it?

Thanks in advance for your help.

The power (Amps) is not an issue, all that matters for keeping the battery charges is the voltage. Keep the voltage at about 13.8v for most 12v batteries and you wont have a problem, the ideal charge voltage is more like 14.2v but I play it safe. the battery will just draw as much amperage as it needs to keep it charged so as low charge it may be 10A at high charge it may be 100mA. all a charge controller is doing is varying the voltage so that it can "peek charge" a battery so with this arrangement you will get a bit less capacity but it is safe and has its benefits. Think of how your car charging/battery system works, the alternator supply's about 14.1v and the battery just eats it up all the time once the battery voltage meets the supply voltage it stops taking more voltage and current.

Offline DeltaEchoVictor

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Re: Power for a VHF base rig in the home
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2008, 07:14:09 PM »
I think I read a thread on ZS where someone had a deep cycle battery setup on a charger in their shack.  It was essentially a stand alone system that could be run if the power went off, but while power was on it stayed connected to the battery charger to keep it topped off.

Of course I can't find the thread now, so it may not have been on ZS.  I could have seen it on my net travels somewhere else.

GroundPounder

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Re: Power for a VHF base rig in the home
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2008, 07:30:18 AM »
When I had time to run my rig I ran it off a 12V deep cycle battery.  It worked great.  I would take it out to the garage and charge it, then bring it in and run it.  Worked really great. 

Remember that those type of batteries prefer to stay topped off.  That will maximize the life. 

Also be sure your power cables are appropriately fused and use the right gauge wire.

Offline Tactical Badger

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Re: Power for a VHF base rig in the home
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2009, 06:27:14 AM »
Here's a really nice 12V battery setup.

http://www.dxzone.com/cgi-bin/dir/jump2.cgi?ID=18800

Offline firetoad

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Re: Power for a VHF base rig in the home
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2009, 01:44:34 PM »
Thanks TB! 

Here is a direct link so you don't have to navigate through dxzone.com.

http://www.kr1st.com/powerpack.htm

Offline DeltaEchoVictor

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Re: Power for a VHF base rig in the home
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2009, 03:11:07 PM »
Here's a really nice 12V battery setup.

http://www.dxzone.com/cgi-bin/dir/jump2.cgi?ID=18800

Nice, clean set up.  Thanks for that link.

Offline recurve1

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Re: Power for a VHF base rig in the home
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2009, 07:41:24 PM »
I use a 12V auto type battery with a battery charger to keep it topped off.  It works quite well but there
are a couple of things to keep in mind.

1) Most battery chargers have a LOT of ripple in their output.  What this means is that when you
transmit at 50W you will be drawing 8-10amps from the battery and the charger ripple noise will be added
to your signal.  On receive you will not notice it.  Ask whom-ever you are transmitting to for a signal report.
I just turn off the charger during the times that I am going to be transmitting.  Computer power supplys have
a different type of regulator that can (sometimes) have an audio component that will also make it into your
transmitted signal.  Sometimes you can filter it out with capacitors across the output and/or inductor in series
with one or both output leads ( + ) and ( - ).

2) If you have a battery that vents hydrogen gas, make sure that you don't enclose it so that the hydrogen
concentrates in one place.  It doesn't take much air circulation to disperse the gas. 

And another thing.  When I was playing radio alot with ARES, we took a good look at transmit vs receive time.
Even for an event like field day where you are making a lot of contacts, the actual time spent transmitting was very
small compared to the receive time.  In an emergency/disaster you will find that you may have short spurts where
you transmit a lot, but most of you time will be listening.

Offline Radjoman

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Re: Power for a VHF base rig in the home
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2009, 08:35:59 PM »
My 2 cents to add here...

Put a good durable antenna up as high as you can get it at your base, then turn down the radio from 50w to 10W. Give yourself the choice to use the least battery current to make the batt last longer.

On VHF and UHF antenna height is king. 50 watts in a deep valley may not be heard 10 miles away, but 1/2 watt from that same location could be heard 100 miles away if the antenna was high enough. Line of Sight is the name of game, wattage takes a second seat.

Having all the power in the world (on VHF) is useless if you cant hear the other station calling back to you! put you antennas up high! 

Coyote

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Re: Power for a VHF base rig in the home
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2009, 10:39:30 AM »
I picked up an old battery backup from the junk pile.  If I remember correctly, the battery capacity was ~36A-H.  I put in a switch to shut off the inverter and a set of jacks connected through a fuse to the battery for direct 12V op.  Nice setup cause it was basically plug & play.  I could leave the unit plugged in all the time.  There was no draw with the inverter off so the unit was ready when I needed it.

Offline doublehelix

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Re: Power for a VHF base rig in the home
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2009, 03:22:09 PM »
Thought I would revisit this with my setup:

I run VHF AstroSpectras and UHF AstoSpectras, plus a dual-band
frequency agile radio and an HF mobile... plus my scanners off
of one system.

