Have a Question?
< All Topics

What is a go-kit and how do I build one for emergency communication?

A go-kit, also known as a jump-kit or grab-and-go kit, is a portable collection of essential amateur radio equipment and supplies that can be quickly deployed during emergencies or for portable operations. A well-prepared go-kit allows amateur radio operators to establish communications rapidly in the event of a natural disaster, power outage, or other emergency situations.

Here’s how to build a go-kit for emergency communication:

  • Choose a sturdy container: Select a durable, waterproof container that is easy to transport, such as a backpack, duffle bag, or hard-shell case. The container should be large enough to hold all of your equipment but small enough to be portable and easily carried.
  • Radio equipment: Include a reliable and portable amateur radio transceiver capable of operating on popular emergency frequencies, such as 2m and 70cm bands. A dual-band handheld radio (HT) is a popular choice for go-kits due to its compact size, but a mobile radio can also be used for increased power and range. Make sure to include extra batteries, chargers, and a power source, such as a compact solar panel or portable generator.
  • Antenna: Pack a portable antenna that works well with your chosen radio. Options include a simple whip or rubber duck antenna for handheld radios or a portable roll-up J-pole, dipole, or beam antenna for increased range. Don’t forget to include coaxial cable, adapters, and any necessary mounting hardware.
  • Power supply: Include a portable power source, such as a rechargeable battery pack, solar panel, or compact generator. Ensure the power supply has the appropriate connectors and voltage output to power your radio equipment.
  • Tools and accessories: Pack essential tools and accessories, such as a multi-tool, pliers, screwdrivers, electrical tape, spare fuses, a headlamp or flashlight, and a notepad and pen for logging contacts. Include a compact SWR meter, a small antenna tuner, and any necessary cables and adapters for your radio equipment.
  • Personal items and safety gear: Include items such as a first aid kit, water, non-perishable food, a change of clothes, sturdy shoes, gloves, a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, and any necessary medications. In addition, pack a whistle, a signal mirror, a reflective vest, and a space blanket for safety and visibility.
  • Documentation and reference materials: Include copies of your amateur radio license, a list of emergency frequencies, a local repeater directory, band plans, and any other relevant reference materials. Also, consider including a laminated map of your local area or a GPS device.
  • Identification and contact information: Clearly label your go-kit with your name, call sign, and contact information. In case you become separated from your kit, this information can help ensure its return.
  • Regular maintenance and updates: Periodically check your go-kit to ensure that all equipment is in working order, batteries are charged, and perishable items are replaced as needed. Update your documentation and reference materials as necessary.

A well-prepared go-kit is essential for amateur radio operators who want to be ready to provide emergency communication during disasters or other unexpected situations. By following these guidelines, you can build a go-kit tailored to your needs and be prepared to assist your community when needed.

Table of Contents