Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Gear selection part 1

The trip is now this month. In fact, I will be on-island in three weeks. Time to get these plans finalized. I will start with the main pile of radio gear. Here is the collection as of today. Except where noted, all this stuff is organized nicely in a Pelican 1610 case.
  • ICOM IC-7000 - This will be the main transceiver for the trip. It gives me 100 watts out, DSP, internal voice and CW keyers, and rig control functions in a very small and lightweight package.

  • HamMac - Computer logging is mandatory for any serious DXpedition or contesting effort. The computer is loaded with both MacOS X and Windows XP, runs logging programs like MacLoggerDX and N1MM, along with some software I have written for DXpeditions that process my log file and produce an HTML version for an online log searching feature for the DXpedition web site. The computer also has electronic copies of all manuals for items taken on the trip, propagation software, complete copies of the ARRL Antenna book and Handbook, and much more. This is not just a computing tool; this is also a reference library.

  • LDG AT-7000 - This tuner has the same footprint as the radio and tunes over a wide range. I hope to have only resonant antennas erect, but this is my "backup plan" should I need to run something weird like a random wire or loop around the building. It weighs very little and takes up very little space in the Pelican case. Plus, the interface is so easy: just push the "tune" button on the radio and it does all the work. I like that.

  • Heil Headset - I actually have three different Heil headsets:

    All of these headsets are very nice. The Proset Plus usually stays connected to the desktop rig at home. The Pro Set Quiet Phone noise canceling headset was purchased after using one at K1TTT's superstation. The Traveler Dual Side was used on the Montserrat DXpedition and performed well (and was comfortable on the head, too). My plan is to pack both the Traveler Dual Side and the Pro Set Quiet Phone headsets. They don't weigh much, and I don't know which feature will be most important while down on St. Kitts: the low weight of the Traveler, or the noise canceling circuitry of the Pro Set Quiet Phone. For a few extra ounces, I can bring both. The headsets get packed in with the clothes (not in the Pelican case).

  • Foot switch - Keeping both hands free for logging is very important. I have never liked VOX. Perhaps the same thing could be accomplished with VOX, but I am much more comfortable with the foot switch. Just stomp to talk works for me!

  • Mixer - I am bringing the Behringer UB502 mixer. I recorded every on-air moment to my iPod down on Montserrat and it provided lots of great source material for presentations. (Also, if there was a question about me goofing up a log entry, I could go back and hear the QSO again. Nice.) Plus, after hearing the audio presented by the CN2R superstation, I'm wondering if I couldn't do something like that, too.

  • Alinco power supply - The heavy, but extremely rugged, DM-330 power supply served me well on Montserrat and will be accompanying me on this trip, too. Why this one? Lame as this might sound, this is the power supply I saw used by in a very impressive DXpedition video. Good enough for them? Good enough for me! It is a bit heavier than I would like, but seem very, very solid. Oh, and it is dead quiet, too. No hash at all. Recommended.

  • AntennaSmith antenna analyzer - The TZ-900 AntennaSmith from Timewave has been very helpful (and instructive) this spring and summer as I evaluate various antenna configurations and ideas. This will be packed in its own small Pelican case with the charger and USB cable in a separate bag. The Analyzer, like the headsets, also gets stuffed in with my clothes.

  • Small parts and cables - Also packed within boxes stuffed into the big Pelican case are various cables and small parts. These include a RigTalk, patch cables for the LDG tuner, adapters for the Heil headsets, power supply for the mixer, power harnesses for the power supply, radio, and tuner, extra snap on chokes to manage stray RF along wires, and various PL259/BNC/SO-239 connectors that are invaluable when you need to "try something" while visiting that faraway place.

This is the contents of the main Pelican case (plus some extra pieces) so far. All that is left to inventory are antennas, coax, rope, and tools. I'm still sorting out things in these categories. By the way, the Pelican case now weighs about 45 pounds. Note that includes the weight of the case (22 pounds). Life is good.
I'll continue the inventory discussion over the next couple of days. Perhaps a couple of pictures might help, too. I'll see what I can do.


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