Monthly Archives: April 2017

photo of First Aid preparedness kit

An Expert’s Take on Essential First Aid

A few weeks ago we attended the Mother Earth News Fair in Belton, Texas. This was our second year, and we always enjoy seeing the seminars and venders that support the varied community that this unique event attracts. We had just about “covered the waterfront” and were getting ready to leave when I spotted the AMP-3 booth. The amateur radio solar batteries, compact portable antennas and go-bags caught my attention and we began chatting with David Pruett, the proprietor.

As we talked, I noticed another line of products relating to first aid, and quickly learned that David is a practicing ER physician and began putting first aid kits together several years ago. His medical experience, as well as direct experience with two natural disasters in Northern California convinced him of the need for preparedness. I began thinking about our teardrop camping trips (not to mention our Roy Creek Ranch home) and how well prepared we were for emergencies when we’re away from an ER or other urgent care provider.

We have an American Red Cross First Aid Kit in the trailer, but David’s company, AMP-3 was offering the next step. While the Red Cross kit was a good start, it is focused on cuts, scrapes and minor pain. It wasn’t very expensive, and there is no reason not to have one or two for minor wound care.

photo of an individual first aid kit contents

iFAK contents

AMP-3 offers an “Individual First Aid Kit (iFAK)” that starts with more extensive wound care and adds tools, irrigation, adhesives and medications for managing wounds, bleeding, pain, digestive and some allergic distress. Best of all, David has a series of YouTube videos that describe building an individual first aid kit, what to include and how each item is used.

I bought one iFAK at the fair, and appreciate the guidance and peace of mind it provides. With both the Red Cross and AMP-3 kits in our teardrop trailer, we feel more prepared for many situations we might encounter on our travels — especially when we’re away from civilization.

Are you prepared?

photo of The Lady and the Ambassadore with Jim and a ham antenna

Antenna (or Fishing Pole) Storage on a Teardrop

photo of Ten Tec Triton II with digital frequency readout

Ten Tec Triton II with digital frequency readout

I knew from the beginning there would be amateur radio aboard our teardrop trailer. I’ve been interested in radio since junior high, and it’s great to be out in the woods with a battery (or solar) powered radio, talking to hams around the world. I will never forget making my first overseas contact while driving through Wyoming in a thunderstorm. Or skiing down a mountain with a handheld radio while talking with another ham stuck in the city. Magic!

Radios have gotten smaller and more capable, and can be powered with modest solar-power systems, so ham radio from a teardrop trailer is a natural. Antennas, on the other hand, are about the same size. You can’t change physics or the laws of nature. Mobile antennas, while smaller than their fixed base comrades are still several feet long, and storing them is a challenge in our tiny teardrop. What about storing them in a long tube mounted to the rear frame of the trailer?

photo of the antenna storage tube with 3-inch PVC with plastic strap hangers

3-inch PVC with plastic strap hangers

I’ve worked with PVC pipe alot through the years, and the solution was obvious. A 5-foot length of 3-inch inside diameter pipe would easily store several antennas and their resonators (after disassembling them into sections) without taking up space inside the trailer. Each end was sealed with a screw-on “clean out” and voilà! Secure storage for my skyhook treasures. Several plumber’s straps would attach the pipe to the trailer frame. It’s cheap, strong and easy to work with. The job was done in no time and we set off.

photo of me Repairing the antenna tube

Repairing the antenna tube

It wasn’t long before there was a problem. The trailer transmits substantial vibration and shaking to the tube, and the constant motion tends to break the plumber’s straps. Fortunately they don’t all break at once, but I was replacing straps often. I needed a better solution.

photo of the Improved steel strap hanger

Improved steel strap hanger

Cruising around the home store one day, I found it. Zinc Plated, punched-steel bar. 1 3/8-inches wide and made of 1/16-Inch steel, it’s plumber’s strap on steroids.

photo of Mounting Bracket

Mounting Bracket

A 48-inch piece is only about $7, and with some 1/4-20 bolts, washers and nuts, I was in business. I took a scrap of 3-inch PVC, and wrapped it using a vice and hammer to form the steel. It is stiff enough to be challenging, but has a comforting level of strength. Drilling the frame for the 1/2-20 hardware isn’t hard, and two brackets are perfectly adequate. No more strap repairs for this teardrop!

By the way, for those of you who like to dangle a worm or two while camping — the tube could store fishing poles as well. I’m just sayin’  . . .

photo of the Antenna storage tube secured

Antenna storage tube secured

Latching the Hatch

Teardrop Trail Log: April, 2017

We’ve been generally happy with our teardrop trailer, but have had one recurring problem. The galley hatch lid will not stay down. We encountered the problem on our very first trip to the Red Power Roundup in Huron, South Dakota in June of 2014.

The problem usually occurs when we hit a rough patch of road or rumble strips, and is more an annoyance than a real problem. I finally decided it was time to fix it, and found some chromed hood-latches on eBay that would do the trick. This video describes the installation process.