Ralph W. Bierbaum
QCWA # 33500
The North Dakota floods of 1997, the terror of 9-11-2001, followed by the Colorado fires of 2002, started me thinking about a multi-role, portable communications system, capable of short and long term deployment. Hurricanes Katrina & Rita spurred the project. I'm a builder at heart and after eight years of work (and several redesigns), I have a 56 lb transportable radio kit, that when deployed with its multiple tower/mast/antenna kits is capable of HF, VHF, UHF, CB, AIRCRAFT, FRS, GMRS, MURS, MARINE and most public service communications. Packet, APRS and PSK31 digital modes are supported.
A word about my "portable" system. The main tower is a military AB-621/U, 50' guyed tower specified as being capable of holding a 150 lb antenna up in a 100 MPH sustained wind. I also have three AB155/U, 40' mast kits for wire antennas and mounts for smaller verticals and a couple of 5' tripods.
I have 11 different antennas with a calliope mount, 1100' of LMR-400 feedline in 100' pieces terminated with PL259 and Type-N connectors. The system is meant to be multi-configurable depending on the incident. Numerous public service events and several Field Days have lead to dozens of operational and tactical refinements
A Coleman 1.1 KW generator, 300w Inverter, 10x10 Ez-Up shelter and tent to house the station and operator round out the kit.
As you look at the Grab-n-Go box, the radio compliment is as follows:
Two Alinco DR-600 crossband capable dual band radios with CAP modifications, Clearspeech DSP coupled to the Yaesu FT-900 HF Radio, Apelco Marine Radio, B&W manual tuner with balun for ladder line fed and long wire antennas, King KX-170A aircraft radio (TX & RX), MURS base station radio (not pictured are 12 MURS 2w VHF HT's with chargers). A Uniden CB radio completes the bottom rack.
The top rack consists of a Bearcat 350 VHF/UHF scanner coupled to a Connect Systems PL/DPL/ DTMF decoder (for when you have to know what the squelch system is),Yaesu FT-1802 VHF radio coupled to a KPC-3 packet TNC for APRS & packet, Ramsey frequency counter so you can find out where that served agency's HT is transmitting. If they're trunked or APCO25, they're on their own. The speakers housed in the upper case can be individually switched off if headsets are being used. I made the switch optional because in some instances others in the room need to hear the radio even if the operator is using cans. Switches and adapters are provided for compatibility with most headphones. A switched 13.8V gooseneck lamp with a red bulb (night vision) completes the upper case.
The radios and tuner have their antenna connectors remoted to an antenna connector panel on the back of the box for easy Hook-up.
There is also a power distribution panel on the back connected to an MFJ 40A switching power supply. This power distribution panel is input switch selectable from the onboard power supply to any auxiliary 13.8 VDC source that may be available (connection cables included).
An MFJ Local/UTC clock pair along with a power source digital volt meter complete the front panel.
I did not have the mic's connected when I took the picture - gets a little busier then. Please note that all the mic and computer connections are remoted to the bottom of the rack. This is to prevent mic wires from hanging in front of radio displays and controls (an operational problem discovered in Revision 1).
All this is built into two blow molded plastic music cases w/ front and rear covers to form a neat little 56 lb package. All interconnects between the two cases are done in one 25 wire cable making setup easy and almost fool-proof. I say almost, because I have found that Murphy was an optimist.
This is an ongoing work in progress and your comments and questions are always welcome
December 21, 2011