When the power goes out, are you ready? A lot of people are counting on nice and shiny generators to “get them through”. That’s fine and good if you have a supply of fuel, extra parts and a mechanic on your team but……What if you were away from home or your generator breaks? Do you know how to “find” power? It’s all around you everyday you just have to know where to look.
Let me start by saying there is nothing wrong with “nice and shiny generators”. I have one and it is great! We are talking about if it’s not available or if it is out of service. Also this is not an article on solar power, that’s a different post. Lets say you are at the office and things get REAL…….. You have your HT but the battery pack is getting low and there is no way to charge it. Look around, you need 12 volts DC fast. Where are you going to find it? In this post, I am not teaching an action but a way to look at things around you; a skill not a specific motion. If you are in an office, the first thing to look for might be a computer UPS (uninterrupted power supply). If things are that, bad use it. Next thing to look for are exit signs. Most of these signs have either a 12 volt or 6 volt sealed battery in them to maintain operation when power goes off. You can harvest the battery and with the right skills, interface it with your radio. If it is a 6 volt battery, find two and wire them in series. One of these batteries will run your HT, CB or Yaesu FT-817 a long time. Of course if you need a bigger power source and it is available, abandoned cars, trucks and motor homes all have 12 volt batteries. What about that old lawn tractor?? Yep, 12 volts there too. The trick is to use low current draw gear. Think QRP…….. All of those 1500 watt HF stations are gonna go quiet, real fast. In an event like this your ingenuity and operating skills will shine. There are a lot of fancy power packs out there but they will do you no good unless they are with you, learn to “run what you brung”. Use your resources and adapt. You need a QRP HF dipole? You have your radio but no wire? Think old extension cord, think miles of CAT 5 cable up in the drop ceiling. This stuff is everywhere.
Here are some tools of the trade you can keep close at hand to “borrow” power:
1. Good multi tool (Leatherman or Swisstool)
2. Good flashlight (Stream Light or Maglite etc.)
3. A 12 volt “cigarette lighter to clamps” cable (see pictures)
4. 12 volt connections for your radio gear
5. 88 tape (electrical tape)
6. Small length of wire (this can be field expedient)