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Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed

Dr. Stephen Andrew Wilson (XE1UFO) on June 15, 2004
View comments about this article!

I was one of many who activated Mexico City on HF after the 1985 devastating earthquake, when no long-distance and much of local phone service was unavailable. At the time of the disaster, I had no gear and ended up getting an old Swan 500 from my friend N5CSH for the emergency.

I believe one very important aspect of our wonderful hobby is emergency preparedness. In my very humble opinion, I believe each one of us should think about what we need BEFORE any real emergency occurs (flood, earthquake, hurricane, terrorists, etc.) and the need calls us.

I KNOW I am not the only one with a GO KIT ready.

I believe the SG2020 is ideal for this purpose! I would love to get ideas from anybody else. I have this very tidy little setup, all in a small canvas-type laptop satchel:

  1. SG2020-ADSP2, with Heil HC-4 mic element

  2. 7.0-Amp hour gel cell battery, with small wall-wart charger

  3. MFJ Travel Tuner -- See details at:

  4. MFJ miniature iambic paddle -- very highly portable:

  5. 150-foot roll of antenna wire, with banana jack on end.

  6. Small coax jumper for SG2020 to tuner.

  7. One 20-foot #18 wire, with alligator clip on one end and large car battery charger-type clip on the other, for use as either counterpoise or to connect to grounded water system, when available.

  8. Copy of radio license

Plus of course, my trusty tiny Yaesu VX-5 (6, 2, 440 Mhz.) on my hip.

I adapted all my radios including the SG2020 (Kenwood TS50, etc.) and home 12-volt power supplies and my in-vehicle connector to have the standard Motorola staggered power connector ease of switching rigs. The gel-cell battery has also been adapted.

In the vehicle, I carry a 30-foot telescoping crappie pole for "portable tree" support, a small 10-amp power supply, a roll of plastic rope and an assortment of bungee chords to get my antenna up fast. I still need to add a portable VHF/UHF antenna system and a first aid kit yet. Am also thinking of how to charge the gel-cell from the vehicle.

I have tried to make a practice run at least every two weeks. I will grab my bag and get out of town, or to a local park, etc., and try to be making my first effective QSO within 15 minutes after arrival.

By the way, I used to carry a small SWR meter, but found the LED's on the SG2020 to be quite accurate! One less thing to carry.

PLEASE let me know what YOU are doing. We are told by the experts that we can expect 11 major hurricanes to affect Mexico this year. Also, they say that another major earthquake may be just around the corner for us. And we live within 150 miles of a dozen active to semi-active volcanoes ... Need I say more?


Steve, XE1UFO a.k.a. KA5SUT
xe1ufo at (replace “at” with @)

San Juan del Río, Querétaro, México

Member Comments:
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Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KD4TOQ on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I have spent a lot of time trying to come up with the "perfect", "grab and go", radio set. This mostly due to the fact of living in eastern North Carolina and having to dodge more than a couple of hurricanes. I have built two different sets, one around the Yaesu FT 817 and the other around the Yaesu FT 897. Neither one is perfect, and I don't know if I will ever achieve perfection as there are so many variables to consider. That said I will offer some of my thinking. Both of my sets fit into one case, except for the power required for more that just the shortest operation. I will give a description of each set.

The FT817.
This is fitted into a small technicians type of aluminum tool case. Padded with high density foam cut to nest the components for protection. In the case is the 817, Tokyo HI Power HL50B linear amp, LDG Z11 tuner, a miniature morse key, the Superantena MP1, MFJ 10160 tuner and a random wire, three sets of internal batterys for the 817,givng me a total of about 5.5 amp hours of operating power in the case with the radio, and a roll up J pole made from TV twin lead for 2meters and 70 centimeters. I also have the necessary jumpers, connectors, and 12 volt auto power adapters to power the gear from if an auto type power source is available. Obviously I can't operate the HL50B linear unless I have external power over and above the batterys in the case. I use a large automobile type power station for external power, it has a 35 amp hour SLA batt that can be charged either from 12 volt source or mains. It has a handle for ease of carrying and lights and air compressor.

The FT897
This rig is also in a single case, but obviously it is larger. The case is a plastic moulded affair designed for tools. It has been fitted with high density foam also. The radio with the two internal batterys, 897 tuner, power supply and battery charger are all in the case. I have a wire antenna made by "Bushcomm Co." of Australia that works on 10 thru 80 meters, it rolls up into a bag the size of a small lunch bag. I also have a "W3FF Buddipole" antenna in the case. Finally I have a dual band VHF/UHF on a mag mount.

The 817 weighs about 20 pounds and the 897 case weighs about 35. As you can see the limits on making up this kind of emergency set revolve around, power source, antenna, and length of time dependant on battery power. I feel these wre the biggest hurdles to overcome. It is quite easy to fit the radio into a fairly small package, it is the details that cause the problems. The sets I have give me the ability to "grab and go" with the ability to operate a few hours as a standalone station. Hopefully the power situation will be resolved before youe battery gives up. I hope this helps with the discussion and gives some matter to chew on. I am also of the opinion that the most usable HF antenna for emergency work will probably be an NVIS type of antenna. Rarely is a DX situation involved, and usually, reliable communications on 40 and 80 meters will be very useful in an emergency.

73's to all
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by IV3SBE on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Here is my 2c worth..

My Emergency unit is made by one TS2000, a Rybakov Multiband notrap nogap vertical antenna ( ) that when stored is only 3 feet long and 27 Feet when extended and only 2Kg.
An X50 dualband V-U vertical, as for power I modified a Plastic tool box to fit 30 Amp Gel batteries topped up with a Solar panel of 30 Watts.

That setup enable me to work from 80 to 10m flawlessly and V-U for repeter action as my TS2000 could be used for cross band operations HF-V HF-HF and so on.

This setup will be used for our next Iota activation.

Ear us at the end of July for the IOTA contest, we will activate a NEW ONE!!! Ref EU-130 ( name of the private island to be disclosed soon either on and on

RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by WIRELESS on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
A 7 amp-hour battery will not get anyone very far. Anyone who thinks they need any kind of aux power should be thinking at least a 500 - 1000 watt mini generator to charge batteries (Honda's are fantastic).

I use 2 80 ah marine batteries powering a small fan, small tv, and a low power hf rig, these will suck the life out of these 2 batteries in just a few hours.

Also, I gave up trying to find 12 volt versions of everything I wanted to power. I use a 750 watt Coleman inverter ($79.99 at Sears). For the money it works exceptionally well.
Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by AD5X on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I'm a big believer in Anderson Powerpole connectors. I also have an SG-2020ADSP2 with a Powerpole pigtail. I've built-up Powerpole to Motorola, Powerpole to Molex, Powerpole to cigarette lighter, and Powerpole to batter clamp adapters. This pretty mush ensures I can connect to anyone's DC power.

Phil - AD5X
Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by NA4IT on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
This fellow has it right. In fact he is one of the few to talk about go kits that mentions probably the most important thing you need...


Without it you may not even get in to help, and instead be sent home or worse, taken to jail!
Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by K0KL on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

I too have an SGC-2020 (in my case in our travel trailer) with a Heil element. There is a modification on the SGC user's group (link from the SGC home page) about the low output from the Heil element. It seems the compressor in the SGC needs more push when using Heil elements, it's a simple change of resisitor mod the really makes that puppy work well.
I have alternate power cords with big alligator clips (read any car battery) and one with a cigar lighter plug to use in any car. I also added some 12 volt outlets in the trailer.
The MFJ tuner, wire for a 30 foot vertical using the fiberglas pole, headphones, pad and pens pencil, flashlight, battery operated flouresecnt light, ground clamp, inverter, with 1850 w generator avaliable.
I have a 706 G in both cars, also with extra 12 volt cables, and a 20 amp Astron switching supply (handy when in 220 volt countries) a small toolbox with a less than $10 multimeter, ground clamps, matches, lighter (non-smoker).
Amazing how many hams have "crash kits" ready to go ...


Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by K1RDD on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Snacks and water. If you can't work, it doesn't matter what equipment you have.
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KB2FCV on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I don't necessarily carry a 'Go Kit'. I do have HF and VHF equipment that could be operational in my Van at a moments notice. I am a volunteer firefighter, so in the event of something large-scale where you would need HF.. I would most likely be tied up elsewhere. VHF is normally in both the car and at home, so I am usually never far from a radio. I don't see the need to do much else beyond that (other than food, flashlights, etc)
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KC8VWM on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

Ever heard the term, "An Army of One"?

One should be "self sustaining" for a period of 72 hours during a disaster event. Even if you are not a ham operator, you should be adequately equipped with a civil defense emergency go kit for you and your family.

Please visit:

for more information on citizen preparedness.

One miltary web belt is lightweight, distributes your equipment over different parts of your body - you remain mobile and all the weight is not in one place on your back.

