A friend and I attempted the first ever activation of a local summit a few days ago. Of course, we’re new at this; it was his first summit ever, and only my second (my first actually having been quite pleasant and successful). The weather forecast called for some rain, but it was warm and sunny when we decided to make the attempt.
Unfortunately, the rain arrived and became quite heavy by the time we decided to give up, neither of us having made a single contact. We should have been better prepared, but it was a good learning experience, and definitely has not prevented us from planning to try again.
This brings me to my question. The timely thread about logging in wet conditions was a great start, as the suggestions there provided good alternatives to the standard paper tablet which became virtually useless even before we stopped trying. What I now want to figure out is how to keep my radio going in such conditions. I’ve done some research, but haven’t yet found an ideal solution.
I have a variety of Pelican (Peli across the pond) and similar cases which work fine to protect various items, though I had not brought any with me on this occasion (lesson learned). Unfortunately, the backpack (rucksack) and tactical pack in which I carried all of my gear both soaked through pretty thoroughly, and even some items which were inside two or three layers of cases/pouches/packs became wet. This was a good learning experience to see just how much protection my gear had not received.
The most worrying part was my FT-817. I covered it with a thin, non-waterproof jacket when the rain hit, but it didn’t do much good. I’m pretty sure it survived OK, but I don’t want that to happen again. I’ve read about several possible ways to protect such a radio, but none which strike my fancy. Placing the radio inside a Ziploc bag would protect it, but it isn’t exactly elegant. That method works well for equipment which is not in use, but I am looking for something which would actually allow the radio to operate (preferably conveniently) during significant rain.
I have similar concerns for the microphone, antenna tuner (if used), and other such accessories. What comes to mind is using resonant antennas to eliminate the tuner (obviously a good idea anyway; I did use a resonant dipole for my first activation), and building an adapter to use my waterproof VX-7 speaker/mic. Does anyone make a waterproof hand mic, preferably condenser (rather than a muddy-sounding dynamic like the MH-31), and preferably with the correct RJ-45 connector for the FT-817?
Then there is the question of clothing, but that is another topic, and one which I see has already been discussed extensively. It is an interesting tie-in, however, as I was already planning to look into such for purposes not specific to SOTA.
—73 Karl KA3RCS