Portions of this article appeared
in "Field Forum", published by the ARRL C. Edward Harris, KE4SKY, AEC
Fairfax County VA ARES
© Copyright 1997, Nonprofit reproduction is permitted with attribution
Many of us take an HT along on our daily activities. Obvious
accessories are an extra nicad battery pack, external power cord, some sort of gain
antenna and comfort and safety items in case of some unexpected disaster. It only takes
your nicad to "go south" when you need to access the autopatch to report a
traffic accident, or to get lost or break down on the road in an unfamiliar place to
appreciate the value of being "prepared."
The best kit for you may not fit a "canned" list, but should be based upon
your operating mode, experience and local conditions. It is better to have the bare
essentials always handy than to leave a bulky pack someplace where you can't get to it. A
larger kit bag is more practical if you are almost always in or near your home or car.
The trunk is the best place to store emergency gear because it is dry, relatively
secure and is accessible either at home or away. I actually have three kits. An
"everyday" kit accompanies my HT and is small enough to fit in a briefcase. A
larger "backup" bag stashed in the car provides 24 hours of auxiliary power, a
spare HT, brick amp, coax and accessories for extended operating. The "disaster
" bag has emergency cash, food, water, rain gear, a larger gel cell battery, clothing
and shelter to sustain a 3-day activation or evacuation.
The ARRL ARES Field Resources Manual provide excellent guidance on "Go" kits.
If you travel through rural areas, you should also include fire making supplies, a pocket
knife and a compass in the kit. In the suburbs, you'll want a local street atlas, change
for a pay phone and emergency cash or a credit card. A compact, sturdy flashlight, extra
batteries, first aid kit, extra HT battery pack and spare eyeglasses of your current
prescription are useful everywhere. If you regularly take prescription medications, you
should carry those.
A typical "go" kit should sustain a day of continuous
operation and be easily supplemented for overnight or weekend trips. The bare essentials
are a 2-meter or dual-band HT, some sort of "gain" antenna, auxiliary power
source, writing materials, comfort and safety items. You can do a lot with a minimum kit,
if you plan its contents carefully. There is risk of not having something you may need if
you go "too" light, but obvious "bells and whistles" should stay home.
My "every day" kit stays within easy reach. Including a dual-band HT, it
weighs 5 pounds and is 4"x5"x10." It fits in a small waist bag and includes
- Dual-band HT in padded belt case.
- Copy of current FCC Operating License.
- "Tiger tail" (enhances transmit and receive of typical "rubber duck"
by 3 db).
- Extra high-capacity (1000 man) nicad, or backup AA battery case for HT.
- DC adapter & cigarette plug cord for HT
- Two extra 2A fuses, for HT cord .
- Earphone and/or speaker mike
- Spartan pattern Swiss Army pocket knife
- Leatherman multi-purpose tool
- Mini-Mag-Lite, extra bulb and spare AAs
- Pencil and pocket notepad
- Emergency gas / phone money ($10 bill, + four quarters and five dimes in pill box).
- SO-239 to male-BNC adapter to fit HT to mobile antenna coax and female BNC to SO-239 to
fit HT gain antenna to jumper.
- 6 ft. RG8-X jumper w/BHC male and female connectors to extend HT antenna with suction
cups or auto window clip.
- Spare eye glasses of current prescription.
- Band aids, moist towelettes and sunscreen
- Pocket sewing kit, matches
- Small pocket compass
- Operating reference card for HT
- ARES phone and frequency reference card
The "Backup Bag" contains "24-hour" items in a
sturdy shoulder bag with carrying strap. I am trying to reduce mine from its
12"x8"x6" size and 18 lbs. weight. I use a padded, ballistic nylon camera
bag with external pockets marked as to contents. It stays in the car until needed.
Suggested contents are:
PORTABLE BRICK AMP PARAMETERS:
- Neck-lanyard pocket with spare car keys, $20 emergency cash, credit card, long-distance
calling card and ARES photo ID.
- Second, "backup / loaner" 2-meter HT. (battery packs and accessories should
interchange with the dual-bander)
- Spare nicad and AA-battery pack, ear phone and speaker-mike for second HT
- Operating manuals for HT's.
- Fused DC adapter cords with Molex connectors for brick amplifier and HTs
- Extra 10' AWG 10 gage twin lead extension cord, with battery clips, in-line fuses and
Molex connectors to power brick amp or HT.
- Compact, rugged, 25-40w 2 meter or dual-band brick amplifier. - See note at
- Gain antennas for both HTs: (telescoping half-wave Larsen and flexible dual-band Comet
CH-72, 1/4-wave VHF, 5/8-wave UHF).
- HT nicad, and 12V gel cell wall chargers.
- Four NP2-12 gel cel1 batteries to power small brick amp at 10w @ 25% duty cycle / 8 hrs.
- Two refills of AA Alkaline batteries for HT.
- RG8-X jumpers with soldered PL-259s, two 3 ft., one, 6 ft., one 10 ft. and one 25 ft.
with double-female connectors to combine all.
- BNC-male+BNC female to SO-239;
BNC-male+BNC female to PL-259;
NMO to SO-239 adapters.
- Cable ties, large and small, 6 each
- Lensatic compass, 7.5min. series area topo.
