Author Topic: auto jump pack for portable operations?  (Read 24282 times)

Offline Alan Georges

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auto jump pack for portable operations?
« on: December 27, 2015, 07:36:48 PM »
After hearing Steven Harris bag on those little hand-sized lithium battery jump packs on the latest Expert Council issue, I started thinking about using one for portable ham radio operations.  They seem to have some pros and cons.  Starting with the pros:
- at least, it's supposed to put out 12 Volts...
- 10 to 18 AH of energy, call it 2 to 3 hours of operating time
- (probably) can drive a 22A 100W radio
- light, typically a pound or two
- consumer-proof operation and safety – mostly
- mass-produced cost savings, about $100, half the price of high-zoot hobby batteries
- many have USB ports, sometimes a light
- and you might even jump a car with it, if it came to that

cons:
- some pretty bad reviews in places like Amazon
- slightly alarming reviews about how they glow & melt, etc.
- what kind of voltage & current can they really put out?
- the listed specs were written by marketing, not engineering; this does not give me any warm and fuzzies about hooking up an expensive radio and giving it a smoke test!

In case you're wondering what I'm talking about, here's an example at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00D42AFS8/?tag=201-27-19-20

So, any thoughts?  Anybody know of anybody using these things to drive a ham rig while out hiking?  Any horror stories?  This is one of those things that seems like a good idea, but there has got to be a snag.

I suppose that I could just buy one of the damnthings, meter it up, carefully try it with a cheap CB, work my way up from there.  It may come down to doing just that.  But it's easier and a whole lot cheaper to ask some knowledgeable friends first.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2015, 09:10:22 PM »
I have recently received something in this vein and will say more once I get back to my computer.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2015, 09:34:49 PM »
Thanks FL.
ps: Be careful, don't fry anything.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2015, 09:44:13 PM by Alan Georges »

Offline jerseyboy

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2015, 10:26:43 PM »
http://amzn.com/B016UG6PWE

Here is a Noco one that is more "name brand"  it is only $50 more than the 16000 Joule version of the one you listed.

I think my 100 Watt radio is rated at 22 amps or so at 12 volts. If that is true, then that is 264 watts or 264 joules for every second you transmit. At 16000 joules you get 60 seconds of transmitting time at 100 watts.

Compare that to 100 amphour battery which has 4,320,000 joules or half that for lead acid which is 2,160,000 joules which gives you 8,181 seconds of transmitting at 100 watts. Mind you this is a 50 lb battery.

Most people who do the backpacking thing do so at QRP power. And you have the whole duty cycle thing where you transmit less than 100% of the time.

I wonder want real life tests look like.

Jerseyboy

Offline jerseyboy

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2015, 10:56:40 PM »

- 10 to 18 AH of energy, call it 2 to 3 hours of operating time
- (probably) can drive a 22A 100W radio
- light, typically a pound or two

Battery Tender BTL09A120C Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F9LPIAC/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_5SmGwb3Z983DG

This one is 2.5 pounds and 7-9 Ah.

Just an example, not a recommendation.

I think the 16000 Joule one is about 0.4 Ah. Someone check my math.

Jerseyboy

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2015, 11:12:48 PM »
JB, after reading the NOCO Amazon link, I think the marketroids got their miliamp-hours confused with "Joules3s."  Just one of the little joys of trying to sort through these numbers.

I think the 16000 Joule one is about 0.4 Ah. Someone check my math.
It is, and it's about the equivalent of 2 AA batteries.  Not enough to make a VW microbus sneeze, let alone power a magic lightsaber or start a dead V8.  Whoever wrote that NOCO blurb's specs was definitely smoking something.

Quote
Battery Tender BTL09A120C Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F9LPIAC/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_5SmGwb3Z983DG
Lots of interesting options out there, much to sort through.  Thanks
« Last Edit: December 27, 2015, 11:18:58 PM by Alan Georges »

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2015, 01:49:57 AM »
Ok, I've got some experience with two devices, neither of which likely constitutes a complete solution for you AG, unfortunately, but it's some data points for you, at least. 

