The DX Forum at Hamvention was conducted on Saturday afternoon and by that time I was packing up to head home. I hated to miss it, but fortunately, this and various other presentations are available for viewing online and yesterday I made time to catch up with what I had missed at the DX Forum.
One of several presentations was given by W6IZT about the evolution of the “Rig in Box” concept that has been floating around for at least a few years. I didn’t think I would have an interest as I thought this was yet another project intended to automate the radio operator completely out of the equation.
But I had it all wrong…
In a nutshell, it’s a climate-controlled, sealed container that includes a Flex Radio 6700 and amplifiers capable of operating on multiple bands and modes at the same time. This station is controlled by up to six operators over Ethernet or radio link.
Imagine that a team travels by ship to some exotic island location carrying one of these “boxes”. They transport it to the island and set it up along with the necessary antennas and gas-powered generators. They turn it all on and then retreat to the comfort of the ship where they will operate the now remote equipment for the duration of the DXpedition.
The RIB is a complete 1 kW station in a box. It can be remote controlled, either locally via Ethernet or via a 900 MHz wireless link. The RIB serves two goals: speed up and simplify DXpediton set-up, and it allows remote operation from the boat in places where authorities restrict access on environmental or safety grounds, or do not allow camping or overnight stays.
The benefits are legion beginning with the reduction of freight normally required to shelter and feed the same number of operators who would make camp on the island perhaps for weeks.
The environmental impact to these often delicate regions would be minimized without the need for an army of humans who require latrines and generate trash while trampling over the grounds upsetting local wildlife and fauna. After setting up the “Rig in Box” an operator might only visit daily to make sure all is well and to refuel the generators.
It’s a far cry from the way we do things today and in addition to the benefits derived from a lighter touch of humanity, there is a significant overall cost reduction. Perhaps by as much as half or more given that a chunk of the DXpedition budget is typically allocated to the logistics of transporting temporary housing and supplies from the ship to an entire team camped out on location.
To further make his case, Gregg pointed out that if you have ever worked C6AGU you have already worked a “Rig in a Box”. A quick log check shows I have worked that station, twice, and didn’t know I was working an RIB…
But don’t take my word for it, go watch the video and get the entire view on this compelling concept for yourself.