As supplied, the RTL type tuner dongles are a little fragile, especially when they’ve got a rather heavy coax feeder attached for Ham Radio use.
The MCX antenna connectors on the tuner can’t stand up to much abuse, and even the USB plug rips itself from it’s mounts after a while with a heavy weight on the end. Since this dongle sits in my radio go bag, it definitely needed some protection & support.
The PCB itself is removed from it’s flimsy plastic casing, the USB plug is desoldered from the board.
To the exposed pads, a USB cable is soldered, giving much more flexibility in where the tuner is placed.
Instead of using the MCX antenna connector on the PCB, the coax is stripped & soldered direct to the PCB itself, as this connector has become unreliable.
To get the RF into the device, the case is fitted with an N connector, as is everything else in my shack.
The box used is a surplus one which previously housed an electronic lighting transformer. This would be very easy to waterproof as well, for more protection against outdoor use.
There are times when I am frequently away from home base, usually either on the canal system or at a festival. During these times it’s very handy to be able to just grab a bag, without having to be concerned about sorting everything out.
This post will only detail the portable shack bag. The power supply kit that goes along with it with be detailed in another post.
The bag I use is an VHS Camcorder bag from the early 80’s. It’s very well built, & copes easily with the weight of all the radio gear.
Total weight for this system is 13.4lbs (6kg).
Above is the bag packed. Obligatory International Ameteur Radio Symbol patch front & centre. Being an old camera bag, this easily slings over the shoulder, with it’s padded strap.
Here is all the current equipment laid out. All the equipment to enable me to set up a station anywhere.
In the following photos I will go into the details.
First off, my main radio. This is the same Wouxun KG-UV950P mobile rig I have posted about previously. I have heatshrunk the power cable to keep it together & attached my standard power connector to the end. More on these later on.
In the bag I also carry three Baofeng UV-5R handhelds. Extremely useful for short range site communications, along with their charger bases. The charging base on the right has been slightly modified to support charging of my main LED torch as well, which uses similar Li-Ion based packs as the Baofengs.
As the charger bases for the Baofeng HTs take a supply of 10v DC, I have constructed a 12v adaptor system for them. (Which utter prat of an engineer at Baofeng picked 10v?)
Also included is a small Alinco ELH-2320 35W 2m linear amplifier. This was given to me from the local HackSpace in Manchester. (They don’t have any ham members, besides myself). Also here is my small SWR & Power meter, SDR kit & a pair of syringes. These are filled respectively with Copaslip copper loaded grease, (very good for stopping fasteners exposed to the weather from seizing up), and dielectric silicone grease. (I use this stuff for filling connectors that are exposed to the weather – keeps the water out).
I always keep essential tools in the bag, here is the small selection of screwdrivers which fit pretty much any screw fastener around, my heavy-duty cable shears (these buggers can cut through starter cable in one go!) and my trusty Gerber Diesel multitool.
Main antenna magmount & a spare Raspberry Pi.
Finally, the antennas for the HTs, main dual-band antenna (Nagoya SP-45) for the magmount, a small selection of spare plugs, sockets & adaptors. Also here is a roll of self-amalgamating tape, very handy for waterproofing wiring connections (especially when used in conjunction with the silicone grease), & a roll of solder wick.
Now, the main power connectors of choice for my equipment are Neutrik SpeakOn type connectors:
These connectors have many advantages:
They are positive locking connectors. No more loose connections.
They have a high continuous current rating of 30A RMS.
Relatively weather resistant.
Also, they have two pairs of pins – and as some of my bigger non-radio related equipment is 24v, this allows me to use a single set of plugs for everything. Without having to worry about plugging a 12v device into a 24v socket, and letting out the magic blue genie.
Once everything is packed up, here’s the bag:
Everything has a neat little pocket for easy access. Some closeups below.
I will post more about my portable power system later on, as this bit of my kit is being revamped at the moment.