Solar Powered Portable station on the Air!

Tested the deployment of my solar powered portable station today with success.There are basically three components to the system. The first is the radio and power case. This is a foam lined aluminum camera case that contains, the FT-817ND radio, Z817 tuner, two 7Ahr sealed batteries a solar charge controller and the power hook up cables.

Photo Feb 21, 12 01 49 PM

Part two is a homemade buddistick and associated guy wires, radial and radial stand. I’ll be working on a suitable case for the components but for now the system breaks down into components no longer than about 48 inches.

Photo Feb 21, 3 29 25 PM

The last part is two 15W Solar panels and a watt meter:

Photo Feb 21, 12 06 17 PM

The station takes about 15 minutes to deploy. I started by setting up the two solar panels, wattmeter, batteries and charge controller. The whole thing is wired up using Anderson Powerpoles so connections are easy. The two solar panels and the two batteries are wired in parallel. Since this was the first deployment I made sure to carefully measure the load output to ensure the FT-817ND would be happy. I was reading 12.6V at the load.

Next was setting up the homebrew buddipole for 20m. This was the second attempt at getting this antenna to work and today was a windy day for it. As before, I setup the antenna on a camera tripod and setup three guy wires from kite winders using paracord. For operation at 20m, I extended the 9-1/2″ foot whip out fully, installed the 20m coil and setup the radial. Rather than measure the radial i counted the number of turns off the kite winder. Turned out to be 17 turns. A check with the Mini60 antenna analyzer verified SWR less than 2:1 across the 20m band. I used an electric fence post to hold up the radial. These are handy as they have a place to use your foot to drive it into the ground and are plastic. It is about three feet off the ground when deployed. Here is the station fully deployed:

Photo Feb 21, 12 27 58 PM

First contacts were made on 20m QRp to Mississippi, Florida and Michigan. Next up was 10m. Changing bands was easy. The whip was shortened to three sections or 56″. The radial was shortened to 7 turns on the kite winder. Confirmed SWR was below 2:1 across the entire 10m band. First contacts were made with a station in New Jersey and another in Michigan. All were made on 5 watts on a day with fairly bad band conditions (SFI=118). Overall pretty happy with this setup. Only thing I will add soon is another wattmeter to monitor the battery charge state and I am planning to hing together the two solar panels and make a handle to make carrying easier. This station is not backpack portable but it is car portable and should serve well in camping, field day and emergency deployments. Looking forward to playing some more with this as the weather continues to improve.

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