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Author Topic: "go kits"  (Read 11321 times)

Posts: 57

« on: June 19, 2009, 08:54:25 AM »

Hi everyone,

 Last weekend I operated the MS150. After that event seen somethings that would help communicatons. So I have decided to jump feet first into this project. Maybe this might be over board but I don't think so. The question come back to power how to do that. I really don't have one set set mission in mind other than just to be ready for anything and everything. I want to be ready for not just operating off grid but on gird as well.

my gear:

VX-8R (4 or 5)
VX-7R **

Posts: 57

« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2009, 08:55:14 AM »

Sorry I should have signed my name.


Ben K0BLR.

Posts: 90


« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2009, 01:38:58 PM »

I have written a web page with some ideas:

de NA4IT

Posts: 57

« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2009, 08:32:36 AM »

Ok here's my next question I get closer....

 I found out some info on the VX-8R that might swade me to go down this route with using Handhelds. Does anyone know what a 100w VHF Amp might draw. I sent and email to Mirage and I am waiting to hear back from them. here's what I am thinking...

FT-897D         HF
FT-100          Mars/Red Cross (if Needed)***
FT-7800R        Spare Radio***
FT-8800R        Crossband
VX-8R   (9)     Spare Handhelds & 2-3 for base use
B-320-G         Mirage VHf Amp.
BD-35   (5)     Mirage Dual band Amp

Rads 9-11/A1
Cushcraft AR270B (2)


4-100ft sections of LMR-400 Flexweave.

Posts: 57

« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2009, 09:10:49 PM »

another question,

 Should be considering Dstar radios as part of my go kits? Here in MN there aren't many around. One ham is trying to push the use of digital though.

any thoughts? I would be looking at the ID-880? Even though I'm a yaesu person.

Posts: 17423

« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2009, 11:06:45 PM »

As a rough estimate, figure a 100W VHF amplifier will draw
around 20 amps.  It might be 25, but that will give you
a starting number to work from.

I might caution, however, that the choice of radios is
probably one of the least important factors in a "go
kit".  The first and most important part is your own
survival and endurance as an operator.  So food, warm
clothes, sleeping bag, water, and the other personal
items that you would need to maintain yourself for 3
or 7 or however many days would be the first things in
my go kit.

The next priority probably would be a simple rig - I'd
probably have an HT and a mobile rig for 2m available.
Anything more than that goes further down the priority
list.  And if you are active in a local ARES or RACES
group, you may be assigned to partner with another ham,
so could share equipment between you.

Of course, you need power for the rigs (as well as
operating lights, charging HT batteries, etc.)  I've got
a number of 33Ah gel batteries that I keep charged. I
find having several smaller batteries is better than
one big one because I can distribute them as necessary,
and if one needs recharging or goes bad I can keep
operating on the remainder.  How long I can go on one
set of batteries depends on how much transmitting I do
and how well I can conserve power between times, so the
receiver current draw of rigs becomes important, and
I'll use the minimum power required and turn rigs off
when they aren't needed.  An HT may be a good choice
to monitor for calls during quiet periods, then turn
on the mobile rig if I need more power to respond.

For more than a day or two I'll need a backup power
source, probably a generator and/or a solar panel.  If
home heating oil is common in your area then a diesel
generator might be a good choice.  Ideally you should
be able to get by running a generator 2 to 6 hours a
day for heat, lighting, battery charging, pumping water,
or whatever else you need.  (Of course, make sure your
fuel is clean and fresh, and you have sufficient on
hand for the period of operating you expect.)

Once you have the basic radio capability and power source
available, one of the most important factors for
effective communications is antennas.  For VHF/UHF,
antenna height makes a huge difference, more than power
level or antenna gain.  I recommend some sort of portable
mast in the 12 to 20' range as the most practical for
portable operation.  Sure, I can go to 40' if needed,
but the difference between a J-pole in a tree at 15'
and a mobile antenna on top of a car can mean a message
gets through or not.  A painter's pole or telescoping
squeegee handle that goes to 12 or 15' with a ground
plane antenna on top is easy transportable and can be
put up quickly.

