Ham Radio EMCOMM Go Kit – Radio Cases v3

This third version of my go kit is more of a revision than a compete rebuild. After using my previous build for about a year I realized that while it is nice to have everything in one box, it is also a lot of extra weight and bulk that I don’t necessarily need. For the most part, when I operate a portable radio station I don’t use both HF and VHF/UHF, so carrying both is excessive. The solution for this is something I considered while planning my previous build, splitting the kit into a HF unit and a VHF/UHF unit.

HF Case

In order to keep this revision simple I tried to keep the shelf layouts as similar to the previous build as possible. The HF case reuses the lower shelf of my previous kit with only small modifications. The shelf was mounted in a 3 unit shallow rack case. The removal of the upper shelf from above the HF radio necessitated moving its SignaLink to the top of the power supply where it was attached using heavy duty velcro. This arrangement led me to remove the HF radio’s external speaker since there is now unobstructed space above the radio which allows for decent sound projection. The power wiring is also very simple. I kept the power supply output powerpoles as they were and added another powerpole connection for the HF transceiver. This allows for easy access to either connection. I also changed the power supply’s power cord to be removable; the previous build had it wire tied in place which turned out to be an awkward arrangement. Finally I added a new rack panel with a USB pass-through for the SignaLink. The HF case ended up weighing 29.5 lbs (including lids, microphone, and cables).

VHF/UHF Case

The VHF/UHF case reuses the top shelf from my previous build and includes several modifications. The shelf was mounted in a 2 unit shallow rack case. The biggest change was the addition of a dedicated power supply (Astron SS-12). In order to hang the power supply from the shelf I removed the top cover of the device and mounted it to the shelf using #8 hardware and fender washers. Then the power supply was reassembled. The bolt locations were chosen to avoid the internal electronics of the power supply while still distributing the weight of the device.  The SignaLink and microphone connection had to be re-positioned to make room for the power supply. The separation of the radios also necessitated eliminating the powered USB hub. As in the other case the power supply output and radio power input were pulled out to the back of the case for easy interconnection. Finally I reused the rack panel from my previous build to provide access to the dual-band transceiver’s antenna and the SignaLink’s USB connection. The VHF/UHF case weighed in at 22.75 lbs (including lids, microphone, and cables).

Operation

Each case can be used by itself or as a pair. When used independently a jumper can be used to power the radio from its associated power supply, or an external power source can be used. When stacked I can use the HF case power supply or other sources (like my Power Box) to feed a RIGrunner which distributes power to both radios.

Either single case configuration results in me saving at least 10 lbs compared to my previous kit. If I do need both, the total weight is more (52.25 lbs vs 40.5 lbs), but since it is split between two cases it actually makes it easier to move. This also has the benefit of not physically tying both stations together. I can deploy somewhere and one person can operate the V/U station and another the HF and they don’t have to be sitting on top of one another. In the end I think this is a much more versatile and useful setup than my previous go kit.

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