Topics

Portable Battery Recommendations


Richard AG5M
 

I loved the discussion about Portable Antennas, learned quite a few new ideas to try out.  Now for another.  To power my Ten-Tec Argo IV QRP rig (or a KX2 if I ever get one) out in the field, what kind of light weight battery would you all recommend that could power the rig, running 5 watts, for up to four hours CW and SSB.  I have a sealed Gel-Cell but it's kinda heavy.  Appreciate all your thoughts.  72, Richard AG5M.


Gwen Patton
 

I use the Talentcell 8300mAh 12/9/5v battery pack, Richard. I got it from Amazon here:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01337QXMA

There's also an 11000mAh pack available on that page that I've been tempted to buy. They're very durable, very light weight, and last summer I operated from various parks with a variety of radios and antennas using that battery pack and never discharged it more than one indicator level after an afternoon's operating. I ran my KX3 up to 10w and never seemed to deplete it much. Now, I may not transmit as much as you, so your drain on the battery may be greater than my own, but I think it's a good starting point.

It has enough oomph to run both my KX3 AND the PX3 panadapter fairly consistently, using a Y-splitter (I think it came with one). It has the charging circuit built into the pack, so the charger is just a standard 12v wall wart, no special circuitry. I used my bench supply to top it off more than once. I usually carry this pack, their smaller 6000mAh pack (not on that Amazon page), and a USB-C Power Delivery 26800mAh power bank with a Power Delivery sink cable. I've never ran them all down in a single day of operating.

The Talentcells are what I've used most. The Power Delivery bank and cable are a recent development, and I'm still evaluating it. I just found it frustrating that there were all these wonderful, high-capacity power banks out there for USB use that couldn't power radios because they were only 5v, the standard USB-A/microUSB output. But Power Delivery is a recent standard that can power and charge laptops as well as phones and other devices, up to 20V at various amperages. I found readily-available adapter boards that will properly handshake with a PD power bank or wall charger, and regulate the power from one to supply 12-15v at 2-3A max power, depending on the power bank. In one of my Pelican cases, I have the Talentcells and my main field radios and gear, and in a second Pelican case, I have the PD bank and a wall charger for it, the PD adapter cable, and a selection of other QRP radios I don't use quite as often. All I need now is a power plug for my Chromebook, to adapt the PD cable to it, and I can even include my K1SWL Phaser digimode transceiver and the Chromebook I use for FT8 and JS8. (It'll also do my logging and other ham related computing).

I'm trying to assemble the most flexible system I can manage, with the most easily maintained and longest-lasting portable power options. The PD system is nice because if I find I have access to 110v mains power, I can use the PD wall charger to top off the battery, then use it with the PD adapter cable to power the radios, saving the battery for when/if the mains power goes away. One of the places I like to operate from is a park with a gazebo. It has picnic tables and, if I can get close enough, a 110v mains outlet on the wall. I also have a van, and a 110v inverter I can plug into a 12v accessory jack, and a big battery-starter pack with a lighter socket on it that could be used to provide 12v OR run an inverter to charge my packs.

Sorry for the text wall data dump, but I've been really getting into this over the past year.

Here are the USB-C PD devices I mentioned.

73,
Gwen, NG3P

On Thu, Jan 30, 2020 at 11:43 AM Richard AG5M via Groups.Io <ag5m=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
I loved the discussion about Portable Antennas, learned quite a few new ideas to try out.  Now for another.  To power my Ten-Tec Argo IV QRP rig (or a KX2 if I ever get one) out in the field, what kind of light weight battery would you all recommend that could power the rig, running 5 watts, for up to four hours CW and SSB.  I have a sealed Gel-Cell but it's kinda heavy.  Appreciate all your thoughts.  72, Richard AG5M.



