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Batteries and Chargers

Hi, I’m new to SOTA and I would like to start. However I am having great difficulty locating Lifepo batteries in the United Kingdom. Many of the local battery suppliers in my area don’t have a clue what I am talking about and seem to think I’m off my tree! They sell automotive and leisure lead acid batteries.

The only supplier I found online is Hobby King. They seem to be focussed on the radio control model market. While they do have a suitable lifepo battery available, suitable balance chargers are nowhere to be found. Again, all the electrical suppliers have no idea what I am going on about and have never heard of Lifepo or balanced chargers! Of the places that do have them in their catalogue, they are out of stock absolutely everywhere! Literally everywhere with no indication of when they will be in stock if ever.

Is there a national shortage of Lifepo batteries and chargers? If so? Why? It seems like a barrier preventing me from starting SOTA unless I can carry a heavy lead acid battery up to the summits!

Am I going the wrong way about this? Does anyone have any suggestions? I can’t see any way forward. No point buying a battery that I cannot charge.

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Welcome to SOTA! Many activators use batteries and chargers sourced from Hobby King. I have their Turnigy Accucell 6 charger and it has been excellent. There might be a newer version of it. I have several LiPO batteries from them, from 500-2400 mAh, 3S and 4S.

73, Barry N1EU

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Thanks, but the problem is I cannot get a hold of one of these chargers. They are completely out of stock absolutley everywhere. Either they are no longer being manufactured or there is a national shortage of them for some reason. It seems to be a real barrier for me doing SOTA as the only other option I can think of is to carry a lead acid battery.

Hi Austin

Welcome aboard!

I bought a LiFePo and charger from Hobby King a few years ago, but that is not helpful if you are struggling right now.

Chosing an alternative will depend rather on how you want to use it. The internal batteries of an FT817 / FT818 are often scoffed at, but they will give you an hour or two of activation, depending on mode etc (heavy drain on FM, less so on SSB or CW). I’ve done three activations in a day without a recharge whilst on holiday and not wanting to carry extra batteries…

I notice that from this Thursday 7th May, Lidl are selling 12v 4AH Lion battery packs for their electric tool range for UKP 14-99, and a charger for UKP 12-99. It’s probably not an ideal shape for carrying around, and you would have to arrange some safe, fused, connections, but might be worth a look…

Or you could go low power CW and run on a PP3 :smile:

73
Adrian
G4AZS

Thanks! I might buy one and try it. Maybe four of them would do the job. Problem is my radio requires 13.8V +/- 10% which I believe is standard for most radios. I don’t think 12V is enough.

Also, sorry if I sound like a naysayer, but I could probably achieve the mountain goat award before I become competent enough at morse code to operate SOTA CW :wink:

The “drill” batteries will be nominally 12v, but Lithium Ion cells are typically 3.6V, and this pack will have 4 of them in series, giving about 14.4V (*). By the time they get down to 3.0V per cell, they will be pretty much discharged, and as with any Lithium battery, you would want to avoid running them flat because that shortens their life dramatically.

(*) I haven’t used one of these, and it may well have some internal circuitry for protection against overload, over charging, or over discharging, so don’t take my word on what voltage to expect, exactly.

If you search on this reflector for your particular radio, you are likely to find comments from other owners about what types of battery they have used successfully…

CW - I take your point, but it’s well worth a dabble, and chasers are famously helpful to those starting out…

I’m not sure what you will be powering which may affect the current capacity you need.

Genuine SKYRC Imax B6 is available from Amazon.co.uk for £29.95 + shipping (I try my best to not buy from Bezos’ empire because his empire dodges UK tax).

You can get 2S 1700mAh LiFE packs from Hobbyking’s UK warehouse. 2 in series will give nominal 13.2V. 2 in series in parallel with 2 in series gives 13.2V @ 3400mAh for £48.07 delivered which is not much more than the 4200 cells cost when they were available.

