A couple weeks ago, the Lilburn Emergency Amateur Radio Net (LEARN) invited GARS members to one of their outings. We met at a nice pavilion and prepared to set up our radios as if we had been called up to deploy and communicate for a disaster.
We had a nice demonstration on the Chameleon Tactical Antenna. Others showed their go boxes, and some amateurs were able to get on the air. One ham brought her FT-897 and a small HF antenna. She was concerned that she had not been able to make a QSO (contact) yet with her setup. With some help from some more experienced hams, she was able to make a contact. She was excited.
One ham bought his go kit that was mounted inside a cooler. He had his radio, batteries, and rigs all neatly stashed. It was really “cool.” He took out his antenna and set it up.
Another couple hams had a go box consisting of a large box with wheels on it. Inside there was a Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO 4) battery, a voltage booster, and a cigarette lighter socket. They set their IC-7100 and computer on top of a board in the go box. They had a really nice Alpha Antenna that was the talk of the meeting.
One ham confided to the author that he had left some accessories at home that he didn’t think he would need. Let’s face it, those of us who set up portable operations almost always forget something. The author has been watching a ham’s YouTube channel. The channel has several videos of his camping trips and other excursions where he had set up for portable operations. “I forgot to bring something,” is a frequent comment in his videos.
It might be a good idea to make a list of what you need when operating portable and add to that list when you realize that you either left something home or you need to purchase an item.
The author recently went to the Florida Gulf Coast and was able to set up a portable station for a few hours while the XYL (wife) read a book. Fortunately, we had everything we needed. We do not have battery power yet, but a phone call to the park resulted with permission to set up on one of the pavilions where electricity was available. We had a variety of antennas to choose from. We had a 50-foot length of cable with us. The author wanted to try one of the antennas that mounts on top of the van but guess what! The closest we could park was 50 feet away. The cable would not stretch. The bad news is that we needed another cable to hook to the van; the good news was that we had a tactical antenna that went up well, instead.
Keeping a list of what you need for portable operation is a good idea. Bringing what you need and what you think you need is a good idea, but it is also not wise to go overboard, either. In the Georgia State ARES Meeting in January, there was a class on what to bring in an emergency situation. The instructor listed everything but the kitchen sink! Somewhere there has to be a balance; bring what you know you anticipate is needed and trust in your good judgement that you have brought enough.
Going portable is fun, whether you have a small VHF/UHF portable or a full power station. It is enjoyable and is great preparation for emergency conditions. So now that the weather is warm, have fun in your favorite portable location.