Sunday, December 18, 2016

Emergency Communications Part 3


I also have a 2 meter handy talkie as part of my response kit.
It was actually the first jump kit, if one could call it a jump kit, that I put together. The ammo can kit came later.
Originally I used an ICOM IC-2AT, but when I needed to upgrade to a CTCSS tone board I found a nice IC-u2AT with several battery packs and a drop-in charger for about the same price. I chose the micro-two. It has a tone board and enough memory channels to load all the local repeaters and it is very easy to use. Reliability? Well I will take this over my Yaesu VX-6R any day.
I like the Yaesu, but it will die mid-QSO due to the stupidity of Yaesu using a lithium battery pack. At least the radio could have been designed with a low battery warning and the battery properly monitored to alert the operator before dying. Yaesu is not the only company with this design; they all do the same.
One day I will build a battery pack for the Yaesu and then I might be writing how much I would choose the Yasesu. So even though I enjoy using the feature-rich VX-6R for emergency and reliable long-time communications I will take my old ICOM.
The problem with an older HT was finding a battery pack that used AA or other batteries that were readily field replaceable. I chose an alternative route. The IC-u2AT will operate from about 6 volts D.C. to 12 volts D.C. Try that with a modern lithium powered HT. I chose an alternate method and bought some AA battery holders from either JAMECO or PARTS EXPRESS These vendors also sell the power connector that will fit the radio.  Measure the one from the radio manufacturer to get the center pin dimension, the outside diameter of the barrel and the length of the barrel.
The Battery Packs: Two holders with 8AA batteries are used. The battery packs are wired in parallel.

I then wrap (hold) the 2 packs together by wrapping then with Gaffer's tape. Do not use duct tape! It'll ruin things. Then I secure the wire and cable that goes to the HT with another wrap of Gaffer's tape. Duct tape leaves sticky adhesive on everything.  Gaffer's tape is more flexible and, unless left on for years, does not leave residue.

The packs now fit a small arms ammo pouch that I bought at a local army surplus store along with a web A.L.I.C.E. belt. The entire cost without batteries about $20.00. I do not recommend leaving alkaline batteries in the packs all wrapped and in the ammo pouch for months on end.
Alkaline batteries have a tendency to leak and ruin things, especially Energizer batteries. I have used this set-up for one hurricane and 2 Field Days since I built it and never ran out of battery power.

 Here is the completed HT with batteries stored in the ammo pouch. The spare rubber duck and telescoping 1/2 wavelength antenna along with the tiger tail all fit into the pouch. There is even room for a speaker microphone in the pouch. I use a speaker microphone with this set although it is not in the photograph.

Here is the u2AT with the tiger tail installed on the rubber duck.

The last photo is my HF portable kit that doubles as an HF jump kit.
The microphone and key are kept in the lid. The power cord, a spare IEC power cord, ground wire, and a ground wire with large croc-clips on each end for ground as well as a DC to car battery cable set are all part of the kit. The shelf is made from 3/8 inch thick plywood and attached to the case by sliding it into 3/8 inch aluminum channel fastened to the case sides by 6-32 pan head machine screws. I threaded the channel to avoid the need for nuts. The machine screws are locked with Locktite.
On top of the shelf is the power supply/external speaker and Icom AT-150 automatic antenna tuner. Mounted below the shelf is an Icom IC-735 complete with internal keyer and all filters. External D.C. power connectors and RF connectors are on the right side.
Future plans are to add remote power control and a modification for QRP. Other than being a bit heavy the kit is quite transportable. Forced air cooling is handled by the internal fan for the IC-735 and the fan on the power supply. Not shown is the rear filtered opening for the fans, the a.c. power line filter (mil-spec), and the mounting of the power supply and ATU, both of which are mounted with plumber's pipe strap covered with heat shrink and formed to each of the enclosures.
The antenna can be any of my mast kits with a dipole or most often the 20 meter inverted-V. There is also an AB-1555/U outfitted with a top arm to deploy a G5RV as an inverted-V.
The HF kit idea came from the SATERN site and this article that also appeared in the May 2008 issue of QST magazine. I chose to make a VHF kit and HF kit rather than both together. This allows me to operate either one as a separate portable station or I can use both together. Weight becomes somewhat of an issue with the older gear and the size of the older gear also must be taken into consideration. Some fellows choose to use portable equipment racks and others make roller carts or dollies.
I will be adding some photos and more detail on the HF kit as well as alternate power sources. I have the normal gel batteries and some huge 12 volt gel cells that came from a commercial installation and a solar panel for QRP or charging the batteries used for the kits.
Please follow the link below for a good article on

ADDITIONAL ITEMS you may include in your or with kit:
Handy-Talkie with a tiger-tail. A tiger tail is a piece of wire about 19 to 22 inches long (length does not seem to be critical mine are about 19.250 inches long) with a method to fasten it to the base of the handy-talkie's antenna. See the photo above with one attached to my ยต2-AT
I use a ring tongue terminal with a half inch inside diameter ring. Even with many modern ones with crappy SMA connectors a tiger tail can be adapted to use with the HT. Just use a smaller ring tongue terminal or a suitable alligator clip. I use SMA-BNC adapters on my VX-6R and suggest doing so so the HT can be used with standard antennas.
Weather Alert Radio. I like the Midland WR100. It is a sensitive, functional very affordable all hazard alert radio with battery back-up (or operation) and an external jack to trigger an external alarm if there is an alert. I use mine with the Midland 18-STR. This is a red strobe pre-wired for use with Midland's weather radios. I like it because I can keep the radio on alert and not be blasted by an audible alert since I have the WX radio beside by rig.
Writing supplies like Write-in-the-rain pad and pen.
I also have a brief case kind of electronics tool set that I used when I was doing broadcast work that I take with me to Field Day, portable operation, and would take for emergency work.
The tool kit may be more than many operators want to carry, but it has saved our operation more than once on Field Day since if something can go wrong it probably will at the most inappropriate time and the tool required to make the repair will not be on hand. I hope to have the tool. I may not have my o'scope with me, but I'll have the most needed tools and a good DMM.
A.R.E.S. field manual and your local S.O.P. and any other references.
A.R.E.S. ID and any other needed form of ID.
A photocopy of your license. I have one that is laminated in the kit in addition to my wallet copy (also laminated).
More later...
26 May 11
Since the original post on my site we weathered Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.  During the 8th & 9th the hurricane knocked out power for my QTH. I operated with this handy-talkie kit on one single battery pack as shown for the duration of both days.  I had the Yaesu VX-6R with 2 fully charged batteries set to monitor UHF, but I did not use it.  I also had a Baofeng UV-5R on its original battery pack fully charged that I used to monitor a second repeater and UHF. I used the UV-5R because the battery seems to last forever on this one. It (the battery) will out perform the Yaesu (not hard to do) any day.

After the storm passed Friday afternoon I put the HF kit on a large battery and raised my G5RV N.V.I.S. so I could monitor the NFL ARES frequencies.  This rig was not needed since by Friday night/Saturday the storm was gone.  Electric was back on for us at 07:30 Saturday.

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