Author Topic: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project  (Read 14312 times)

Offline Greekman

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a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« on: August 21, 2016, 10:29:37 AM »
Ultrapack is an open development project that was started by SurvivalTecnologyNord, aka OH8STN.
It is a readily available materials Powerpack for QRP operations.



I am one of the contributors, as I like the idea and the project is  alike my own way of making powerbanks for my HTs

At the moment there may be a change in the battery management electronics and we are in search for an existing case that will be accepting a 3D printed custom faceplate. (I suggested a3.5" HDD aluminum case)

Have a look.
http://www.survivaltechnology.net/qrp-ultrapack-external-battery-pack-project/

BTW, OH8STN has another article where he dissasembles a QRP Ranger. A bit anticliamtic findings I should say...
« Last Edit: August 21, 2016, 10:00:14 PM by archer »

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable pwoer project
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2016, 01:54:14 PM »
Interesting stuff, to be sure.  It looks like he's hooking 4 Li batteries in series to give 16v, then stepping it down to 13.5v with a Drok board.  He's essentially home-brewing a booster pack especially for ham radio (as much discussed here and here) and avoiding some of the cost this way.  OTOH, it's not for jumping a car and doesn't have USB ports, doesn't come in a slick weather-resistant project box either.

Got to give the guy DIY points though.

Online FreeLancer

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable pwoer project
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2016, 02:24:44 PM »
:popcorn:

Offline iam4liberty

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable pwoer project
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2016, 03:10:04 PM »
Survival tech nord has been a real asset to the survival community.  He has such a good sense for PRACTICAL systems.  Very good stuff!

Offline Greekman

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2016, 10:11:23 PM »
actually he uses the DROk board as a charger (combined with the red BMS board)
For use with solar or other external power.
Drok output is set to 16.2V (or 12.3 if the user wants 3S lithium batteries)

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2016, 10:12:47 AM »
You shouldn't need a drok.  The nominal 3.7 volts * 4 = 14.8, which is within the +/- 20% range of 13.8 volts that most modern radios are spec for.

Put 4 18650s in series and test the voltage.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2016, 07:10:15 PM »
You shouldn't need a drok.  The nominal 3.7 volts * 4 = 14.8, which is within the +/- 20% range of 13.8 volts that most modern radios are spec for.

Put 4 18650s in series and test the voltage.
He metered things in the video at just over 4 volts each cell, with 12.26 for 3 cells and at 16.44 volts total.  That last seems kind of hot; I'd want to dial it down a bit.  The great thing for him is that the 817 he's driving doesn't need a lot of amps, and a $10-$20 board can easily deliver it.

ps: dug around and found this spec sheet at the wikipedia link from 18650 cells:
http://web.archive.org/web/20130603055918/http://www.panasonic.com/industrial/includes/pdf/Panasonic_LiIon_CGR18650DA.pdf
It is a nice voltage curve, but it has some awkward ends on it.

Really enjoying STN's working through and documenting all his stuff.  These lithium batteries are just too good to pass up.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2016, 07:32:52 PM by Alan Georges »

Offline Greekman

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2016, 10:11:01 PM »
it is within specs....charging should end at 4.2 +-0.5V.
I think h took into condiferation several radios input specs. Also the pack can be configured for 3x18650

Offline idelphic

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2016, 07:53:03 AM »
It's a project I hope to follow.  He has some pretty interesting ideas on portable operation. 

THe Ultra Pack is geared towards the FT-817 or the KX3 - or anything similar.  It's nearly spot on what I have wanted to build.

Offline Greekman

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2016, 08:30:55 AM »
yes i just checked the Ft-817 specs and it has a maximum allowed voltage of 16V. Easy to get if you set the Drok at 4.05-4.1x4.
Under load it will be about 4V. even though you will be missing some capacity you will still be way over LiFePo4 capacities
(80% of 3500mah is still greater than the LiFePo4 1500mAh nominal)

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2016, 08:44:12 AM »
He metered things in the video at just over 4 volts each cell, with 12.26 for 3 cells and at 16.44 volts total.  That last seems kind of hot; I'd want to dial it down a bit.  The great thing for him is that the 817 he's driving doesn't need a lot of amps, and a $10-$20 board can easily deliver it.

ps: dug around and found this spec sheet at the wikipedia link from 18650 cells:
http://web.archive.org/web/20130603055918/http://www.panasonic.com/industrial/includes/pdf/Panasonic_LiIon_CGR18650DA.pdf
It is a nice voltage curve, but it has some awkward ends on it.

