eHam Forums => Station Building => Topic started by: PE1RLN on May 01, 2001, 08:27:16 AM

Title: 12 V power distribution idea
Post by: PE1RLN on May 01, 2001, 08:27:16 AM
While being an amateur for a few years now, I had a lot of trouble with connecting my equipment to the supply every time. It is always hard to get the wire back into place, so I decided that it was enough.

I invented the XLR-plug. No, I didn't invent the plug itself, but the idea of using it for the powersupply. The plug has 3 wires, so you can use 2 of them that are on the outside of the plug.

I made a couple of chassis-parts into boxes on the wall, so that I can connect all my rigs and stuff to my powersupply, without bothering about the wires. Also extensioncables are easy to make.

I ues it a lot and would ike to know if other amateurs will use it too.

73 de Thijs, PE1RLN, The Netherlands

Title: 12 V power distribution idea
Post by: K5AF on May 14, 2001, 02:39:05 PM
This is a great idea.  I built 12V distribution boxes in very small Radio Shack plastic enclosures to take with me to Dominica for CQWW last year.  On each box, I included a set of bananna plugs, two RCA jacks and "push" type speaker connectors for bare wire connections.  These little boxes really came in handy, especially when we didn't have the correct DC power plug for a bandpass filter and had to use hookup wire to connect it.

Title: 12 V power distribution idea
Post by: WB2WIK on May 17, 2001, 06:27:32 PM
XLR plugs are good and sturdy but really intended for audio and not high DC current.  Probably they'll work fine at 10 Amperes or so, but I'm not sure they can be pushed much harder than that, the pin diameter is too small.

However, Molex and many other companies make sturdy high-current DC mating pair connectors with current ratings up to 10A+ per pin, so simply using a multiple pin connector with a sufficient pin count to handle the current required, and paralleling pins as needed, works great.  The Molex connectors are also extremely low-cost and very readily available -- the automotive industry among others has been using millions of them for high-current DC applications for many years.

I also tend to favor the molded RV/trailer type DC connectors, readily available at very low cost from trailer supply shops.  Even U-Haul stores carry these.  They are available in 2-pin, 3-pin, 4-pin, etc. for a variety of uses and the pins are large, brass tubing apparently good for about 20A per pin.

73 de Steve WB2WIK/6

Title: 12 V power distribution idea
Post by: PE1RLN on May 18, 2001, 03:41:59 AM
You are absolutley right about that!

However, I am using this system for rather low-power equipment such as a 50W VHF/UHF transceiver, HF-receiver, frequencycounter and all that kind of stuff.

For a high-power trx I would use a separate powersupply. A friend of mine has a 20A supply, just for his HF-rig and it works fine.

This system is sufficient for the low-power applications as I mentioned. It is always possible to change from connector, but the XLR, which is meant for audio, works fine up to 10 Amps, just as you said. The connectors are rugged, so they make a fine one and are always to get from your local store.

The option of the speaker-chassis parts is also a good option, especially when you get different trx from amateurs and want to test them for a quicky.

So, this topic is actually meant to let people say what they use as their power-connection. Maybe other learn from it and get good ideas.

Hope you like it!

73 de Thijs, PE1RLN
Brunssum, The Netherlands

Title: 12 V power distribution idea
Post by: K3UOD on May 21, 2001, 08:53:06 AM
I'm impressed by what I've read about Anderson Powerpole connectors.

These are becoming a standard among ARES/RACES organizations.  I ordered some last week to give them a try.  I'll post again after I've had a chance to try them.  If they're as good as I think they will be, I intend to urge the guys in my ARES organisation to convert all of their rigs to the 30A version so we can swap rigs and power cords as necessary.  They make clips for chassis mounting these connectors; so they could be used for distribution boxes as well.  In fact, that gives me an idea for a project.  A box with Powerpoles, binding posts and cigar lighter jacks all wired in parallel.  That would give a lot of flexibility.

XLR connectors can take quite a beating.  The Telex intercom systems that are popular with movie crews have to be set up and broken down many times and the connectors have to be rugged.  They use XLR connectors for both audio and power (24 VDC if I remember correctly).   I once installed one of these intercom systems at a radar test site.  We had about 2 dozen XLR connectors in the system.  In 6 months of heavy use, not one failed.  However, for power connections to ham rigs, I think that the Powerpoles will be the way to go.

