Foundations of Amateur Radio #122:
October 6, 2017
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Organisation around your shack
The art of keeping your station organised and
accessible has much to do with choosing
wisely which bits to keep and which bits to
throw. That's part of the story, but there
are other aspects of organisation that will
Rolling up coax is a skill that you need to
learn. The over and under method of coiling
cable is by far the easiest way to ensure
that your coax stays healthy and happy
without kinks and other distortions.
Once you've coiled your coax, many amateurs
use electrical tape to hold the coil in place
for storage. This can be helpful, since it
means that you'll always have a handy supply
of electrical tape on hand for when the need
arises, but an alternative is to use Velcro
cable wraps which attach semi-permanently to
one end of the coax and can be wrapped onto
itself to make a loop around the coiled coax.
Making a water-proof connection, for
temporary use can be as simple as covering it
in electrical tape. This isn't ideal and not
permanent and water inside coax is a
guaranteed way to create problems that go
well beyond the one time that it got wet,
with rust and rot destroying the connector,
then the conductors and then ultimately your
radio. A better solution is to use either
self-amalgamating tape, or plumbing tape to
cover the join, followed by electrical tape
and even cable ties to ensure that the tape
stays in place.
There are self-amalgamating dispensers that
allow you to coat a connector in a sticky goo
that also keeps water out, but getting it off
at a later stage is guaranteed to make your
hands black and sticky.
If you're operating portable, then getting
your wire into the air might be associated
with throwing something into a tree to pull
your antenna up. A fishing rod is a very
helpful tool, complete with some fishing
weights, to get the wire into a tree. Bring
spare sinkers because you're going to lose
some along the way.
Storing a cable or stay kit is often a
laborious affair with the rope getting tied
up in knots throughout your kit with the next
30 minutes spent untangling the almighty
spider-web that magically appeared inside
your go-kit. A great way to prevent such an
adventure is to invest in different size zip-
lock bags. You can label the bag
appropriately and see inside what's there, so
if you have a few of them, you only need to
grab the one you need and use different sizes
for different purposes. Too small means they
pop open and too large means you can't find
what you need.
Bring along some ratchet straps. They don't
need to be 20m monsters, 2m is just fine, but
bring a few. You'll be surprised how often
they come in handy to tie down a radio, or a
squid-pole, or strap a clipboard to
A clipboard is a useful surface to write on,
to keep your logs and if you get a clipboard
box, you can store your electronic log
keeping device and some pens in the same
At one point I actually attached the head of
my radio to my clipboard with some screws
which made operating and logging even easier.
No doubt you've got some tips of your own, so
feel free to drop me a line and share.
I'm Onno VK6FLAB
Listen online at
search for my callsign VK6FLAB on iTunes.
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