DIY 10ah 4s LifePo4 without a BMS V1.1

DIY 10ah 4s LifePo4 without a BMS V1.1

I had been toying with the idea of more power - either for longer operations or more power or even more devices which such as portable digital operations.

I could have gone the simple Zippy 8400mah blue brick that seems the next step up from my 4200 or.. there is the homebrew route.

Using headway 38120 lifepo 4 cells that are used in E-bikes, and some simple balance extension leads I made Big Bertha v1. 10AH 13.2v. This version does not have a Battery Management System (BMS) and for all intents and purposes, it is seen by balance chargers and even the little cell monitoring beepers that many use, like a big 4s pack.

Photo captions:

8486 - a partially built 4 cell pack comparing size with a 4200 zippy
8532 - I might have snapped up another 2x 4 cell lot on ebay that a company was getting rid of. The orange holders snap together giving the cells rigitiy
8577 - sitting on the bench testing connection to the balance charger - I took extension leads, clipped the socket end off and soldered ring terminals to the ends and connected to the negative of each cell, with one being positive - just the same as the zippy packs
8578 - v1 covered in packing foam, covered in light head shrink bags (x3)
8580 - testing my other balance charger to confirm 12v charging.

Possible improvements - increase the current handling of the load/charging cable for possible QRO operation of the 857.

Coming versions might will likely have a BMS going forward to auto cut off on low voltage.

Shopping list:

Cells, cell holders, bus bars : https://www.evworks.com.au/

The rest was either junk box or ebay

APRS - my 2 options for Man Portable

I spend a lot of time when I am ‘playing radio’ in places that have little to no mobile phone service. This is both a blessing and a curse. It means that it likely means I am in an RF quiet environment from 3-30mhz on HF, however should I want to tell my non radio friends that I am running late but not to worry, or I want to check what repeaters are around me  - then I am out of luck.

 

There is a data mode called Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) - when it was created it was designed as a ‘intelligence gathering tool’. If you were plonked in another city with only your radio and a Terminal Node Controller (TNC), within 10min or so you could gather all you needed, from repeater information, local radio nets and know how to contact nearby stations in simplex as well as send 2 way short text messages. As time has gone on it has sadly fallen away to mostly be seen as a tracking device, showing where different stations are.

Just some of the fun things OTHER THAN TRACKING that I have found out is possible.


 

How do I use APRS when I am portable?

I always carry a small Android Tablet with me when I am operating portable for logging or using the raspberry pi for digital modes (http://wadeabout.com/blog/portablepi-a-raspberrypi-for-amateur-radio-portable-opers)  so since I am carrying the tablet it makes sense to use APRSDroid app. I connect a tiny match box sized Bluetooth TNC from http://www.mobilinkd.com/ - I have connection cables for all of my radios - my Yaesu FT60R (my primary HT), my back up HT a Baufeng UV5R, and a cable for my FT817ND which all allow connection to the Mobilinkd 2.

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This allows me to send location data, receive repeater information, and send 2 way text messages.

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Recently I picked up a 1w APRS Radio with built in thermometer and GPS. Essentially is a fully self contained APRS unit.

1w APRS.jpg

 https://www.aliexpress.com/item/AP510-APRS-Tracker-VHF-with-GPS-Bluetooth-Thermometer-TF-Card-Support-APRSdroid-KISS-Model/32392912633.html it also has bluetooth inside so like the mobilinkd it can be used with the android tablet for 2 way communication, however in stand alone mode it beeps out location data based on your speed and recent movements so to not jam up the single APRS frequency.  I had read online that many spoke negatively about its meger 1 watt. I have not found an issue in residential Canberra. (VK1)

A look at a recent trip around the suburbs of Canberra. NB I am using an external Mag Mount antenna in the car.

A look at a recent trip around the suburbs of Canberra. NB I am using an external Mag Mount antenna in the car.

A zoomed out view of the stations that either digipeated or igated my 1w packets.

A zoomed out view of the stations that either digipeated or igated my 1w packets.

If you are still asking what is APRS? Here is a video by the guy who invented it: 

Communications support to Canberra's Ralleys De Femme

WICEN is a community volunteer organisation focused on the provision of emergency communication support from the Australian Amateur Radio Community. As part of keeping skills current as well as equipment and procedures familiar, they provide communications support an operations to community events, the latest such event for the ACT was a car rally.


