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Solar Powered Ham Station

Bill Allen (WA5PB) and Larry D. Barr (K5WLF) at the controls of
the Solar Powered Ham Station. PV panels and batteries are in
the pickup. (Photo by Robert Taylor, KE5HIX)

On 25 March, members of TAARC set up a solar powered amateur radio station on the campus of Tarleton State University. The university was holding Texan Tours, an event where future students and their parents are given guided tours of the campus and facilities, so we knew we'd have a large audience.

Gene Morrison (K5IIY) and Larry D. Barr (K5WLF) made a couple of mid-week trips to the rooftops of the Coed Dorm and the Science Building to rig the Hy Power 20 meter dipole and the Hustler G6-270R ground plane. The feedlines were secured on the roof of the Science Building for rapid deployment the morning of the event.

About 0730 Saturday morning Bill Allen (WA5PB) and his son Drew arrived at my house to help me load the Uni-Solar US 64 photovoltaic (PV) panels into my pickup. We tied them down, loaded the rest of the gear and we were off. A short drive to the Tarleton campus, an even shorter drive on the sidewalk and the pickup with PV panels aboard was parked on the grass in front of the Science Building.

One more quick trip to the roof to toss the ends of the feedlines overboard, a few minutes connecting the PV system and we were on the air. Bill was running PSK 31 on 20 meters using his Elecraft K2 and a West Mountain RigBlaster Pro with a Dell laptop. I was working 2 meters with my Yaesu FT-2800M. With the K2 set to 10 watts output, Bill's first QSO was Detroit, MI. Throughout the day, he had QSOs with hams in NY, France, CA, HI and Venezuela. The 2 meter action wasn't as far ranging, but we had a lot of fun hitting various repeaters and talking to a lot of area hams.

Special thanks to Gene, Bill and Robert Taylor (KE5HIX) for all the help setting up and breaking down the station. Also to Jim Tucker (W5BWY) and Steve Hill (K5SRH) for dropping by and participating. And to Matthew (NA5K), Ray (N5SR), Griff (N5AG), Cliff (KC5KWX) and all the other area hams who called in and enjoyed a "Solar Powered QSO".

Emergency Applications for PV

It's easy to see how a ham station that's completely independent of the power grid can be useful in emergency and disaster use -- and our project Saturday proved that a PV powered ham station is fully transportable. The 200 Ah battery bank had slightly less than a full charge when we started, but within an hour the batteries were fully charged and the solar panels maintained that condition all day. Even running 2 transceivers, the RigBlaster and the laptop, the PV panels kept up with the demand and we ended the day about 1600 with a full charge on the batteries.

I encourage all area hams to attend the 4 April meeting of TAARC. Our presentation will be about emergency and backup power systems for ham radio stations. If you're interested in being ready for the next time we hams are called out for communications duty, you won't want to miss this meeting. ldb

(Standing, l-r), Jim Tucker (W5BWY), Gene Morrison (K5IIY) and Robert Taylor (KE5HIX). (Seated, l-r), Bill Allen (WA5PB) and Larry D. Barr (K5WLF) at the Solar Powered Ham Station. (Photo by Pat Morrison)

73 & Thanks for visiting our site!

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Last Updated: 2 Aug 2006 at 0100 CDT (GMT -0500)