That's right Guys and Gals, it seems the Harbor Freight, the ridiculously low price tool store, wants to outfit my go-kit toolbox.
Afternoon like many I received in the mail my copy of the "Tool Disposal Notice" aka the Harbor freight sales catalog. I have on the advice of Jerry Wellman taken hereafter know as "HFT" up on their free tool offer. I have a couple of flashlights, two digital meters, now I will have a set of screw drivers to go in the kit.
Well I will be adding this to my kit plus a couple of other goodies I saw in the Notice, to my go-kit.
I was surfing Youtube.com this evening and came across a N3LUD's YouTube video, where he was making a box out of plywood like I did for my ham-shack in a box.
He used some pretty pro parts like corner protectors and recessed handles. That got me thinking what if it was just a road case. Pros have been using them for years, and they protect expensive stuff, like guitars and drums and the like. Why not? Hmmm.
I will tell you that purchasing a basic case will cost about the same as a pelican case, and without any customization.
Well that was fun.........wait. N3LUD made one out of plywood. I like wood working and I made the first one out of wood. Maybe I can make one. Back to Youtube.com.
Ok, I found a channel of a company named Reliable hardware.com they have a series of videos that shows how to make pro boxes. I think that after watching the video below that I could make a road style box that would meet my needs.
Now I haven't priced everything, but I cannot imagine it being super crazy.
If I make it myself I can customize it to my specs. This bears some more research, but I think I like the idea.
I have seen some other custom stuff and It looks like you can do a lot of stuff with it. Including tables, boxes that lock together, etc. I even saw one that had rack rails....
Even more modularity. Radios mounted to shelves and the such. It has a lot of possibilities.
I am sure there will be those that say "well it is not water / weather proof", and my answer will be yea, your right, but neither is your pelican while you are operating your rig. My son (unlicensed) says it looks heavy. I cannot dispute this because it might be, but the lovely thing is that you can put casters on the bottom or you can make the cases small enough to hand carry. You can also lock the cases together when you stack them.
So, there you go, an idea for a more custom Go-Box or Hamshack in abox. I look forward to building several to enclose my modular deployment kit.
Ok, so I had a qso with Dave Owen (K7VNH) and we were talking about windom style antennas.
We have this style at out club station K2LDS, and we are able to tune this for most of the bands with 1:1 SWR
During our Qso, I was having a difficult time explaining the tuning mechanism, so I decided to make a drawing. the picture below is a representaion of how our antenna works. We do not use an auto tuner with our radio rather we tune the antenna to the band we are working.
This drawing show one leg of a window dipole antenna and how it adjusted. we set a carrier on the antenna and then move the wench watching the SWR meter until there is a 1:1 ratio. Once we are set then we start working stations. Usually we only need about 10 watts.
Note: the balm is a 4:1 and the wire and rope are connected with an insulator. The max sheave size is about 2" on the pulleys.
This design is not mine, but is the brain child of Joe Maughan (AA7J). We tried it with old battery powered drills to work as the wenches and change the lengths from the shack. However they are not very weather proof. So in the end we went back to the hand wenches.
I have been making my list of items that need to go in my go-kit. On that list I have the standard radio, ear phones, speaker mic, alkaline battery pack, and alkaline batteries. But you know the box that you purchase the batteries in does not last. Sooner then later the box gets crushed and the batteries spill out into the nether regions of my back pack. Then I'm digging for a battery......or worse two. no this just not efficient.
Enter in the powerpax storeacell device.
This device helps store your AA (or other) batteries for use with your HT.
Not only that, they make it easy to test your batteries quickly with the positive and negative ends exposed enough to place test probes on each battery testing.
You can purchase several models from 4 to 12 packs and in several colors. Including one that glows green in the dark.
An all around wonderful product. That is until you want to purchase one to try out. A 12 AA block like the one pictured above will set you back around $7.00.... not too bad, Then comes shipping via USPS FIRST CLASS which takes 10 days. That will set you back an additional $8.00ish. Ouch!
Well kids, I found a work around, a social hack if you will. Home Depot, the big box home improvement store, will sell you a powerpax storeacell...as long as it is orange. Which really isn't a bad deal. Home Depot will ship to store for free in about the same amount of time.
So if you want to try one out and don't want to spend a fortune this is a pretty good route.
I have to say as I have been using it with my batteries in my back pack. I have already found the value of not having to dig around for a loose battery as I can just pull one from the block with ease.
I have inserted both alkaline and Ni-MH batteries, they all fit fine in the slots and are easy to place and remove from the holder. I like the Eneloop rechargeable AA (HR6) from Costco.
To sum up, I would purchase more of these to put in several different place of my go-kit. It is a #1 pick for this operator.
Thought I would elaborate on the Charging system that was recommended by Larry Jacobs WA7ZBO.
We all use batteries of some type in our radio go-kits, I personally use a smattering of different AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) Batteries. Mine come from old security, fire systems, and UPS systems that were changed out as regular maintenance. Now while used, they still have a lot of life in them if properly maintained. Here in lies my trouble, how do I charge these batteries so that I can squeeze the maximum amount of life from them. Larry gave me the answer and it is Genius.
So here it is:
You can use a Solar Charge Controller to charge your batteries. A Charge Controller does not care where it is getting current from as long as it falls within the window of voltage and current ( mine being 0-100VDC at 20A) you can use PV Panels, A power supply (Larry suggested a laptop power supply), Car power (usually around 14.2V), or even a hand crank or foot crank Generator.
Here is my Charge Controller. It handles the proper care and feeding of my AGM batteries.
This is one of the batteries that I have in the parallel array. Thanks to Roy W7ROY for the batteries.
This is the label on the power supply that I use to charge the array. I think I need a bigger one as this one gets really hot during a charge cycle. I think I need to upgrade to 90 Watt supply. I will have to watch the local salvage places. Note the voltage it 19V @ 3.42A, Still a little small for my system.
The charger works like this, it first bulk charges the battery, then a phase that is called Boost, but is better explained as equalize, as it equalizes the different batteries in the array. Then it float charges the battery, also known as absorption. Finally the controller trickle charges the battery as needed.
One of the features of this system is also that it will disconnect the batteries from the load if the battery voltage drops below 11.1V. This will prevent me from damaging the batteries from over-discharge.
I have tested this system on a small scale in my hamshack and have found that the system works well.
I am excited to add this to my go-kit power module as now I don't have to worry if the batteries will be charged correctly. I can charge my battery module on the way to the deployment from the car voltage so it is topped off when I get there and I don't have to worry, I don't have to worry, I don't have to worry, I don't have to worry. Do you sense a reoccurring theme?