ETH011 – Go-Packs

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Hello everyone and welcome back to another episode of the Everything Ham Radio Podcast. This will be episode 11! In today’s episode we are going to be concluding our Emergency Preparedness mini-series by talking about something that I touched on in the last episode, Go-Packs!

So what exactly is a Go Pack? Well, there isn’t a standard or generic answer to this question. Some would answer this question very simply, other would have a very complex answer. I put out a question to all of yall in the last episode. The question was, “What’s in your go pack?” I got a few responses back from yall and will be sharing some of them a little later in the post.

I’ve told yall before that I have been a ham now for over 20 years now(wow!), and at one point in time(before I started this blog), I thought that I was pretty up-to-date on things that happen in the community or new things that come out or whatever. The more that I work on this blog and now podcast, the more that I learn, that I don’t know as much as I thought I did because I pretty much learn something EVERY SINGLE EPISODE/ARTICLE!

Go-Packs

I am going to say that the are two different types of Go-Kits. On one side of things, you have what I am going to call a go pack. This is the kind of go kit that I use. In my go pack, I have things like different ends for power and coax, extra batteries, a map, soldering iron, solder, different hand tools, etc. I have had this thing for pretty much since I’ve been a ham, without changing it much. Basically this pack is like a ham radio tool box. I have everything in it that I may need to fix an antenna, connect my radios to whatever for power, and all the tools to get it done.

My Go-kit, is contained in a duffle bag, pretty much any duffle bag or backpack will do as long as it is big enough to hold what you need it to.

This is what I have in it:

  • I also have a fishing lure box like this one that I have things like connectors, alligator clips, adaptors, coax ends, and other things in.
  • A Soldering Iron, solder, solder wick and a suction tool.
  • Multimeter
  • Hand Tools – Crimpers, screwdrivers, cutters, etc.
  • Extra batteries for my handheld, charger and speaker mic. I also have a AA battery pack for my radio as well as enough AA batteries to fill the pack up twice in case my regular batteries die before they can be recharged.
  • A power cord with alligator clips on one end and Anderson Power Pole connectors on the other. The cord is long enough to run from the battery of a vehicle into the cab, so about 15-20 feet long.
  • I have Mapsco of my county.
  • Pocket notepad, pen, pencil, & eraser in a Ziploc bag

I am sure that I probably have some other things in my go-pack but I can not remember anything else off the top of my head. I’m sure that you can think of something else that you might want to put in there if you build you a go-pack like this.

Go-Boxes

Now if you want something a little…OK, a lot more…extravagant you can go the Go-Box route. So what is the difference between a go-pack and a go-box? A go-box is an all-in-one station so to speak. It has a mobile radio, some kind of power source, be it a battery or a power supply, antenna, coax, and anything else that you can cram into whatever you are making it out of.

I have seen some people that have made a go-box that has all their radio equipment in it, plus some type of computer, a cell phone, built in APRS, 12 volt plugs, AC plugs, USB plugs, and a light to see it all with. I believe that the person made it in a sound system rack case, kind of like this one.

I am not really going to go into great detail on these, because there is so much variety that you can do depending on your needs and there are so many pictures and YouTube videos out there one what people have done that it would just be better if I gave you links on some things that I have found as well as some of the links that yall have sent in.

    • Mark I – Light — Richard Slusher, KF5RHI. Richard is a fellow Texan, actually lives just about 30 miles north of me. The picture to the right is his second project, the Mark II – Heavy that has HF capabilities. He has also made an off-the-grid power source for it, and a way to keep it charged. He is currently working on a Mark III – Medium as he calls it that will be the big brother to the Mark I, but with have a Raspberry PI computer in it as well.

  • Our good friend Cale from the Fo-Time Podcast sent me this link. I has several links to projects that people have done. Some of them have pictures, some of them unfortunately do not but the text is still there.
  • Another pretty neat looking Go-Box that I found was made by W1WMJ.
  • This one, by WB4SON, has a laptop that is setup in the Go-Box. I don’t know if it is permanently mounted in the box or just has a place for it though.FrankOLaughlinDigitalGoBox

These boxes come in all shapes and sizes! You can put VHF/UHF, HF, APRS, Packet, Phones, whatever you want to. The biggest draw back or issue that I have read about on these go-boxes is supplying enough power to the components in the box, especially if you have it running off a battery and not commercial power.

So whether you decide to make a go-pack or a go-box or somewhere in between, if you plan on helping out during an incident or major disaster, I highly recommend that you have at least something that you can grab and go. When time is of the essence, seconds matter and if you are running around you shack and/or house like a chicken with your head cut off trying to find everything that you might need, one it is going to take you longer to get going and two you will probably forget something.

If one of these links doesn’t “suit your fancy”, just do a search on google for Amateur Radio Go Boxes and you will find a plethora of links and pictures of boxes that people have done.


Amateur Radio Club Spotlight

 

Gwinnett Amateur Radio Society

Club Call Sign: W4GR

Website: http://www.gars.org/w4gr/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/315255321681/

Meetings:

Meeting is on the 2nd Tuesday of the month at 7pm

Briscoe Field, Lawrenceville, GA

Repeaters:

  • 147.075+ 82.5 Tone – Snellville – Primary Club Repeater – Echolink W4GR-R
  • 147.255 + 107.2 Tone – Snellville
  • 444.525 + 82.5 Tone – Snellville – Yaesu System Fusion Repeater
  • 442.100 + 100.0 Tone – Norcross
  • 53.110 + No Tone – Snellville

Nets:

  • Monday Night Net – Mondays @ 1930 – swap, sale and information net
  • Know It All Net – Wednesday @ 2030 – Radio updates and information

This club has a very interesting history. One of their founding members was the founded and was the CEO of Scientific Atlanta. If you don’t know what Scientific Atlanta is, it is a company that makes antenna equipement and probably most rememberable for making tv top cable satellite boxes. Their equipment was used in the first ever satellite-delivered cable event in 1975, the “Thrilla in Manila”! Thrilla in Manila was the heavyweight championship bout between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.

They have training at each meeting and it seems to be a pretty interesting schedule at that. I would definitely join this club if I lived in GA near Lawrenceville.


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Until next time…

73 de Curtis, K5CLM

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  • Richard Slusher

    Great episode, Curtis! Thanks for the shout-out! Much Appreciated! I’m going to be working the Burleson Honey Tour bike ride on Memorial Day weekend. I’m tentatively set to be based at the start / finish line. I’ll let ya know as time gets closer if I’m there or set up somewhere else!
    73 de KF5RHI!