It all started when I noticed on the shelf of Home Depot a plastic ammo can. Immediately I thought it would work to hold my 12 volt gel cells that I use for emergency communications. I am a ham radio operator who volunteers for the local city RACES group. The very next day I went to Ham Radio Outlet to buy RT Software. In the store, on the counter were two battery cases with no battery but on the outside of these cases was the interface for Anderson power poles. I asked the store clerk about mounting Anderson Power Poles into my ammo case. I was shown a product that made my socks roll up and down. A company called Powerwerx had some pretty cute devices for mounting into cases. I purchased three of these, all different, and they are:
- Anderson Powerpole connectors (2 included in the module). The module comes with its own mounting plate. I will not use this single mounting plate but instead put all 3 devices into a single large plate. The Anderson Powerpoles will provide power for my ham radios.
- USB connectors (2 included in the module) to offer emergency power for cell phones. This module comes with its own mounting plate which I will not use.
- A volt meter showing the battery voltage and it includes its own mounting plate.
- I also purchased a three hole plate that makes all 3 of these modules look really nice.
The next day I drove over to Batteries Plus, Brea, California, to see what battery they had that might fit into the ammo case. The store clerk immediately picked up a Duracel 12 volt, 14 amp hour battery that slid into the case perfectly on 3 sides. I had some extra room at the end of the ammo case for other items.
List of Parts:
Plano Field Box, Water Resistant, Model 1312-00 (Made in the USA)
4QT Sports Utility Box
Home Depot $9.97.
Battery, Duracel 12-14F2, 12 Volt, 14 AH. with F2 0.250 terminals. This battery is quite heavy.
Batteries Plus $59.99
Item Number: WKDC12-14F2
Brand: Duracell Ultra
Lead Acid Type: Deep Cycle
Chemistry: Lead Acid
Lead Acid Design: AGM
Product Category: Sealed Lead Acid
Terminal Type: F2, T2, Faston .250
Weight: 9.2 lbs
Length: 5.96 in (The ammo can is about 9 1/4 to 9 1/2 due to slight taper)
Width: 3.93 in (The ammo can is about 4 in wide)
Height: 3.82 in (The ammo can has 6 in height for contents)
Powerwerx 3 Hole Panel Plate.
Ham Radio Outlet $5.95. This is simply a very nice plate to hold the three devices.
Anderson Power Poles.
Red Black Anderson 15 Amp
Ham Radio Outlet, $18.95. This is necessary power for RACES radios and the main reason for building the box, to get power to my HT radios. I counted 5 pair (10 total) of red and black connectors. I prefer to solder and not crimp these connectors. From time to time I get a bit messy and some solder is added to the outside of one of these connectors. I use a fine jeweler’s file to remove this solder otherwise I can not slide the metal connector into the plastic outside insulator.
Dual USB connectors rated at 4.2 amps.
Ham Radio Outlet $23.95. This will be perfect for charging cell phones. I even have a USB LED on a stick that I could use to illuminate my work area.
Panel Mounting Digital Meter for 12/24 volt systems
Ham Radio Outlet $19.95
Powerwerx PD-8 an 8 position Anderson Power Pole distribution block
Ham Radio Outlet $34.95
I only needed to use 5 of the 8 pairs.
- Red and black heat shrink tubing. The red obviously slips over the positive female disconnects and the black over the negative. TRICK: I borrow my daughter’s or my wife’s hair dryer and set it on hot and high. I then put part of my hand on the air intake to limit the air coming into the the hair dryer to raise the temperature. In this way, the heat shrink rapidly shrinks around the female disconnects.
- .250″ female disconnects. The devices come with female disconnects but I am using larger diameter wire and do not use them but buy larger wire size connectors. I like to use bare metal connectors, solder the wire to them and then heat shrink the ends.
Rough Cost: I had the wire, connectors, heat shrink, and hardware so these items are not added. My rough total for items I had to buy was about $180. I would have to guess that if you do not have the items I already had on hand, your cost will certainly go beyond my cost.
Steps To Build:
Place 3 hole panel plate on top of ammo case on the side next to the handle but away from where the handle will fold into the case. Center this plate. Take a look at the under side of the top lid and get an idea of the plastic braces that will need to be cut away later. I found it best to really get away from the handle as much as possible to avoid the internal plastic walls.
Mark the 3 large holes and 4 small plate mounting drill holes. I made a mistake of drilling the 4 small holes first. When I drilled the large 3 holes I found that my prior 4 holes did not line up exactly and I had to drill them out again. I really recommend that you drill the large holes first. Put two units into the large holes and then drill the 4 small mounting plate holes last.
Open the top lid and look inside and judge where the 3 large holes and 4 small holes will come through. You will find that you are going to collide with small internal vertical walls. Think this through to make sure you do not have to cut them out too much.
Drill the 3 large holes for the devices. I use a Kline Tools #59009 Step Drill bit (made in the U.S.A.) that is wonderful and fast for thin wall drilling.
Trick: With this type drill I do not come down to finish the exact hole size but stop short. I pull the drill out and see if my cut is exact or not. I will see my circle mark I had made with a marking pen and the cut. As you can see in the image below the drill does not line up. I then can adjust the drill by pressing in the direction to fine tune my cut to be more exact, as you can see in the right hole seen below.
Powerwerx.com who sells these devices sells the exact hole drill, 1 3/16 inch, for $17.99. https://powerwerx.com/panel-mounts With this type hole drill, you can more easily center the hole cut.
I then used a round file to do some simple trimming of each hole and tested to see if each module would slide in and out of the hole. Just remember that the cover plate will make it look quite good.
Drill the 4 corner holes for mounting the plate. I measured the 4 plate mounting holes 5/32 drill bit fit tight as I tested the plate holes. I am not that precise in centering my drill holes so I often times go a bit larger in drill bit size if the plate fails to line up properly.
Open the top lid and look at the under side of that lid. You should see some plastic wall braces. You need to mark them for how much to cut. (See Image). This is where you really need to be careful. I came too close to the walls in places and used a Dremel rotary tool to make finishing touches.
I used a Dremel Tool to cut away the plastic braces under the top lid. I used grinding stone 8193 at high speed to melt away the plastic that was in the way for screwing in the large mounting nuts. I really recommend that you have terrific light shining upon your work as you “cut” through the plastic. The melted plastic was a pain to clean out. I put my Dremel tool on slow speed to help remove the pieces that glued themselves back upon the lid and also to polish edges and surfaces. As you can see in the image below, the inside looks quite a mess. The outside should look quite good when you are finished.
Trick: The internal inside lid walls are quite deep. The grinding stone wheel #8193 is much shorter. I decided to slide the wheel into each wall close to the lid, thus making a short open doorway, thus leaving much of the wall untouched. When I mounted the devices into the 3 holes, I only needed to slide the mounting nut into place and as the device was pushed into the box lid, I would tighten the nut. (see image).
The inside of the lid looks way less pristine after I melted the plastic in places but the outside looks very good
Battery in Ammo Case:
There is 2 1/4 inches from the top of the battery to underside of the case lid which is air space. But, the devices mounted on the lid come down just over 1 inch if you use straight connectors. Thus, the total top air space between the top lid devices and battery is close to 1 and 1/4 inches.
The battery does not occupy the full length of the ammo case. There is a 3” length x 4” wide x 5 “ deep cavity at one side of the ammo case next to the battery. I am currently looking for a plastic box to insert in this space so the battery will not slide. I could put fuses, fuse puller, small meter, etc. into such a box.
I am now researching attaching an optional solar panel to this battery.