Really enjoying STN's working through and documenting all his stuff.  These lithium batteries are just too good to pass up.

Good stuff.  There's A LOT of variation in specs and quality with 18650 - many of which are cheaply made in China.  If they are metering at 4.0v or more, I would want to cool that down.  That's a perfectly awkward spot.  3x cells is just enough to light up most radios at 12.0v, but it wouldn't take long for that voltage to drop below useful, but 4x is probably too much.

Offline Carl

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2016, 10:18:17 AM »
I have to ask...WHY?
Why use 4 of the 18-650 lithium batteries at a $6 to $10 EACH cost and requiring a specialized charger for UNDER 3 Amp Hours of energy
That can be had from a SLAB (Sealed Lead Acid Battery) for well under $20 . I do about the same with a set of 10 "AA" ENELOOP cells in a holder
for less than HALF the cost and less finicky charging requirements. Even though advertised at 5,000 Mah the current Lithium technology is
under 3,000 Milli Amp Hours at prices one can afford.Technology is cool,till your self-driving TESLA auto drives you under a bus.

Offline Greekman

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2016, 10:45:03 AM »
weight savings and weight/capacity ratio.
Li-cobalt are 4x3.5Ahx3.6V=50.4Watts
A SLAB has 12.8x7Ah=89.6W.
But Assuming a SLAB can use only half its rated capacity, a lithium edges on.
for a fraction of the weight.

I think thta the REAl problem with Lithium-cobalt is that their voltage drops as capacity is excausted. At 0% it is 4x3.6V.
with a radio with a wide enough input voltage range, this is hardly an issue

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2016, 10:59:52 AM »
I have to ask...WHY?
Why use 4 of the 18-650 lithium batteries at a $6 to $10 EACH cost and requiring a specialized charger for UNDER 3 Amp Hours of energy
That can be had from a SLAB (Sealed Lead Acid Battery) for well under $20 . I do about the same with a set of 10 "AA" ENELOOP cells in a holder
for less than HALF the cost and less finicky charging requirements. Even though advertised at 5,000 Mah the current Lithium technology is
under 3,000 Milli Amp Hours at prices one can afford.Technology is cool,till your self-driving TESLA auto drives you under a bus.

This was a workbench lesson with my son.  I was showing him various ways we could combine cells to add up to 12 volts.
I ran 2x 6volts heavy duty batteries in series.
3x18650
10xAA (rechargeable)
SLA deep cycle

All made the same 12v halogen bulb light up.  The thought experiment was to choose a configuration that was most suitable to mount onto his bicycle (I know a single 18650 flashlight clamped the the handlebars is easiest).

Offline Carl

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2016, 11:02:53 AM »
weight savings and weight/capacity ratio.
Li-cobalt are 4x3.5Ahx3.6V=50.4Watts
A SLAB has 12.8x7Ah=89.6W.
But Assuming a SLAB can use only half its rated capacity, a lithium edges on.
for a fraction of the weight.

I think thta the REAl problem with Lithium-cobalt is that their voltage drops as capacity is excausted. At 0% it is 4x3.6V.
with a radio with a wide enough input voltage range, this is hardly an issue

While I agree with some weight savings...you should also recognize that you can not use 100% of the Lithium Cells either (about 80% discharge is recommended)
so the lithium cells,even with the more costly Li Cobalt cells,is only about 40 watts..
Still OK power and I agree ,at a weight savings....

Please feel free to compare to 2,000 Milli Amp ENELOOP cells for weight/capacity/cost..I am curious and not so educated on batteries as you.

Offline Greekman

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #15 on: August 23, 2016, 01:40:04 PM »
Quote
.I am curious and not so educated on batteries as you.

that is a tease isn't it?
from previous experience 4 eneloops are as good as one 2600mAh 18650, but the math changes a bit with the 2500mAh ones.
regarding price, the older 18650s are a killer if you shop around
http://www.gearbest.com/batteries/pp_190732.html?wid=21
16-pack eneloops go for 48$ in amazon.

regarding the 80% figure, I do not know anymore, Panasonic rates its 18650 down at 2.75V.
So you can take all their juice off, but I will have to research the longevity effect of.
But for a field powerpack that costs a fraction of the rest of the HAM field gear, getting 6 months more life out of your batteries is a non-issue.