A web belt makes it easy to "compartmentalize" your equipment for different purposes in different pockets. Fast and easy to get to - no digging around like back packs require. Web belts are mil spec., super durable and won't tear like nylon backpacks. Works great for an emergency disaster grade go kit.

In my opinion these items are what I consider to be minimum essentials during any disaster. These items are not only for your radio related activities, but also for your own personal safety.

Pocket A)Contains all your portable radio equipment.
I use an Icom T-90 A radio because it can recieve all public service frequencies, HF frequencies, VHF/UHF Amateur - FRS/GMRS/CB frequencies, AM-FM stations - TV station audio, and basically any other frequency in between ranging from 1 khz to 1 Ghz all in one radio.

Forget about using jpoles, I have included one stainless steel dual band "Larsen" mobile VHF / UHF antenna mounted on the shoulder of the web belt itself. Home made emergency J-pole antennas have been known to break very easily and they don't perform as well as a mobile 5/8 wave antenna with gain.

A web belt pack compartment will contain extra cables and connectors for removing and extending the "shoulder" antenna for operation at greater heights. Also 2 - 7AH portable battery packs are in the "butt portion of the pack." I also have a portable GPS device with spare "AA" batteries.

I include a roll up solar panel for charging my battery pack. You can fully expect that there will be no other power available and no other method to charge your battery pack.

How Effective Does Solar Stand Up During Real Disasters? - A Government Report! (.pdf)

HF operation can be achieved by packing an ultra light fishing reel with 120 feet of wire on it.

Pocket B)72 hours of MRE food packs & cooking utensils -supplies. Water bottle.

Pocket C)Personal Toiletries (Bring "multi-use" Liquid Soap instead of bar soap)- First Aid kit - personal medications. This kit includes one pair of paramedic shears for cutting everything from steel cable to making your own bandages or slings from clothing.

Pocket D)Heat / Lighting - "sigg" fuel canister(Important) I prefer the utlra lightweight "mountain climbing" variety folding lantern and stove.

Pocket E) 1 Roll of duct tape - (Multi-use: from installing antennas to first aid and/or clothing repair)

Pocket F)Folded tarp & rope - can be used as an emergency shelter, makes a nice raincoat, can be used as an emergency stretcher, can be used to collect morning dew or rain water for drinking when there is no drinking water available. Many uses during a disaster - a must have.

Pocket G) Signalling devices - ie 2 whistles to communicate with others. For example - you are in a collapsed building. A signal flare in case you are injured and cannot alert anyone by any other means.
Portable air horn - same type used on boats for getting attention.

I would also suggest visiting my website for additional information on emergency prepardness:

Many thanks to ED Harris, KE4SKY - Radio Emergency Communications Training Officer - State of Virginia.
for much of the content on my webpages.


Charles - KC8VWM
My HF 'go-kit'.  
by W8KQE on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Excellent subject! For portable and/or emergency use, I use a small aluminum padded camera case stuffed with an IC-718 (5w-100w variable), a couple of single-band PAR 'EndFedz' wire antennas (end fed with 'mini-transformer' for easy 'throw over a branch' setup and feedpoint access), a paddle for CW, and two lengths of thin RG-8X coax. The nice thing about these end-fed wire antennas in many installations is that you don't need as much coax to pack as you would with a center fed dipole, and SWR is usually low enough to not require a tuner. My power source is a Prestone 'Jump-It' car battery charger gel-cell unit, which has a practical battery-level meter built-in, as well as a flashlight. One person can easily carry these items.
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by VE7KKI on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Here in the NW, we're expecting the "Big One".

My go-kit, in a backpack, concentrates on survival:
Water, food, light, heat, cooking gear, first-aid kit, medicines, manually powered MW/SW receiver, wire saw, compass, water sterilizer, emergency blanket and other incidentals. Also in the backpack is a Kenwood D7AG with a gain antenna, spare rechargeable battery, spare AA battery pack and headset.

The VHF HT won't get far, but our city and local radio clubs are geared for operation on VHF during an emergency.

Emergency Ideas Needed  
by AH6GI on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Check the web by the name "Bug-Out-Bag" or "Bob".

The list of items for Bob's includes food, water, shelter, medicine, supplies, power, maps, tools, spare parts, and comms. There's also the concept of a 3-day Bob vice a 1 week Bob.

RE: Emergency Ideas Needed  
by N6AJR on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
incorporate one of those small solar panels, like the ones you put on the dash to keep up the battery on a seldom used vehicle , or the ones the put in volkswagons to keepm the battery up in shipping.

they are about $15 to $30 on ebay and keep those stored reghargeable batteries topped up when in storage, they all come with a built in diodes and put out a couple hundred milliwats at 15 to 17 volts in full sun , perfect for a standby battery
RE: Emergency Ideas Needed  
by WB2WIK on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
The GO-KIT should certainly include some food and water, even if the food is canned rations. Also, blankets and shoes are very handy.

After our local "big" earthquake in 1994 (Northridge), although our WX was very mild and there was little chance of anyone getting sick from the cold (it was about 80 degrees the day after the January quake), it's amazing how many people were cutting their feet, walking over broken glass without shoes because they couldn't get back into their homes to dig any shoes out. It's amazing what small luxuries become important in a disaster.

Another tip which cannot be stored in a bag, but is high on the list of readiness items: Keeping auto gas tanks full of fuel. So many people let their tanks run nearly empty and then cannot go anywhere in a disaster, because they haven't enough fuel to get anywhere. And, in a disaster, it's likely that no gas stations will be able to pump gas, because that takes electricity -- and usually, there isn't any.

RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by WB9NJB on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
KC8VWM, Great post. What I would really like to see is a picture of this rig on a person. It is hard to imagine just from the writeup.
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by N4LI on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
You know…

I am a bit perplexed by these discussions of “Go Bags.” The concept of having one catch-all for most any instance is a bit limiting, to say the least.

I am more than happy to help out should my station and my person become necessary; I am a good, responsible citizen, after all. But, I am not holding my breath to see it happen. Technology has made the emergency “deployments” of amateur radio ops less needed and common. More often, the communications hams provide is of the public service type – support during parades, foot races, and the like. And, those are fun.

Still, if called upon, I am ready to go. But, therein lies the question… what will be needed of me? There is no way I can assemble a bag of goodies that will fit any – or even most – situations. I can assemble nearly endless permutations of easily set-up antennas, power sources, and radios. If called upon, I hope that the agency doing the asking can give me some basic background: will I have AC? If not, how long will my batteries need to hold out? Am I doing local info relaying (VHF), or attempting cross-country contacts (the type of task now less needed with technology). I can bring 100 amp/hours with me, but that’s a bit heavy, and simply isn’t something I’ll grab on the way out the door. I can even scare up a 5kw generator, but slinging that over my back will cause injury. I have 65kw of Caterpillar-power diesel generation here at home, but that ain’t goin’ nowhere.

And, if NOT called by an agency, I will not go. It is probably better to keep out of the way and let the professionals do their jobs.

Please, don’t take me as cynical; I am attempting to be realistic. If you need me, I’ll come. But, it’ll take me a few minutes.

Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by VE7VJ on June 15, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Lots of good ideas. I work in the disaster end of things. Quite a bit of my working life is devoted to responding to emeregencies and/or planning for their eventuality.

The biggest factor in emergency response is being in shape. Mentally and physically. The best thing quite a few volunteers could do, to be brutally honest, is shed a couple of [dozen?] pounds. Think of all the extra gear you could carry!

Even with Fire fighters, the leading cause of death is heart attack. Depending on the incident, you may be putting in long hours, be under considerable stress and even if you are used to it, the old ticker has some trouble going from zero to 60.

Volunteers are a great resource, but if they have to leave two other people on the ground in order to get you on the chopper, skip that second helping :)

Larry VE7LFN
Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by PAUL-NN7B on June 16, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
The SG-2020 is a very reliable radio. I had considered one myself for a while but, opted for the IC-703 since it has a build-in tuner, DSP and a CW keyer. And, I was able to buy a new one for about half what the SG-2020 would have cost. Having the tuner built in meant one less piece of gear to haul around and you didn't have to have a near 'perfect' antenna available.

I am still in the process of creating my portable radio setup but, do have the radios, the IC-703 and a Yaesu FT-7800R dual-bander. The Yaesu has an energy saving mode that will help conserve power and it will do just about anything you need it to on 2m and 440. The idea I have is to to have everything assembled into a 2-shelf desk-top installation that requires only to disconnect antennas and power and it can be carried like a toolbox out to the car. Everything else is kept in the care so all I have to move is the radios.

Ideally, I'd prefer to have two stations but, most of us don't have that financial capability. One critical item will be your choice of antennas and the flexibility they allow for various installations. You should add a good antenna tuner to your list and maybe even a ground clamp if possible. You can have a wonderful antenna but, without a decent ground, you won't get your signal to go anywhere.

