Off-Grid Radio: Portable power recommendations?

Elecraft-KX3This year, I have a lot of portable radio play in mind as I travel across the continent. At some point, I even plan to spend several days in an off-grid cabin on the coast.

In the past, I’ve powered my 12 VDC ham radio transceivers with a system comprised of three PowerFilm solar 5 watt foldable PV panels (see below), a Micro M+ charge controller and several gel cell type sealed batteries (a couple 7 Ah and one 20 Ah).Powerfilm-Solar-Panel

The system works well, but the batteries are a little heavy and unhandy when I want to hike into a remote site or play radio on the beach, for example.

PowerFilmAACharger-1

In terms of receivers, my portables (like the Sony ICF-SW7600GR, Tecsun PL-660, etc.) simply use AA batteries which I charge with PowerFilm AA PV chargers (see above). My CommRadio CR-1a has an internal battery that will power it for hours at a time.

Power is much less of an issue with receivers because they’re quite resource efficient.

I mainly need a system to power my QRP ham radio gear, and that’s where I could use your experience!

Wish list

Charge controller

I need a new charge controller since my Micro M+ (no longer produced) is now being used to power a remote antenna tuner.

Of course, I’ll need an inexpensive charge controller that doesn’t produce RFI (radio interference).

It would be an added bonus if the charge controller could also charge my batteries when grid power is available.

12 VDC Battery packs

I’d like something relatively lightweight and safe.

Note: LiPo packs worry me, especially since I had one (an early GoalZero model) quite literally melt down and burn up on my bed only a few hours after bringing it back from an eight hour flight a few years ago. Scary!

Pure Sine Wave Inverter

PureSineWaveInverter

I’d also like a small, efficient pure sine wave inverter that I I could connect to my largest battery and power my laptop for extended SDR spectrum recording sessions while off-grid.

I’d love a recommendation from someone who uses one and can confirm a model that doesn’t create radio interference while operating.

Recommendations?

Post readers: Please comment with your recommendations and include model numbers and links if possible. Thank you in advance!

5 thoughts on “Off-Grid Radio: Portable power recommendations?

  1. Edward

    Inverters vary widely in QRM pure sine or not. They are basically a dc-dc switching supply turning 12v to 160v with an H bridge and pwm controller. On top of that the “neutral” is floating and none of the battery inputs are chassis connected so a lot of hash can get through. Never ever connect a capacitor across the AC output. You will blow out the H bridge. I use a high isolation transformer and re-establish the neutral ground after that. The best thing I can say is try different types and configurations.

    Reply
  2. Matt

    Maybe a bit overkill for your needs but I use a 8.4Ah LiFePo4 battery for my portable ops. Much safer than LiPo but much lighter than a traditional SLAB. Also, the discharge curve of the LiFePo4 makes it almost ideal for radio.

    Here’s a link to my /P set up over on my blog.. http://www.m0lmk.co.uk/2015/05/01/ft-857-manpack-revisited/

    And here’s a link to the LiFePo4 battery that I use… http://www.hobbyking.co.uk/hobbyking/store/__14074__ZIPPY_Flightmax_8400mAh_4S2P_30C_LiFePo4_Pack.html

    You just need a suitable LiFEPo4 compatible charge controller and away you go. Hope that helps.

    Reply
  3. John Gennaro

    Portable power recommendations?

    Excellent Field tested products…Made in USA. If you have any questions or suggestions the Owner/Engineer is very responsive and Kind as well.

    I have nothing but satisfactory results while using this equipment in less then desirable conditions. Sea, Desert and mountainous terrain at high altitudes.

    Recommended solar panel for optimal use. PowerFilm 30W Foldable Solar Panel

    Hardened Power Systems
    INNOVATION THAT WORKS. HARD.

    http://www.portableuniversalpower.com/

    http://www.portableuniversalpower.com/our-products/qrp-ranger/
    http://www.portableuniversalpower.com/our-products/batpacs/
    http://www.portableuniversalpower.com/revolt-g2/
    http://www.portableuniversalpower.com/our-products/dc-head-unit/
    http://www.portableuniversalpower.com/pico/
    http://www.portableuniversalpower.com/our-products/portable-power/nano_usb/
    http://www.portableuniversalpower.com/our-products/pp_page/

    Reply
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