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William Waters III - N7IPY

Go-Box

On this page you can see my Go-Box design and what equipment I have mounted in it and the other various elements to make it a complete portable all mode communications station.

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Here is the full function picture of the Radio Go-Box.  Both shelfs are out in the operating position and the Netbook and Printer are out and powered on.
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Another view of the Radio Go-Box in the operating position, note that the open shelf can be used to store light weight documents.

I wanted to build a Radio Go Box that had the equipment needed to cover the communications needs of an initial deployment.  I decided on a large yellow “Pelican Case” to hold all the hardware.  My goal was to have both a Multimode all band mobile radio and a VHF/UHF mobile radio installed and to be able to support Voice and Digital modes of communications.

What I ended up doing was to build into the case a frame with hinged sections that allow the electronics to be moved into it’s operating position quickly.  I only have 1 mobile 100 Watt All band radio so I needed to make it something I could easily remove and relocate for mobile operation.  So What I put in the Go Box is this:
  • FT-100D Mobile Multimode All Band 100 Watt Radio
  • FT-7900R Mobile VHF/UHF Radio
  • Power and Data Connection for an ICOM-80AD DSTAR Hand Held
  • LDG-Z100Plus Auto Tuner for HF Bands
  • SignaLink USB Audio Interface
  • Kantronics KPC3+ Data Modem
  • CAT control to the FT-100D - Home made serial interface
  • Netbook PC with Windows XP
  • Portable Printer
  • Isolated AC/DC 35Amp Switching Power Supply
  • 200 Watt DC/AC Inverter
  • PowerPole Connections for External 12VDC
  • Full Fuse Protection
  • 4 Port Serial to USB Switch
  • Shared External Speaker (Modified with a switch to select which radio’s audio)
I chose to use an Asus Eee PC Netbook as the computer for the project partially because it runs on 12 Volts and is small, and partly because I had it.  It has a 16GB SSD drive and 2 GB RAM running Windows XP.  Fortunately all the Ham based software for the applications I want to use support Win XP.  It is not the fastest computer around, but it is small with low power requirements.   
My External Antennas include a 40M – 10M Rotatable Dipole from Super Antennas and 2 Meter J-pole  supported by a guyed 24 Foot Aluminum Push Up Mast and Tripod.  The antennas zipper case has multiple 50 foot coax feed lines, and all the ‘stuff’ needed to set up the antennas.

The 3rd major item of the full kit is a fully fused battery case with as many sealed Gell Cell Batteries as I could fit in it.  In the battery case are multiple fused Power Pole connections and a small tricolor LED voltage monitor.  I had to reinforce the handle on the battery case as it broke out when I was operating portable one weekend. All the gear; Radio Go-Box, Antennas/Mast and Battery weighs in at a little under 80 pounds so it’s not light but it is complete and fully functional for most modes of operation. 

[I also have my QRP Go-Kit which consists of the FT-817, LDG QRP Auto Tuner and MP1 Antenna, but that’s on a different Page on this site.]

To build the Radio Go-Box I started with the largest Pelican Case that met my needs and built an internal wood frame that fit snuggly into it; a Top section and a Bottom Section.  I used 6 Play hobby ¼ Ply and fiberglass cloth reinforcement on the glue joints.  The larger bottom section slides into the case and is held in place by a snug fit and by the top section when the case is closed.  The top frame section is held in place with 5 screws that go into provided mounting points in the case.

The top Frame has a shelf that is hinged and drops down in the open position.  It is held in the closed place by a slide latche (Home Depot parts) and held in the open position by light chain covered with heat shrink tubing that is only partially shrunk.  Under this shelf is the auto tuner and KPC3+ Modem. 

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This is the Radio Shelf in the down position with the Speaker and Power In PP-Connector in closed position.
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Hear you can see the Top Shelf in the closed position and the top ready to be closed.

The bottom frame has a hinged shelf that sits about a 3rd of the way inside the frame.  This shelf has the radios and supporting ‘stuff’ mounted to it.  I made custom mounting rails for the radios that allow for quick install and removal.  This shelf lifts up from the front handle and is held in the open position by 2 sliding latches. 

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Under the shelf is the bottom compartment that holds the NetBook, Printer and power supplies.  I built individual compartments for each part to hold the components in place for transport.  Under the NetBook I store the User Manuals for the Radios.  Thin foam was cut to size and fis over the printer and Netbook to make for a snug fit and protect the plastic from the screws and nuts.

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UPDATE AUGUST 2011 - I have done a number of field tests and each one has been successful.  Recently I took it on a CERT MOBEX drill where I set it up alongside the teams equipment.  Using my Super Antenna's rotatable dipole up at about 24 feet I was able to send and receive email via WINMOR on 40 meters.  In another test I was able to send and receive email using the VHF packet modem and RMS Express. 
UPDATE NOVEMBER 2011 - I had a design flaw that caused the AC/DC power supply to get hot due to poor air circulation.  I have added a small 12 volt fan to the bottom radio shelf and added vent holes behind the FT-100D.  This resolved the heat issue.  I also had an issue where the radio shelf would sag in the middle from the weight of the radios when in the open position.  I resolved that by adding a length of aluminum L channel along the front edge.  This reinforced the shelf, and made it look more professional.
Other than being heavy, about 45 pounds, it is fully functional and meets my expectations and design goals.  I’m very happy with the usability of the design and can be on the air within minutes of opening the case.  I use it quite often for portable operations.

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(C) 2007 - 2017  William Waters   Last Updated July, 2017