My last recommendation would be to prepare for having no commercial power for 48 to 72 hours. That means two or three batteries, a solar panel charger or small portable generator and fuel. There are a lot of variables for a portable 'emergency' station but, I think you have a really good start already. There's plenty of good ideas to read on this thread and I am sure they will be helpful to you. There is a such thing as over-preparing as well. If you anticipate most any possible problem, you'll need a truck to haul it all in! :) So, you will have to choose what you pack up to prepare for and prioritize everything. That comes with practice and experience.

73, Paul - NN7B
Cold Springs, NV.
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KC8VWM on June 16, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

>>> by WB9NJB on June 15, 2004

KC8VWM, Great post. What I would really like to see is a picture of this rig on a person. It is hard to imagine just from the writeup. <<<

The nice part about the "web belt" system is that you can place the individual pouches anywhere on the belt system. This includes around your waist or you can attach pouches on the chest straps in front of you for easy access.

Here is what the front of your web belt would look like with some pouches attached:

The individual pouches look like this and can be placed either on the chest or waistbelt or both:

Below is a detailed overview of the "web belt" design. Keep in mind that you can remove or add individual packs (as shown above) to the waist belt or chest harness. I attached a much, much smaller bag on the back than the one displayed in the photo below.

Here is another view of a much smaller backpack attachment portion you can use for your carring up to several 7 AH battery packs and roll up solar panel on your back.

Although not nessisarily required, A Dual band VHF/UHF antenna or even a moderate sized HF antenna ie. "hamstick" antenna can be attached to a web belt frame like the one shown in the photo below:

I find the belt system to be very vesatile for a wide range of situations.


Charles - KC8VWM

RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KC8VWM on June 16, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

Oh yes, here is a 5 watt "unbreakable" roll up solar panel. Perfect for a go kit.

They now even have a "solar jacket" charger that you can literally wear like a shirt to charge up your batteries.

The Gadget Jacket provides 42 pockets to carry everything from MP3 player to mobile phone.

The jacket has two small snap-on photovoltaic panels that fit onto its shoulders. These charcoal-gray solar panels convert the sun's rays into energy, which then feed a hidden battery pack about the size of a deck of cards. The batteries are wired to all the pockets, which can have almost any mobile devices plugged into them.

See it here:


Charles - KC8VWM
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KC8VWM on June 16, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

Oh yes, here is a 5 watt "unbreakable" roll up solar panel. Perfect for a go kit.

They now even have a "solar jacket" charger that you can literally wear like a shirt to charge up your batteries.

The Gadget Jacket provides 42 pockets to carry everything from MP3 player to mobile phone.

The jacket has two small snap-on photovoltaic panels that fit onto its shoulders. These charcoal-gray solar panels convert the sun's rays into energy, which then feed a hidden battery pack about the size of a deck of cards. The batteries are wired to all the pockets, which can have almost any mobile devices plugged into them.

See it here:


Charles - KC8VWM
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KC8VWM on June 16, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Oh yes, here is a 5 watt "unbreakable" roll up solar panel. Perfect for a go kit.

They now even have a "solar jacket" charger that you can literally wear like a shirt to charge up your batteries.

The Gadget Jacket provides 42 pockets to carry everything from MP3 player to mobile phone.

The jacket has two small snap-on photovoltaic panels that fit onto its shoulders. These charcoal-gray solar panels convert the sun's rays into energy, which then feed a hidden battery pack about the size of a deck of cards. The batteries are wired to all the pockets, which can have almost any mobile devices plugged into them.

See it here:


Charles - KC8VWM
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KC8VWM on June 16, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Oh yes, here is a 5 watt "unbreakable" roll up solar panel. Perfect for a go kit.

They now even have a "solar jacket" charger that you can literally wear like a shirt to charge up your batteries.

The Gadget Jacket provides 42 pockets to carry everything from MP3 player to mobile phone.

The jacket has two small snap-on photovoltaic panels that fit onto its shoulders. These charcoal-gray solar panels convert the sun's rays into energy, which then feed a hidden battery pack about the size of a deck of cards. The batteries are wired to all the pockets, which can have almost any mobile devices plugged into them.

See it here:


Charles - KC8VWM
Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by N5OOM on June 16, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Some things I've found handy...

Maxpedition has a line of backpacks and carry gear that I'm finding to be superior to most other civilian gear. Maxpedition is civilian, but patterned after military gear. The backpacks are covered with web straps for attaching other gear, the various pouches are convenient for batteries and other gear, and they have a line of adjustable radio / phone holsters that are just about superior to most any civ gear.

My truck is more efficient than any generator you will buy. To that end, I've started to build up a set of power interconnects based on this fleet jump start system. And it still doubles as a jump start cable! The connectors are compatible with Anderson 175 amp connectors. I've built this into my radio go-box for direct connection, and can break out to regular power poles.
Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by N5OOM on June 16, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Some things I've found handy...

Maxpedition has a line of backpacks and carry gear that I'm finding to be superior to most other civilian gear. Maxpedition is civilian, but patterned after military gear. The backpacks are covered with web straps for attaching other gear, the various pouches are convenient for batteries and other gear, and they have a line of adjustable radio / phone holsters that are just about superior to most any civ gear.

My truck is more efficient than any generator you will buy. To that end, I've started to build up a set of power interconnects based on this fleet jump start system. And it still doubles as a jump start cable! The connectors are compatible with Anderson 175 amp connectors. I've built this into my radio go-box for direct connection, and can break out to regular power poles.
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KC8VWM on June 16, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Hmmm. does the message forum now have it's own repeater system?

RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KD7EVS on June 16, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I was recently asked to write an article on this topic. it's a very large and varying topic. (I'm currently at 4 pages). as one mentioned, you can't plan for everything, but you can plan for anything.

think about that for a minute.

there are the things that everyone needs, and then there are items which are more specific to location.

I've lived in hurricane country, blizzard country, earthquake country, tornado country, and flood country. plan to the best of your ability what types of incidents you might be asked to help with. this will help you plan how far and how often you'll need to talk, how long it'll be till grid power is restored, how availible resources will be after the 24 hour mark, the scope of your involvement and lastly (also most important) is what special gear you'll need to have handy.

to the station that mentioned he'll go, but isn't ready... the more and more the "professionals" (and I use that lightly) rely on technology, the more and more we will need to be ready. I have been called out countless times, and if you really get to reading ARES/RACES sites you'll notice that the active and ready ARES/RACES groups are the ones that do get called cause someone knows they can help and won't just be in the way. very few "professionals" short of the NIFC fire / incident communications teams (which I am a member of) and the military know how to set up ad-hoc communications equipment. and NIFC comm folks, who are the primary line of defense for communications emergencies, don't play with HF and can't communicate over long distances without setting up a satelite based system, which most NIFC comm folks don't have the knowledge of.

in short, there are not enough "professionals" to handle all the communications needed to get through an emergency. the military can handle some, the incident command system can handle some... and we better be there to handle the rest! or we won't be around very long.

just my 3 cents
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by K6BBC on June 16, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
gin and tonic
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by N2JHZ on June 16, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
"8. Copy of radio license"

Since 9/11, it seems that a walk in the park with your radio is more likely to trigger a phone call to the police from citizens concerned about unfamiliar and, in their minds, suspicious looking radio equipment. I know of hams who have been stopped by the police on account of setting up operations with portable stations. It helps to have your license on hand, emergency or not, especially if you make a habit of walking around in public lugging a Yagi...

Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KC7HES on June 17, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Great topic!!!

In addition to the antennas at home and on the vehicles, I carry a 2/440 beam from Elk Antennas. I also have an ammo can with extra battery packs, coax, adapters for sma, bnc, uhf, N, extra power charger, hand mic, paper, pens & pencils, and the manuals for all my radios as well as a copy of license, ARRL card, and ARES/RACES cards.

For non-radio gear, there is food, water bags, lighters, pocket knife, duct tape, chap stick, hat, first aid kit and more.

An interesting site I have used is

Here in AZ you varied terrain from desert to high mountains, and depending on the season, throw in long sleeves and sun screen for the summer, and a jacket or warmer clothing for winter. I hear you now... Long sleeves in 120 degrees? What if you have no shade at your post for 4 or 5 or 6 hours? You burn badly!

Ryan O.
Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KC7ATO on June 17, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
My "Go Kit" is almost complete with the addition of several solar panels. I hopefully have covered all possibilities related to food, shelter, medicine, security and communications. I am fully prepared to "stand alone" for a minimum of 72 hours in the event of any emergency. All the equipment is modular and easily slips into a 4X8 trailer.
Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KC0NPF on June 18, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
well... I don't have HF go pack capabilities but my VHF one will run for 40 minutes continuous keydown on a gel cell (2.6 Ah) that I built into an old dead computer power supply case with a wall wart. The case has several great things about it- it's sheetmetal, it's got a power connecter for AC, that's almost universal, built in. It has space inside when you take out the guts for a battery and a wall wart to charge it with. Aaaaaaand the best part: an Anderson power pole fits perfectly in the hole where the 120/240 switch used to be! The rest of my 2m mobile equipment fits inside an ammo case, a 35w amp, spare gel cell, various connectors/adapters, and a home made LED flashlight in an altoids tin (luxeon white led driven with 3 AA's and a small resistor for current limiting.) Various fire-making devices, wire nuts, in a pinch I through a wire stripper/cutter in from my tool box so I don't have to carry that around.

