Radio Preppers

General Category => Batteries & Solar => Topic started by: NF822WNY on September 11, 2017, 02:43:07 PM

Title: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: NF822WNY on September 11, 2017, 02:43:07 PM
Hello all,
This is my first post and I hope I do not offend anyone but I am a CB'er  :)  Someday eventually I will get licensed and go spend all my extra money on "real" radios but for now CB's suit my needs.  That being said, i do like all the fun Ham's have with their projects.  So I started my own.  A CB go box! Before you all say it, I already have a handheld and a radio in my truck, this is just a fun project and would like to have a base station that i can pack up on a moments notice...I'm kind of a prepper ;) 

I have my radio, speaker, emergency amplifier, swr meter and PA hooked up so far.  I will be installing a second antenna hook up to go to a dipole or eventually a mobile omni-directional antenna (Field Day style)  Photo attached upon approval.

I need some advise for my final components:

1. Battery (thinking a bioenno 30 or 40 amp hour LiFePo4 with a AC smart charger, should give me ample talk time)
2. Rigrunner (I think i have narrowed this down to the RR-4004U-C)
2. Charge controller (for using a solar panel for charging purposes, but not sure if this depends on which panels are used)
3. Battery Meter (I would like to be able to monitor output as well as battery life)
4. Solar Panel (I would like a fold able or roll up solar panel that will travel well, not sure what size i will need)

Once i have these components I plan on Anderson Power Poling all power connections etc. 

I look forward to any feedback!

 
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: cockpitbob on September 11, 2017, 07:42:47 PM
Hi NF822WNY (wow, that's a mouthful)
Welcome to the forum! 

I don't think anyone here is going to give you a hard time about CB.  Most of have a CB in a box somewhere, just in case the SHTF.  There's probably more CBs out there than ham rigs, so lots of information will be flowing out on 11meters.

I'll ask the standard Radioprepper's question.  How much current does the rig draw in receive?  Batteries are expensive and heavy so I don't go overboard on the size. I figure 12-20hours of listening is a big enough battery.

I'm not much help on your questions.  I just have a little advice on the Charge Controller.  You only need one rated for the amps the solar panel will be putting out, plus some margin.  For power supplies and similar things, I try to buy one that is rated for at least 30% more than I need.  That is, if the radio draws 8A in Tx, I'll probably get a 12A power supply so it's only at 67% max.  As far as brands go, I don't have any advice.

Again, welcome aboard.  That's a fun project you have going there.
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: NF822WNY on September 11, 2017, 08:27:48 PM
Thank you Cockpitbob for your response...  My rig uses about 2A on AM and 4 on SSb...If connected to the amp it draws an additional 10...I figured a 40ah Lifepo4 would let me run about 10 hours stock and close to 3 if full powered.  I think that is a pretty good. 

Thanks for the input on the solar charge controller and panel...at least i have an idea of the size i need to look for. 

I have a pretty good idea that the rig runner RR-4004U-C will work for my power distribution needs, plus its got 2 usb ports that will be handy..

My main question would be on a battery meter...i have read a lot into Ares and Races go box rigs and they have small voltage meters but haven't seen any with a meter that shows voltage and reads the batteries capacity...that would be ideal so i can switch between power levels.

 
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: cockpitbob on September 11, 2017, 09:28:13 PM
2A and 2A.  I trust that's during Tx, not Rx.  Even so, that's a lot for a 4W CB radio, unless that includes the cough emergency cough amp.  My 100W, all mode, all band ham rig (FT-857) draws about 0.7A during receive.  Receive current is the one I pay attention to since I tend to be listening 90% of the time.

A battery capacity meter would be nice to have.  Much better than just Volts.  I just took a quick look and they exist but I have no idea which ones are good.
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: NF822WNY on September 11, 2017, 11:02:28 PM
Yes those numbers are all via tx not rx...i figure if i plan for tx i will have plenty of capacity.  So 40 ah may be agressive but the capacity will be there if needed, also taking into account if said "amp" were being used.  I dont run a lot of power, id prefer to have a better antenna setup.
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: gil on September 12, 2017, 02:44:38 PM
Hello and welcome aboard :-)

This site, as much as it may seem like it, is not a ham radio forum, but a radio prepping forum. Of course CBers are welcome, I was one, and CB is a great tool.

I would suggest going as light as practical on the battery and use the amp only in case of extreme necessity. Usually when 11m is closed it doesn't matter how much power you have. For local comms
 it might help, but I'd rather bet on a good antenna, half-wave end-fed, easy since it will be only around 5.5m long!

Gil

Sent from my SM-G928F using Tapatalk
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: NF822WNY on September 12, 2017, 03:35:58 PM
Thanks Gil!, love your videos by the way!  Thank you for the antenna advise, I have a couple of ideas and will be using this project to further my expedient antenna ideas.  More to post once i get this project into the field.
 
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: gil on September 12, 2017, 03:52:47 PM
You're welcome. BTW I highly recommend the Solarcon Imax 2000, great antenna for CB!

