All about the go-kits!

Filed Under (Go-Boxes, Mobile Operating, VHF/UHF) by Jonathan on 16-01-2009

K7RK has a good tutorial on how he made this box on is site

K7RK has a tutorial on how he made this box on is site

First off, let me say I’m a huge fan of “go boxes”.  Not for the reason many would think.  There is the obvious EmComm/public service benefits of having a station ready to go.  Since I do almost a dozen and a half public service events a year, my kit fills that need nicely.

However, I also operate HF portable for about two weekends a month.  I started using my go box purely for that purpose awhile back and find that this is a beautiful fit for my operating style.

I can offer some advice to the many links I’m going to give in this post.  Think about your plan and put it on paper.  Take your time with this process.  Think about what you do for public service, field day, SET, etc. and think about what would make the perfect kit.

I would add another good idea (I’ve learned this recently) is to make a “mock” frame for your kit.  Install your gear on this mock frame and use it for some nets and such.  Be realistic and make sure your mock frame will fit in your chosen box.  Use your temporary box in a portable operation.  I operate from several state parks and have a lot of fun with that.  Might I add, bring some brochures from your local club or ARRL with you.  I’ve actually turned out a few new hams just from people observing my operation and wanting to get a license (an added bonus).

I’ll have pictures of my current setup hopefully within the next month or so.  My new box has HF/VHF/UHF, packet and soundcard digital modes.  Neat to have it all in one box.  I’ll add “Go-Boxes” as a category for this site for future use.  I can tell I’ll have many posts on the topic in the future.

First up this week is K7RK.  His site ( has a good tutorial on how he built the box shown above.  He uses a framing method I have used in the past that works.  As you can see above, he has a good all band/all mode box.  Neat!

More information on various kits on the website of Steve KB1DIG & Kim KB1GTR

More information on various kits on the website of Steve KB1DIG & Kim KB1GTR

Next, I’ll take you to the page of Steve KB1DIG & Kim KB1GTR located at

This is one of the most popular sites on the topic on the web.  Many useful tips here on a few different go box styles.  They have a tutorial you can download on the HVOB – Highly Versatile Orange Box.

The point I want to get across here is that there are as many gokit styles as there are hams!  Make yours “your own”.

Three examples in this picture to the left illustrate this point.  One box, three different kits.

Pay close attention to the writ-ups on many of these sites.  Many of them give you detailed information on the boxes used, why they were chosen and where you can obtain them.  I find Marine stores are a great resource for this sort of thing, but ebay is also a great alternative.  There are many resources on the web.

The kit above is from Andy Palm, N1KSN and the Wisconisn ARES/RACES group.  They can be found at

They also have a good HF station at

And a good antenna project at You will have to scroll to the middle area of the page to get to the antenna, but the top of the page has a good go box as well that was featured in QST several years back.

From W4TI

From W4TI

W4TI has some really neat ideas and great craftsmanship on his site.  This kit has a handle on the side and is easily transported wherever needed – great work!  His site is located at

The details on this kit are available at  Not sure who the ham is, but the frame on this using threaded rod and plexiglass is neat!

And, please remember to pack the non-communications necessities like meds, clothes and such.  A good example of that is found here

Testing – new and license upgrade resources

Filed Under (Educational / Courses) by Jonathan on 13-01-2009

If you arrived at this site, and are not a ham (amateur radio operator), you might want to get some information from the ARRL website at  They have plenty of information, including a directory where you can find classes in your area.

If you are a licensed amateur and looking to upgrade, here are a few resources for you.

I teach classes and really like  You can take any of the US amateur license practice exams and even learn Morse code.  I really like the presentation of the test results the best.  You get a bar chart and are then able to see where you need to improve.  A really good tool for those wishing to upgrade their license.

I recently received an email from Hamilton of Copasetic Flow (  His site is broken down into the three US amateur license programs, but he’s adding the Canadian exams as well.  He already has the Canadian Basic license online.  The Advanced is coming soon.

OK, there’s more to licensing than the test.  There is a fantastic podcast for those interested in getting a license (regardless of license class).

John and Mike have put together a great podcast that follows the ARRL licensing material very well.  If you aren’t yet licensed, or are planning on upgrading to General, their podcast really can help.

They are in the process of adding material for the Extra license class.  These aren’t really following a “class” format per se, but rather Extra license class topics to help you along your journey towards upgrading to the Extra class.

Their site is

Please bear in mind, you want to learn the material – not just pass the test.   Most of the first US license (Technician) is memorable material without a lot of theory.  The General and Extra class license have a lot more theory and you would really be robbing yourself if you don’t learn the material.