My antenna is either a 1/4 wave mounted on a screen for a ground plane, or a 5/8 wave on my car. At home I've got a pair of 11 element beams on the roof, but I can't use those during a storm lest my radio turn into so much black smoke.

Besides being limited to one band, this works great. The power supply will run an HF qrp rig, and it can be charged through the anderson power pole from a 12v source (car cigarette lighter).

I guess that's about it, don't forget the flashlight and screwdriver, they've come in very handy a number of times!

RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KC8VWM on June 18, 2004 Mail this to a friend!

>>> Various fire-making devices, wire nuts, in a pinch I through a wire stripper/cutter in from my tool box so I don't have to carry that around. <<<

Nice setup! You mentioned "fire making devices" I was just thinking of an old trick to start a fire by using some steel wool attached to a 9 volt battery.


Charles - KC8VWM
Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by AA4F on June 19, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
My "GO KIT" consists of my Yukon 4X4 with Icom 706 for HF, Icom 207H for 2M and 440 with antenna for 2m/440 and ATAS antenna for HF. My HT, charger and spare batteries are in another bag. I keep a flashlight, first aid kit, and roadside emergency kit under the seat, and try to have the gas tank half full at all times. A cooler with water, cold drinks and food is kept nearby. This rig can be ready to roll in 5 Min.

For the next level of emergency I can throw in the 1500 Watt generator, 2-5 Gallon cans of gas, a 100 Ft extention cord and a Mitylite 12 V. power supply. My outdoor emergency bag has the usual stuff including hatchet, saw, knife, flashlight, larger first aid kit, rain gear, rope and a tarp.

Everyone living in an area subject to hurricanes or tornados should already have most of the above items. We should all be prepared with at least an HT and fresh batteries ready to go.

I saw the real need for ham radio after hurricane fredrick visited Mobile, AL and when hams and local police were searching for a down airplane. Today the threat of a terrorist strike is real and we should all be prepared to help ourselves or others!

Les, AA4F
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by W6EM on June 20, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Lots of good ideas. A couple of suggestions, based on my earthquake (CA) and more recent tropical storm (FL) experience. Not operating through them, just suffering from the effects....

No one so far has mentioned money. Well, keeping cash in small denominations is a must. Automated tellers don't work when the power's off, and not everything gets handed out for free during a disaster.

All of the gel-cells, and even automotive batteries are great, but you need to remember, they don't last forever. Add a small multi-meter, and take a look at running current if you can, and battery voltage occasionally. At least you can then plan for change-out, or shut down for recharging. Or, see if that solar panel really is keeping things fully charged while you operate. At least with gel-cells and lead acid storage batteries you have a reasonably flat voltage-discharge characteristic. Avoid Ni-Cads, of course.

Even if you're running a 100W radio from a vehicle just sitting there, you could reach the point of not having enough energy left to start it up and recharge the battery. And, this takes time and fuel, of course.

Solar panels are nice, but will take a long time to recharge a 7-AH gel-cell that's been depleted from nighttime operation. Although one battery will run a QRP rig like an FT-817 for a goodly length of time, if you have two, then one can charge all day while the other is being used.

Ideally, if you could find a boost-charger (that puts out upwards of 15V from a 12V source, you could charge gel-cells from a vehicle in about 4 hours.

Assuming that you will have a 120V source available for charging is stretching things a bit. Speaking of stretching things, a multireceptacle adaptor and a short extension cord, just in case outlets from the generator are limited as they usually are....especially if its someone else's generator.

Bradenton, FL
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by K1CJS on June 20, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I see that there have been plenty of posts on components of a go-kit, so I won't elaborate much on that, except to say that medication should be a major part of your thinking. Aspirin/Tylenol or some other pain reliever, allergy meds if you need them, a snakebite kit in some areas, burn/sunburn medication, not to mention band-aids and other protective coverings should all be considered and included according to the area you'll be operating in and your personal needs. Don't forget prescription medication if you need it. Remember to check and replace any outdated supplies, too.

The other thing that should be mandatory is setting up your power supplies, radios and other ancillary equipment with a common power connector scheme, the one recommended by the agency or group you'll be working with. You may find the Anderson Power Poles the most widely accepted and used connectors for that purpose.

Granted, it may require a small investment of money and time, but adapt ALL your gear to whatever connectors your group uses--you'll find it will save time, energy and headaches in the long run. You may have to substitute a piece of equipment in mid use, useage of a common power connector saves time and confusion.

For example, with the common power connectors: Undo the antenna connector and the power connector, then plug the replacement equipment in. Done in seconds.

Without the common connector, undo the antenna and power connections, which may take a little time, then reconnect the antenna and twist power wires together and tape them or some other means of connection and insulation--which is more time spent, plus the danger of reversing the connections and blowing the fuses (even more time spent finding replacements) or the radio itself (find yet another rig to use, then repair yours after the emergency) plus you've probably lost the information you needed or have to have it repeated........

You can see why a common type power connector should be MANDATORY! Also, some of the common connectors to bare wire pigtails in case you have to accomodate others who refuse to be smart in that respect.

I guess I got carried away, sorry, but that had to be addressed as an issue for any comprehensive go-kit.
Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KE4ZHN on June 20, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Dont forget to include a pistol in your emergency pack. There are many scumbags who prey on defenseless people during disasters, (looters) knowing full well that you cant dial 911 when the cell sites and phone lines are down. Besides, the police are much too busy handling other problems during a major disaster like a hurricane or a quake. Whether you feel its "politcally correct" or not, having a reliable pistol at your disposal during a disaster such as these may mean the difference between life and death in certain situations. In some regions it may be illegal to carry a pistol...but frankly, in times of disaster, your safety, and the safety of your family far outweighs anything else.
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KC8TCQ on June 20, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I've included about everything mentioned already, but I have added a small pencil butane pencil torch and solder for making repairs to coax/antenna. and my rigs and power cables all use the Anderson Powerpole connections. I also have a few coils of light weight rope, some bungee cords, and for hot weather, powdered gatorade mix that I can mix into a canteen of water. Also should include some over the counter meds like Immodium, Benedryl, and in the sring/summer muonths some good mosquito repellant.

73 de Keith
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by K3UOD on June 23, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
In 45 years of hamming. I've only been involved in one really serious emergency. That was the Johnstown flood of '77.

What hams brought from neighboring states:
HF rigs, generators, comm trailers, portable masts. All of that stuff just sat around unused.

What was really needed:
2 meter FM rigs, mobile and hand-held
a portable repeater (or two)
batteries & chargers
mag mount antennas
experienced net control operators and traffic handlers
experienced net control operators and traffic handlers
experienced net control operators and traffic handlers

No, the triple post was not a typo. The biggest problem we faced was inexperienced operators clogging the only repeater in town (146.34/.94).

Back then, synthesized rigs were not that common, most people had crystal controlled rigs. Fortunately, .34/.94 is the most common repeater pair so just about everyone had crystals for the local repeater.

What I learned:
Don't become a burden, bring your own sleeping bag, food, water, adequate clothing, first aid supplies, medications, spare gas, spare batteries, etc.

Get training. I realized that my operating skills were not up to the task. Since then I've been active in ARES and RACES and participate in the scheduled drills as often as I can. Operating practices learned in every-day hamming are not good enough in an emergency, contesting is nothing like emergency ops, traffic handling skills are handy, but don't get so wrapped up in prosigns, procedures, and how to properly "voice" a message that common sense goes out the window. Most comms are simple, plain language, statements or requests. No need to compose an ARRL radiogram just to say that we need more fuel for the bulldozer, or worse yet, that someone needs paramedics ASAP.

My present go kit consists of a milk crate with a small power supply, four 7.2AH gell cells (all with Power Poles attached), extension cord, a 5/8 wave 2M mag mount, a 2M rig mounted on a "hump mount" which can be plopped down on the seat, dash or floor of most vehicles. I also have a selection of coax jumpers and power cables with Power poles on one end. All I have to do is toss in a tool kit, some snacks and my HTs. I keep a blanket, water, first aid kit, tools, jumper cables, and an EMPTY gas can in the trunk of my car (carrying a full one around all of the time is a fire hazard).

Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by CERT4HELP on June 24, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
First, and foremost, any "go kit" or "bug out bag (bob)" should revolve around personal and family survival. After all, a dead person or one who wants to help but is worrying about family members, is of no help to anyone.

