Tag Archives: Portable Radio

Guest Post: Mark’s Micro Go-Box for the ICOM IC-7100

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mark Hirst, who shares the following guest post:


Micro Go-Box for the ICOM IC-7100

by Mark Hirst

You’ll be familiar I’m sure with the IC-7100 base unit and separate head unit design. It lends itself very nicely for vehicle installation.

Using it in any ‘portable’ situation however has always presented something of a challenge. A FT-857 or FT-891 can be carried as a single physical package with the head unit integrated into the body. The radios can sit and potentially operate on their tail in a backpack, with products like the Escort from Portable Zero making that process even easier.

I’ve had a few attempts at solving this portability conundrum, driven by a concern that there could be long term problems continually connecting and disconnecting the component parts for transport and operation, but knowing that a permanently assembled IC-7100 will always be an awkward dispersed structure.

My first solution was a Stanley 16 inch toolbox, which is fortuitously sized to accommodate the base unit and provides enough space to loop the original connecting cable and head unit. The box is not a bad fit, but certainly bulkier than necessary and leaves enough room for things to rattle around. When tilted vertically, the head unit can start moving.

Fast forward to this week when I discovered that the IC-7100 base unit will also fit inside a 5 litre XL storage box made by Really Useful Boxes:

http://www.reallyusefulproducts.co.uk/usa/
http://www.reallyusefulproducts.co.uk/uk/

The XL version of the 5 litre box has a taller lid, and as you can see from the accompanying photos, accommodates the base unit with the head unit sitting on top of it in a ready to use configuration. The tolerances for height are also exact, the VFO knob very lightly touches the lid, so don’t put something heavy on the box:

Once the lid has been removed, the radio can operate directly from the container:

To make the whole thing fit, I used a 25cm CAT 6 cable in place of the original connection cable and a significantly shortened power lead. As luck would have it, I created the shortened power lead a while ago because I often put the battery right next to the radio.

You can see that I removed a section between the power plug and the fuses, and now use the removed length as an extension should the battery be further away. Although it wasn’t my intention at the time, the main part is about 2 feet long, the secondary about 8 inches.

For transport, the power cable is coiled behind the head unit, ensuring the fuse holders sit in the void immediately behind it, while the microphone cable is coiled on top leaving the microphone resting inside its own coil. You can see the arrangement below:

In the next photo, you can see how the cabling emerges from the back of the base unit:

There’s just enough space for the power cable to leave the base and bend around without undue pressure, and likewise for the CAT 6 cable to curve round into the back of the head unit. Two angle connectors make the antenna ports accessible from above, while a short USB external drive cable provides access to the USB port for data modes and CAT control. A longer USB extension cable is attached to this short cable only when required, and the extension uses much more substantial ferrite chokes to mitigate noise from the computer.

To complete the transport package, I’ve cut out a kaizen style foam insert to make sure the base unit can’t move back into the cabling space, and another to make sure the head unit doesn’t slide towards the front.

The last problem of course is cooling. The fan is located in the front of the base unit, with slots along the sides and top to allow air flow. The box unfortunately is exactly the right size for the base, leaving no gaps for air to circulate. In the absence of a proper workshop or professional tools, I opted to use a hole cutter designed for putting pipes through wood panels. It turns out that plastic has a tendency to deform rather than cut under the blades due to friction heating. A sharp knife was essential in dealing with the effects of that deformation to produce the final smooth edges around the holes:

While I’m happy with the port exposing the front fan, the two holes on each side do not completely expose the side slots. Do I drill out the space between them knowing how tricky and flexible the plastic can be, and would a larger hole compromise the strength of the box? For now, I’m going to keep a careful eye for any temperature issues.

The current arrangement is to carry the box horizontally in a cheap travel bag:

Could the box be tilted vertically with the base unit nose down and carried in a back pack for longer excursions? Yes, but experience has told me that the lid latches on Really Useful Boxes have a tendency to pop open when you do that, so a luggage strap around the box may be required to prevent its very expensive cargo from spilling out. I’m also mindful that the box lid gently touches the VFO knob, so might put load on it in the vertical position.

The final result is something of a Swiss watch, and there isn’t much room for error. Things have to be arranged ‘just so’ to fit, but it does mean I can pack and pick the whole thing up in a handy container. The radio only needs a battery and antenna to be connected on site and then it’s ready to go.

There’s something oddly satisfying when unrelated objects come together like this. Who knew that this box was just the right size to fit the radio?

