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Author Topic: Emcomm Trailer- your suggestions?  (Read 29036 times)
KC8OYE
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« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2010, 09:13:50 PM »

That's why I like the idea of powering several alternators from a small engine.. Simple, effective, redundant back ups.. ample current available..

I don't know if it's any more effiecient to generate the 13.8v directly, or use a 110vac generator to power a switching power supply (Seems not to me, plus more to go wrong)

plus using the alternators, if you have a problem with the engine, or need to shut it down to refuel or whatnot..the batteries continue to supply power for a quite a while..
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N8BHL
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« Reply #16 on: November 02, 2010, 06:27:51 AM »

Here's an update/followup after a couple month's operation. This old girl seems to be happy in her new life.  Our debut was also a full-blown test, operating three HF stations at the "Ohio State Parks on the Air" event.  Placing a fullsized TenTec Omni, tuner and laptop on one side, and a Yaesu rig, tuner, laptop and 20" monitor at the second position gobbled up the operating desk...but it fit and worked. With the normal Icom 706 and a dual-band rig on the other side there's plenty of room. I used the repeater cabinet at the 'overflow' third position near the door. A healthy generator powered the event. Later I wanted to see what battery life I had with interior lights and radios turned on. I shut everything down after 8 hours with plenty of battery left. I was surprised at that. In subsequent operations, mostly aimed at demonstrating the trailer to potential users, Cub Scouts and Red Cross, I have run "dry" just using the battery power. That eliminates the laptops (Dells have strange power arrangements - the old Sanyo in my pickup works fine on 12 volts.) but everything else is works fine.

I have a problem with the Hustler HF antenna on the rear bumper: swr is sky high and won't come down. I think it's the metal mass of the trailer- perhaps I need to re-mount the antenna mast higher to get the coil above the roof?   I need to get some work done in the bathroom -winter project - but the rest of the trailer seems fine.  I have applied signs to the unit, and have amassed supplies (networked printer, wifi, extra 'stuff' and maps) but that's an ongoing project in itself. I have tried to amass a collection of tools, clamps, brackets and pulleys that might be needed for strange antenna operations.

EMA/911/Fire agencies have all been very encouraging and I hope they'll make use of "Canned Ham."  It will be ready and waiting.

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KG4RUL
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« Reply #17 on: November 02, 2010, 07:09:44 AM »


.........

I have a problem with the Hustler HF antenna on the rear bumper: swr is sky high and won't come down. I think it's the metal mass of the trailer- perhaps I need to re-mount the antenna mast higher to get the coil above the roof?  ........


Definitely get the coil above the roof.
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KE7PPQ
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« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2010, 11:15:30 PM »

I would suggest a good used toy hauler.....

Why?

1. They are designed with lots of open space. The dinette and other seating folds up against the wall when not in use.

2. The kitchens are usually small and out of the way.

3. Most toy haulers (even the ones with a front bedroom) usually have twin queen beds in the rear. These rear beds raise up to the ceiling when not in use, creating more room.

4. Most toy haulers are already equipped with a generator.

5. Many toy haulers also have fuel tanks (to fuel your toys) which also run the generator. These tanks can be 20-40 gallons, which will run the generator for quite a while. This also eliminates having a bunch of gas cans laying around, smelling up the joint.

6. Many toy haulers feature a "walk-on" roof. This allows the occupants a nice vantage point when attending motorsports races and such. Toy haulers with this feature also have small, roof-mounted railings that are perfect for mounting antennas.

7. Most toy haulers are designed to be used in remote areas, and have many 12v outlets to run 12v TVs and the like.

8. Most toy haulers have high ground clearance, which makes them a bit more off-road worthy than regular travel trailers.

9. Toy haulers have a giant ramp/door in the rear that makes it nice to load/unload your E-COMM desk. This eliminates the need to permanently install all of your gear, and allows you to use the toy hauler for other purposes.


Just my .02

KE7PPQ
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N8BHL
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« Reply #19 on: November 22, 2010, 08:58:47 AM »

David, excellent!  There would be a great amount of clear space for desks, etc. and I like having the on-board generator. I like the way you think. Next version, I'll have all of  these on the checklist. -Stan
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KD0KZE
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« Reply #20 on: November 22, 2010, 11:17:07 AM »

I've been involved in some local volunteering, but I sometimes wonder whether there's a financial line that shouldn't be crossed at one's own expense.  The pros will have the gear, equipment, training, etc. funded by one level of the government or the other.  And a business might donate emergency supplies/equipment/etc. which may be tax deductible (as a part of running the business).  But there doesn't seem to be financial relief for the amateur radio operator who's spent hundreds (or thousands) in equipment, etc. which can be quite helpful in Emcomm scenarios.  I wonder whether the extent to which there is a large body of volunteers is the same extent to which government decides not to fund the pros.

