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Old July 21st 05, 02:42 PM
RadioGuy
 
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Default Anderson 'Powerpole' Connectors

After hurricane Charley passed overhead (official track had it passing
directly overhead of my house) blowing off roofs and downing powerlines---we
were out of power for a week, I decided to review my emgergency equipment
capabilites. After extensive Internet study I learned that the power
connectors of choice, endorsed as standards by the ARRL, ARES and RACES for
emergency hookups are the Anderson 'Powerpole' connectors. Using the same
connector body but different internals parts provided a connector with
current capability up to 45 amps. The concept of a 'genderless' connector
was also mentioned. I purchased a large quantity of the 15, 30 and 45 amp
connectors along with the special crimping tool and began to exchange all my
old connectors with the new 'Powerpole' connectors.

When I first got the 'Powerpole' connectors about a year ago and played with
them something odd about them caught my attention but I could not explain
why. A couple of days ago while making connections I discovered that the
'genderless' capabilities of the connector allowed them to be connected
side-to-side, in otherwords, red-to-black, or black-to-red. The possibility
of making a direct short to ground---especially from an automotive battery
exists (grounded chassis/negative ground)! Using the 'Powerpole' connectors
makes it imperative that fuses be inserted inline, not only with the battery
positive terminal as is common practice, but ideally with both sides of the
power leads on the equipment side.

The connectors I used in the past and standardized on were the Amphenol two
pin connectors. The ones with the wide and narrow blade. The female went
to power source, and male to the equipment; furthermore, the cable clamp,
that the 'Powerpole' connector do not have, kept the connecting wires from
being pulled out or broken from repeated flexing. The Amphenol connectors
were not only a gendered connector but could only be coupled one
way---avoiding the problem of the 'Powerpole' connector.

I won't change back to the Amphenol connectors; I'll stay with the
'Powerpole' connectors, but it sure makes them an awkward solution and
'Hammy' way of doing things that require a bit of care when using
them---especially under emergency conditions.

RG



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Old July 21st 05, 07:31 PM
Dave Platt
 
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Default

In article ,
RadioGuy wrote:

When I first got the 'Powerpole' connectors about a year ago and played with
them something odd about them caught my attention but I could not explain
why. A couple of days ago while making connections I discovered that the
'genderless' capabilities of the connector allowed them to be connected
side-to-side, in otherwords, red-to-black, or black-to-red.


True 'nuff. If you do this, and also have a secondary ground path
present (e.g. through the antenna system), bad things could occur.

The chances of this can be reduced by:

- Not trying to plug 'em together by touch alone.

- Pick a standard orientation (most ARES groups have standardized on
a "Red on the right, when looking into the connector, contact
tongues are on the top" orientation).

- Assemble the connectors in advance of need.

- Secure the red and black connectors together after slip-fitting them,
so that they can't come apart and be reconnected incorrectly.
Anderson provides "roll pins" for this purpose, to lock 'em
together, but I've heard some people say that these can vibrate out
of the connectors. I prefer to use a drop of Crazy Glue or acetone
to permanently bond 'em together.

The possibility
of making a direct short to ground---especially from an automotive battery
exists (grounded chassis/negative ground)! Using the 'Powerpole' connectors
makes it imperative that fuses be inserted inline, not only with the battery
positive terminal as is common practice, but ideally with both sides of the
power leads on the equipment side.


Good advice!

Whenever I build equipment for 12-volt plug-in use, I prefer to stick
a reverse-polarity diode across the line, right after the equipment's
main 12-volt fuse. During normal operation there's no current flow in
the diode and no voltage drop (unlike what a forward-biased diode in
series with the line would cause). If the equipment is accidentally
hooked up with polarity reversed, the diode clamps the reverse voltage
and the fuse blows instantly, almost entirely eliminating the risk of
damage to the equipment.

I won't change back to the Amphenol connectors; I'll stay with the
'Powerpole' connectors, but it sure makes them an awkward solution and
'Hammy' way of doing things that require a bit of care when using
them---especially under emergency conditions.


You raise a valid point. I have yet to hear of this actually
happening in practice, but it's certainly possible.

I'm told that the underwater-diving industry has been using PowerPole
connectors for years - a local diver who became a ham last year was
overjoyed to finally learn how and where to get "diving light"
connectors at a reasonable (non-dive-shop) price. I'll have to ask
him whether he knows of any such accidental-reverse-hookup problems in
that industry.

--
Dave Platt AE6EO
Hosting the Jade Warrior home page: http://www.radagast.org/jade-warrior
I do _not_ wish to receive unsolicited commercial email, and I will
boycott any company which has the gall to send me such ads!
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Old July 21st 05, 08:04 PM
RadioGuy
 
Posts: n/a
Default


Dave Platt wrote in message
...
In article ,
RadioGuy wrote:

When I first got the 'Powerpole' connectors about a year ago and played

with
them something odd about them caught my attention but I could not explain
why. A couple of days ago while making connections I discovered that the
'genderless' capabilities of the connector allowed them to be connected
side-to-side, in otherwords, red-to-black, or black-to-red.


