ETH022 – Emergency Power


Hello everybody and welcome back to the Everything Ham Radio Podcast! In this episode we are going to talk about Emergency Power. While the episodes this quarter have been about “Things to do on HF”, this topic is more of a general ham radio topic and ties into our mini theme of Field Day which is coming up in a couple of weeks.

Emergency power comes in all shapes and sizes. You can have a gas generator or a solar panel with batteries. It really on depends on what you want and how much you want to spend. There are some repeaters that run solely on “backup power”. This type of setup will generally have a whole bank of batteries and a solar panel to charge them.

Gas Generators

Gas-Generator-power-inverters - Emergency Power

Gas generators are probably the most typical type of
backup power that is used. They can range from a
small 1000 watt generator that GasGenerator-house - Emergency Poweryou buy from like a home improvement store or department store all the way up to a 20+kW generator that would be used to power like an Emergency Operations Center. For the typical end-user, I wouldn’t think that you would need anymore than like 2000-3000 watts, if you just want one to power a radio or two, you could probably get away with just a 1000 watt generator

Solar PowerPhotovoltaic array - pole-mounted - Emergency Power

Solar power uses solar cell or solar panels to collect energy from the sun and converts it to
electricity to be stored and/or used by electronics. You can have a small solar panel that you can buy for less than $100 at a department store to charge up a small power to power your phone or other small device.

If you take it to the next step and go with a medium-sized panel, you could hook it to a deep cycle battery or two and run your station off of it. If you connect multiple batteries together in parallel, you can get longer use out of the batteries, but it will also take longer to charge them depending on how much wattage and current the panel put out.

Solar_panels_on_a_roof - Emergency PowerIf you really want to go all in on solar power, you can even line your roof with solar panels and have a large bank of batteries and power you whole house. As I was looking for the Club Spotlight club for this episode I ran across a club that recently changed their web host to someone who ran entirely off of solar power. Check out this status page for their host’s power information on his house. His entire house is powered by solar and he even has excess power and is able to sell it back to the electric company.

This is a really neat video that I saw on Facebook several months ago about a new type of solar panel setup that would be awesome for Field Day or any other contest.

Wind Power

resd wind turbine -$460 at HD - Emergency Power
400 Watt, 12 Volt wind Turbine from Home Depot

Although it more rare than solar, wind power is also an option for emergency power. I do see wind power to be more of a whole house type thing though, but I guess if you really wanted to you could make a smaller wind turbine that could be used on a smaller basis. Like with the solar, the wind turbines would charge a battery or set of batteries and your equipment would run off the batteries.

The biggest issues I see with wind power is there has to be some wind before you will generate electricity so unlike solar you would be more at the whim of mother nature. At least with solar, as long as it is during the day, you will get at least some electricity generation.


Human Power

human generator amateur radio - Emergency PowerSo here is an alternative that will work anytime day or night, whether it is windy or not. Not only that, but you would also get exercise while you’re at it. I saw a video on Facebook not to long ago about a stationary bicycle that was hooked to a generator and would power a lot of stuff to a long amount of time. How true the video actually was, I’m not sure and I have my doubts. However, i have heard stories about people using some kind of stationary bike to generate the power to run radios using QRP. So there ya go, the best of both worlds. You get to talk on the radio and ride a bike…or maybe have someone else riding the bike while you are talking on the radio, yea, that sounds better. Click on the image to the left to check out how the found of K-TOR, KB1YAO, takes his K-TOR generator to a field day event in 2012 and tests it out.

More Than Safe Blog

My wife has started her very own blog describing our journey through the foster care system and things that happen to us and how we dealt with the situation. Some things may just be foster care related but some of the stuff can be used as just general parenting. If you are a parent or are interested in learning a little bit about the foster care system, please check out her blog at If you like what you see, subscribe to her email list to get notifications on when she puts up something new.

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Amateur Radio Club Spotlight

WSSM Logo - Emergency Power

Wireless Society of Southern Maine






  • (From September-May) We meet the second Thursday of each month, from 7PM-9PM at the Gorham Recreation Department, located at the Municipal Center, in Gorham, ME.
  • (From June-August) We meet each Thursday from 7PM-9PM at the Banquet Hall at Wassamki Springs Campground, located at 56 Saco Street in Scarborough, ME.


  • No formal nets that are hosted by the club. However they do participate in local area nets.


  • None


  • Field Day
  • Lighthouse Activations
  • MS Walk
  • Maine QSO Parties

This club offers several awards for this like Worked All Maine(make a contact in all 16 counties in Maine), Maine Lighthouses Award(make contacts with at least 10 Maine Lighthouses, and one called the Upside Down Award(make contact with five stations where their call sign is the same upside down or reversed.

There are several amateur radio projects on their site as well. Things ranging from a Modulated CW circuit to a band pass filter to Direction Finding Transmitter. Each project has a nice write-up about the project as well as instructions how to do it.

The club has trading at their meetings. Looking through the past topics they all look to be interesting topics. On top of the meeting training they also have something that I think I’m going to present to my local club to maybe do. They randomly choose a member to make a message that no one knows what it will be about. Then they set a certain frequency and time. At that time the operator will deliver the message and people who are listening will copy it. At the next club meeting they will talk about it and see who got a correct copy on it. They do it on a simplex frequency which I don’t think would work well for my club since the county I live in is like 35 miles across and 30 miles up and down.

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Until next time…

73 de Curtis, K5CLM

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