Designing, building and effectively using a Rover station is a very evolutionary process. Tom and I have learned a lot over the past few years of roving. The following (in roughly chronological order) are some things we learned both good and bad over the years.
1.When we first started out, we threw a couple chairs, a card table, and some equipment in the back of the car, bungied some antennas and a pole to the roof. When we arrived at a site, we unpacked "stuff" and spent the better part of an hour or sometimes more setting it up and cabling. Then we operated for an hour or less and packed up and moved to another site. VERY INEFFICIENT! Also a very poor setup in the well known inclement weather! This setup was so unwonderful I do not even include any pictures!
2.So based on this experience, I made an equipment rack for the rear of the car where all equipment was cabled and we could operate under the protection of the raised tailgate. Then I built a "mounting rack" for the push up mast so it could be bungied to the roof with the cables already on it. At this point setup was indeed simplified. Just open the tailgate, drop the hinged lid on the equipment box, unbungie the mast and bungie it vertically to the tailgate and plug in all the cables. Get out the dish and tripod and set them up. It did indeed cut the time in half, but still not very good. And it was bad from two viewpoints: 1. Still not weather protected while operating. 2.could not operate most of the equipment while mobile (just the 144/440 FM rig). But is was better:
3. After studying our operation and talking a bit about what we wanted to try to achieve, we decided we had a few goals:
4. This evolved us to our next configuration.
In this iteration, our rover vehicle is still the Expedition. For the operating configuration, the front passenger seat is removed and replaced by an operating table. One of us operates from the drivers seat, the other from the right rear passenger seat. The equipment is packaged either on the table or in an equipment rack that is bolted in behind the drivers seat. The power system (generator, power supplies, and two deep cycle batteries) are in the rear.
Improvements were made to the antenna mountings. The manual mast erection was replaced with fiberglass telescoping masts in rotators on the front and rear of the vehicle supported by a 2x8 on the roof rack. The microwave antennas were mounted to a rotator on a metal plate on the roof.. Following photos are this configuration:
However, we were still not done. Some of the things we still needed to improve operationally and in equipment include: