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William Waters III - N7IPY


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.

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.
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.   The equipment list has changed some with time, replacing old hardware with newer.   I decided on a large yellow “Pelican Case” to hold all the hardware.  My goal was to have both a Multimode HF 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. 
  So What I put in the Go Box is this:
  • FT-891 All Mode HF Mobile Radio 
  • FT-7900R Mobile VHF/UHF Radio
  • LDG-Z100Plus Auto Tuner for HF Bands
  • SignaLink USB Audio Interface
  • Kantronics KPC3+ Data Modem
  • CAT control to the FT-891 - USB Connection
  • Ultraportable Windows 10 Notebook
  • Portable Printer
  • Isolated AC/DC 35Amp Switching Power Supply
  • 200 Watt DC/AC Inverter
  • PowerPole Connections for External 12VDC
  • Full Fuse Protection
  • 4 Port Powered USB Hub (Connects to Printer, FT-891, Signalink-USB, and 2 Port Serial to USB hub
  • Shared External Speaker (Modified with a switch to select which radio’s audio)

I updated from an Asus Eee PC Netbook to a rather expensive GPD Pocket Mini Notebook as the old NEtbook was only Windows XP capable and most applicatins have migrated to Windows 10.   The New Notebook is smaller, 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD drive.  It operated from a USB Type-C connection so it operates from a small power inverter gettings its power from the 12 volt bus.
The External Antennas is an upgraded Super Antennas MP2 with extended MFT whip and home made radials mounting on a portable camera tripod.  For 2 meters I have a mag mount antenna.  I can also grab the larger antenna bag that consists of a a Super Antennas 3 element portable Yagi and 20 foot mast and dripod with a J-Pole for the 2 Meter antenna.  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. 

This is the Radio Shelf in the down position with the Speaker and Power In PP-Connector in closed position.
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. 


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.


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.
UPDATE FEBUARY 2018 - As mentioned above I replaced the FT-100 with a FT-891 and replaced the old Netbook with a more powerful mini notebook that is smaller in size.  I removed the 4 port serial to USB switch for a much simpler dual USB to Serial cable.  

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(C) 2007 - 2018  William Waters   Last Updated February 2018