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Author Topic: Yaesu FT-891  (Read 945 times)

STN

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Yaesu FT-891
« on: March 13, 2018, 01:25:53 PM »
Hello Operators
Topic of the day is the Yaesu FT-891. Many field radio operators have turned away from the Yaesu FT-891, because of the specs regarding current draw on RX, published on the Yaesu website. Since I have owned the Yaesu FT-857, and 897 in past years, the current specs for the 891, seemed somewhat off! In fact, I wondered if Yaesu simply published "worst case" numbers on the site, without bothering to publish a range of numbers which would make more sense to potential buyers. So, in this video we'll be measuring the current draw of the Yaesu FT-891 at RX, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, and 100 Watts.

Background
I've had many requests on the channel for such a video. Operators would like to compare current consumption to other popular rigs like the Yaesu FT-857D, Icom 7200, Icom 7300, as well as understanding how hungry this radio is when deployed in the field. Operators would also like to know why someone would choose a rig with a 1A RX current draw. Spoiler Alert! The truth is, we need to find the balance between QRP/Ultralight amateur radio, and QRO/when your life depends on getting the message out.

The truth is, the FT-891 weighs in slightly more than the FT-817ND with internal batteries. The LiFePO4 batteries I use can work with my 817 or 891. The trick to deploying a rig having such a current draw, is deploying with a lightweight solar panel and charge controller. I know Gil and I disagree on this topic but cheap is never going to be lightweight, and eventually, when your life depends on it, we all wish we would have purchased a thin-film flexible solar panel. No real survival minded person seriously thinks the ebay special from China with a built-in voltage regulator will do the job, but it is cheap! So I deploy both the 817 with a 20w thin film panel, and the 891 with a 120w thin film panel. The 120w panel runs my entire field station btw.

The following link is to my Yaesu FT-891 Current draw test.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1aShLDZcFg

This link is a playlist (which completely contradicts much of the gospel found here) on off grid solar and battery power for field communications.
Portable off grid power for amateur radio.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDoQoVA0hAc&list=PLKMrdrsNkFA43q0POuXM-5-49yOd3t4CP amateur radio
Don't let the titles fool you. Everything I do is about extended field communications in a grid down scenario- The vanilla titles and tags help spread the word to a wider audience.

I do encourage everyone to get off the couch, get out in the field, and test their gear to near failure. Anybody can make videos, blogs or write forum posts. At the end of the day, it is field experience which will save your life.

73
Julian oh8stn
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gil

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Re: Yaesu FT-891
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2018, 02:58:28 PM »
Thanks Julian, that is a very interesting video. 1A on receive is much better than the 2A advertised. It's still too high in my opinion, but considering your whole system with the power pack and solar panel, you certainly found a way to do it. As you mention, it takes going out there to find out what works and what doesn't.

I wish there were more radios with around 30W output power and a reasonable current draw. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, there isn't much between 10W and 100W. Cost is an issue as well. I also wish I could afford a Power-Film, maybe later. My PRC-320 is great, but it has its drawbacks, and I still need to make a cable for digital operations.

FB on managing to create a practical QRO system!

Question: What voltage do you get out of your battery pack a few hours after a full charge?

Thank you for your Patreon contribution!!!

Gil.

STN

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Re: Yaesu FT-891
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2018, 03:43:05 PM »
Hi Gil
The "too high" position is a matter of perspective. I deploy each weekend regardless of wx, either qrp or qro- A solar panel is always part of the system. It is the only way to augment the current draw of our rigs. On a good day(8 months out of the year), I walk out of the field with a full battery! It doesn't have to be PowerFilm. I just thought it would be a smart investment. Remember, a rig (any rig) without a way to field charge it, becomes a boat anchor when batteries are dead.

I don't understand carrying a green radio 4x the weight of my 817 or 891, but has 0.18A current draw, when I can carry a lighter setup with solar panel and less weight. I also do not understand the KX2. Although small, it cannot be charged/discharged simultaneously while in the field.

