16 October 2016

HAM Radio Antenna Pouch for Your Ruck

Finished Pouch Attached to the Cubist Escape
The Cubist Escape has become a pack to hold radio gear. So, for all my friends who are operating (or are planning to operate) HAM radios in the field.....this project is dedicated to you. Today, we built a lightly armoured HAM Radio Antenna Carrier.

Read on for more details......I will try to post the plans, upside right this time.

Yes, the plans are now a part of this post and they arrived exactly where I needed them. That was a nice change.

So, if you have a portable HAM radio unit like a Baofeng or something similar, then you probably have a magnetic base antenna to attach to the roof of your vehicle to increase the range of both receiving and transmitting. But, how do you safely transport said antenna when it is not on the roof?? You need a pocket or pouch that you can attach to your radio ruck that both carries and protects your antenna from unintended abuse while in transit.

The Plans
 To this end, I give to you the HAM Radio Antenna Pouch for your ruck. For armour, we have a piece of 2" O.D. PVC Vacuum Pipe cut a wee bit longer than the height of your antenna. Now you Red/Green fans can go ahead and complete this project with just Duct Tape, but the rest of us want function and fashion. To attach this PVC pipe to the pack we need to build a fabric pouch to hold the pipe in place. The PVC pipe is tough enough and light enough to both protect and hold its shape.  

I am currently out of my normal building material 1000 denier Cordura, so this project was built with 600 denier PVC backed pack cloth, tough enough and then some for this project. In fact, if you had ripstop parachute cloth, that would work, especially if your mission requires extreme light weight gear. The PVC pipe is doing all the real work, the fabric is only acting as a means to interface the pipe to your ruck, in a convenient way.

We need a couple of measurement before we get too far in the layout process. First, how tall is your antenna?? Second, will your magnetic base fit inside a 2" O.D. PVC Vacuum Pipe?? Third, what is the outside circumference of the pipe you are using?? And finally, how will you attach this pouch to your ruck??

#1: Antenna: Nagoya model: UT-102UV is about 12" tall. 
 #2: Yes, the base will fit inside the PVC pipe.
#3: Outside circumference = 6 3/8"
#4: Basic 3/4" webbing and Velcro, through the MOLLE style webbing on the side of the ruck.


I start with a 15" piece of the 2" PVC pipe. The fabric required must be 7 1/2" x 16 1/2" to cover the tube and allow enough room for seams.

The zipper will hold the top cap to the fabric lower. The top cap only needs to be 2" x 7 1/2". 

Ready to Assemble 

Progressing Nicely
The ends of the fabric will be closed with either a single or double layer of pack cloth. Since, this antenna is so lightweight, I opted for a single layer top and bottom.

In case I need to share this antenna with anyone, I wanted a webbing strip to feed anchor straps through. This was achieved by adding a 3/4" webbing sewn at 1 1/2" intervals down the centre line of the pouch. The anchor webbing and Velcro be inset about 1/2" from the edge, so you can sew past it when sewing the main seam. You can do this on either side, it depends which side of your ruck you want your antenna pouch on. This one ends up to mount on the left side of the Cubist Escape. Next one will need to be the opposite to mount on the right side of the Cubist Escape.

Basic Shape Achieved

Ends Attached

Insert PVC Pipe

Attach to Pack
Once, all the outside work is completed, it is time to assemble your pouch.

Start with the main seam. Goodside to goodside, sew down the seam. I use the edge of my machine's foot to gauge the allowance. I sew tight allowances, so for me on a project like this, a bit over an inch more than the size I want will do. If you use large seam allowances, you may need to add more when you layout you design onto your fabric. 

This first project I had to design and build the proto-type. Now that I know the seams work; the next one will utilize inside seams for the ends. Once I had reversed the material I knew I did not want to do that twice more. 

All-in-all, I am quite happy with how this pouch turned out. It fit on the Cubist Escape well. And, I believe this pouch will protect my antenna well. My only concern with outside seams on the top and bottom of the pouch is that rain or snow may collect and seep through.....although, I am not sure the antenna would be affect by some moisture.

Well, when you need gear and cannot find or afford it.....you may as well make it. 

Until next time, design and built something!!!