I have a Noco GB30, their first jump pack that has been out about a year,  and which has been replaced by three new products.  I was able to start my wife's V6 Toyota with this pack, sans vehicle battery, and measured a maximum 250A current from the device during the attempt.  Before posting this, I tested its sustained 12V output, on my CBA, to get an idea of the useful capacity.  After putting the Noco into bypass mode, to defeat the safety features, it put out just under 2Ah at a constant 100W.  The voltage had a pretty gradual drop from 11.7 to 10.5, then crapped out fairly rapidly after that.  Interestingly, the device didn't cut the voltage, so I turned it off at 9.5V just before the curve looked to be heading into free fall.  From the graph, I'd say about 1.4Ah of capacity is available before reaching 10.5V, so there's not a lot of life in this thing, although maybe the newer ones are better.  On the bright side, I didn't fry anything, nothing melted or burst into flames, and it appears to be recharging normally now.  I like this brand's products, regardless of how ridiculously overpriced Steve Harris thinks they are.  I think it's good stuff and don't begrudge the premium.

The other device I originally wanted to share is a 50,000mAh battery pack I found by accident on Amazon, labeled as the K2 on the device, that has 4 USB outlets, two separate 12V and 19V outlets for a standard barrel connector (plus 10 adapter plugs for common laptop and other devices), as well as a 16V input for charging the pack (which is a huge improvement over the typical USB charging rates).  This is the largest capacity lithium pack I've found, but it is designed for laptop charging and consequently doesn't come setup to do high current jump starting, so you're not getting any jumper cables with this device. 

The weight of the K2 pack is under 3lbs and takes up easily twice the volume of the GB30.  It appears to be very well made, with excellent fit and finish, and none of the funky stuff you often see in the chinamart products.   I tested a solid 33.4Ah at a constant 10W drain through the 2A USB outlet, which is the highest capacity I've coaxed out of it thus far (which bothers me a bit, due to the fact that it did slightly worse at the 5W rate).  Via the 19V outlet, it put out 8Ah at a constant 60W, which is the maximum output the device is rated for.  And that brings me to the snag in an otherwise promising prospect, the fact that the 12V outlet is limited to 2.5A, which doesn't help hams wanting to go above QRP power levels.  Otherwise, the K2 is a really impressive little power brick, and a relative bargain at $125, too.  I can see it pairing really well with an FT-817, since they have very similar footprints and power parameters, although the K2 cuts the power abruptly as soon as it cannot sustain 12V.

I think that at the rate this lithium technology is rolling out, it might not be too crazy to dream of a day when we see some viable products that come with 30A Anderson PowerPole connectors on them, like the incredibly overpriced Goal Zero product I saw at a sporting goods store a year ago.  We can always hope, right?

Offline Carl

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2015, 06:40:55 AM »
 :popcorn:  I just want to watch....

BUT the average power needed by a 100 watt SSB (voice) Ham radio is 7 Amps and the PEAK is 22 amps so the amp hours will
tend to last a bit longer and also the Lithium cell power density and PEAK power is much better suited for portable operation
when compared to lead acid as lead acid cells are often abused by Hams as they are designed for C10 use or under 1.8 amps
in the case of an 18 amp hour battery.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2015, 07:35:37 AM »
The voltage had a pretty gradual drop from 11.7 to 10.5, then crapped out fairly rapidly after that.
Those are the numbers I needed FL, thanks.  The upper end of the pack's output range is barely within typical radio spec of 13.7v +/- 15%, i.e. 11.6 to 15.7v.  That would still work with a battery booster, but that's getting away from the cheap-and-ready appeal.  Not saying that those numbers apply for every jump pack on the market, but they're probably pretty typical.

Quote
The other device I originally wanted to share is a 50,000mAh battery pack I found by accident on Amazon, labeled as the K2 on the device, ...  I can see it pairing really well with an FT-817, since they have very similar footprints and power parameters,
That is nice, and it might even drive a rig at 10 to 15 watts.  Too bad it won't dump at higher rates, but that's not what it was designed to do and people wanting to do /p ham... well, we're not a very big market.

