K0GKJ – Just Another Ham
The New QTH – A Floating Shack

Portable Ops

This was my first deployment of the completely portable and self-contained antenna system & station – great receiving, no contacts, however (didn’t try too hard) – mostly testing setup time, operational deficiencies, etc)… I only deployed four tuned elevated radials for twenty meters, but was able to load the antenna up nicely on forty as well, but the noise difference was noticeable. 

View Antenna Set Up in 20 Minutes

 So it turns out this (portable, i.e., easily raised and lowered) antenna is also a lot less conspicuous than my (now uninstalled and sold) big ‘n bold hex beam. Not invisible, but nearly so. Can you spot this 33 foot vertical just to the right of the largest palm trunk below? 

antenna setup 044

antenna setup 043 

 It’s all about stealth, and having an antenna that can move around with literally less than 20 minutes’ notice is pretty stealthy! 

 Loaded the kit for both voice and CW: 

 antenna setup 026 

 40M was noisy but tuned up. Didn’t expect much with only the twenty meter radials deployed: 


But twenty meters, with radials deployed, sounded very strong and relatively noise-free: 


An attempted CW contact – no joy – but I am a patient man. I was pleased that my little station seemed to be working, and more to come! 


So after a gentle rain last night, I’ll see how the antenna faired (my new balun is only water-resistant – gotta goop it up with silicone, etc. It’s on the list!). N

ext on the hit list for the SS (suitcase station): 

  •  manufacture various spare jumpers (to alligator clips for attachment to car or golf cart battery, to bare wires for that surprise connection that will always be necessary, etc.) all terminating in the ubiquitous standard APP30s (Anderson Power Pole 30 amp) for connection to the SS’s 12VDC distribution panel
  • lay in a compliment of spare automotive style blade fuses (blew a 7.5A tuning up 40M when powered by the radio through that single fuse – now I know to use a 10A or possibly greater in that slot on the panel),
  • incorporate two little stick-on 6-LED lights (only a 50 ma draw) for op lighting (power cord will be speaker wire, switched, and terminated in APPs,
  • wire in the tiny RigBlaster Nomic for digital ops with the laptop (HOO-yah!),
  • external power connector (110VAC) for internal battery charger, and tee off the alligator clips (which I’ll retain) with APPs so I can be charging the internal battery whenever 110 is available, even while operating. Retain the alligators in case I need to ‘jump’ to another battery (bank),
  • external SO-239s for HF and VHF antenna feedlines,
  • possibly external jacks (mounted in the case wall) for headphones and (waterproof) key so I could operate with the lid closed in particularly hostile conditions. Gotta think about cooling a hot rig, though. And I’m not anxious about drilling holes in that beautiful (airtight) case. Maybe…
  • experiment with a RED (rapid emergency deployment) high gain VHF antenna (maybe ‘harden’ my experimental copper tube slim jim & mount on the five foot tripod – maybe add a rollup two-wave twin lead for 2M and 70CM bands for the go bag)
  • add elastic straps in the SS’s lid to retain the HT, or maybe more practical, a second (soft) bag for the HT/accessories, antenna analyzer, tool kit, first-aid kit, etc.)
  • create a car trunk kit, including 100’ extension cord and other items useful when deploying by car for extended deployment prep.,
  • Perfect the personal, car and remote deployment go bags (see resources below) adapted to my own style.

What else? who knows? create, use, refine, use, refine, etc. Repeater directory, band plan with key (calling, emergency) freqs, FCC license, ARES ID card, maybe lug the laptop along on a deployment with a copy of a Ham Call CD in lieu of QRZ.com…)

Net: this is a lot of fun setting up, getting a little (my first) experience with a vertical antenna and elevated HF radials on one band (walking before running), with a more complete (multi-band) set ready to roll. All of this got me thinking seriously about my personal jump kit (also referred to as a ‘go bag’), not only for portable radio ops, but also disaster preparedness in general. 

 The concept: be ready to go at a moment’s notice, prepared for one or more of the following: 

  • Survive, preferably comfortably, for some period of time without external assistance (food, drink, warmth, light, power, shelter, communicate…),
  • Be able to provide assistance to others in an emergency (first aid, emergency communications…)
  • Be prepared with training and credentials (CPR/AED training, CW when voice not possible, ARRL, ARES & RACES emergency training…)

Some interesting & informative resources at:

When you live in the heart of hurricane country, and wish to serve your community, PREparedness is a watchword. So now I’m trying to strike a balance between being well prepared and having fun doing it! In my mind, I’m choosing between possibly becoming a victim, OR being part of a team who takes care of others who have become victims. I choose the latter. Now it’s a matter of walking the talk while enjoying all the other cool things retirement has to offer…. balance!

73 dit dit


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