ARES Go-Kit & Batteries

InstaBoost

I’ve been thinking for a while now how I can best leverage Amateur Radio as a technology and a skill set to assist in various emergency and disaster relief services that I participate in.  To that end, I would really like to build a “Go Kit” or “Go Bag” that can be easily mobilized for different purposes on extremely short notice.

I’ve been reading different examples and approaches online.  I really like the orange Pelican case idea at http://www.emergencyradiogokit.com/.  The problem is, most of the examples I’ve seen assume there will be A/C power of some sort, even if they do provide for connection of a back-up battery.  For me, it’s a bit more difficult to lug my huge generator around anytime an emergency arises.  I want my Go Kit to be self-sustaining for some as yet to be determined number of hours.

To accomplish that, of course, I need some amazing battery tech.  I’ve been looking at Lithium Polymer batteries which can hold a high capacity charge for  months on the shelf.  This should actually suit me pretty well.  The challenge is finding something with suitable capacity at a reasonable price.  As luck would have it, I was walking through my local home improvement big-box store and saw one of these little mini car battery jumper modules – the InstaBoost.  The packaging claims a 10,000 mAh LiPo battery which can hold 70% of its charge for 6 months on the shelf.

So…I picked one up to test it.  Right now I’ve got it connected to my Kenwood V71A and it’s working great.  Receive is fine of course and transmitting on high-power doesn’t seem to phase it either.  The problem is, which I just discovered after testing it, that it has a 10-minute shut-off timer on the battery connection terminal.  This means I’ll have to use the female cigar lighter dongle, which I presume should provide constant power without a timer.  My only question now is what that dongle connection is rated for.  I’m guessing it’s not really rated above 2 amps or so.  I’m not 100% sure if I’ll find that information documented anywhere, but if I do, I’ll update this post.

UPDATE: that dongle connection was actually rated at 10 amps. Great news!  Unfortunately, it also had an automatic 3-minute shut-off timer.  Back to the store it went.  /KU5R

UPDATE 2017-07-29: I ended up by a 12AH LiFePo battery from bioennopower.com, model BLF-1212A.  It really is great, comes with Anderson Powerpoles, and is worth every penny!