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Old 02-09-2012, 7:45 PM
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Default DIY Battery Box Power Station

Here is my up-and-running 12-volt battery station. This is a standard Wal-Mart Group 27 Battery Box that has Stainless Steel battery posts and a Cigarette Lighter Receptacle added for hook-up convenience. The battery is a 26-Ah SLA, so not too worried about venting or it giving off Hydrogen gas - although the Battery Box itself is vented by design.

Both the Positive Stud and the Cigarette Lighter receptacle are fused for safety. Not shown in the attached pics is the plastic plate I cut to snugly fit over the battery. This is to keep anything from possibly falling (from inside the lid) and hitting a hot battery post.

This was not intended for high-current applications, but using 10-gua. wire from the Battery to the Studs, it will more than suit my needs. Actually this was made for powering my PRO-2004 Base Scanner, the PRO-95 Handheld Scanner (homemade power cord using a 7809 regulator), and anything else small that is convenient. A standard Cigarette Lighter Inverter is certainly a practical possibility here. Shown in the first pic is a Cigarette Lighter Volt Meter - for demonstration purposes.

The Studs are 1/4" Stainless Steel for conductivity, and I don't have to worry about them rusting in the future. All internal wires use soldered ring terminals - so as to provide maximum conductivity and minimal chance of anything coming loose and flopping around.

As is obvious in the pics - I used white wire for both of the battery terminals, but it's the only 10-gua. wire I had on hand at the time. Next trip to Lowe's i'll remedy that.

On the outside studs - I have now attached the Scanner power cords, Power input from the Solar Charge Controller, and an unplugable power cord from my Schumacher 1.5-Amp Battery Maintainer - in case I would have to use 110 to charge it. Everything is using ring terminals and I have Stainless Wing Nuts on the outside ends for convenience.

When I get ambitious again, I'll add a stand-alone digital volt meter to the case. This will allow me to monitor the battery voltage and keep the cigarette lighter receptacle free at the same time.

All comments / tips / suggestions are welcome.


af0h - Rob
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Old 02-10-2012, 12:38 AM
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Nice idea.

I did something similar with a 30ah gel cell inside a plastic ammo box type container. The battery fits in snugly, and there was enough room to add a cig. lighter plug and a pair of binding posts. I occasionally take it with me camping to power up stuff, but more often than not use it on the bench for testing/powering up radios.

A handy tool to have. Sounds like you did a nice job.
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Old 02-10-2012, 5:11 AM
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You may want to consider switching to fuseholders that use the blade type fuses common in automotive applications. Those in-line cylindrical glass fuseholders are notorious for making poor connection with the fuses thus causing a bit of voltage drop. The blade type fuseholders typically bite pretty hard into the fuse blades for a more reliable connection.

Check the electrical section of any chain auto parts store (Advance, Autozone, O'Reilly, Pep Boys) for ATO/ATC fuseholders.
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Old 02-10-2012, 5:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W9RXR View Post
You may want to consider switching to fuseholders that use the blade type fuses common in automotive applications. Those in-line cylindrical glass fuseholders are notorious for making poor connection with the fuses thus causing a bit of voltage drop. The blade type fuseholders typically bite pretty hard into the fuse blades for a more reliable connection.
Already done. I stayed up a while last night working on finishing it. I only had one blade-type fuse holder inititally, but now have both connections using the blade fuses. Also gone are the wire nuts. Those are great for household wiring and temporary hook-ups, but not for long-term DC use. I should've waited until finished to take pics, as they were taken a couple of days ago.

Last edited by af0h; 02-10-2012 at 6:16 AM..
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Old 02-11-2012, 8:47 PM
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I've recently added 2 more outputs to the top of the box. This time I used spring-clip connectors (think speaker connectors) to give more options/possibilities.

The first set is at 12-volts (battery voltage) and the other is at 9-volts. I'm using a 7809 Regulator (with heatsink) to give the 9-volt output, which is perfect since my PRO-95 requires 9-volt DC power input. This won't draw much current since I don't charge the NiMH Batteries in the scanner, I charge them externally in a MAHA Powerex Charger.

Drawing 100 mAh, I could power the PRO-95 for quite some time using this setup without having to worry about draining the battery down too far - should the need arise.

I'll post more pics when I get a day off.

Last edited by af0h; 02-11-2012 at 8:52 PM..
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Old 02-11-2012, 10:19 PM
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If you are planning on doing anything with ARES consider a set of the standard powerpole connectors.
Just a suggestion, cover the positive stud with an insulated cover. May save you a fuse or two and the down time to change it if something were to fall across the terminals.
You have plenty of room if you decide add a second battery in parallel to increase capacity or a small charger to use on the fly to keep the battery charged when power is available.
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Old 02-12-2012, 6:08 AM
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Hello, Jerry.

Not a bad idea - covering the positive terminal. I also need to label the POS and NEG terminals a little better than I have them now (labeling gun).

I'm not on the upper bands that much anymore, or I would use the Anderson PowerPole Connectors. Not trying to stir up problems but when the code requirement was dropped from Ham Licensing, I sold the mics and plugged in the straight-key. From what i've heard scanning the bands, i'm not missing much.

And Yes, plenty of room for expansion. Whether it be a 2nd battery or a 'Battery Tender', you're right - i've got plenty of room.

Last edited by af0h; 02-12-2012 at 6:10 AM..
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Old 03-12-2012, 9:00 PM
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Nice job there!

That battery is definitely an AGM SLA, and not a gell-cell. It is a UPGI D5747 (aka UB12260). You can get the specs for it here from UPGI: I'm running a UPG12350 myself for one of my projects.

Battery Applications - Universal Power Group

I'd definitely invest in a better meter to gauge when you are nearing full or half-depletion. Under your miniscule load, 12V would be a 50% charge level remaining, and I definitely would not want to take it down to 10.7V too often, even though you can go there - you'll just get less cycle-life out of it. Don't let it sit in an uncharged or low-charge condition for too long, but be practical about it. I wouldn't go more than a few days sitting around at a low charge.

For a solar / controller combo, I'd choose a panel that puts out at least a minimum of .05C (about 1.3A) in full sunlight, and the max is stated on the case at about 0.3C, although I like to keep it at .25C max myself. Morningstar PWM controllers are my low-cost fav for solar controllers, although I have used the simpler "ping/pong on/off" Sunforce types in a pinch.

You did a nice job - that box should serve you well!

Last edited by hertzian; 03-12-2012 at 9:03 PM..
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Old 03-13-2012, 5:14 PM
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Actually, for a 50% discharge under a light to no-load condition, about 12.1 to 12.2v or so is more like it - hence the need for a more accurate voltmeter. There is a lot more to it, so this is a ballpark figure:

Deep Cycle Battery FAQ

The UB series are nice for inexpensive true deep cycle AGM's.
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