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Portable radio batteries


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by Bill Musladin, N6BTJ
Several of these bulletins have dealt with the items of personal equipment that hams should keep handy and ready for use in emergency or disaster response operations. For example, clothing suitable for likely conditions, flashlights, non-perishable food items, water and, obvious for communicators, radio gear suitable for the specific job at hand.

The necessary radio gear often includes hand held radios, used for everything from talk-in to a specific assignment to the primary communications devices needed to carry out individual duties. Modern walkie-talkies are wonderful devices, capable of easy programming to many different frequencies that may be called for and coverage over very wide areas. They are flexible, rugged, and just about indispensable in emergency communications. Unfortunately, as normally equipped when first received, almost all of them rely on rechargeable nicad batteries.

Anyone who has experience in disaster response operations is familiar with the truism that communications will fail, either through overload, equipment failure, or both. Indeed, that is precisely the reason why well trained and equipped Radio Amateurs are often needed to supplement or even replace inadequate communications systems in emergencies.

If hams are to be part of the solution-and not another part of the communications problem-it is obvious that their communications gear must always be as ready as they are to work.

This brings us back to those nicad batteries with which hand held radios are usually supplied. Nicads are great for many, even most purposes. They are cheap, and can be recharged many times. But they are much like the big communications failures that can be expected in emergencies - THEY WILL QUIT EXACTLY WHEN NEEDED THE MOST!

The solution, of course, is the alkaline battery case normally available as an inexpensive accessory to your hand held radio. And a supply of alkaline batteries that can keep you going indefinitely, with minimum off-the-air time, and without a/c power sources for nicad chargers that probably aren't available.

Disaster response agencies would do well to keep a supply of fresh AA size alkaline batteries on hand, for their Amateur Radio auxiliary resources.

--- Bill Musladin, Assistant State RACES Radio Officer, N6BTJ

  • Bulletins 1992 Supplement
  • Version 1 12/31/92
  • 1992 BULLETINS 252,253

  • Archives of California RACES Bulletins are available via anonymous ftp at

    The Home Page for the State of California Governor's Office of Emergency Services contains other information about emergency response in California and elsewhere .


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     Most recent revision 03/20/08