Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Pelican cases

Carrying around fragile equipment is tricky business. It doesn't do you any good to pack up 100 pounds of gear only to have it all arrive broken. I've decided that a good, solid, waterproof case for the transceiver and related parts is a key ingredient for a successful trip. Although there are lots of solutions for this problem, I've mostly settled into one solution: a Pelican case.
These cases come in a variety of sizes and are all very strong and tough. I have four cases: a Pelican 1200 (for my Elecraft KX1), Pelican 1610 (for my FT-897D kit), and two Pelican 1510's (one for my Elecraft K2, and the other for my next project). The 1200 is small and would be suitable for a camera or very small radio like the KX1. The 1510 is the largest Pelican case you can use as a carry-on bag according to airline rules. The 1610 is the largest case you can use as a checked bag.
Though these cases are sold many place, I've found one dealer that I've been very pleased with so I stick with them. DXer case has a good variety of the Pelican cases and their prices and shipping rates are reasonable. The Pelican 1510 that just arrived the other day, for example, was $115.00 plus about $16 to get it across country from California to Massachusetts.
Pelican guarantees their cases for life as unbreakable, watertight, and dust tight. They are tough! But, that toughness comes at a cost: weight. The 1510 weighs between 12 and 14 pounds empty (or with the foam packing included) and the 1610 weighs about 22-23 pounds. Given a checked bag can only be 50 pounds total weight, the 1610 empty is almost half of the allowance! Still, I know that the stuff inside will arrive safely, dry, and ready for use. Again, saving weight on the case does you no good if the contents don't survive the trip.
There are some nifty add-ons to these cases that I'd also like to recommend. There is an order form inside the case that allows you to order a customized name tag that slips nicely into a recessed area in the case. I've ordered tags for all my cases. You can also get a drying agent enclosed in a little metal canister that can be kept in the case to help keep things dry. Given the case has an O-ring seal, it could easily trap moisture inside as well as it keeps moisture out! I ordered one of these in January and have been using it in the 1610. I like it. When it has absorbed all the moisture it can, the little beads inside turn a different color. To dry the pack out again you just throw it in the oven at 300 degrees for 3 hours and it is ready for use again. I just ordered two more of these gizmos for the two 1510 cases.
If you don't already have a good way of transporting your equipment, consider these Pelican cases. Yes, they are a bit heavy--but the peace of mind you'll have knowing your stuff will arrive safely can't be beat. After all, it would be better to bring less stuff and have it all work than bring more stuff and have it be broken!


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