If he builds it, they will come! Grin In the event of a disaster; the local authorities or other organizations will be glad he is available, all he has to do is show up and ask where they want him. Wink

When it is not being used for disasters or emergencies, he could take it to the local schools for demonstrations and to scout meetings for merit badge classes. In addition, a vehicle such as that is always welcome at local field days. Do I feel a tinge of jealousy coming on? Cry
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AD6KA
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« Reply #21 on: November 29, 2010, 10:46:25 AM »

Don't forget to throw in a good First Aid kit.
For the ops of the vehicle, not to treat trauma
victims, leave that to the pros.
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N8BHL
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« Reply #22 on: December 01, 2010, 08:55:42 AM »

Paul, I have found in the 'new world' of emergency preparedness a much stronger stance on the part of government: "We got dis!"  There is an insistence that ONLY government agencies and systems be deeply involved in an operation- and millions of federal dollars have been spent to buy equipment to do just that. In this new world, to government agencies the ham radio operator is regarded as a well-intentioned volunteer who can be told, "Thanks, you wait just outside the door. If we need you, we'll call."  Fortunately, in my own area we're welcomed inside the EOC doors. I don't mean placing a radio, but rather ham radio being truly integrated into the agency's planning (um - before the flames start - as a ~backup~ but necessary component.)

Ken- [smacking hand to forehead] Why didn't I think of that??? I have my EMT kit in the support truck. So what happens when the towing truck drops the trailer and leaves? I'll get right on that! Thanks!
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K1CJS
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« Reply #23 on: December 03, 2010, 05:49:26 AM »

You've got several good suggestions here.  Most of them are worthwhile, but I would also forgo the inside john.  All too often, you'll have outsiders wanting to use it when word gets around, and you'll get to the point where you'll either have to close it down (full holding tank) or deny useage--which gets you negative comments and feelings.  By all means include a coffee pot and possibly a small icebox for refreshments, but again, nothing that requires cooking on a stove for the same reason--other people will want to use it and will be miffed if/when you say no.  A small microwave may be useful, but that's all.

Power requirements?  Run all rigs and operating position lighting (I suggest LED lighting here) off of battery power with a small generator to supply a battery charger, other equipment and UPS units for the computers.  That way, when you shut down the genset to refuel, your entire operation won't go down too.  Of course, if there is power where you are and you're able to tap into it, the genset may not be needed.

Antennas?  Unless you're going to go all out, one or two mount points for masts are all that is needed for antennas.  I suggest using five foot steel mast sections with one section permanently attached to the trailer to be used to hold the mast assembly.  I suggest those five foot masts because of the ease of handling, setup and storage.  If you go up fifteen or twenty feet--and unless you're using a heavy antenna--the mast won't need guying.  It will support itself.  If you use two mast assemblies, mount them at opposite corners of the trailer.  Once you set the permanent mast points, you can more or less tailor the cables for those antennas.  

Five foot mast sections can also be used to erect a separate mast, and ropes can be used to support those if needed.  A weighted umbrella holding stand can be used for a base for such a mast.  Use an outside access panel (a small door of the type used for electrical or water connections) to feed the antenna cables into the trailer.

There are many things that can be done, but just remember that the more amenities you include that are not available elsewhere at the site you're operating at, the more people will want to use those amenities, the more useage your rig will get--and the more work you will have to do to set things right and clean up after that useage you will have to do.

  
« Last Edit: December 03, 2010, 05:52:07 AM by Chris J. Smith » Logged
N8BHL
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« Reply #24 on: December 05, 2010, 12:20:58 PM »

Chris, spoken like someone who's done the RV thing. Thanks- excellent thinking. But my $700 got an RV trailer with all the stuff in place, so I'll just have to watch the usage part of the equation. I am not an RV'er, so I'm learning about gray and black tanks, pumps and leaving the valves shut until after you connect the hose (I read that somewhere.)

Power supply is a mix at present. I have a smaller generator for AC if needed. I have a nice little distribution block with PowerPole connectors (wish I could remember the guy who made it- nice, inexpensive, small. Purchased at Dayton.)  I can feed power from the AC 12V supply, or switch over to power from the battery. That way the whole block is energized as needed. Battery use means I can't run the PC's (Dell Laptops have a goofy power setup).

We're thinking exactly alike on antenna mounts. I have two of the military mast mounts/brackets. So far, we've run 6 and 2 meter beams, and it worked well. My Chief Engineer fabricated from clear plastic blocks, an arrangement that holds the masts at the roofline. They release to rotate down on the old awning brackets to mount the antennas.

