Portable Power Box – Part #2 (update)

note: article originally appeared in October 2015

Last July I wrote about a “power box” project that I felt added a lot of capability and versatility to by Ham Radio operations. And I expanded it to give me great capabilities in other areas of prepping as well. Well, here are couple of those ideas for you to consider.

If you haven’t read the original 2-port article I would suggest you do. It will give you the background of w the power box can do and how it was designed and built.

I started with the basic “truly portable power box” and decided to test it on what has become a primary use…charging my portable handheld radios.

I hadn’t considered it for that purpose originally. I planned on using the larger power box for that mission. However, I thought I might this much smaller box out to see if it could do the mission for just two handhelds. Recharging two handhelds would really be a big help for a limited “need” event. Why two? One for me and one for my wife. Or, one for me and one for my camping buddy. The result was extremely good!

First thing I did was top off the power box battery charge to 13.2v. Then I hooked up a dual cigarette adapter cable to the box.

Then I hooked in the 12vDC vehicle adapter for the Baofeng UV-5R charging cradle. Next I hooked the charging cradles up to the adapter. Everything was looking good, nothing burning up, no blown fuses.

I had earlier completely discharged two 1800mAH radio batteries to give it a fair test. So I went ahead and popped the radios in the chargers. Three hours later I had two completely charged handheld radio batteries. Considering that in testing the same batteries took 2 – 3 hours charging on AC power, I felt like it was a complete success. Now I have proven that I can charge my handhelds from my truly portable power box giving me more flexibility in my radio operations. And, I only brought the charge on the batter from 13.2v down to 12.7v.

Well, then it came time to bring the battery charge back up to full. I already had my Glowtech60 set-up from some previous testing, I figured I would just hook it up and top off the battery. But then I started thinking…

I love flexibility and multiple options for everything, it’s called redundancy. Some might call it OCD 🙂

So I tried to figure out all the different ways I could charge up that power box using my solar options. And one stuck out to me that I hadn’t actually tried and tested . No time like the present!

So I gathered up my SolPad7 solar charger.My SolPad7 has a 12vDC outlet to the charge controller. It also came with a cigarette style adapter/outlet. Then I made a quick cigarette adapter cable and started connecting the equipment.

At this point all that was left to do was plug the SolPad7 into the power box and see what happens.

I took a reading on the power box, 12.7v. I plugged in the SolPad7 in a sunny location and recorded the time, 11:00am.

I went back later, 1:00pm, and it was showing 12.8v.

Yo might be saying that it only went up .1v (1/10th of a volt) but that is OK with me. Notice the size of the SolPad? A mere 7″ x 10″ area, 70 square inches. And a maximum of 7w. I’ll take it!

Why? Because it gives me that much more flexibility that I didn’t have before.



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