Following are the first two parts of the AmRRon 2020 video series.
Introduction to AmRRon
What’s New in 2020
As I was working this morning on some websites while monitoring nets on HF, I heard a loud pop from a transformer outdoors and lost my AC power at 10:40 a.m. Since all my computers, WI-FI router and radio were connected to APC Battery Backup power supplies, they continued to work normally and I was able to shut down the computers in an orderly fashion. The only disruption was that for some reason I lost the COM port connection between the Win4IcomSuite software on one computer and the IC-7300 radio. Not sure why that happened.
I continued monitoring the net I was on with the HF radio powered by the APC battery backup battery for 20 minutes. Since power had not been restored by 11:00 a.m., I decided to switch to my emergency battery backup power supply. After turning off the MFJ-4035MV 12V power supply, it was a simple task to unplug the Anderson powerpole connecting my radio from the MFJ-1128 DC Power Outlet and connecting it to a ElectroResales-Rig-Runner-Outrigger12-Volt-DC-Fused-Power-Pole-Panel which I connected to a CSB GP1272F2, 12 Volt/7.2 Amp Hour Sealed Lead Acid Battery.
Battery backup power was turned on in just about about a minute. I was able to see my battery voltage at 12.58V using an inline JZCreater Watt Meter Power Analyzer between battery and Rig Runner. The IC-7300 was turned back on and I was listening again to the net pulling about .87A from the battery. I reduced the power on the radio to 75W and logged in to a couple more nets. Power draw on transmission was between 4.07A and 8.08A.
Two hours later, my AC power was restored and I switched back from the backup battery to the AC power supply. The backup battery voltage had dropped to 12.29V after 2 hours of operation, with plenty of power to continue operating if necessary.
It was good to practice my emergency backup power procedure in a real-world scenario and feel confident it will be helpful again in the future, especially since we’re going into the severe weather time in Kansas. I’m still planning on adding a larger capacity battery for my base station as my 7.2 Amp Hour batteries are really designed for portable remote operation.
Lesson Learned: I discovered as I was disconnecting from the battery backup there was an intermittent short in the Anderson powerpole connector between the radio and power analyzer. Upon closer inspection, I found one contact pin was not fully seated inside the housing causing the problem. This was a good reminder to carefully check the connections when assembling powerpoles. When inserting the contacts into the housing you should hear a click. When they are inserted fully you should notice that the contact and it’s wire “floats” slightly inside it’s housing. If it feels tight it may not be snapped in fully. Tug slightly on the assembled connector to make sure the contacts are locked in place.
A disaster strikes and all your power goes out. If you are not prepared, this is a pretty scary situation.
You’ll find that it is almost impossible to find out what is going on around you without a radio. Radio is still the only way that people can communicate in times of disaster. However, if there’s no power, you might find it pretty hard to get on the FM or AM radio stations. Now, there is a better option. Kaito has made a radio that can be powered six different ways. You’ll never be without important information or news with this radio.
This radio can be powered six different ways. You can use your hand to crank the hand crank generator, there is a solar panel, it can be powered by batteries, it can be plugged into a wall or USB port, or there is a rechargeable battery park. There is coverage of all the AM and FM stations so that you will not miss out on anything during your time of need. There’s an output port so that you can charge your phone. This is especially important for when there is a disaster so you can get in contact with others. Charging your phone is perhaps the most important thing you can do during a disaster to let others know you are okay and need help. There is also a reading lamp, an LED flashlight, and an SOS beacon light. The antenna helps because it extends up to 14.5 inches so that there is higher sensitivity. The radio itself is water resistant and the speaker is very loud. It can work both indoors or outdoors and the material is impact resistant ABS material.
With this radio you’ll get the rechargeable battery pack, the radio, the attached hand crank, the LED reading light, flashlight, and SOS beacon light.
You don’t need to worry about this radio failing you because if worst comes to worst you can always crank it with your hand. Even if you don’t plan to use it as a radio, the charging port is worth the cost. For just $50, you can have as much charging to your phone and GPS that you need. The radio works really well, and the sound is high quality. It works well when there is rain and it shouldn’t bother it at all. It is the perfect addition to your emergency survival kits.
It is a fairly small unit, which is both good and bad. It also takes a lot of hand cranking for it to stay on.
All in all, this is a great product for emergencies. While it might not be something you use every day, you’ll be happy you have it when a disaster strikes. From charging your phone to weather and city updates, this radio has you covered. You’ll even have light whenever you need, which is invaluable.
Anybody living in Kansas knows that with all the May flowers comes an increased chance for severe weather. Large hail, damaging winds, and an occasional tornado can be pretty common.
