Sunday, March 12, 2023

Anza-Borrego Day Trip

Since our Mammoth cross-country trip was canceled due to too much snow, Jyoti and I decided to head out to the desert for a trip.  The forecast was for a good amount of wind so we made it a day trip.

  • Drove out in the morning along I8 with a stop at the Well Cafe in Alpine and topped off gas in Ocotillo.
  • Headed north up S2 taking in the warm temps and lack of rain!
  • The park website had some flower locations and the first for us was Bow Willow.  We turned off and headed to the campground which was full of people but few flowers.  We then headed back out and up nearby Egg Mountain which was covered in flowers and had great views
  • We then started off road on South Carrizo Creek after airing down.  This road had lots of flowers.
  • Made a short stop at the end of the road heading west.  I wanted to check out the stage station site but we didn't want hike out that far.
  • Next up was Arroyo Tapiado and a quick stop at the mud caves.  Jyoti had never been to the caves.
  • The highlight of the offroading was Diablo Dropoff.  We parked and checked out the action for a bit then decided on the "easiest" way down.  It was fun and made it through to Fish Creek without a problem.
  • Once at Fish Creek, we turned east and up and back Sandstone Canyon.  The obstacles were pretty easy but the canyon was pretty cool.
  • We then headed back out Fish Creek and stopped for a hike to the Wind Caves.
  • Then we went through Split Mountain got on pavement for a bit then stopped at Elephant Trees Discovery Area for a very nice hike.  The Elephant Tree is a very interesting and fragrant tree.  Lily loved the hike and didn't want to get back into the car.
  • Instead of going directly to the 78, we took Old Kane Springs Road westward.  It was very wavy and bumpy - not recommended.
  • At the end of the dirt, we aired back up and go onto the highway.   Since it is PCT season, we picked up a couple of hitchikers at Scissors Crossing and dropped them off in Julian.  They looked pretty beat after all the rain lately but they didn't escape since it was raining in Julian.
  • Took the usual route home after a long day.

Atop Egg Mountain

Jyoti and Lily in the Mud Caves

Rosie in the Desert

Overlooking Fish Creek from the Wind Caves

Elusive Elephant Tree


Friday, March 10, 2023

Radio Battery Box

Recently, I picked up a battery box from Napa that was on sale for a great price.  It was meant for car use so is big enough to fit a car 12v battery and had some 50A connectors.  But I wanted to use it for radio ops so made some modifications.  My guide was this great set of instructions on how to build a solar powered ammo can battery box.  I followed that fairly closely but with the following changes:

  • Included the existing 50A Powerpole connectors since they were already there.  I made some pigtails with 15A Powerpole and inline fuse so you can connect a radio to them.  Note that the entire box is 15A regardless of the connector rating.
  • Included the external wing nut connectors since they were already there.
  • Added a Powerpole external connector for the solar panels.  This allows the panels to be connected while keeping the lid on.

With all the interfaces and pigtails, I can use to run radios, laptops, etc.  It is also big enough for me to carry a bunch of gear.  E.g. for VHF/UHF operations, I can fit a couple radios, antennas and other accessories. I can also add another battery if I need the extra amp hours.

Completed battery box

Inside the box showing the battery and charge controller

Powerpole pigtail with SB50 on one end