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Don, W9EBK
 

Richard, 
Any lead acid or gel cell battery will be affordable but heavy. I use a group 24 lead acid deep cycle battery that is more than enough for what you want to do but weighs almost 30 pounds.
Start shopping for a Lithium iron or lithium ion battery. You are going to need 30 to 40 amp hours to do what you want,  with no worries.  A 20 amp hour battery might keep you on the air for 4 hours,  but you might run close,  and sucking a battery all the way down isn't good for the battery,  or the quality of your signal, so always go with a bigger battery if you can handle the price and the weight. 
You are going to need to shop carefully. I just priced out a lithium iron 46 amp hour battery from Dakota lithium.  It's 46 amp hours at 12 volts and only weights 6.4 pounds.  Unfortunately it costs $400! You can find batteries for less by shopping carefully. 
If you have cordless power tools that use lithium batteries you may be able to adapt them.  I have a Black and Decker 12 volt drill and have used that battery to run my Hilltopper 20. It won't do 5 watts nor last for 4 hours,  but it's something to think about.  I recently got some tools that are 20 volt.  I have 2 1.5 amp hour lithium batteries for those tools.  I plan to make a regular to be able to run 12 volt radios from them. 
Good Luck, 
Don, W9EBK 


John - KK4ITX
 

Richard,

The Gel Cell 7ah is sort of heavy so I decided to use it to hold stuff together when the wind blows. My rig is in a plastic ammo box with the battery on the bottom when operating. Complete “Shack in a Box”, just add an antenna.

The box closes tight, has a handle for carrying and keeps the weather out...... mostly.  Although I am not in a hurry I can be on the air in about 3 minutes or so but I am getting slower !  Plenty of room for note pad, pen, key and headphones.  Total weight is just 12.6 lbs which is not too bad for just one package with a very sturdy handle.

The power distribution panel was 3D printed, has (2) 5v USB and (1) 12v outlets, a LED meter, on off switch and push switch to check the voltage.  The box came from Wally World.  

Additional construction details if anyone is interested.

72,

John
KK4ITX 

image1.jpeg

Visit:  www.zaarc.org.   👁

On Jan 30, 2020, at 11:43, Richard AG5M via Groups.Io <ag5m@...> wrote:

I loved the discussion about Portable Antennas, learned quite a few new ideas to try out.  Now for another.  To power my Ten-Tec Argo IV QRP rig (or a KX2 if I ever get one) out in the field, what kind of light weight battery would you all recommend that could power the rig, running 5 watts, for up to four hours CW and SSB.  I have a sealed Gel-Cell but it's kinda heavy.  Appreciate all your thoughts.  72, Richard AG5M.


n4mj
 

Impressive.  
73 de n4mj//glenn


 
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On Thursday, January 30, 2020, 11:33:41 AM CST, John - KK4ITX via Groups.Io <jleahy00@...> wrote:


Richard,

The Gel Cell 7ah is sort of heavy so I decided to use it to hold stuff together when the wind blows. My rig is in a plastic ammo box with the battery on the bottom when operating. Complete “Shack in a Box”, just add an antenna.

The box closes tight, has a handle for carrying and keeps the weather out...... mostly.  Although I am not in a hurry I can be on the air in about 3 minutes or so but I am getting slower !  Plenty of room for note pad, pen, key and headphones.  Total weight is just 12.6 lbs which is not too bad for just one package with a very sturdy handle.

The power distribution panel was 3D printed, has (2) 5v USB and (1) 12v outlets, a LED meter, on off switch and push switch to check the voltage.  The box came from Wally World.  

Additional construction details if anyone is interested.

72,

John
KK4ITX 

image1.jpeg

Visit:  www.zaarc.org.   👁

On Jan 30, 2020, at 11:43, Richard AG5M via Groups.Io <ag5m@...> wrote:

I loved the discussion about Portable Antennas, learned quite a few new ideas to try out.  Now for another.  To power my Ten-Tec Argo IV QRP rig (or a KX2 if I ever get one) out in the field, what kind of light weight battery would you all recommend that could power the rig, running 5 watts, for up to four hours CW and SSB.  I have a sealed Gel-Cell but it's kinda heavy.  Appreciate all your thoughts.  72, Richard AG5M.


Derek WF4I
 

For SOTA activations I use an A123 4S1P LiFePO4 to power my KX3 which provides 13.2 V @ 2.5 Ah.  Expensive but small and light weight.  This chemistry holds a level voltage for a long time and then ramps off quickly.  Typically I carry a couple but have never needed the second one even after activating two summits and, even then, the voltage had not dropped off.  I recharge it with a Cellpro Multi4 charger which provides an balanced charge on each cell rather a charge to all cells simultaneously as do some other battery / charger combination.  Typically, a full recharge doesn't require more than 20 minutes.  This type battery is also available in a 4S2P formal which is rated 13.2 V @ 5.0 Ah.

