You know me…I can’t ever leave well enough alone. And once again I am going to prove that to be true. But maybe, just maybe, it will be a good thing for you that I let my ADD/ADHD run rampant on this one. I think you will like what you read…if you have Boafeng radios.
Some time ago I told ya’ll that I have a radio cache for my church’s disaster response folks. I have eight radios in total plus two additional radios for leadership personnel for a total of ten radios. If you read the article you would know that each kit has its own charger base, a spare battery as well, plus an 12vDC adapter cable to use the charger base with any 12vDC power outlet. The idea was to make each radio kit a stand-alone kit that was capable of supporting its user independently of the other users.
But, is that the best idea? Should that be the only idea? Did I sufficiently play out different scenarios that could affect that? Bottom line…is there a better option…or at least another option?
Sorry about that…too many questions to be sure. However, the more experience I gained with the radio cache and as the different scenarios came to light I had to re-evaluate my thinking.
Have you been in an airport lately? One of the things I’ve noticed are all the people congregating around electric power outlets. They have various brands and styles of phones plugged in wall power outlets along with laptops and tablets. They all want their power fix to keep their device up and running. Could there be a similar problem on the horizon with radios during emergencies, disasters, or grid-down? Of course. What if there were only two electric power outlets available but we needed to charge ten radios? What? The only answer would be take your turn!
So, a couple of months ago I was doing some general browsing of different kinds of power equipment for radios. Low and behold I see this picture of the Retevis Universal charger. Bingo! I flashed back to my fire department days and remembered chargers that we had that could charge multiple radios at one time in one charger base. I loved the idea, poured over all the specs, read the reviews, read the questions that had been asked, and I thought this could be a real answer. As a bonus that I will write about in a couple of minutes, was the way this charger connected to its power supply. Many manufactures, especially from China, make their “widget” to run off of a standard electric requirement. But, they will have that power requirement internal to the “widget” itself. The power supply can be something like 110vAC or 220vAC, and either power supply can be used with the “widget” because it is a separate piece of equipment. When they put the “widget” in the box for shipping, if it goes to America they throw in the 110vAC power supply, if it is going to Europe then they throw in the 220vAC power supply. That saves the manufacturer from making two completely different “widgets” because of different power source availability.
Technical Specs –
Dimension: 18.89 x 4.34 x 2.56inch(480 x 110 x 66mm)
Input: 100-240V~50/60Hz 0.8A
Output(Li-lon 2xCells): 8.7V-500mA
Output(Ni-MH 6xCells): 9.4V-500mA
Output(Li-lon 1xCells): 4.2V-500mA
Heavy duty durable design of poly-carbonate plastic.
The charger can be hung on the wall to save space.
Capable of controlling the charging process to ensure high efficiency.
Securing the charging process with multiple protection solutions.
My Observations –
I was looking closely at the pictures in the ad. I noticed that the power supply had a label that read “Input: 110v” and “Output: 13.2v” and a thought struck me. I crossed my fingers and pressed “buy.”
Yeah, so here’s the deal…I didn’t have a problem that needed a solution. I was just looking around, saw a solution, and realized that I could have had a problem all along and it just hadn’t manifested itself up to that point. What I am trying to say is this…I don’t have a mission statement for this piece of equipment. I don’t because I didn’t have the problem that I had to develop a solution for. I just got really lucky and found the solution before I realized I had a problem.
I ordered one of these charger units, it was straight from China. It took about three weeks for it to arrive on my doorstep. No big deal, I was in no hurry, and there was no pressing need. I pulled this bad boy out of the box and was immediately impressed with it. It appeared to be a solid piece of equipment and I liked what I saw. Of course it was immediately time to plug this puppy in.
As I plugged in the power supply I looked at the bottom and sure enough there was that label, big as life, “Input 110vAC – Output 12vDC.” I was even more hopeful!
As a side note…I always plug in the power supply to the wall outlet, and then I plug in the power supply to the piece of equipment. Why in that particular order? One day a couple of years ago I plugged in a power supply (yes, from China) and it “popped” really loud and began to smoke. If the equipment had been plugged in at the time, I am sure I would have burned out not just the power supply but the equipment also. So, I try to ere on the side of caution…the power supply gets plugged in to the power source, then the equipment gets connected to the power supply. I don’t want any fried electronic gear if I can help it.
OK, I have the charger unit plugged in and I get out the trusty multi-meter and test the power supply’s output.
Then I test each set of contacts in each of the charger ports. They test out at the right voltage range and within a couple of hundredths of a volt of each other. Perfect! Now I have a base line for comparison in my brilliant idea.
Next I hooked up a power cord to the vehicle power adapter of my portable power box. And it is showing virtually the same voltage as the AC->DC power supply that I just tested.
And then came the testing to make sure that the charger ports were throwing the right voltage as well.
Now the acid test…
As you can see I was able to use my portable power box to charge my radios using the Retevis Universal multi-charger unit. I wrote about my portable power box a while back. It is basically a 12vDC deep cycle 100Ah battery with various in/out ports and the ability to be charged through standard 110vAC power supply or charged via solar panels with a charge controller.
When I plugged the 12vDC power cable from the portable power box into the charger base. No smoke, no pop, no tripped circuit breakers…it was looking really good. All the lights on the charger base were on just like they were when I was running the charger base off regular house current.
So here is the bonus, maybe the best aspect of this charger, it works off of a 12vDC power source without any problems. Now, instead of having six 12vDC charger/adapter cables spider-webbed off my portable power box I can have a single charging station with a single cable handling all of it. That means you can run this charger unit off any vehicle’s cigarette lighter outlet. Sweet!
If you are running multiple radios for your family, group, church, etc. you might want to take a serious look at the Retivis Universal Charger. This is a great solution for the right application. I love it!
Where to buy –
two places you can buy this unit; 1) eBay, 2) Amazon. If you buy from eBay it comes from China and will take 2 – 4 weeks to arrive. If you need it real quick then you can buy from Amazon using Prime. Buying from Amazon will cost you $15 more but you will get it in 2 – 4 days vs. 2 – 4 weeks.
The earlier links went bad on me. They went to the wrong products on both eBay and Amazon. I have no earthly idea how they went bad. Do NOT use Amazon at this time buy this charger. The link below for eBay is the right link to use.
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