Taking the 6500 on the road...

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  • Updated 4 years ago
With the ARRL 10meter contest fast approaching, I thought I'd share a bit about the VP2VGG contest station that you may encounter on the air, and how it got to the BVIs in one piece.

One major challenge to overcome... how to get a Flex-6500 (and associated cables, adaptors and support devices) safely from the SF Bay Area, to Anegada BVI... in spite of the fact that one way travel involves a train, 3 aircraft, 2 boats and a taxi.

Unfortunately, the Flex is too large to be packed in any carry-on sized luggage, so a more creative solution was undertaken in order to have the rig survive the trip.  First, I had to find a suitable case...

I selected the Pelican 1600, as it was the smallest case that would safely contain the rig, while also leaving additional space for other equipment required to operate the rig.  Including:
  • Flex-6500
  • Flex Control (USB)
  • NetGear ProSafe GS105E 5 Port Gigabit Ethernet Switch (12V)
  • ALFA R36 802.11 b/g/N Repeater and Range Extender (12V)
  • ALFA AWUS036H USB WiFi Adaptor (USB)
  • 9 dBi Omni WiFi Antenna
  • West Mountain Rigrunner 4005 (12V)
  • Windcamp FT-8x7 Headset/PTT/CAT Adapter (RIG)
  • Rig keying foot switch
  • KVE60C Pocket HF Antenna Analyzer (USB)
  • MFJ-260C Dummy Load
  • Various adaptors, cables and other devices required to operate a remote station
To secure these items from he rigors of travel by air, sea, and land, I had a custom foam insert manufactured:

The final case, with foam and gear. The bottom of the case holds a parts box for all of the converters, cables, fuses, and other parts that you always need when operating.

Above the parts box, the center cavity holds the radio, with additional cutouts to the rear of the rig to protect the RCA, BNC and PL-259 connectors from damage.  A lid organizer holds all of the cables, foot switch, mic, and other items.

All parts of the station run from either 5v USB, or standard 12v - with the exception of the laptop, which will run off of 120v. There are no wall warts or other noise sources to introduce QRM.

All in, the case, foam, and all the gear weighs in at less than 40 lbs. Well within the size and weight limitations for checked baggage.

If you hear VP2VGG on the bands this week, please give us a call.  Would love to have more Flex contacts this year!


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Posted 4 years ago

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Photo of k0eoo


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Impressive packaging job Robert!
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EA4GLI - 8P9EH - Salvador

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Very nice
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Please give us an equipment followup when you get back.
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Will do.  This is largely the same station that we operated with last year... with some refinements, better equipment protection, and weight reductions.  In addition, we've moved to a dual transceiver operation, with the Flex being dedicated to SSB this year, and K6TOP operating CW from his new K3.
Last year, we used this gear to take 2nd place, DX in multi-op low power.  2 major technical issues kept us out of first... lack of reliable internet access for spots (we had no spotting at all during the contest), and the 6500 developing a technical fault 3/4 through the contest - requiring a swap back to our backup rig (Icom 706).
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Walt - KZ1F

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Robert, did you do the custom cutouts or elsewhere? Who did the templates for that. Looks like a perfect snug fit.
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The foam was custom cut by MyCaseBuilder.com, based on the design template I built using their online tools.
They have my 3D design on file, and I would be happy to provide it to anyone who wants to design their own case.
It is a really snug fit. While easy to insert and remove the gear... there is no play between the rig and the foam.  I will probably make a few minor modifications to the cutouts near the antenna connections, as the foam was a bit higher than I expected.  The connectors are contacting and slightly depressing the foam when the Flex is in the center cavity.  Not enough to add pressure or cause damage... but it'll eventually cause the foam to breakdown and tear.
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Dave - WB5NHL

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Nice design!   However, "checked baggage"!!!  International airline liability is $640 per bag.  Some airlines allow you to declare a higher value and purchase additional coverage. Also check your homeowners insurance coverage. Good luck.
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Done, made that call on Friday... all covered.
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Ah yes...Anegada...make sure you have a fresh lobster dinnner.  73 de KP2L
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Sadly, the trip was scrubbed at the last minute.  Hope to catch some of you on the air this weekend... from California.
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Tim - W4TME, Customer Experience Manager

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Well, at least I got this in the mail today!