Saturday, August 27, 2011

Goodnight Irene, portable operation after the storm passed

This is the front view of my HF jump kit.  I had all but the box when I decided to put it all together.  It is an Icom IC-735, Icom AT-150 auto antenna tuner and Icom IC-PS20 DC supply with external speaker.  I use the stock HM-12 microphone and if I work CW a J-38 key.  The normal antenna is a portable 20 meter inverted-V or a home brew short vertical using Hustler traps and stinger for different bands.  This can be power from a.c. mains, a generator or large batteries if it is not powered from my vehicle.

I should have taken some photos earlier today while operating portable.  Now everything is stored.

As with other years before the hurricane or storm hits I got out my gear and charged all the batteries.   I also ensured I had sufficient spares of all and plenty of extra food and water.  However, Emily was far enough off-shore so all that hit my QTH was rain and some wind.  Cannot say the same for 2004.  The year that encouraged me to finally get my ticket to the world of amateur radio.

One of the first things I determined to do when I got my Technician License was to make every effort to be operational under any conditions even if I only had VHF-UHF.

The years have been somewhat uneventful since 2004, and that does not disappoint me the least.

When I got my General I determined I would be able to use VHF-UHF and the HF bands under any conditions and always have all I need with me and available to use.  This stems from my first emcomm ops in 1972 when a very well meaning ham showed up to help us out during tropical storm Agnes without an antenna, and a few other things.  He had a trailer full of gear, but forgot one of the two most important items.  A local ham managed to dismantle and reinstall a usable antenna several hours later.  I was one of the 3 people running the local eoc (before they were called that).

So much for war stories.  I have been somewhat out of commission due to an injury last week.  I decided today is a good day for some time on the air.  When my main rig wouldn't work I decided to use my HF jump kit that was not on the air but once since it was built last summer.  I already had plenty of battery power fully charged so I decided on some portable operation to check into the area net and see who else I could work until it got too hot to be outside or the battery died.  I have several, but they are heavier than I wanted to transport one-handed.  The one battery I had with the rig would be the only one.  I have a solar panel charger I made for use with the kit.  I did not run the solar charger today.

My outdoors portable operations have included a wire in a tree, short vertical and a 20 meter inverted V.  Today I decided to work all bands if possible and used my AP8A.  Sometimes my portable operation does not take me farther than my yard.  Today was one of those.  Technically, I may not be portable by some standards.  By not being on the power mains, not running a generator, not being in my house and using my kit for all practical purposes; portable.  I just happened upon an installed multi-band vertical.

I was able to work 80, 40, and 20 meters with a few contacts on each band until I quit.  There were a few on the air in the coastal regions of SC, NC, and inland VA and one fellow on Long Island.  None were reporting disastrous weather conditions, but I did not note their exact locations.

So as one rig failed to operate the when all else fails motto holds even after a storm or any time.  I thought about QRP, but for now I am one handed and CW is a bit too challenging at the moment.  Besides, I wanted to better emulate if I had to use the jump kit.

Why the long post without much technical or even traffic handling or emergency information?  Just hoping to stir some thoughts on having a station in reserve even for those who may think they can always get or be on the air when wanted and their one and only rig fails.  Now I'm off to install a new 12BY7A.

73 and hoping the storm passes by without damage to your QTH.


  1. I'm curious - on your freeweb site, you mention using a speaker stand & a specific swimming pool pole as an antenna stand. Do you have any information (model, brand, size/height) on the speaker stand?

  2. I use the ones I had from my pro sound work from several years ago. I have some rather expensive ones, but the ones shown on my photos are the cheap ones I found from Parts Express and MCM Electronics. The Parts Express ones are a bit higher quality.

    Similar ones available from Parts Express

    I think they were about $35.00 each several years ago.

  3. Great, thanks! I'm addicted to Amazon, so I found the
    Monoprice 602350 speaker stand that looks similar to the Talent SD70 you linked to (height, air piston, base diameter, tube dia). I also ordered a Hydro Tools 8350A pole, which is three segments and extends to 12 feet, so it should collapse like the blue Lowe's pole and be about the same length as the collapsed tripod.

  4. Here is another set. These are really inexpensive and may be el-cheapo like the ones I bought from MCM Electronics that did not hold-up very good.