Last October, just as DX was starting to get good, my big-ole Astron power supply gave up the ghost. Or so I thought. Turns out it just wanted to nap for a while…several days. I took it apart, schematic in hand, to see if I could find an obvious fault. I thought one of the pass transistors might be the problem.
Not finding anything, I buttoned it back up and, to my surprise, it came to life and has been working like a champ ever since. Previously, I’d cycled power several times in the hopes that the crowbar circuit simply needed resetting. To this day I have no idea what the problem was or what fixed it.
But it got me to thinking – what if that had happened just prior to CQWW or a DXpedition to someplace I need? I’d be SOL.
The main power supply is my weak link. I can quickly string another antenna, several keyers are on hand and another computer can be brought in for logging/keying if need be. And I do have a small 7A supply which would probably be good for 30 watts out of the K3 – not what I have in mind for the Swains Island DXpedition, CQWW or other major contests that I plan for.
My current and prior jobs are lessons in redundancy. You’d be amazed at how many ways a modern submarine has to get to the surface. Even the back-ups have back-ups. Same with my current job.
So my back-up power supply is now a bank of 12V deep cycle batteries that live in the garage until (and unless) I need them. Enough juice to see me through a weekend of contesting. Or a hurricane-driven power outage.
I didn’t buy them for that purpose but they are available for it.
There’s no way I can buy a $300 power supply or a $600 rotator simply to sit as a spare, waiting for a problem. I think a person’s dedication to the hobby can be measured not by what he spent on his operational gear but rather by how much he’s invested in spares.