Quote
I think that at the rate this lithium technology is rolling out, it might not be too crazy to dream of a day when we see some viable products that come with 30A Anderson PowerPole connectors on them, like the incredibly overpriced Goal Zero product I saw at a sporting goods store a year ago.  We can always hope, right?
To quote Carl,  :popcorn:
Oh well.  "Cheap, light, strong: pick any two" applies once again, and the bottom line here is that an $80 jump pack is probably not the thing to drive a 100w HF rig, at least not yet.

Thanks FL, JB, and Carl.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2015, 12:15:57 PM »
Those are the numbers I needed FL, thanks.  The upper end of the pack's output range is barely within typical radio spec of 13.7v +/- 15%, i.e. 11.6 to 15.7v.  That would still work with a battery booster, but that's getting away from the cheap-and-ready appeal.  Not saying that those numbers apply for every jump pack on the market, but they're probably pretty typical.

I just looked at a GB30 tear down vid and it confirms a battery pack of 3 18650 cells, labeled 11.1V 2100Ah.

Pictures of the Powerall battery pack appear to show 8 cells, but I can't nail down anything more specific than that. I'm curious enough I may wind up getting one and testing it out.

Offline jerseyboy

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2015, 07:17:59 PM »
I just looked at a GB30 tear down vid and it confirms a battery pack of 3 18650 cells, labeled 11.1V 2100Ah.

Pictures of the Powerall battery pack appear to show 8 cells, but I can't nail down anything more specific than that. I'm curious enough I may wind up getting one and testing it out.

That got me thinking a bit. You can buy good quality 18650s for about $5 a piece.

4 LG HE4 18650 2500mAh 20A 3.7v Rechargeable Flat Top Batteries https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00S9Y2OBC/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_rSHGwbAJNMZ7Z

That would buy you twenty batteries for $100. Each battery is 3.7 volts at 2500 mAh.  Three of these in series would give you 11.1V at 2500 mAh.  Four of these in series would give you 14.8V at 2500 mAh.

At the 14.8V level you have enough batteries to have five of these in parallel giving you 12500 mAh or 12.5 Ah.

The maximum discharge rate for each battery is an amazing 20 amps. With five in parallel, you get 100 amps. Of course your connectors and wires would have to support it, not to mention the heat.  A simple DC to DC converter gets you other voltages such as 19V and 5V but only at amperages supported by the converters.

All you need is a lithium battery charger and some engineering to make an enclosure for it all.

Just some thoughts...

Jerseyboy

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2015, 08:31:54 PM »
All you need is a lithium battery charger and some engineering to make an enclosure for it all.

I've played with it, but the biggest problem for me is finding a high quality cell holder for protected 18650s, since they're longer that the non-protected.  I'm scared of putting unprotected lithium cells in series and boosting a parallel assembly of cells from 3.7 to 12V isn't something any of the boosters I tried are capable of.  I think I found one that could manage it when the cells were fully charged, but after the cells discharged much below 4V the boost converter shut down.

Keystone makes a really nice two cell holder for use with unprotected cells, marketed to the vape mod builders, but I can't find anything of similar quality to use with the longer protected cells.  I soldered two of these back to back and the contacts with the cells was solid, but I'm too scared of blowing myself up experimenting with series configurations with unprotected cells.




I've also experimented with NiMH D cells and these holders that fit together in various configurations.  The biggest problem, besides the incredible weight from the number of cells necessary, was the flaky contact between the cells and the holder contacts, the holders contact with each other, or some combination.  I gave up on that pretty quick, it was too cumbersome.  I've also had problems with the NiMH cells contact with each other in the barrel of my TK70 light, which requires shaking the light around to get it to turn on if the light has been sitting for a bit.  Very irritating, and a big reason I moved to lithium for my high output light.

The best multicell holder I've seen for the 18650 cells is the the one in my TK75.  It holds 4 protected cells in a 2s2p configuration and allows for stacking of up to two additional extensions in parallel for extended run time.  The cell contact with the holder is rock solid, as is the cell holder to cell holder contact between extensions. In my experience the gold plated contacts seem to be the most reliable, but doesn't seem to be very commonly available anywhere I've looked.



I'd love to find something similar to the TK75 holder in a 4s configuration, with the ability to parallel additional holders, and space to stuff in a converter and cut some holes for wires or connectors.  Anybody have any recommendations? 

