Super Walk-a-thon Portable Rig

Make your HT last for days and get out like crazy!

© 2003-2011 by Harold Melton, KV5R. All Rights Reserved.


Let’s face it: (1) HT batteries are way too expensive; (2) they never last long enough — especially for big events like disasters and walk-a-thons; and (3) H-T antennas don’t work very well. If you have ever been involved in serious portable operation, you know the need for more power and better antennas.

I’ll assume you have an H-T that can run directly on 12 volts, and the appropriate DC power cord and remote speaker-mike.

More Power


First, let’s add a serious battery. A 7 amp-hour sealed lead-acid gel battery is just the ticket — giving the power capacity of 15-20 typical H-T packs. This one was $19.95 at a farm supply store (used in deer feeders). It weighs about 10 pounds. The radio is an Alinco DJ-V5T/E six-watt dualbander, with the EDC-37 fused power cord, the UB1270 battery, and a Radio Shack speaker-mike.

How to recharge the battery: Don’t waste big bux on a fancy float charger. A 12-v 500ma wall-wart with alligator clips ($15 or junk-box) is all you need. If you run the battery way down, charging might overheat the wart. Be careful and check it.

This battery can also run a full 100-watt HF rig for a little while if needed — not to mention a head-mounted light — but don’t expect to use it to completely replace a 180-220 amp-hour deep-cycle marine battery for HF/NVIS deployment. This battery was chosen to run a 5-6 watt rig and be carried on the belt.

Hard to see: the battery terminals are male blade connectors. Get the female connectors and solder them to your power cord. Push them on and insulate them with black and red tape. Use 2″ clear packing tape to secure the fuses to the top of the battery.

How to Carry it All


Now we need a comfortable way to carry the little lead-acid-gel battery and the H-T. A $9 fanny pack from the local sporting goods store does the trick. Make sure to get one that will hold both the battery and the radio, but without too much slop.

Another idea is the fly fisherman’s vest.

See also: Portable Sleeve Dipole Antenna and Rabbit-ears Dipole.

—73, Harold Melton, KV5R

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