- Two sharpened pencils, pencil sharpener, gum eraser, note pad, permanent marker.
- ARES Field Resource Manual
- Compact, rugged, flashlight (Pelican Stealthlite), with extra bulb and AA batteries
- Two sets of spare fuses (2A, 10A, 15A) for HT cords, mobile radio or brick amplifier.
- Comfort, safety and basic first aid items: sunglasses, matches, tissues, toothbrush, sun
block, sewing kit, insect repellent, tweezers, band-aids, adhesive tape, gauze pads, wound
cleaning wipes, etc.
The purpose of a brick amp for emergency use is to provide better range and clarity
with an HT while providing maximum endurance when operating on battery power. When
choosing a portable amp to augment a hand held for ARES, it should weigh no more than 1.5
lb., provide 10-15w output when driven by the HT transmitting on its low power setting and
25-40w output when the HT is operating at full power from its normal nicad battery pack.
A portable brick amp should draw no more than 8 amps of current at its maximum output,
so that it can run safely from a Series 1545, .093 pin Molex connector and fused cigarette
plug. FM mode only is fine. No preamp is wanted or needed, because a preamp usually
Low-priced, no-name amps may overheat and "quit" under heavy use. It is more
important to buy a rugged amp with an ample heat sink than the smallest "box."
Our ARES group has found the Mirage B-23, BD-45 and RF Concepts Mini-144 to be
satisfactory in our experience.
The "Disaster Bags" -- are packed in a duffel, stowed
with the "backup bag" in a Rubbermaid storage locker in the car trunk, until
needed. Their contents are inspected and changed seasonally to provide a complete change
of clothing, shelter, food and equipment to support a weekend activation or evacuation,
such as operating a remote Skywarn Net Control station during a power outage accompanying
a severe storm event:
- 3-ring binder with Fairfax County ARES Handbook, Skywarn Net Control Operations Manual,
area topo maps and operating manual for auto mobile rig, in zipper portfolio.
- Dual-band or 2-meter mag mount antenna, with portable ground plane.
- MS-44 mast kit, tripod adapter, dual-band base antenna and 100 ft. of 9913F coax on
- AC charger for HT nicads and small gel cells
- BCI Group 27, 95 ah AGM battery and 1.5 amp charger (48 hrs. power for HT brick amp or
mobile rig on low or medium power, plus 12V, 8w flourescent light, for use as needed).
- 12-volt flourescent drop-light with alligator clips for attaching to auto or gel cell
battery, with spare bulb. Adequate light is important for operating efficiency and morale.
A strong, battery powered light is safer and more reliable than gasoline lanterns.
- Weller Pyropen soldering torch with 2 cans of propane fuel, 63/37 eutectic solder and
- Leather work glove shells, wool finger less liners, warm hat, wind/rain suit, sweater,
insulated rubber safety boots, extra dry socks and change of underwear.
- Tarp or poncho
- Wool blanket or insulated poncho liner
- Two message pads, two pencils, grease pencil, two sheet protectors, 12 push pins.
- Vinyl electrical tape for rain wraps, 1 roll
- Cable ties, large and small, 1 dozen each
- Rubber bands, medium and large, six ea.
- Adjustable open-end wrench, 6"x 0-5/8"
- Folding hex key set
- Klein pliers with crimpers and side cutters
- Needle nose pliers
- Channel locks or Vise-Grip pliers
- Small, mobile-type SWR/power meter
- Pocket VOM or multi-meter w/ test leads
- Assorted connectors / adaptors including no-solder BNC and UHF for emergency repairs
- First Aid Kit container.
- 3 days supply of bottled water and nonperishable food (which can be eaten cold*), mess
kit and utensils.
- Personal hygiene and sanitation supplies.
* 1 gallon of water per person/day, is needed for drinking and washing. Good are canned
soup, beans, tuna, juices, fruits, veggies which can be eaten cold, or warmed without
further preparation; also peanut butter, cheese spread or jam in plastic jars, lots of
hard candy, instant coffee, tea, dried fruit, crackers. Sterno is best for warming.
Military MRE's are light weight and convenient, but some find them both expensive and
boring. You get better variety, more appetizingly and cheaply at the grocery store, if
weight is not a problem.
All of the above seems like "overkill," but ARES mutual response
teams must be entirely self-sufficient, otherwise they cease being an asset and become a
liability. The above is not the "last word", but is offered as a "thought
starter" for your family or group disaster planning.
Reprint from "Skywarn Net Control Operations Manual" Revised Second Edition -
Copyright 1996 Daniel Gropper
3.1.4 Preparations for Extended Activation.
SKYWARN amateur radio volunteers should be prepared for an extended stay at the NWS if
SKYWARN if activated for a hurricane or for severe winter long-duration storms. The
nearest food store is two (2) miles from the forecast office and may not be open or
accessible during extremely severe weather. Volunteers are responsible for bringing food,
medications and personal hygiene supplies to maintain themselves for the duration of their
stay at the NWS. Please be prepared to be as self sufficient as possible. The following
"NWS Survival Hints" were written by KD4DGQ shortly after arrival home from
serving as Net Control at the NWS for a thirty two (32) hour duration during the Blizzard
of '93 on March 13-14, 1993: