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What's in your scarbox?

I am a filmmaker. Well, I used to be! Now, I am a video person! In the not so old days of yore, we prided ourselves on being prepared for any contingency. We carried extra gear, spare parts, lots of little things that may not be needed, but it was great to have when you needed it. That was the day too when we used to have 4 or 5 person crews to carry all of this stuff. Over the years, I started carrying a three tier tool box for all of the little things that it seemed we had forgotten. Things like wire to hold up paintings, or nails, thumb tacks, tape of many colors, nylon thread, rope, clothes pins, pens, sharpies, nuts and bolts, electrical adapters…well, you get the idea. I used to call this the scarbox because every time you forgot something critical, it would leave a scar on your pride. Over time, the box got larger and heavier until just became impractical to carry. Seems that everything I might need today I could buy at Walgreen’s! So the case was dropped from the required equipment list as our crews downsized and speed was more of a measure than preparedness.

I mention this now because I have to return to this practice for some of our ham radio activities. The Club recently supported the Evanston Bicycle Club’s North Shore Century. I usually bring along a tub of stuff, called the NSRC office, which is loaded with all sorts of spare parts and some office supplies. But I do not often carry test equipment. We set up our antennas for the event, one atop a 40 foot pull up mast. It looked terrific. We were thrilled with our work and plugged it into the radio without ever testing it. The next day, the day of the event, we were getting all sorts of mixed reviews about our signals. We limped along the best we could until someone had the bright idea of changing to a different antenna. Voila! Magically, all of our problems went away. Now you might think it was a bad antenna but in testing after the event, we discovered there is something wrong with the coax. I just grabbed a coil from our inventory and never checked it out after it was used last. Lesson learned. I need to carry test equipment and double check everything before leaving the site.

Now in my defense, I had been a little distracted…life…that thing we do when we are not on the radio…got in the way. My mother-in-law passed away that week and chaos reigned all around us. I managed to get us to the event, set up our encampment and surrounded myself with some really talented people so that it all looked goo And we did look great. We did an outstanding job. The scars, however, are still on my back. Lesson learned.

We brought 32 ham radio operators to the event and not all from the North Shore Radio Club. I was delighted by the support we have received from hams all over the city. I would like to encourage more members of our own club to help out with these events. Not only do we provide a terrific public service, but it puts a face on ham radio. It helps promote the hobby in a positive way.

Many of us are working on the Chicago marathon coming up on October 11. We have nearly 130 hams helping out from four states on that project! Meanwhile, a couple of us are going to set up a demo station at a Cub Scout event in October to show the young folks what ham radio even is!! Yes, Martha, there is still a ham radio hobby!! Join us on October 17 at Camp Oakarro in Wadsworth, Illinois. Drop me a note and I will give you more details.

Meanwhile, be prepared.

73, Rob K9RST