Building a Powerpole DC Power Distribution Center

I’ve started converting all of my 12 volt DC powered devices over to Anderson Powerpole connectors.  Powerpole connectors are gender neutral which eliminates any plug / socket issues.  Standardizing on Powerpole connectors gives me the flexibility of easily connecting my DC devices (including my ham radio and 3D printer) to different power sources without having to worry about connector compatibility.

The most common Powerpole contact sizes support 15, 30, or 45 amps.  Any of these three contact sizes can be inserted into the same plastic connector housing.

In order to allow multiple devices to share the same DC power source I needed a common distribution point.  The RIGrunner made by West Mountain Radio seems to be a popular option but they are not cheap.

In my search for a solution I found a great Powerpole distribution center kit designed by fellow ham operator John K9JEB .

Assembeled Powerpole distribution kit from k9jeb.com

John’s kit is cheaper than the RIGrunner and has more features, plus you can assemble it yourself!  I purchased the kit for $50 (plus $5 shipping).

Notable Kit Features

  • Individually fused outputs with blown fuse indicator LEDs
  • USB charging port
  • Built in digital voltmeter
  • Supports 30 amps (upgradable to 45 amps with bus modifications)
  • Filter caps on the outputs

The kit includes a custom designed circuit board and a small enclosure where it can be mounted in.  Also included are 8 standard ATC blade fuses  in assorted amperage ratings.  I also purchased an additional assortment of blade fuses to have on hand in order to match the outputs with the appropriate ratings for my needs.

Kit contents

Assembling the kit is very straightforward and only requires basic electronics skills.  In addition to some basic tools a good soldering iron, and a Powerpole crimper is needed to complete the project.

Terminating the solid copper wire with Powerpole connectors

After crimping the Powerpole connections the remainder of the assembly process involves soldering the various components to the board and performing some basic testing.  The only tricky part here was trying to mount the Powerpole connectors in a straight row while soldering them to the board.

The kit use a DSN-DVM-368 3 digit digital voltmeter to measure the incoming voltage to the bus.  Initially my meter was only reading 0.00.  I discovered that this was because pin 1 (lower left) needed to be connected to pin 2 (pad with red wire) in order to actually provide a reading.  I bridged the two pads with solder and this resolved the issue.

DSN-DVM-368 digital volt meter

After I finished the assembly process I did a few quick tests with my multimeter to check for shorts before connecting incoming power.  The power supply I have connected to my distribution board is an IOTA Engineering DLS-55 switching power supply.

The board provides a total of 9 DC outputs.  Outputs 1 through 8 are individually fused and output 9 is directly connected to the main fuse which can be used for daisy chaining additional connections.

Completed power distribution center

The onboard USB port is a nice extra option to have.  This will come in handy for charging a cell phone or powering a Raspberry Pi.

Pi Connected to power distribution board

I bought a DC car plug to Powerpole adapter from Powerwerx so I can connect my distribution board directly to my portable backup battery.  I think this will turn out to be very useful for operating in portable or emergency situations.

Overall I’m happy with how the project turns out.  I would recommend this kit to anyone looking for a flexible, low cost DIY option for DC power distribution using Powerpole connectors.

If you’re interested in buying one of the kits visit k9jeb.com.

Sam Kear

Sam graduated from the University of Missouri - Kansas City with a bachelors degree in Information Technology. Currently he works as a network analyst for an algorithmic trading firm. Sam enjoys the challenge of troubleshooting complex problems and is constantly experimenting with new technologies.

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