A Ham Radio Go-Box Packed With Functionality

“When all else fails, there’s ham radio.” With Hurricane Harvey just wrapping up, and Irma queued up to clobber Florida this weekend, hams are gearing up to pitch in with disaster communications for areas that won’t have any communications infrastructure left. And the perfect thing for the ham on the go is this ham shack in a box.

Go-boxes, as they are known, have been a staple of amateur radio field operations for as long as there have been hams. The go-box that [Fuzz (KC3JGB)] came up with is absolutely packed with goodies that would make it a perfect EmComm platform. The video tour below is all we have to go on, but we can see a tri-band transceiver, an RTL-SDR dongle and a Raspberry Pi with a TFT screen for tracking satellites. The Pi and SDR might also be part of a NOAA satellite receiver like the one [Fuzz] describes in a separate video; such a setup would be very valuable in natural disaster responses. Everything is powered by a 12-volt battery which can be charged from a small solar panel.

[Fuzz] is ready for action, and while we genuinely hope he and other hams won’t be needed in Florida, it doesn’t seem likely at this point. You can read more about the public service face of ham radio, or about an even more capable go-box.

[via RTL-SDR.com]

16 thoughts on “A Ham Radio Go-Box Packed With Functionality

  1. I don’t think this creator has anything to do with Emcomm. Looks like a portable setup for working satellites.
    I have that same ammo box, and it flexes quite a bit. I hope the raspi screen can handle the flex! Otherwise it’s quite nice and even has a gasket for the lid.

    1. You are right, and also this setup could need a lot of improvement. Wires floating around everywhere, electrical supply lines intertwined with antenna lines. A complete lack of proper shielding and filtering. HAM radio? You can’t be serious! Not even very elementary engineering principles have been applied in this setup. This box is just a random plastic container bought in a hardware store, filled with commercially available radio equipment. It’s more like advanced CB radio but not really amateur radio at all!

      Furthermore, imagine yourself in a real emergency situation. Are you really taking a box like this (with quite a substantial weight, considering the use of lead batteries instead of much lighter LiPos) to the next fire station saying: “Hello, this is HAM radio public service – look, I have a radio!” And do you really expect to be taken seriously then? Are you going to take a clumsy and heavy box like this with you while evacuating your family and yourself to a safer place? I strongly doubt that.

      So, more generally speaking, can we stop this “public service” and “emergency communications” bullsh.. in amateur radio, please? Amateur radio is first and foremost about electrical engineering and radio technology. Amateur radio and public emergency services are two completely different fields that have only very few things in common. If you – as an amateur radio operator – seriously want to emphasize the public service / emergency communications aspect of your hobby, then there is only one appropriate way: Instead of building funny radio boxes, join a local disaster relieve organization or voluntary fire brigade in your area and get proper training there.

        1. As a long time HAM I agree with Joe that you Bill do criticize something that another HAM built that I doubt you could do better. Remember we are always improving but your comments were very rude. Is that how you greet new comers on the local repeater or HF net ?.

      1. You have no idea what you are writing about. You’ve apparently never heard of Skywarn, ARES, RACES, hurricane nets (which are activated right now), or earthquake nets (which are activated right now in Mexico), which meld public service and amateur radio. I suspect that you aren’t even in the US, where amateur radio is quite active in public service as you use the term “fire brigade” and “disaster relieve.” Your ignorance is showing.

  2. In a “mission critical” / time urgent, emergency crisis scenario – the “KISS” philosophy has been proven time and time again to be the wisest path. An Iridium ruggedized SAT phone (ie. 9575) would be leaps and bounds more preferable to the rube goldberg contraption depicted here. My personal kit uses the 9575 – and – a battery self contained Yaesu FT-897D with Yaesu side mounted tuner, and tripod screwdriver antenna. Quick and simple to set up.

    The “when all else fails” narrative is delusional in todays environment of SAT phones, 4G phones and statewide P25 trunking systems. Not to mention the deluge of grant money where municipalities acquire Sites On Wheels, or portable suitcase deployable repeaters (public safety grade – ie. think Motorola APX8000 multi-band).

    Not to say there isn’t a need, but it’s highly exaggerated and self aggrandizing, catering to the “wacker” community.

    1. Think of this as the “intermediate” step: providing status updates etc. when mobile phone towers / power lines are down.
      The “end user” hasn’t got a SAT phone, but is listening to updates on a small wireless (that runs off a few AA batteries). If you want to improve something, work on the lifespan of that end user wireless: it may need to last days, or even weeks, on a single charge.

  3. I like the concept but the execution can be refined a bit.
    I like lead acid batteries for stuff like this. The weight is offset by the common technology that’s easier to get a charge to, say from an alternator of a car.

  4. I have a friend who bought one of these for his go kit. And got a dead radio and a cheap battery in a box. All stuff that a person could make at 1/3 the asking price of this joke. A cheap Chinese dual band. Cheap Chinese ht antenna for transmit on a cheap mount pop rivited to a plastic box. And a wire for a counterpoise. It’s like said earlier. A cb radio almost and something a 13 year old made for a science project. Very poor preformance unless connected to a proper outside vehicle antenna. Swr is extremely high no matter what you do. Basically nothing a good ht would run rings arround and be a lot less expense. Don’t waste your money.

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