The Dawg House – Video/Comms Trailer

As reported earlier, we got carried away and bought a lot of 30′ 6 KW diesel retired construction light towers and converted these for communications purposes. We signed an MOU with Minnesota VOAD and MNARES and were reminded that not all disasters happen on warm, sunny summer afternoons. We in fact got an email heads-up about a series of unusual winter tornados not long ago.

The idea of deploying and needing to operate for several days reminded us of ARRL Field Day. But Field Day has three unusual features- it is planned, is in summer and has an extensive supply infrastructure.

Tents are ok to keep off bugs and rain. But after five days outdoors in ice fishing tents at the Loppet ski events in 2021, we decided we needed an upgrade. A 15′ camping trailer was tried. It was comfortable. But was big, heavy, hard to store and used a lot of fuel being towed. Many features did not work in winter. Winterization was a chore. And I worried constantly about the aging rubber roof. A friend just told us the slide-out jammed on his motorhome- a $12,000 repair. We did not need to house a family on vacation. Any trailer needed to fit in my driveway and be towable by sno-cat, or normal sized, non V8 vehicles.

The camper was sold and the hot market for enclosed cargo trailers was explored. N0NAS was arguing for larger, but I was set on the smallest possible. Currently, we did not need a lot of operating positions indoors. Five by eight seemed good, but I needed a side door, and a pointed nose for reduced drag and bit more storage. About six inches of extra inside height was critical. A new, custom made one was $4000 with surcharges – a bit pricey. A used one was found- dirty and rusty at auction. It housed a diesel saltwater pressure washer.

It had a handy nine-inch hole in the roof which was enlarged for an RV plastic hatch for light and air. A second three-inch hole was plugged and has a “N” bulkhead connector for mesh antennas. A 28″ counter was put in the nose and Group 31 battery, shore power and 20A marine battery charger/eliminator were added. I added an extra shelf for a microwave. This was a nice camper feature. Doug found a Harbor Freight flagpole which made a serviceable 20′ mast.

We tested it at several Hams in the Park events. And at the two-day Loppet Winter Festival. It was our video uplink center. The one thing- we need two of these. We had two events last Saturday. I might try to find a tiny awning. The idea is this trailer deploys with a pair of the 30′ diesel tower trailers. In active/standby that is 120 hours of fuel in the MNVOAD Headquarters role/tasking. In the great indoor propane heater debate I am voting for electric heat.

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