Go Box Evolution

My venture into the creation and use of a Ham Radio Go-box has taken a few different forms and has evolved over time this past 2 years.  This post is to share what I’ve done and what I have settled on at this point in the hobby.

The beginning – 4U 19″ Rackmount Case:

I started out in my go-box design by more or less copying what I had seen at the Queen Creek Amatuer Radio club “Radios Under Sun Shade” (RUSS for short) events.  At these 1/2 day events, which occur at least quarterly, Hams bring their gear out to the park and operate portable as a means to enjoy the hobby in the outdoors and to introduce non-hams to the hobby and related equipment.  I took the concept of what I saw, which was essentially variations of rack mount cases, and created my own (see pic).  I sort of took the “go big or go home” approach and created a pretty sweet box.

Here are my opinions on the pros/cons to this approach.

Pros:

  • Clean install – Everything is nice and neat and tidy (cable managed) in one place
  • Quick to get on the air – Pretty much plug and play.  Just connect your antenna and your on the air
  • Room for growth – With the 4U 19″ case, there was plenty of room to add more gear as desired

Cons:

  • Cost – The case and shelves were about $200
  • Weight – The case with all the gear and the 18ahm battery attached was pretty darn heavy.  Not unmanageable, but it was definitely a “lift with your legs” situation
  • Changes – with everything mounted down, it was not a lot of fun to make changes.  Call it a little bit inflexible

  

The middle – “Pelican” suit Case:

I eventually got to the point where I wanted to use the 19″ rack mount case in the shack and be a little lighter on my feet as I lug my gear to the park for portable ops.  I found this generic (Harbor Freight) hard case which I thought would be a new, smaller option.

Pros:

  • Cost – The case was only $30
  • Clean install – Everything is nice and neat and tidy (cable managed) in one place
  • Quick to get on the air – Pretty much plug and play.  Just connect your antenna and your on the air

Cons:

  • Weight – The case alone is pretty beefy and heavy.  With the equipment loaded it was still about 40lb
  • Growth –  Everything is pretty well shoe-horned into the case.  It fits nicely, but there is no room for growth

 

The Final solution – Simple Soft case:

After getting to the park much more often to operate portable as part of the Gathering of the Willing (see other blog posts); and after seeing what my compadres are using for their gear – along with my desire to be more mobile and “lighter”, I’ve decided to scale way back to a much leaner approach to the gear.  Essentially I am in a protective soft case that is an easy to use and very unrestrictive package.  I’m going with this approach for now 🙂

Pros:

  • Cost – This is a second hand camera case I stole form my wife – 0$
  • Clean install – Everything is nice and neat and tidy and has a zippered pocket
  • Lightweight-  Probably the best part of this solution is how light and easy it is to travel with
  • Flexible – With nothing mounted down or tied down its very easy to move the equipment where I want it

Cons:

  • Protection – There is not much protection for the equipment.  I have to be very careful not to damage the sensitive gear
  • Setup – Each time I set up I will have to plug in all the piece parts and make all the connections.  This will cause at least some wear and tear on the equipment over time (probably not too big a deal)
  • Growth – Not a lot of room for growth, but in order to keep it light that is the trade off

  

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