Portable QRP Power

Rechargeable batteries have come a long way since we first tried them out in 1991.  At the time we bought a Panasonic ChargeMate.  Input: AC 120V, 60 Hz, 4W / Output: DC 2.4V, 90mAx2/35mAx2

While the charger worked the batteries lasted only a short time before needing to be re-energized.  Disappointed we put the charger in a drawer and left the technology behind.

A few weeks ago I ordered a 24 pack of NiCad batteries and a new charger.  The batteries are Panasonic Eneloops; the charger is a La Crosse Technologies BC700.


The features of the BC700 include:

  • Charge Mode: When you place a battery in the BC-700, the unit displays the voltage and the charge level of the battery. The BC-700 then begins charging (at the factory-default 200mA) up to the maximum voltage and then switches to Trickle Charging when the battery is fully charged. As an alternative to automatic 200 mA charging in all four operating modes, you can manually select any of several higher charging currents, depending upon how many batteries are in the charger.
  • Discharge Mode: This can remove the memory effects of rechargeable batteries by discharging them and then recharging at lower current levels to their full capacity.
  • Refresh Mode: Recovers the optimum capacity of old rechargeable batteries by repeatedly discharging and charging them until it detects no further increase in the batteries’ capacities.
  • Test Mode: The batteries are first fully charged and then discharged to determine their capacities. Next, the batteries are charged again, and the capacity in mAh or Ah (milliamp-hours or amp-hours) is shown after the charging ends.

There is a possibility of heating/fire with this model should the batteries become overcharged.  In spite of that this charger received very good reviews and I think that what is needed is to not turn the charger on and simply walk away.  Be vigilant and present.  I decided to use these for my power source for my MTR 3b simply because of convenience and availability.  I may go to a LiPO later on.  But for now I will test this out; others have and found it to be quiet useable.

Here are the AA battery packs I bought, four of them.  They were a buck a piece.  I need to add connectors and rubber bands to ensure the batteries stay in place if they are jostled in transit/use.

BNC Connectors

I have never used BNC connectors before.  Living where I do they are not to be had.  In order to fabricate my own I had to order: wire/cable (RG 58 and 714), cable ratchet crimper, and BNCs.  I also ordered AA and 9V battery cases/connectors.  All of this will at last allow me to get my SOTA station up and on the air.  I shopped for suppliers of these components.  Pricing these items out in both Canada and the USA I found that the US supplier saved me over $50CDN for the identical items even with international shipping and customs duty imposed.  For me that is a substantial savings.  It took only one week for my items to arrive which is roughly comparable to what it takes for items to come from eastern Canada.

This is the BNC ratchet crimper I received.  The crimp sizes are marked on its jaws.



Here is a nice video on how to use it…

Rice Creek, Porcupine Hills, Manitoba

South of me they raise wheat; north of me they raise wolves.


Manitoba is a made up of three distinct geographical regions: the southern prairies, the central lowlands, and the northern Canadian Shield. I live along the transition between the three of them where they come together in the northwest region of the province. Three great escarpments were raised in sympathy with the Rocky Mountains, and run along Manitoba’s western boundary with Saskatchewan, Riding Mountain, the Duck Mountain, and the Porcupine Hills. This is the northeast corner of the Porcupines from below and its precipitous rise gives a spectacular view to the northeast toward Hudson Bay at Rice Creek.  Only 27 more of these horizons and you are in salt water! And there are only a couple of settlements between here and Churchill.

As good as this looks for a SOTA site, it does not qualify.  Nevertheless, I will some day set up and transmit from here just for fun.

Here’s what it looks like from below…

New Key

fullsizeoutput_2b75I had never used a single paddle key before but it took me only a very short time before I could send code without a problem with this CT755 MB-L.  It’s a delightful little key and it works best for me to place it on my leg with the mechanism under my hand, stabilizing it for field use…

CT755 MB-L

I ordered a mini-paddle for SOTA operation from UR5CDX.  It arrived today.  it took a month to get here. It is a single paddle brass keyer.


It was very well packed…

It is a pleasure to operate, measures 2″ x 2″ and weighs exactly 1#.


It may weigh more than what many consider appropriate for SOTA work, but I value a paddle that does not move around and do not want to use one that requires two hands, one to hold it and one to operate.

SOTA Gifts

I would say that thanks is the highest form of thought,
and that gratitude is thankfulness doubled by wonder.

– GK Chesterton (alt.)


This week I unexpectedly received a package from a mutual SOTA affectionado.  In it there was a Pacific Antenna dual 20/40 trap dipole kit, a couple of BNC connectors, 33′ of RG 174 coax, and a couple of SOTA Beams antenna wire winders.

It was a really nice surprise.

Gratitude arises from thankfulness for the goodness of life that comes from beyond ourselves.  Gratitude is the queen of virtues, wrote Cicero.

Gratitude needs to be distinguished from appreciation.

Gratitude recognizes that something has been conferred – a benefaction.

Teachers whom we most revere are not necessarily those who taught well, but who opened us up to ourselves.

Gratitude is a disposition of the soul and something that shapes our thoughts, and our feelings, and most importantly, our actions.

Thank you!  :)