(I know, sorry about the slight thread drift)

Offline jerseyboy

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2015, 10:59:47 PM »
It looks like I have some reading to do. Failure in series makes the voltage drop and if there are other packs in parallel then those other ones dump energy into it to try to equilibrate the voltage and fire can result.   Protected cells only.

Here is some good reading

http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/serial_and_parallel_battery_configurations

You are right, most of the step up converters are just out if range or of very low current rating

Jerseyboy

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2015, 12:38:06 AM »
This lithium stuff is definitely more powerful and much scarier than other batteries. With much power comes much responsibility.

It does look like now Keystone has a slightly longer holder for the protected cells. I may see if I can find one and try it out. I can't find anything else that looks like it will compete with it for quality.

Offline Greekman

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2015, 05:06:57 AM »
As much as i love and use the 18650s I do not suggest them for anything that draws many amps....
I have drawn the limit in my DIY powerbank with 4Series and a moderate risk.
(most issues happen in charging and I charge individually)

Safety issues First.
- ALL -read that again- ALL cells must be of the same batch and mated for life and aging together in the same way. (these define  their Internal resistance that changes by a many factors)
- Cells must be charged by a proper (Hobby) charger with balancing leads for each cell.

now if you add the cost and the mess of the multiwiring, you boost complexity and cost further. Like Tesla did.
Forget it, get yourself a 12V LiFepo4 battery and be done with it. (there is a reference in the in one of the early FOTime podcasts)

FreeLancer,
There is another way...there are rectangular clips that attach in the ends of each battery and interlock with each other. So yuo end up with a block at any combination yuo wish. Say 3x5x8 batteries. But you got to solder the wires.
Also by using protected batteries you limit yourself in the battery draw of each cell. IIRC protected circuits shut down above 5A.

there is also this
http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/54/KEY1007-ND/2254090

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2015, 12:09:06 PM »

There is another way...there are rectangular clips that attach in the ends of each battery and interlock with each other. So yuo end up with a block at any combination yuo wish. Say 3x5x8 batteries. But you got to solder the wires.
Also by using protected batteries you limit yourself in the battery draw of each cell. IIRC protected circuits shut down above 5A.

I thought the vape guys were drawing 20A from 18650s, and some of the high end protected cells allowed at least 10A, but I could be wrong. I'm not going to solder up any packs, too risky for my level of competence. I did solder two cells up as a replacement for a small drill that went bad, but I used similar Sony cells and kept the battery monitoring circuitry intact. I also did the first couple charge/discharge cycles with it on concrete far from the house.

Have you used those contacts in that link? 

Offline Greekman

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2015, 02:59:23 PM »
no I haven't.

also, current draw is not an issue. Cell balancing and recharge procedure are.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2015, 05:10:38 PM »
also, current draw is not an issue. Cell balancing and recharge procedure are.

But isn't that risk largely mitigated by removing protected cells and charging them individually?

Offline jerseyboy

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2015, 08:32:36 PM »
4 Cells DC14.8V 8A LiFePO4 Li-ion Lithium 18650 Battery Input Ouput Protection PCB Board https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0159XU1GK/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_ZdkHwbX8GYVZJ

What about something like this?

Looks almost perfect for driving a ham radio. Of course the wiring instructions are not in proper English.

Jerseyboy

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #19 on: December 31, 2015, 12:21:15 AM »
See, that's the kind of thing where I quickly get out of my depth, but I'm sure there are perfectly workable solutions out there for the knowledgeable. I'm doing good to salvage cells from a defective pack without shorting anything out, but building one is way out of my league.

Offline Greekman

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #20 on: December 31, 2015, 02:27:45 AM »
But isn't that risk largely mitigated by removing protected cells and charging them individually?
you are right, I was thinking in more general terms.
like this monstrocity https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAjXjfDamiY

BTW the crectangle clips I suggested may not work for protected batteries cos they are thihcker from the extra wrapping.

Quote
I'm doing good to salvage cells from a defective pack without shorting anything out, but building one is way out of my league.
yet it is a gradual developed skill.