Derek, WF4I


w9ran
 

On 1/30/2020 11:24 AM, Gwen Patton wrote:
I use the Talentcell 8300mAh 12/9/5v battery pack, Richard. I got it from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01337QXMA
That's an interesting pack.   Is it correct that all voltage output can be used simultaneously (albeit with decreased battery life)?

Also I wonder if you think the mAH capacity (i.e. 8300mAH at 12 volts) is accurately stated?   I ask because many (if not most) of the Chinese battery packs are grossly overrated and this seems like a lot of capacity for the price, which usually is the first clue that's the case.   Actual discharge data using a battery analyzer would be the best way to tell for sure but just measuring the time from full charge to a given discharge voltage with a known load would be good enough.

Thanks and 73,

Bob W9RAN


Tim N9PUZ
 

In terms of battery technologies disregarding cost I'd rank them:
1. LiFePO4 (Bioenno, Dakota Lithium)
2. LiPo
3. NiCd
4. Sealed Lead Acid

You can use this calculator to estimate your battery needs:


"Depth of Discharge" is an important factor for run time. Use these values:

LiFePO4 - 90%
LiPo - 80%
NiCd - 75%
SLA - 50%

I have a 3Ah Bioenno LiFePO4 pack that I use with my KX2.

Tim N9PUZ


On Thu, Jan 30, 2020 at 10:43 AM Richard AG5M via Groups.Io <ag5m=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
I loved the discussion about Portable Antennas, learned quite a few new ideas to try out.  Now for another.  To power my Ten-Tec Argo IV QRP rig (or a KX2 if I ever get one) out in the field, what kind of light weight battery would you all recommend that could power the rig, running 5 watts, for up to four hours CW and SSB.  I have a sealed Gel-Cell but it's kinda heavy.  Appreciate all your thoughts.  72, Richard AG5M.


Jim
 

On Thu, Jan 30, 2020 at 11:28 AM, Don, W9EBK wrote:
You are going to need 30 to 40 amp hours to do what you want,  with no worries.
For an Argonaut IV or KX2, a 30Ah battery will last a couple of weeks!  For an afternoon's operating, see what other folks who are running QRP on this thread have mentioned.  I have an old Hawker Cyclon cell (4Ah) and a couple of newish SLA (4.5Ah), and in my busiest SOTA operating day I have never drained them enough for the power to cut back on my KX3, running 5-10W.


Larry Makoski
 

I'm lovin' the logo that's in the top of that ammo box!

Just sayin'.

Larry W2LJ

On Thu, Jan 30, 2020 at 1:19 PM Tim N9PUZ <tim.n9puz@...> wrote:
In terms of battery technologies disregarding cost I'd rank them:
1. LiFePO4 (Bioenno, Dakota Lithium)
2. LiPo
3. NiCd
4. Sealed Lead Acid

You can use this calculator to estimate your battery needs:


"Depth of Discharge" is an important factor for run time. Use these values:

LiFePO4 - 90%
LiPo - 80%
NiCd - 75%
SLA - 50%

I have a 3Ah Bioenno LiFePO4 pack that I use with my KX2.

Tim N9PUZ


On Thu, Jan 30, 2020 at 10:43 AM Richard AG5M via Groups.Io <ag5m=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
I loved the discussion about Portable Antennas, learned quite a few new ideas to try out.  Now for another.  To power my Ten-Tec Argo IV QRP rig (or a KX2 if I ever get one) out in the field, what kind of light weight battery would you all recommend that could power the rig, running 5 watts, for up to four hours CW and SSB.  I have a sealed Gel-Cell but it's kinda heavy.  Appreciate all your thoughts.  72, Richard AG5M.


John - KK4ITX
 

Larry, we enjoy the effort that's put in to benefit the QRP world by all of the organizers and it's all way too much fun even if contacts are minimal.

Thanks for what you do,

John
Skeeter 38 (2019)
KK4ITX





Larry Makoski <w2ljqrp@...>
To:main@4SQRP.groups.io
Jan 30 at 1:58 PM

I'm lovin' the logo that's in the top of that ammo box!

Just sayin'.

Larry W2LJ




Click Here for Zephyrhills Area Amateur Radio Club
Many of life's failures are people who
did not realize how close they were to
success when they gave up.
       Thomas A. Edison     


On Thursday, January 30, 2020, 01:58:29 PM EST, Larry Makoski <w2ljqrp@...> wrote:


I'm lovin' the logo that's in the top of that ammo box!

