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Topics - scarr

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Morse Code / That's a paddlin...
« on: August 30, 2017, 04:29:40 PM »
Folks - I've been licensed since late 2012 and have been using CW since then. I actually learned CW before I got my license, basically I had wanted to understand morse code for years and I figured if I could motivate myself to learn CW, then I could learn the syllabus to get licensed. It wasn't a requirement, just something I wanted to do.

But in all that time, I've used straight keys. With the talk of our relay net, I'm thinking about getting a paddle.

Does anyone have a recommendation?

I'd like something reasonably priced, that works nicely and would be suitable for portable operations - so something that doesn't weigh as much as my FT817, but is durable.

I have a Palm straight key and while it's very nice to use, I have concerns over its durability.

Batteries & Solar / My current solar / battery setup
« on: March 07, 2017, 08:29:17 AM »
Hi all, just a quick post to show and give a few thoughts on my current radio + power setup.

First of all - a list of the main equipment:

Yaesu FT817ND
Instapark Mercury 27W Folding Solar Panel
Genasun GV-5 MPPT Charge Controller
i-Tecc 12V 8Ah LiFePO4 Battery
Palm Morse Key
Cheap eBay watt meter ~11
Headphones + various cables

Not pictured - my EFHW - it's currently outside!

Everything except the panel is packed into two cheap watertight plastic containers picked up from a local supermarket. I have additional padding, not shown, that goes into the containers. I intend to order a travel telescopic pole shortly. I could also fit more items e.g. ZM-2 tuner and digital interface. I threw the pictured kit on a weighing scales and it comes in around 4.3kg.

Obviously this is not a minimalist kit, but the purpose is to be able to move around between locations and be able to operate for an extended period across multiple bands with voice and CW independently of mains electricity. For me, this isn't so much about prepping but really about allowing flexibility - I move relatively often & I'm interested in operating portable, therefore it just makes a lot of sense to have this kind of setup!

The 817 requires no introduction, cost wise at least in Europe, it's still the most flexible for the price and for civilian kit it's relatively tough.
The panel, at this time of year is able to generate enough power to keep the battery topped off - more on that later.
The Genasun is small, lightweight and even better it is RF quiet!
The LiFePO4 battery is lightweight compared to SLA and even without solar power would keep the 817 going in a very busy transmit/receive duty cycle for hours and hours.

Regarding solar power - I'm located in Ireland at approx 53N and it is cloudy and rainy here a lot! In a more favourable location a 10W panel would probably be more than enough, but not here. On really cloudy winter days, even the 27w panel struggles. Today it's cloudy with a misty rain but the disk of the sun is visible - the battery was topped up to full capacity and the panel was outputting approx 5w which will keep the 817 going for RX indefinitely.

I believe the Instapark panels operate in series and therefore it's really important to make sure all panels are orientated in the same direction - having one even a little off can lead to a significant drop in power - think of it like having a dead battery in series. This can sometimes be hard to spot, so I strongly recommend that anyone using solar power with a panel like this, has a watt meter they can place into the circuit to observe what's happening.

This isn't the ultimate kit or anything, but so far, it works. I've built the kit slowly up over time and after a lot of reading.

Here are a few resources I've found extremely useful:

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