So, what do you think?


Thank you for sharing this project, Mark!

I love your Micro Go-Box: it’s practical, affordable and makes an otherwise awkward field radio easy to deploy and use. Looking at your photos, I realize that the IC-7100 does have one strong suit for field use. The IC-7100 front panel is tilted at a very comfortable 45 degree angle for use. 

Post Readers: What do you think?  Any other IC-7100 owners out there who take their rig to the field? Please comment!

Preparing for Your Next DXpedition – New Videos

Regular readers of the SWLing.com blog will be aware that I am passionate about going portable/mobile with my radio listening hobby. There’s just nothing like communing with both nature and a bunch of electrons whizzing along the wire!

As a follow-up to an article I wrote several years ago, I have now prepared two new YouTube videos entitled Preparing for Your Next DXpedition – Parts 1 and 2.  

Part 1 covers:

– why we should even think about bothering to go portable with the radio

– the goals to consider when undertaking a DXpedition

– planning your listening depending on the time of day and time of year

– the all important decisions regarding location


Part 2 discusses:

– choosing the right radio for portable operations

– your options for powering the radio

– the antennas you could consider including on the trip

– handy auxiliary equipment

– references and notes to take along with you

– the importance of operator comforts while away

– developing a checklist…..so that you don’t forget to take something important!

These videos will be of interest to shortwave radio listeners and new amateur radio operators. Hopefully, they may be able to assist you in further enjoying our great hobby. They are embedded in this blog post below. You can also view these and other videos on my YouTube channel at Rob Wagner’s YouTube Channel

 

As always, thanks for watching and your comments are always welcome. 73 and good DX to you all,

Rob VK3BVW

Rob Wagner, VK3BVW, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. He also blogs at the Mount Evelyn DX Report.

A very clever radio go-box using the Gator GR6S shallow rack case

(Source: Southgate ARC)

Young radio amateurs Zechariah WX4TVJFaith Hannah AE4FHHope KM4IPF and Grace KM4TXT have released a video about their Go Box

Many people have asked us to make a detailed video about our Go Box, so we decided to make one. We show you what is in the Go Box and how we installed all of the equipment. There is also some funny stuff in the video, too!

The case we used was a Gator 6 rack unit shallow case:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/252763-REG/Gator_Cases_GR_6S_GR6S_Shallow_Rack_Case.html

The shelves are simply vented rack mount shelves. Here is a link to where you can get them:
https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/RkShelfU1

Watch A Close Look at Our Ham Radio Go Box and How We Put it Together:

Click here to view on YouTube.

Lea Family
http://hamradio.world/

These girls do an amazing job with the video–bravo!

I love this setup. While I typically pack very lightly for portable radio work, building a system like this makes for very quick deployment when you require a full 100 watt system with multiple radios and multiple accessories. Radio clubs could easily put systems like this together for events like Field Day or Emergency Comms. It’s grab-and-go at its best!

Of course, a field DXpedition/SWLing station could also be easily built into this portable system. In fact, I bet an SDR with computer, keyboard, and monitor could be mounted and accommodated in this space.

Pristine Condition Braun T-1000 Receiver Appears on Ebay

The German industrial designer Dieter Rams is world renowned for his beautiful and functional product designs, including the Braun T-1000 portable receiver.

These fine, collectable receivers appear on Ebay regularly, but this one is in pristine shape:

The asking price is a cool $1,800 USD, but for the near mint condition of this T-1000 it is likely appropriate; perhaps the new owner will acquire it for a “Best Offer” price. Other T-1000s on Ebay currently are priced from $370 to $1,299.

Of course, the cost is in-line with a collectable value; functionally, it’s reception abilities are almost certainly surpassed by a modestly priced SDRPlay RSP1 or a vintage Sony ICF-2010 for instance. The radio aficionado interested in the 55 year old T-1000 is not expecting best-in-class reception, but the chance to own a recognized icon of industrial design (the T-1000 is in NYC’s Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection).

Click here for the Ebay auction of the Braun T-1000: http://www.ebay.com/itm/BRAUN-T1000-GERMAN-GRUNDIG-SATELLIT-LIKE-SW-TRANSISTOR-RADIO-NEAR-MINT-/201891688853

Guy Atkins is a Sr. Graphic Designer for T-Mobile and lives near Seattle, Washington.  He’s a regular contributor to the SWLing Post.