Other SOTA sites: SOTAwatch | SOTA Home | Database | Summits | Video | Photos | Shop | Mapping | FAQs | Facebook | Contact SOTA

Catastrophic battery failure on Morro Tabaiba (EA8/FU-018)

After a couple of days off touring and enjoying the island of Fuerteventura and also a reccy of possible parking spots and climbs of various summits, we found what appeared to be a relatively easy summit and a first a first to activate too. Some web research suggested that there was a hill running route along the ridge and down each end so how difficult could it be?

The summit was Morro Tabaiba (EA8/FU-018) and we set off to arrive at sunrise. A dirt track runs up to a newish viewpoint (mirador) from the village of Vallebron. Parking on the end of the hill, it was only a 150 m elevation climb over 500 m of walking. Under foot was no worse than we had done on previous hills and we are starting to get used to the terrain. In 25 minutes we reached the top with good views over the north of the island and further to Lanzarote.

In overcast and slightly windy weather we activated the summit over the following 2 hours with Helen making 54 contacts on 20 metres and me 49 contacts on 18 metres (with a summit to summit on 20 metres). The two 5 Ah Li-po batteries we were using (one for the FT817 and one for the Packer Amp) would normally manage to power this activation and another easily, but suddenly the radio showed high SWR with the cause found to be a an extremely low battery on the amp; this curtailed the activation :frowning:

We were going to do a another summit but decided instead to visit the fishing town of El Cotillo and sit in a nice fish restaurant enjoying the view along the west coast. Later in the evening we found that the battery had totally lost one of its three cells. We are not sure if this has damaged the amplifier in some way and cannot easily check until we are at home given that we need the other battery to power the radio.

So it will be QRP if we activate any more summits… we are still planning to trek up Pico de la Zarza, the highest summit on the island, on Saturday.


The west end of Morro Tabaiba (EA8/FU-018) looking from where we parked the car. We walked up to the col and then to the summit on the right


The obligatory spot the car photo looking down from the summit. You can see the long shadows from the early morning sun and Tindaya (EA8/FU-005) on the left


Helen activating the summit for the first time looking northeast towards the small island of Lobos and the east side of Lanzarote. The first hill we activated Montana del Econfraga (EA8/FU-016) is in the centre of the photo

Carolyn

11 Likes

Bummer on the battery. 5w will work for CW but even though conditions seem a little better later on 20m, it will probably be a struggle on SSB.

I’ll say that the low V+ and the drive will have toasted your amplifier. Then when you check it on your return and you find it is in fine fettle you’ll be relieved it’s just a new battery that is needed. I wont say it will be fine because that way it will need 2 new MOSFETS.

El Cotillo is lovely :sun_with_face: . I can recall having some fine food there with the family and a good walk across the sandy beaches.

1 Like

Trust you will be able to find out what happened to the battery; can’t avoid mentioning that lithium battery technology is still not fully understood even in some scientific circles close to it’s adoption for Electric Cars etc.
I listened to Helen on 20 SSB with my 3 el SteppIR pointing in the right direction, but the signal was to low for a QSO; sorry!
Have an enjoyable stay there in EA8 in spite of the battery problem
73
Ken

1 Like

Very bad luck but at least you managed a unique each before the crisis. Many thanks for the two new ones and best wishes for an enjoyable rest of the trip.
73,
Rod

1 Like

Don’t give up activating, there is still life beyond broken amp. I was in EA8/TF recently and even QRP with my FT817 I managed to get enough contacts on both sides of Atlantic. True, they were much less than 50 but still enough to get the points.

1 Like

It is not a total disaster as I did build the amp and have replaced the PAs once or twice before :slight_smile: We should be ok with 5W SSB just not as busy; working QRP is more of a challenge I’m used to, I have been QRP on 40 metres during my Welsh Borders re-visits all this year

We had a really nice mixed fish grill and a good view looking down the coast. A lovely relaxed afternoon working our way around the north of the island and back. This break has been intentionally relaxed and not SOTA intense :slight_smile:

1 Like

I’ve had the “pregnant” battery syndrome a few times but the first time a cell has failed. TBH my batteries have had a hard life, especially these two I have with me, they had been well travelled.

