This is a portable HF (High Frequency) HAM Radio station I built a couple of years ago. This has been a great grab-n-go box and has served me well. I update/re-configure the box from time to time according to my personal needs and preferences.
A few years ago, I was browsing through an Army Surplus store here in my home town, and came across an all aluminium case for a pair of night vision goggles. Unfortunately the goggles weren’t included, however the case seemed promising. Each half of the case is built from a single piece of aluminum with the handles and latches riveted in place. On one side of the case, just below the carry handle is a pressure relief valve. The case is approximately 13 3/4 ” X 15″ X 11″ deep and is air/water tight. This seemed like the perfect case for a portable radio project.
The radio I had planned for the case was an Icom IC-706MkIIg. A great (though slightly outdated) all mode / all band radio. I wish the CIV control was a bit better on this rig, but all together a great rig. I wanted something that I could plug in and run with out having to connect a lot of wires and cables so it made sense to incorporate an auto tuner, and external signal meter into the box and I just happened to have both lying around.
First of all, I did not want to compromise the integrity of the aluminium case so the structure to hold the radio and other components needed to sit tightly inside the case, but not bolted directly to the case. The main frame is constructed of 3/8″ plywood. I chose plywood because I had it lying around, it was relatively light weight, and easy to work with. I built a cross-hatched frame with the plywood pieces so they slid together tightly. The frame was then glued together and bolted with small aluminum angle brackets for strength. The face plate is made of thick Plexiglas. After the holes for the radios and other pieces were cut, the back of the Plexiglas was painted black to give it a nice finished glossy look. The whole assembly slides into the box, but can be removed for maintenance. I’ll try to elaborate more on the construction process at a later date.
Finally, the whole box can be packed / unpacked in under a minute. With everything incorporated, the only connections are 12v in, HF / UHF-VHF antennas, and ground.
- 3 separate antenna connections:
- HF (via power meter & auto tuner)
- HF (direct – for use with external auto tuner)
- Auto Tuner
- Cooling Fan (switched)
- Voltage meter (switched)
- Fuse box
- SWR Power meter
- CIV connector cable – for use with logging / rig control software