Once you have some height, the next step is good antennas.  
"Good", in this case, means well chosen for performance,
ruggedness and versatility, not necessarily high
gain.  In fact, gain is NOT always what you want.
Say you have an omnidirectional vertical with a true
6dB gain over a dipole - it will be about 20' long, and
the base will have to be mounted at least that high
off the ground to get all the advertised gain from it.
(Otherwise you would be better off with a lower gain
antenna with the top at the same height because the
average height of the antenna would be higher.)  So now
you have a 40' antenna+mast to support.  Omnidirectional
gain is achieved by narrowing the vertical radiation
pattern:  it turns out that if the antenna is 10 degrees
off of plumb the resulting signal at the horizon will
be WORSE than a dipole in some directions because the
radiation pattern will be tilted up (or down).  With
a dipole, by contrast, there is little change in signal
strength when it is tilted 10 degrees from vertical.
I don't recommend using 2m omni verticals with more
than 8' of radiator, which should have only about 3dB gain
over a dipole, J-pole or ground plane, and often the
latter antennas are quite adequate.  You also need
to have antennas, coax and supports for all the radios
you plan to be operating at the same time, plus spares.

For HF I carry a set of wire dipoles, particularly for
40, 60, 80 and 160m since those are the MF/HF bands
most likely to be used for local emergency communications.
These can hang from the same support as your VHF
antenna, or convenient trees or flag poles.  Even just
laying along a hedge will make contacts, but won't be
as efficient as getting it up higher off the ground.
If you plan to operate on MARS/CAP or other HF channels
make sure you have suitable antennas for those as well.
Simply using a coax-fed dipole through a tuner may not
be very efficient if the SWR is high on the coax.  An
end-fed wire with an auto-tuner may not be suitable
for NVIS coverage on most bands unless the wire is
intentionally bent into specific shapes using specific
lengths.  Similarly, some multi-band antennas don't have
good radiation patterns:  an 80M OCFD, for example, has
an overhead null on 40m making it relatively poor for
NVIS even if the antenna has a low SWR.

One of the hardest things to put in your kit is the
knowledge and experience to know how best to deploy your
antennas, and how to improvise both supports and antennas in the field.

RG-58 coax is fine for HF, and for short runs on VHF.
The larger coax such as RG-213 or LMR-400 for longer
runs.  But rather than carrying 100' lengths I'd cut
them to 50' each and splice them together when needed.
That gives you the same maximum length, but allows you
to use shorter pieces when possible.  Even with a 40'
mast (which would rarely be needed) a 50' piece would
still reach the radio with half the loss of a longer
one.  In many cases a 25' piece of RG-58 (which has
the same loss on 2m as 100' of LMR-400) may be more
practical if the coax has to be brought in through a
window or the antenna support can't take much weight.
RG-8X would be better, of course, and for 440 MHz I'd
try to limit myself to 50' of good coax unless I really
needed to get up out of a hole (in which case 10dB of
loss in the coax may be the best alternative.)

Once you have all your personal equipment so you are
self-sufficient, and have basic radios and a good set
of antennas and supports, it is time to consider more
radio equipment.  My criteria are:  easy to use by
new operators, low receiver current draw, ability to
adjust output power to save battery capacity, and a
clean signal that doesn't wipe out all the other radios
around.  (This has been a problem with some of the
newer multi-mode radios as well as the older solid
state HF stuff.  It can happen to individual radios of
just about any type.)  While I like the simplicity of
some of the older HF radios, being able to store common
emergency frequencies in memory is a good idea when
operators don't practice regularly on HF with the local
ARES or RACES organization.  Whether you need 440 coverage
will depend on local usage.  Personally I wouldn't
consider using D-Star or other non-standard modes unless
one of the local groups made a specific effort to set
up to use it for emergency traffic.  From actual tests
we can cover just about anywhere in the county using
2m simplex at 25 watts with a ground plane at roof
height.  It is uncommon that I find much difference in
FM coverage between 25 and 50 watts, so anywhere in that
range seems like a good maximum level.  Getting my antenna
higher is a better solution than running higher power,
as it improves my receive as well without using any
addition battery power.