11 October 2016

Ardvreck Castle, Shores of Loch Assynt, Sutherland, Scotland

Ardvreck Castle
Ardvreck Castle, along the A837, on the shores of Loch Assynt, Sutherland, Scotland. For those traveling the North Coast 500 (https://www.northcoast500.com), this is a must stop and take a picture location. 

We happened upon Ardvreck Castle and even from a distance, this mysterious ruin had our attention. So, strong was the attraction that we stopped at a distance to capture our first images before finding a pullout to park at, so we could explore the grounds of the peninsula/island (depending on water levels) which the castle is located. 

Again, I must warn you I am not a historian. My quick check of Wikipedia helped me to learn this was once a Clan MacLeod stronghold. I find that interesting, but I am here to take pictures. If only I had time to return when the skies are blue and the crowds are few. And pictures I did take.....about 90 images were captured here. From that I have tried, with minimal success, to pare that number down for this post.

I believe the photos will do the talking on this one.  I have more images than I have words to describe it image. I will say, I did enjoy this visit immensely, from the pleasant walk from the A837 along the beach, wading the ankle-deep waters onto the outcrop, as well as, my scurrying under the A837 to go take pictures of the nearby waterfall.

Ardvreck Castle is a very rewarding castle to photograph. All of these images were taken within about 30 minutes or so, on an August afternoon. And depending on where the sun was in relation to the castle and the background I was able to capture the same castle with many different faces. I have had a few of these images printed and enlarged; Ardvreck Castle is very photogenic.  
Calda House & Ardvreck Castle, Loch Assynt, Scotland

Ardvreck Castle

Ardvreck Castle

Ardvreck Castle, Loch Assynt
I hope you enjoy these pics. I know, I enjoyed taking them. This was a great adventure and look forward to one day making a return.

Until next time, plan an adventure and go!!

Ardvreck Castle

Ardvreck Castle

Ardvreck Castle

Ardvreck Castle

Ardvreck Castle

Ardvreck Castle

Ardvreck Castle

Ardvreck Castle

Ardvreck Castle, Loch Assynt, Scotland

4 October 2016

Castle Sinclair - Girnicoe, Caithness, Scotland

Sinclair Castle, near Wick in Caithness, Scotland. Not the most Northerly castle, but very close.

This was our second castle to visit while enroute to John O'Groats. We attempted to visit during our 1990's trip, however, we could not find the road around the Wick Airport. The old road went right passed the airport. This time with some assistance from the workers at the airport we learned where to find the route out to the castle. First task find Willowbank and drive East continue on Broadhaven Road. Follow North until it becomes Elzy Road. Upon arrival at the "T" intersection turn left. Roads don't really have names at this point. Follow until intersect across from Runway "26" Wick Airport, turn right. Continue pass the Noss Farm, road angles to the right. Continue until you pass a building/farm on your right and prepare to park in the parking area just passed this building.
Sinclair Castle

It is footborne from here. A short walk, no more than about 500m in each direction to Castle Sinclair. The foot path begins to the North of the parking area. The path is well worn and the castle is visible in short order.

This castle was of interest to us, because it is off the beaten path and we did not expect to see large crowds. We arrive in the afternoon and we did not see more than four others at any one time while at the castle or the approach.
Rough Coast Around Sinclair Castle

Sinclair Castle, Getting Closer
We did take one of the side paths to see what we could see. We were rewarded with a very good view of the rugged coastline. Be careful, if the grass is damp or wet, a nasty fall into the North Sea would most likely be fatal. Try not to do that.

The water here is crystal clear and the colours are hard to capture in the pictures. It is simply amazing. Well worth the detour.
Sinclair Castle Ruins

Sinclair Castle, Reno's in Progress

Sinclair Castle, Tower House

Sinclair Castle, Harbour
It would appear that Castle Sinclair is currently under restoration. Unfortunately, it was not possible to access the scaffolding area.....I am sure the views from there would be of the million dollar variety.

I will continue the castles, soon.

Until next time.....find something you enjoy.


Find more information here:


Sinclair Castle, Harbour 2

Sinclair Castle

1 October 2016

Urquhart Castle, Shores of Loch Ness, Inverness-shire, Scotland

Urquhart Castle

Approaching Urquhart Castle
This was a travel day for us. We started our day at The Old Pine Yurt, near Tomintoul, Cairngorm Mountains. ( Old Pine Yurt ). Our end game for today would be John O'Groats, Caithness country in Northern Scotland.

