New guy on the block

Started by PuJo, December 30, 2014, 11:43:03 AM

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Morning Gents.

I just ran across this site in my search for designing my CommGo Box. (Great Site)

I have been a ham since 2002. About 5 years ago, my station took a lightning hit, and I have been silent since I discovered the Baofeng, about a year ago. I figured $30 on amazon, and a dual band HT, can't go wrong. Well, this has rekindled the ham flame I once had. I started using the Baofeng with my Arrow antenna, and have been making great contacts on SO-50. I work in the Gulf of Mexico, (oil Rig) making contacts from EL48 has been an adventure. It seems everyone wants this water grid!

Meanwhile, back on the ranch..........

So the ham bug bit me again, not wanting to go all out like I had done years ago. I decided to go 100% QRP/P.
I purchased the KX3/PX3, and have in my arsenal of ham gear, a FT-1500 2m rig.

I really have my eyes on building a CommGo Box. (as stated in my first sentence, but started chasing the rabbit)
I have looked all over the net, and have found many great boxes, however.....I wanna do something a little different.

I fly a lot, and plan to take this along with me wherever I go. The box would need to carry everything. Radio(s), Laptop, Batteries, Solar charger, and what ever else is needed in a go box.

I am asking you guys to assist me in the design of this box.

I don't need fancy power hungry dancing lights. I need something practical, but nice looking.
When I operate from the gulf, all I want to do is carry the box up to the flight deck, hang an endfed dipole off the side and away I go.
It needs to be simple, at the same time elegant. I have 2m & HF to go in the box, antennas and laptop for digital modes. CW with the build in keyer from the KX3.

I started putting it on paper, and this is what I came up with so for.
Pelican 1560 case:

Volt Amp Meter:


But still need these itmes:
Battery Pack
Charging system
Antenna System 2m / HF

So are you guys up to the challenge?

Let get Louisiana Preppers on the map!



PuJo, welcome to the board!  It's not a flurry of activity, but that's because it has a low quantity of very high quality members 8) .
It's surprising how many of us hold a pilot's license (I'm inactive due to raising 2 boys and saving for college).

For the go-box, consider a netbook or other small, not power hungry computer instead of a laptop.  Somewhere there's a thread on low power computers.

For HF antennas many of us are fans of end fed half wave antennas.  You only need to get one end of the wire up in the air and you feed it at the other end so your feed line can be really short.  You can't go wrong with the LNR Precision antennas.  Either their End Fed Quad (40/20/15/10) which will handle 200W, or the tiny 3 band, QRP, Trail Friendly (40/20/10).  If you really need all the bands, then a tuner driving a dipole fed by balanced feedline, but now you are talking a lot of size, weight, long feedline to carry and lots of time rigging it in the trees.

For VHF/UHF, I really like Ed Fong's roll-up 2M/70cm roll-up J-pole

I think a big decision, because of the size, is if you are going to include a tuner.  Though I'm a purest and mostly like resonant wire antennas (dipoles and end fed half waves), it's really nice to have a tuner to force a tune on whatever you have available.  Heck, parked at a ramp with long cables in the pavement for the tiedowns, you could clip the tuner to the airframe and ground to the long tiedown cable and force a tune. ::)


Thanks for the reply.
The radio has a built in tuner, so that is not an issue.
I have a MacBook Air, that can survive for approx 8 to 12 hours on a full charge, with some eye candy turned off.

I like the end fed 6-40 wire antenna. My only issue is that when I am on the flight deck, it a 40'x40' iron plate!
Along with the platform being all metal, its hard to keep the wire tuned. When the wind blows, and it always does. The antenna will detune due to the iron structure. Otherwise, it works great..

On the 2 meter side of things, I will just stick to the arrow antenna. While i use it in hand for satellite work, it is easily connected to a tripod for getting into the repeaters, or simplex. Not to mention, you can change the polarization easy with the tripod, and your on 2m SSB. The antenna is compact, easy to assemble and packs away nicely.

So getting back to the box. 

Any ideas on layout, or general design of the go box?



Welcome to the forum!

What are you thinking about in terms of battery, gel cell? Assuming you have access to 120v current, a deep cycle 12v and standard 12v charger should be sufficient.

I haven't built my box out with connections yet, but I've been looking at power poles.

In terms of your box, and assuming you'll want to mount your equipment, you might consider a simple 4 sided wood frame for mounting equipment that slides out easily for access. I like corner braces for putting wood boards together at right angles. I find myself wanting to get to my equipment on a regular enough basis to make ease of access a consideration.

My portable setup an HT with a battery eliminator and a dual band amplifier from MFJ both wired using 14 ga wire to a copper terminal, and a DC accessory adapter plug also terminated on the copper terminal. I run it from either a power supply with a DC accessory female plug from power werx, a vehicle DC outlet, or the DC outlet for the emergency battery backup I have for each vehicle from Clore. I plan to convert to power poles once I have a power line run in my vehicles, but the DC adapter works for the 8 amps the HT and amplifier pull.

Have fun with your build.


PuJo, you don't live down south do you? I sold an Arrow antenna to a guy who worked on an oil rig, but he disappeared from Facebook.
So long, and thanks for all the fish


If you are the Deer-Whisperer from AR then yes! (I remember the pic)
If not, sorry wrong number....