All of my radios for base station use are mobiles.

My setup is as follows:
Astron rack mount 50 Amp regulated power supply
Fed into a WestMountain Powergate
Which feeds into a WestMountain RigRunner
using Anderson PowerPole connectors
2nd side of the Powergate goes into a bank of (3) MKbattery Absorbed Glass Mat deep cycle cells in parallel
Radios are all coming off of the fused RigRunner

Antenna coax and height are KEY at VHF and more so at UHF

All antennas are fed from the tower with reclaimed and tested 7/8 Heliax hardline that didn't cost me a dime.

I stay away from ham antennas wherever possible and go with StationMasters cut to ham frequencies.

Too many water issues with the cheap ham antennas.

YMMV due to budget, but keep in mind, except for occasional battery replacement, my setup will last easily 15-20 years.




Offline dmart

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Re: Power for a VHF base rig in the home
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2010, 08:38:04 PM »
To all the hammers and radiophiles, what are you using to run power to your base stations?

I have started researching this a little bit, but am not sure the direction I want to go.  I know I could just get an AC to DC power supply, but...  My current thinking is to get a 12V sealed, marine deep cycle with an automatic trickle charger/maintainer hooked up and run my radio directly off of that.  That way, in the event of a power failure, I would have some reserve/backup power if needed.  I am not looking to power my radio and house with a 12V system for weeks of reserve or anything along those lines at this time.  But, I figured a little bit of reserve wouldn't be a bad thing.  The only reservations I have regarding this comes to offgassing of the battery (I know it is sealed, but even sealed units can offgas some) and storage inside of the home due to where my base unit will be set up.  Thoughts/comments?
If you use a sealed gel cell, or AGM battery, you really won't have any issues with "offgas" leakage.  These batteries are made to be charged in doors, and like the marine deep cycle battery, like to be topped off.  On the other hand, I wouldn't want to take a chance on charging the deep cycle marine battery, or any other wet cell indoors.   

Dmart

Offline DeltaEchoVictor

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Re: Power for a VHF base rig in the home
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2010, 09:20:02 PM »
If you use a sealed gel cell, or AGM battery, you really won't have any issues with "offgas" leakage.  These batteries are made to be charged in doors, and like the marine deep cycle battery, like to be topped off.  On the other hand, I wouldn't want to take a chance on charging the deep cycle marine battery, or any other wet cell indoors.   

Dmart
Thanks, that's good info for us folks who aren't really well acquainted with the various types of batteries.

Offline kc9eci

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Re: Power for a VHF base rig in the home
« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2010, 09:25:35 PM »
I'm running an Icom V8000 (75 watt max rig) off a 115 amp hour deep cycle agm battery.  Everything is in the shack, the battery is charged/maintained by a 20w solar panel mounted right outside the shack window.   It's a good repeater radio, and as set up I can hit the repeaters I care to with the minimum power setting.  I can also jack in an Icom 703 hf rig and have comms for a long time even if the sun didn't shine. 

Offline Carl

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Re: Power for a VHF base rig in the home
« Reply #16 on: July 27, 2010, 09:03:08 AM »
Hello,I am fairly new to posting here ,but have enjoyed HAM radio for many years. A deep cycle or sealed battery works great when at a full charge,but many radios do not work so well at even 12.6 volts ..the normal fully charged battery voltage. First you notice power output begins to suffer and then the radio signal quality begins to suffer. A thought about charging indoors ,stay well ventilated and charge at C10 or less (C is the AMP/Hour rating of the battery and 10 is 10%) and gassing will not be a major issue. Place the battery in a catch container with cat litter to absorb spills ( a cat box actually does this well) ,best to use a NEW tub and litter. A proper charger would be best as DC is not the best way to charge a battery (pulsed DC is,My opinion) , get a 3 stage charger so as to not overcharge your battery...a power supply will do in a pinch ,but battery life will suffer. Constant charging will not be good on a battery and a self controlling charger of 6 amps or less will do a better job at monitoring and controlling battery condition.
  Back to the issue of getting the most out of your battery and radio...I use a power inverter and a power supply capable of operating my radio. In a pinch ,I can hook to a battery and run a 100 foot extention Cord to my power supply and radio,without lugging around a heavy battery. With this combo I have my 'house' battery and the option of any other battery down to about 10.5 volts where my inverter shuts down. I know that there are battery to 13.8 volt supplies out their BUT inverters that convert a battery to 120 volts are less expensive and can power other devices in a power outage.
  With this setup,I have "normal" 120 volt power supply , 12 volt battery option,the better 13.8 volt inverter option ,and optional other gear powered ...plus extention cords are cheap...try to extend 12.6 volts any distance, you have to have very heavy cables.

Oh yea ,last thought for now, USE the battery to charge and discharge it ,if you just float charge it ...it will not take long to sulphate and really not produce much power when you need it . The battery will last LONGER if you not just set it on charge till you need it ,EXERCISE the battery and it will have a healthy life.
Carl