BUDDIPOLE POWERmini USB connected to a 5 Watt solar panel, 3AH Bioenno battery, with the IC-705.

The BUDDIPOLE POWERmini (BPM) is basically a solar controller. Like many solar controllers, it is able to have loads like powering your radio and has the ability to power a USB device. However, the BPM has Anderson Powerpoles; these connections have become the de facto standard for the amateur Ham community. This coupled with the compact format, the data information provided, and flexibility of charging different battery chemistries makes the BPM a powerful tool for field operations.

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I had an opportunity to use the BPM last week in the field. I wanted the BPM to power manage: the IC-705, a 3AH Bioenno battery, and a PowerFilm 5 Watt foldable solar panel. My goal was to power the IC-705 for at least 6 hours. The IC-705 with no bluetooth on, nor WLAN, nor GPS, with about 50% brightness can draw .20 Amps. The 5 watt foldable PowerFilm theoretically collect .3 Amps. In practice it collects on average .2A.

Before I left, I theoretically calculated how much power I would need. About 70% of the time the radio is listening and 30% of the time it’s transmitting, then the weighted amp usage of the IC-705 would be:

Amps = .70(.2 Amps) + .30(1.3 Amps) = .53 amps

.53 amps would be about 5 hours of use, on a 3AH battery. But with 6 hours of sun, I should be able to collect about 1AH, thus I could theoretically use the radio for another hour. Of course this is very theoretical.

In the field, it was a different story. The sun intensity varied throughout the day. Some clouds block the sun. The biggest obstacle was the shade from the trees the blocked the sun from the panel. I was moving the panel often and I wasn’t prepared to deal with this issue. I also underestimated the temperature outside. It was a cool day, about 68˙F, but it felt colder so the sun was behind my back to warm me up. Thus, the screen was darker and thus I had to increase the screen brightness to 90%. This increased the power usage to .27 Amps when Rx. As for the PowerFilm 5 Watt solar panel, it was consistent to about .22 Amps in the full sun.

PowerFilm 5 Watt foldable solar panel

Overall the BPM did a great job managing the power from the battery as well as managing the solar panel’s power. I had about 6 hours worth of power that day. I’m sure if the sun wan’t out, I would have had less power to charge the battery. Considering I have a QRP rig with a touch screen powered for about 6 hours with a small 3AH battery, a lightweight small solar panel of 5 Watts, and a compact solar controller – I was impressed.

There is more to test. Some have asked me if the BPM interferes with the radio. So far, I can’t say either way. I know so far, I haven’t seen any interference. I’m sure as I use it more, I will start noticing if the BPM interferes.

If you are interested on how to use the BUDDIPOLE POWERmini, please watch my video below. -73

How to use the BuddiPole Powermini USB