4 Cells DC14.8V 8A LiFePO4 Li-ion Lithium 18650 Battery Input Ouput Protection PCB Board https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0159XU1GK/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_ZdkHwbX8GYVZJ
Good catch. there are similar for Li-Ion (cobalt) batteries.
When researching my powerbank I looked at them, but I do not remember if it was the output amperage or the lack of a 4Series board that kept me away.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #21 on: January 03, 2016, 01:31:50 AM »
Pictures of the Powerall battery pack appear to show 8 cells, but I can't nail down anything more specific than that. I'm curious enough I may wind up getting one and testing it out.

Another data point for anyone still reading, my PowerAll unit is defective and heading back to Amazon.  The LED flashlight will not turn on, I can't get even 10W out of the 12V leads for more than 5 seconds before it craps out, and USB will not do 10W (9W, barely, with a voltage just barely above 4.5V).  It's been through three charge cycles and nothing improved.  I even read the freakin' instructions, I'm ashamed to say, but that didn't help either.

It may be that there's internal circuitry that guards against using the 12V cables if it's not attached to a battery, but that's not what the YouTube vids show, as guys were starting cars sans battery.  Fit and finish are craptacular and the jumper cables do not inspire confidence, especially compared to the Noco unit I already own, so I don't want to ever see one again and have asked for a refund. 

The only thing it did satisfactorily was output 5W via USB for a good 7Ah, but I can buy twice that capacity at a quarter the cost, plus get an honest 10W USB output, with superb fit and finish to boot.

Here's a picture, for those desiring a visual cue:


Offline Alan Georges

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #22 on: January 03, 2016, 08:52:20 AM »
Ruminated on this some more, made a trip to Lowe's for something else yesterday, looked around because "oh why not?," and found a $72 wonder-box.  Mind you, I would not have bought it, except that it had a separate DC outlet labeled 12V/10A that was visible through the package.  That grabbed my interest.  I further rationalized blowing the money on a bad bet because it had a USB outlet, and might even function as, you know, a jump pack some day.  Well it might.

It has 4 LEDs on the side to give a rough indication of charge.  It started out stone cold dead, so after each of the gauge LEDs lit while it was charging, I unhooked it from the charger and checked the output voltage.  Here's the result: 1/4 = 11.0v, 1/2 = 11.7v, 3/4 = 11.8v, 1/1 = 12.3v.  So it's a little higher voltage than the unit you have FreeLancer, and should be within useable radio voltage ranges down to half-charge.  The battery pack is quoted to have 10.8 A-H of total energy.  Half of that is not a lot, but at a lower power setting it could be enough for a day hike.

In preliminary testing last night, I dialed my 100w rig down to 35w to stay under the 10A port rating.  All worked well, I made a few short contacts on 80m, and spent about an hour total time dialing around.  After the first contact, I took a break and cut the cigarette lighter socket adapter off and crimped on a powerpole connector.  The powerpole is much more sturdy than the cigarette plug adapter mess.  After an hour's use it was down to 11.8v and reading 3 out of 4 LEDs.  That's in line with the radio's average listen/transmit combination draw, and with the quoted 10.8 A-H rating of the battery pack.

The bottom line is that this works, and gives some minimal hike-ability.  On the down side, the voltage is barely high enough for a radio to use, and the pack gives maybe 2 hours of operation at reduced power.  On the up side, it costs maybe 1/4 of a "real" hobby-grade LiPO pack and charger, it has some additional uses (USB, jump starting, flashlight, etc.), and it weighs less than 2 lbs.  It's all I really need for the little bit of backwoods with it I'll do, and it makes a nice backup-to-a-backup.

I feel like I rolled the dice and got lucky that the voltage was high enough to be useable on this unit.  Voltages on other brands of packs may not be enough, so if you're going try something like this, read the specs and proceed with caution.

As a final side note, this thing would run a QRP ham rig or a CB quite a while, perhaps even all day.  It would work nicely for somebody wanting a man-portable SSB CB, and give a 10+ mile capability with a matched wire antenna hanging in a convenient tree.