True 'nuff. If you do this, and also have a secondary ground path
present (e.g. through the antenna system), bad things could occur.

The chances of this can be reduced by:

- Not trying to plug 'em together by touch alone.

- Pick a standard orientation (most ARES groups have standardized on
a "Red on the right, when looking into the connector, contact
tongues are on the top" orientation).

- Assemble the connectors in advance of need.

- Secure the red and black connectors together after slip-fitting them,
so that they can't come apart and be reconnected incorrectly.
Anderson provides "roll pins" for this purpose, to lock 'em
together, but I've heard some people say that these can vibrate out
of the connectors. I prefer to use a drop of Crazy Glue or acetone
to permanently bond 'em together.

[snip]

Thanks for the reply Dave. That's precisely the point I'm trying to make.
My connectors are oriented in the preferred ARES configruation and crazy
glued together but that doesn't mean anything. You can still can mate the
assembled connectors together side-to-side, red-to-black and black-to-red.

The only options of preventing this from happening are to carefully observe
the mating of the connectors and use fused leads to protect against shorts
resulting from misalignment.

RG


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Old July 22nd 05, 07:45 PM
Dave Platt
 
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Default

In article ,

- Secure the red and black connectors together after slip-fitting them,
so that they can't come apart and be reconnected incorrectly.
Anderson provides "roll pins" for this purpose, to lock 'em
together, but I've heard some people say that these can vibrate out
of the connectors. I prefer to use a drop of Crazy Glue or acetone
to permanently bond 'em together.


Dave-

Anderson may supply the roll pins if you ask, but they don't come with the
connectors.


Seems to depend on the distributor, then. One merchant from whom I
bought PowerPoles at Pacificon a couple of years ago included them in
the bag. PowerWerx sells them separately, and I don't bother buying
them.

I found out about the adoption by various emergency organizations such as
RACES, and converted all of my equipment. I started with a roll pin in
each pair, but soon noticed that over half of the pins had fallen out.
Fortunately there was no damage from pins falling into live electronic
equipment.


Other people seem to have had the same experience.

Thinking I just had the wrong roll pins, I tried to buy some from an
Anderson dealer. That is where I heard about using Crazy Glue.

I hadn't considered offsetting the connectors so black and red could
connect. Yes, that would be a problem, so don't to that!


Yup.

Although Anderson Power Poles seem like a good idea, I'm by myself around
here. The local RACES/ARES guys insist on using Molex connectors as their
standard (IC-22A compatible), ignoring that they aren't rated for the
current their modern equipment uses.


Are those the old-style stamped-metal round Molex pins, such as one
finds in a PC power supply cable, or are they using the flat-metal
"OEM T" connector used by a lot of the radio manufacturers these days?
I can't tell from the picture in the IC-22 manual I downloaded.

I really loathe the round-pin Molex - it really doesn't seem like a
design that will either stand up to repeated cyclings, or handle a lot
of current.

--
Dave Platt AE6EO
Hosting the Jade Warrior home page: http://www.radagast.org/jade-warrior
I do _not_ wish to receive unsolicited commercial email, and I will
boycott any company which has the gall to send me such ads!


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Old July 23rd 05, 01:36 AM
RadioGuy
 
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After trying all the permutations and combinations of connector arrangements
I have concluded there is no way the 'PowerPole' connectors can be
configured to prevent a short-circuit as the connectors are presently
designed.

However, if the dovetails are altered (redesign of the injection mold) the
connectors can be oriented 'on top of ' as opposed to the current 'side by
side' orientation ---the new design will then allow the connectors halves to
mate only ONE way. The connectors will no longer be 'mirrored' and as the
'PowerPole' connectors do not posess a gender a standard will be required
regarding which connector half is used for the supply side and which is used
for the equipment side. It is highly unlikely that Anderson will redesign
the 'PowerPole' connector to meet the needs of the Ham community.

It amazes me that this connector, with the potential of short-circuit from
misalignment, could be considered a standard for power connections of
emergency communications equipment. In review of the literature no mention
is made of the possibility of improperly mating of these connectors. This
must be the first time in my experience that equipment and power source must
be fused to prevent a short-circuit resulting from improper connector
mating---unbelievable. I think the 'PowerPole' connector has the earmark
of a classic 'Ham boondoggle'.

RG



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Old July 23rd 05, 05:23 AM
Dave Platt
 
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In article ,
RadioGuy wrote:

However, if the dovetails are altered (redesign of the injection mold) the
connectors can be oriented 'on top of ' as opposed to the current 'side by
side' orientation ---the new design will then allow the connectors halves to
mate only ONE way. The connectors will no longer be 'mirrored' and as the
'PowerPole' connectors do not posess a gender a standard will be required
regarding which connector half is used for the supply side and which is used
for the equipment side.


