Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A simple "Go Kit" for emergencies. Post #241

In light of the recent natural disaster in the Philippines (super Typhoon Haiyan), it might be useful to review just how prepared we amateur radio operators are for natural and man-made disasters.  Many of the hams running emergency traffic in the Philippines are using low powered rigs and simple antennas to maintain a communications lifeline in devastated areas of the Central Philippines.  Perhaps, we should do the same.

In my 36 years as an amateur radio operator, I've always followed the policy of having spare equipment, antennas, parts, tools, and standby power should an emergency arise.  While those of us living in Hawaii aren't prone to the series of disasters befalling southeast Asia, we do get our share of hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, earthquakes, and, occasionally, tsunamis.  Most hams living in the 50th state are prepared to provide emergency communications should the need arise.

It's prudent to have an emergency radio system installed in your home as well as in your vehicle if you are cut off from your family and job.

With the story of Typhoon Haiyan still etched in my mind, I began an inventory of my station to determine what was available for emergency use.  In other words, I wanted to make sure I had a "go kit".  A "go kit" is a portable amateur radio station which the amateur can use when he/she is asked to lend support for an event or emergency.

I first concentrated on a "go kit" for my personal vehicle--a 2010 Honda Odyssey Van.  My home "kit" would be assembled later.

A quick check of the van showed I had already assembled a basic portable station which could be used in an emergency.  I often travel to a state or county park near my Laupahoehoe home and operate portable for a few hours with some simple equipment and basic antennas.

Here's what I found:

One MFJ telescoping fiberglass mast that could be extended to 33 feet/10.06 meters.  I've used this inexpensive mast to support sloping dipoles and inverted vee antennas.

Pre-made dipole antennas for 40, 20, 15, and 10 meters.  I used the general formula 468/f (MHz)=L (ft) for each antenna.  In my situation, my 40 meter dipole was cut for a resonant frequency of 7.088 MHz (the frequency of the Hawaii Afternoon Net).  The length of this dipole was 33.1 feet/10.06 meters for each dipole element.  The 20 meter dipole was cut for a resonant frequency of 14.200 MHz.  The length of this dipole was 16.475 feet/5.022 meters for each dipole element.  The 15 meter dipole was cut for a resonant frequency of 21.250 MHz.  The length of each dipole element was 11.01 feet/3.35 meters.  The 10 meter dipole was cut to a resonant frequency of 28.400 MHz.  The length of each dipole element was 8.23 feet/2.51 meters.  Each dipole antenna was attached to a Budwig Hi-Que coaxial center connector (available through Fair Radio Sales, Lima, Ohio).  The end of each antenna was attached to a ceramic insulator which could be tied off at a wooden stake.

Two 50-foot/15.24 meters lengths of RG-8X coaxial cable with UHF connectors.  These cables would be my feed line.

Three 5-foot/1.52 meters wooden stakes.  One stake would support the fiberglass mast.  The other two stakes would be tie off points for the inverted vee antenna.

One solar charged (pv panels) deep cycle marine battery.

A Yaesu FT-7 QRP transceiver with microphone and cw key (J-38).  This old, low powered rig has served me well for many years.

A Kenwood 2500 series 2 meter HT with extra battery.  This is an old HT, but it works very well on the local repeater system.  I'm in the process of buying a more modern HT with better capabilities.

An old 4-channel Bearcat public service scanner with extra AAA batteries.  This handheld relic from the 1980s still works.  I have crystals installed for police and fire dispatch, as well as Medivac, and NOAA weather.

An old Radio Shack TRC 23 channel CB transceiver with magnetic mount roof antenna.  CB is still used on Hawaii Island.  Many community centers, which serve as Red Cross Shelters, have CB installations.  CB still serves a useful purpose on this largely rural island.

A three-day supply of dried food, water, clothing, and toiletries.

All of this equipment is contained in three large plastic storage bins and placed in the cargo area of the van.

For all practical purposes, my "go kit" is already made.  All I will add are some more batteries for the HT and scanner, a small table, a collapsible chair, and a small antenna transmatch.  The system has been tested and it works.

Next, I'll start on a backup system for my home station.






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Aloha es 73 de Russ (KH6JRM).

BK29jx15--along the beautiful Hamakua Coast of Hawaii Island.