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« Transitions | Main | Part 3--Continuing series of Man vs. Machine »

Go Kits and other related matters

Right now, my basement floor is loaded with radios, power cables, programming software as I prepare for the Shamrock Shuffle. My Go Kit is largely my storage locker filled with specialized gear that we need to support these events. Every single event is slightly different, so I go through this gear check ritual every year. It is the same process I have used for years in my film and video practice. Before every shoot, we would test the cameras and equipment to make sure everything was set right. It was a sacred ritual! And a good one. I cannot tell you how many times I have discovered issues that got managed before I put into the middle of chaos…radios with issues, headsets that don’t work, programming that is wrong.

So while I subscribe to the notion that one should have a “go kit” ready to roll, the fact is it may not always be a simple portable kit. It might be more of an attitude. Am I prepared to do my job? What contingencies do I have along with me in case of failure (extra batteries, tools, meters etc.)? When I worked as film cameraman, I used to have a three tiered storage kit that contained everything that I had forgotten in previous shoots…all little things, but all essentials for getting the job done. I retired that case a couple years back (it became too full!), but the attitude still lives on. Although, I still keep dental floss in my emergency kit…I have used it to fix all sorts of things!!…even made a soldering iron out of a penny once to fix a mic cable! Heat up the penny on a stove and boom…enough heat to re-solder.

In many ways, life is all about preparing our own collective “go kits.” This past year, we have seen the passing of many, really too many, of our fellow ham friends. This brings up another thought; let’s call it “Gone Kits!” We all know the day will come for us all when we are called to the master control room in the sky. What we often don’t reflect upon, however, is the impact our ham radio lives might have on our spouses or families. I am not just talking about the loss of a beloved one. I am talking about leaving behind our legacy gear! I have been involved intimately with a couple of these this year…and every radio, every cable, every part, no matter how small carries with it the hopes and aspirations of the one we knew. You touch it and you touch them, again, and again and again. Of course, for all of us, the legacy of our ham lives is usually marked in mountains of collected treasures. Like my three tiered box, we keep everything that we might need forever!

One friend’s byproduct of his collection was an enormity of empty boxes that once held the brand new radios. Well, this guy loved to horse trade and would sell, trade, give stuff away - but didn’t always include the boxes. I know, I have a locker full of empty boxes myself. I am revising that notion as I write!! You can always buy another box! The more difficult part of this transition is trying to demonstrate to the people left behind that most of the gear does not have much monetary value, unless you can get it into the hands of the right people. It is a tough problem and can be a difficult assignment for whoever is charged with the duty of selling off the gear. There is not good answer here…except perhaps to occasionally spring clean our shacks to make sure we aren’t harboring things that truly will be a burden to others. I will be the first to volunteer for spring cleaning!!

73, Rob K9RST