Air Compressors need off-grid power too

Hello Opertors
Some time ago, I published a video about a 307wh LiFePO4 battery in a man-pack form factor. The battery comes from GigaParts, and had dual Genasun charge controllers. This battery pack is a perfect example of man-portable power for communications gear, and so much more.

Although the channel and blog goes a long way to present power and communications solutions useful in grid-down or off-grid scenarios, communications gear is not the only thing needing power when the lights go out. Despite rarely talking about it on the channel, one of my hobbies is rifle marksmanship using PCP air rifles. Naturally, PCP rifle (which stands for pre-charged pneumatic) operate using compressed air.

My own FX Maverick .25 Sniper has a 510cc, 3600psi (250 bar) carbon fiber bottle. It also has two regulators managing air pressure between the Hpa bottle, plenum, and hammer. This setup pushes 44 grain hollow point slugs out at 1080fps/80ft-lb. The shooting experience is much like a sub-sonic 22LR bolt action rifle (NRL22). To charge PCP rifles, we can either use hand pumps (if you’re an olympic weight lifter), or Hpa air compressors.

My air compressor is a Vevor 4500 psi model. It has both AC and DC inputs for power. The AC input can seemlessly manage 110 volts, 220 volts 50 or 60 hz automatically. That is cool but the DC input is more interesting for fieldwork, for example at the rifle range. The DC input allows an external power supply like a LiFePO4 battery to power the compressor.

Why is this a big deal?

Years ago, there was massive critisism from the community, when I introduced the idea of using lithium based batteries on the channel and blog. We heard things like too dangerous, too expensive, too complicated, “we shouldn’t need and engineering degree to use a battery”, … The benefits were obvious for the open-minded. We could power our comms gear for longer, using lighter batteries, smaller batteries, batteries with lower capacity, but having more operating time! We look back now wondering how the heck we didn’t jump on board sooner.

When we analyize portable power for communications gear a little deeper, we begin to understand off-grid power is not just for communications preparedness. We also need power for lights, power for the pneumatic socket driver, power for a variety of things which improve our quality of life, when the lights go out. Sure a diesel generator is a great investment, but I can’t carry mine on my bike, and often can’t make room for it in our car! Moreover, when the diesel fuel is gone, am I going to be able to get more if it’s needed?

The point here is making strategic decisions to build off-grid power solutions, which can be utilized for more than powering our communications gear. This 307wh battery pack powered the Vevor 4500psi compressor, topping up my PCP rifles 3600 psi dive bottle. Both the battery and compressor could be carried on my bike. They could also be recharged in the field, using the same solar panel carried to recharge my e-bike.

Running an air compressor off my Ham Radio battery pack, at the rifle range.

Full disclosure: The compressor was sent by Vevor to the channel, for testing and review. I put up several videos on my Arctic Airgun Channel first, before sharing it on OH8STN. If you’re interested in this compressor, feel free to read the specs and/or order one here:

Huge thanks to Vevor for providing the PCP compressor for testing. Testing this compressor was a personal win/win, as I use pneumatic tools at home, and compressed air rifles at the range. So far the air compressor has performed flawlessly.
If you’re interested in Vevor products, use this discount code: VVMH5%OFF (5% off on all VEVOR products).

Final thoughts

Too often we think “emergency comms and preparedness”, without thinking about the bigger picture. What use are radio communications, if we ignore all the other aspects of self-reliance!? There are many more things in the stable needing power, than just our comms gear! I certainly won’t stop building bespoke portable power for my radio gear. However, I will design in features which allow other gear to be powered by the same portable power supplies used for my radios. Why doesn’t my portable battery have a USB-C PD port to power an Ipad or Surface? Why do we use ultra-thin wire for power distribution, when upgrading it a bit would allow us to pull more amps from the same battery!? I would never have believed it possible to power a 4500psi air compressor, using a ham radio battery pack yet here we are!

Perhaps it is time to widen our off-grid perspective just a little!?
What do you think? Is it time for the channel and blog to widen their perspective?

Julian oh8stn

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  1. Widening perspectives is rarely a bad thing — widen away! I went backwards to go forwards: my comms pc is an older Fujitsu Arrows hybrid (one of the testbeds for the Toughbook pads), running W10, powered by 12v; an easy barrel coax to Power Pole connector and I am in business anywhere (also works with USB to 12v adaptor). Love the AAChannel — Oorah! 73 JQ7BJB

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