After reading NC Scouts article from Thursday titled, Radio Quick Start Radio Guide I thought I would spend an entire article on powering your amateur radio equipment.
When I became an amateur radio operator, I was surprised to find out that 95% of all amateur radio rigs operate on 12-volt power sources not 120-volt. I quickly scrambled to buy a power source that reduced 120-volts down to 12-volts by reading a bunch of reviews. The prices ranged from $150- on up to hundreds of dollars. The one I settled on due in part to cost was the Mega Watt S-350 adjustable power supply. I am still using the original one I purchased, and you cannot beat the price being under $60-. I liked it so much I have bought three more over the years. Two I have given away to new hams and one I still have in the box as a backup if this one goes TU (Tummy Up).
As NC Scout mentioned in his article another good power supply is the MFJ 28-amp power supply. It is inexpensive too being under $110-.
The next power source I have in my shack is a deep cycle marine Group-27 battery and computerized battery charger. I use the BMK Smart Battery charger.
This smart battery charger is not your father’s battery charger. Your father’s old battery charger would fry your battery by evaporating the fluid in the battery in a short time if you didn’t disconnect it once the battery was charged. The series of smart battery chargers available today will not do this. Well not as much as your fathers at least. I still inspect my batter fluid level once a month and top it off if needed with distilled water. I put a reoccurring appointment in my smartphone to remind me to do this chore. I have gone as long as two months without checking. And yes, even if it is a smart battery charger you still need to check the fluid levels as natural evaporation occurs. Of course, if you have the money, you could always buy at triple the price a no maintenance gel battery. I have used gel batteries before however the life span is never the same as an old fashion wet battery taken care of.
Next, I want to talk about connecting all of those wires together. The power wires to the radio from a power source can become a bird’s nest in a short time. Once you have blown a few fuses, which could be hard to come by in a oh let’s say pandemic where everybody may be restricted to their home you will jump at what I am going to talk about next.
I like Anderson Power pole connectors as they make a great installation and will prevent reverse polarity errors – Less blown fuses and potential fires. Add to the Anderson Power pole connectors an Anderson Power pole power panel like this one below and you will be styling.
I bought the Chunzehui F-1005 9 Port 40A Anderson Power pole connector/splitter distributor source strip. At under $60- it is well worth your money – Trust me.
While I am talking about Anderson Power poles buy a kit like this kit complete with a years’ worth of Anderson power pole connections and the crimping tool. Do not do what I did. I bought the connectors and no crimping tool as I thought I could do the job with a pair of pliers. Nope, you can’t.
Okay, you have the MeggaWatt power supply, the Anderson Power pole power distributor strip, Anderson Power pole connections & crimping tool, and the back-up battery & charger described above. Now go out and buy some 12-gauge power wire like this . DO NOT buy anything less than 12-gauge to use for running power between your power distributor and power sources. To do so could cause power reduction and in extreme cases fire. If you rather, you can buy the wire by the foot from your local NAPA or other auto parts center too. I always buy the roll. In the long run it is cheaper and then you have it when you need it for other projects.
Run a stretch of the power wire from your MeggaWatt power supply to the Anderson Power pole distributor strip connected of course using Anderson Power pole connectors. Put Anderson Power pole connectors on the radio power wires and plug into your distributor strip and voila! You have organized and safe power to your rigs. Now cut off a hank of the 12-gauge power wire long enough to go from your marine deep cycle battery to your distributor strip and add Anderson Power pole connectors to the end. Now if you lose 120-volt house power just unplug the MeggaWatt power source and plug in the deep cycle batter cables and voila! You are back on the air.
Last, buy an assortment of fuses from your local auto supply store to match your radio’s needs…Just in case.
Freedom Through Self-Reliance®