Ham Radio

DIY Emergency Lighting in a Crate (72+ hours)

Here’s a simple, yet often forgotten piece of emergencies, lighting. For the average person, electric lanterns, oil lamps, and candles are the norm. However, candles and oil lamps pose a fire hazard and electric lanterns don’t last long. For ham radio, I already heard many stories of folks going out to the field and end up using a flashlight for everything. In fact, it’s not practical for primary use in ham radio field work once you have your station and table set up – you can’t keep hold your flashlight, operate your radio, and take notes at the same time. Of course, keep a flashlight or 2 around (carry one) for temporary search/task lighting, but have more stationary alternatives as well.

Enter a portable and compact portable lantern solution that is easy to build from off-the-shelf parts, adjustable for task or room/tent lighting, lightweight enough for transport and heavy enough for stationary use, packs away into itself, and the best part: can run for over 72 hours of continuous use!

Partial List of Materials:

  • Small Plastic Crate
  • LED racing/show lights for cars (Walmart)
  • 3/4″ or 1″ PVC pipe, couplings, end cap, and cross joint
  • Plastic zip ties
  • Sealed Lead-Acid Battery, Non-spillable (9 AH)
  • Zip cord
  • Female blade connectors
  • Anderson Powerpole connectors
  • Solder, flux, heat shrink tubing
  • Screw, nut, washers, popsicle sticks
  • Velcro straps
  • In-line ATC fuse holder w/ 2A fuse

Put them all together and you have something like this:










For reference, the LED lights come in a pair and draw about 117 mA each. For a single lamp and a fully charged 9 AH battery, this is over 72 hours of runtime.

REMEMBER TO FUSE YOUR BATTERY POWER SUPPLY. I used the smallest fuse available (2A) for this application. I also highly recommend using the permanently bonded Anderson Powerpole connections as shown. Powerpole connectors are gender-less and polarized so it allows quick, secure, and proper connections without much guessing. The permanently bound version also minimizes the chance of polarity errors and allows you to insert a retaining clip to hold the two connectors together.

Made your own version or the same one? Need some help making one? Feel free to share and discuss in the comments section. As always, 73s!

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