Here are my two kits
Yaesu FT-817ND Primary GoKit
- FT-817ND
- QRPVer.com 10w amp
- Powerfilm FM16-1200 1-2A Panel
- Genasun GV-5 mppt charge controller
- DIY 5Ah LiFePO4 pack with BMS

Yaesu FT-891 Field Station GoKit
- FT-891
- PowerFilm 120w 7.2A panel
- Genasun GV-10 mppt charge controller
- DIY 10Ah LiFePO4 with BMS

Both kits use a small 12v DC laptop running:
(All of these apps are well-suited for group communications on HF)
- APRS Messenger
- FSQCall
- FT8Call
- FLDigi

Regarding the battery question. Here is a better answer to your question.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RwgwoUJKgE
The LiFePO4 chemistry curve is called "the hockey stick curve". It basically flat until nearly full discharge, then it drops like a rock. For the most part, it is like having two SLABS for one LiFePO4 pack of the same capacity. I know that's hard to get ones head around, which is why I made the capacity test video.

Thanks for the kindness. I am creating an operating methodology for various scenarios, "not a QRO system". Been a qrp operator for 19 years. Having a qro radio is not going to change that. ;)

I'm happy to support you through Patreon unless you plan on building another kit.
Would love to teach you some digital mode ops.

73
Julian oh8stn
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gil

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Re: Yaesu FT-891
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2018, 06:55:49 AM »
Thanks Julian. The RT-320 is indeed too heavy for many applications. I just like its ruggedness, but frankly, I'd hate to carry it for more than a few miles! The KX2, I could set-up a solar charging system for it, just like you do with your other radios. I only have a Cheotech 14W panel, which can be used to charge my 18650 cells, but it's not the best quality, and I don't have a backup yet, so shame on me. I will be looking for a good 40-50W panel and get another Genasun charge controller. I used to have two in my boat. It's no use having a dozen tiny radios and only one solar panel!

The problem with the KX2 is that the case is full of holes for water and dirt to get in. That's why I have thought about selling it before and I rarely take it out. The performance is awesome mind you, but it's no outdoor radio. It's fine for a SOTA activation on a nice day, but not for prepping.

I'll slow down on the kits, LOL. I just enjoy building them and post what I enjoy doing. I have a couple more coming but I won't film the building phase, people have had enough :o Fortunately, the weather is getting better so I'll be outside much more often! Now, next winter I'll have to get my ass out any way to get some experience of winter operations, get some cold winter gear and rough it out. It's been almost two years since my last real field operation, way too long!

I'd like to try a good weak signal chat mode like Olivia or Contestia. Maybe we can try a contact using one of those, that would be great :)

Gil.

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Re: Yaesu FT-891
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2018, 11:27:49 AM »
Unfortunately, for whatever reason, there isn't much between 10W and 100W. Cost is an issue as well. I also wish I could afford a Power-Film, maybe later.

I watched Julians latest DIY batterypack video with full excitement until I calculated the cost of that pack. Also those solarpanels are expensive as ****.
Doing off the grid comms with 100W is really a budget breaker.

Here are my two kits
Yaesu FT-817ND Primary GoKit
- FT-817ND
- QRPVer.com 10w amp
- Powerfilm FM16-1200 1-2A Panel
- Genasun GV-5 mppt charge controller
- DIY 5Ah LiFePO4 pack with BMS
[...]
73
Julian oh8stn


How does that QRPver.com 10W amp perform? Does it have enough punch to get heard in tough propagations?

gil

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Re: Yaesu FT-891
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2018, 04:35:56 AM »
Quote
Doing off the grid comms with 100W is really a budget breaker.

When you add power you do quickly add cost. Everything must handle the power, including the antenna, tuner, etc. You need a bigger solar panel, battery, everything. For some applications, I can see how Julian's setup could be useful. I am thinking of more of a community-based emergency system, first responders, etc. His primary kit is still the FT-817nd. Cost can then be taken up by an association or NGO. Not everyone minds cost; more power to those who can afford it, literally, LOL.

