Imagine this: You’re in the middle of your daily routine when suddenly the ground starts shaking… hard. You recognize it as an earthquake, but you have never felt one with this intensity. The lights go out and you realize there is a total power outage. After what seems like an eternity, the shaking subsides and you notice an eerie silence all around you as all lights, machinery and electronics are no longer operating. “How bad was it?”, you wonder. Turning on your AM/FM radio, you discover this was a major quake felt all over the region. But you’re a ham, right. All you have to do is grab your handheld radio and tune in to the local repeater. That is, if your batteries are charged.
Even the most active of us in the hobby sometimes go long periods of time without using our talkies. If yours is powered by a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery, you might be lucky as these batteries tend to hold a charge when not in use. Nickle-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, however, self-discharge over time; a real problem if you don’t stay on top of them. What to do?
The most obvious solution is making a routine of charging your batteries. Another is to purchase an alkaline battery pack (AA or AAA size) for your handheld. Some alkaline batteries now claim a shelf-life of 10 years, providing a high degree of dependability, although it’s still a good idea to periodically check your go-kit for missing or expired items. Note that some cheaper brands of alkaline batteries can leak with age, damaging your equipment. Search for Dave N5FDL’s earlier (April 21, 2013) blog titled, “Switching to Duracell” for more information.
Another way of insuring your batteries are charged and your radio is functioning: get on-the-air and check-in to your club’s weekly net. Most all ham radio clubs have a net, and no better way to insure all is working properly with your radio than to use it regularly.