Individuals, who would like to be able to do something for themselves, protect their loved ones and help their neighbors in an emergency can now do so. Planning and preparing for an emergency is the smart and safe course to follow. It will also enable professional first responders to do their jobs more effectively.

How can you prepare? If you are Internet savvy, go online to, sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. You can download and print their comprehensive manual, "Are You Ready? A Guide To Citizen Preparedness," which deals with individual family preparation for, and response to, many different types of disasters. Printed copies of the manual are available through the FEMA publications warehouse (800) 480-2520, FEMA publication H-34.

This manual gives you a good idea of supplies you will need; I recommend you prepare for a minimum of fourteen days, not just three days.

You also can train to protect yourself, your family and be of assistance in the event of a major emergency situation. Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a basic 20-hour course on family emergency preparedness, first aid, use of a fire extinguisher, light search and rescue and disaster psychology. You can contact your local or county Office of Emergency Management (OEM) for more information on joining CERT.

I recommend all RACES members also take CERT training; RACES will usually report to OEM in an emergency.

Being prepared is the first step in handling any emergency or crisis that may come our way.

As an example, I have planned around a four wheel drive SUV (Durango) towing a Haulmark Cub enclosed trailer (6'x10'x6'6")and a Ram 2500 8' bed truck. Camping, cooking, first aid, fishing gear and food supplies, water and water filtration equipment (recommend gravity water filter like Aqua rain or British Doulton/Berkley). Enough for my family of four for up to a month "camping".

Commo includes antennas, CB Cobra HH38WXST walkie takie with weather channels, as well as Motorola HT750 VHF with the 16 channels on Emergency frequencies (fire, ems, police, OEM). Power includes two emergency generators, a 4KW and a 7.5KW.

An enclosed trailer can also be great for setting up a mobile ham emergency radio shack!

A complete list of my preparations is on the internet at
Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KG6HUF on June 25, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I couldn't agree with you better. I wish I had emergency power when the california wildfires came right through my town. The power was out. So i went out and bought a large car battery at autozone and keep it charged all the time. I know I could do more, but the car battery is temporary. I feel that us as amateur radio operators should practice these procedures, because thats one good reason the FCC lets us keep these privilages.
Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by N2CTZ on June 25, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
you need power check out i have their high power units and panels you will be operating qrp on solar during the next 911.

most likely we will not have electricity-if we are nuked forget about hf for a few weeks some gas with gas preservative outside in approved cans-rotate every 6 months

3. have a months worth of water ans a ceramic portable water filter-check out on

4.canned meats and honey,vitamins and your meds

5. kerosens lamps and lamp oil

6.get some 22 rifles and ammo to protect your neighborhood and for catching small game.

7,rigs-anything that operates qrp spare batteries

8, clean clothes and portable toilets and premoistened towels to wipe your bidy when the water is out.

figure one shower a month


see doctors for disdaster prepardness web site
Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by N2CTZ on June 25, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
check out this link

see the newsletter for may 2004 for "three days to nuclear disaster"

dont wait for the next 911

Canned goods of all kinds (pasta, soups, chili, corn, beans, vegetables, fruit, etc.)
Ready-to-eat foods of all kinds (pop-tarts, raisins, granola/energy/protein bars, snack-paks, etc.)
Cans of tuna fish and/or SPAM type meats
Large containers of peanut butter
Assorted drink mix flavorings, if children
Iodine solution, like Betadine (16 ounces)

Multiple big boxes of dried milk (Could include/use some inside shelter, too.)
Multiple big boxes of pancake and biscuit mix & some syrup
Largest bags of rice
Largest bags of beans
Largest bags of flour
Largest bags quick oats and other grains
Largest bags of macaroni
Large bag of sugar
Large jar of honey
Large 2 gallons or more of cooking oil
Baking powder & baking soda & spice assortment pack
Quality manual can opener, 2 if you don't already have one at home.
Kitchen matches and disposable lighters
New garbage cans and lots of garbage bags (water storage & waste storage)
5 gallon buckets and garbage bags sized for them (toilet)
Toilet seat for the bucket
Toilet paper
Sanitary napkins and diapers, if needed
Flashlights (ideally LED) and Portable Radios, if you don't already have them
Plenty more batteries, at least three sets, for each of the above
Bottled water (especially if home supplies not secured yet)
Baby wipes (saves water for personal hygiene use)
Bleach (5.25%, without fragrance or soap additives)
Hydrogen Peroxide
Aspirin/Tylenol/Motrin, etc.
Pepto Bismol
Prescription drugs filled, and extra if possible
First aid kit
Fire extinguisher
Paper or plastic plates/cups/utensils
Dust mask filter protectors
Water filter and all other camping supplies, such as Coleman cook
stove and fuel, ammo, etc., if any sporting goods stocks still available.
And, of course, rolls of plastic sheeting, duct tape, and a staple gun!

after you get all this stuff check out my website at n2ctz and learn how to bbq!


Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by N3LJS on June 25, 2004 Mail this to a friend! This is my Jump Box I use. I'm working on the other stuff that I would need. I can't fit Wal Mart in a bag yet.........

73 N3LJS
Allegany County, MD EC/RO
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KF4JZD on June 26, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
from the sound of things you descripted are you preparing for a mormon one year feast?
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KC8VWM on June 26, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
>>> What I learned:
Don't become a burden, bring your own sleeping bag, food, water, adequate clothing, first aid supplies, medications, spare gas, spare batteries, etc. <<<<

... And they thought I was going a little overboard in my prepardness methods..

You really need to visit my website dedicated to the subject



RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by WIRELESS on June 26, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I have been reading this thread carefully trying to get an idea what posters are really thinking. That failed. So by going through all the posts it is evident most of you won't survive anything. After the blackout of Aug 2003, things became very evident. In order to help in an emergency, you have to survive yourself. Who needs all this ham crap. What I needed during the blackout was food and a way to cook it, water I could drink, backup electric, full tank of gas in the car, perscription drugs I take to stay alive, low power radios / small tv to get news, and more things I can't think of at the moment. One of the biggest pains was not having electric. Without electric, you can't do much of anything and $$$ of food rots in your fridge that you might need later to survive if it was edible. (candles may burn down your house faster than you think if they fall to a carpet. I have seen it happen to a neighbor many years ago)

Most posts in this thread seem to talk about radio needs before their own survival. I think I'll stick to my own plan which is to insure that I can EAT, DRINK, AND GET INFORMATION. Everything else is second.
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KB0BBA on June 27, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Gosh as amateur radio operators and all of the equipment we have that needs electricity we had NEVER thought about what we would do when the power went away!!!!!!!! (Sarcasm intended) For those of us who have actually participated, isn't that one of the points of field day? (Again, sarcasm intended)
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by N2CTZ on June 27, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
i agree with you,i think wherever you live you need to make your qth livable without elecyricity or water.

To try to evacuate during the next 911 will be a joke,youll end up being stampeded and probably not survive,

stay at home mske your qth solar powered stock up on food and water.

when we het hit the hf bands will be toast if its nuclear for several weeks and if your are close and you dopnt shioled yourselk or your equipment guess what you 1000 rig will be toast too!
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by N2CTZ on June 27, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
to wireless,

please post your plan of what you are doing to get prepared
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KE4SKY on June 28, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Most important in disaster preparation is to HAVE A PLAN! A survey of coastal communities here in Virginia indicated that barely a third of families plan for hurricanes or flooding. Only a fifth has a disaster supplies kit or evacuation plan. The VA Dept. of Emergency Management states that most hurricane-related deaths occur from inland flooding far from coastal areas. HAZMAT releases and transportation accidents can happen anywhere and may require evacuations and opening of shelters. What if your community was a target of terrorism? How many volunteers could your RACES or CERT group mobilize on a weekday within an hour? How many of those are likely to be within an affected target area?

If you don’t think that your community is at risk for disasters, you are mistaken. Consider these examples: Natural disasters – every Virginia community is at risk for tornadoes, severe thunder storms, winter storms and flooding. Technological disasters - Every community has the potential for HAZMAT releases and transportation accidents. Resource shortages – every summer drought, thunderstorm or winter storm brings the potential for loss of AC power and water and food shortages. Since September 11, 2001, all Americans should understand that we live in a dangerous world.

Knowing WHAT to do, WHERE to go, HOW to get there and how to NOTIFY everyone where you are and if you are OK is the framework of your family disaster plan. If family members are at work or school and can’t get home, they need to know a safe place to go and someone to call to let other family members know where they are, if they need help or are safe. If your family ever needs to evacuate, the process is less upsetting when everyone already knows the plan. You must plan for young children, elderly relatives, animals and other special needs.

