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Author Topic: Laptop to use with Flex-1500 portable? Solar charging?  (Read 1647 times)
N8FNR
Member

Posts: 147




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« on: May 04, 2014, 01:10:58 PM »

Several times a year the XYL (N8FPA) and I go car camping and I have been considering getting a QRP rig for use on the road.

The rig that I have mainly considering is the FT-817 and getting a NUE-PSK modem to use with it for CW and PSK31. I really like the FT-817 as I could charge the external batteries that I have (2 Quantum Ham Batteries) from a solar panels.

However the Flex-1500 has a lot more capability as it is running PowerSDR and I have been using a Flex-5000 for years and cannot imagine not having a waterfall to see activity.

So my question is there a decent low cost, low current drain currently available laptop that you would suggest to use with a 1500? Is there an easy way to charge one with solar panels?

For comparison a fully loaded FT-817 and NUE-PSK is $1400 and a Flex-1500 is $700. I figure that I could spend $500 for a low drain laptop and get a lot more capability.

Any suggestions will be most appreciated.

73
Zack Schindlder
N8FNR
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KB1GMX
Member

Posts: 772




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« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2014, 01:52:22 PM »

I'd argue the Flex-1500 is less capable than the FT817. 

The 817 can do HF, 6, 2 and 432 all modes (AM, FM.CW, SSB) and
with any older or inexpensive computer maybe even an android tablet
that add the digi sound card modes.  It can also run off internal batteries
(battery life is not great but a few hours).  It is self complete save for antenna
and maybe antenna tuner.  There is a simple spectrum scope mode! No large
screen though.  Thats based on my old FT817, the newer ND model
may do more or maybe even the FT857.

If the laptop is running HR-delux or other rig control the capability is pretty close.

The key however is if your running out of the back of the car your options are greater
for antenna, power and size of gear.  The power source can be the car and solar can be
simplified to charge the car battery (20-50W) of panel and charge controller).  Adaptors from
car power to computer are available.


Allison
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N8FNR
Member

Posts: 147




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« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2014, 02:29:22 PM »

Perhaps i should have said that the 817 does not compare directly with the 1500. The Yaesu has 2M and 70CM whereas the 1500 does not. However the Flex has a (I think 48khz) waterfall that lets you observe a lot of activity that would go unnoticed with a non-SDR
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VE3WMB
Member

Posts: 288




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« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2014, 09:29:09 PM »

Zack :

I bought an ACER Quad core AMD A10 based laptop last summer to use with my Flex-1500.
Our local QRP group does an annual QRP camping weekend every fall and I brought along
the Flex-1500.  I used a 22 Ah battery booster pack and a 3rd party DC to DC convertor
to power the Laptop (16v I think).

The Flex-1500 is vastly superior in performance to the FT-817 !  The guys in the next campsite were running 100w on 20m SSB and I was able to work 20m CW and never heard a peep from them.

I think that you will have a challenge finding a low power laptop with sufficient horsepower to run
the Flex. Perhaps going with a reasonably powerful laptop and replacing the hard drive with an SSD
might be a reasonable approach. I suspect powering a continuously spinning hard drive accounts for a lot of the power consumption in a laptop. SSDs are really coming down in price these days.
Unless you are planning to be out for many days I would also suggest the approach of using a bigger battery rather than trying to charge via solar. This is not such a big issue as you are car camping.

One other consideration worth mentioning; unless you have used a laptop outside, you may not be
aware of the problems with glare making it difficult to see the screen. In my case I operated from
the shade under a rather large tarp. If you plan to operate out in the open you will need some sort
of shade to significantly reduce the amount of light hitting the screen otherwise you won't be
able to see anything.

Best of luck

Michael VE3WMB


Several times a year the XYL (N8FPA) and I go car camping and I have been considering getting a QRP rig for use on the road.

The rig that I have mainly considering is the FT-817 and getting a NUE-PSK modem to use with it for CW and PSK31. I really like the FT-817 as I could charge the external batteries that I have (2 Quantum Ham Batteries) from a solar panels.

However the Flex-1500 has a lot more capability as it is running PowerSDR and I have been using a Flex-5000 for years and cannot imagine not having a waterfall to see activity.

So my question is there a decent low cost, low current drain currently available laptop that you would suggest to use with a 1500? Is there an easy way to charge one with solar panels?

For comparison a fully loaded FT-817 and NUE-PSK is $1400 and a Flex-1500 is $700. I figure that I could spend $500 for a low drain laptop and get a lot more capability.

Any suggestions will be most appreciated.

73
Zack Schindlder
N8FNR

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K4LJA
Member

Posts: 21




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« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2014, 01:31:00 PM »

you said: However the Flex has a (I think 48khz) waterfall that lets you observe a lot of activity that would go unnoticed with a non-SDR

N8FNR -- Zach -- That's why GOD gave you a tuning knob.  HI.  Just kidding.

I have the FT-817ND and Flex 1500.  The Flex stays home --- and I use it all the time -- but for camping --- I want the FT-817ND and the use of 2 , 6, & 432.

But mainly -- I just work HF cw... and seldom ever plug in a mic.  Thanks and 73 --- Randy  K4LJA
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N8FNR
Member

Posts: 147




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« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2014, 04:43:33 PM »

you said: However the Flex has a (I think 48khz) waterfall that lets you observe a lot of activity that would go unnoticed with a non-SDR

N8FNR -- Zach -- That's why GOD gave you a tuning knob.  HI.  Just kidding.

I have the FT-817ND and Flex 1500.  The Flex stays home --- and I use it all the time -- but for camping --- I want the FT-817ND and the use of 2 , 6, & 432.

But mainly -- I just work HF cw... and seldom ever plug in a mic.  Thanks and 73 --- Randy  K4LJA

More and more I am leaning towards the FT-817, a NUE-PSK and a Elecraft T1. Seems like that would be a cool compact portable station. And when the zombie Apocalypse comes I am ready!

Zack
N8FNR
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