My Off-Grid & Grid Down Comms Energy strategy

The off-grid ham shack is now 100% energy self-reliant. It has taken some time to develop an effective grid-down energy strategy. Today, the station acting as a TOC (Tactical Operations Center, can stay in the fight during a prolonged grid-down disaster.

This video covers batteries, solar power, wind generator, hand crank generator, power distribution, and much of the comms gear used off-grid, in the station.
Huge thanks to @S2Underground for inspiring this video!

Chapters

  • 01:23 Grid-Down Energy Strategy
  • 02:30 Station power configuration
  • 06:25 Comms Gear
  • 14:39 Safety features
  • 15:45 Final thoughts

Share video URL: https://youtu.be/l8T75Kp5tSM

Questions from the comments

  • @2heavyb517  Thank you for sharing your setup for a well thought out & resilient shack. Why do you use multiple charge controllers with 200 watts on each circuit?
    Great question.
    Since I prefer using the Genasun charge controllers (RF Quiet), my solar panel configuration needs to respect the power & current limitations of the controller specs. I certainly wish they would make a 20A model but so far that’s a no-go.
  • @BlakeKnowledge  How are you running your Meshtastic node? What hardware are you using? wisblock?
    It’s early stages for my Meshtastic journey. At the moment Lilygo Tbeam on 433Mhz. It is connected to a tower mounted 433Mhz antenna. Some buddies of mine and I plan on putting a 868Mhz (EU) antenna up on the tower to get that band activated. I’ll be showing the practical aspects of the journey on the channel and blog.
  • @gravijta936  Have you looked into thermal-electric generators? I wrote a research paper on them back in college, and the result was basically, if you’re already heating your shack or shelter with fire, then they’re could be worthwhile, but not worth starting a fire just for the electricity. We don’t get a lot of sunlight here in the winter so solar isn’t the best option. It sounds like you’re pretty well setup with solar and wind, so maybe a TEG isn’t worthwhile for you. I’m curious what you think.
    I would love a thermo electric generator! The only reason one hasn’t been deployed for the off-grid ham shack project is it uses a diesel heater rather than a wood stove.
    There are two possibilities though.
    The first idea is scavenging the exhaust heat from the diesel heater, to power the TEG. This seems rather straight forward but there are some issues. The diesel heater has a start-up current of ~9 amps. If the TEG could produce more than 9A, it would be a win.
    The second is using a wood-burning stove. The issue I have is no space inside the shack for it. If I could figure out how to build a wood-burning stove outside the ham shack, while routing heat back inside, it would be extremely interesting.

Power Queen batteries

Huge thanks to Power Queen for supporting the off-grid ham shack project.
You can support the channel uy using my links when purchasing Power Queen LiFePO4 batteries and gear for your off-grid power needs. Use coupon code “JULIANOH8STN” for a 5% discount.

Power Queen LiFePO4

Power Queen offers a range of LiFePO4 batteries for off-grid use. These batteries are available throughout the European Union, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. In fact, you can get a 5% discount using JULIANOH8STN while shopping on their various websites.

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Power Queen made the “Building an off-grid ham shack” project possible. Please show some love.


It really has taken lots of time and energy to get the station to this point. Solar, wind, charging, power distribution, choosing the right LiFePO4 battery manufacturer, learning how to work with large wire gauges, and so much more. The distribution strategy was a tough one. The handheld radios have USB-C ports for charging. So any radio which requires an irregular voltage and proprietary charging dock is out the window. So DC distribution via Anderson Powerpoles and USB/USB-c outlets are placed where needed throughout the off-grid ham shack.

I refuse to use voltage boosters, bucks, or AC charging docs. Either supported 12 volt DC or USB. If your product doesn’t, it’ll die a rather pathetic death.

Low current draw

The best trick of the station is getting the currents down to ridiculously low levels. Running 10 watts or less with an efficient portable radio saves more energy over any other “mobile or desktop” radio strategy. 250ma vs 2 amps receive current saves a massive amount of current. Naturally, this method won’t be winning any contests! However, it is perfect for a sustainable HF communications network. One cable of staying on-air for weeks instead of hours.

In the side image, two laptops, ic-705, DX Patrol SDR, and 2x LED lighting panels draw 0.83A on RX!

Winlink gateway

The Winlink RMS gateway was briefly covered in the video. The gateway is running on an Evolve laptop, and currently uses an Icom IC-705 for its 2m gateway frequency (draws 4-6 watts on RX). As this is a critical service to the community, it utilizes an EcoFlow River 2 Max as its individual power source.

The entire gateway and power supply can easily be field deployed with little effort.

One point which needs to be corrected is the last remaining piece of AC equipment in the ham shack. The Yaesu G-1000DXC rotator controller has no DC input. So it requires a mains connection whenever the tower needs to turns.

This rotator and its controller are both over 20 years old, working perfectly this entire time. I notice HyGain has a DC rotatorcomtroller which should be a direct replacement. I¨Not a high priority, but definitely trying not to be a slave to the electric grid.

Alright guys, that’s about it. Please do let me know what you think.

73
Julian oh8stn
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@oh8stn
Rumble: https://rumble.com/c/OH8STN
Blog: https://www.oh8stn.org

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