Have you practiced EDITH? It stands for Exit Drill in the Home. When your smoke alarm goes off, crawl low to avoid smoke, exit the door, meet outside. Go to a neighbor’s house or use a portable phone to call 911. Designate a pre-arranged shelter with a neighbor within walking distance, where kids know they will be safe, and can wait until you get home. Elderly relatives need someone to check on them daily and whom they can call for help if you aren’t there.

If your neighborhood is told to evacuate so that your nearby neighborhood refuse is not an option, your family will be more at ease if they know somewhere else safe and comfortable to go, instead of a public shelter. When local phone service is out, long distance “may” still work. So designate an out-of-area friend who agrees to accept collect calls from family so that everyone knows who to call to let others know where they are, if they need help or are safe.

Ensure that family members know where and how to shut off the electricity, gas and water at the main sources, should they need to evacuate. Are your main utility shut-offs in the home plainly marked? Is there an adjustable wrench in plain sight near your gas meter? If your family ever needs to evacuate turn off all utilities to reduce risk of fire, water damage and contamination.

“Your Family Disaster Supplies Kit “is a FEMA pamphlet developed in cooperation with the American Red Cross which lists essential food, water, shelter, first aid, and safety items which you should have already assembled in a sturdy, water-resistant, easily transported container, which is accessible at home or which can easily be taken with you to a public shelter. Each family member should have their own backpack to carry their own flashlight, extra batteries, eyeglasses, a change of clothing, socks and underwear, rain gear, sturdy shoes, personal medications, sanitary supplies and comfort items.

On the ham radio side, a hand-held portable unit is inadequate as a primary rig for emergency communications. If you are close to a repeater and have a clear path, or are within a mile or so of other stations with whom you need to speak on simplex they’ll suffice. But, out on the fringes of repeater coverage, mobile, challenged by building obstructions and terrain, everyone struggles to copy your lousy signal and uses up their batteries getting “fills” to pass your traffic. When it gets “down and dirty” don’t stake your life on an HT, get a “real” radio. A portable unit is still needed for “walk and talk” solo, foot assignments, and as a spare or loaner. Just don’t depend upon one as your only equipment if you are serious about EmCom.

Realistic ARES and RACES training should presume that repeaters will either be inoperative due to storm damage, or will be operating on battery backup, which must be conserved for as long as possible. In emergencies we need RACES to operate the way we train. If you train for the worst case scenario, then you will be ready. If the repeater still works, but is on battery, don’t run it down needlessly, lest it not be there for someone’s emergency when they need it. If a net usually meets on a repeater, but the repeater if off air for any reason, some people won’t have gotten the word, so use the repeater’s output frequency on simplex, because that’s where people will be listening. That beats the heck out of guessing where else the net may meet, and should be common sense.

For RACES use you need a reliable, rugged, simple to use rig. It should be capable of operation from an external battery, have a low power option, such as 5 watts for maximum battery conservation, and a higher power, such as 25 watts for reliable simplex. It should be frequency agile, field programmable, with ten or more memories, have CTCSS encode and be packet capable.

There will be times when you need a hand-held portable unit for solo assignments of a tactical nature. Good examples are support ground SAR, shadowing agency officials, storm damage assessment, storm spotting and neighborhood patrol. If you commute using public transportation an HT also makes sense. An HT is the logical first rig for minor children who don’t yet drive and for anyone with limited mobility who needs backup communications to cellular. There are several proven ways to get better performance out of an HT. The most important are more efficient antennas and height.

The short, flexible antennas which come with most portable are very poor radiators, typically negative 5dB. The best money an HT user can spend is for a study half-wave single or dual-band antenna which provides unity gain without a ground plane. A telescoping half-wave Larson or AEA Hotrod or flexible J-pole made from 300-Ohm twin lead are good choices for your “Go Kit.” For fixed station assignments, soldered copper pipe J-pole antennas are both cheap and effective. Every HT user also needs an adapter enabling connection to a more efficient mobile or base antenna.

Half-wave single-band or dual-band mobile antennas are needed for non-metal boats, truck caps, motorcycles, bicycles and wheel chairs. Lakeview, Larsen, Antenna Specialists and Antenex are all potential sources. A loop of 550# cord securely tied or taped to the whip enables any of these antennas to be hoisted into a tree for a higher radio horizon. Adding a “tiger tail” or ¼ wave counterpoise wire to the connector shield of your HT antenna improves performance and enables you to direct the main lobe of your signal to where you need it most.

We prefer our unit members to have a 3dB gain antenna and a means to elevate 15 feet or more, with a suitable ground plane. Be ingenious and flexible, but safety first! If you antenna comes into contact with overhead power lines you may be KILLED! Any large metal object can be used as an effective ground plane for a magnetic mount mobile antenna.

Lakeview makes an inexpensive mast clamp and radial kit for most mobile antennas which works quite well. A simple folding TV tripod and three 5-foot sections of metal mast from Radio Shack, using cable ties, duct tape or hose clamps to hold the antenna, make a good expedient field setup. Higher gain than 3dB isn’t necessarily better, because it is physically larger and sacrifices radiation pattern for gain. A 3 dB antenna doubles effective radiated power and has useable side lobes which get your signal out from around high-rise buildings, over mountainous terrain and obstructions.

Any portable rig used for RACES should have THREE power sources: its OEM battery pack, AA battery case in case you cannot recharge your NiCd, NiMh or Lithium Ion battery, and an auxiliary power cord to enable connection to an external battery or power supply. Your gel cell battery should power the HT at full power for a 12-hour operational period. About 4ah is the minimum recommended, 7ah is better.

If all you have is an HT and you cannot afford a mobile, get a “brick amp.” The Mirage B23 or BD35 which provide 10w output with as little as 1 watt of drive and is capable of 25 watts out with 2-3 watts of drive, when both the HT and the amp are just “loafing” along at about 2/3 of their maximum rated output. The idea is to let the amp do the work without burning up the finals on your HT by running full power all of the time.

What “go kit” items are best for you is an individual decision. Search and rescue survival planners recommend three levels which build upon each other. Level I is the minimum stuff that is in your briefcase and pockets with you all the time. Commuters using public transportation or who walk, rather than drive, may not have room for much more than their personal cell phone or pager, eyeglasses, driver’s license and RACES ID, some cash for phones and vending, and maybe an HT, notebook and pencil. A zippered pouch which fits in your briefcase may enable additional items such a spare HT battery pack, personal medications, snacks, water bottle, pocket knife, small “backup” flashlight and a lighter or matches. It’s better to have the "ten essentials" always with you in a waist pack or pocket vest, than to have a larger pack inaccessible during an emergency. You decide what works best for your circumstances.

We ask every RACES member to at least Level II, augmenting the minimum list of "ten essentials" to a 24-hour pack. It is recommended that your Level II equipment be stored in a backpack or shoulder bag in your vehicle, so that it is available quickly whether you are at home or away. What kit contents are best for you will depend upon where you live, your assignment and situational circumstances. Those living in urban areas will have different needs than those who are out in the country.

If you volunteer to provide mutual aid on a RACES Disaster Response Team, you are expected to prepare a 72-hour kit with additional spare clothing, water, food, shelter and operating supplies to Level III.

“Ten Essentials” recommended by Search and Rescue and survival experts include a first aid kit, map, compass, utility knife, food for two meals, fire starting materials, signaling materials, emergency shelter, extra clothing and water. I can email our "Go Light Kit" checklist with suggested items optimized for easy carry in your coat pockets, compartmented vest or accessory bag for your brief case. A separate checklist is available for the 24-hour pack.

You must evaluate what is really mission-essential, versus what merely adds to the weight you must carry. You don’t want excessive clutter precluding your having essential safety, comfort and life support items needed to sustain you through the event. It does no good to have a great station with batteries for 96 hours if you are can’t operate because you are cold, wet, hungry, sick and tired.

Just because we are “amateurs” doesn’t mean that we don’t maintain the highest standards of performance and integrity. So go out there, do it right, do it safely and set a good example for your fellow operators.
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KD7ZOX on June 28, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
One thing I have not seen listed is a good pair of binoculars. They can be of great service when surveying the area and finding good places for antenna mounting. I have yet to get my kit ready, but my entire station fits inside my backpack. I have a 7AH Lead-Acid battery that was given to me, and a TM-221a from Kenwood. My microphone is a dynamic that I bought in the electronics section of Fred Meyer and wired for my Kenwood, and it allows me to disconnect the mic and replace it with my laptop for digital modes if needed. I have a copper J-Pole, which isn't the most portable of antennas, but it works. I also take along my Simmons Redline 10x50s that I got for $12 at GIJoes(clearance sale. Great binocs actually). I can run my station for over 10 hours continuosly on a half charged battery(should probably remedy that.....), but it all fits in my backpack with a low weight. I am still working on adding to my station, and getting an actual case for my station, once I have it set up.

RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by W2DUG on June 30, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
KD7ZOX wrote:
"I have a 7AH Lead-Acid battery that was given to me, and a TM-221a from Kenwood. ... I can run my station for over 10 hours continuosly on a half charged battery ..."

