Simple car portable operating table

As I have always operated way more as a portable station than a base station I have operated from the car many times and in many ways. Some not as comfortable as others that’s for sure. It gets tiring twisting to one side or hunching over. In the end I came up with a simple solution for me that enables me to easily set up and have space, and be comfortable operating, which is important if you are spending a long time operating like in a contest.

Basically, a plank of wood!

More accurately it is a small sheet of plywood sized and modified for purpose to make a flat table in the car to carry the radio and any ancillary units like batteries, PSUs or amplifiers etc. It’s strong enough to support a 4CX350 based 200W VHF amplifier.

The sheet is sized wide enough to fit in most normal cars and long enough to reach from the top of the dashboard to just past the back of the driver’s seat. There is a slot cut to allow it to slip over the steering wheel:
car portable operating table
I keep it in the boot ready to go as it doesn’t really take any space. I just take the head rest out of the driver’s seat and sit the board on the top of the seat. The slot for the steering wheel allows the board to sit on top of the dash and adds a level of security from catching a sleeve on a corner and knocking it off. In my shiny new car I just add a towel over the steering wheel and dash and another on top of the seat to protect them from any markings. The two head rest entry points and top of the curved dash make a tripod style stable platform. And the weight of the radio and batteries keep everything steady.
I use my backpacking batteries because I don’t have a DC feed at 20A to the car battery for the radio and I don’t have to worry about draining the car battery if a pileup comes my way.

I pull the steering wheel all the way forward to drive anyway, but this means the wood extends back enough to sit normally in the back seat without even moving driver’s seat and I can sit with my back against the back seat (rather than hunched forward) comfortably and operate. In fact these days as you see, I have the tablet on my lap. The most comfortable car portable operating I have found, and I have done a lot over the years!
car portable operating table
This is about the 4th or 5th car this board has seen action in and it is now into it’s 4th decade (with about a 2 decade break).