Powering Up in an Emergency

By Jenn Hemmingsen

When the lights go out on Bainbridge Island, local amateur radio operator and Bainbridge Prepares volunteer Jim Henderson wants residents to be prepared.

Jim Henderson image courtesy of BARN
Jim Henderson image courtesy of BARN

That’s why he designed a portable emergency backup power supply capable of keeping phones, tablets, handheld radio transmitters, LED lights, and other small devices charged during an emergency – whether it’s the occasional winter outage or something much more serious.

“As an amateur radio operator involved with emergency communications, I saw a need for portable backup power sources people could rely on,” says Henderson, BARN artisan and longtime member of the Bainbridge Amateur Radio Club.

His design is powered by a 12-volt Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) battery in a weatherproof protective case. It’s rechargeable using household or solar power. In March, he’ll teach a beginner-friendly course that doesn’t require any previous experience with electronics. Working together in small groups under Henderson’s guidance, they assemble enclosures, install wiring, and integrate charging and power distribution systems. All materials are provided. By the end of the three-session class, each student will walk away with a fully functional and customizable battery power station.

“Not only do they gain an emergency backup for blackouts, but they understand how it works and can fix any issues themselves,” Henderson said.

Henderson graduated from Pacific Lutheran University with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and biology and spent five years as an Air Force pilot before earning a master’s degree in oceanography at Oregon State University. During his career, he explored the world’s oceans while doing highly complex technical and scientific projects. More recently, he’s been working on a volunteer team developing an inexpensive, wireless hydrophone system that researchers and amateurs can use to record and analyze marine animal sounds.

Tech Power Supply image courtesy of BARNThrough this project, Henderson hopes to empower more island residents to sustain themselves through any disruption to the power grid. As he says, “Power goes out here with storms or earthquakes, and it’s good for people to have something they can use to stay connected.”

His class, Build Your Own 12-Volt Emergency Backup Power Supply, begins March 9 in the BARN Tech Lab, 8890 Three Tree Lane, Bainbridge Island. Learn more or register at https://www.create.bainbridgebarn.org/AssnFe/ev.asp?ID=5318238

If you’d like to learn more about BARC, visit our previous article: Bainbridge Island Amateur Radio Club…Reaching out locally, nationally and globally! | THE ISLAND WANDERER

Jenn Hemmingsen is a Bainbridge Island writer, editor, and Marketing Communications Coordinator at BARN. Contact: jennh@bainbridgebarn.org 

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