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HF Contesting on a Budget
Ideas, Hints and Tips

Home > HF Contesting > Budget Fun > Power Supplies
This page contains ideas, hints and tips about Power Supplies that will help you to enjoy the sport of HF Contesting without emptying the pocketbook.
Power Supplies.
The modern transmitter or transceiver often comes with an external, optional power supply designed to provide the 13.8v required by many of today's equipment. The reason this value was chosen is not abitrary; is it the voltage of a fully-charged lead-acid car battery, allowing equipment to be used mobile as well as fixed. Here lies a clue as to how a budget contester can save money. Rather than purchasing an expensive power supply, you can run your equipment from surplus car batteries, and use a cheap battery charger to constantly float-charge them whilst operating. This way, the battery provides the main store of power and a steady voltage that the rigs require. Little current is taken during receive, and the charger will top up the store for when you next transmit. Care should be taken against possible over-voltage, and you should also be aware that batteries produce an explosive gas when being charged.
For those interested in a more eco-friendly power source, the batteries can also be charged from a variety of non-polluting sources such as solar or wind power. A charge regulator should always be employed with such varying generators; you can find plenty of information on how to design and build your own systems these days. Such a power source would be very useful on portable operations too, for AREN, field day or IOTA island stations. Its a pity no one has yet devised a way of generating electricity from rain, or here in Ireland we would have no shortage of power !
For those interested in HomeBrewing parts of their contest station, the mains power supply is not a difficult project to attempt. Whilst a suitable transformer, smoothing capacitors and heatsink are the hardest items to obtain, the rest should not present much difficulties, and circuits can be found in many books and magazines. Suitable IC regulators are available to do most of the difficult jobs. Don't forget to include adequate over-voltage protection for your rig in case a fault develops in the power supply.
Shack Power.
The shack will require many more socket outlets than are found in the average room, and it is important that when adding to them, the wiring is done in a safe and proper manner by a competent electrician, and that none of the existing wiring is overloaded, although the power used by most amateur equipment is small. Multiblocks are used by many people to increase the sockets available, though these rarely have individual switches which can be useful for isolating a particular item, and the cheaper ones often have very poor connections inside. Budget Contesters can make their own multblocks by using a number of double sockets mounted on a wooden board. It can be very useful to have all shack power controlled from one switch mounted just inside the doorway. Make sure all members of the family know its location in case of emergency.

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