Staying at Home? It’s a Good Time to Build or Upgrade Your Go-Kit

The worldwide COVID-19 outbreak has confirmed to many Hams what they have been preaching to skeptics for years: You can never be too prepared for a crisis.

Amateur operators, especially those who specialize in emergency communications (EMCOMM), understand the value of asking “what if.” What if the power and phone services get knocked out? What if normal means of communications aren’t possible? What if lifesaving messages need to be relayed over an extended period of time? What if no one in a disaster area is licensed and trained to operate a Ham Radio?

To the growing legions of “what-if-ers,” use of the amateur bands is an insurance policy when all else fails. In the midst of the pandemic, there has been a marked increase in the number of people becoming licensed to operate Ham Radio—evidence that naysayers are starting to realize the value of being ready for worst-case scenarios.

Over its history, Ham Radio has proven again and again to be more than a hobby. Just ask the victims of Hurricane Maria, who benefited from amateur operators who dropped everything to bring their years of EMCOMM experience to Puerto Rico when the island’s electrical, land-line, cellular, and emergency radio networks were crippled by the storm.

As CNN reported, “Survivors needed food, water, shelter and fuel to power generators after Maria knocked out the entire electrical grid. They also needed to communicate, to share critical information about diabetics nearing the end of their insulin reserves, babies threatened by dehydration, families rationing crackers.”

With preparedness on everyone’s mind, we thought it would be appropriate to share some ideas about building a Go-Kit, or checking to see if your current kit is, indeed, ready to go at a moment’s notice.

What Goes in a Go-Kit?

Contents of a Go-Kit can vary from rudimentary to extensive depending on the type of operation, length of deployment, and location.

In general, Ham Radio Go-Kits may include equipment for VHF/UHF, HF, and/or digital transmissions, including radios, speaker mics, power supply, AC generator, laptop, antenna and supports, tuner, headset or earphone, antenna mount, etc.; must-haves like electrical and duct tape, flashlights, tool kits, extra coaxial cable, and extension cords; and personal items such as clothing, tent, sleeping bag, first-aid kit, waterproof matches, food, and water.

ARES, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service®, provides this handy ARES Field Deployment Go-Kit Checklist.  ARES is a volunteer organization of licensed amateur operators who provide communications support in the event of a disaster. Here are links to other volunteer emergency groups popular in the Ham Radio community:

  • RACES, Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service
  • SATERN, Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network
  • REACT International, Radio Emergency Associated Communications Teams
  • CERT, Community Emergency Response Team
  • SKYWARN®, a collection of trained weather spotters established by the National Weather Service

If you’re interested in becoming involved in one of these organizations, DX Engineering provides basic Go-Kits and supplemental gear that can get you started on the path to being a seasoned, well-equipped EMCOMM operator.

DX Engineering HF Go-Kits

DX Engineering’s HF Plus Go-Kits come with a compact HF transceiver, 200 watt automatic antenna tuner, 50 watt dual band transceiver, communications speaker, dual band handheld transceiver, speaker mic, 30 amp power supply, 4-outlet DC panel, a combined battery backup switch unit and 40A smart charger (for transceiver power, battery not included), a sturdy wheeled carrying case, and pocket repeater directory. Click for details on the two available kits: 

DXE-GOKIT-2 HF Plus Field Day Go-Kit
DXE-GOKIT-3 HF Plus Yaesu Field Day Go-Kit

DX Engineering 2 Meter Go-Kit

DX Engineering’s 2 Meter Go-Kit includes an 85 watt 2 meter mobile rig, 2 meter handheld transceiver, HT earhook headset, an external communications speaker, 4-outlet DC panel, an aluminum body LED flood/flashlight, and carrying case. Click here for details: DXE-GOKIT-1 Two Meter Field Day Go-Kit.

DX Engineering Digital Go-Kits

DX Engineering offers two Digital Go-Kits featuring a handheld, mobile, and base station transceiver plus digital interface and cables.

The DXE-GOKIT-4-DIG includes:

The DXE-GOKIT-5-DIG comes with all Yaesu radios:

Both Digital Go-Kits include communication speaker, automatic antenna tuner, SignalLink™ interface with built-in sound card, SignalLink™ radio interface cables, power supply, DC outlet panels, equipment case, and more.

More Go-Kit Items from DX Engineering

In addition to these kits, DX Engineering carries other items for EMCOMM operation, including coaxial cable;tool kitsSWR meters; portable telescopic masts, including the SOTABeams Tactical Mini and Heavy-Duty Tactical 7000hds, antennas such as the Chameleon MPAS 2.0 Portable HF Antenna System with Military Backpack, DX Engineering 8040 NVIS Antenna Kits, and more.

Need assistance building your ideal Go-Kit? The Elmers at DX Engineering are here to help. Call us or email Elmer@DXEngineering.com. Get everything you could possibly need at DXEngineering.com.

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