Sorry we missed you.

I’ve not visited this island before so all new places to explore :slight_smile:

Hi, this break was not going to be a pure SOTA holiday I won’t stop activating :slight_smile:

If you modify your connector setup to have two sockets on each battery, you could then run both the radio and the amplifier from either battery, or separately as you now do. It gives you greater flexibility and also allows for running a second thing from either battery, eg. an ATU requiring a bit of power whenever changing bands.

I use powerpoles but if you have any other standard in use, that will work too.

One of the cells in my Lifepo4 battery was noticeably weaker than the others and always dropped to 2.8v way before the others. But it would still last for two activations. The solution in the end was to recycle it and buy a new one. Not bad for 4 years though.

Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH

Yes, jolly bad luck Carolyn, but thanks for the new summit for me.
Enjoy the rest of your trip
Dave G3TQQ

I could feel the QRP difference today when I chased you a while ago during your SOTA EA8/FU-001 compared to the last time I chased you at EA8/FU-016 with your ampli running. However I was copying you well (53-54) when the QSB was bringing your signal up, which was not exactly the case in the very moment of our QSO.
Thanks for another activation and QSO.
Have fun!
73/88,

Guru
P.D. I hope your ampli final transistors weren’t damaged after the battery failure.

Hi Carolyn,
Just a couple of thoughts:

  1. The high swr on low supply volts may be due to c/o relays not fully changing over. So perhaps no damage done.
  2. As recommended, I always charge my lipos in balance mode. Failure to balance fully has been indicative of a failing cell.

Don’t think I will be able to work u on qrp with my aerial setup, it was very marginal on 25W.

Regards David G0EVV

Its the very first time I’ve had such a battery failure, it had to happen sometime. Could be a good idea to be able to double up the transceiver and amp on one battery as a fall back. My usual default is to run QRP if I have problems. Most of my equipment is on powerpoles except my “big” batteries that have bullet connectors. I run as simple a system as possible honed by many activations.

Not a major problem. A major problem would have been my transceiver failing

Hi Guru. Thank you for the contacts :slightly_smiling_face: Running QRP just means I have to work a little harder for contacts making sure the other side of the contact have actually heard me correctly.

We are enjoying the island :slightly_smiling_face:

Its not a big problem if the amp has failed, I know it well and have rebuilt it before.

2 Likes

Untill I’m home I’m not going to bother looking at the amp to see if it is damaged. Better to look at it on my bench where I have far more control while testing.

I’m always carefull about how much my batteries get discharged and how they are recharged. But Li-pos can be a bit touchy, however well you look after them :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

The power required by the 817 running at 2.5 or 1w is significantly lower than on 5w, so how long you can run the radio and the amplifier on a single battery depends somewhat in the sensitivity or the input attenuator of the amplifier. With the MXP50 (?) amp I have, 2.5w is adequate to drive the amp to 40w. Reducing the 817 output to 1w reduces the output power from the amp to about 20w. Either power level is likely to be noticeably better than 5w (9 db for the 40w level, 6 db for 20w, which translate on some radios to between 2 and 5 S units on their meters - but in any case, either may well bring a signal from noisy to copyable), so still worth running the amp especially in current HF conditions.
I hope Andy’s predictions turn out as he hopes and your amp is quite unaffected.
73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH

I carefully connected my 817 and amp and with trepidation powered them both up. RF passed through the amp with no loss, so far so good. Switched on the amp and I’m pleased to report that it performed as usual and is ready for its next outing. The failed battery has been disposed of and the other seems to still be fine but must be nearing the end of its life.

QRP ssb is absolutely fine when you are on a hill everyone wants, it adds at least 6db to your signal :slightly_smiling_face::slightly_smiling_face:

Carolyn

5 Likes

Good news, Carolyn. Hope to hear you out and about soon.

Missing the Gaulfest today as we are travelling tomorrow; managing to chase a few.

I am just breaking in a new set of LiFePo as the old LiPo were starting to swell more and were fiddly to use with an extra cell and dropper diodes in series to bring them above 13V for the extra power setting on the KX3

I am sure you are right - it certainly enhances my persistence as a chaser :smile:

73,
Rod