My role on the fay was as a rally mid state safety checkpoint called an SOS point. I operated my standard Yaesu FT60R on VHF FM as well as the commercial VHF set from Rally Control. I marked off and called in their rough passing time checking that they has passed through the first stage safely.


Check out a video I made on the day.


Cheers Wade

PowerFilm LightSaver Max

PowerFilm LightSaver Max - a rollable solar lithium battery  

Stats: 

18000 mAh

2x 2.5A USB

12v max 5A

Rollable solar panel

 

Solar charge 6-8 Hours

Wall charge (USB-C) 3 hours

My desired use:

Directly connect the LightSaver Max (LSM) to my Yaesu FT817ND for extended portable Amateur Radio operations, additionally allow charging of my mobile phone, my 7in android tablet used for logging in the field along with assorted miscellaneous charging such as GoPro for recording, my headlamp for night operations etc.

During the day time I would like to see if the, when unrolled and placed in the sun, will the solar panel pass an increased voltage spike along to the radio. Based on the provided specifications from the suppliers, the following use times are calculated:

LSM contains an 18000mAh battery that would allow

Yaesu 817ND

TX      2000mAh       9 hours total transmitting

RX      450mAh        40 hours total receiving

Charging               

iPhone 2900mAh       6 times from 0-100%

Tablet  3450mAh        5 times from 0-100%

Please note these are not combined or simultaneous use calculation but individual single item calculations.

 

Conclusion: as per the video the LSM performed brilliantly. Delivering a smooth quiet 12.2v for over 2 hours of use, plus charged my phone and tablet to get the battery down to 6/10.  

 

 

SOTA: 3 8 Point Summits, 2 Andrews and a day out 4WDing

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Being the owner of a lovely little 2wd city car can be a little bit limiting in tackling some of the more remote or far-flung VK1 Summits.

Just before Christmas, 2 legends of VK1 and indeed VK SOTA were planning a sojourn to 2 8 point summits just over the border into VK2 in the hills surrounding VK1

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Andrew VK1AD and Andrew VK1DA (yes, its is confusing doubly) offered a seat in the 4WD on the trip, and I jumped at the chance.

1AD was testing and comparing 2 antennas he had made for 23cm (1200Mhz) operation while 1DA was concentrating on SSB HF contacts, I qualified on 70cm and 2MFM operations.

You can read more about 1AD’s 23cm work on his blog here https://vk1nam.wordpress.com

While 2 summits were planned, we were making a good time so another drive up 8 pointers was added to the plan. The second summit required a bit of bush bashing, the drive up nature of the 3rd was a relief.

 

Check out my video from the triple activation.

 

 

 

 

SOTA: Mount Gillamatong - with a nice fat black snake

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I had itchy feet again and wanted to get out to activate a summit a tiny bit further afield than VK1 easy walk ups, Mt Gillamatong near Braidwood in regional NSW seemed to fit the bill nicely. 

 

A warm easy 1 hour drive east of Canberra and 10m from down town Braidwood - Gillamatong as looks rather imposing from the base.  We approached from the west near the local water treatment facility. This apparently is not the way others have in the past, however is the easier of the East / West approach options.  

Progress on the dirt track was momentarily halted by the appearance of a rather slippery character  - a rather well fed Red Belly Black Snake quickly moved off in search of a less disturbed hideout and we passed on. 

This is one of the few times my partner Frankie has joined me on SOTA activations. He is keen on the walking side but the sitting around while the radio bits are down 

This is one of the few times my partner Frankie has joined me on SOTA activations. He is keen on the walking side but the sitting around while the radio bits are down 

  Activation side of things were only undertaken for an hour or so with no nibbles on 2m or 70cm sadly.      HF seemed to be ok with my regular bands of 40 and 15m yielding results.       Below is a video of the activation.  

  Activation side of things were only undertaken for an hour or so with no nibbles on 2m or 70cm sadly. 

 

HF seemed to be ok with my regular bands of 40 and 15m yielding results.  

 

Below is a video of the activation.  

SOTA: Mt Livingston VK2/SM-093 - Wet n Wooly

I will be the first to admit the last 3 months have been amazing.

Every activation has been under clear skies, the sun on my back (or frying my neck).

Well, Mt Livingston turned that on its head. Checking weather reports all week - windy but only 10% chance of rain.

And when did my activation come? you guessed it during that 10% window.

I had planned a LONG last activation hopping around the bands - sadly, all in all, I managed 10 min before and 10 min after UTC before succumbing to numbness of the logging fingers and worrying about water in the radio that was already nestled in the pack. Summit temp was below zero with windchill.

