Friday, December 30, 2022

Quick POTA trip with friends

Don (the ham who inspired me to get back into CW) asked at the last club meeting if I wanted to activate our local state park over the holiday break. Since both of us work for school districts, he knew I'd have a little spare time during Christmas. I said, "of course!" and that led to a fun Friday morning last week at Martian Creek State Park, just south of Tatum, Tx.

Don also invited a few friends from the Longview Club (LETARC) who got there early in the morning. In total, there were four stations on the air at some point during the day including two on SSB and two on CW. It was Don's first official outing with his BuddiHex. It was an impressive site to see the spider-web antenna hoisted high in the trees! He racked up 40+ POTA contacts within the first hour or so and seemed to created a pile-up every time he keyed the mic!

I took my new 20-meter QCX-mini for its first time in the wild. I paired it with my homebrew ENHW multi-band antenna. My wife tagged along as well. She got a new fishing rod and a Solo Stove for Christmas and spent time breaking in both along the shore of the lake.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

A new LiFePO4 charger

I'm in love with LiFePO4 batteries. They are lightweight, powerful, and last forever (if you count 2000+ cycles forever). I have a several that I use with various radios and other projects.

What I don't have is several chargers. The charges tend to be very expensive, especially ones with higher amperage. The first one I received as part of a deal when I bought by first battery. Since then, I've looked for cheaper chargers with little success.

I recently found one on Amazon that was around $20 and sometimes even had a coupon. I ordered and, so far, am pleased with it. It's only 3-amps so I'm not going to be charging my larger batteries with it, but it seems to work very well with my 6 and 10-amp batteries.

LiFePO4 Battery Charger

All my equipment has Anderson Powerpoles installed (a ham radio and emergency radio standard), so, as you can se in the pictures, I clipped off the RC connector and installed powerpoles. This way, it mates easily to all my batteries and my power boxes.

I hook it up to a 6-amp battery along with a power monitor and watched it top off the battery. Once it got to 14.7V, the charger ramped down the power and turned itself off. We'll use it over the coming weeks and see how it fares.