BTW, while I favor the lithium option, (tidbit: my old/backup lithium HT powerpack now hosts laptop battery extracts at 0 cost), I do keep my options. My SLA is due for replacement for aging, and I am waiting for a 10AA battery carrier.
I do not know where I picked the moto from, but "we don't leave tools out of our toolcase"

Offline Carl

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #16 on: August 23, 2016, 01:47:08 PM »
Keep on it,I want a better way to do it,but also NEEd MORE POWER than what is offered currently.
And despite some people's opinions...I don't know everything.

Offline DonC

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2016, 02:09:48 PM »
I'm enjoying seeing what you've come up with. Personally, I've found that 11 AA Eneloop rechargeable batteries (with a 15a fuse in place of the 12th battery and a blocking diode provided more than enough power and longevity for my radio! About 6-7hrs QRP! With a good antenna, that's plenty! More to come later, regarding other tests I perform!

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2016, 07:13:51 PM »
That's a perfectly awkward spot.  3x cells is just enough to light up most radios at 12.0v, but it wouldn't take long for that voltage to drop below useful, but 4x is probably too much.
"Perfectly awkward" – that's it exactly.  These little step-up and step-down power supplies are good, but limit a radio to 30w.  That's 5 dB down from full power.  Or to put it more in terms of "glass half full," almost 8 dB up from 5w QRP.  It's enough that I'm content with a 3-cell jump pack and a drok board.

But I really wish the cells put out something that trivially totals up to 13.5v!  Life would be so much simpler.


I have to ask...WHY?
That is a good question Carl.  Whenever people start running toward new tech when there's a perfectly good and long-used solution already on the shelf, I have to ask "why" too.  I have two answers here: (1) weight, down by about 3x from similarly capable SLABs; and (2) they can be had in slick affordable multi-purpose units that will jump start a car and charge USB devices as well as drive a radio.  To be sure though, it is always good to ask "why are we fiddling with this new stuff?  What's the payoff?"

Offline Greekman

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #19 on: August 23, 2016, 10:12:11 PM »
half the payoff is the reward of accomplishment. Isn't that so for ALL things HAM?

Also, some projects may not come to fruition or put in production. If I had not done my 2 lithium powerbanks, i would not be able to contribute to the Ultrapack even half of what i did.

one can get closer to the "mythical" 13.8 by 4 LiFePO4 cells. = 3.7x4 = 14.8.
Do not forget that 13.8 is a Legacy goal. unlock yourselves going the opposite way. Let the radio dictate voltage, do not adapt radio to lead battery voltage. A Ft-817 is good with up to 16V (and can work as low as 7,2V)

And of course we are talking QRP for the Ultrapack.

for more watts there are the LiFePO4 "slabs"

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #20 on: August 24, 2016, 09:00:32 AM »
"Perfectly awkward" – that's it exactly.  These little step-up and step-down power supplies are good, but limit a radio to 30w.  That's 5 dB down from full power.  Or to put it more in terms of "glass half full," almost 8 dB up from 5w QRP.  It's enough that I'm content with a 3-cell jump pack and a drok board.

But I really wish the cells put out something that trivially totals up to 13.5v!  Life would be so much simpler.

That is a good question Carl.  Whenever people start running toward new tech when there's a perfectly good and long-used solution already on the shelf, I have to ask "why" too.  I have two answers here: (1) weight, down by about 3x from similarly capable SLABs; and (2) they can be had in slick affordable multi-purpose units that will jump start a car and charge USB devices as well as drive a radio.  To be sure though, it is always good to ask "why are we fiddling with this new stuff?  What's the payoff?"

Whatever the fashion or technical state was when you entered a field or hobby +/- 5 years from that point will become your preference.  Anything prior to that is archaic, and anything newer is unneeded fluff.

I've been guilty of the following:
"back in my day we rode rigid frame mountain bikes and liked it"
"back in my day we had to program software correctly the first time because the compiler took hours to run before we found a mistake"
"back in my day if my little sister unplugged the NES, I had to start from the beginning of Super Mario 3"
"I don't need GPS in my car"


Then you get to things that border on personal preference, like older guys who prefer "wood and steel" firearms, even though there's loads of data indicating how reliable polymer framed guns are.

Point is, we all do this to varying degrees.  We all seek some level of validation for our past efforts.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #21 on: August 24, 2016, 07:03:46 PM »
Whatever the fashion or technical state was when you entered a field or hobby +/- 5 years from that point will become your preference.  Anything prior to that is archaic, and anything newer is unneeded fluff.
It is a real problem that seems to come with experience and age.  Treating it as a balancing act is the only way I've found to deal.