I have pictures:  http://www.k8es.org/html/canned_ham.html

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K1CJS
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« Reply #25 on: December 05, 2010, 12:43:01 PM »

No, I'm really not an RVer.  I've just done a bit in the areas of planning (I was an EMA radio officer/volunteer who was involved in planning for a couple of mobile setups) and have participated in a couple of scenarios and one incident.

I understand about how the trailer was when you got it, and how you don't really want to rip things apart.  I agree with that.  One suggestion then--put a sign on the commode door that reads "Not useable."  That way, you can use it if you have to, but anyone else who wants to can be told that the commode tanks are not set up for useage.  People who are familiar with RV commodes will probably question that--but then again, most will just accept it.

Concerning the stove unit, make a cover that can go over the burners and use it for a computer shelf--or just as a desk.  Even if you have the propane tanks set up for heat, the stove can be said to also be "Not in use" but if YOU want to use it someday, you can just take off the cover.  ;-)

There are ways around just about everything!

73, Chris, K1CJS
« Last Edit: December 05, 2010, 12:51:16 PM by Chris J. Smith » Logged
KF4BAE
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« Reply #26 on: January 17, 2011, 12:19:06 PM »

You mentioned a laser printer.  The ones I've got at home and work will go so far as to dim the lights when they operate.  The one here at my desk at work draws 9 amps when it's on.  That'll take a decent sized inverter just to run the printer.  Might make an ink jet or something similar make more sense. 
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WB6BYU
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« Reply #27 on: January 17, 2011, 08:08:43 PM »

A couple of thoughts, based on my experience with such rigs for SAR and ARES.

I also advocate setting it up to run everything off the batteries.  This may mean dedicated inverters
for the laptops if you can't come up with a DC switching supply.  Then the AC power simply charges
the batteries when it is connected - there is no need to switch anything.  (I think one installation
had a 50 amp supply to power the DC circuits when on battery power, in addition to the battery
charger.)

Make sure the batteries are easy to get to for adding water.  I remember laying on my back under
one vehicle trying to open the vent caps by feel and squirting water into the cells through a tube -
not fun, especially if there is any splash.

Our current trailer has several VHF/UHF antennas on the roof, but an external antenna on a mast
really helps when we are an a remote area.  (Generally speaking, antenna height is more effective
than gain.)  I'm a big proponent of the 4' military mast sections - they are much easier to put up
than 5' sections if you don't have a suitable mounting bracket.  That's because the best way I've
found to put up a portable mast is to put the antenna on the top section, pick it up, and slip the
next section in underneath it.  It's a lot harder for me to lift a mast up 5' and hold it steady than
it is for just 4 feet, and I'm fairly tall.  But if you can put a bracket at the roofline that the mast
can slip through, that helps a lot.  Then you don't have to steady the mast as much as you push
it up.  You do have to put the antennas on after you put the top of the mast through the bracket,
however, unless you design a way around it.  (Masts can also be attached to a sign post or a
chain link fence with bungee cords.)

If you can, plan to have enough mast sections to get up 30' or so, even if that means you have to
guy it in some cases.

I have a short length of board that attaches to the mast with a U-bolt that has a pulley on each
end with halyards through them.  That allows you to hoist two different antennas as the need
arises without lowering the mast.  Usually one would be used for the HF antenna - a simple wire
dipole or inverted vee cut to the bands of interest works as well as anything for NVIS operation
(which is going to be most of our emergency HF work.)  I've never had problems finding space
to string up HF wire antennas - even for 160m.

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K1CJS
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« Reply #28 on: January 18, 2011, 11:31:39 AM »

One other thing comes to mind--if you do use outside power, be sure to run your computers off a UPS--there is no telling if and when somebody who is a little clumsy or is paying attention to something else will accidently kick your power supply cable--and knock your power off.  That is the other advantage to running off batteries.

Something else that can be done--a monitor light.  A small, low wattage colored light can be connected directly to the 110 volt feed so you can see if power is on--or goes off.  Of course, some UPS units will have a warning light/signal, but if they're in an enclosed closet, you may not see/hear them.  If you do have one of those, consider a little practical 'surgery', to mount a piezo sounder and signal light on a cover plate that would be at one of the locations usually manned.  Connect them to the UPS and you won't need the monitor light at all.
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LA9XSA
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« Reply #29 on: January 19, 2011, 02:07:25 PM »

You mentioned a laser printer.  The ones I've got at home and work will go so far as to dim the lights when they operate.
Good point. After all, they use high voltage to put the ink on the paper - so much so that they generate ozone. Here's a discussion topic about inkjet printers which run on 12 volts.
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