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Building a simple command box (like a go-box)


Premium Subscriber
Feb 1, 2017
Cliffside Park

Hope y'all are having a great day. I'm a firefighter in NJ and was going to suggest something to my department for use. I'm trying to build a command/go-box for my department to consider using for special incidents. The idea was to have a tough tablet (like a Dell latitude rugged or Panasonic tough tablet) along with a radio in a pelican box. I've scoured through and seen (as well as made) multiple designs, but I thought I'd seek some suggestions and ask some questions to you all as I've noticed time and time again that individuals on this forum are very knowledgable and courteous.

So, in terms of radios, the box already has a set up to drop in an APX (the set up accommodates both the 6000XE and the 8000XE as they are incredibly similar in size), however I'm about to start the wiring for an XTL5000 to be dropped in there. I was just trying to figure out what the max amp draw for the XTL5000. I've tried googling and asking a couple of people but I can't find an exact answer. Does anyone have any idea?

Also, if anyone has suggestions or ideas as to what I should do, please let me know! Thanks in advance!


Premium Subscriber
Sep 20, 2006
Model Type 136-174 MHz
380-470 MHz
450-520 MHz
764-870 MHz
Minimum RF Power Output 10-50 Watt (136-174 MHz)
10-40 Watt (380-470 MHz)
10-45 Watt (450-520 MHz)
10-35 Watt (764-870 MHz)
25-110 Watt (136-174 MHz)
25-110 Watt (380-470 MHz)
Operation 13.8V DC ±20% Negative
Standby at 13.8V
136-174 MHz (10-50 Watt) 0.85A
380-470 MHz (10-40 Watt) 0.85A
450-520 MHz (10-45 Watt) 0.85A
764-870 MHz (10-35 Watt) 0.85A
136-174 MHz (25-110 Watt) 0.85A
380-470 MHz (25-110 Watt) 0.85A
Receive at Rate Audio at 13.8V
136-174 MHz (10-50 Watt) 3.2A
380-470 MHz (10-40 Watt) 3.2A
450-520 MHz (10-45 Watt) 3.2A
764-870 MHz (10-35 Watt) 3.2A
136-174 MHz (25-110 Watt) 3.2A
380-470 MHz (25-110 Watt) 3.2A
Transmit Current (A) at Rated Power (W)
136-174 MHz (10-50 Watt) 13A (50W), 8A (15W)
380-470 MHz (10-40 Watt) 11A (40W), 8A (15W)
450-520 MHz (10-45 Watt) 11A (45W), 8A (15W)
764-870 MHz (10-35 Watt) 12A (35W), 8A (15W)
136-174 MHz (25-110 Watt) 20A (100W)
380-470 MHz (25-110 Watt) 24A (100W)
Output Transmitter
Band Power Number
136-174 MHz 10-50 W AZ492FT3806
380-470MHz 10-40 W AZ492FT4862
450-520 MHz 10-45 W AZ492FT4867
764-870 MHz 10-35 W AZ492FT5823
136-174 MHz 25-110 W AZ492FT3808
380-470 MHz 25-110 W AZ492FT4870
Operating Temperature –30°C / +60°C
Storage Temperature –55ºC / +85ºC
International Protection IP54 certified
Specificat ion sheet
ASTRO® XTL™ 5000
Digital Mobile Radio with O3 Control Head



Oct 23, 2017
Just wondering, are you looking to run the box of commercial power or strictly have it be something like battery powered? Also depending on your application, you might not want to be running 50w all the time. Keep it on low power for as much as you need to.


Feed Provider
Jan 10, 2003
Autauga County, Alabama
I'm active in ARES, and have built two go boxes for my son and I to use during activations.

First, what are your power requirements? Commercial / generator, or some sort of battery powered system?

I personally prefer rack cases or Pelican cases. I've seen one rack case that has a lid on top where you can store a laptop.


Oct 23, 2017
I personally prefer rack cases or Pelican cases. I've seen one rack case that has a lid on top where you can store a laptop.
I too am in ARES but since we don't get much where I live, the box usually doesn't see much action (besides field day really). I actually used an old hard drive transport case made out of plastic and I hollowed it out and built it out from there.


I ♥ Ø
Jul 27, 2005
I built something like this for our OES a while back. A few things I can suggest:

Don't get hung up on batteries. Since these boxes often sit unused for months at a time, trying to reliably keep a rechargeable battery up to snuff isn't going to work well.

Any big incident where you need this is probably going to stretch into hours, if not days. Any 'portable' box is going to be hampered by enough batteries to keep it running for that long.

Any EOC/Command Post will have generator backed up power. A simple plug in power supply will suffice.

No one is going to want to lug this thing around if you're trying to put 50a/h of battery in it.

Likely your command vehicle has radios in it. Portables radios will also be available. Both of those give you a lot more flexibility.

Boxes like this are great for putting in an EOC, temporary incident command, or tossed up command post. If commercial power is in question at any of these sites, you likely have bigger issues to deal with.

Gasoline power generators are heavy, but a lot more flexible in what they can do and what they can power. Being the guy with a 2kw generator on site will make you very popular. Being able to recharge laptops, cell phones and portable radios is really important. Having a heavy radio box full of batteries will do none of that.

If power really is off for a long time, you won't be able to recharge batteries, so a generator will be required eventually.

I've seen boxes like this in use before. They are great for short term applications where things are fixed in place. They quickly fall out of favor when things are moving quickly.

Consider RF exposure, too. You need to have any transmitting antennas away from humans.
Don't get hung up on RF power output as being necessary for reliable communications. That drains batteries and high RF in close proximity to others, laptops, other equipment is going to be unpopular. Not all electronics will do well being blasted with 50 watts of RF. Having computers reboot during an emergency is going to be embarrassing. Instead, think through your antenna systems very carefully. Get the antennas away from people and other equipment. Get the antennas up as high as you can. Don't rule out having multiple antennas to choose from.

Earlier this year I had to set up a temporary dispatch center for two agencies when brush fires threatened both dispatch centers. I was given part of a building that was deemed to be "safe". I had plenty of power, I was able to tie into our telecom room where I had a 20Kw inverter plant used to keep IT equipment up and running. That was backed up by about 16 hours of battery system as well as a large Diesel generator outside. I had no challenges keeping the equipment running for days, even through a few brief power outages.
I had a couple of reels of LMR-600 that I used to put all the antennas up on the roof. That gave us the coverage we needed and kept RF out of any human occupied space. Having spare antennas and suitable tripods/supports to put them on worked well.

Trying to recreate a portable radio when you already have a bunch of those isn't as useful as one might think. Having the ability to set up a small dispatch/command point that doesn't rely on battery systems becomes really important in longer term situations.

Absolutely having this built into a Pelican case can be a good idea. Something that can be grabbed and tossed in the back of a truck and set up on site is perfect. Just don't forget all the supporting gear you need.


Premium Subscriber
Jul 13, 2010
If you have funds you can get a Futercom repeater in a box. We have an ApX8500 one. It has a battery but can be powered by dc or ac.


Premium Subscriber
Dec 19, 2002
If you have funds you can get a Futercom repeater in a box. We have an ApX8500 one. It has a battery but can be powered by dc or ac.
Fyi the Tactical DVRS does not include a battery, or the mobile radio for that matter. They both have to be ordered separately. All said and done you're looking at $30k for the full setup.