Tuesday, November 4, 2008

HAMing it up again.

Over the last several weeks I've been putting together my "Go-Kit" for call-outs in times of distress and disaster. It involves having a couple of radios that can operate on battery power when necessary, extra radio goodies like connections, wire, tools, and antennas. One of the problems for going mobile or at a temporary site is having an antenna to hook to the radio. Most use some variety of magnetic mount antenna. That just applies to the roof, or trunk, or hood of a car or truck. It also can be taken indoors and put on the top of a metal file cabinet, or other metal box like an refrigerator.

It's also good to have an antenna mounted to the vehicle for both moving and stationary use. This can be the mag mount or one attached to the vehicle in an alternative way. I have both. The mag mount will be available for some inside work and while in motion. The other antenna is for stationary use on the vehicle. I've rigged an plastic tube on the tire rack of my Jeep. I can stick a "push-up" painter's pole into the tube to hold it upright. The push-up pole will extend to 12 feet. In the tube the pole tops about 16-17 feet. This will sometimes be necessary if I get in a low lying area. It helps to get the signal on a more "line-of-sight" to the other antenna/radio, where ever it may be.

I've put this together from a mobile antenna that I already had, bought an adapter to attach it to the pole, and of course I had to buy the pole and plastic tube, so I've got minimum dollars spent to get it ready. On 11-16, I'll be working a marathon at a check point. It will be a chance to see how well both antennas work.

As part of getting the go-kit ready, I had to program several frequencies into the radio. Now, I have a book describing the process and it is involved. The easier way is to get a computer program and adapter cable and put all the necessary frequencies into the program and then load it into the radio. This is what I've done. However, if I go out of my local area I'll have to put in other frequencies. For that I 'll take the book of instructions and do it manually.

Next comes next comes a personal go-kit. Clothes will be loaded at the time of need. Some items can be set up before hand. Rain gear, bug repellent, flashlights, food, water, sleeping equipment, all can be put together over a period of time. Most of this stuff is non-perishable, but the food will take some thought. MREs are available, as is sportsman's freeze dried food packets. Caned food is OK, and other stuff will be chosen for long shelf life and compactness. I'm not worried about hot food, I eat out of cans at home without benefit of heat anyway. I do have a single burner propane stove for heating water for instant coffee.

So, I've still got things to put together, but I got a little time. Baring some emergency out of the blue, it will be next spring before hurricane season when the need for go-kit becomes critical.

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