Generator power

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I will be operating at times this fall during a few contests in a remote campground using my Flex 6300 and a generator.

Anyone have experience in this area? Any sensitivities?

I plan on using either a 900 watt gas generator or a 3500 watt one. I'll be using a UPS for surge protection and of course, it will be nice to have the battery backup when refueling. I'll also have a light bulb for steadying the load.

Any thoughts if this is a good plan or any pitfalls I might have?
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Michael Coslo

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  • happy as a squirrel with a cup of coffee!

Posted 2 years ago

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KF4HR

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I keep my Flex plugged into a Tripp Lite UPS.  Even when not in the battery backup mode these units compensate for brown outs down to 74 volts, and over voltages to 147 volts.  And when in the battery backup mode the UPS has a sine wave AC output. 
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Norm - W7CK

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I would try to place the generator as far away from your station as possible.  A ground rod or some other form of ground at the generator will really help in reducing RFI coming from the generator.  Some generators are much nosier than others, you'll just have to give it a try.   You could give it a try at home, before you venture out.

I run solar.  A simple PWM charge controller, two 140 watt panels and a couple 6v golf cart batteries is all you need.  No noise at all. 
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David Warnberg

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I agree with Norm.. the radio can be run off a 12v battery (preferably a AGM type battery) using a solar panel with a charge controller (MPPT type preferred) to charge the battery during the day (sizing is up to you and charging needs)... 

For field day we use 2 100 amp hour batteries (VMAX SLR100), a 30 amp MPPT charge controller and a 280 watt solar panel.. this is bigger then what you need but it makes a great backup for power outages at home as well.

If you do use a generator I would an inverting type generator, like a Honda or Yamaha inverter generator.. much more stable power output.. keep in mind, you will still have to use a power supply.

Good Luck

David
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Winston VK7WH

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I agree whole heartedly with David. Solar power is the preferred option and an MPPT regulator is a must. I have had great success with a Morningstar MPPT regulator at my remote site but I am sure there would be many other suitable brands to consider

Good luck, Winston VK7WH
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WX7Y

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I agree 100% with the solar / battery solution but if you can't afford that right now and have to use the generator you will have a much quieter station, may be spark plug noise but If your generator is one of the older non inverter ones.
The new  Inverter type generator are more then likely to have noise in the receiver on the radio.

QST magazine did some test on the inverter type generators a couple years ago, the Higher tear generators like the Honda I2000 and Yamaha are much quieter RF wise but cost more. 

What happens is, no matter if you ground the generator or not the Power Cable you plug into the generator is a GREAT antenna and really radiates the RF put off by the inverters. 

I would recommend no matter which way you go picking up a AC Line filter large enough to handle your generator or future generator and install it as close to the generator as you can get it.  

good luck
Bret 
WX7Y
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Michael Coslo

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Thanks guys, this is some good information. I'll give it a try here in the front yard with the generators first, then start talking my financial supervisor into some solar setup.
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David Warnberg

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First option would work for you... only have to add battery / batteries and you can always add more panels.

http://www.windynation.com/MPPT-Polycrystalline-Solar-Kits
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Norm - W7CK

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If you go solar, don't get the MPPT charge controllers.  They are noisy.  I've tried several and all were terrible.  I ended up with a simple inexpensive PWM.  It works well and is quiet as a mouse.
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Winston VK7WH

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I guess it's horses for courses Norm.

I had a 80 Amp PWM which had terrible hash and I changed it for a 60 Amp Morningstar MPPT Controller, where the only noise emanating from it was a very, very low pure sine wave artifact that was being radiated back up the DC feed from the Solar Panels. There was no hash generated on the regulator output cables. Initially I just plonked a TNF over the unwanted signal where needed.

Passing both DC solar panel feed, right at the regulator input terminals, through several LARGE ferrites virtually removed the signal altogether. I understand that further reduction could be achieved by replacing the DC cable from the solar panels with heavy gauge twisted pair cable, by preventing these cables radiating but considering the law of finishing return I didn't bother.

