note: first appeared in August 2015
Having already designed portable radio boxes and portable power boxes there is the question on how to hook the two together. It would seem rather easy to provide a solution…and it is. But I took it just one minor step further. But let me digress for a minute…
Earlier in the summer I was taking my conceal carry mid-license refresher. And one of the instructors got out a coffee warmer thingy that he connected to a box with a battery in it. Then he hooked a small solar panel to it and started bragging on his system. I just kept my mouth shut.
But what I noticed was how lightweight the wire was between the solar panel and the box. And actually it was rather long as well. But it did make me think through just what would be the right way, an “anti-failure” way, to hook up power boxes to whatever they were supposed to be powering.
One thing I did figure out pretty quickly that at the amps and voltage we are dealing with at my level, 12vDC, 60 – 100w solar panels, 15 – 20 ampere current draws…10guage wire was plenty adequate.
However, it is the conditions in which the cable will have to “live” that will be more demanding that the size of the wire itself. The specific conditions I am referring to is outdoor, in the field, all weather, etc. That requires pretty decently protected wire. And that means thick insulation that can handle a wide range environments.
As I tried to find the right kind of wire with the right kind of jacketing I found a couple things; 1) expensive, 2) sold in long lengths, 3) had to buy it online, 4) expensive. I wasn’t happy and let it drop.
Then one night I am in Walmart with my wife doing some shopping. Like I always do, I wandered over to the sporting good department to see if there was any 22LR on the shelf. Never is anymore, and not that night either. But on the way to meet back up with her I was walking through the automotive department.
Low and behold I walked past the car batteries and jumper cables. Bingo! I looked down and there was a set of jumper cables, 10ga wire, with heavy-duty jacketing. The price was way more that reasonable and way cheaper than just plain wire than I had seen online. I bought the set of jumper cables.
The next evening I had a little time so out to the shop I went. Opened up the package, took out the cables, and proceeded to cut off the clamps from the cables. I then had a nice 10ga, heavy-duty jacketed, pair of wires in a neat little 7’ length.
I installed 45 amp Anerdson Powerpoles on the ends. Notice that both wires in the pair are black. However, one is a smooth jacket the other has multiple little ridges running its length. The wire with the little ridges is the positive, or red wire, in my book. That made it easy to install the Powerpoles.
As I was admiring my work I felt the tension and the weight of the cables themselves. And I was concerned how it might eventually affect the Powerpoles where they are held together by the little roll pin. I also wasn’t real crazy how the ends of the Powerpoles were open just enough to allow water to enter them if they got seriously wet, or I got unlucky. So I had a dilemma on my hands.
I kept thinking the problem through and I remembered the “fix” for the Baofeng UV-5RA radio 14.5” antenna. And searched through my electronics tool kit for the right size shrink wrap. I took some heavy wall shrink wrap¹ cut it into a 2” long piece. Then cut another piece into a 1-1/2” piece.
I slid the 2” long piece over the Powerpole and onto the wire leaving a small amount of shrink wrap on the Powerpole itself. Then put the heat to it. It shrunk down really nicely tightening up the connection and stabilizing the wire in the Powerpole housing. It also sealed off the opening that was around the wire where it went into the Powerpole housing.
Next I slid the 1-1/2” long piece over the Powerpole and the previously installed piece of shrink wrap. I had it extend a little more onto the Powerpoles. Obviously it was short on the cable end, but that was OK. This piece was intended to stabilize the first, add a little more protection to the Powerpole and add a little more rigidity to the overall connection. I put the heat to this one.
Here is the picture showing the outcome. I know it is a little ugly but it works like a charm. The connection is very secure, no water is coming in between the wire and the Powerpole housing, and there is plenty of protection to avoid over-flexing of the wire where it enters the housing. In other words…it is stable and secure. Just what the doctor ordered.
So now I have a very solid, durable, power cable of the right length that will carry all of the current that it will normally carry. And it can do so on any environment that I can think of because the wire jacket/insulation is really thick and sturdy.
Two great options to make the heavy cable even more useful…
#1 – I cut enough cable on the battery clamps to install a set of Anderson Powerpoles. That enables me to still use the cable to hook to a battery via battery clamps.
#2 – I cut a hunk of the cable and installed Anderspon Powerpoles on one end. On the other end I installed a set of ring terminals and added in a little “pigtail” with another set of Powerpoles. This gives me flexibility to hook up to small batteries with “bolt terminals” or batteries that the battery clamps won’t work on. Once again…flexible and adaptable.
Note: Notice teh use of shrink wrap to protect and seal cables and Powerpoles.
Shrink wrap info –
¹ – Shrink wrap is made by TE Connectivity and its their produce ID CPGI-WCSM-12/3-150-BLK. I bought it at Home Depot for under $5.00
- Item Heat Shrink Tubing
- Material Flexible Polyolefin
- Wall Type Heavy Wall
- Temp. Range-67 Degrees to 275 Degrees F
- Shrink Ratio4:1
- Color Black
- Length 6″
- Wire Range14 to 6 AWG
- I.D. Before Shrinking 0.472″
- I.D. After Shrinking 0.118″
- Wall Thickness After Shrinking0.079″
- Shrink Temp 203 Degrees F
- Max. Voltage 1000V
- FeaturesMeet/Exceed Industrial and Military Standards
- Standards Western Underground
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