VHF UHF Radio Go Box Part IIBy Jose B Rivera - N2LRB
VHF/UHF Go Box May 5, 2013. The weather was brisk and cold and I was the radio communicator for the 5 Boro Bike Tour. It was time to officially field test my VHF/UHF Radio Go Box. I prepared the night before by gathering all the equipment needed for the event. Mentally checking off the equipment as I assessed its being needed for communications for the Bike Tour. I also tried to eliminated items that would have been nice to have, but which would have added weight to the Go Box.
The items I gathered were:
- Pelican 1440 Case-
- VHF/UHF Wooden Platform
- Yaesu FTM-350/AR Mobile Bracket
- Yaesu FTM-350 Dual Band Radio with Microphone and DC Cable
- Yaesu FTM-350/AR Control Head and cable
- Two12volt 12amp Hour Battery with Anderson Power Poles
- Diamond SX-400 SWR/Power Meter
- Auvio Speaker
- MFJ- Mag Mount Antenna for 2m/70cm
- Sandwich, Snacks and Orange Juice
- Folding Chair (last year I was not provided with a place to sit, so I sat on the sidewalk, not this year, I purchased my own chair).
The morning of the event I connected the radio to the mobile bracket; the DC cable to the radio and then to only one of the batteries and the Diamond SWR/Power Meter to the radio. I tested the power connection by turning on the radio and it worked fine. These connections were done while the equipment was inside the Pelican case on its wooden platform. I also connected the speaker to the radio and closed the lid. I carried the 50lbs Pelican Case down three flights of stairs and to the outside world. I took my snack in a separate Husky Tool Bag which doubles as my “small VHF/UHF Go Bag”.
In my first trail run with this particular VHF/UHF setup, the equipment connections came loose, both the DC wire and the screws holding my control head in place on the wooden platform. I tightened things up the best I could and set off the 8 city blocks to my destination at East 116th Street and Pleasant Avenue. As I walked the Pelican case over, I grew concerned as the cracks between sidewalk segments continue to jostle the Go Box. My imagine ran wild worrying about the radio equipment as I hit each intersection between sidewalk segments.
When I got to my destination, I sat down and tried to put the radio on. Nothing happened. Now usually this is just a matter of checking on the two DC wire segments that lead to the battery. But in order to do so, I had to take out the batteries to move the wooden platform to then have access to the DC wire. This was upsetting. So much for the ready to go concept using this Pelican Case on the cracky streets of East Harlem, New York. I troubleshooted the problem to a loose power pole connector (rare). After fixing the problem the radio turned on. I then noticed that although the radio head did not come loose this time, the radio body lost three of the four bolts holding it in place on the mobile bracket. My radio was being held in place by just one bolt! With much effort I fished out the three bolts from the back bottom of the case and attached just one on the opposite side of the remaining bolt. That was enough to keep the body in place for the duration of the event.
I then connect the antenna and was operational. The rest of the event went smoothly. I was able to communicate with Net Control. I was also able to use the Go Box in a vertical position since I hovered over it when sitting on my folding chair. Using the Go Box vertically worked great!
The Go Box worked great vertically. The Go Box setup is a great idea and time saver, but only if it did not have to be walked across even one city block. I was correct in my previous assessment that most people who use Go Boxes/Bags transport them in automobiles. They do not walk them across their city streets. Else the internet would have been filled with such accounts and either fixes for the jostling problem or negative view of Go Boxes. Padding might help if done the right way. Better yet, I wonder if Pelican would consider shock absorbers of some kind for their case? I wonder how musicians use these Pelican Cases with their expensive electronic gear? They must also use cars to transport their cases.
I also thought about the possibility of somehow ensuring that the bolts/equipment do not come loose during transport. But unless some padding/shock absorption is in place, all I would be doing is creating a tighter connection from which to shack the equipment even more.
The Pelican Case Radio Go Box is a great concept. One where you set up a ready to go radio station (vice antenna connection during transport). But it will not take the rigors of shacking from New York City Streets. As most hams own a car, this is not a problem. But those of us who do not will have to look for a less rattling way to move our radio equipment. I can still use the Pelican Case to move radio equipment, but only if the equipment is encases in some sort of foam and not in a ready to go configuration. This means I will probably not be using the Pelican Case to do HF work in a Go Box configuration either. The problems will be the same. But I can use it to move equipment in a non-ready, packing configuration.