Friday, May 8, 2015

The Comms Trailer

Well Cherry, my wife, threw me a good one last month by telling me that I could buy a camp trailer to convert to a Comms/Ham Shack trailer.  OK so here is the rub we have to be able to use it on weekend jaunts.  So bravely I agreed and we bought 1970 single axle Prowler, about 16 feet long.  For it's age it is in really good shape and it has most of the needed amenities like a shower, toilet, stainless steel double sink, propane/electric refrigerator, three burner stove and oven.  The seller even threw in a coffee pot.  (What am I to do with 4 coffee pots???)

So the adventure started with me picking it up from the seller,  he is about half way between Mariposa and Oakhurst on Highway 49.  He gave a good briefing on how to light the heater and refrigerator and showed me some other details like where the electrical plug for shore power and the drain for black and grey water.  I then bravely hooked it up to my CUCV on a bumper hitch, now this is a heavy duty bumper on a military vehicle so I was not worried about getting her home, but more about the bumper later.  I had installed a 4 wire trailer plug on the CUCV several years ago so I could pull my flat bed trailer but I had noticed that the camp trailer needed a 7 wire plug so I went into town and had bought an adapter and when we plugged the trailer in volia everything worked.  Now I was feeling very confident and pulled out on Highway 49 headed for some.  No problems, I probably annoyed a few tourists when I could not get the CUCV to do more than 35 mph up the hills but I pulled over several time when I saw my convoy was starting to exceed 3 to 4 cars.  Took my exit at Bootjack and when I turned on to Sherrod Road I slowed way down working my way home.  Sherrod Road is not a super highway but a dirt track (too many pot holes to call it a road).

I get home park the trailer on the pad and low and behold looking at the hitch it has about a 30 degree tilt below horizontal and as I look closer my rear bumper has a noticeable bend to it.  Anyway my CUCV now sports a new Class IV hitch.

Now I go into the upgrade/improvement/repair mode.  First I start rewiring the 12v sustem and the setup of my solar panels.  On the interior I find wires that have been damaged either by mice or rubbing against holes drilled into the walls and two switches that don't do anything.  I have installed a voltmeter so I can keep an eye, from inside the trailer, on the charge status of the batteries and the drop in voltage as I turn on 12v devices.  I hope to run the comms equipment off the solar 12v system and so I need to monitor the batteries' status.
I am also running the 12v wires to where they are more useful.  Like down to the primary comms station and the secondary as well.  In this type of setup the IC706MkIIg really shines as it is an all in one type application. Hmmmm, well might have to add more batteries as the 706 even on low power VHF won't transmit.  Works fine on 110v just not on 12v.

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