Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Smart Glow Fuses
Many VHF Men, especially rovers, have learned the wisdom of fusing their power leads running to those pricey transverters, pre-amps, and VHF/UHF rigs. For rovers, this usually means fusing both the positive and negative leads as close to the radio as possible.
But as any rover can tell you, troubleshooting equipment in the dark on some lonely hilltop can be an exercise in frustration. Especially in the heat of a contest. During the CQ VHF contest while operating at night in North Florida, I had a fuse blow on my Yaesu FT-857D. Since I had not brought along the "rover rack" it was literally the only radio available, leaving me dead in the water until the problem could be fixed.
But luckily, I used "Smart Glow Fuses" which light up when they're blown. I also used the specially made clear fuse holders which are made just for these fuses. "Tracing the problem" was as simple as lifing the back seat and looking at the custom power distribution center. I replaced the 20 amp fuse that was glowing with another from my bag of spares and was back on the air in less than 30 seconds.
Smart Glow Fuses are sold at most automotive parts stores, and can also be found at Ace Hardware, Wal-Mart, and other retailers. They're available in a variety of sizes from 1 amp all the way up to 40 amps. They're a bit more expensive than standard blade-type fuses, but worth every penny if you're on that dark, lonely hilltop.
They also work great in the Anderson PowerPole distribution panels sold by West Mountain Radio, MFJ, and other companies. And they're perfect for fixed stations too, not just rovers.