Solar: A Viable Option?

Recently a discussion on the NCCC Reflector was from Ken, N6RO “going green” and installing a massive solar system to help power his super-station. Considering he seemingly hosts operators on a regular basis and the price of energy continues to escalate. He posted all the details  of construction and the system as well as usage projected usage stats and price compared to when the system will start feeding power back to the PG&E power grid here in Northern California.

I was on and stumbled upon a post by Russ, KD0EIA and the need “for HAMS to get their stations powered by alternative energy.” I completely agree with his assessment. One of my arguments when I went before the HOA was the “first responder” fact. Unfortunately if something happens and power goes out, I too will be without communication since I do not have a generator or any other alternative source to power my station. Thankfully I can use the FT-857D in my truck in a pinch, but solar is probably the way to go.

Unfortunately one of the sticking points for me right now, the price point. While I don’t need a massive solar array or enough power to generate electricity to the entire house, but I would like to start out by providing enough solar power to keep my station running (with or without the linear amplifier). Russ provides a link to his information on his QRZ profile, which is a good starting point.

Previous my interest was sparked by a post from Scott, N3FJP on the N3FJP Yahoo Group, author of the logging software. He dedicated some bandwidth to his solar projects including a hot air collector, hot water project, space heating and solar electricity. It’s interesting to do some worksheets and figure out the cost versus return.

Some sites that have been recommended: Backwoods Solar Electric Systems, Sun Electrics and Home Power Magazine. It will still take a bit of investigation and consideration before making any sort of investment. Some would argue a solar system might not be viable for ham radio. Others recommend a generator as “backup power.” Since I am not planning on powering my entire house a portable generator with a few cans of gasoline might be the way to go. Solar, even on a small scale that I am considering will probably be more than I want to invest.

Listen Live to BART

It’s amazing that in amateur radio our numbers are dwindling and the hobby is dying. This has been the cry for many year, more than I have directly been involved with and would not be surprised if my father heard similar when he was active back in the early 1980?s. I happen to run across this story, USA TODAY: Ham Radio Operators Concerned About Losing Band on Radio Reference yesterday.

You can read about the details about this bill as the one signed into legislation last month. I did not intend to go in depth into this story though. I was more after the use of Radio Reference. As described by the website itself, “ is the world’s largest radio communications data provider, featuring a complete frequency database, trunked radio system information, and FCC license data. RadioReference is also the largest broadcaster of public safety live audio communications feeds, hosting thousands of live audio broadcasts of Police, Fire, EMS, and other associated communication.”

While I was not surprised to find Bay Area Rapid Transit listed and available to listen to, it’s interesting to send people to this site to get a sense of what I do every day at work. Most of the times it’s routine work, answering a trains call for a route, having a train operator move their train manually or answering some type of patron request. Nonetheless, I decided to give it a listen this morning on the train to work. Makes for interesting listening when you don’t need to answer the calls you are hearing. Take a listen as there is always something going on at BART (Click on the speaker).