Gil.
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: NF822WNY on October 02, 2017, 09:22:12 AM
Well my go box is complete.  I went with a 40ah Bioenno LiFePo4 battery and a rigrunner 4004USB for my power distribution.  I bought the AC charger for the battery and will work on the solar components at another date.  The whole box in total weighs about 20lbs so i wont be climbing any mountains with it but it is totally self contained in the box with enough room for my dipole antenna and some coax.  It seems to fit the bill as my portable base station.   Initial tests with this rig were done with my base antenna, A-99, and i got good local contacts coming through loud and clear. 
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: cockpitbob on October 02, 2017, 02:18:48 PM
Very nicely done!
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: gil on October 02, 2017, 02:46:36 PM
Looks good!

I wish more people would think of portable operations instead of staying in the shack!
Now we need videos of you operating it in the field  ;)

Gil.
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: NF822WNY on October 03, 2017, 08:06:53 AM
I will have to video this at some point.  I took this out in the back yard last night for a test with the dipole.  I wish I could say i was pleased.  I set up with an inverted v formation on the dipole, center was about 15-20 feet up.  I turned on the radio and got really great receive but i couldn't get anyone to hear me.  I conducted a test with my mobile unit in my truck and i was getting signal but i couldn't get the locals to copy back.  I did switch up directions on the dipole to see if that could help (N to S then E to W).  I am not sure if height was the issue, have many trees in my back yard but none are great for a dipole.  At this point i don't know if i want to scratch the idea of a dipole and switch to a dedicated omni or what to do...I guess i was due for a strike out...Everything radio i have worked on in the last few months has gone flawless. 
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: gil on October 03, 2017, 12:11:24 PM
Most CB antennas are verticals. You are using a horizontally polarised antenna... There is about a 20db loss for cross-polarization.... That might explain...
Gil

Sent from my SM-G928F using Tapatalk

Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: NF822WNY on October 03, 2017, 04:02:09 PM
Gil,
Been looking into this all day reading info on antenna set ups etc.  I think you are right, i am going to re test with with a vertical or slope and see if i get better results.  I will keep you posted! :)
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: NF822WNY on November 20, 2017, 03:55:48 PM
I am now into the market for a solar panel to recharge and run my Go Box with a 40 amp hour Bioenno LiFepo4.  What are some suggestions for panel?
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: gil on November 20, 2017, 05:57:28 PM
Quote
I will keep you posted!

Please do, thanks!

Gil.
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: cockpitbob on November 20, 2017, 07:52:40 PM
At a simple level I knew having different polarizations reduces reception, but I never knew any numbers.  Over at antenna-theory.com I found this little gem:  http://www.antenna-theory.com/basics/polarization.php (http://www.antenna-theory.com/basics/polarization.php)

Quote
In general, for two linearly polarized antennas that are rotated from each other by an angle (http://www.antenna-theory.com/basics/phi.bmp), the power loss due to this polarization mismatch will be described by the Polarization Loss Factor (PLF):
 
(http://www.antenna-theory.com/basics/powerLoss.bmp)

Hence, if both antennas have the same polarization, the angle between their radiated E-fields is zero and there is no power loss due to polarization mismatch. If one antenna is vertically polarized and the other is horizontally polarized, the angle is 90 degrees and no power will be transferred.

So now I have a rule of thumb and numbers I can work with.  I love numbers ::) .  I think the equation falls apart around 90degrees because it predicts zero, but in the real world, the polarizations are probably imperfect so even if the antennas were 90.00deg off, some will get through. 

But here's my big take-away.  At 45deg the power transfer is 50%.  That's only 1/2 an S-unit.  You could cant your 4-element Yagi 45deg and its 8dB of gain would only drop to 5dB gain.  You could do fine talking to both repeaters and SSB operators without having to fuss with the antenna.
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: NF822WNY on December 07, 2017, 07:39:48 AM
Well as i continue to test my go box i continue to run into some problems.  I have been experiencing some pretty significant RF feedback through the microphone when TX.  Basically, after the radio has warmed up when i transmit i am getting a small shock through the microphone.  This does occur more when i am using the amplifier than when i am not.  After my initial research it appears that a grounding issue is to blame.  My question and what i can't quite come up with a solution for would be how do you ground a go box? 
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: cockpitbob on December 07, 2017, 01:54:51 PM
Describe your antenna and feedline to it. 
My knee-jerk reaction is to put a 1:1 balun at the antenna.  You've probably got RF on the shield due to driving a balanced antenna (di-pole) with an unbalanced line (coax).
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: NF822WNY on December 27, 2017, 11:02:15 PM
Ok, Tried everything i could to stop the RF radiation coming out of my go box.  The only way to stop it was to nix the amp....so this brings me to my next incarnation of my CB go box...Legal power ??? I want to do everything right this time and make it small and compact so i could take this literally anywhere i would like.  My question is, i am going to buy a new battery 12ah bioenno lifepo4 seems to give me good dimensions and output.  But i would like to know what size solar panel i should get.  Any brands or ideas would be great.  Everything i could find shows a 10w would work good.  I would like to panel etc to also be able to fit in my smaller box but know if that is not possible i would like a fold able Powerfilm like panel that i could also stow away.  My initial thoughts would be to use a genesun solar charge controller as well...any thoughts?
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: LWolken on December 28, 2017, 12:45:47 AM
If money is no object I'd get (3) Power Film 12 watt panels and a genasun controller.


vs.