A couple last thoughts:  first, consider that all of the
equipment you take on an emergency response is
expendable.  That is a fact of life.  You may get
reassigned and leave a station to other operators, or
who knows what.  (Making sure everything has a return
address label on it will help it find its way home
afterwards.)  This is one reason why I suggest simple
home-made antennas:  you can build 10 ground planes or
twinlead J-poles for the cost of a commercial antenna,
and the former will allow you to put up several and
still have spares.  Not everyone is willing to invest
a lot in equipment just to have it sitting in a box
ready for an emergency that never happens.

The second, and probably the most important point of
all, is that if you don't use something regularly you
can't count on it in an emergency.  This applies to
everything:  food, radios, batteries, generators, traffic
handling skills, antennas, masts, etc.  I went to use
my most modern HT the other day and I couldn't figure
out how to set the new access tone for the local repeater.
I've seen mice in blankets, black widow spiders in a
tent, wasp nests in portable mast sections, and dead
batteries and corroded contacts in countless pieces of
equipment that hadn't been used recently.  Hiking into
the wilderness on an extended trip and finding that
most of your food is rancid takes some of the fun out
of it, too.  Put up your portable antennas a few times
a year to get practice and see how you can do it more
efficiently.  Try operating your rig for 24 hours on
Field Day from your battery to see how low the voltage
drops.  Start your generator once a month and run it
under load to keep the engine in good shape.  Work with
the local emergency response groups (ham or otherwise)
to build trust knowledge of each others' capabilities
and needs.  Know where the high points are and how to
reach them if you have to serve as a manual relay.
Make sure you have the right battery connectors to match
those in the county EOC if you are going to operate
from there.  Know how low a battery voltage your rigs
can operate from, and what symptoms to expect when the
voltage gets low.  (One of my mobile rigs would lock
in transmit mode.)  Make sure you have the required
papers from the local authorities that will allow you
to get to where you are needed if the general public
is being evacuated.  And actually operate from the
hospital, shelter, or fire station sometimes so you
know where the antenna can be mounted, how to get onto
the roof, who has the key, and whether your HF rig will
set off the fire alarm.

That's what goes in my "go kit".

Posts: 536


« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2009, 12:07:13 PM »

Ed Harris and his folks in Arlington County OEM RACES have done some excellent work in the area of go kit lists.  You can find a good summary here:

One thing we need to consider is the ability to transport stuff by oneself a few hundred yards or even further if needed, thus I'm not a big fan of assembling every thing into one big boom box.  I prefer a modular approach to make sure that no individual module weighs more than 35 ponunds.


Gary, K2GW

Posts: 223


« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2009, 09:26:34 AM »

I'm a big fan of Pelican cases (or some less-expensie "knock-offs") and usually go for the ones with wheels on one end.  

I recently picked up one of their 0450 Mobile Tool Kits for my mobile communications truck -- it is lovely!  Heavy as all get-out, though; definitely a two-man lift out of the vehicle.  But once on its wheels, it's great.  

Mobile Communications Unit 37, New Castle County DE

Posts: 22

« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2009, 09:05:42 AM »

Here's a picture of my kit.
(Too bad I can't post the picture here directly in the post reply).