I am really tempted by Julian's Powerfilm FM16-1200... Perfect for my power needs. I just need to save up the money.

Quote
How does that QRPver.com 10W amp perform? Does it have enough punch to get heard in tough propagations?

I haven't seen it, but I will keep a close eye on their new Minion Mini transceiver!

Gil.

STN

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Re: Yaesu FT-891
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2018, 08:32:48 AM »
Hi Gil
I actually love green radios, but they can be difficult to carry when one must carry additional gear. There is a CODAN on my horizon, but I won't talk about that yet :)

Olivia and Contesia are fine modes for random contacts or skeds, and their weak signal capabilities are amazing. There are two prepper friendly digital systems being developed/re-developed right now. I'm in the beta test groups with both of them. The first is called FT8Call. It takes the extremely efficient FT8 mode and extends the capabilities for long message format, group messages, ...It is not used on the traditional FT8 frequencies, but is meant to be used on a fixed frequency with a group of users wishing to stay in touch all the time. Participating stations are displayed on a heard list. You can pick one or more station to chat or message with. Your group stays on frequency according to their comms plan. Once stations are on your heard list, you can get a list of station they hear, then route through station you hear to reach stations you don't. I'll do a demo on this in the coming months.

The next is APRS Messenger HF APRS This is another fixed frequency mode using MFSK4, MFSK16, PSK63, PSK250, GMSKx ... It works just like traditional APRS only it does it on HF, and can decode multiple modes at the same time. For group communications, stations beacon at user defined intervals, then get displayed on the heard list of other stations- Once on the heard list, you can click on a station to send a message to them in any of the modes that app supports. If condx are bad or extremely low power are required, use MFSK4. Need fast chat during good condx or local comms, use PSK250 or GMSKX for chat or messaging. The best thing here is it can be used offline without internet, or can be used with the APRS-IS to include internet only stations, or connect groups with a combination of HF/Internet where no RF path exists between them. It integrates with VHF APRS, HF APRS and internet client APRS like APRSDroid. Functionality to beacon HFAPRS over PSK63 is already built into DroidPSK btw. This one is a game changer.

The point of my rambling is, there is no point in using tools designed for random contacts on ham radio. Group messaging sets up a network of stations, alerting you when one or all of the stations are there, or not. I have a station up and running 24/7, allowing others in my group to send messages to me if I am there or not, chat in real-time if I am there, and see my location if I allow then to do so. Your RT320 wth a tablet or laptop and audio interface, would make an excellent HFAPRS setup. We use network systems like this to avoid chasing down a random contact. Olivia and Contestia are great for the log book, and weekly net, or sked with a local station, but not the best way to communicate in an emergency. Having established group communications whether fixed or in the field, makes network group comms, far more reliable.

You should join our fb group Portable Digital & QRP http://www.facebook.com/groups/PortableDigitalQRP/ It is all about low power pratical digital field communications. We have a good group of helpful operators there.

I'm kind of sad about the KX2. I wanted one and probably would have purchased one if I could afford to have a radio for fun. For that reason, I am extremely happy with the FT-817ND. I will add the 500hz filter and TCXO to it in the coming weeks. The receiver will never match a KX2, but the KX2 can't be used in minus 20c :D
Could you explain how to charge the internal KX2 battery with a solar panel?

Anyway, you have to do what you love to do sometimes :)
Nothing wrong with the kits but, ...

I would very much enjoy seeing you out in the field again. The mountain camping video was epic!

