Saturday, December 17, 2016

Emergency Communications, Part 2, My VHF Jump Kit

This kit has been used at Field Day since about 2008. Additional photos can be seen here. The antenna is deployed in the front of the building and the kit is on the podium in the front of the room where our radios were set up.

I have also used this portable and when I take road trips.  It is quite handy and easy to use. The only addition I plan to make is a small 3 element beam and maybe an AR-270. 

VHF Jump Kit
The kit consists of an Icom IC-2000H with a standard microphone, external speaker, ear buds, Mirage B-34-G all-mode VHF amp, and Icom IC-u2AT handi-talkies. The kit is powered by an Astron SS-30 power supply. The kit is able to be operated from 120 volt a.c. mains power or a generator or a 12 volt battery.

The antenna is an Evans Engineering EE-3 along with a Hustler CGT- 144 with the radial kit which I deploy with the mast made from a Lowe's pole. I got interested in the EE-3 antenna after reading an article in QST magazine. I thought about building one, but the cost was so close with buying antennas and making the hardware that it was easier to just buy one. Similarly with the Hustler radial kit. I could have gotten some stainless steel or aluminum rod and made my own, but not having any in my junk pile I opted to just spend the fifteen or twenty dollars and buy one. I have a nice magnet mount antenna (5/8 wavelenght) to round out the kit. For my HT I have the MFJ magnet mount and the Diamond triband SRH320. Diamond also makes a nice small mag mount dual band.
Note from a post on another site: The EE-3 site no longer exists. Perhaps Bob is no longer making the antenna.
There are several other sites on the web for building go-kits among them the Salvation Army,
KB1DIG's site , W2IK, Robert Hejl had a great amount of portable and emergency operation information on his site before aol zapped GeoCities. I have not been able to find the archive, and Prince William County Virgina
Here is a link to one of the first sites I used when deciding what kind of a kit to build Scroll about 1/2 way down the page and you will find the Salvation Army orange boxes. There are plenty of links to follow on this page including a link to the step-by-step article by N0VLR on building the HVOB- Highly Versatile Orange Box (link to the PDF is below the HF jump kit at the bottom of this page).
That is a start on some sites I used and still use. Search the web. There are many many sites for go-kits and emcomm.
My search for a suitable case started with military surplus, but found nothing I liked. Next was to build one out of plywood. That too was dismissed due to the amount of work I did not want to do and the weight. I thought of combining HF and VHF, but that limits both kits to some extent and again gets to be rather large and heavy for the gear I have that I want to use.

On a trip to a local Gander Mountain store I found a suitable MTM Case-Guard box. Gander Mountain has a site, but the site is not very useful. I chose the SPUD2-11 since the inside dimensions were almost what I needed and will allow me to exchange the IC-2000 with a dual band rig if I choose. I have a SPUD-7 for HF.

I started by adding some Anderson Power Pole connectors to the power supply. I got the idea from this site while searching on information on something else. I like using what I have rather than buying it, and I like using methods developed by others when they can make my job easier. When I worked for a major connector manufacturer it was called adapting and using Best Demonstrated Practices. Like some of the things from the fire service this is something that rubbed off on me from industry.

Next I started to lay out and install the equipment.
There was a problem with the smaller case and the D.C. supply. The power cord had to have a 90 degree IEC connector; in the wrong direction. I turned the connector on the power supply.

As I changed it
Then it was off to the scrap pile and find a piece of metal to mount everything. Wood would use too much space or not be as strong. Besides I wanted to be able to clip to anything anywhere to ground the box. To mount the power supply I just replaced the screws that hold the feet onto the case with longer 2mm machine screws so I did not need to drill the case.
The amplifier was attached using holes already in its case.
The IC-2000H was mounted to another plate which would mount to the top of the dry box with 10-32 rack screws. I mounted the rig with L-brackets rather than the mobile mount for a more compact mount.

Dual banana plugs for D.C. power. I chose this method rather than a solid state or relay change-over switch or relay. I use a spare U.P.S. for a power line filter/conditioner/buffer when on mains power or a generator. This is a good ideas since spikes, sags and other things can happen during a disaster and ruin your power supply and / or rig. Having an un-interruptable source also will allow the time needed to connect the battery input and remove the jumpers linking the kits supply from the external battery input. If the dual banana plugs making the links get lost, using the binding post style of banana jack allows me to wrap wire, tin foil or anything conductive I can find across the link to use the internal power supply. So what if the foil or something else may not be as efficient as 12 or 14 a.w.g. copper, it works. Under normal circumstances I can hit most repeaters in our area with 0.10W. Almost always 100% quieting with 1 watt. If I need the entire full power (50W) of the IC-2000 or the full 30 to 35 watts from the amp it would only be if all the repeaters in our county and the neighboring counties are destroyed However, you may be in a region where the full power is do not short change your self by relying only on a hand held. Besides what if simplex is required?

 A fan that is about one inch from the back wall or bottom of the dry box. The fan is positioned to blow air across the rig (and into my face), but it is only a 3 inch 12 V.D.C. fan that will only run if the power supply is used.


A male chassis mount 120 v.a.c. IEC connector was also mounted in the center of the back (bottom) to connect mains power to the Astron. The power supply output is connected to the top set of banana jacks and all the D.C. power feeds to the equipment is from the bottom set. I made 2 spare cables terminated in Anderson Powerpole connectors for any auxiliary need including a hand held. I fold the extra cable back and forth on itself between the PSu and amp and the amp and case similar to the way attack lines are cross laid on a fire engine. The one on the right is from the Astron. The one on the left is from the D.C. input banana jacks.

The RF connectors are all on the same side of the box as D.C. power, and everything gets labelled.

Here is the completed kit .
The ear buds are some of my favorite. Less than a dollar at Wal-Mart When the kit was built in 2007 and are neraly $3.00 now and have a shorter cord. They work fine with my Rockmite, MFJ code generator, and even my MP3 player.
Also included in the kit is a Leatherman tool, RF adapters, some RF patch cords, PowerPole patch cords, a 2 AA cell mini mag light* converted to LED, gaffer's and duct tape, RG-213, the mast and a few other items I know I forgot to mention -- like rechargeable batteries. The kit weighs 23 pounds as seen.
Since the original post Wal-Mart quit selling decent ear buds under $15 or $20. I do not recall if they sell any under those prices. I since get all of mine at the Dollar Tree store. Great sounding ear buds in several styles for $1.00.

Not shown for the VHF kit is a short ethernet cable jumper to keep the strain off of the asinine RJ-45 connector used for the microphone. I replaced the jack twice on this rig and hope to avoid a third time by using a jumper. Whoever the engineer who designed and manager who approved the use an RJ-45 for a microphone connector should get the JackAss of all time award! These connectors give problems when installed where they do not get nearly the strain of using them on a mobile or any other radio.

*Rather than an expensive light, Harbor Freight sells 2 nice 9 L.E.D. flashlights with batteries in a 2-pack for $3.00 on sale. The regular price for one light alone is around $5.00. Look for Harbor Freight ads in the newspaper. The LED flashlight is often offered FREE.

This post is laid out a bit different than it appeared on my web site. It was easier to repost it here than try and do it on my site.  Besides by 2017 the site as it has been will be gone, I may decide to use a different host service, but that all depends on how much I like using will be more on VHF in Part 3.

1 comment:

  1. When I added the first paragraph to this post with the link to one of our Field Day events Blogger went crazy and I could not get the photos back to the alignment and proportions that were in the original blog post.