Emergency communications has been one of the top items on the list that attracts people to the Amateur Radio community. It has been recently noted by the FCC, that it is not the primary activity that is spent by the radio operators But yet, it is still something we do. And, if we practice it, it becomes a more proficient skill.
Some of the ways we hone our skills, is through Simulated Emergency Tests, Field Day, radio contests and events where we set up the radio gear outside of our normal locations.
Not every operator has the equipment that is mobile or can be set up in most environments.
Many Radio Clubs have mobile units..
Some are more elaborate than others. These units are mostly self-contained. They have cables, batteries, generators, radios that can operate on many different radio bands, antennas and the ropes to hold them up. There are some that can be driven and some that can be towed.
About 2010, a discussion about the M&K trailers used for Field Day and other events indicated that they were not in good shape and perhaps they should be replaced.
While in Michigan, I was successful in gaining funds from the local Foundation to provide 10 full Go Kits. Just about everything but the radios…. They even had J Pole antennas.
With this success, we calculated a cost of $5,000 and given permission to approach the Community Foundation in Green Bay for a grant
They were very helpful in going over the request for a grant.. After a couple of visits they thought it was good to submit. We did… An approval letter said that seeing this was our first dealings with them, we were approved for $4,500.
Ron, KB9KIX, a good hand at knowing trailers, picked out a sturdy one.
The choice was to minimize the annual cash outlay over the years. The one *we picked was a single axle and had a good towing wind resistance. The size and weight made it towable by a lighter vehicle and did not require a license.
A number of club members helped install the interior items after we painted the floor with non skid paint and stained the walls. The unfinished cabinets were installed and stained also.
Tower Electronics donated cable, connectors, two dual band antennas and NMO mounts for each corner of the rack outside. A few years later, I believe they donated the Astron PS that is in the trailer. Ron designed and installed the piping for the cable runs and the two battery mounts on the front of the trailer. We purchased two 75 Amp Hour Marine batteries.
We saw that the old trailer had a tall pole for holding antennas, and I had an expandable pole, which we mounted on the side of the trailer. There is also another base holder mounted on the same side for possible future use. To note that some of those that helped work on the trailer donated some of the tools they used. Dennis KC9OIS, Matt KB9QAK, Keith KS9WI with some of the cabinet hardware.. I should not have started using names because there were so many that helped
As time went on, we had donations to the trailer like the area heater which came in handy during a couple of events like the Wisconsin QSO Party that kept John WØLFE warm..
As we talk about the batteries, I am reminded on how we designed the charging system. While we operate off of one, we can charge the other. This helps keep the noise out of the radio (we hoped) There is a battery charger in the trailer on the side of the lower cabinet. Up to last year, Ron would take out the batteries in the Fall and put them on battery maintainers until the Wis. QSO Party in March. Then I took them and now do the same.. .
. As we talked about the power system, we have to thank Phil W3TOS for the donation of the fused Anderson power distribution unit which all the equipment power goes through.
*The key power for major events is our second most expensive unit, the generator. Just like your heart, without power, we are dead.
And like your heart, we need to keep it healthy. The first way is to make sure it is fed right. It is highly imperative that only non-ethanol fuel is used. So far the oil has been changed every 50 hours of running time.
Locks… Locks keep honest people honest … quote my father in law. The lock on the hitch is different than the other locks. This happened when the facility people at the jail needed to move the trailer to maintain the area that the trailer is located. Rather than giving entry to all, they are allowed to move the trailer to facilitate their needs. The battery holders, the back and side doors are all keyed the same. In all the years it existed, there was never a time that members could not access the unit within reasonable time with permission of the Club
Radios- the grant did not include the radios. Timing was on our side when it came to having radios to operate with. With the event of 9-11, FEMA required all essential places to have four means of communication. A lesson learned from the destruction of the buildings that held primary antennas in New York. The Brown County Health Dept. mentioned that they already had four, but had the grant to buy what they needed. In discussion with Emergency Management, they decided to purchase the Ham gear for the newly being remodeled EOC. We were asked to provide the list of needed equipment. When the equipment came in, the EOC still was not completed. We were given permission to put the radios in containers that made them usable and yet portable in case needed in the EOC. Once again Ron designed and built what we have now. With the completion of the EOC, the radios were placed there and antennas placed on the roof of the Jail Complex.
This prompted the M&K Club to purchase replacement equipment. They purchased a IC 718 HF radio. It is a good one that does not have complicated buttons or software. The other radio is the Kenwood V71A. dual band.
The trailer has served the Club well. Providing communications during many of the CellComm Marathons, the Seroogy’s runs, Lighthouses on the Air, Reforestation Bike Run, Field Days, Diabetes Bike runs, JOTA with the Scouts, Bear Paw Camp Radio merit badge, Bear Paw Camp STEMpede, Door County Scout Campout for the Radio Merit badge (had 50 merit badge recipients) we were involved with the Airport exercises including the aircraft on the Bay in winter.
*The trailer has been to a number of Scout meetings as well. Of course, every three years we are invited to the Tall Ships Event and hope to be in the future..
It was felt that if you take care of your equipment, it will serve you well. The only maintenance that was needed was a new tire on the left side a year ago and we had a leak on the roof seam six years ago that Ron patched. Almost forgot the bearing covers were replaced. Not bad for 10+years of use…
Just some history..