My First Rechargeable Portable Power

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One of the things I’ve been craving for my ham radio station/toolkit is the ability to operate portably on HF. Whether that is for emergency purposes or for POTA (Parks on the Air), I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now.

My dream got a little closer a few months ago when I went camping in the spring of 2023. I needed portable power while camping because the location I was going to, did not have any electrical hookups. So, I invested in a Jackery Explorer 500.

This served its purpose while camping, and lasted most of the trip.

Well, I’ve been investigating the “DC Output” ports on the Jackery Explorer 500. It seems to have your traditional “cigarette lighter” port (also known as “automobile auxiliary power outlet” or “AAPO”) and two smaller DC output ports. Which, after lots of investigating, the smaller DC output ports seem to be non-standard and would involve me making my own adaptor from scratch. (I like electronics, but I don’t trust my soldering skills quite yet.)

Anyways, fast forward to a few days ago, and I decided to try a different route.

I decided to try to find an adaptor that would connect from the power on my Yaesu FT-857D to an AAPO. Now, I know the manual for the FT-857D says not to plug into a AAPO port on a car, I figured a Jackery would be able to supply the necessary voltage and current.

So, I ended up buying this a few days ago: Short Wave Car Charger Cigarette Light Power Supply Cord Cable for Yaesu Radio FT-857D FT-897D IC-725A IC-706 - 1.5M (1#)

Well, it arrived tonight!

I plugged it into my FT-857D and into my fully charged Jackery and my radio powered on!

After making sure it can stay on and I checked the voltage reading on the radio (which says 13.1V instead of the 13.7V it says when plugged into the mains), I decided to try transmitting.

Already having JTDX and Gridtracker open on my laptop, I figure a quick FT8 test was the best way to see if things would continue to work.

After turning down the power to 25 watts on the radio, I gave FT8 on 20m a shot.

It worked and I made a few contacts!

I was even able to bump up the output power on my FT-857D to 50 watts without any issue either.

A few things to note. I’m not sure what the proper maths are behind converting the output power of my FT-857D and the draw from the Jackery, BUT here are a few rough estimates of what I’ve noticed so far.

  • 25 watts output on the radio, yields about 50 to 60 watts output on the Jackery display
  • 50 watts output on the radio, yields about 100 to 115 watts output on the Jackery display

I hope others find this useful! If you are thinking about getting a Jackery or a similar solar powered device, you should be good, at least with an Yaesu FT-857D.

73, K8VSY

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