It'll be interesting to see how well this battery pack holds a charge, now that it's fully recharged.  I'll keep tabs on it over the next few weeks.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2016, 08:58:32 AM by Alan Georges »

Offline alan123

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #23 on: January 03, 2016, 10:45:24 AM »
This looks like a good way to go Alan (I like that name). I have one of the Harbor Freight jump packs and it has come in handy 3 times. Problem is it is big, lead acid cells and will not run anything through my inverter for very long. I was surprised at how short a time it would run a compact fluorescent before the inverter shut down for insufficient voltage.
I would be interested in anything else you discover about this unit. From reviews on the Lowe's site, I do see that the battery clamps can fly apart.

Offline chad

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #24 on: January 03, 2016, 12:09:31 PM »
Excellent info gentleman  :popcorn:

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #25 on: January 17, 2017, 08:59:57 AM »
Ruminated on this some more, made a trip to Lowe's for something else yesterday, looked around because "oh why not?," and found a $72 wonder-box.  Mind you, I would not have bought it, except that it had a separate DC outlet labeled 12V/10A that was visible through the package.  That grabbed my interest.  I further rationalized blowing the money on a bad bet because it had a USB outlet, and might even function as, you know, a jump pack some day.  Well it might.

It has 4 LEDs on the side to give a rough indication of charge.  It started out stone cold dead, so after each of the gauge LEDs lit while it was charging, I unhooked it from the charger and checked the output voltage.  Here's the result: 1/4 = 11.0v, 1/2 = 11.7v, 3/4 = 11.8v, 1/1 = 12.3v.  So it's a little higher voltage than the unit you have FreeLancer, and should be within useable radio voltage ranges down to half-charge.  The battery pack is quoted to have 10.8 A-H of total energy.  Half of that is not a lot, but at a lower power setting it could be enough for a day hike.

In preliminary testing last night, I dialed my 100w rig down to 35w to stay under the 10A port rating.  All worked well, I made a few short contacts on 80m, and spent about an hour total time dialing around.  After the first contact, I took a break and cut the cigarette lighter socket adapter off and crimped on a powerpole connector.  The powerpole is much more sturdy than the cigarette plug adapter mess.  After an hour's use it was down to 11.8v and reading 3 out of 4 LEDs.  That's in line with the radio's average listen/transmit combination draw, and with the quoted 10.8 A-H rating of the battery pack.

The bottom line is that this works, and gives some minimal hike-ability.  On the down side, the voltage is barely high enough for a radio to use, and the pack gives maybe 2 hours of operation at reduced power.  On the up side, it costs maybe 1/4 of a "real" hobby-grade LiPO pack and charger, it has some additional uses (USB, jump starting, flashlight, etc.), and it weighs less than 2 lbs.  It's all I really need for the little bit of backwoods with it I'll do, and it makes a nice backup-to-a-backup.

I feel like I rolled the dice and got lucky that the voltage was high enough to be useable on this unit.  Voltages on other brands of packs may not be enough, so if you're going try something like this, read the specs and proceed with caution.

As a final side note, this thing would run a QRP ham rig or a CB quite a while, perhaps even all day.  It would work nicely for somebody wanting a man-portable SSB CB, and give a 10+ mile capability with a matched wire antenna hanging in a convenient tree.

It'll be interesting to see how well this battery pack holds a charge, now that it's fully recharged.  I'll keep tabs on it over the next few weeks.

Sad to say that Lowe's no longer carries that wonder box... 

But - that not withstanding.  How is it operating a year later?  still holding a charge decently,..  what is your run time at 35watts out,..

Offline Carl

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #26 on: January 17, 2017, 09:28:22 AM »
While the Amp-hour rating of most 'wet' cells is at a 10 or often 20 hour rate
(that 12 Amp hour cell is about 1.2 amps so must have shorter life at 5 to 7 Amps)
The small wet cell battery is still a good choice ,with a solar charge panel...is still lower cost
than newer Lithium technology. Note that an auto uses less than ONE AMP HOUR (high amps for 10 secs)
to jump start and while the POWER promise to start an auto appears like real power,it is not.

  A 10 to 12 Amp hour battery ,with augmented charge of 5 to 7 amps solar or other, is fully capable
of operating a 100 watt HF radio as they AVERAGE about 7 amps in transmit and peaks of 20-25 amps.
Also note the 'at rest' voltage of a wet cell is a bit higher than the 12.3 volts in above post ,so this may indicate
a sulphated or aged cell condition..charge and discharge a few times and it may come back around.