Don’t believe me?  See the trolls come out of the woodwork when someone asks a question that is already covered in the licensing question pool.  Brutal!

Overall, hope to hear you on the HF bands when you upgrade!

The Diode

Filed Under (Educational / Courses, Homebrew, New Ham Primer, YouTube Goodness!, YouTube Homebrew Goodness) by Jonathan on 07-01-2009

OK, I admit, the past few weeks we’ve stayed heavily on the basics – but that’s OK (since I’ve been posting more!).

I’m sure the folks at Make: will have something in the near future (they’ve done really good with basic videos in the past).  But, today, I’m going to show you a whole bunch of YouTube goodness that I found.

First is RadioAM232.  He has a neat 3 video series below:

There is also a good lecture from India’s National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning.  This is part two of an entire course.  I’ll add more information on this course in a future post (finding the entire course is a pain as I didn’t find play lists).

Here’s one more for good measure:

And, of course, the obligatory Wikipedia link to get you started.

How to Solder Correctly – and Why

Filed Under (Educational / Courses, Homebrew, New Ham Primer, YouTube Homebrew Goodness) by Jonathan on 03-01-2009

Today, we take a step back to basic ham skills with soldering.  Every ham should know how to solder and which technique to use and for which application.

That being said, Curious Inventor has a nice series on the topic.  His site includes video and a lot of pictures/tutorials on the topic.

The people at Make: (the original weekend projects crew Bre Pettis and sometimes Joe Grand) have a good little tutorial as well:

And, as always with Make:, you can download the file as well here in mp4 format.

Elecraft has the N0SS solder notes as a pdf file as well.  Check out their kits – really high quality stuff!

There are also a few other sites with useful information.

Everyday Practical Electronics is a UK publication with a good article here.

Business Electronics Soldering Technologies has a HUGE selection of quality videos.  When you need to step up your game and give SMD (surface mount) components a try, there is a lot of good stuff here (and you can download the videos and save them for later!).

Here’s a Popular Mechanics video on soldering wires to make some good splices:

Here’s another wire/splice soldering video (though I’d rather use a sponge or brass solder tip cleaner than shake an iron!).

Hopefully this will encourage those that have never soldered before to get out there and melt some solder!  I have regular workshops here in Connecticut and am glad when I see someone new to the hobby solder for the first time.  It’s reall easy, when you get through your first attempt.


Happy New Year from KB1KIX (and the harmonic)

Filed Under (Antennas, Homebrew, YouTube Homebrew Goodness) by Jonathan on 01-01-2009

Happy new year to all of you from my son Brendan and myself (he finally asked for me to get him the license manual!!!!)  OK, I don’t know who’s more hyped about this, but it is good and I’m not going to take it easy on him.  Time for him to learn radio!

That being said, new year, new ham in the family this year (I hope) and……. New Years Resolutions.

I will try to be a more environmentally friendly ham.  OK, I’m not talking the global warming nonsense – pollution is nuts!  So, why dump perfectly good items in the trash, when we can convert them for amateur use?

I started this off with the Das DereLicht post a few days ago.  C’mon, can we get any more frugal….. creative than this?

Today, I’ll give you something else to ponder.  How about a 20M loop from a bicycle rim?

I see these rims around town all the time!

I see these rims around town all the time!

Alan Yates, VK2ZAY, has a neat article with all the information to do this neat job!

Another thing to look at on this page are the files at the bottom of the page, the videos and especially the comments.

You can also learn about QRSS (VERY low power/slow speed CW) as well.  Many fellow “knack” sufferers are familiar with this new paradigm in CW and QRP.

He also has a large amount of neat articles on his site as well.

This guy has the “knack” and he got it bad!!!!

OK, that’s two “environmentally friendly” topics….. let’s see what else we can find out there……

Now thats just neat right there!  The St. Louis Switcher

Now that's just neat right there! The St. Louis Switcher

How about the St. Louis Switcher?  This is a popular concept on the web with recycling old computer power supplies and desktop power supplies out of ’em.  If you don’t have one, two or twenty of ’em lying around, you can find them for cheap at many hamfests.

There are plenty of great articles on the topic, but I’ll drop a few here.

This picture is from The St. Louis Switcher – A Cheap Power Supply  by Matt Kastigar, N0XEU & George Heron, N2APB.  More pictures are here.

If you’re an ARRL member, the pdf of the QST article can be found here.

If you’re not a league member, I managed to find a copy here.

More similar good articles below: The video below is from this WikiHow article – the video was a neat find!

Here’s another with an older power supply:

Here’s one on Instructables, with good comments.

Cheers, and here’s to more projects for 2009!


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