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Foundations of Amateur Radio #122:

from Onno VK6FLAB on 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 assist you.

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 something.

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 place.

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 or search for my callsign VK6FLAB on iTunes.

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