Just sayin'.

Larry W2LJ

On Thu, Jan 30, 2020 at 1:19 PM Tim N9PUZ <tim.n9puz@...> wrote:
In terms of battery technologies disregarding cost I'd rank them:
1. LiFePO4 (Bioenno, Dakota Lithium)
2. LiPo
3. NiCd
4. Sealed Lead Acid

You can use this calculator to estimate your battery needs:


"Depth of Discharge" is an important factor for run time. Use these values:

LiFePO4 - 90%
LiPo - 80%
NiCd - 75%
SLA - 50%

I have a 3Ah Bioenno LiFePO4 pack that I use with my KX2.

Tim N9PUZ


On Thu, Jan 30, 2020 at 10:43 AM Richard AG5M via Groups.Io <ag5m=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
I loved the discussion about Portable Antennas, learned quite a few new ideas to try out.  Now for another.  To power my Ten-Tec Argo IV QRP rig (or a KX2 if I ever get one) out in the field, what kind of light weight battery would you all recommend that could power the rig, running 5 watts, for up to four hours CW and SSB.  I have a sealed Gel-Cell but it's kinda heavy.  Appreciate all your thoughts.  72, Richard AG5M.


Don, W9EBK
 

Based on what I'm seeing here about battery life it's time for me to get some new batteries.  I have only done 2 portable operations in the past few years with my Hilltopper 20 and Black and Decker battery.  When I did more portable work a 7.5 amp hour gel cell would only run my IC-706 set to its lowest power setting for about 90 minutes of typical operating. My 20 amp hour gel cell would go about 4 hours. 
Looks like it's time to go shopping for lithium batteries and maybe a more efficient radio.
Don, W9EBK 

On Thu, Jan 30, 2020, 12:52 PM Jim <n0oct@...> wrote:
On Thu, Jan 30, 2020 at 11:28 AM, Don, W9EBK wrote:
You are going to need 30 to 40 amp hours to do what you want,  with no worries.
For an Argonaut IV or KX2, a 30Ah battery will last a couple of weeks!  For an afternoon's operating, see what other folks who are running QRP on this thread have mentioned.  I have an old Hawker Cyclon cell (4Ah) and a couple of newish SLA (4.5Ah), and in my busiest SOTA operating day I have never drained them enough for the power to cut back on my KX3, running 5-10W.


John
 

30 AH is way overkill for a QRP rig (the 706, which i have too, is NOT thrifty with power).   An efficient QRP rig will run 4 hours off a 7AH gel cell without any problem at all. 

The other consideration with large lithium batteries is that they're potentially (!) a bomb. I'd be pretty careful about transporting and using them so as not to damage them and cause an explosion/fire. Then there's expense.

Thrifty current sipping radios make for small battery needs.  Things like digital displays, synthesized tuning, etc are power hogs without a lot of value in QRP field operations, compared to the significant value of being battery efficient.

John K5MO

On Fri, Jan 31, 2020 at 9:42 AM Don, W9EBK <donw9ebk@...> wrote:
Based on what I'm seeing here about battery life it's time for me to get some new batteries.  I have only done 2 portable operations in the past few years with my Hilltopper 20 and Black and Decker battery.  When I did more portable work a 7.5 amp hour gel cell would only run my IC-706 set to its lowest power setting for about 90 minutes of typical operating. My 20 amp hour gel cell would go about 4 hours. 
Looks like it's time to go shopping for lithium batteries and maybe a more efficient radio.
Don, W9EBK 

On Thu, Jan 30, 2020, 12:52 PM Jim <n0oct@...> wrote:
On Thu, Jan 30, 2020 at 11:28 AM, Don, W9EBK wrote:
You are going to need 30 to 40 amp hours to do what you want,  with no worries.
For an Argonaut IV or KX2, a 30Ah battery will last a couple of weeks!  For an afternoon's operating, see what other folks who are running QRP on this thread have mentioned.  I have an old Hawker Cyclon cell (4Ah) and a couple of newish SLA (4.5Ah), and in my busiest SOTA operating day I have never drained them enough for the power to cut back on my KX3, running 5-10W.


