Go-Kit Building – Design Considerations
For the sake of discussion let’s assume you want to build a Go-Kit of radio gear. If you ask 3 Radio Amateurs for their opinions on what goes into a Radio Go-Kit, you will undoubtedly receive 5 opinions 🙂 I’ve given this as a presentation to a few groups.
Perhaps you need to take a more scientific approach to figure it out. Dear reader .. here’s a framework you can use to determine it for yourself.
Go-Kits fall into two main categories:
Those that fit in a bag of some sort
And those that fit in a box of some sort
- 19” Rackmount case eg. “Gator” and others
- Plastic suitcase
- Built to suit
And have two sub-categories
- Battery powered
- Grid powered
All kits have at least these items:
- Power distribution
Beyond the box or the bag you need
- And antenna supports
- Power cables
- Manuals for your gear
Some kits have these things too:
- More than one radio
- Microphone. CW Key. Digital interface. Computer.
- Power meter
- Antenna Tuner
- External speaker(s)
- Battery. Charger. Solar panel.
And stuff to make your life easier:
- Coffee mug/Water bottle. Fuel Bar. First Aid Kit.
- Fresh clothing. Adequate food. Lighting. Poncho.
With all that background, let’s get into the design steps for your needs.
Define your purpose
- Why: Camping/POTA? Events? EmComm/AuxComm support?
- Where used: Picnic table? Indoor? Mountaintop?
- Frequencies: HF? V/UHF?
- Operating modes: CW? Voice? Digital?
- Operating power level: 5W? 100W?
- Purpose for QSOs: Casual? Contest? EmComm?
Define your electrical requirements
- Source of power: commercial mains, generator, battery, solar
- Operating TX power level: 5W? 25W? 100W?
- Length of operating time: a few hours? Unlimited?
- Location of power: close by or distant?
Define your mechanical requirements
- Size: Tiny? One-hander? Luggable? Needs a crew of roadies?
- Weight: 3 lb? 10 lb? 50 lb?
- Form factor: Small bag? Backpack? Suitcase? Dedicated vehicle?
- Setup location: Tabletop? Sits on the ground? Body-worn?
First let me define my needs for a kit. Disclaimer – my needs may not be your needs 🙂
My design requirements
- Where: Indoors – EOC, Logistics/Net Control, or glamping
- Power: 120VAC Mains, 12VDC optional “just in case”
- Frequencies: Coverage from 80m to 70cm
- Operating modes: Phone, CW, Digital
- Operating Power Level: up to 100W
- Purpose: Event Support, Disaster/AuxComm support, glamping
Must have list
- Multiple concurrent V/UHF VFOs (Two is one, one is none)
- External amplified speaker, headphone distribution amp
- Each piece must be one-arm carryable and rugged for transport
In addition to my normal list of supporting/other gear seen in the photo below, I also carry items of what I call Problem Solvers. Simply put these are items I am never without at arm’s reach no matter where I am with radio.
- 3M Blue painter’s tape
- Assorted Sharpie branded markers
- Dollar store carabiners
- Lee Valley Tools rare earth magnet hooks
- Set of hand and soldering tools
- Extra feedline (100’ RG8X)
- Extra V/UHF mag mount whips
- Antenna Analyzer
I hope this article gives you some things to think about 🙂 Please read the two articles about how I built up the main Go-Kit and the WinLink To-Go, and you can watch a video of this presentation I delivered in early 2022.
Last but not least, you can download a copy of my POTA Roving planning tool and my Event Gear Checklist tool from this link.