I’ve used one of these for over 5 years now, as does the DX magnet 2E0YYY. Comes with charger and will power my ft857 all day, in fact it lasted a week in GM when I left the charger at home. It may be a bit of overkill for what you need. If you wait for the hobbyking 4200 to come back in stock (see other thread), I have one and bought a “Quanum E4 Cube” charger for about £18 which works well. One thing to watch with the vast array of chargers is to make sure it runs off mains electricity, a lot run off 12v.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/ULTRAMAX-Golf-Lithium-golf-trolley-battery-12V-18-27-Hole-LiFePO4-WITH-CHARGER-/113316861464?nav=SEARCH

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That’s a LiPO only charger according to Hobbyking’s description.

I have a 12V power supply so I don’t mind if it doesnt work on the mains. I’m just worried about buying a substandard or dangerous charger as I’m not familiar with any of the brands. I haven’t heard of any of them before

Charges my 4200 a treat.

Thanks, I’ve seen 4s Lifepo batteries which hobby king have in stock, either 5000mAh or 10000mAh. But it’s the chargers I cannot find. I don’t know what a good charger is because I’ve never heard of any of the brands and I don’t want to buy something substandard or dangerous. The popular Turnigy accucell 6 seems to have ceased production. It has been out of stock everywhere for a good while now

In the UK? There are all sorts of rules about shipping batteries involving Lithium now. You may find that the cost is either prohibitive or they just will not handle shipping Lithium packs from outside the UK.

Yeah, if only there was a website where you could ask a range of people who have been using Lithium RC packs and chargers for over 10 years which was a good charger.

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Radio Hams tend to look for the cheapest batteries available and when they do find them, they’ll look again for second hand examples. Buy cheap, buy twice. There’s no short cut with batteries…Period.

As Steve G1INK has pointed out, go with LiFePO4…Bullet proof. My 22Ah example is now close to 7 years old and is as good as the day it left the factory. The 18Ah example he’s sent you a link to, weighs 2.2 Kg, and comes supplied with a fast charger. Should be good for 2000 cycles. The real clever bit is, it also come with over discharge protection.

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Bingo! Thanks very much 2E0YYY and G1INK looks like just the thing, and charger included as well! Thanks for your help. One thing though, my radio requires 13.8V +/- 10%. A bit worried that 12V is slightly below what is required. Also, what do you think of the following battery? A bit less capacity, slightly cheaper, but still, charger included
https://www.batterymasters.co.uk/lithium-phosphate-batteries/lifepo4-batteries/li7-12-12v-7ah-lithium-iron-phosphate-lifepo4-battery-charger-included-l-mm-w-mm-h-mm-151-65-98.html

Lifepo4 cells are nominally 3.2v, so it depends how the cells are connected, but I would imagine it would be 13.2v nominal. Most mainstream transceivers operate fine between 11-14v, it’s normally stated in the handbook. What is your radio, out of interest!
ps, I’ve no experience of the other battery on your link. By the dimensions, I think it’s a straight swap for a 7aH SLAB. If so, why didn’t they build in a bit more capacity. I have seen them offered at rallies before but I’ve always steered clear … They may be fine, who knows?

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My radio is Yaesu FT450D. It states 13.8V +/- 10%. The nominal voltage on the 7Ah battery with charger I found on the link on my last post is 12.8V according to the data sheet which should be fine. I know that the FT450D isn’t as portable as the radios that most SOTA enthusiasts are using but I won’t let it put me off. I’ve seen some Aussies use it for SOTA and other portable work :wink:

Yes, good point about the dimensions. It’s as if it is supposed to be a specific fit for where there was previously an equivalent slab. Makes you wonder if there is a lot of empty space or polystyrene inside!

Which to me, sounds like it is intended for use in an intruder alarm setting, which is low current. Your radio will want 22amps at full power, and not much less at 10w, so make sure your choice of battery can supply it.