73
Julian oh8stn


Gil.
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STN

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Re: Yaesu FT-891
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2018, 09:00:01 AM »
Actually, it is not a budget breaker.
The last build is designed for powering my entire field station. That's mentioned in the video, and in my reply to Gil. It's a 50A draw battery pack pack :D If you would be happy with 35w TX, any of my other budget diy packs on the channel will work. That was the point of sharing the portable off grid power series https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDoQoVA0hAc&list=PLKMrdrsNkFA43q0POuXM-5-49yOd3t4CP By replacing the BMS (or not using it all all and bottom balancing) you're talking about a 80$ battery pack, good for 100Amps for your 100w radio or whatever you would like to power. Maybe I need to do a budget battery build video since it seems, if one hasnt not watched the series of portable power vids, the point of modularity and cost adjustment is lost.

The powerFilm panels are costly, no doubt. However, there are panels which come between the PowerFilm and cheap Chinese in terms of cost. The more portable the panel, the higher the price. Sucks but that is what it is. I keep going back to this point but, I saved and spent on a nice Belgium made rxxxe because what everyone else was using, didn't work in winters up here. It's the same for portable off grid power. I could save money by buying something cheap on ebay, but what good does it do me, if it breaks when I need it most. That's why I am critical of "cost saving" strategy from people who don't do any real field testing. It is all a process and we need to prioritize what is best for us. The PowerFilms were painful but necessary.

The QRPver 10w am is awesome. It actually puts out a little more than 10w without driving the ALC nuts. What I have found is using this amp in combination with mechanical filters in an 817, will get my signal out there far more than I ever expected. The only thing I would add/change to the 10w amp is a heavier gauge power cable, powerpoles, and an on/off switch.

73
Julian oh8stn


I watched Julians latest DIY batterypack video with full excitement until I calculated the cost of that pack. Also those solarpanels are expensive as ****.
Doing off the grid comms with 100W is really a budget breaker.

How does that QRPver.com 10W amp perform? Does it have enough punch to get heard in tough propagations?
« Last Edit: March 15, 2018, 09:17:33 AM by STN »
Julian OH8STN
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STN

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Re: Yaesu FT-891
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2018, 09:15:04 AM »
One point which is not accurate in your reply Gil
 My QRO system is not focused on emergency communications. It is 100% self reliance. My skills can be used for organized emergency communications, but the gear is all about survival. We can't look at my radio gear without looking at my pulk sled, or my tipi shelter, or wood stove, axe, or a any of the other items which make up my field station. The field station is my bugout home away from home. It can serve as a temporary shelter, or a warm space to operate when it is -20.
I'm not a "yellow vest", and never will be! :D

Julian


Quote
Doing off the grid comms with 100W is really a budget breaker.

When you add power you do quickly add cost. Everything must handle the power, including the antenna, tuner, etc. You need a bigger solar panel, battery, everything. For some applications, I can see how Julian's setup could be useful. I am thinking of more of a community-based emergency system, first responders, etc. His primary kit is still the FT-817nd. Cost can then be taken up by an association or NGO. Not everyone minds cost; more power to those who can afford it, literally, LOL.

Gil.
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gil

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Re: Yaesu FT-891
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2018, 10:16:21 AM »
Quote
The receiver will never match a KX2, but the KX2 can't be used in minus 20c :D
I'm afraid neither can I, LOL :o
Quote
Could you explain how to charge the internal KX2 battery with a solar panel?
You'd have to drill a hole in the case to get the balanced leads out... The easiest way of course is to have two battery packs and charge them alternatively outside the radio. The packs last a long time so you most likely wouldn't be without batteries.

Quote
My QRO system is not focused on emergency communications. It is 100% self reliance.

No doubt; it would though make a great community emergency system. So many people still want to rely on gas-powered generators... To elaborate on your particular case... We all operate in different conditions and thinking about your type of operations, your sled is a key item in my opinion, which is great, because it can carry a lot and you're never going to break a wheel or an axle... Here in the North of France I could probably use a cart and use the same system. People living in the mountains, or as I did in Florida (swamps), would have to carry their gear. So it all depends on your location of course. In Florida I would have used a canoe in many cases. You found a good solution to your quest for more power. Your tipi with heater is also excellent. I am looking at homebuilt rocket stoves and might make a tent heater with ducting and a small computer fan... For next winter maybe...