Title: 12 V power distribution idea
Post by: PE1RLN on May 23, 2001, 03:13:58 AM
Those Powerpole Connectors indeed look very good and rugged. I think the great advantage is that you can use both 15 and 30 A connectors with eachother because of the same size.

I will have a look where I can get them in Holland and I will surely use them.

Another idea I had, regarding the XLR-plugs is the 3rd wire in it. I think of using it as a voltage detector because the voltage will drop during transmission, this wire can be used to adjust the powersupply, just as it does internal. A friend said that I would have to carry the - pole too, but with all the antennas and stuff connected to eachother, that part of the supply has a very low resistance.

You can even use the 3rd pole for the + so that the negative current can flow all over the antennas and stuff (what it eventually will do in any case).

So, the current is devided by 2 when using the XLR.

I tried the normal 2-wire idea with the XLR and it works very good and I don't suffer from loose contacts.

Thanks for your replies!

I hope there will come more ideas for the 12V power distibution, a problem everyone has.


Thijs, PE1RLN

Title: 12 V power distribution idea
Post by: K3UOD on May 28, 2001, 11:27:09 PM
I've had a chance to use the powerpoles now and I'm sold.  Easy to install, can handle 30A vs 8A for Molex.  Only caution is that you can assemble the connector with the positive side on the left (preferred) or the right.  Have to make sure the polarities are correct if you borrow someone else's cord. (Or worse yet, use your cord on someone else's rig)

Be sure you have a good neat crimp or the contact will not fit into the housing. I messed up the first one I tried using a cheap "universal" crimping tool. I bought the crimpers that Powerwerx sells and it produces a nice, neat crimp; but I soldered some also and that works too.

  Home Depot sells a pair of Kline Tools crimpers that look the same as the one I bought from Powerwerx (Home Depot is $2 cheaper).

I passed some of these connectors around at my last club meeting and some other guys wanted some, so I ordered 50 of them.  I also bought a bag of 15A contacts for use on smaller wire.  The 15A contacts fit the 30A housings.

Title: 12 V power distribution idea
Post by: K3UOD on June 22, 2001, 02:30:56 PM
I was in Home Depot the other day and saw the same crimpers (Gardner Denver) that Powerwerx sells for $19 selling for $7.  I'm satisfied with Powerwerx as a connector supplier; but, I wish I had shopped around for the crimpers.

Title: 12 V power distribution idea
Post by: KC7YRN on September 21, 2001, 12:46:55 PM
Powerwerx also sells a readymade "spider" consisting of five Powerpoles wired together, so you could distribute power with it.

Or you could make your own.

Title: 12 V power distribution idea
Post by: N3BSZ on July 03, 2002, 06:31:38 PM
Well being one of those pesky broadcasters tht use XLR connectors fro a living I would hate to connect my equiptment to anything that was wired with them unless it has audio on it. Telex does run +24/-24dc on XLR connectors for their intercoms, however they also only run 50ma through it and it is balanced so if it is connected to other balanced equipment it will not dammage the equipment.

I suggest using the proper termination for the job. Use PL-259 or "N" for RF. RCA, 1/4" or XLR of audio, and Molex for power.



Title: 12 V power distribution idea
Post by: K4WMA on July 29, 2002, 09:39:59 AM
Just got the RigRunner from West Mountain Radio last week, and am already sold. It uses the Power Pole connectors, and my model has over/under voltage indicators and alarms. It also has led's to indicate blown fuses.

Each outlet is fused, and the device uses standard flat automotive fuses.

Glad I got extra connectors, 'cause I ain't so smart, and it took a couple of tries to get the hang of it.

I'm converting EVERYTHING to use this system!!

Bill in Richmond, VA

Title: 12 V power distribution idea
Post by: KD7PLU on March 07, 2003, 02:41:48 PM
I recently switched to the Anderson PowerPole connectors as well. I'm not over-impressed with them, but they are a LOT better than Molex connectors. I had always used standard Bannana Jacks, Black and Red goto Black and Red; Simple, unless you're an idiot; Or tired. The Powerpoles come in all colors, but the standard pack is red/black. You can stack them side-by-side, in any block configuration to make the UBER-CONNECTOR if desired.

My field power is in the form of two SLA batteries inside a Pelican case with Bananna connectors and RatShack Adaptaplug wires feeding whatever is connected. I don't think I'll retro-fit the cases with Anderson connectors, but I did make pigtail adapters. The whole system works well enough, but the Anderson connectors, and agreed they are nice, but they are not the solution to the world of portable power.