We do a lot of work with portable power on the channel and on the blog, yet there isn’t a day passing, where someone doesn’t ask why we simply don’t use HobbyKing lipo batteries for man-portable or field communications.
The simple truth is we could certainly use these Hobbyking LiPO batteries to power a station for a couple of hours out in the field. Then we’d go home to repeat the process, and start all over again another day. On the other hand what happens when you have no power at home to recharge your battery? What happens when a storm knocks out the power, or you simply have an unstable grid, what if power is down for certain parts of the day. Radio gear is useless without power. Since there’s no technical challenge to adding battery management and a solar charge controller, why don’t we? It’s easy to adapt a HobbyKing lipo, or any other lithium or lithium iron phosphate battery pack. The only thing preventing it is the will to do so.
Amateur radio is a hobby for many operators, yet there are situations when it could be useful to have a replenishable, renewable power source for our radio gear. We only have to take a look at recent history in Puerto Rico, the Nepal earthquake, Florida, Texas, or any number of places which have suffered prolonged grid down outages after an event. No one says you should be forced to be a part of amateur radio emergency communications, but having the capability to put your amateur radio in service, for yourself and your family when the grid is down, is just good common sense.
Here’s my latest battery build. It’s an 5 amp power A123 26650 based battery pack. Add a DC to USB converter and you can charge up your phone or tablet. Add a boost converter, and you can charge up your laptop. Build a power distribution board, and you can charge a variety of equipment simultaneously. You can do that when there is no sun, or you could simultaneously charge your battery while the sun is out.
It’s not necessary, but it certainly is awesome to have that capability.