You can run a 45W 2m mobile rig for over 10 hours continuously on a half-charged 7Ah battery? That's impressive. I guess that assumes RX only and neglecting some basic laws of Physics...
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KA5FSJ on July 10, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Check around in you local Sam's club or discount club. The local Sam's club here has 210 aH batteries made for golf carts. It was $49.95. I have one connected to a PWRgate backup Power switching system.
Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by XE1UFO on July 19, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I want to thank all the good people who have added some really great ideas!! Keep them coming!

The Anderson Power Pole connectors that several mentioned are unheard of here in Mexico. Does anyone have a website address where I might order some?

Thanks in advance!!
Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by XE1UFO on July 19, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I found the Anderson PowerPole connectors here:

But we are back to square one. There are DOZENS of versions of this connector, so which one to use to be compatible with everybody else???

I see a dual-cable version here which looks like it could easily handle the 100-watt rigs:

Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by VE6TXT on July 23, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I have a "pack-up" kit I leave in my truck. It is all stored in a big Rubbermaid tub with a lid:
- SGC-2020 Radio
- SGC-239 Antenna coupler
- 33 foot MFJ telescoping antenna pole
- 33 feet of insulated 16ga wire with a ring connector on the end that is wrapped around the pole as the antenna
- 10 lengths of 16 ga insulated wire ranging from 40-60 feet, with ring connectors, used as ground radials
- bunch of bungee cords to attach the antenna pole to fence posts, bushes, etc. when setting up.
- Roll of duct tape (of course!) for securing pole and wires as needed
- 100' length of zip cord with various connectors for supplying 12v to the tuner.
- 100' of low-loss coax
- 30' power cable for radio with battery clamps
- 33ah gel cell battery
- MFJ mini CW paddles

Takes me a about 15 minutes to set up an operational station that will tune all bands except 160.
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by AI5RB on September 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
After going through two recent hurricanes (Charley and Frances), one requiring evacuation and one not, I have some observations regarding hurricanes:
1. The previous posts are fine if you leave your home, but I'll evacuate with my family and will not be in the wildeness.
2. If you stay, you may be without power for a while. You must have an ample supply of dry-cell batteries for your HT (yes, get a AA pack), Weather Radio, etc - and get them at the start of Hurricane season, as all the popular sizes will fly off the shelf as the storm approaches.
3. Be prepared to re-charge batteries. This may be a problem after a storm (little sunlight for solar charging or no electricity for AC chargers). So, have your wall-warts and deep-cycle chargers handy as you can take your battery and chargers to a friend's to re-charge, or use your inverter and your car. (See, extra dry cells are great at this time)
4. Keep you car fully fueled (to keep the cars running to power/re-charge batteries - and get out if needed).
5. Have ample CASH in hand (banks and ATMs not in service).
6. Cell phones and land lines WILL NOT be reliable (out of service or circuits jammed), so Ham Radio is a vital link for you and your family.
7. Pray
73, Randy AI4RB
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by AI5RB on September 8, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
One more:
8. Hurricane survivable antennas. I have a 2M/70cm vertical and a 20M dipole in my attic (they'll be up as long as I have a roof!)
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by G7NIZ on September 28, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
I agree about the battery size. I have 2 portable car starters 17ah with jump leads attached. My friend John has a generator, but I am partially disbled and need something which I can lift/carry without loosing the use of my legs!
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by AMATEURRADIODOTCA on October 22, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Some very interesting discussion!

Looking at the list, you can see there is a big difference between being unprepared and prepared. On the other hand, there might be a little bit of over-preparation here. Everyone fears seeing the amateur arrive with four radios on their belt clip, their orange vest and a backpack full of supplies and chocolate bars sticking out of their pockets. Prepared? Yes. Inappropriate? Yes.

I have fairly extensive first aid, reception centre, and ARES training, along with doing some teaching in these areas. I don’t have a grab and go kit. (I can hear the screaming from all sorts of people already.) Most grab and go kits are useless. (Screaming getting louder). I advise people not to bother spending money on grab and go kits. (Pounding on my doors and hate mail coming over the internet). Now, let me explain:


Most grab and go kits try to do too many things all at once. Look at the list of items in all the postings above and you will find there are three or four grab and go kits, not one. Just like you wouldn’t through a blowtorch into a first aid jumpkit or three days supply of water into your ham radio belt clip, you actually have a variety of needs that it might make more sense when you break them out:

1) Personal survival – water, food, clothing, sleeping bag, etc.
2) Personal safety – vest, identification, boots, hardhat, first aid kit
3) Personal communications – battery, earpiece, HT, frequency list, spare battery
4) Station communications – HF rig, or mobile, or both, power supply, paperwork, antenna systems, generators
5) Special needs – ATV, packet, laptop, network cables, portable repeater, gas for the vehicle, gas for the generator….

Depending on my role, if I show up at an apartment fire with all five, I may look like an idiot. If my group shows up at a mass evacuation without all five, I may look like an idiot.

You can take grab and go kits to the extreme: One survivalist grab and go kit literally suggested having a spare jeep, parked away from any trees that may fall over in the disaster and at least two ladders including a step ladder and extension ladder. I think you get my drift. As pointed out above, what’s in your kit may depend a lot on the weather or the type of event.


I love people who spend money on foods and blankets and flashlights and all the usual crap that people put in survival kits and grab and go kits. Someone mentioned medications as a good thing to pack in a grab and go kit. Let me tell you, unless you go out on calls on a monthly basis, your batteries are dead, the mice have chewed the blankets, your medications have expired and your kids took something out of it and the water container is in your friend’s garage after the camping trip. People spend a ton of money on special supplies and end up throwing it away and amateurs are no different than any other person in the world, you don’t use it and you won’t suddenly remember. You store it for too long, and it goes bad. I’ve opened too many grab and go kits from various organizations to find outdated forms, rusted equipment, dead batteries, missing gear and totally inappropriate items.

Next, unless you are trained in the use of the equipment in your bag, it is useless. My biggest peeve is first aid kits. How many people have first aid kits versus how many people have first aid kits as well as the proper first aid training. I know there are a lot of heads nodding in agreement here, but I’m going to take it one step further.

Having been a first aid attendant (and still am), if I don’t open my personal first aid kit on a regular basis and ensure everything is in place, I lose track of which item is in which pocket. If you don’t break open packages and use everything, you never know if it will work during an emergency. If you don’t break open packages and use them in practice, you tend to freeze during a real life incident. Don’t laugh, I’ve seen ten first aid teams freeze at the same point because they had never opened up a $2 package in training. If you don’t use it, you’ll never replace the things that get out of date or worn or get dirty and you sure won’t remember in an emergency.

Therefore, I would argue that if you haven’t opened your first aid kit in the last year, you probably don’t know how to use it. (Hopefully there are lots of screams here. But I bet most of you are considering “Do I know where everything is in my first aid kit? Do I really know how to use it still?”)


Part of the reason people don’t get personal survival kits or grab and go kits is because of the cost. I love looking at the list of things you are advised to have on sites like FEMA and the Red Cross. Water for three days, signal whistle, reflective mirror, blankets, spare boots in case of broken glass, flashlight, radio. Okay, so you spend the money on steel toed boots and a hand-crank radio. But now we are told “Make sure you have one for your car and one for your office and one for each of your kids”. You’ve just spent at least $75 to make one kit and you are told you need at least three to cover work, home and car. If you find home kits have dead batteries, leaking water bottles and stale-dated foods, you should see what’s in most car kits.


The mentality of a grab and go kit is “I’m ready to rush off to the scene”. Almost every fire, ambulance, police and emergency responder will tell you that the initial rush of adrenalin will get you in trouble. Tunnel vision, lack of preparedness and lack of good judgment comes from rushing. Responders often die when they don’t think about where they are going or what they are doing. Volunteers are lucky if they just end up in discomfort or looking foolish.

“You don’t have seconds to waste!” is the attitude from many hams and volunteers. A paramedic chief once said “In thirty years of responding to medical emergencies, I can only think of once where a couple of minutes would have truly made any difference to whether the person lived or died.” The average response time to a fire is seven to ten minutes after the call, yet a room will be fully involved in about four minutes. The dead are dead, the dying are dying and the lucky ones are likely out already. A couple of minutes wouldn’t make a huge difference in most cases (not all cases, obviously). For volunteers assisting emergency officials, a couple of more minutes are definitely not going to cause a problem.

I don’t have a grab and go kit at home. If an earthquake hits or a fire occurs, my last worry is going to be my grab and go kit. My family and my pets come way before grabbing some bag of stuff that can be replaced. If I have time to go back in and get my grab and go kit, then it wasn’t that much of an emergency anyways.