 

Although I said to John @ZL1BYZ and Jacky - no video, I made one on the hill and a few QSOs later.

 

Thanks for all the fun guys and girls. I will be back around Nov/Dec 2017. Until then I will be scuba diving in the Gili Islands of Indonesia undertaking my Dive Master program. Oh and I might have a new callsign by then - will also need to buy that web address too...

All 16 SOTA videos are here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA20AqXLbeiaNFfDBEAx7zZWX_iXSnQ9i2

The first couple are with a verticle - the rest on my Linked Dipole up a 7m squidpole.
Thanks again,

Wade

VK1FWBD.com
Wadeabout.com

SOTA: VK1/AC-044 Boboyan Ridge - Bush-bash and DX S2S

Summit number 15 for 2017 was HARD. Not because it is long but it is a bush bash. Zero formed trail. I couldn't take my eyes off the GPS track for more than a minute and I would be well off track.

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Temps have dropped in Canberra as they normally do after ANZAC Day on 25 April. I left home at about 0800 in 5C. The walk to the summit was in 7-10, not a breath of wind. a crisp clear day!

Driving about 90 mins south from my home location in North Canberra, entering Namadgi National Park which occuipes the entire south of the Capital Territory.

The summit is in the very south east of the park even off the tar road and about a 30-45 min bush bash. Not only any I watching the GPS track, I am making sure I don't fall into Wombat holes - and there are a few of them.

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The actual summit is a small rock Cairn, I added two to the pile.

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After setting up I ended up working about 23 stations, including ZL2ATH, a DX summit t0 summit. My first. a real buzz

 

Due to the location (no phone service) as well as the restrictions of my VK Foundation License (No APRS / DATA modes), Andrew @VK1AD provided radio overwatch via our local 2M repeater, which even on the valley slope I couldn't hit until getting higher. He did all my spotting too. I have said it before - everyone should get themselves an Andrew!

On the way back I stopped off at Hospital Hill Look out which gives an excellent look at the more challenging summits within the park.

 

The long video is uploaded and live now:

 

This will likely be my second last summit until almost Christmas 2017

Wade
VK1FWBD.com

SOTA: Quick activation of Canberra's iconic Black Mountain VK1/AC-042

As you can see there is a fair bit of interferance possible from the tower site, I have been advised that 2M is practically a no go.
However even with the quiet morning activation I managed to snag enough to activate a 'day' eariler than I had planned!

Video is up.

Summit number 14 for me.

Wade

VK1FWBD.com

SOTA: Double Activation today - VK2/IL-001 & VK2/IL-005

Thanks to @VK1AD for the suggestion of 2 summits close by each other that allows a fast double activation.
As you can see from the log, the calls came thick and fast.

Odd trig point hidden amoung the bushes

Dual summit log

This was also my first activation with my partner. He wasn't too keen on the sitting around while I was having the fun.

I think I counted 5 or more S2S, in fact IL-005 was activated in short order with just S2S!

Thanks to Compton for trying both FM which I was just monitoring and 40m later too!

Fluffy carpet of soft moss

Did anyone follow on APRS? VK1FWBD-5. It if it useful for chasers to know my timing I am happy to run it again.

EDIT:  received a number of comments from other operators - NO I did not transmit on RF. I was using the phone network. Entirely within the rules. Checked multiple sources and multiple times. This was at the request of much more experienced and knowledgeable operators. 

Does this look like a rooster to you??

Does this look like a rooster to you??

Taking my summits to 13 since Mid Feb '17 when I was activated. I am out again tomorrow near UTC to keep an eye on sotawatch.

Wade
VK1FWBD.com

SOTA Mt Rob Roy VK1/AC-031 - 3/3 summit challenge - Are my legs still there????

The locals not happy I disturbed their publish holiday sleeping  

The locals not happy I disturbed their publish holiday sleeping  

After the initial tortuously steep climb out of the suburbs, bursting into the morning sunshine before entering the Rob Roy Nature Park was a very pleasant surprise - i suspect the sleeping locals (above) were not impressed with my intrusion.

 

Rob Roy was the 3rd of the 3 summits I had challenged myself to complete by the end of the Easter long weekend. Each increasingly more challenging in height and approach as the last.

The actual summit is off the track however the entry to the foot trodden bush track is marked by a mini carn (below) .

 

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Mt Rob Roy's trig point is unusual, I have not seen one like this before.  3 metal support arms with a wooden upright indication.  Which makes for a good squid pole support!!