This would eliminate the perceived (and actual) benefit of having a
genderless arrangment, which lets you plug a battery into a radio
(acting as a supply) or into a charger or power supply (acting as a
load, for recharging), or into a distribution panel alongside radio
connections (acting as a floating backup to a mains-powered supply).

It is highly unlikely that Anderson will redesign
the 'PowerPole' connector to meet the needs of the Ham community.


Agreed.

It amazes me that this connector, with the potential of short-circuit from
misalignment, could be considered a standard for power connections of
emergency communications equipment.


The PowerPoles have been around for quite a while, and have seen a lot
of use in fields other than ham radio. I'm curious as to whether you
can cite evidence that the problem you forsee, actually occurs in
practice?

In review of the literature no mention
is made of the possibility of improperly mating of these connectors. This
must be the first time in my experience that equipment and power source must
be fused to prevent a short-circuit resulting from improper connector
mating---unbelievable.


All power sources must be fused, in any case, in order to provide
protection against short circuits. In a mobile setting, it's canon
that both the hot and neutral should be fused, as close to the battery
as possible, in order to avoid dangerous ground-wire currents if the
alternator ground wire pops loose from the battery.

I'm not convinced that the PowerPole arrangement requires any
additional fusing, above and beyond what's normal and appropriate for
ham gear. Proper fusing on the hot side of the source ought to be
sufficient to result in an immediate fuse-blow under any PowerPole
misconnection arrangment I've been able to envision.

As I see it, if a PowerPole set is correctly wired, there are four
ways to try to mate it.

One is correct, and works. One has the connectors rotated 180 degrees
out of phase - doesn't mate, no problem.

One way has them rotated correctly, but offset in one direction -
radio's "hot" goes to supply ground, radio's ground is unconnected (or
occurs via the antenna or chassis mount). This one seems completely
benign, as the radio is connected only to ground - radio doesn't power
up, but there seems to be no potential for damage.

The fourth case is the only arguably problematic one, as it connects
the supply hot to the radio ground. This seems very likely to blow
the supply fuse, either instantly or the moment the radio chassis
touches ground. I don't see the need for a separate fuse in the
radio's own ground lead, as long as the supply fuse is of the proper
value for the installation.

I think the 'PowerPole' connector has the earmark
of a classic 'Ham boondoggle'.


I concede the possibility, in principle, of mismatings of the sort you
mention. I've not ever heard of any occurring in practice.

--
Dave Platt AE6EO
Hosting the Jade Warrior home page: http://www.radagast.org/jade-warrior
I do _not_ wish to receive unsolicited commercial email, and I will
boycott any company which has the gall to send me such ads!
  #9   Report Post  
Old July 24th 05, 12:04 AM
jake
 
Posts: n/a
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The powerpole connector system is in use worldwide !

Take a trip to any home depot, sams, costco or lumber yard.

The electric battery operated lift equipment all use the large
powerpole connectors (36volt 600ah wetcells)

They only go in one way, can't put them in backwards.

We just have to watch what we are doing,
Anderson can't do it for us.

Just like at the firing range, you can load the wrong
type of ammo in your pistol and have the round get
stuck in the barrel and if fired again the firearm can
break and hurt you and others around.

What is to stop me from connecting the radio
cables to my astron termainals backwards ?

Be safe !

  #10   Report Post  
Old July 25th 05, 09:21 PM
Steve Nosko
 
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Roll pin problem:
I use the smallest plastic tye-wrap instead of the roll-pin. Looking at it,
I reasoned the roll pin was a bad solution because of the way it stresses
the wedge side-mate structure. I use the standard Power Pole configuration
(for the battery charge option and commonality with everyone) and put the
"head" of the tye-wrap so it is on the "top" when viewed from the
"red-on-the-right" standard view. Pull the tye-wrap through all the way, so
the head is up against the Andersons, then bend the rest around, to the rear
between the two wires and tighten (not too tight or it will also tend to
spread the two Andersons). I crease (fold and squeeze with pliers) the
tye-wrap so it is "square" at the bend points. This way the two mating
tye-wrap "heads" are on opposite sides (for a blind ham in the area) to mate
by feel.

Offset bad-mate problem:
One solution to the "offset connection" problem is to add an empty body on
the outside on each side, then fill it with epoxy. This'll prevent mating
red to black. Perhaps one of you enterprising fellas will approach Anderson
with a proposal to manufacture such a blank. It doesn't need to be full
size, just enough to block the offset mate. It only needs the wedge
side-mat and a front end in the shape of an "L". If it has a small hole in
the front, it could also be used to chassis mount the pairs.

73, Steve, K9DCI




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