I don't doubt that your experience was quite the opposite of of mine but I guess it may come down to the brand used

I only make this post as it may add more grist to the mill for Michael

Best 73. Winston
(Edited)
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Norm - W7CK

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I believe your correct.  I'm sure there are brands and specific models within those brands that are much much better than others.  This is the type of information that is desperately needed.  There are way too many folks purchasing equipment only to find out it will not meet their needs.  It is nice to know that the Morningstar 60 MPPT charge controller is RFI quiet.  I know the Midnight series is NOT.....  I have one of the 150 Classics that I now have to put up for sale and then pick up a Morningstar.   Very few if any solar equipment sellers will refund due to RFI related issues.
(Edited)
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Winston VK7WH

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Norm, I'm sure you will be happy with the MorningStar MPPT 60 if you do proceed down this path. I must say that they are not cheap, and I took a deep breath before I jumped in, but I guess you get what you pay for.

For memory, there are 3 models 30, 40 and 60 Amp. All thee models have extensive built in monitoring, and I chose the 60 amp model because it provides full monitoring and control via a built in Ethernet port.

Please let me know if you need any further details.

73 and Good luck

Winston
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KC9NRN

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I purchased a gas/propane generator for the same thing. I think your plan will work fine. Solar is nice if you get enough sun to keep it going.
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Bill / VA3QB

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I used a Champion 2KW inverter generator for Field Day this year. The noise on my 6500 using 40M SSB was so bad that we had to take an hour trip back to another hams home to get a regular 6500 watt generator as a replacement.  So no more inverter generators for me when using the radio.
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WX7Y

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 http://www.tdk-lambda.com/products/sps/tdk_nf/rsmn/indexe.html

For those who care, here is the Filters I use on my pair of Honda Inverter Generators to block the RF Hash,  these filters give you 25dB attenuation on the HF band, You would want to put this as close to the Generator as possible and get the Current size that is higher then your generators capable of.

I installed mine into a box with outlets on it to match my Trailer Plug and a 1.5' pig tail to plug into the Generators 30Amp outlet and a ground lug for a very short ground cable to a ground rod.

I have also installed one of these on a 6KW Honda 240V Inverter genset and work great there as well.

Toroids will also work to help filter out MPPT Solar Charge controller noise, The better quality MPPT charge controllers have filtering built in if you read the Specs before you buy and the only kind I use on my Radio sites I own and maintain because they have a much higher (up to 30%) performance from the solar panels then standard charge controllers. 

Your mileage will vary but this has worked for me in a LOT of RV-ing running HF and Remote Mountain top communication sites. 

73's
Bret
WX7Y
(Edited)
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Norm - W7CK

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I've tried lots of MPPT controllers and if you have some that actually work and are quiet why not share the brand and model number?
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WX7Y

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With several winding's on a couple Mix31 1.5" toroid's and 1000Uf Electrolytic's and .1 ceramic bypass capacitors on the input and output of the Controllers work well. 
Morning star SSMPPT work well for RV use, DO NOT HOOK YOUR EQUIPMENT TO THE LOAD terminals but rather direct to the batteries. 
The Midnight classic series also work quite well for your larger solar a-rays in your  station or home systems.
73's 
Bret
WX7Y


 
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Norm - W7CK

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I have Midnight Classic 150 and it is terrible..... I also had their "The Kid" model and it was equally as bad.  Ham equipment has always been connected directly to the batteries.

The other thing you have to watch out for on the MPPT controllers is the Equalization mode with provide dangerously high voltage for 12v ham equipment directly connected to the batteries.
(Edited)
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Kevin Va3KGS

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Morning Michael


My comment is on the delivery of the power.  Every few years I give a talk to our Radio Club on using a generator safely.

Generators are not required to have a Ground Rod for operation out in the "Field".  The MFG will say you need it, and this is to protect their ass. 

To many issues if you are relying on this ground rod, like soil conditions, bedrock, wet, dry...... Also, "Locates" are required by law in Ontario (every ware).  How deep do you drive the rod?  How do you take the rod out of the ground? Maybe aiding to RF Noise as well !!

And if you are using a generator as a back-up to your home or cottage, you must connect a separate ground wire from the Generator frame ground lug to the building ground system. (That's Law every ware).

So because of these issues, your best solution is to use a GFCI-A Portable cord (`14" long). Home Depot sells Husky, and there are many others on the market you can buy.  Using this GFCI-A cord  now means you no longer need a hammer, ground rod, ground cable, and no "Locates".

Our Radio Club has being using GFCI-A and no ground rods for many years now at all of our outdoor events, rain or shine, and no one has ever complained about generator noise either.  Hmmmm!

Hope this added info is helpful.

Have a safe day.

Kevin Smith, CET, ME, Va3KGS


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Bernie W7DMC

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6300 on field day with a 900W Yamaha generator. Worked great - gallon of gas in 8 hrs.