I remember that April 2017 radar challenge. The freezing rain, the frostbite, the realization of not being adequately setup for the conditions I operate in. That’s when I came up with the idea of the solar powered amateur radio Field Station.
The amount of laughter I received from other YouTubers, after putting the idea out there was daunting. In fact I began to wonder if the idea was valid at all. I didn’t realize they were not laughing at me not because it was a bad idea, for the most part they laugged because it was an insurmountable task.
So I started with the battery pack. That was the first 10 amp hour Headway pack. Soon after that we added the 20 watt powerfilm solar panel. After that a heated shelter to operate in comfort, and reduce the potential for frostbite ever again. Next was the powerfilm 120 watt panel, followed by the Yaesu ft-891.
I knew I would have to find a clever way of carrying all of this gear if I really wanted to be man portable. My buddy the Canadian Prepper (another YouTuber) came up with the monowalker idea. I initially tried to build my own, then thought of buying the monowalker after my build failed. I finally ended up with the wheelie hiking trailer from radical design. That’s what I would use when there wasn’t any snow on the ground. When there was snow on the ground the traditional Scandinavian pulk sled would do just fine.
Some building gear, buying gear, modifying gear, wondering if it was all a huge waste of time and money, only to reach this point. I had a picture in my mind of what the solar powered Field Station would look like on a proper deployment. This is the image I saw in my minds eye when I passionately spoke about the concept on my channel. Last week I was able to take a snapshot of the picture I had seen in my mind all along, but I was able to do it in real life.
There are still some things to do with the solar powered Field Station. One of the ideas I had for portable power at 65 degrees north dark during winter, was a small 5A diesel-powered hobby motor generator. The kind they use for diesel powered RC planes.
I still need to build the enclosure for the 891. That ammo can was a brilliant idea, but I need more time to work on it. In the end it’s probably never really going to be finished. I mean, we deploy, gain experience from it, then apply that experience to finding better ways of operating. A year ago I would never have considered the Raspberry Pi to help achieve interoperability for my radio and peripherals, yet I sit here today connecting to my radio with any one of my mobile or portable devices, without a care in the world about which one I decide to use.
Anyway, before I ramble on too much, I’m just sitting here editing the first episode of The X days off grid series. Going through the photos and video material from the trip, I realized it’s a reality. We have a fully functional man-portable, solar powered, amateur radio Field Station. A station I was told was:
- Impossible to build
- Ridiculously expensive
- A very stupid idea
- Not worth doing
- It’s just a hobby
- Not able to power a qro radio with that battery pack
- Simply impractical
just a year ago.
I’ll get back to my video editing. 😉