Portable Packet Digipeater for Emergency Service

by John Nee ley K6YDW

Box Emergency Radio
Photo A. The HT/TNC and battery box connected.

During the forest fire season, California has many major tires, some raging for several weeks. A call to amateurs for assistance in communications by various local, state and federal agencies is filled by the volunteers. During these disasters, the agencies involved need more portable packet stations and portable digipeatcrs, Some locations arc not accessible directly from rhe stations at the remote fire camps due to mountainous strain or other obstacles. The need for highly portable, battery-operated digi-peaters is obvious. Packet stations are used to pass logistical messages to and from the camps, along with health and welfare messages from the firefighters.

The August and September 1987 issues of CTM Magazine contained a two-part article by Robert Hoover KA6HZF titled "Captain Kirk's Lunch Box,,h which was about a totally self-contained, battery-operated, solar-charged portable digipeater. Mr, Hoover's article dealt with a complete package housed in a single Gi ammo box. It included a Yaesu FT-23 2 meter HT, an MFJ-I270 TNC and a single 14 amp-hour motorcycle battery, along with an external solar panel.

I thought this was a great idea, but I didn't have the liny HT that Mr. Hoover had. I did have an older Kenwood TR-2500 2 meter HT as a spare, and a spare TNC, the MFJ-1270. Since theTR-2500 is much larger than the FT-23, I had to rethink how I could get this all into a compact package. The answer was to use two boxes; one for the HT/TNC and the other for a duai battery pack which also included the solar controller circuit board (Photo A). The following article is a guide to building your own unit, no matter

Continued on page 18

Box Emergency Radio

Photo C. Inside the battery box\ The solar controller board is in the upper right corner

Box Emergency Radio

Photo B. Inside the HT/TNC box

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