Well it's Sunday, and it's turned into '705 Sunday' at the QTH. And why not... can't do much else, it's so damned hot and humid here in the Peach State, as we sit and await the potentially possible arrival of Hurricane Fred.
For a few weeks now I've been contemplating better ways to carry the IC-705 to the field. So far I've been using Pelican cases (real Pelican cases, not the cheapo Harbor Freight knock-offs). They work great and provide unparalleled protection. But if I just want to grab a radio and accessories for a quick trip to a park the Pelican case(s) are bulky and gobble up too much space. Plus, it's hard to walk down a trail lugging a Pelican case. So I thought I'd give a backpack a try.
I took a pass on the Icom LC-192 backpack. It's over-priced, not sized well for (ahem...) 'larger' Americans, and I don't plan on talking on the 705 while I walk, so I don't need all the antenna brackets and pass-thru ports. I just need a backpack that provides good protection and enough space for the radio and accessories I want to take to the field.
|Too expensive & too small|
So, having some experience in the photography world, I figured a good camera backpack might do the trick. These backpacks are designed with two goals in mind. First, to protect the somewhat fragile and very expensive camera gear inside. Second, to provide ease of access. Perfect requirements for my IC-705 deployment project.
There's plenty of camera backpack options out there (just Google 'DSLR backpack'), with some low-end examples selling for around $30 and some pro models selling for over $300. Three hundred bucks may sound like a lot, but when you are carrying around $10,000 of professional camera gear, paying $300 for best-in-class protection makes sense.
I'm trying to proof a concept - can I put an entire HF/VHF/UHF station into a backpack? Radio, antennas, tuner, laptop, battery, cabling, everything I'd need for several hours of off-grid operation. But I didn't want to spend a hundred bucks or more on a 'concept' backpack, so I went searching. I found what I was looking for on Amazon - one of their 'Basics' line of products that got very good reviews. Even better, the cost was just a smidge under fifty bucks.
The backpack arrived a few days ago, and I have to say I'm pretty impressed. While it's not Mystery Ranch quality (if you know Mystery Ranch you know what I'm talking about), but for $50 it's surprisingly well designed and put together. Stiff and heavily padded compartments using dense foam, lots of accessory pockets and an overall good layout. The backpack isn't wateproof, but to my surprise Amazon includes a rain cover as part of the purchase, a nice touch. Just in case though, I plan on bringing along a few standard issue M1-A1 Hefty trash bags.
|What's in the backpack?|
This afternoon I decided to do a test load-out, to see if it would hold all the items I need for a few hours in the park. I was delighted to find that not only would it hold what I need, there's actually space left over for some non-essentials (like a cold Diet Coke).
So what fits? Let's look at the list:
- IC-705 with the Windcamp 'cage'
- AH-705 tuner with cables
- 4.5 amp hour LiFePo battery (Bioenno)
- 25' of lightweight RG-316 coax
- Par EndFedz Trail Friendly 10 - 40 meters wire antenna
- Comet HFJ-350 multi-band HF vertical ('Toy Box')
- 23' random wire antenna with counterpoise
- UHF/VHF/50 mHz 'rubber duck
- Small bag of connectors and jumper cables
- Fully rugged Windows 10 tablet/laptop with detachable keyboard and mouse
- Notebook & pen
- IC-705 documentation