EDIT: Just looked at your profile, you are from AR, yea, its me. I totally deleted my FB. Too much drama for me.


Deer They're bedding down outside our cabin door. I need to get my cameras moved. Glad to see you found the site! I wonder what happened to you every time I eat some crawfish at the Chinese buffet. Once my 897D comes in, I'll have to find time to hook up with you on HF. I upgraded from the Icom 817 to an 897D, then sold it to fund a wood splitter, then decided to use dad's wood splitter so I bought another one. Sheesh. I haven't been on here in quite a while since I don't have a radio.
So long, and thanks for all the fish


Welcome to the forum PuJo, glad to have you aboard. As Bob pointed out, we don't have a high volume of members and posts but I think the few we do have are top notch and it makes for an excellent forum without a lot of BS (well OK, maybe just a little BS to spice it up 8) ).

If you're flight deck is 40' x 40' then I have to assume you're a chopper pilot, either that or you are one hell of a fixed wing pilot! Myself, I'm a private pilot ASEL. Good to have yet another ham/pilot here.

I'll go out on a limb here and take a guess about you; you also like guns and shooting also? I guess we can still be friends if you don't ;D , but if so then you just hit the trifecta of cool guy status.

My "go box", if you want to call it that, is an Elecraft KX1, a pair of earbuds and a chunk of wire. Like you I want to be able to set up and tear down very fast and easy which is why I love the KX1 - everything is already built in as I added the internal tuner, integral paddles and the batteries are already inside it also.
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin



Morning Gents.
First let me set things straight......

I do fly a lot, but I am not a pilot. I have logged up to 6 hrs a day in a Bell 407, but as a passenger. Sorry....

I'm a I&E technician, (Instrumentation / Automation & Electrician) on an Oil Rig in grid EL48

KK0G - sorry to disappoint you, but for what its worth, I do like guns, hunting, fishing, and drinking beer.

Here is the order in which I live:
  -  God
  -  Family
  -  Guns
  -  Beer
  -  Hunting
  -  Beer
  -  Friends
  -  Beer
  -  Oh forgot to mention work...

If I lived close to NWARadio, I would be called the "Deer Slayer !!"


Ok, well you get to ride in a chopper a lot so that's gotta count for something 8) .

On the other hand I see you like beer........ we'll get along just fine. My favorite beer is...... cold ;D
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin



My favorite beer is an "OPEN ONE"  8)
Quote from: KK0G on December 31, 2014, 08:40:55 AM
On the other hand I see you like beer........ we'll get along just fine. My favorite beer is...... cold ;D


From my college days:
3. warm beer
2. cold beer
1. free beer

Back on subject:  the flight deck sounds tailor made for a ground plane vertical wire (with tuner).

As far as the box layout goes, there's 100 ways to skin that cat.  You might consider starting with the box it will travel in and working from there.  Do you plan for something water tight like a Pelican?  If so, that narrows the options.


Yes, I plan to use a pelican case.
Here is the link:

Also, I would like to stay away from vertical antennas if possible, but will not limit myself to an end fed dipole.

I guess its all about simplicity. I looked at the New Super Antenna,
But to get the tuning dead on, I would need an analyzer of some sort. The radio has a built in tuner, but rather something tuned by cut to length.

Operating QRP, I need everything to radiate the correct way.

I am open to options, I haven't even made the box yet. I do want to try a vertical, but quick deployment means if the helicopter is on a short final, (5 minutes out). I need to be able to quickly pick up and get out of the way.

I picked the flight deck to operate due to it being the highest point on location.
Being just 180' above sea level (flight deck) I was thinking that I need all the height I can get. However I am also hoping that the salt water would also play a role in good QRP.

I am just not sure exactly what I will do as of yet, so it will be a process of elimination as for as an antenna.


This is where I get lost in the options.  One option would be to build it right into the case.  Lift the lid and there's the panels of the radio, power supply, SignaLink, etc.  You give up shock absorption though.   Another would be to put it in a rack that fits the interior of the case so all you have to do is drop the package back in the case, close the lid and you're good to go.  You could mount the sensitive items on rubber isolators like these.  Too many options for me.  I think I would collect all the gear and build up a dummy with cardboard and duct tape.  That might point me in the right direction.


My suggestion is to build the insert, but with the intent of pulling it out only to access the components and wiring. It should be operational once the lid is lifted, and power and antennae connections are made.

I went with an 8u Gator Case and includes a 3u drawer. It's fine and suits it's intended purpose. In hindsight, I would get a smaller case like the one PuJo is setting up, but mounting everything becomes an issue. An open ended wood box held together with corner braces would provide a mounting surface, and the ability to slide out providing access from the front and back. Most radio components come with mounting brackets, and I used velcro straps with an adhesive backing for the power supply. A couple of screws would hold the velcro straps in place within the cabinet. Two straps should hold most anything in place that doesn't have it's own bracket.

I have a box with open ends and a handle on top similar to what I described that I use for public service events. I take the top off to work on anything and there's plenty of room to get to everything. It seems that would work for what PuJo is setting up. Slide that into a Pelican case and it's off to the QRP races!