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Author Topic: PORTABLE EMCOMM STATION  (Read 21649 times)
N1IC
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Posts: 17




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« on: April 14, 2013, 11:21:13 AM »

In life you come across people – early on my life I think I was 16 years old I met a friend on the way into work in the mornings on our local 220mhz machine. I had gotten hurt and at the time my hand was wrapped up and I had taken some time off. I was a novice at the time so I only had privileges on 220. Mike N1RFD was one of the people that I met that convinced me take a step back from the construction work I was doing and look into computers. That changed my life I have been in the IT industry since and Mike was one of the people that I have to thank for this.

Not only did he help me then but has remained a friend, mentor and contact that I could rely on anytime it was needed.

The main reason I tell you this story is to tell you that when a friend like this gives me guidance I always listen but knowing Mike for the years I have in both business and personal I know he is very detailed and thoughtful when he works on something or builds something. Knowing he is now retired and has been working on a project that I really wanted to share with as many people as possible.

Take a look and tell me what you think of the:


http://nicktoday.com/portable-emcomm-station/
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KG4RUL
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« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2013, 05:13:13 AM »

My take on the subject: http://www.kg4rul.info/GoBox.pdf
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N1IC
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Posts: 17




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« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2013, 06:30:39 AM »

If you wouldn't mind I'll include your link in my article.
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KA4NMA
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Posts: 317




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« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2013, 06:57:30 PM »

I like the concept of a go box, but I do have one suggestion.  Operate your radio on a regular basis.  That way, you will be familiar with its operation and will know if a problem develops.

Randy kanma
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N0IU
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« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2013, 04:02:08 AM »

While it looks like a very nice "go box", the one thing you don't mention in your post or on your blog in the section about amateur radio being used to save lives is the first thing people who are interested in this aspect of amateur radio should do is become a member of their local ARES/RACES group or even the Red Cross.

Amateur radio as a hobby is not a "team sport". You alone can sit in your shack and work whatever bands and modes float your boat. With Emergency Communications, quite the opposite is true. It is most definitely a group effort. They hold regular nets and drills so that if they ever get a true "call to action", they can do it in a timely and organized manner.

You can't just build a go box a wait for the next disaster to strike and hope that someone somewhere will find a place for you. Add to this the fact that your local group may have certain specifications or other requirements that need to be incorporated into their portable communications systems.

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KF6DBZ
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Posts: 28




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« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2013, 10:39:29 AM »

I se a lot of Go boxes and i like them all, I was kind of thinking these go boxes weigh a lot and in a time of disaster you could be on the move all the time, how easy is it to carry around these go boxes and can tey be used on the run?

Joel
KF6DBZ
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K1CJS
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Posts: 5888




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« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2013, 04:42:54 AM »

Keep in mind that there are two types of amateur stations useful in emergency callups.  First, the portable station, better known as a HT, for people moving around from place to place.  Then there is the more complete 'base' type station, meant to be set up at one location--and remain at that one location during the entire event.

When I was comm officer of the local EMA, I had the second type station--one that could be lugged by one person but was better handled by two--with three two way radios (HF, V/UHF, public service) and a scanner in it.  Power sources and antennas were in yet another box.  It proved its worth the couple of times it was needed, especially when a public service official could use it quickly instead of going out to their vehicle.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2013, 04:47:47 AM by K1CJS » Logged
GILGSN
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Posts: 199




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« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2013, 08:27:01 PM »

This is very light and small. Works for a week of casual use with eight AA cells. Has global range, 20/40m full coverage. Can be recharged by the sun more than a thousand times (once a week = about 20Yrs). Fits in one cargo pants pocket (but for the small solar panel). You won't want to throw it away after carrying it a few miles...

http://radiopreppers.com/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=407.0;attach=219;image

Gil.
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K1CJS
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« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2013, 04:17:12 AM »

Gil--That link indicates that membership is needed.
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GILGSN
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Posts: 199




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« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2013, 10:21:58 AM »

Oops, sorry, try: http://keskydee.com/images/HFCW.jpg

Gil.
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KF7VXA
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Posts: 455




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« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2013, 08:51:46 PM »

I have my home station, a go box and something not mentioned. I have worked closely with our County Emergency Cordonator in our county to know how to operate all of the emergency radios and gear that our county has.
We are rural, have a small EMCOMM center in the court house, the main one in the Sherrifs office as well as a moble communications van with 2 totally seperated operating positions in the van.

People who know how to operate the gear, what freqs to be on, can follow orders, keep their cool and be willing to study the EMCOMM set up and work with the people in charge can and will be needed in an emergency. This is on going, not a one time thing. I go out on all  training and try my best to stay abreast of everything that I can be privy to. I am also involved in the maintenance and installation of new gear.

Not everywhere in the USA has people in place that can work amatuer gear as well as government gear if called apon.

Just something to think about if your county is as understaffed as ours is as to communications people.

My Best, John
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KF7CG
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Posts: 817




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« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2013, 11:28:15 AM »

John, as a former resident of Ammon, ID, I fully understand and agree with your post. Too many people have no conception of the differences between populated area EMMCOM and sparsely populated areas. I have an uncle in the area, so have spent some time in your county. Both winter and summer.

EMCOM is a different animal in the sparsely populated areas. The areas are more fun to live in too.

KF7CG
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KF7VXA
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Posts: 455




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« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2013, 04:29:59 PM »

John, as a former resident of Ammon, ID, I fully understand and agree with your post. Too many people have no conception of the differences between populated area EMMCOM and sparsely populated areas. I have an uncle in the area, so have spent some time in your county. Both winter and summer.