I do prefer a lighter setup and have been very vocal about my choices of low-current radios. It doesn't mean other options don't work, as you have shown. It's a matter of tradeoff. You trade weight and cost for Watts. If you can afford both, then you end up with a practical solution.

Kudos for trying something different.

Gil.

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Re: Yaesu FT-891
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2018, 12:52:59 PM »
Hi Gil
I guess what I was really hoping for, was something concrete to support your positions. I mean what is behind the opinion?
here are the points
  • You say you prefer low power current consumption radios like the kx2 and PRC320, but you can't show us how you would charge them in the field, or modify them to be charged while in use. Would you please make a video sometime about off grid portable power in a grid down, showing us how you would keep your radios powered using your chosen ebay solar panel and your choice of charge controller?
  • On the topic of low current consumption, you prefer to carry the RT/PRC320, but would not carry a radio a quarter of the weight and 3.5x the TX power because it has higher current consumption, even when the radio and solar panel are lighter weight than your own choices. Some operators blindly support your low current position (which in principle is a good one), perhaps without knowing if yours in a personal preference, or if there is some hidden preparedness perspective behind the opinion, we can't see yet. So far there are lots of vague comments, but I want to understand from a preparedness perspective, how you reconcile your choices in comms gear and off grid portable power.

These would be extremely popular video topics for the channel,

73
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gil

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Re: Yaesu FT-891
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2018, 04:11:48 PM »
Hi Julian,

Quote
but you can't show us how you would charge them in the field, or modify them to be charged while in use. Would you please make a video sometime about off-grid portable power in a grid down

Sure, I can do that, good idea. I made a video on batteries but not on charging, so I will do that.

Quote
or modify them to be charged while in use.

I don't need to charge my batteries inside the radio while in use when I can have a second set that weighs and costs very little. That way I can place my solar panel and second battery set in the best location while using my radio in my tent or anywhere else. I can also recharge a set of batteries with my small panel hung on my backpack while hiking, which I have done for my phone before. I won't be using a radio all the time so generally a single battery set would probably be enough, but two is one and one is none.

I did BTW add an MPPT charger inside my Weber Soda-Pop 40m transceiver with batteries also inside the case. I could charge it while in use since that charger makes no RF noise, but I haven't bought an 18V solar panel yet. Mine is only USB.

To recharge 18650 Cells I use NiteCore UM-10 USB chargers.

Quote
you prefer to carry the RT/PRC320

Actually no, I don't prefer to carry it. I'd rather carry my Weber MTR in my shirt pocket. The PRC-320 is a cool system that is fun to play with and would make a good camp station, but it's not for bugging out on foot considering the other stuff you need to carry. The PRC-320 and my KX2, in my opinion, are not the best options for a prepping radio, well, the 320 perhaps in some conditions where transport is available... It's not part of my bugout plan. The KX2 is a great CW machine better kept indoors. I might take it along but not as a primary.

Quote
but would not carry a radio a quarter of the weight and 3.5x the TX power because it has higher current consumption

I just choose not to because for me there are lighter, simpler and much cheaper options available. The 320 BTW I can throw in a river (turned on) and retrieve it, it will still be on, besides its weight. I just don't want to carry it. If one day someone makes a tiny 100W transceiver with a tiny super-battery that doesn't cost an arm and a leg and an affordable super-efficient small solar panel I'll be the first to buy the whole shebang. It's not the current draw that bugs me it's the size, weight, and price of the whole system. For me, it's not worth it. Maybe in a few years when batteries and solar cell technology make some leaps and bounds, but not yet. To me, voice and digital modes are nice extras, but extras nevertheless, though I do consider an SSB/AM receiver a must.