Offline Alan Georges

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #27 on: January 17, 2017, 07:23:29 PM »
Sad to say that Lowe's no longer carries that wonder box... 

But - that not withstanding.  How is it operating a year later?  still holding a charge decently,..  what is your run time at 35watts out,..
It's still working fine a year into this.  Last summer I added a DC-DC voltage step-up supply that Carl recommended (this DROK).  Steps the voltage up from ~12.1 to 12.9 volts (it's adjustable to 13+, but 12.9's good).  The radio's a lot happier at the higher voltage, it doesn't mysteriously turn itself off in the middle of transmitting.  Had to back off to about 25w on HF though due to current limits in the DROK, but that's only about -1.5 dB.  I can get about two hours' operation out of it that way, maybe an hour's worth if I'm talking a lot.

I have to say though, I did pop for a Bioenno LiFePO4 battery and now the jump pack is relegated to backup status.  Probably what I should've done in the first place, but it's good to have a jump pack and one more layer of backup.  And of course, that thing will absolutely rock a CB at full power should that need arise, has a USB port, flashlight (as if I need another...), etc.

Idelphic, there are still some similar jump packs on Amazon with a 10A port, last time I looked.

Offline idelphic

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #28 on: January 18, 2017, 08:16:15 AM »
It's still working fine a year into this.  Last summer I added a DC-DC voltage step-up supply that Carl recommended (this DROK).  Steps the voltage up from ~12.1 to 12.9 volts (it's adjustable to 13+, but 12.9's good).  The radio's a lot happier at the higher voltage, it doesn't mysteriously turn itself off in the middle of transmitting.  Had to back off to about 25w on HF though due to current limits in the DROK, but that's only about -1.5 dB.  I can get about two hours' operation out of it that way, maybe an hour's worth if I'm talking a lot.
Curious - I'm running mainly on AGM / SLA batteries and have never had an issue.  I just checked the main cell (in a Vector® Electromate 1,000W Rechargeable Generator) and it is running at rest 13.0v.  I have moved to a TekPower TP350 (after +20 years as a Ham, and about five with General privileges).

BUT - that said,... so much of time time I actually prefer to run the 'baby' Yaesu FT-817nd which only needs 9v 2Ahr to run.  It'll take up to 16 as I understand,.. but the extra is just passed off as heat.

I have to say though, I did pop for a Bioenno LiFePO4 battery and now the jump pack is relegated to backup status.  Probably what I should've done in the first place, but it's good to have a jump pack and one more layer of backup.  And of course, that thing will absolutely rock a CB at full power should that need arise, has a USB port, flashlight (as if I need another...), etc.

Idelphic, there are still some similar jump packs on Amazon with a 10A port, last time I looked.

Glad to hear that after a year is it is still running, even as a back up.  As for the Bioenno - I'm curious as to which one or setup you picked...  I'm looking over their site now, and the have some nice options.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: auto jump pack for portable operations?
« Reply #29 on: January 18, 2017, 06:34:46 PM »
BUT - that said,... so much of time time I actually prefer to run the 'baby' Yaesu FT-817nd which only needs 9v 2Ahr to run.  It'll take up to 16 as I understand,.. but the extra is just passed off as heat.
I have serious lust for one of those things.  Perhaps not as practical as 4 years ago, now that we're heading into the bottom of an already pretty poor solar cycle, but still the right thing for doing digital modes in the outdoors.  The light weight combined with one of those LNR trail-friendly multiband wires has my attention.  (OK, I'll publicly make myself a promise: Learn CW and I'll lighten up on the checkbook enough to buy myself one.  But not. a. moment. before.)

Quote
Glad to hear that after a year is it is still running, even as a back up.  As for the Bioenno - I'm curious as to which one or setup you picked...  I'm looking over their site now, and the have some nice options.
The pvc-wrapped 12AH model on the comms battery page:
https://www.bioennopower.com/collections/lifepo4-batteries-for-communication-equipment-ham-radio
Comes with powerpoles, all ready to go.  It's enough to operate for a day trip, maybe go a full weekend of light use.