Making a cheap LiFePO4 battery for SOTA.

I needed a good battery to power my Xiegu G90, so that I could carry it up hills and talk to strangers in my bid to join the SOTA community.

In 2023 the general trend for portable lighteweight power is to buy a *premium* battery like the Bioenno pack–which are designed specifically for this purpose–or to go with a cheap *amazon special*. LiPo pillow packs designed for RC cars/aircraft can deliver good power-to-weight, however they are rumoured to have a fire risk, would need a regulator to make 12-13.8v and, most importantly, they are not cheaper than LiFePO4 packs.

After some deliberation, I settled on a 12v 6Ah pack from Amazon, which cost $25USD, versus $80 for the Bioenno. I don’t have a way to test the capacity, so I don’t know how it would actually stack up against the premium battery, but mine works.

As one does, I didn’t even test the battery, I took it apart. Makes sense, right? This battery came in a plastic case, the Bioenno is just shrinkwrapped. Weight of this battery was advertised at 600g, and came in just over 700g.

I removed the case, added Powerpoles to its existing leads, replaced a sheet of PCB material with a top and bottom protector made from Ikea polypropylene chopping board, and covered it in shrinkwrap.

The resulting 616g is not too heavy, and seems to be perfectly able to keep the G90 running at 20w for a good while.

Update: after a couple of SOTA activations I decided to change the form-factor of the battery. I think this fits in a backpack more easily, though it is arguably also more prone to changing position.

I will probably end up getting a Bioenno battery one day, but I don’t need one yet.

Tobias Feltus: