Go-Kit Building – Design Considerations

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

  • Backpack
  • Camera
  • Laptop

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:

  • Radio
  • Power distribution

Beyond the box or the bag you need

  • Antennas
  • And antenna supports
  • Feedline
  • 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:

  • Paper/pencil/pen/Sharpie/clipboard/notebook/highlighter/tape
  • 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?

 

What’s in my kit you ask?

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

Go-Kit

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
  • Paper/Pen/Pencil/Clipboards
  • 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.