As I’m writing this, tornado warnings are being posted across western Kansas as thunderstorms fire up in the afternoon. All this weather is headed in my direction and likely to arrive sometime this evening into the early morning hours.
Besides the emergency preparedness things I’ve been working on lately to power my radio’s and other equipment in case of a power outage, there are a few things I need to do to protect my ham radio and electronics.
Many long-time hams can tell horror stories of the damage a lightning strike can do. Some may focus on grounding their antennas and station, but if they experience a direct strike, all those precautions will have little affect on protecting them.
My approach is to disconnect my antennas and radio power supply from the grid to prevent lightning from getting into my shack.
I’ve got my power supply connected to a power strip that is then connected to a uninterruptible power supply (UPS). My radios are then connected to the DC power supply. It’s quite easy to simply unplug from the power strip and my radio gear is protected. In case of unexpected power surge, both the power strip and UPS have some protection. When severe weather is in my area… I unplug.
It’s a pretty simple task to next connect my 12-volt battery into the ElectroResales-Rig-Runner-Outrigger-4-A-12-Volt-DC-Fused-Power-Pole-Panel which can then safely power both my HF and 2-meter radios. I will generally not be powering the HF rig and instead focus on getting up to date weather information from the 2M Skywarn repeater system.
Disconnecting the antenna is also important because lightning can get into the shack that way. What I’ve done is build a window passthru for both my HF and VHF antennas. When severe weather threatens, I disconnect the coax at this point.
I have several indoor antenna options that I can fall back on to keep my 2 meter radio connected, including the home built delta loop antenna hanging in my front window.
With these actions completed, I can feel pretty safe from lightning strikes damaging my equipment and am able to switch to alternative power supply to keep me on the air in case of severe weather. Also, if my neighborhood is hit by damaging weather, I will be in a pretty good position to render help and radio for emergency services.
Emergency or back-up power for my radio and other gear is an oft overlooked preparation step. I was happy to find the below video in my quest for information about emergency power systems.
OH8STN of SurvivalTech Nord has many other valuable videos of interest to the ham radio prepper.
What do you do when the power is out and you need to recharge the battery for your Baofeng UV-5R handheld radio?
One method I use is to recharge the Baofeng battery from a Blackweb Lithium Ion battery. Baofeng batteries need to be recharged using the Baofeng battery base and in this case the Baofeng USB Smart Charger Transformer Cable.
Simply plug in the USB charging cable into one of the USB ports on the Lithium Ion battery pack and the other end into the port on the back of the Baofeng charger base.
Disasters are unpredictable and can strike in the middle of winter as likely as in the summer months. Each year the WFDA (Winter Field Day Association) sponsors a special event enabling ham radio operators to enhance their skills and procedures in cold weather conditions. Preparedness is the key to an effective response during any event and this is why it’s important to enhance our skills and be ready for all environmental conditions during the spring, summer, fall and winter.
Winter Field Day was held this year on January 27th and 28th. I joined my friend, Will (K0WDO) in nearby Benton, KS for a few hours as he activated his battery powered low power station in his back yard. While I didn’t officially participate with him as a station operator, I did take the opportunity to test out my EMCOMM bug out bag and make some contacts. While I didn’t make any simplex contacts, I did make contacts using a local repeater. I also identified a few weaknesses in my preps and have taken steps to correct them.
Later, from my home station I made numerous voice contacts in Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, New Jersey, Alabama, New York, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Texas, Michigan, and Minnesota in the 40 meter and 80 meter bands.
Here’s a video of a guy who really took Winter Field Day seriously…
While improving my own communication capabilities following a disaster, I can use my ham radio to help my community recover after a disaster. Certainly, recent events around the world clearly demonstrate why amateur radio and emergency communications is important. Recent fires in California destroyed much of the traditional communication infrastructure and a hurricane in Puerto Rico pretty much devastated the entire islands communication grid. Ham radio operators stepped up and provided much needed communications in those affected areas.
I don’t have any idea how a potential disaster might unfold in my location or even if it will ever occur. But, I do want to prepare as best I can to be able to communicate when traditional forms of communication might be disrupted.
An important part of that preparation is be become familiar with the operations of the radio and the emergency rules and procedures so when a disaster occurs, I can contribute effectively. The emergency doesn’t necessarily need to affect me directly in order to be a help to others. It might be that I take emergency communications from other hams that are directly affected. I might also be able to help my immediate neighborhood by acting as a conduit of communications for them during an emergency.
There are a couple of organizations whose mission is to respond effectively to emergencies. The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) are the primary organizations for this purpose. ARES is organized and managed by members of the ARRL’s Field Organization and RACES is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Membership in ARES is available to any licensed amateur while participating in RACES requires you to be registered with a local civil defense organization. You can learn more about becoming involved in these organizations here.