Saturday, February 24, 2024

DIY battery pack for POTA

I've been playing around with some different sized cells to build some physically smaller battery packs for my QCX-minis. I only use them about an hour or two at a time, so I don't need a massive power source. However, most store-bought (relatively cheap) LiFeP04 batteries start around 6Ah. So I began looking for small cells to build a custom pack or two.

I found some neat little LiFeP04 cells the same size at AA alkaline cells. Since the are 3.2V each but still fit anything that takes a AA, I had to have a talk with the family to make sure no one accidentally used the "purple" batteries! I also bought a universal charger that could charge them. The unit also charges NiMH, Li-Ion and NiCad batteries with the flip of a switch.

I bought a few balancing units and then complexly over engineered a battery pack. It worked, but it not practical. So, I ordered a case with a lid, power switch and power cord and simplified my life. Now I

Thursday, January 4, 2024

POTA outing with the DigiBox

With the extended Christmas break, I had an opportunity to head out to Martin Creek Lake State Park (K-3036) for a POTA activation. I used my revamped DigiBox and my homebrew EFHW antenna. The weather was perfect with clear sunny skies and about 63 degrees outside. It was very comfy in the sunshine! 

I found a covered picnic table near the lake and setup my equipment. I extended my 21-foot collapsible fishing pole and used a rod holder stuck in the ground about 40 feet out from the picnic table to hold it, basically creating a sloper antenna.  

Over all, it worked very well! I made just over 36 FT8 contacts in about an hour and a half. I found the bottleneck on on working contacts was my own clumsiness in clicking stations! Typically, my signal reports were about 10db to 15db below the reporting stations, which I felt pretty good about considering I was running about 4w and the bands were FULL of station.