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Author Topic: Yaesu 817ND Solar Power Charger  (Read 6051 times)
KC2UVX
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Posts: 26




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« on: August 12, 2012, 04:25:26 PM »

Does anyone know a suitable solar power supply/charger for the Yaesu 817ND?
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AC4RD
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Posts: 1235




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« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2012, 09:22:21 AM »

I just got an older 817 a few weeks ago; I'm using it with a gelcell (12v 12aH), and I've also used it (like my 897) portable in the back yard with my riding mower's battery.  Both of those I keep topped off with a simple solar panel I bought at either Northern Tool or Harbor Freight a few years ago.  I think the panel was $15-20 at the time, and it's designed to plug into a car's cigarette lighter socket to keep a car battery topped off.  I took the controller out of the plug and put it in a small waterproofed box, and put powerpoles on the end. 

I can leave this outside, hooked either to the lawnmower battery or to any of the gelcells I've got, and it keeps them pretty well charged.  I don't know the wattage of the panel, but the actual solar cell size is maybe 12" by 4" or so.   It probably wouldn't work with a much bigger battery system, but this was cheap and effective.  Email me off-list if you want and I'll send a digital snapshot or two, email's on my eHam information page, or QRZ.
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KC2UVX
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« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2012, 05:13:57 PM »

Sorry it took me so long to reply. The 817 has gel cells that can be charged while they are in the radio by keeping them plugged into the wall outlet. I can't find a solar charger that comes with the same ,I guess, "plug" that fits into the radio. I guess that I could try to find the same size "plug" and then splice it into the wires in a regular solar charger. Do I have to be concerned with the wattage of the solar charger? Can it provide too much current and damage the radio?
 If you could send me a snapshot of what you rigged up, I would appreciare it. Thanks
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AC4RD
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« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2012, 04:29:15 AM »


The photo (a bad snapshot):

http://www.duke.edu/~kuzen001/SOLAR7290.JPG

OK, the first question: I do *not* know about using a solar panel directly to recharge the internal pack.  I suppose it could be done if you used a voltage regulator so the input voltage isn't above 13.5v and you simply applied that voltage to the external power jack. I know that will charge the internal pack--though I wouldn't try operating the radio while the solar panel is hooked up.  And I repeat, I don't know and I've never tried it.

Solar:  it's a bad snapshot, but the red and black panel is a solar charger from Harbor Freight; it cost about $10-15 a half dozen years ago when I bought it.  It had a plug on the end of the black wire that plugged into a car's cigarette lighter jack, and it was designed to apply a charge to keep the battery topped off when the panel was in the sun.  The no-load voltage in full sun is around 15vDC.

I've been using it for years to keep my riding mower's battery charged; just recently I took the controller out of the cig-lighter plug and put it in that old pill bottle, and added powerpoles [tm].  I've got powerpoles on almost all my 12v stuff now--very convenient.  (I like having plenty of 12v power for our occasional power outages.)  The output from the solar panel runs to the controller in the pill bottle and its powerpoles.  The poles with the yellow tape are on the little gel-cell in the photo.

And of course, the internal pack on the 817 is being recharged whenever 12v is applied (from a gel-cell in my case) ... but I don't use the internal pack very much.  That little cell in the photo weighs less than my paddles, so it's not all that much to carry around with the radio.  :-)

I've got a handful of 12v batteries, from the big one for the riding mower, down through gel-cells from 12aH to 2aH (that's the little 2aH one in the photo.)  I simply plug whatever battery I want to top off into the solar panel, via powerpoles on each end, and leave it that way.  For the riding mower it can stay hooked up for days, for the little 2aH pack I never leave it more than a few hours.

It seems to work great, and since I use the gel-cells anyway, the extra cost was very low.  Hope this helps!  Feel free to email if you want to discuss it further.


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KC2UVX
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« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2012, 06:22:38 AM »

The pic is great! Thank you. I think I will just remove the gel cells from the radio when I want to charge them via a solar setup. I like your setup I think I will attempt something similar. I will have to keep the gels on for only a short time , as you advised. Let me check a few things and I wil get back to you. It helps tremendously. Thanks.
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AC4RD
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« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2012, 03:25:02 PM »

Joseph, a couple of more thoughts, if you don't mind if I ramble on a bit:

1.)  If you're mostly looking to use the internal battery pack on the 817, you might find it useful to get a second internal battery pack--you could be charging one pack externally with the solar panel while you use the other inside the radio.  The W4RT packs have a good reputation, but I bought a new pack (when I got my used 817) from an ebay vendor, seller name "euruss" or something like that, for $20, and it works great.

2.)  I planned to use the internal pack on my 817 when I got it, but I don't do any backpacking--my "portable" is usually my back yard.  I've got a bunch of battery options, as I said earlier, but I use the little 2.2aH battery a lot for "backyard portable" playing with the 817.  It doesn't weigh much (less than my Bencher paddles, as I think I said), it allows full 5 watt output (only 2.5 from the internal pack, I think), and it easily lasts the couple of hours I usually use it for.  I don't recall what I paid for that tiny gel-cell, but it wasn't much, and when it is plugged in to the external power jack, it's also charging the internal pack--very convenient! Plus I can use it (or any of my other 12v battery sources with powerpoles) any time I need 12v for anything--power outages, etc.  I just rotate the solar charger around any battery packs that I think need to be charged or topped off.

So you MIGHT find a small 12v gel-cell a good option, as I have.  Though probably not if you're going to be backpacking your radio gear in for a long way--less weight is probably better if you're carrying it very far.  :-)

Hope this helps a bit!  You'll have a LOT of fun with your 817, I bet!  It's a GREAT little radio, and I've had a bunch of radios in 20-something years as a ham, but working Europe on 2.5 watts from a lawn chair in my back yard is just a HOOT, every single time.  :-)  GL and 73!
  --ken ac4rd
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KC2UVX
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« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2012, 02:57:20 PM »

Ken, My "backpacking" is the exact same as yours....backyard on the deck. So I think my best option will be as you suggested, just have a second battery pack on hand and charged. I am going to do a little research and pick up a reasonably priced setup. Can't tell you how much you have helped. Thank you for your time and insight. Joe KC2UVX
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KQ6Q
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Posts: 993




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« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2012, 10:47:27 AM »

Check Radio Shack online. They carry several folding solar panels, and a regulator that will work with any of them. your only challenge will be connectors to make it all fit together. The solar panel comes with a Cig Lighter socket adapter, so I used a Cig Lighter plug to PowerPole, and PowerPole to battery, and to radio, with a 4-way Powerpole junction. My 703 doesn't use internal battery - you might be able to keep it simpler if you just charge the internal battery in your 817.
I went with the 27W panel, to be able to operate and keep ahead of the battery charge.
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K0JEG
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Posts: 679




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« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2012, 06:37:56 PM »

Just for the record, the FT-817 will only charge the internal battery when you set the [CHG] softkey in the menus. You can tell it is charging when 1) it displays the CHG TIME RMN when the unit is powered off or 2) the battery charge indicator increments if the unit is powered on.
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