1) Tool case from Home Depot - $19.95
2) Yaesu FT-7800 - $219.00 (sale at the time)
3) Alinco DR-235 - $175.00 (bought off of E-Bay)
4) Arrow 2M/440 and 220 J-Pole - $80.00
5) Buddy Pole extendable elements - $12.00 (lengthen to the same length as the radiator on the J-Poles.
6) Jetstream 25A Power Supply - $79.00

This was put on a piece of flakeboard cut for the dimensions of the case and then the power poles are riveted on the case.

Posts: 223


« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2009, 04:09:43 PM »

Here's a web page on a portable VHF/UHF station that a couple of friends of mine (AD3M and N3LUD) helped me put together:

As you can tell, I'm very much into digital modes.  Yet to complete -- the computer case.  I just finished building a mini-ITX system today (Jetway motherboard with a 32GB solid state disk) and need to shop around for a case to hold the computer, flat panel, keyboard and a small inkjet printer.


Posts: 57

« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2009, 04:40:19 PM »

thank you Guys,

 For the reply! What if though I don't want to deploy all my radios in one shot? I like the last gentelmen's reply with his small set up. If you contact me directly I can (email is good on qrz) I can send you my go kit break down sheet because I have mulitple kits.



Posts: 38


« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2009, 03:11:45 PM »

Speakling of "go kits", there is a lot to say about organizing everything you need BESIDES the radios and power supplies. All the tools, wire, antenna parts, extra clothes, first aid kits, flashlights, etc.

I just recently found this backpack/waistpack combo on the web, and purchased one for my own work with Red Cross and the local CERT unit. It's designed for EMTs and medical first responders, but it works great for me. It has 36 individual zippered pockets that keep everything perfectly organized, from extra batteries  to sunscreen. In one side pocket I carry a fire extinguisher, and the other holds a hydration pack reseviour and bite valve. This way I can keep everything I need in the trunk of my car ready to go.

It's well worth the price. Must be a closeout or something, because any comparable backpack would cost twice as much.

As for the radios...I have mine organized in a big plastic box made for art supplies. The top opens up to reveal my main rig (a Yaesu FT-817), but also holds an HT, a smart phone, and a GMRS radio. All can run off of a gel cell or from AC power. Underneath that, are two little plastic drawers that pull out to reveal various power adapters, connectors, manuals, and logs.

Yes, the 817 isn't really useful for long range communications, but the idea is that this is for setting up at a local Red Cross shelter, or at community service events where repeaters are available. It's not intended to be an 'end of civilization as we know it' kind of set-up.

Mark, KD6JLS

Posts: 17423

« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2009, 05:49:27 PM »

I keep each radio setup in its own case:  a padded oxygen
bag for the VHF mobile rig, a plastic tub for the HF rig
and wire antennas, etc.  That way the stuff I don't need
can be left in the car (or at home.)

We had an ARES field exercise last weekend and one thing
that really came in handy was a set of headphones that
covered my ears.  I had brought them for the HF rig, but
plugged them into the VHF FM rig instead due to the noise
from the road I was set up next to.  The adaptor that I
brought just barely fit into the speaker jack on the rig
due to the presence of the heat sink.  Think I'm going to
add a headphone jack and separate volume control to my
remote speakers to make it easier to switch between them.

Posts: 1045


« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2009, 05:05:41 AM »

We teach a course "Disaster Survival in the Urban Environment" which goes far beyond just your radio gear. You cannot perform your communication mission if your family has not prepared and has a safe place to shelter while you are deployed. You must also be  self-reliant and carry the basics of personal protection, hydration, navigation and communication.  Specifics at this URL:

Posts: 57

« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2009, 07:39:44 AM »

Well now that my radios are fianlly picked out.. I can start figureing out where to go from here.....

I am going to be going with an undisclosed amount of IC-92AD's, then I will with a number BD-35 amps. Then after that I will get a handful of mobile radios that can be used for crossbanding.

so thats where it stands right now. if there are any SEC's out there that have put together a Statewide ARESMAT or DRT team I would like to visit with you because I am putting one together here in Minnesota.


Minnesota ARESMAT EC
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