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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All

I wanted to quickly shoot through my Ham Radio plan and see what people think and/or what I am forgetting. My focus was low price and versatility, while keeping in mind I doubt I will get into the hobby much more than turning it on while working in the garage, just to listen into the local net.

So quickly:

VHF at home setup
1 X 50 watt kenwood mobile VHF for use as a base radio at my house. (Free from father in law.)
Will run a nice antenna (again free) up to the roof.
Simplex repeater, to be able to operate locally via handhelds in case the local repeater is down.

HF Home
Free radio and dipole antenna from father in law. (+ some support equipment.)
Will setup the dipole in the trees out back.

Cars
For me and the wife I bought.
Not great, but they won't be used much.
My thought for car storage is to leave the batteries at home.
I think I will get a battery eliminator and leave the radio in the cars permanently, with a bigger mag mount antenna. I figure this way I won't have to worry about batteries.

Now the batteries, I plan on putting them on a timer and charging them like 15 minutes a day. I know its not good to keep them charging constantly for long periods, so I figure 15 minutes a day give me the best chance of them staying good for the longest periods of non-use. I do this with my rechargeable lantern batteries and emergency weather radio also.

Other things in the setup are:
1 deep cycle battery on a battery tender
50 watt solar cell, with charge controller
generator and plenty of fuel.
Backup J-pole and the ability to run it up a tree.
CB radio
Emergency Weather Hand Crank radio
FRS/GMRS Handhelds (same battery as above radio)

Questions:
Is my thought about battery storage right?
Will a battery eliminator work well enough?
Are there any general holes in this setup? I am not trying to go high quality and ultra redundant, just have basic range of capabilities. I figure with this stuff I have HF for long range news, Multiple VHF with the capability of running my own local simplex repeater, and at least a small UHF capability. CB, FRS and GMRS covered also. And enough juice to keep it running for a decent amount of time.

Most importantly, is the hope that I can leave enough equipment in my wifes car, that can sit there for 3 plus years without her ever touching it, and still be able to pull it out, and hit the local repeater to contact me in an emergency. (I know, practice is needed, but simple instructions might be enough in an emergency, more than that is pushing what the wife will remember/practice/care about.)

Thanks
 

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Battery eliminator is hardwired or plug in to cig lighter? You have the bands covered. I assume you have adapters and transformers. Is the solar panel just for after or are you parralleling with the 15checks min of charging? Or is the 15 min just for handheld batteries. Make sure your "battery eliminator" doesnt drain the car battery while car is off.
 

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The HT batteries might not like the 15 minute/day charging routine. I'd say you'd be better off running the batteries down once a month and then doing a full charge, I think the batteries will stay healthier. Without a load, they shouldn't self discharge appreciably inside of a month.

I'm not sure I see the point of running your own repeater. If your local ham club is like most, there's a pretty good chance your local repeater will be up even if power is down for an extended period.

I'm just going to assume you and your wife both have a license to operate, so I'd also suggest that you routinely test your equipment and practice communicating mobile-to-mobile and mobile-to-base, simplex and via repeater. You'll likely find locations in your area that are bad for 2m prop, or just out of range of the local repeater. Best to know where those places are before an emergency.

Since your HTs also operate 440, I'd test the range on that band in the area of your base. For local private comms in a SHTF situation, you'll almost certainly want to use 440 rather than 2m, as there will be less chance of the signal traveling farther than your immediate area and being overheard by others.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replys, the solar is just for emergency. Yes battery eliminator converts cigarete plug to battery voltage, and removes the requirement of a battery. (Search on ebay). Roger on the longer battery cycle, will see what i can find to automate that. As for the repeator, i agree, however, that main repeator will be heavy on traffic and everyone and their mother will be listening. Slightly lower POI on my own, and its cheap insurance. I have a license, plan on getting the wife one. Hear ya about practice, no prob for me, but the wife.... No one is perfect.
 

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I have a similiar setup at my house using a deep cycle battery and charger and have had this setup for years with no problems. I used to use a timer for the charger but have since left it on full time for the most part as i use a small amount of power continuously to keep a radio on 24/7 for monitoring purposes. Deep cycle marine batteries are the way to go here as they are more resilient to the deep discharge-charge cycles. The solar panel is another great idea. It will top off your battery each day, eliminating the need for external charging unless you have some serious high power usage going on, but it appears you're mostly on standby power with occasional use.(A larger solar array will offset this of course).

I had experimented with a simplex repeater and found them not very useful. They need to be placed midpoint between the communicating stations that are out of range and attempting to contact each other. You need the simplex repeater powered, with its own antenna. It may be useful to extend coverage if you work on say, the east side of town, and your wife is on the west side and your house in the middle with the simplex repeater. However it is confusing to utilize without practice, and practice doesnt appear to be in your plan. A simplex repeater is great to test propagation, send periodic announcements, etc - but to enhance communications range, probably not.

I suggest getting your wife licensed and you and she have some practice conversations with your setup, so she is familiar with its use and you can evaluate its capabilities. When a real emergency happens and cell service is not available - the radios will be used and appreciated! Take it from me as I work for a large telco. Any large disaster and cell phone usage will not be reliable. I saw it happen during the northeast blackouts, 9-11 and even the little earthquake NYC endurred that caused little damage but lots of panic. When EVERYONE reaches for their phone at once, the system cant handle it.

I agree with the iiiooxx - don't charge your ht batteries a little each day, or even each week. If they are kept at room temperature - they should last charged for several months. Hopefully you get to use them occasionally in that time to drain the battery down a bit before recharging them. The battery type also plays into it. Some batteries have memory, so short charge cycles are worse then draining then recharging. You have to read up on your battery type to see what it needs.

Good luck!
 
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