EMCOM is a different animal in the sparsely populated areas. The areas are more fun to live in too.

KF7CG
[/quote

Very true. People around here use several different types of radio to keep in touch or for their own EMCOMM work.  My biggest problem is getting enough people to get involved with formal EMMCOM such as ARES/Races. It is for that reason that we have radios that can monitor and talk with the different types of radios as well as licenses such as the GMRS license just to be legal.
In an emergency, it will not run as smooth, but with fewer people in an area, it may not be too bad. From the main amatuer net, there are people in the counties around us who all have people involved in ARES/Races, just not as many as I'd like to see.
Teton County, ID has one of the better EMMCOM set up's around. We can talk to any other agency as well as have them talk with each other with them just giving us a handheld radio which we can hook up to a computer and have full access to all the freqs programmed into their radios (up to 8 different radios).
With this ability, we can operate as the control station or have different agencies be able to communicate with each other through our equipment. At a recent excersize, many different departments from counties around us were very impressed at the ability we gave them to communicate amoung each other. A 35K homeland security grant and a smart Emergency coordinator in our county got us the equipment needed to do so.
We are pretty much fully equipped with amatuer and Government radios and the ability to get on the freqs we need to get in touch with just about any government agency or amatuer bands in the event of an emergency, natural or otherwise using radio and the Net.
Good power back up and redundent radios where possible in several locations also.
We still have some work to do and a few more things in the fire, but for a small county, I'm darn proud of what we have. Now if we could just get more people involved. Working on that too.
I of course have no Government radios at my QTH, but have a darn good amature station as a back up also. I am taking donations for a KW amp though, Hi Hi.

My Best and 73's,  John

You just have to adapt if you really want to be effective
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W6RMK
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Posts: 649




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« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2013, 06:16:30 PM »

Those are nice portable amateur VHF stations in general. Pelican cases are tough, and waterproof when closed. You can get waterproof through fittings for coax, USB, etc. from a variety of places, if you want to run things with the lid closed (in dust or rain, for instance), although you need to make sure it won't overheat.

A couple practical mechanical comments: portable cases get dropped and kicked around or slide around in the bed of a pickup and things like that. If you have a the Pelican 1510 with the wheels and handle that fits in an overhead compartment on a plane, you'll find that wheeling it from the parking lot to the gate will probably make half the screws vibrate out.  You need adhesive thread locker on all the fasteners.

You also need to be aware of how the shock forces will transmit to devices inside.  Would you drop a desktop unit on the floor? Probably not, but people hard bolt desktop units into frames in portable cases, and then the case gets dropped, so it's really no different.  Test it. Drop your case. If you're afraid you'll damage the radios, then you need to find a different mounting.  OR, package it in something that "looks" more delicate than a Pelican case as a visual cue to others. Pelicans are so rugged that they invite abuse in the field (people use them as footstools, chairs, etc.): something flimsier looking like a attache case or a soft side bag might actually get treated better.

Batteries and power need attention. How many hours will you be operating? Can you just swap batteries with a new one that's sitting on the charger (you can't assume the station will be next to an AC outlet)? How long does it take to charge? Can you hook up to "any old 12VDC"  with clip leads or a cigarette lighter plug if you need to?  Field day is coming, and that's an excellent check: you'll find out if you have "real" battery power, or more of a "built in UPS for a line powered unit that can tolerate a 2 hour outage".  For what it's worth, FEMA and other folks run their teams on rotating 12 hour shifts, so having a pair of batteries that lasts, say, 14 hours, makes life easy.. Shift A uses battery A, while battery B charges. Shift B brings the charged battery and swaps it in, Shift A takes the dead battery back.

For my own gear, I've moved to the "battery charger in a separate box" model: battery charger sits where ever there is power (e.g. near the generator or vehicles); portable unit sits where it needs to for optimum use.  And have multiple batteries that you rotate.

The battery booster device is a great idea, particularly for radios with high peak/average current ratios (e.g. a 50-100 W transceiver): running that Tx at 10.5 or 11V is a real pain, and having a "low voltage disconnect" to keep from overdischarging the battery is essential.  I'm not wild about the analog meters on the MFJ, because they'll get beat up and stop working.  In the last couple years, there's a lot of great battery charge controller/buck-boost voltage controllers available because they're similar in design to solar panel controllers.


Don't forget cables and how you're going to transport them. Do they go in the same case? Another case? A golf bag? You haven't lived til you have that neat portable station in a box, and 2 coils of coax, an extension cord, some antenna components in a bundle, and you're trying to schlep it all through some building up a stair well to the roof.  Seriously think about how you're going to carry everything in one load either by yourself, or with 1 or 2 helpers.  In a real situation, there's plenty of people around to help carry things, but they just need a bag with a handle or shoulder straps, not "here, carry this, and this, and this"
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WB6BYU
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Posts: 13041




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« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2013, 11:44:29 AM »

Quote from: W6RMK

...Seriously think about how you're going to carry everything in one load either by yourself, or with 1 or 2 helpers... 



That's an important consideration.  Our ARES portable stations are neat and self-contained,
but it takes two people to load one in a truck, and it is a royal pain if you have to take one
up a flight of stairs.  They roll nicely on a floor or sidewalk, but not on a gravel driveway
or over rubble.

My recommendations:
1) have separate batteries (at least as an option).  That decreases the weight in
the main station cabinet and makes it easier to swap/recharge batteries.

2) provide external AC and DC input power options so you don't have to store the
package with the case open to keep the battery charged.
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