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.
First, let’s add a serious battery. A 7 amp-hour sealed lead-acid battery is just the ticket — giving the power capacity of 15-20 typical H-T packs. These are about $20 on Amazon. 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: get a little sealed lead acid battery charger. 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 or in a backpack.
Hard to see: the battery terminals are male fast-on 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 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. Make sure to get it over-sized because they tend to get too small when you load them up with bulky stuff.
See also: Portable Sleeve Dipole Antenna and Rabbit-ears Dipole.
—73, Harold Melton, KV5R
Even better is going lithium and with the prices going down it’s pretty much superior in every way to any lead chemistry. If weight isn’t the biggest consideration, the Eneloop-type NiMH are awesome particularly with a charger / analyzer that does each cell separately rather than all at once like in a battery pack.
My very first HT was able to use Icom battery packs and so I bought the 10AA cell alkaline pack for it: using NiCd it was cheaper and worked better than dedicated packs and I could make sure each cell didn’t get over (dis-)charged. I miss being able to do that but considered several times (never did) making a belt composed of 10 (or however many) cells in series; the hardest part would be weather-proofing the whole mess. Using NiMH would be moderately weight while using lithium would make it very light indeed (by using fewer cells to boot).