The Amateur Amateur: “Dump” Bag
By Gary Hoffman, KB0H
In my jump
bag, I discovered a wad of used “Caution”
tape, definitely a bad sign. Some housecleaning and reorganization clearly
were in order.
May 26, 2007
It was more of a dump bag than a jump bag.
Crimpers, power adaptors, Caution tape, Super Glue,..
Last time I talked about how I discovered that my emergency preparations had,
essentially, “unprepared” themselves. I went on to
describe how I had to relearn how to set up a digital field station.
This time, I’ll reveal what else I discovered regarding my
alleged “state of readiness.”
Last time I said:
“My go-bag had unzipped and unpacked itself.” But I was
being too kind to myself. My jump bag was never
in any shape
to be deployed. Moreover, its contents were less a result of careful
planning and more a matter of impulsive buying. If I saw something at
a hamfest or even at the $1 store that looked like it might be
vaguely useful, I would buy it and toss it into my bag. It wasn’t
a jump bag so much as it was a dump bag. Thus my understandable
dismay when I eventually got around to inventorying it.
Let me be clear:
There is not a single
go-bag but three of them. The first,
and oldest, consists mainly of personal gear. There are spare
eyeglasses, a compass, a whistle, waterproof matches and all that
camping and hygiene stuff you see on lists of items recommended for
your go-bag. I went nuts in a Bass Pro Shop one day and bought
everything in sight. I won’t say this bag is complete, but I
believe it’s in reasonable shape.
The second bag
was intended to hold radio-related hardware. At some point I bought a
smaller bag for tools, intending to put it in the larger bag. But the
larger bag quickly ran out of space, so the tool bag is now bag
When I inspected
the three bags, it was the radio-related hardware bag that seemed to
be in the worst shape. Here’s what I found:
- a voltmeter, something I’m proud of
including in the bag. But I shouldn’t be. I was searching for
it just a few weeks ago and couldn’t find it because it was
buried under so much other stuff. It now resides in a special box
prominently marked “Voltmeter,” but if things get so bad
out in the field that I actually need to use it, I’m in deep
trouble indeed. I’m not much of an electrician.
- a roll of duct tape. That’s promising.
- a roll of coaxial cable connector weather
sealant. I’m not looking forward to any deployment during
which I might actually need to use this.
- an Anderson Powerpole crimper. I sure hope
that I remembered to include the Powerpoles themselves.
- a roll of yellow tape marked “Caution.”
I’m not sure what I had in mind when I threw that in the bag.
- a package of Super Glue. I’ll have to
remember to add a package of Super Glue remover as well.
- an awful lot of power adaptors. Good for me!
An impulsive buy at the $1 store.
- some Anderson Powerpoles. Ahhh, good, but
gosh, not very many. Has someone been borrowing from my bag?
- more Super Glue. I was either expecting some
serious breakage or I just bought a new package every time I was in
the $1 store.
- a package of cheap plastic knives with
disposable blades. This was definitely a $1 store purchase.
- a couple of bundles of red and black power
cable. At least I have something onto which I can crimp the
- a pack of twelve AA batteries. Good thinking,
but there don’t seem to be any other kind of batteries.
- a cigarette lighter plug and a cigarette
lighter socket. Obviously I was obsessed with power when I loaded
- a wad of used caution tape. That’s a
- a small platform with swivel-arm clamps and a
magnifying glass. Either I was expecting to fix something tiny or I
bought it cheap at a hamfest.
- a roll of electrical tape. No doubt about it,
I was expecting to fix something.
- a roll of Velcro tape. I definitely don’t
want to be without this.
- a magnifying glass with a built-in light. Did
I really think I could fix very small things in the field?
- a handful of yellow and orange ballpoint
pens. This is a legacy of Chuck Wehking, KC0QKS, and it defies
- near the bottom of the bag are a couple of
medicine vials containing coaxial connector adaptors. Naturally the
one I will need won’t be in the bag.
- and finally, a few empty medicine vials.
Those are to hold screws if I have to take apart something. If I
don’t cage those screws, they will most certainly escape.
So that was it
for the radio-related hardware bag. Some of you are shocked, no
doubt, at the absolutely vital stuff that I don’t have in
there. Feel free to write and tell me (gently, please). I’ve
only been on one practice deployment, so I haven’t learned much
The tool bag
contained every wrench I might need to put up and take down my field
antenna. It also contained more random tools that I picked up at the
$1 store. Startlingly, there wasn’t a single screwdriver. I
quickly corrected that oversight, but I suspect that the bag will
never contain all of the tools that I’ll really need in the
You know, I’m
beginning to believe that I’m going to have to purchase bag
Editor's note: ARRL member Gary Hoffman, KB0H, lives in Florissant,
Missouri. He's been a ham since 1995. Hoffman says his column's name
-- "The Amateur Amateur" -- suggests the explorations of a
rank amateur, not those of an experienced or knowledgeable ham. His
wife, Nancy, is N0NJ. Hoffman has a ham-related
Readers are invited to contact the author via e-mail,
© 2007 American Radio Relay League