Emergency Preparedness Part 2
by Phil Karras, KE3FL

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 Emergency preparedness sounds important, big, and daunting.  Important
 it is, but the other two it is not.  Not, that is, if done in a step by
 step fashion.  Just what does one need to do to prepare ones radio for
 emergency operations?

 It can be as simple as supplying emergency power for the home radio, or
 as complex as being prepared for emergency field operations.  These are
 not as difficult as you might think; after all, we practice just this
 type of operating every field day!

 For emergency field operations, you will need:
 	1. A DC power source (deep-cycle battery, 70 AHr or more)
 	2. A rig that can be DC powered
 	3. Power connections (see past issue)
 	4. Coax
 	5. Antenna
 	6. A method to put the antenna up
 	7. Antenna tuner (optional)

 You do not need to rush out and buy the items you don't have.  I bought
 them over a two-year time frame.  I will describe how I managed a
 little at a time and had operating fun all along the way.  I will be
 describing HF operating.  If you only have VHF, it works out the same
 except that putting up a VHF antenna is easier since it is vertical.  A
 good VHF emergency antenna is the foldable J-pole.  There was an
 earlier article about building one from 300 ohm TV-antenna twin lead
 cable.  I use one of these with great success.

 I became interested in emergency operations because of field day 1992.
 I received my Novice ticket on 6/12/92, just two weeks before field
 day.  The weekend before field day, I went to the Frederick County
 hamfest and picked up a used Ten Tec Century 21.  The more I thought
 about it, the more I wanted to run my own Novice station for field day.
 On the Friday before field day, I called Ten Tec to see if the Century
 21 could be run off of battery power.  The answer was yes, provided I
 made sure the output was no more than 35 Watts or that the input
 current was below 6 amps.

 Friday evening, I put together a cable to take power from the car
 battery to the radio.  I borrowed a wattmeter to insure the proper
 output power level and I took wire and coax for a 40 meter antenna.

 After helping set up the other stations, I started on the Novice
 station.  I measured out the antenna, moved the car into position,
 hoisted the antenna on a couple of tent poles 10 feet tall, connected
 power, and was on the air.  It was a great feeling to have done it all
 myself.  I didn't set any Novice station records, but I did get a
 station on the air with only "make do" parts, except for the borrowed

 I enjoyed the outdoor battery power operating so much that one evening
 I decided to operate the station via battery power.  I hooked up two 12
 volt seven AHr gel cells and operated for over an hour; so I was
 emergency power on my home rig with the home antenna.  It was a thrill
 and reminded me a little of the field day operating I had enjoyed so

 That summer turned out to be an emergency operator's field day.  We
 lost power to the house three times that summer and each time I moved
 the rig into the garage to get power from the car and made at least one
 QSO.  Again, this was with just the rig, home antenna, and emergency
 power.  Around this time I also bought an antenna tuner which helped me
 get on more than the 80 meter band.  My home 80 meter dipole could now
 be used on all bands from 160 to 10 meters.

 One word of warning: a car battery is made for high current short
 duration operating after which it expects to be recharged.  Emergency
 operations may need power for extended periods of time without the
 possibility of recharging the battery.  This type of operation can
 quickly destroy the typical car battery.  If you plan to do this type
 of emergency operating, you should get a good deep-discharge battery.
 One way to do this is to join our ARES group and adopt a 70 AHr
 deep-discharge battery from us.  We have many homeless batteries
 looking for a chance to help an emergency operator out, and the price
 can't be beat!

 I found this kind of operating so much fun that I did it on a regular
 basis whenever the time was available and the weather was right.

 In the fall of 1992, I bought a deep discharge battery for emergency
 power.  I then made the required power connections for the rig.  I was
 now emergency-ready at my home for all bands from 160 through 10 meters
 and for 2 meters.

 In December, 1992, I passed my Extra exams and treated myself to a used
 Yaesu FT 757 GX II.  With this radio, I had a small all-band, all-mode
 radio to use at the next field day.  This radio was made to operate on
 DC power so I only needed a power connector.

 I now had a rig, emergency power, power connector, coax, a 40 meter
 emergency dipole, and an antenna tuner.  At this point I was only using
 rope to pull the antenna into the trees...  but what if there were no
 trees around? Well, I thought about this one for a long time.

 After my second field day, I picked up two packs of surplus military
 poles.  They were not in the best of shape.  They required some sanding
 and re-painting, but the price - free - was just right.  Each pack
 would make a pole 35 feet high.  I quickly found that 20 feet was as
 much as I could push up alone with no hinged base.  I made a wood
 insert to hold the dipole at the top and pushed up a 20-foot, high
 inverted-vee and operated.  It took me about an hour to get everything

 Since becoming an Official Emergency Station (OES), I have wanted the
 ability to get into the MEPN (Maryland Emergency Phone Net) as well as
 the MDD (Maryland DC Net, a cw-net).  Both of these nets are for
 emergency traffic and are on the 80 meter band.  This would make field
 operations a bit more complicated; after all, an 80 meter dipole is
 about 126 feet long.

 Last fall I started doing some mobile cw operating.  To do this, I
 bought two mobile whip antennas for 40 and 20 meters.  My idea was to
 buy two of the 80 meter mobile whips and put them together as a dipole.
 Just after the Hagerstown hamfest in May 1994, I did just that.  I
 picked up two 80 meter mobile whips from ASA.  I placed them on only 15
 feet of pole in a horizontal orientation and managed to get into the
 MEPN on emergency power.  The entire operation took less that 30
 minutes to set up and less than 10 to take down.

 That's the story: start slowly and enjoy the trek.  Half the fun of
 attaining a goal is the path along the way.  You will find that if you
 follow the same general path I did, you can enjoy emergency operating
 in different stages.  If you have a rig that operates on battery power,
 start by getting an emergency battery.  Build the power connections and
 build or buy a trickle charger.  (See my articles on power connectors
 and trickle chargers in past issues.) Next, get some coax.  I use 30
 feet but I also have an additional 100 feet if needed.  Next, put
 together an emergency dipole or J-pole for the band/bands you want to
 operate.  Or buy/build the small versions like mobile whips.  Pick up
 about 15 to 20 feet of poles if you want to lift the antenna.  Since
 this last is not needed by everyone, I would suggest you wait until the
 price is right.

 That's all there is to it.  Done in this manner you can operate at each
 stage, gain experience, and enjoy yourself along the way.  Join our
 ARES group and you can save the cost of the battery, and we will even
 help you get it up and running.

 There are always new things to try on the emrgency operations front!

Information: If there are other points that would benifit all to know related to this article please
send them to me at: e-mail to: KE3FL .

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