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As the log shows before I had a really good day on the radio, scoring some more ZL stations (NZ for non radio folks) 

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Map of my contacts: 

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Summit to summit contacts: 

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Video of the day's activation: 

 

 

SOTA: VK1/AC-033 Bullen Range - Gates, Deer and DX- Summit 2/3 this weekendOTA:

Summit number 2 of 3 this weekend, I shall remember Bullen Ridge for 2 things - its gates (5) and the BIG Buck Deer that snuck on on me in the AZ while I was setting up.

This summit also saw my first DX stations on my own gear on 5w - 2 ZL stations.

LOG:

 

 

Some of the locals enjoying the afternoon sun:

QSO, including 2 ZLs

4 S2S 

Video:

Long video but its all good 

SOTA VK2/ST-053 Mt Mundoonan Summit 1/ 3 of the Easter weekend

I set myself the challenge of knocking over 3 summits over during the easter long weekend - and they are all more challenging than my others to date.

The Mt Mundoonan Summit is exactly 50km North of GPO Canberra city, just to the east of Yass NSW.

It was an absolute smashing day, no wind and with early low lying cloud - the summits was above them!

A great day on the radio, knocking over my 1st NSW summit along with my 1st of my weekend 3.

 

SOTA and Mental Health - how it's helping.

SOTA, Amateur Radio and how it is helping me fight depression and anxiety

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I mentioned in one of my more recent SOTA videos that I was going to write about how SOTA was helping me fight depression and anxiety. I understand that some might consider it a long bow or even not get it entirely.

Before I get into the how or why it is helping, lets get some definitions at least as they relate to my brands of anxiety and depression.

Anxiety

In basic terms, Anxiety is the miss-timed or miss-activation of the fight of flight response. Faced with a bear? Flight or flight is normal, having an heart racing, mind running at a million miles an hour and feeling out of breath, having that repeating thought that some one is out to ‘get’ you in the middle of the supermarket? Thats my anxiety. Supermarket, car, work, laying in bed, it springs up on me .

Depression

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You know that thing you love? Being outdoors? Being with friends? Fishing? Building things? Exercising? You know that feeling you get even thinking or planning to do that? Yeah for me depressions is the colour sucked out of life, I simply do not get the same buzz from things that I know I love and enjoy. Some people see that as ‘Wade is just being lazy’ - I can tell you I WANT to do things, but my brain is all like “why bother”.

OK so those out of the way. Think mental health is just a ‘mental’ thing? Yeah tell that to the 10kgs that joined me this year since diagnosis because the normal active things I like have no ‘colour’ to them.

So back to SOTA and Amateur Radio

I recently obtained my Australian Amateur Radio License (Feb 2017) and since completing it, I discovered this section of the hobby that combines elements I really enjoy. Being outdoors, learning new skills and tinkering with different set ups. And it is making the depression and anxiety disappear - at least for the day I am outdoors!

What is SOTA?


There are designated mountain / hill summits world wide, in the ACT there are currently 48. They are assigned a rating based on height and difficulty, with some earning a bonus 3 points in winter due to possible snow.
The aim of SOTA is to make 4 contacts (voice or morse code) from the summit to consider it ‘activated”.
A station / operator on the summit is the activator, the home station is called a chaser. Summit to summits contacts between 2 ‘activators’ are a real bonus with points shared.

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Every weekend (apart 1) since I have been licensed I have been out activating a summit. This involves selecting a summit, planning or researching a route, packing gear, planning the activation, recording video and photos to share with you.

How is it helping? Well many MH professionals suggest being outdoors and doing physical activities along with having goals that are achievable - guess what ticks all those boxes?? SOTA it is. Also side note have lost between 3-4kgs lighter!

SOTA: Mt Taylor VK1/AC-037

I keep saying it, another weekend and another summit!

The VK summer is definitely coming to an end, the weather is Canberra has started its usual turn for the worse in April. That being said yesterday it was a rather glorious day on the summit of Mt Taylor, VK1/AC-037 one of the tallest summits located within the ACT residential area at 850m ASL.

Taking Andrew (VK1AD)'s advice I stayed clear of the trig point as it gets VERY busy with walkers of all descriptions. This gave me a chance to test out not only my new 7m squid pole which was much lighter than my 10m one but, also my DIY free standing guying system. Up until now, I had always had the trig or another structure to strap the squidpole to.