My opinion on low current draw is a practical one. My HF station of choice is tiny. It fits in a small tin can. I can charge the batteries with a small solar panel (video coming soon). All these things I can carry in my jacket pockets. I can and have operated my MTR for a week on eight AA cells (Florida, Pyrenees, and the Canaries), at least an hour a day with lots of calling, without having to recharge the batteries. That is very practical. I have never felt that 5W using CW was not enough. I would bet my life on it.

My choice of bugout radio is the Weber MTR, not the 320 and not the KX2. It might be a personal choice because of CW, but that too is a matter of efficiency. I don't need to carry a computer or tablet either. The MTR draws 40-50mA on receive, not 1A, and 550mA on transmit for 5W output, not 5A. Theoretically, that's 60hrs of listening time on three 18650 cells that fit in the palm of my hand and weigh 130 grams. on transmit, since CW is about 40% duty cycle, that means ~13hrs of transmit time non-stop. I could have an SOS call on a loop for 24hrs continuous, while I recharge my second set of 18650s with my solar panel. The MTR will also keep transmitting down to 6V. I like efficiency.

I understand you have a great solar panel, and that's awesome, if you have the $1400 for the panel alone... If I can make contact easily with a $50 QCX radio, a $50 solar panel and a few 18650 cells salvaged from an old laptop, that's practical and efficient. A whole CW bugout HF station can cost as little as $150-160, ok, maybe $200, everything included.

You know all that of course, I don't need to preach to the quire, but since you asked about my reasoning... Again, your choice of gear works for you in your set of circumstances, and that's great. I am sure you are not going to ditch low-power light operations. It's too bad you are getting flak for using that 891. Experimentation generates progress. There are circumstances where 100W would make a difference, certainly, but for me, it's just a lot of stuff to lug around. What I use works for me.

Thanks again for the video suggestion, I'll probably make a low-current/battery-charging video; stay tuned  :)

Gil.

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Re: Yaesu FT-891
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2018, 04:27:22 PM »
Looking forward to some real field testing from you Gil.
I'm truly skeptical, but I have an open mind.
J
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Re: Yaesu FT-891
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2018, 11:26:24 AM »
Hi guys,

Sorry to break into the conversation. I'm keen to explore the possibilities of using LiFePO4 battery packs designed for RC use, in field radio scenarios.
I've already successfully tested my Leixen vv898S with a 30C 4200mAH pack, although this did not include prolonged operation to determine pack life unassisted (that's next on the list of things to do). I'm keen to understand what I'll need to include to get to a similar position to your QRP rig Joel. Maybe a smaller BMS and then the small Powerfilm panel with a charge controller.

Once my uBITX is constructed I'll be adding this to my man portable station gear as well, so I have capability across most bands (Except 160, 6 and 4m) in some capacity.   
Once a 'STAB in the Dark'
M6UAW

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Re: Yaesu FT-891
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2018, 01:23:11 PM »
Hi Andy
I guess you're in luck. I just published a video on Portable Off Grid Power Communications. Here is the description and links.

If you've been following any of my other  videos  on portable off-grid power,
this video may seem out out of sequence, considering three DIY LiFePO4 builds published, and an extensive amount of other information supporting the off grid ham radio operator. Anyway,  it was time to publish a video which tied everything together. The video is titled, Portable Off Grid Power for Amateur Field Communications.

https://youtu.be/TU46f9_vDr4

Currently there are 3 LiFePO4 builds on the channel.
DIY 5Ah A123 26650 build QRP+ 
DIY 10Ah Headway build QRP+
DIY 10Ah Headway build QRO+
There are several more incoming, including one QRO LiFePO4 pack, using 18650 cells. You'll find all of those build videos on the series playlist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TU46f9_vDr4&list=PLKMrdrsNkFA43q0POuXM-5-49yOd3t4CP.

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Julian oh8stn
« Last Edit: March 28, 2018, 01:26:38 PM by STN »
Julian OH8STN
SurvivalTech Nord
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