Discover more from Random Wire℠
V1 of a POTA-To-Go Box
A milk crate may be the poor man's version of a tactical radio carrier
As I explore the world of Parks On The Air, I find that the time it takes me to set up at a park takes away from my potential operating time. The first two modifications to my procedures will be the antenna system and the packaging/carrying of the radio and tuner.
I have a 25-foot telescoping fiberglass mast arriving this week from DX Engineering. That mast has (purportedly) a 2.5-inch outside diameter at the base. When I can’t throw a wire way up in a tree, I’d like to use a drive-on mast mount. Most of the drive-on mounts I’m finding are too small inside to fit this particular mast. They are also expensive. I am probably going to explore fabricating my own drive-on mount.
But first up is my low-cost tactical radio carrier: a milk crate. In the photo below, I have birch plywood resting on wood cleats. The cleats stiffen the box but they do take up some interior space. They are secured to the box with 10-32 x 2 inch round head machine screws with a #10 washer, landing in 10-32 x 5/16 inch tee nuts. The screws were too long so I lopped off the excess material with a reciprocating saw and a metal cutting blade.
The shelves are not secured. So far, that has worked out okay as I can slide them in and out for making connections at the back of the radio and tuner. The shelves haven’t slid out while I’m driving. I will be adding hook-and-loop tape straps to the shelves to help hold the devices in place. The depth of the crate is a little bit light for my Yaesu FT-450D but it works well enough. I added a cleat on the top of the crate to help when carrying it to/from a picnic table. (That cleat is secured with Nylock nuts because I ran out of tee nuts.)
This cheap solution to speed up moving the station from my desk to the car and then to a park picnic table (or leaving it on my car seat) has worked, but as noted in the title, this is version 1.
Version 2 used aluminum channels riveted to the milk crate to hold the shelves. Unfortunately, pop rivets sometimes leave a chunk of expanded material in place so version 2 was flawed before I completed the first two aluminum channel cleats.
Version 3 will be in construction in a week or so. I found some 3D-printed shelf brackets for milk crates on Etsy that I’m going to try. On these small crates, there are only a few places where a pair can be mounted to support a shelf. It looks like I’ll end up with a shallow shelf on the bottom and on the top, with a large opening in the middle. I think one shallow space will fit my LDG YT-450 tuner (and if not, my other/smaller tuner will definitely fit). The other shallow space will hold a Chameleon LEFS (Lightweight End Fed Sloper) antenna and coax cable.
Version 4 is still in my mind, but I’m leaning toward some long galvanized tie plates with the ends bent 90-degrees and then riveted through the walls of the crate.
Another improvement will be some 90-degree coax connectors for the back of the radio and tuner, plus changing out my coax jumpers for very short lengths of flexible RG8X cable.