John
 

I use the Bioenno batteries from the 3a up to 12A. I love that they are 13.8V
John VE3IPS

Ham Radio is a lifestyle not a Hobby!
Take the radio outside and operate from the Field




On Fri, Jan 31, 2020 at 9:52 AM John <johnk5mo@...> wrote:
30 AH is way overkill for a QRP rig (the 706, which i have too, is NOT thrifty with power).   An efficient QRP rig will run 4 hours off a 7AH gel cell without any problem at all. 

The other consideration with large lithium batteries is that they're potentially (!) a bomb. I'd be pretty careful about transporting and using them so as not to damage them and cause an explosion/fire. Then there's expense.

Thrifty current sipping radios make for small battery needs.  Things like digital displays, synthesized tuning, etc are power hogs without a lot of value in QRP field operations, compared to the significant value of being battery efficient.

John K5MO

On Fri, Jan 31, 2020 at 9:42 AM Don, W9EBK <donw9ebk@...> wrote:
Based on what I'm seeing here about battery life it's time for me to get some new batteries.  I have only done 2 portable operations in the past few years with my Hilltopper 20 and Black and Decker battery.  When I did more portable work a 7.5 amp hour gel cell would only run my IC-706 set to its lowest power setting for about 90 minutes of typical operating. My 20 amp hour gel cell would go about 4 hours. 
Looks like it's time to go shopping for lithium batteries and maybe a more efficient radio.
Don, W9EBK 

On Thu, Jan 30, 2020, 12:52 PM Jim <n0oct@...> wrote:
On Thu, Jan 30, 2020 at 11:28 AM, Don, W9EBK wrote:
You are going to need 30 to 40 amp hours to do what you want,  with no worries.
For an Argonaut IV or KX2, a 30Ah battery will last a couple of weeks!  For an afternoon's operating, see what other folks who are running QRP on this thread have mentioned.  I have an old Hawker Cyclon cell (4Ah) and a couple of newish SLA (4.5Ah), and in my busiest SOTA operating day I have never drained them enough for the power to cut back on my KX3, running 5-10W.


Greg Troxel
 

"John" <johnk5mo@...> writes:

The other consideration with large lithium batteries is that they're
potentially (!) a bomb. I'd be pretty careful about transporting and using
them so as not to damage them and cause an explosion/fire. Then there's
expense.
Because of this, I avoid lithium ion batteries. When I do use them, I
only charge them while I am around, and I have careful to avoid
mechanical damage. I would not want to use polymer cells without full
mechanical protection. I have heard many horror stories about lithium
ion batteries and fires.

Lithium iron phosphase (LiFePO4) is a different chemistry and is far
safer. I have not heard about these being implicated in
fires/explosions.

I have two Bioenno LiFePO4 batteries, and they have behaved well. They
have an internal controller for balancing and overcharge/overdischarge
protection.

73 de n1dam


John Lonigro
 

Don:

Not designed as a QRP radio, your IC-706 draws as much current on receive as many QRP radios do on transmit.  Another important factor is the display backlight.  Measure the current with the backlight turned on and then turned off and you will see that a lot of battery life is consumed lighting the display, not operating the radio.

72,
John, AA0VE 

On 1/31/20 8:42 AM, Don, W9EBK wrote:
Based on what I'm seeing here about battery life it's time for me to get some new batteries.  I have only done 2 portable operations in the past few years with my Hilltopper 20 and Black and Decker battery.  When I did more portable work a 7.5 amp hour gel cell would only run my IC-706 set to its lowest power setting for about 90 minutes of typical operating. My 20 amp hour gel cell would go about 4 hours. 
Looks like it's time to go shopping for lithium batteries and maybe a more efficient radio.
Don, W9EBK 

On Thu, Jan 30, 2020, 12:52 PM Jim <n0oct@...> wrote:
On Thu, Jan 30, 2020 at 11:28 AM, Don, W9EBK wrote:
You are going to need 30 to 40 amp hours to do what you want,  with no worries.
For an Argonaut IV or KX2, a 30Ah battery will last a couple of weeks!  For an afternoon's operating, see what other folks who are running QRP on this thread have mentioned.  I have an old Hawker Cyclon cell (4Ah) and a couple of newish SLA (4.5Ah), and in my busiest SOTA operating day I have never drained them enough for the power to cut back on my KX3, running 5-10W.