Foundations of Amateur Radio Preparation for an outing ... Previously I've talked about leaving your shack and setting up your station in a different location. I have my car configured as a mobile shack of sorts, that is, it's got a radio, an antenna mount and wiring to manage the location of the speaker, the head-unit and the microphone. This weekend I'm planning to do a contest and it's been a while since I operated my radio from my car. I've been advocating that you should do some preparation before actually going and doing your thing, so during the week at lunch time I had a look around on the map and picked a spot that I'd like to operate the contest from this weekend. I drove to the location and pretended to set-up my station, actually, I did set it up. Tuned to the actual frequency, configured my tuner, found out that the tuning range for my antenna isn't ideal for 80m, not that this was a surprise. I'm using a so-called multi-tap antenna and the tuning range is somewhat dependent on factors such as the little metal spike that sits on top and where on my car it's mounted. In these situations I've heard other amateurs make statements that it's obvious because it's a compromise antenna. You won't actually hear me say that, since all antennas are a compromise, but then you already knew that. More surprising was the configuration of where I put the head-unit in my car. In the past I've used a modified mobile phone suction mount but sun and age have conspired into making that unsuitable, so I learned that I'd have to figure something out before my contest. Another surprise was that the microphone lead, which connects to a so-called separation cable, think Ethernet cable with RJ45 and joiners which connects back to the radio, had a little broken Ethernet doohicky (it's called the locking latch), which means that while you can push the connector in place, it doesn't stay. I also remembered that this contest was going to be in the dark, so I went looking for my LCD headlamp and it wasn't where I left it. So, now, several days later, after making my to-fix list, I actually managed to cobble together a few spare minutes and address most of my issues. The only one remaining is where to find the Allen Key for an 80m vertical antenna that I'm also bringing, just in case. The point of all this is that normally if you'd asked me if I was ready for my contest this weekend my immediate answer would have been: ""Sure"". I'm glad I followed the advise I have learned from the many mistakes I've made in the past by actually checking and because I actually went on-site I also managed to check out the local HF environment which means that come contest time I won't have a surprise that could have been managed by better preparation. No doubt there will be more to learn, but that's for after the contest. Perhaps next week. What do you do in preparation for an outing? I'm Onno VK6FLAB To listen to the podcast, visit the website: http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/ and scroll to the bottom for the latest episode. You can also use your podcast tool of choice and search for my callsign, VK6FLAB, or you can read the book, look for my callsign on your local Amazon store, or visit my author page: http://amazon.com/author/owh If you'd like to participate in discussion about the podcast or about amateur radio, you can visit the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/foundations.itmaze Feel free to get in touch directly via email: email@example.com, or follow on twitter: @VK6FLAB (http://twitter.com/vk6flab/) If you'd like to join the weekly net for new and returning amateurs, check out the details at http://ftroop.vk6.net, the net runs every week on Saturday, from 00:00 to 01:00 UTC on Echolink, IRLP, AllStar Link and 2m FM via various repeaters."