A Shameless Plug for my new go-kit

We all say we are prepared for when disaster strikes.  Are we ready?  Get out there and test your gear!

Edgewater Park - Cleveland

Edgewater Park – Cleveland – Lake Erie

During the off-season, I built myself a bit of a VHF/UHF  Go-Kit.  I can quickly and safely transport my gear to the outdoors.  I haven’t yet used this kit much for public service.  At today’s event, it was way overkill; we could have used bullhorns and yelled at each other from across the way.  I wanted to test my new setup.  It worked splendidly and now I have a better idea of what I am still missing.  Unfortunately, I had to call for a First Aid kit, this is something I should be ready for.

My Kit:

  • ICOM ID-5100a (2M/440Mhz)
  • Super Antennas MP-1 (80M-70CM with loading coils)
  • Room for one of my HTs (Currently a VX-8DR)
  • Battery (with powerpoles!)

Things I learned I’m missing:

  • First Aid kit
  • Cutout for a 2nd HT
  • A Vest letting people know I’m with the Amateur service.

D-Star + DVMEGA = DV Hotspot

Ever since Hamvention I have been intrigued by digital voice and the ability to set up a Hotspot.  Like a WiFi hotspot, one could connect to the DStar network and connect with reflectors from something resembling a wireless AP.  Rather then transmit and receive the 802.11 standard maybe it could perform GMSK modulation on the 440Mhz, 70CM band.  This is very possible and luckily for us people have built Raspberry Pi images supporting this functionality.  The fine folks at dvmega.co.uk make a great kit for this.  Karl will even send one pre-programmed for those who aren’t comfortable using Linux or Raspberry Pis.

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The ID-5100a is in place, a tour of the shack

I considered “christening of the Hamshack” for a title but didn’t feel this truly was the beginning.  For over two years my Hamshack has been wherever I am using handheld radios.  For the first time since growing up I am establishing a radio home for myself.  Since I live in an apartment what better place for a Hamshack then my living room?


My Control head and side table

The head unit for my ID-5100a will live on a corner table.  From here i can tilt it towards me for a comfortable operating position with me comfortably sitting in the couch.  This corner table has a lamp for light as well as a wicker enclosure to hide headphones.  In beginning to build this shack I wanted to hide as much as possible.  I made sure to put the gear somewhere accessible, yet somewhere out of the way.  When I’m not using the radio I place the control head farther back on the table out of my way.


Under my couch where my gear is stowed

The couch in the picture also hides my power supply and actual base of the radio.  The handmic lies on the floor allowing me to reach for it when it is needed.  The power supply and radio are connected using powerpoles for easy set-up and eventually portability.  When I get a battery someday it will most likely run on powerpoles.  This will make setup and tear-down easy.



Antenna hidden behind the couch

Behind my couch is my vertical radiator or simply antenna.  For an antenna, I am using a SuperAntenna’s MP1.  Rather than load it for HF, i have left the loading coil in my go-box.  I have made sure to use properly tuned radial wires with the antenna.  The top of the antenna is about  six inches above where my window begins allowing signal to pass.  The coax and radials are neatly hidden behind the couch and behind a fake tree hiding the antenna.  Again, this antenna is very portable.  Once I get a portable battery I will be able to tear-down this antenna and toss it in the go-kit.


So far this setup has worked well.  I have been able to make good 2M and 440Mhz contacts using it.  My noise level is a bit high but that is a product of being indoors and having a 5th floor apartment.  All in all I was able to check into my first net hitting the local repeater with a 5×9 signal report.


Other thoughts:

I also wanted to try and push more pictures, 3 in one blog post will test the Raspberry Pi.  Load times will most likely be slow but on 1Mbps upload that is expected (please dont DDoS me).  PHP caching will ease this a bit as the project moves forward.