Contrary to what many believe, solar power is not economical – but I’ve been wanting to experiment with it for some time now and a friend recently gave me a new mono-crystalline 70W solar panel. This provides the added benefit of allowing me to justify the purchase of a 100AH deep cycle battery.
Buying a spare power supply for the shack is something else that’s been on my mind due to my Astron “crow-barring” a few months ago. But an Astron 35M runs $200 and the battery costs half that – and now I can recharge it for free.
Although I don’t anticipate using the battery for this weekend’s contest, it’s there if I need it.
But first things first:
What I will be doing during the contest is measuring my power consumption as a first step toward learning what may need to be added to my 70W panel to make the station entirely solar powered (minus the kw amp).
There are all kinds of formulas on various forums – mostly for QRPers – that will allow you to guesstimate battery life for a given application based on RF output, duty cycle and a number of other variables.
To find out how much power my K3 uses, I’ll be monitoring its consumption with a Kill-A-Watt during CQWW (and beyond) with the expectation that this will give me the actual result rather than the theoretical.
This neat little gadget will also be monitoring power consumed by the rotator, laptop and a few other items that will be in use during the contest.
Although solar power is expensive, we as hams can more easily justify it since much of our equipment operates on 12V and doesn’t require inverters that “civilians” would need. Solar power is therefore cheaper, simpler and less maintenance-intensive for us.
At least that’s what I’m telling myself for now…