Budget get a 40 watt Suakoi off ebay and a morning star sun guard controller.
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: NF822WNY on December 28, 2017, 03:00:06 PM
Well did some size testing, the dry box i picked up is a bit larger than expected (good thing).  I am able to fit my radio, meter, dipole antenna as well as my 40ah lifepo4 battery from my first go box plus an inverter that i picked up.  This will allow me to have a power station for cells and laptops etc.  If i go with this larger battery in the box, what size panel would i need to keep it topped off during field use?  I think i have my calculations down but not sure as this is my first dive into solar.  Here it goes:

40Watt Panel/ 12 Volts= 3.3 Amperes
40 amp hour Battery/ 5Amperes=12.1 hours of charge time approx. 

I know that there are discharge factors that would reduce this overall charge time, but then again i am only looking at keeping this battery topped off.

As far as power draw, i am going legal limit cb/ssb so 12amps max and that would be only on TX...

Does this sound like it would work?
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: NF822WNY on December 29, 2017, 10:25:07 AM
OK here it is CB Go Box 2.0...Spent quite a few hours putting it together, nixed the amp, secondary antenna mount, PA Horn. Changed my meter out to a new model and added power inverter to have the ability to charge some additional items Laptop Phone Etc.  I have tested this out and can also run my base station via the inverter for power down situations.  Still utilizing the 40 ah battery,  it is heavy but so much power and the price tag makes me want to keep using this thing.  Still just enough space to allow my dipole antenna some para cord and the dc charger.  Only thing i would like to add in the box is my solar controller and there should be plenty of room for that still.  I can't seem to find the perfect panel for inside the box storage, i will likely store the panel separate.
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: LWolken on December 29, 2017, 11:15:01 AM
12 hr charge time will take two full days with full sun and no use of the power source.  With a 40ah battery I wouldn't go less than 60 watts maybe 100 if its in the budget.  I really try to size my solar large enough to run the critical components of my station while receiving including a few hours of after dark operations.  My commo plan calls for check-ins at 12 noon, 4pm, 8pm, 12 midnight, 4am, 8am and again at 12noon.  Basically every 4hrs.  Two bands, primary for 30 min then secondary for 30 min.  You get the idea.
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: NF822WNY on December 29, 2017, 01:28:14 PM
Thank you for the input LWolken!  I have been thinking over 60w at a minimum.  My radio only draws 650mA on the RX with no signal, and with CB it would mostly be used to RX.  I will let you know what panel and controller i decide on.
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: LWolken on December 31, 2017, 03:00:18 AM
With a max output of 4 watts its not going to consume much power on transmit either.  In reality you can get by with a much smaller battery maybe 10-15ah and 20-30 watts of solar.  I like your idea of adding a small inverter and would suggest a aa/aaa battery charger also.  I like the Powerex Maha MH-C401FS model simple and effective.  If the power goes out it will be very important to have batteries for flashlights.   
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: gil on December 31, 2017, 08:18:23 AM
Quote
You could do fine talking to both repeaters and SSB operators without having to fuss with the antenna.

Bob, I was surprised to be able to talk to England from the French Cliffs at Cape Blanc Nez both in FM and USB with the same horizontally polarized Yagi...

As to the RF caused by the amp... I have said it many times and will continue to say it, you don't need an amp! Without the amp you also don't need a 40Ah battery! Which mean that you won't have to carry it if you have to. Using a smaller battery will also mean using a smaller solar panel. You win both in weight and money. 12W SSB is plenty of power. Some of them can also be adjusted for a bit more after the SHTF, if need be... An amp is a waste of amperes, money and carrying capacity. The only thing it might be good at is warming up your tent maybe, and at a significant cost.

Gil.
Title: Re: MY CB GO BOX
Post by: NF822WNY on January 16, 2018, 10:56:19 AM
Quote
You could do fine talking to both repeaters and SSB operators without having to fuss with the antenna.

Bob, I was surprised to be able to talk to England from the French Cliffs at Cape Blanc Nez both in FM and USB with the same horizontally polarized Yagi...

As to the RF caused by the amp... I have said it many times and will continue to say it, you don't need an amp! Without the amp you also don't need a 40Ah battery! Which mean that you won't have to carry it if you have to. Using a smaller battery will also mean using a smaller solar panel. You win both in weight and money. 12W SSB is plenty of power. Some of them can also be adjusted for a bit more after the SHTF, if need be... An amp is a waste of amperes, money and carrying capacity. The only thing it might be good at is warming up your tent maybe, and at a significant cost.

Gil.

In all honesty i have to agree without the amp the 40ah Lifepo4 is over kill.  But since the expense was already made (400$+), i wasn't going to let it sit on the shelf.  This is why I incorporated an inverter into the box.  This allows the box to be not only portable comms but also a portable charging station.  With plenty of power to run the CB, and charge things like my cell phone and laptop.