Getting Ready for Next Spring

By Jose B Rivera - N2LRB

December 27, 2015 - The weather is about to get pretty cold which makes using my radio(s) out of door a bad proposition. Though I might try going to Central Park one of these cold winter’s days. Meanwhile this is a great time to plan for next year’s out of door outings.  To build go boxes so that all I have to do is add equipment to the go box, put it on a wagon and wheel it to my locations.

“GO” Stuff
This past year’s portable sets up have taught me a few things. There are things I wish to change. For instance, I’d like to travel lighter and if that is not possible I will use the wagon my daughter gave me for Father’s Day.This is the time of year to think, brainstorm, try new setups. But first I have to get my goals for next year down on paper.

Traveling Light
As I said, traveling with less weight would be nice. In that regard I have two new speakers which I’d like to try. And believe it or not I got both of them for free. One was a work Kris Kringle gift, an iHome small speaker, and the other came free with my son’s new iPhone 6 upgrade, a UE Black round speaker. Both are blu-tooth, but I will be using a double male plug to connect them to the radio. I also have my previous two speakers which are not blu-tooth. They are my Auvio and Neeox speakers. Regardless, I plan on putting one of the speakers on the wood frame which I purchased at Target (see photo at left). The wood frame is the other thing which I will try out next year. It is roomy enough for my Elecraft KX3, a battery, voltage regulator and speaker. I hope to add a wooden top cover to keep all the equipment in place. And I will see if any of my black shoulder bags can be use to put the wooden crate inside of so as to make it easier to carry.

Traveling Heavy
For those times when I wish to take my Yaesu FT-897D or FT-857D out I will use one of my plastic boxes. The plastic box will fit inside my wagon along with 12ah batteries, antenna tuner and antenna. So going heavy will not be a problem. I will just need to add some cushioning to absorb all the street pebbles, cracks and lines.  The street’s nooks and crannies create a lot of vibration which I do not want transferred to my radio. I am trying to prevent circuit boards inside the radio from cracking. Hence the need for some form of shock absorber.

I have a few antennas I can use out of doors. These include my MFJ-1976 17 foot Telescoping Whip, an End Fed, a Mil-Spec Shock Cord Vertical Whip and Buddistick (16.5 foot long). I hope to add a home made Magnetic Loop to my out door antenna collection. It will present a smaller looking antenna to city police and park personnel. And I will not tip over!

I do not for see obtaining any new battery packs. Unless I come across something too good to resist. I am researching LIPO batteries which are light in weight but can power my radio’s. For now I will use my 2ah slim gel cell. It does not weigh much and it fits inside my wooden crate and other enclosures.

Place To Operate
By far the most frustrating part of operating portable in New York City is that of finding a suitable location. Central Park is a great place to operate but I usually have to operate while sitting on a bench looking down to my left or right at my radio which are at seat of the pants level.  This is not the same as operating with a table top. There are concrete checkers tables, but they are located where lots of youth are around. And you never know which one will become a troublesome person or try to rob you as you leave the area. So I avoid places like that.

Randall’s Island is good because one can usually find an isolated spot from which to operate. Mind you I have only been there once (earlier this year) to operate portable. It is quite a trek to get there. I must cross the FDR, walk along the Esplanade from East 111th to East 103rd Street, and then walk the Ward’s Island foot brings (which spans the East River), then walk from there at least half a mile to a good location. One where there are less people, but where I am not totally isolated in case I need to cry for help. Again there are no tables from which to operate. Last time I sat on the grass and work my radio but my back started to hurt within minutes and I knew I could not sustain such a cross legged sitting position for long. My legs were also falling asleep.

I can buy and set up a portable table, but then I’d have to also get a portable chair. All of which may or may not fit inside my carry wagon. Remember I do not have a car. We really don’t need one for 99.999% of the things we do here in the city. I mostly walk if my destination is within 2 miles. I envy my fellow hams who can drive to a remote location where picnic tables are plentiful and where they can operate without people watching them. I especially envy those ham who have open or concealed carry (hey, any carry!).  I will have to think up some alternative to a table and chair, but it needs to do what a table and chair do.

This is the time to think, research and purchase that which will make working portable and working qrp a nicer experience than this past summers’.

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