A few weeks ago I discovered that 3/32" copper-clad steel welding rod is a perfect match to Power-Pole 30 amp contacts. I began to figure out a way to use that bit of information to enhance my operations in amateur radio.
It occurred to me that this could be a way of constructing Power Distribution devices, Otherwise known as PowerBlocks. I cut 4 pieces of the welding rod 2" long and soldered a 30 amp contact to each end of all four rods, making sure that the contact at one end has a 180 degrees different position than the contact at the other end. Don't ask me how I figured that one out. The contacts will thus fit properly when the housings are installed. I perhaps should point out that since PowerPole connectors are "Genderless" and each connector pair is identical to it's mating pair, the connectors at one end of the rods must thus be upside down from the connectors at the other end of the rods.
Once all of the contacts are soldered to the 3/32" rods, the rods are inserted into a housing set of two red and two black housings. Once they are completely set in place, another housing set is placed over the other contacts, making sure that the colors are correctly oriented. A bit of force may be needed at this point to fully seat the contacts in the housings.
I decided at this point that I wanted to correct the problem I had found with the commercially available power distribution blocks. Namely the fact that one loses one of the output connectors because it is being used to input power to the block. Thus a 4 port is really only a 3 port when it is use. To solve this I added an extra connector set and used a short length of 12 gauge red/black zip cord to connect it to the welding rods in the block. This also neatly answered the need to connect all of the "red" connectors to each other and all of the "black" connectors to each other as well. Thus instead of a 4 port power block being only a 3 port, we have a 4 + 1 block that still leaves one with four usable outputs. This can be expanded to 6 + 1 and 8 + 1 as shown in the illustrations.
You may have to look around a bit to find the welding rod that I use. It has a copper cladding with a steel core but it does not have any other coatings on it and it comes in 36" lengths for less than $0.30 per rod. Because it has a steel core, I obtained a new diagonal cutter that uses compound mechanics to give the tool more strength to cut the rod cleanly. One could use a hacksaw but I think that would be a lot more time consuming. Below are the photos that depict the power blocks constructed so far.
This is the 6 + 1. Here the heat shrink tubing used is 1.5" rather than the 1" used on the 4+1 above.
This is what the 4 + 1 block looks like.
This is the 8 + 1 unit. The same 1.5" heat shrink tubing is used here as well.
N1GY- The simple Approach to Ham Radio
and My Model Railroad Hobby
Please note the use of heat shrink tubing to insulate the rods and bare wires from contact with hands etc. These power blocks are not waterproof there is no insulation between the positive and negative sides of the blocks since the rods are quite rigid. The air gap between the two sides is sufficient, indeed, a dissection of a commercial power block shows no other insulation between the sides either. The construction maintains the air gap, the heat shrink is to protect the user.
Here is a close-up of the soldering that connects the rods so all of the contacts are powered from the "pigtail".
A New Design For Power-Pole Power Blocks