 

Activation:


Another HUGE (by my standard) day with the summit qualified on HF 40m in under 5 mins!

Longest distance was over 950km just north of Brisbane (VK4).

I had not looked much into the WWFF or Parks program however the last 2 summits were also in parks. My (limited) understanding is 44 contacts are needed to activate the park over a UTC year, I managed to activate both parks in 1 sitting each!
4 2S2 

Working VK1DI, Ian on 2 summits in one day!
 

 

 

 

 

DIY guying system:

I had been looking for a super lightweight guying system. I had seen some operators using 3D printed collars etc, but as I was building it on a Friday prior to a Saturday activation (I am a bad planner) to a trip to the local hardware was in order.

I managed to put together a system using a plumbing collar and 3 stainless steel wire key ring loops.  
How did it work? PERFECTLY. It sits about 3m up so gives a good stability point.
 


 *Video will be pasted here once uploaded*

Resources:
Log to Map: http://www.on6zq.be/w/index.php
Summit logging, I use a Lenovo tablet ($90AUD) and VK-Port-a-Logger

Hope you enjoy, look forward to hearing you on the air.

Wade
VK1FWBD
VK1FWBD.com

SOTA Tuggernong Hill VK1/AC-038

What a day!!!

Far from being a joke, 1 April went down pretty awesome on Tuggerong Hill AC-038.

1 - 2 April is also AM weekend, I had never made a contact on AM.

A number of chasers didn't see the note on the AM mode to being able to pick when a chaser is on SSB was also a new skill.

NB I have only had my license for 7-8 weeks. I have managed now 7 summits, even if 1 pointers.

After a solid 4 hours working the band I managed a phenomenal 44 contacts and 9 or more contacts S2S.

SOTA: VK1/AC-035 One Tree Hill

It was a weekend, so you guessed it. I was out playing radio.

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A few things waylaid me today by over an hour from my spot time, sadly this means 2 thing - Temp is up and the atmospheric layers have risen.

Never mind, more than activate. Managed more VK2s than ever before with even a station in Bondi coming back (VK2NNN from memory)

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Time(Z) Freq   Mode CS                    S2S?
0131 7.095MHz SSB VK3LED
0131 7.095MHz SSB VK3FQSO
0132 7.095MHz SSB VK2IO
0134 7.095MHz SSB VK2NNN
0136 7.095MHz SSB VK2YW
0138 7.095MHz SSB VK7FAMP VK7/SW-008
0142 7.095MHz SSB VK5IS
0145 7.095MHz SSB VK3WAR
0149 7.095MHz SSB VK1CT
0208 7.095MHz SSB VK3SQ
0218 7.095MHz SSB VK1DI
0228 7.095MHz SSB VK2UH
0318 145.9MHz FM VK1MA

There was not a breath of wind - was truly an amazing spot on the north border of ACT. I have included some pictures of the day. There wasnt much shade.. so I made my own!

A special thanks to the VK5 couple who waited on their summit before ceasing operations to work a summit to summit contact. 

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And YES there was another SNAKE! .. a big fat brown. Another top 10 deadliest.

 

SOTA: Activating Mt McDonald VK1/AC-048 - including a Snake!

2 summits in 2 days, starting to get regular SOTA contacts now

Turning around right on the heels of Activating Mt Majura yesterday, I thought I would give Mt McDonald a try. This trail was a different type to Mt Majura with less shade. I am also learning that I am hitting the trail as well as the airwaves too late in the day - noon local. Not only from a safety perspective but from a band conditions point of view.

This activation was a "just get it done" one for me. It was hot, dry and exposed. I only made 1 HF contact this trip. But 4 contacts is 4 contacts!

On the way back I even came across a small snake crossing the path. I think it was an Inland Taipan. Nothing to worry about, only the worlds' number 1 snake.

 

Log:

Time    Call    Band    Mode        Notes
01:34z  VK1MA   144MHz  FM      Matt S57 R59+
02:07z  VK7CW   7MHz    SSB     S52 R33
02:13z  VK1DI   144MHz  FM      S59 R59
03:00z  VK1XX   144MHz  FM      S59 R59+

Longest range contact on 5w again 700km: 

Gear:

HF:

Radio: Yaesu FT-817ND running on 5w using internal battery

Antenna: PAC12 QRP loaded vertical with ground radials

2m:

Radio: Baofeng UV5R, using SMA to BNC antenna connection

Antenna: 2m BNC antenna that came with the Yaesu FT-817ND