Ham Radio Backpack for CERT

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CapsLock
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Ham Radio Backpack for CERT

Post by CapsLock » Sun Mar 26, 2017 3:48 pm

I recently finished this project; a mobile ham radio in a school-type backpack for CERT communications.

Thanks to mattltm and his post about building a manpack radio which inspired me to make my own version.

http://www.zombiehunters.org/forum/view ... it=manpack

Oops....forgot to include the link. D'oh

http://certusa.freeforums.net/thread/10 ... kpack-cert
Last edited by CapsLock on Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:43 am, edited 2 times in total.
Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.

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SCBrian
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Re: Ham Radio Backpack for CERT

Post by SCBrian » Sun Mar 26, 2017 4:40 pm

Can you show us some photos of it?
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Re: Ham Radio Backpack for CERT

Post by CapsLock » Sun Mar 26, 2017 5:35 pm

Thanks, SCBrian, for catching my error.

Link added.
Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.

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Re: Ham Radio Backpack for CERT

Post by SCBrian » Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:11 pm

Looks great, let us know how it works on your first drill/ emergency!
I tilt at Windmills
BattleVersion wrote:For my Family?...Burn down the world, sure... But, I'm also willing to carry it on my shoulders.
raptor wrote:...I am allergic to bullets;I break out in blood.
jnathan wrote:... you can choke on my Hebrew National.
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CapsLock
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Re: Ham Radio Backpack for CERT

Post by CapsLock » Tue Mar 28, 2017 10:54 am

I've been using the setup indoors at home for a while as you see it, with a rigid copper J-pole and with a roll up J-pole hung in the attic. It's worked well so far and helped me to fine tune a few things.

But, I have yet to try everything in the field. We're doing our monthly simplex test this weekend and I'm hoping it's dry enough to try it outside at home. The next step will be to walk to the staging area with the pack and do one of the simplex test under more realistic field conditions.

The biggest problem I see for doing radio work, post-disaster, in the Pacific Northwest is the rain. We have short days in winter, often wet and cold. My radio station is not weatherproof, nor is the paperwork.

My CERT team, as far as I know, has no plan (or equipment) for weather shelter for the team lead and/or radio operator. I'm considering buying a game cart so I can move one of my tents and such to the staging area.

I'll report back with how things go.
Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.

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Re: Ham Radio Backpack for CERT

Post by SCBrian » Tue Mar 28, 2017 3:04 pm

CapsLock wrote:I've been using the setup indoors at home for a while as you see it, with a rigid copper J-pole and with a roll up J-pole hung in the attic. It's worked well so far and helped me to fine tune a few things.

But, I have yet to try everything in the field. We're doing our monthly simplex test this weekend and I'm hoping it's dry enough to try it outside at home. The next step will be to walk to the staging area with the pack and do one of the simplex test under more realistic field conditions.

The biggest problem I see for doing radio work, post-disaster, in the Pacific Northwest is the rain. We have short days in winter, often wet and cold. My radio station is not weatherproof, nor is the paperwork.

My CERT team, as far as I know, has no plan (or equipment) for weather shelter for the team lead and/or radio operator. I'm considering buying a game cart so I can move one of my tents and such to the staging area.

I'll report back with how things go.
Poncho or rain fly and a couple hiking sticks?
Something like this?
Image

Figure you'll have the sticks with you, and finding a lightweight tarp shouldnt be an issue. might be small enough to even keep in the bag...
I tilt at Windmills
BattleVersion wrote:For my Family?...Burn down the world, sure... But, I'm also willing to carry it on my shoulders.
raptor wrote:...I am allergic to bullets;I break out in blood.
jnathan wrote:... you can choke on my Hebrew National.
Image

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CapsLock
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Re: Ham Radio Backpack for CERT

Post by CapsLock » Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:55 pm

Well, I've had a number of opportunities to use both this radio setup as well as a (new) antenna mast system.

Link to mast system
http://certusa.freeforums.net/thread/11 ... ast-system

and to the game cart I added to haul all of this junk to the staging area (includes a small dome tent, etc.)
http://certusa.freeforums.net/thread/11 ... sportation

So far the setup works pretty well. I've added a gooseneck LED light to the frame for writing at night. I do get "low audio" reports with a strong signal strength and have found that, with the TYT TH 9800, I have to have the mic right next to my mouth and speak firmly. I've read a few comments about the electronics in the TH 9800's mic and some improvements that others have made to improve the audio. I'm too incompetent with a soldering iron to attempt such modifications but have a friend I'm going to try to bamboozle into helping with the mods.

I also have yet to try out the crossband repeat option, but plan to this summer. Other CERTS I know have or have added radios with this option specifically for disaster communications. I'm not sure if it will actually be of use in my area as I'll need to have two unused frequencies to use the feature and unassigned VHF or UHF frequencies are few and far between in this region. But at least it could be an option....

I am finding that the seal lead acid batteries aren't performing very well (likely no surprise there). I swap one out each week, putting it on a trickle charger, leaving (and using) the other one in the frame. Last night one of the batteries lost enough power after 35 min of use with about 5 min of transmitting at 5 watts that the display would go blank when I pressed the PTT.

I was able to quickly switch to the second battery, but it was disconcerting to get so little time on that battery. I'm looking at getting an AC power source for "everyday" use, but then I'm less likely to use the batteries and keep them in use and charged. I know a lithium-ion battery is likely a better choice, but my budget for this area of volunteering is pretty limited at present.

I still have to address a disaster re-charging method which will likely be solar, despite the potential drawbacks for such a technology (at least on my budget) above 45 deg N. Lat in the dead of winter.

The mast system works pretty well, although not as compact as I'd like. I find I prefer a rigid copper J-pole antenna to the roll up J-pole as the former is less affected by wind and therefore puts less stress on the mast, tripod, or guy ropes/stakes. I've been practicing put it up in the yard once a week and, when the days are shorter, will have more chances to do so in the dark. I need to make a transportation case for the copper antenna to safeguard the SO-239 connector.

With the game cart I can (and have) hauled all of my CERT gear to and from the staging area with ease. I added a 3/8" plywood deck to it, a couple of 15" x 15" bungee / cargo nets, replaced a couple of bolts for hitch pins, and added yellow flagging tape (so I can more easily find the pins when I inevitably drop them in the wet grass some dark and stormy night) to all pins.

The cart handles easily and pulls easily, just need to wear gloves to prevent blisters. :-) It folds up/packs up pretty compact (need a bag for it.....won't quite fit in the original shipping box with the plywood deck) and goes together quickly. The mfgr says it'll hold 500 lbs, but there's no certification on that. However, I probably had about 200 lbs on it when I pulled it to the staging area recently and I made a point of taking it over every bump, rut, pothole, tree branch, and soft, cuddly puppy I could find. It worked like a charm. I suspect, with a heavier deck, such carts could be used to move some patients with only one or two CERT volunteers instead of 6 to 8 on a SKED or backboard.
Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.

Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Horace)

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