Recently I’ve been taking time to explore ideas for ham radio preparedness from other people and websites on the Internet. Of course individuals have their own priorities so it should be no surprise that there are hundreds of different approaches to coming up with a Communications Go-Kit.
One thing I’ve realized over the years is that our communications gear is almost never static, and always “work in progress”! Meaning certain items in the kit may come and go depending on the functional needs we have at the time. Some of those needs remain constant, while others change. So your radio and Go Kit should adapt to a situation as well as you do.
This GoKit revolves around the Yaesu FT-817ND. The reason I’ve chosen that specific radio is the desire to have HF, VHF and UHF capabilities with a single man portable device. I know I’m going to hear a lot of crap about the two is one and one is none philosophy, but honestly that’s not practical when we are talking about heavy and expensive comms gear. In fact, in my opinion, your comms gear is no good to you, no matter how well thought out, if you cant carry it along with you, haven ended up on foot, or with limited space. Still, with all that in mind, I still miss 10, 20, 50, 100 watts from time to time, as it was during the Nepal earthquake emergency net. More power would have been better. Stacked yagis on a tower would have been best, but nevermind.
Over the past year, I have learned very much from Chameleon Antenna. Very often they drive home the point of maximising antenna performance, rather increasing output power. In this kit, Im using the MPAS setup which includes the Hybrid Micro, MIL WHIP, and Jaw Clamp. This combination gives me configuration options that I dont have with other antenna systems. The Hybrid Micro can be deployed as a traditional end-fed antenna. while the MIL WHIP allows me to setup vertical, or even horizontal like a buddipole. An NVIS configuration is also simple to achieve.
So I admit my go kit does not take into account the zombie apocalypse, where mindless freaks rampage through my neighborhood, trying to rip the flesh off of my family friends and neighbors. No my go kit is practical, focusing on the most probable disaster and emergency scenarios which I might encounter here in Scandinavia where I live. Just to be clear one is more likely to freeze to death here then to be eaten by a zombie, or shot by police. With that said, it is not uncommon to be deployed in a search and rescue scenario, where a child is lost in arctic conditions, and voluteers are deployed to help find them. Quite often these are amateur radio operators with man portable radios in hand.
Everything on the following list fits into one day-pack. The radio gear fits in the inside of the backpack, while the antenna and tripod are strapped onto the outsides of the pack. This leaves enough space for a day of food, water, and perhaps a JetBoil for cooking. This is everything I need to oneday out doing comms.
1. Radio and Antenna
a. Yaesu FT-817ND
b. LDG z817
c. MPAS (Modular Portable Antenna System)
i. Chameleon Hybrid Micro
ii. Chameleon MIL WHIP & Jaw clamp
iii. Optional MIL EXT, Tripod
2. Digital Ops
a. WolphiLink interface (HF Digital)
b. Mobilinkd (APRS)
c. BlueCat (CAT Control & logging)
3. Computing & apps
a. Samsung S4 i9506 or Nexus 9
c. 817 Companion
g. Andflmsg (fl digi)
a. Diamond External Speaker
b. Bespoke 5A battery for 817 (5.4A @ 12 volts)
c. Anker Astro E6 20.8A (@ 5volts)
Communications GoKit v2.0
One of the things I really like to tell new hams is train to live, live to train!. Training doesnt have to be boring! I like to mix my ham for fun ops like:
RaDAR Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio
SOTA Summits on the Air
IOTA Islands on the Air
These traditional ham radio activities make great learning tools for your own development in ham radio preparedness and emergency communications. Use them as fun and motivating opportunutues to train for real life grid down disasters, before you have to do it for real, and without a gun to your head.
Look out for the Amateur Radio GoKit series of video on my YouTube channel, and if you find it in your heart to do so, please share this post.