Being able to go at the drop of a hat means you aren’t thinking about where you are going or what you truly need. You don’t know if your batteries are fresh, you might forget to bring your snow mitts or umbrella (depending on the weather), you may have taken your ham license out for another event and you might be rushing someplace that you might rather avoid, such as a hazmat incident.


I DO get called at 4:00 A.M. to respond to emergencies. One of the most valuable pieces of advice I have ever been given was “Make a cup of coffee”. I replied to the team captain “How can you say that? You don’t even DRINK coffee!”. “Yes,” was the response “but by the time the water has boiled, I have checked all my gear and have thought about what I am getting into.”

Remember, at the start, I said you have a variety of needs, with the examples of personal safety, station set-up and so on? I have checklists for each one. The checklists have been honed after years of various responses. Oops, forgot something – then add it onto the checklist. Never used an item? Then consider taking it off your checklists.

I always make a cup of coffee. I pull out my checklists. Apartment fire with evacuees? Then I’ll need my personal gear checklist, my bad weather checklist and my evacuee checklist. First aider at a public event? Then I’ll need my jumpkit checklist, my safety gear checklist and my treatment forms checklist. Ham radio communications for a special event? Then I’ll need my personal gear checklist, my ham gear checklist, my station checklist and my events forms checklist.


I never rush – I have time to think about what I need, don’t need, might need and what situation I’m getting into.

I don’t spend extra money – I don’t have five kits stashed in trunks and drawers and in the garage.

I know it works – When I go down my personal gear checklist, the flashlight always gets checked and I always grab one set of fresh new batteries.

I am prepared – I show up with an extension cord and a power bar in my vehicle if I might be setting up a station. I don’t show up with the extension cord on my belt. I have a first aid kit, but you’ll never see it unless it is needed. If the event or emergency lasts longer than expected, I have a couple of granola bars. I have responded to events at 11:00 a.m. and ended up at 11:00 p.m. writing forms on the hood of my car in the cold. But I don’t carry a parka around when throwing an extra fleece in the bag will do.


I am currently working on a checklist for the AR logistics section for special events and emergencies – the tools, wires and connectors to repair ham radio gear or connect the equipment should things go wrong. Or, it could be used for field day. Basics like electrical tape and co-ax and an extension cord to butane torches and a mallet are going on the list. Anderson connectors are definitely the standard. Many of the things, I don’t know how to use myself, but this checklist is for a group of hams, not me. I may not be comfortable soldering, but a soldering iron is in there because in any group of hams, there will be someone who does know how to solder. The checklist lets the club know what we need to purchase, what supplies we often use at events and we can inventory items such as a hammer drill when it is loaned to us for a special event. In that way, the club doesn’t have to buy a whole bunch of stuff that hams normally have on their own and can contribute or we can spend the money on gear that hams don’t want to lend because of the risk of it getting broken.

I know not everyone will agree with what I’ve said, and that’s fine. I hope I’ve given you some food for thought. I still don’t have a grab and go kit sitting in the trunk or by the door and the checklists have worked well for almost 20 years. Checklists may not work for everyone but putting one together really makes you think about what you need, might need and don’t need. It gives you a lot of flexibility for how to react. You often spend a lot less money

Thanks to everyone who posted ideas. If it was already in my kit, it’s nice to see my decisions validated. If it’s not in my kit, it’s been nice to get some new ideas. Oh, yes if nothing else, make sure you boil water for a cup of coffee – even if you don’t drink coffee. That was one of the best pieces of “Grab and Go” advice I have ever received!

Robert Cox

RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KA6GJN on January 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Excellent article, Dr. Cox! I have different opinions re: some of your conclusions, but your reasoning and observations are right on. I've just attacked them in a different manner.

But first, re: the Anderson Power Pole connectors and standardization. There is a standardized setup. There's a great pub on the Anderson website that describes the RACES/ARES standard arrangement. Also, a good way to make sure you get it right is to buy a pre-wired extension cord, already set up to the RACES/ARES standard. I have one my brother got for me, but I think it came from Saratoga. In any case, you can also use this guideline. First, the 30 A. size is the RACES/ARES standard. I understand that the 15 A. size is compatible with the 30 A. size, but I haven't seen one personally to verify this. The other amperages are not compatible.

When you wire it, use red and black only, with the positive going to the red, of course. Then wire it so that you have Red on the Right when viewed from the Rear, with the contacts on the Bottom. RRRB. That is, when you hold the wire in your hand, with the connector pointing away from you, and the contacts are on the bottom side, then the red half will be on your right.

Also, if the connectors you get have the little pins intended to hold the parts together, throw them away. Instead, use a spot of superglue to hold them together.

Now, re: my "jump kit." I'm going to skip recommendations re: radio equipment because situations vary so much, and so much good stuff has already been said. My system has been built based on experience as a backpacker, a wildland fire fighter, 25 years in the Army Guard, and a bunch of other stuff.

Since the last time I worked for the Forest Service I've had two bags. One has a single change of clothes, work gloves, a jacket, a single meal (an MRE is best), a canteen, gloves, a pair of light shoes or sandals, flashlight with batteries in a separate baggie, and a very small shaving kit. When I was a fire fighter, the "change of clothes" was one set of Nomex. I kept this bag with me, meaning that I brought it with me in my truck, at all times. It was intended to support me for any local emergencies, where I would be supported well, and be close to home, so that I would not be gone for more than a couple days.

I have to run. More later.
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by KA6GJN on February 1, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
My second bag is a duffle bag, which actually has enough room in it to stuff the first bag in the top, so I can travel long distances with a single bag. In the second bag I have another complete change of clothes, plus my second set of Nomex when I worked for the Forest Service. I have a hooded sweatshirt, second pair of work gloves, several more changes of boot socks, a decent shaving kit, real towels (In the first bag I have extra bandanas intended to be used as towels), a pack-able full-brim hat, a roll of toilet paper, another canteen, several meals, extra boot laces, a poncho, several hanks of parachute cord, and some other doodads which I'll get to in a minute. All the clothing is inside a garbage bag, and everything else is in another garbage bag. BTW everything in the first bag is also packed inside a garbage bag, inside the pack. Sometimes I add a poncho liner or a light sleeping bag, or both. The liner inside the summer - weight sleeping bag makes it almost a three - season bag.

I found that I really appreciated having a few other items that you might not think about. I carry a plastic jar with dry laundry detergent sufficient for two heavy loads of wash. On the side of the jar I marked it so I could measure the amounts. I used to carry a small bottle of boot oil, because fires can really dry out boot leather, but I've stopped carrying that, since the probability of my working on a fire line is rather low these days. Before I had a "DC to Daylight" handheld radio, I carried an old transister BC band radio. I also carry a good but not valuable paperback book, postage stamps and envelopes. I also carry extra garbage bags near the top of both bags, sufficient to cover them in case of rain. They also work as laundry bags. I also attached large, durable, waterproof identification tags to each bag.

With these "fire packs," I didn't use lists. I could not expect the luxury of time to pack anything that wasn't all ready to go. Besides, I was sometimes dispatched from the field, where a list would be exactly worth the paper it was written on. This isn't far-fetched in my current role as an ARES member. I always have my hand - held with me, along with a small supply of such things as connector adaptors. I spend a lot of time driving around in my job, and could easily find myself sent directly from a work site to a hospital or some other facility needing our services fast. I don't, however, carry the other bags unless such an event is likely.

With my military pack, however, there were items that I often used, or always removed after a weekend drill, for cleaning or maintenance. And over the 25 years there probably isn't anything I didn't forget at least once. I still kept my pack packed -- heck, I had to keep the stuff somewhere -- but I added a list. I wrote the list on a tough,heavy paper tag on a string, and I fastened it to the outside of the bag. It was fastened securely, but could be removed when I had placed the items in the pack. When I got home and removed the items, I would tie the list back on the bag. On the list I included my field jacket, which I would sometimes forget in the summer, a note to fill or change water in the canteens (here I carried three, for four quarts), a shaving kit and towels, and whatever else I would want, but could forget.

All in all, they've worked pretty well. I haven't mentioned batteries. I do have some, and they're all in zip-lock bags, near the top of each pack. Most would come with my electronic equipment, which I haven't addressed. I keep a good supply of batteries in the refrigerator, in zip-lock bags. I buy batteries in bulk, when they're on sale, thereby saving a bunch of money. As I use batteries in my day-to-day activities I replace old batteries by rotating the batteries out of the packs and into the day-to-day appliances. The newest batteries are always in the packs. When I go out with my packs, I throw in all the batteries in the fridge. This included my CERT bag.
RE: Emergency 'Go Kit' Ideas Needed  
by VA3EP on June 14, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
"...LED flashlight in an altoids tin (luxeon white led driven with 3 AA's and a small resistor for current limiting."

Using a resistor or linear current regulator wastes a lot of power.

I build some 12V Luxeon lights using Taskled CC1W Constant Current Regulator Drivers for 1W Luxeon LED.

VERY efficient, see

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