Wednesday, November 7, 2012

1st Field Test

On November 3rd, the Shut-in Ridge Race provided an opportunity to field test the radio box and battery box in a real application of service. I worked hard several days just before the race to get everything I possibly could get done to the radio box and then focused on getting the battery box wired up with a switch and leads to the Battery In plug on the instrument panel.

On that frosty Saturday morning our local ARES group for Buncombe County met up on the Blue Ridge Parkway to get last minute information on the Communications Plan before each operator proceeded to there station points.

Upon arriving at the station point I got the truck radio setup on the main frequency and set the radio box to the alternate frequency for the event. I am very pleased that the radio box ran the duration of the event without a hitch. At the next event I will be using it as the primary radio setup on the hood of the truck or under the tent.

Despite what appears to be a "bulky" box, it is moderately light weight making it easier for grab and go operations. Setup is simple, open the box, screw in the coax cable, plug in the battery Anderson power pole plug and you are ready to operate. The gel cell battery weighs in at 30 lbs, which is not bad for 51 amp hours.

One of the big advantages to having the external battery box is that if I know for sure that the operation will be 100% battery operation I can hookup cheaper AGM batteries to provide longer run time. While the PowerGate will work with AGM batteries, it requires some tweaking of the power supply to ensure proper voltage is sent through the PowerGate to charge the batteries in a AC environment. I didn't want to get into that and that is why I opted for getting the gel cell battery which does not require modification to the power supply.

Combined weight of the radio box and battery box is under 35 lbs. I still have to work out fitting the RF gasket yet, work has gotten busy again so time has been limited in working on this project.

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