Back to re-thinking the whole thing as Greekman points out, what does the radio really need to operate, and how am I going to use it?  I mean, if I'm down to operating off a jump pack, it means I don't have a functioning car battery, solar power system, generator, or (my backup of last resort) grid plug-in handy.  So... 3.4AH at a steady 13.8v is pretty sweet for a fourth-rung backup system, even if it only comes in a 10 amp trickle through a Drok board.  That's still good for 30 Watts!  I'll have to ask my buddy who used to haul around a PRC-104 and its lead battery for a living if he'd rather have carried an 857 and a 1 lb jump pack.  Oh, and the civilian combo's 30w is 50% more power than the 104 could do.  Life with these modern toys is good. 8)

I'm going to call this project a success and move on to more pressing matters, but will be watching the Ultrapack's progress with continuing interest.  There's a lot more to be done with these lithium chemistry batteries, and I think the next five years are going to be full of good surprises.

Offline Greekman

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #22 on: August 26, 2016, 06:34:49 AM »
A demonstration of the Ultrapck function in re-initialization.
the solution was inspired by a removable batteries powerbank I got for my cell phone which also requires that "jump-starting"
(of course the switch needs not be extrenal)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ksjih6OqN3o

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #23 on: September 08, 2016, 06:17:57 PM »
Another Ultrapack testing update:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ur5WxtWJKVA
It's a 10 minute, 2A stress test.  Passed with flying colors.

Offline iam4liberty

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #24 on: September 08, 2016, 06:47:16 PM »
Another Ultrapack testing update:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ur5WxtWJKVA
It's a 10 minute, 2A stress test.  Passed with flying colors.

Looking good!  I was wondering if a usb port was going to be added.  Defintely good addition for digital modes.  i am hoping that in the next version of android the full KISS terminal capabilities are implemented for smart phones.  If so then we will have extreme flexibility in digital modes in a very small package.

Offline Greekman

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #25 on: September 08, 2016, 09:33:01 PM »
coping with ONLY 2A is to be expected.
Depending on the batteries used, amp draw can go much higher than the Battery management electronics can go.
Vappers are using 25A continuous, 35A peak 18650 batteries. Creem of the crop this month is the Sony VTC6
https://www.e-cigarette-forum.com/forum/threads/who-has-the-best-3000mah-battery-lg-hg2-vs-samsung-30q-vs-sony-vtc6-shootout.757553/

with that operating the FT2900R mobile (albeit for only a while) is feasible (draws 15A at 75W)
http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/fm_txvrs/2900spec.html

Offline machinisttx

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #26 on: September 11, 2016, 10:10:22 AM »
Some vapers use high drain batteries,  because they are also using large, low resistance coils on unregulated mods. What they aren't doing is pulling 10+ amps for a minute or more. High performance flashlights would be a better comparison.

From what I recall of reading the spec sheets, none of the 18650s are rated for more than a few seconds at maximum draw. Seems like for extended use the draw rate was fairly low.

Offline Carl

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #27 on: September 11, 2016, 10:25:12 AM »
So you would only need a battery pack a minute to talk on your radio...good plan. :sarcasm:

Even with 18-650 cells you cant possible operate even the 'flea fart' 817 for more than an hour or two...same as a pack of lower cost "AA" Ni Metal Hydride cells.

Offline Greekman

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #28 on: September 11, 2016, 11:00:26 AM »
Some vapers use high drain batteries,  because they are also using large, low resistance coils on unregulated mods. What they aren't doing is pulling 10+ amps for a minute or more. High performance flashlights would be a better comparison.

From what I recall of reading the spec sheets, none of the 18650s are rated for more than a few seconds at maximum draw. Seems like for extended use the draw rate was fairly low.

things change when the pack becomes a 4S and 2 or 3P.
this kind of use (mobile) is never meant to be for the ultrapack, STn is clear that it is a QRP rig, but  it goes to show the potential of these batteries.

Offline machinisttx

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Re: a look at the Ultrapack portable power project
« Reply #29 on: September 11, 2016, 03:46:03 PM »
I would not use 18650 batteries to power my rig except in an absolute last ditch effort when absolutely nothing else was available.

It would seem to me that there would be much more potential in lipo packs from rc cars. *shrug*