Man Portable Solar Powered GoKit for Ham Radio

Hello Operators.

Over the past few weeks I’ve published several articles entitled “Man Portable Off-grid Power for Amateur Radio”. This video is the result of that research & field testing.

In this video, I’ll breakdown each module & component of my Portable Solar Powered GoKit for Ham Radio. The kit follows a “Lego block” approach, and is designed to be modular. The three modules are:

  • Power & DC distribution
  • Radio & Computing
  • Antennas & Support

The entire kit weighs between 7-10 kg depending on the options chosen. This includes 1 litre of water, and the pack.

The Ultimate Goal

The idea of deploying sustainable low-power data/phone capable, man portable stations, used to build a makeshift network passing news, information or telemetry with minimal gear and equipment, for days at a time, out in the field.

There are practical differences when deploying for 4 hours, or 3 days. This is pointed out from time to time on the channel and the blog. We can imagine the radio operator having the flexibility and mobility required to be rapidly deployed to the area where they are needed most. Multiple similarly equipped radio operators, can be deployed around the “disaster” area, to build a makeshift Radio Network, but only if they can get themselves and their gear, in the field. Once there, keeping communications gear powered up, independent of grid electricity for days at a time.

The traditional go Kit vs

Realizing the traditional Go Kit is something more rugged, packed inside a static flight case, and far less adaptable, I opted for portablity over tradition (I’m still working on rugged). While the more powerful but less portable traditional go kit, remains the “backbone” of the system, these lightweight highly portable kits can “get in there” right here, right now with little or no support.
As we saw in the Nepal Earthquake, radio operators won’t always have the luxury of grid power. Nor will they always have a large logistics machine to “deploy” them and their gear. Whether emcomm or preparedness, sometimes an operator needs to deploy independent of support, and just make due with the comms gear, he/she carries.

Loadout

Ultimately, the “go kit” is jyst another module, within a field deployment kit. So we must not ignore “what else the radio operator is carrying, to support him/herself during deployment”. Food, water, sleep system, shelter, water filtration, stove, … The point here is the radio operator is not only carrying radio equipment! Once again this goes back to the differences between casual ham radio, and ham radio as a utility. Even with QRP camping, there is gear beyond amateur radio. We’re also not putting the go kit together for the sake of the go kit. We are actually putting it together so that it can be useful (without becoming a burden) in the field.

Future updates

Eventually running a 20 watt digital station, minimal lighting for the tent, and perhaps a more capable laptop computer. Nevertheless, here are the planned updates as they exist now.

  • Additional 20w PowerFilm F15-1200
  • 5Ah & 20Ah versions of my LifePo4 pack
  • LED tent lighting
  • Relay mod, allowing the Genasun GV-5 charge controller to handle a QRO Rig

Gallery


I’ll continue adding to this post until it is “complete”. So check back often to see the updates.

Here are some related articles:

  • PowerFilm F15 1200 Solar Panel The core of my solar power system is this 20w panel PowerFilm. this lightweight, thin-film flexible panel, keeps the battery storage topped up.
  • Genasun GV-5 LiFePO4 Charge Controller This charge controller is the interface between the panel, storage and comms gear. It acts as a system safeguard for all connected system components.
  • DIY 10Ah LiFePO4 battery pack This 10Ah storage system might seem overkill for all QRP based system, but it also has other jobs, such as powering/recharging the tablet/laptop, and providing power during nightime or grey-sky periods.
  • Powerpole DC distribution box The Powerpole distribution box is the breakout box for the battery. It provides fused channels for connecting/protecting gear powered by the system.
  • If you’re interested in the shelter, please read All Weather Shelter for Field Communications 

Before I end this article, a special thanks to forums.qrz.comSouthgate Amateur Radio Club, and QRZCQ.com for featuring my video and blog.

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