The summer, following 911, the Marion County Emergency Management (an exponent of FEMA and Iowa Homeland Security), offered to purchase some amateur radio gear for us, in exchange for assistance, during a major disaster.  We told the EC that we would help, whether we got the equipment or not, but new equipment would help us (them) out tremendously. 

 A list was developed and all of the equipment was purchased (Please keep in mind that there were meetings to attend and justifications to make) and it was made clear to us that this equipment would always be destinated for Incident Command. We were also informed that our primary function would be to establish and maintain communications with the Joint Forces Headquarters, located about 70 miles from us. This is where the heads of all military branches, FEMA, Homeland Security, Red Cross, Salvation Army (you get the idea) will meet, if a major incident should occure.

 The following describes what was purchased and how we set it up.

Even though the Marion County Emergency Management purchased the bulk of our emcom station,  there were needs that were realized and more equipment that was necessitated.

 The purpose of this emcom station is to be able to pick up, go, and set up at a moments notice and with minimal time.

 We solved this problem by purchasing and mounting all of our equipment in a 12-space SKB 19” rack. 

 The only fact not realized is that we estimated the total weight of this package to be about 50 LBS and it ended up being 119.5 LBS! Oops!  Not compatible with geriatrics so movement should be a two-person job.

When the anterior cover is removed from the case, this is what presents.

At the top of the rack, we purchased a 4-space cover, with holes, and mounted four JVC-CSV414, 4”-dual-cone-speakers, rated at 100 watts and cones made from composite material.  These are fairly cheap speakers but we won’t blow them out and they should better acclimate to temperature and humidity changes.

 These speakers are connected to each radio and are wired into headphone jacks and DPDT rocker switches.  The function of this is to have audio present at the front, for easier listening, and also be able to select just headphones or headphones and external speakers.  Switching to just headphones will be desirable if a quieter environment is necessary at Incident Command or switching to external speaker if the Incident Commander wants to listen or so the public can hear during field day.

Electrical distribution is provided by a Furman, Series II, 15 amp, power conditioner.  This not only filters the AC being delivered to our equipment, but it has an LED voltage meter and also has retractable LED rack lights so that we can illuminate all the controls during periods of ambient light.

A PK-232 Data Controller was added so that we are able to handle most digital communications.

We then mounted an AOR AR3000A receiver.  This multipurpose receiver scans 100kHz – 2036Mhz with no blocked out frequencies and receives AM, NFM, WFM, USB, LSB & CW signals and has 400 channels.

This receiver was chosen so that no matter what mode or frequency is being utilized, we should be able to receive it

The IC-706KIIG was chosen because it does everything we could ask, in a very small package.  This rig has HF, 6-meters, 2-meters, 440, and puts out 100 watts.  We have worked with several Icom radios in the past, with very few problems, which made this purchase a no-brainer.

The Kenwood TM-D700 is the work-horse of the whole system.  Most of our communications are committed to 2-meters and there is no machine that can match the D700.  The ability to separate the control head from the radio permits us to better utilize negative space inside the SKB container.  How do we like the D700?  We have purchased six of them, so far.

To cover our CW needs, we selected the MFJ-495 Memory Keyer.  This gets more use out of Field Day when we are sending the same redundant information, but this reinforces the desire for memory keying.  It is also a nice back-up to have incoming CW, deciphered on the screen, in front of you.  Please notice that it is capable, and we did incorporate, the ability to plug in and send CW with a computer key-board.

Any key that goes into our emcom station is going to be a Vibroplex.  Massive weight affords stability during use and an adjustment to personal taste is quick and easy.

 Modifications were made to this instrument so that we could move it in and out of the case and lock it into an operating or transporting position.

When the posterior cover is removed from the case, this is what presents.

The top of our case makes room for a locking rack drawer.  This is the ideal place to store our Heil headsets, Garmin GPS, identification tags and any other small items.

We do not want any trouble with our rigs, especially on the power supply side, so we purchased an Icom PS-125 Base Station Power Supply to handle the HF rig.  It is expensive and heavy, but at least we won’t have to worry about power handling capabilities.  This power supply is dedicated only to the Icom 706.

After weighing all the pros and cons, we ended up buying a one-space security cover with 1/16 hole and mounted five SO-239 double females in it.  The antenna jacks were not accessible on the back of the radios so RG-8U jumpers from rig to SO-239 makes for easy for fast connect and disconnect.

 Antenna labels were made by using Photoshop to create the labels and then attaching them under pieces of Plexiglas.

Our antennas consist of the RADS (Rapid Antenna Deployment System) 9-11/A1, which is usually connected to the Icom, and a water-pipe J-Pole which is usually connected to the Kenwood. These antennas satisfy most of our needs but we do have immediate access to various wire antennas, vertical traps, and beams, just in case.

We did participate in a disaster drill, where we set up this emcomm station, stuck the J-Pole in the ground, fired up the generater, and made immediate 2-meter contact with an area hospital, 30 miles away.


We did attach a ground lug to the frame so that we are able to ground the whole system.

Computer cords are attached onto all rigs and neatly tucked in the back so that data communications can be rapidly accessed.

The D700, AOR, PK-232, and Keyer are all powered by a MFJ-4125, 25 Amp Switching Power Supply.

Digital communications are handled with a Dell Precision M70 laptop computer.  Besides all the standard communications software, the Dell also contains the manual of every piece of equipment in the emcom station, every frequency assigned in the State of Iowa, and all the SOP’s for NIMS and ICS.

The encomm station is powered by a Honda 2000 generator. 2000 watts, 47 LBS, less than 60 dB, and 4 hours per gallon at rated load.