USER STORY: As a backpacker, I need a way to use my TH-F6A radio and iPhone 6 during my backpacking trip and not run out of battery before the end of the trip so that I can have fun with the devices during the trip and have them ready for use at any time during the trip in the event of an emergency to call for help.
In today's post, we will explore potential alternative solutions and compare them against our requirements.
Option 1: Conserve the battery
- Practical approach
- No cost
- No added weight
- Conserving the battery means using the devices sparingly over the trip. For the iPhone it means leaving the device powered off during the hike and powering it on when needed. Not very convenient for snapping photos while trekking. Keeping the HT powered off is a bit more feasible. However, we like to use the radios in our backpacking group to keep the front and rear in communication as we go to since we tend to string out a bit.
- This approach doesn't meet our acceptance criteria of being able to use the devices as much or as little as needed during the trek.
Option 2: Pack extra batteries
- Provides additional power when needed and quickly.
- Cost is within reason. A TH-F6A HT battery would be around $36 for 4000mAh. The mophie powerstation plus 3x with Lightning connector retails for $99.
- Packing one set of batteries would meet the weight limit acceptance criteria.
- On longer trips, one set of extra batteries may not be enough.
- Some conservation of battery power is still required.
Option 3: Pack a portable generator: BioLite Wood Burning CampstovePros
- Claims to provide portable power (USB).
- The BioLite Wood Burning Campstove had mixed reviews on Amazon.com.
- Heavier than our acceptance criteria (2.07 lbs/0.94Kg > limit of 1.5 lbs/0.68Kg)
- Can recharge via USB only. It does not provide 12Vdc recharge capability.
Option 4: Pack a portable generator: K-TOR Pocket Socket Hand Crank Generator
- Possible to recharge both USB and 12Vdc batteries.
- The weight is under the limit per our acceptance criteria (1.0 lbs/0.45Kg < limit of 1.5 lbs/0.68Kg)
- Cost is reasonable at $54.00 on Amazon.com
- The K-TOR Pocket Socket Hand Crank Generator had mixed reviews on Amazon.com. From the reviews is sounds like hand cranking is laborious and takes a long long time to recharge. This is a material consideration since backpacking can be physically exhausting. Having difficulty imaging cranking for hours after a day of backpacking 16 miles with elevation changes.
- Requires packing the transforms for iPhone and HT. This adds additional weight.
Option 5: Pack a solar panel: Goal Zero Nomad 7Pros
- Recharges USB devices.
- Recharges 12Vdc devices.
- Lightweight at 1.4 lbs/0.64Kg which is less than our acceptance criteria limit of 1.5 lbs/0.68Kg.
- Easy to use and requires no physical effort to generate power.
- Cost is reasonable at $77.31 on Amazon.com
- Solid reviews on Amazon.com.
- Well made and durable.
- Need direct sunlight to recharge. We have sunshine in abundance here in California so this isn't a material concern.
Option 5: Pack a solar panel: Goal Zero Nomad 7 is the clear winner among our alternatives. It fits the requirements very well. We are looking forward to putting it to the test.
In our next post in this series, "Project: Hacking the Nomad 7 Solar Panel for Amateur Radio Use" we will show step-by-step how we modified our Nomad 7 to make it more convenience to use with our Amateur Radio setup.
We will review how well the whole setup worked on a challenging backpacking backcountry adventure in our final post in the series.
Good DX and 73, NJ2X
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Articles in this series:
- Backpacking Amateur Radio Power: Requirements
- Backpacking Amateur Radio Power: Alternatives
- Project: Hacking the Nomad 7 Solar Panel for Amateur Radio Use
- Project: Fabricating a Anderson PowerPole to 3.4mm dc connector for the Kenwood TH-F6A
- Project: Regulating the 12v Output of the Nomad 7 Solar Panel
- Field Test: Nomad 7 Solar Panel Performance
© Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2016.