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Author Topic: How can I charge an HT in Britain?  (Read 593 times)
N4LI
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« on: February 04, 2008, 01:21:18 PM »

So, I just made reservations to take the kids to London for Spring Break.  I was thinking that I might take an HT with me -- though, I am not sure how useful it might be.

The question is -- how would I charge it?  Obviously, the electrical standard is different, and, attempting to use my wall-wart there would just bring a nice smell of burning plastic.  Any ideas?

I am sure my wife hopes I find no solution to this question.  But, I digress.

You know, come to think of it, I would have the same problem with my BlackBerry, wouldn't I?

Peter, N4LI
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PE1HZG
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« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2008, 01:39:32 PM »

You charge your handheld the same way you'd charge it in the USA, using your wall wart.

UK uses 240V, 50 Hz. There's three things to consider:

Frequency: I have never seen a wall wart that works on 60, but doesn't work on 50 Hz. Especially the newer ones (switched-mode) simply rectify the line voltage. Check the specs of your wall wart.

Voltage: Transformer-based wall warts are not universal, so you'll need a travel transformer. Switched-mode warts generally are, so you don't need a transformer, just a converter plug. Again, check the specs of your wall wart.

Plug: British-style plugs are huge and use rectangular plugs, so you'll need an adapter for that.  These are best purchased *before* you step on the plane.

So, the main question is whether your wart is compatible with 240 volts. If it is, you only need an adapter, if it isn't, you need a "travel transformer" - combination of transformer and adapter.

I should note that many "travel adapters" try to defeat the laws of physics and may not be very safe, so be careful. Common, also, are the stories of idiots who run kilowatt hair dryers off a 50-watts-max transformer.  Do your engineering work and you'll be fine.

Do get a copy of the UK band plans (as they're different - our 2m band is only 2 MHz wide), and do know how to change the shift on your rig
(1.6 MHz on 70cm), the direction of the shift, repeater list, CTCSS tones, and see if your rig can do 1750Hz as many UK repeaters need this.

Do enjoy, and frankly, you may enjoy your trip more if you don't waiste too much time on your widgets. I've done several (business) trips where the rig never came out of the suitcase - YMMV.

73,

Geert Jan PE1HZG
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N1LO
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« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2008, 02:04:45 PM »

Hello Peter,
 
If your HT will charge from the DC jack, you can use your car adapter.

Mark
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K2QPN
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« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2008, 04:02:07 PM »

You can get 220v to 110 step down transformers (50W) pretty cheap on eBay. You can also get a set of international adapter plugs. You need the transformer unless your power supply is rated for 110-220v - but you will need an adapter plug since European sockets have round holes. Armed with a transformer and adapters you will be set. I have used that setup all over Europe.

Bob K2QPN

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DA2KI
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« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2008, 04:49:05 PM »

If you will be using a rental car, then you can use the 12-volt DC accessory socket.  Just beware that most European vehicles require that the ignition switch be on for the cigarette lighter socket to work.  If you are driving a distance, it will work out fine for recharging your battery.  Otherwise, you will have to use the AC mains.

Beware that while mainland Europe (Germany, Italy, etc.) uses AC outlets with round pins, the UK does not.  The UK uses a blade-type plug, but with different spacing and orientation than the American outlets.  You will need an adaptor plug.

While mainland Europe uses 220-volts AC, don't be surprized to find the UK using 240-volts AC.  Again, you will need a step-down transformer to convert the 240 VAC to 120 VAC.  Look at your current "wall wart" transformer to find out how much wattage it needs so you can find the appropriate step-down transformer.  Usually the 60 Hz / 50 Hz difference does not make a difference (unless it is a motor driven device like a turntable or old "flip number" style clock radio).  The main concern is getting the AC voltage stepped down.

Sometimes the easiest solution for a short-term visit is the optional battery housing that accepts AA-batteries.  Then you can skip the transformer mess and just feed the radio plenty of batteries as needed.

Also check your radio manual for instructions on transmitting the 1750 Hz tone required by many European repeaters.  It does not have to be continuous - just momentary in order to "open up" the repeater.

Of course, there is also the licensing issue.  Check out the ARRL web site for more information on what reciprocal licensing priviledges you will have - if any.
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K7KBN
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« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2008, 04:52:34 PM »

Visa, MasterCard, Amex -- you can charge just about anything.
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
G3RZP
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Posts: 4965




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« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2008, 01:10:33 AM »

With an Extra Class licence, there's no licencing problem. (Not that there's any monitoring or enforcement to speak of!) I'd not carry the HT in hand baggage, although you might get away with no trouble.

Not all repeaters now need a 1750Hz tome, but most need a sub-audible access tone.

I haven't listened to a London repeater for years: one or two of them were absolute sinks. But repeater activity has dropped away a lot in recent years.
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N4LI
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« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2008, 04:40:11 AM »

Britain is CEPT, of course, so licensing won't be an issue for me.  I did just read, though, that CEPT now will only grant "full privileges" for Extra/Advanced.  Interesting change...

I may just take the easy way out.  We're going to hire a driver for a day, or two.  So, I could always charge with his lighter plug.

Not planning any major hamming.  If we were high in the Cycle, or we were in the Summer sporadic-E season, I might have a different attitude.  Just taking a lame-o HT.  Probably just my VX-2.

Happy Mardi Gras!

Peter, N4LI
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WA3SKN
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« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2008, 09:28:02 AM »

Peter...

Contact the ARRL... they are great at knowing the latest rules, requirements, etc for ALL the other countries, CEPT requirements,etc!
73s

-Mike.
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K6KAP
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« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2008, 09:43:05 AM »

Another suggestion is to obtain a battery pack for your HT that can use AA batteries. That is what I do when I travel, it's much more convienent that worrying about charging and AA batteries are available, even in Podunk Hollow and Timbuktu.
Have fun in the UK.

Mach, K6KAP
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N4LI
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« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2008, 10:42:09 AM »

You know, that's a pretty good suggestion.

I own an old Icom dual-band HT that runs on AA batteries.  It's a whopping 300 mW output, but it works.  Actually, I had forgotten about that one.  The VX-2, though, is a 1.5W.

So, we'll see.

Not worried at all about licensing.  The CEPT rules are pretty clear.  I just need to print the document, and keep it with the radio.

Peter, N4LI
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K2DC
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« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2008, 11:35:32 AM »

I just did a Google search on "travel power converter" and got over 200,000 hits.  There are transformers available for 240-110V step down with adapters for multiple countries.  I've had one for many years and its worked fine in both EU and Asia.  You can find them for $15 and up.  Then you're all set - handheld, electric shaver, hair dryer, laptop, or anything else that runs on 110V up to almost 2000W.

73,
Don, K2DC
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TANAKASAN
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« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2008, 11:52:40 AM »

Check the shaver socket in your hotel bathroom, some of them can switch between 110/240 volts to cope with US shavers.

Tanakasan
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N9SX
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Posts: 21




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« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2008, 08:25:49 AM »

Many wall supplies can accept a 240V input directly. If that is the case, then all you need is a plug adapter. I've done this with my laptop.

But, look at the input rating carefully. You wouldn't want to get this wrong.

N9SX
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