Our first big stop of the day was on the shores of Loch Ness at Urquhart Castle. Plan to stop at Urquhart Castle at the beginning of a day or just before closing. The middle I guess would be a zoo. As we were on our own, not on a bus/coach tour, we just wanted to do a quick stop and get some family group pictures. Yes, I remembered the tripod for this trip. 

We arrived just at opening and the car park was almost full!!! At 0927 in the morning. Parking is limited. I am not sure where you would park if you arrived later. (My trip in 1990's, we arrived at the end of the day and rushed to see everything.) When we left an hour later the car park was officially "FULL".

Massive Gate at Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle
We did our best to stay ahead of the crowd to get as many pictures with as few people in them. I rarely succeeded.

I did manage to get some very nice shots from both inside the walls and from outside. 

From the damage done to Urquhart Castle, to reduce it to ruin.....it is easy to see how much of a threat these castles posed to the powers that be, at that time. Now, it is just a mere shadow if what it would have been. The image of the thick wall around the main gate, shows to me, that this would have been a very difficult castle to storm-by-force of ground troops. However, a fleet of naval ships with all guns trained on this stronghold, something had to give.

Nice View of Urquhart Castle
Our visit blessed us with calm, blue waters and clear, blue skies. Our previous pictures showed both skies and waters to be much darker and more grey.
Tower, Mostly Intact

Awesome Iron Work
 I hope you enjoy the photos. I enjoyed taking them. Later this day, we would visit Sinclair Castle. But, that will be another post on another day.

Until next time.....grab your camera and capture some memories!!


Final look

Glamis Castle, Valley of Strathmore, Scotland

Glamis Castle, photo 1
Glamis Castle, Valley of Strathmore, Scotland. Home to the Royals, at one time or another. Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother both have ties to this castle. This castle is neither a Historic Scotland nor National Trust of Scotland site. If you want to visit, ensure there is plenty of jingle in your coin purse. Our visit was not planned, however, a break was needed from the days travels to use the facilities. We had stopped in two small farming villages without luck of finding public washrooms, so, we agreed the next tourist trap that was posted on the motorway we would stop at.......long story short, 30GBP and we were on our way beyond the gate house towards Glamis Castle.


The grounds at this castle as very impressive. A lot of land is occupied by a mix of cultured lawns, forests and the castle and grounds. As I stated in previous posts, I am interested in the photogenics of a castle more than the history. This site had a lot of visitors and it took a bit of patience and work to get angles and shots of Glamis that did not have crowds of people in the shots. 

Glamis Castle, photo 2
 I did eventually, manage to get a couple of shots with no people!! Amazing, I know. This is a photogenic castle, but of a style I am not inclined to. We each have our own taste and I prefer the massive stone walls of the Scottish castles that served as a place of defence for the local population, rather than the pretty, many turreted castles that exude "I am impressive, like the castles on the Continent. I am wealthy and powerful. I can afford to have you removed." But, I digress.....

Glamis Castle, photo 3

Glamis Castle, photo 4
 For those of you who in Alberta, who may have wondered where the Town of Strathmore got its name from....I found the poster below most interesting. The Earl of Strathmore & Kinghorne once owned Glamis Castle, thus I will venture a guess that the Valley of Strathmore &/or The Earl of Strathmore & Kinghorne had a roll to play in the naming of Strathmore, Alberta. Of course, I could be very wrong on this.

Earl of Strathmore & Kinghorne

Glamis Castle, photo 5
The last picture, is a look behind the scenes. The majestic views out front are brought down to Earth in the back. Here, the commoner, has access to the gift shop, parking lots, snack bar and some picnic tables to enjoy themselves. There is a very nice gift shop here, and it is quite easy to spend too much, too quick. But, that is the fun of being on vacation, right?!?

So, no matter where you go on adventure, sometimes you will find an opportunity even when you make an unexpected stop. Let the adventure guide you and keep your eyes, mind and heart open. Life is too short, to view the World through a closed mind.

Until next time......go see the World!!