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QRP With Solar Power

QRP with K3WWP - Column # 61. Time again to do a new column, and I'll start with info about my web site. I mentioned a couple of issues ago that windstream would continue to support all of their old style URL's as well as the new ones. Well, that is no longer true, and many of you couldn't find my web site for some time. I did post a message about the situation on the FISTS mailing list, but not everyone subscribes to that so I'll repeat the info here in this Keynote column. You'll have to use http://home.windstream.net/johnshan/ to get to my web site. All the individual page names, such as cw_ss_column.html remain exactly the same. To sum up, that's 'home' replacing 'www' and no tilde (~) before the johnshan in the URL's. I hope I've made that clear so that you can correct all your bookmarks, favorites, and links if you have them.

Dave, WA9PDS emailed me and wondered if I planned to add any info about solar power for QRP on my web site. I thought that would be a good topic for a Keynote column as well.

First of all, let me say that I have never used solar power at my station and thus have no first hand experience with it. As far as that goes, I've only used regular battery power for QRP a couple of times in my ham career. I guess the closest I've ever come to using direct solar power is using some calculators that had tiny solar panels in them.

There are two basic approaches to solar power. One uses the power directly and the second uses the solar cells to charge rechargeable batteries, which are then used to power the rigs.

If you plan on using solar power one of the first things to be considered is the power requirement. For simple portable operation out in the field with a small QRP rig being the only thing using the power, something that provides 10 watts of power should be sufficient. One such representative unit is a 10 watt epoxy folding solar panel available from Connecticut Solar (http://www.ctsolar.com/Expedition10W.htm). The unit is listed around $120. It provides 18 volts at 750 ma under full sun conditions. According to the web site info, this is ideal for 12 volt systems, although the output voltage may be too high to use to feed a rig directly. However it can be used with a charge controller and an 8 amp-hour rechargeable battery for many hours of operation out in the field.

The Connecticut Solar web site has a lot of technical information about solar panels that I won't reproduce here. Check out http://www.ctsolar.com/default.htm if you are interested. If you don't have internet service, their regular mailing address is Connecticut Solar LLC, POB 326, Putnam, CT 06260. I have no interest in this particular company, but it is the first one that I found on my Google (www.google.com) search, and that generally means the company is a good one.

An example of a charge controller can be found at http://www.seslogic.com/sunlogic.html. The mail address is SunLight Energy Systems, 955 Manchester Ave. SW, North Lawrence, OH 44666. With that, a solar panel and some rechargeable batteries, you're all ready to operate with the cheapest energy available - solar. Maybe I'll even give it a try myself sometime.

Don't forget, these two companies are not the only source of solar equipment. There are many many more. I only used these two as examples. Do a search on Google, as I always do when I want to find more information on a particular subject.

As I've probably made clear in what I've written so far, my knowledge of solar power is very limited. If any of you who are knowledgeable in the subject would like to provide more information, let me know and I'll include it in a future Keynote column giving you full credit. My friend VA3RJ did a similar thing for me in the Keynote issue #7 for 1999 with an article on batteries for QRP. If you have that back issue it would be good to review it as re-chargeable batteries are a great way to use solar power. The article is also available in the CW section of my web site as are all back issues of these columns. The particular one on batteries is column # 030 in the column index.

As a further preliminary to a possible future column that expands on the solar power issue, please send me any specific questions you may have on the subject and I'll do my best to find an answer for you.

In closing I'd like to mention a new feature on my web site. I now have a visitor survey. The first survey is now history and it proved very successful and the responses were fascinating. My second poll should still be running when you read this. So please check it out and participate. This does not replace my monthly poll that also is continuing, but a full survey is a better way to gather more information at once. For example the first survey involved 12 questions with an average of 6-8 choices for each question plus additional comments.

Contact me at http://home.windstream.net/johnshan/, via email or John Shannon, 478 E. High St., Kittanning, PA 16201-1304. Till next time, 73. -30-