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Author Topic: Mobile in my work car....  (Read 3542 times)
KC7RYS
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« on: November 11, 2010, 08:48:30 PM »

I do computer repair these days and could really benefit from having a radio for wx conditions during the winter. I drive a little Scion XB around, and would need something that I could remove from my boss' car when I'm not driving it.

Around here (Reno, NV) we've got 2m/440 all over the place and either would work. I'd be happy to stick to 2m for simplicity and cost. I don't have very much money.

What radio and antenna setup would work in this circumstance?
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K0BG
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« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2010, 06:16:03 AM »

Having been there recently, I suspect a good handheld might do the trick. You want one with an external microphone for obvious reasons, as well as one with extended coverage to the Wx (most do).
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KC7RYS
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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2010, 08:11:41 AM »

Thanks k0bg, I suspected that might be the case. Who makes a good HT these days? I've been out of the hobby for a number of years, but I maintained my license.
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K0BG
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« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2010, 08:56:34 AM »

Everybody! If you compare all of the specs, they're very close to the same. The only major difference is the nameplate! Just pick one which has the features you want like the weather frequencies. Some of the latest have LiIon batteries, which makes them lighter, and longer lasting.
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KD4LLA
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« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2010, 10:31:06 AM »

If it were me I would purchase a used RS HTX-202.  It has a large display, decent built-in speaker, and is near intermod proof.  Downfalls are that it will not receive out-of-band (to monitor wx or public service bands) and if operated on a 12 vdc source (@ 5w) the case can get warm/hot.

I bought a Yaesu VR-5 a few years back and did not like the "smallness" of today's electronics.  No, I don't have overly huge paws, but little, trinket sized cellphones or HT's do not impress me.

Mike
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KC7RYS
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« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2010, 07:25:50 PM »

That's a really good idea. I don't like the microcity (made up word) of todays radios. I had an alinco dual bander a few years ago and I sold it. It felt, and looked, like a toy in my hands. I've got fat fingers and they keyboards are just too small. I had a Kenwood 2m radio before that, and it was nearly too small as well.
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KJ1H
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« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2010, 12:05:11 PM »

I've been using a Kenwood TM-271A in my personal car for about a year.  When I got a new job making deliveries in a company van, I found and picked up a second TM-271A at a local hamfest.  I modified the mounting bracket to hang the rig vertically from the edge of a large storage bin on the engine cover between the seats.  I run a 1/4 wave magmount on the roof, and have added a cigarette lighter plug to the end of the power cord.  I only run low power so that I won't draw too much current, but low power on this rig is 25 watts.  I wish I could run less!

But that's really my only complaint about the rig.  Read the reviews, and many will complain about having to go through menus to do much of anything, or the complexity of programming memories.  My experience is if you take some time to program your favorite repeaters into it, you don't need to access those functions while using it day to day.  Best of all, the built-in speaker is excellent, nice and loud for mobile use (my work van is old, clunky, and far from quiet), forward facing, and clear, even at max volume.

Personally, I like this setup better for mobiling than anything based on an HT.  And it's still 100% temporary and completely removable on a moment's notice.
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73 - Justin
KB3QWC
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« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2010, 05:51:40 PM »

I second KA1ULT comments and do almost the same thing in a GMC 24’ box truck at work.  Using a Yaesu FT-1802 cigarette lighter plug with VHF 5/8 magmount antenna on top of the cab.  Mobile radios are easier to hear and use in a mid-sized truck.  Don’t really like using the lighter for power, but that is the only way to operate with driving a leased company vehicle.  I have about 30 repeaters pre-programmed for the Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Northern Virginia to use in the areas I am mostly driving in.  I only use a few, but nice to all programmed if you want to use one on the fly, so menu issue is not too bad. 
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W3LK
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« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2010, 02:16:21 PM »

A 50w radio plugged into a cigarette lighter socket is a good way to have an under-dash fire. Most lighter sockets are 16 gauge wire and that simply won't take the sustained load without overheating and melting the insulation. Incidentally an under-dash fire generally takes out the entire dash, and if the fire is determined to have been cause by the overload, there is a good chance the insurance will not pay off because of an improper installation.

Under your circumstances, I'd go with the HT and mag-mount, as much as I hate mag mounts.

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A smoking section in a restaurant makes as much sense as a peeing section in a swimming pool.
K0BG
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« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2010, 02:19:31 PM »

Do you want to see what happens when you overload a cigarette lighter socket?

http://www.k0bg.com/images/wiring/wirefire.jpg (Look what the arrow is pointing to)

As Lon said, it just isn't worth the effort!
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KJ1H
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« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2010, 04:50:18 PM »

Which is exactly why I only run low power, which, on the TM-271A, draws at most 8 amps, which is about what a cigarette lighter itself draws (remember those? Smiley ).  Heating up a lighter is a temporary draw, and I don't transmit for long periods of time.  There are also fuses in my power cord, as well as the vehicle's own.

It's definitely not an optimum setup.  The rig in my personal vehicle is hardwired to the battery (as well as neatly installed right into the dashboard) because that's the right way to do it.  Since doing this isn't an option in a work vehicle that I don't own, I compromise, but still with an eye on safety.  I ran an IC-2100H off a lighter in a previous work vehicle on medium power for years without a problem.
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73 - Justin
W3LK
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« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2010, 03:20:20 PM »

Which is exactly why I only run low power, which, on the TM-271A, draws at most 8 amps, which is about what a cigarette lighter itself draws (remember those? Smiley ).  Heating up a lighter is a temporary draw, and I don't transmit for long periods of time.  There are also fuses in my power cord, as well as the vehicle's own.

As for the fuses, wire can (and does) overheat and melt the insulation without any fuse blowing. Having seen more than one under-dash fire caused by overloaded wiring, I think you are asking for problems, but it's your boss's vehicle, not mine. Smiley
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A smoking section in a restaurant makes as much sense as a peeing section in a swimming pool.
K0BG
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« Reply #12 on: November 22, 2010, 03:56:48 PM »

Justin, regardless of what Lon and I tell you, you can do what you're most comfortable with. However, this raises a question: Do you really think you're safe?

Personally, after some 40+ years of operating mobile, I wouldn't be. And, I can bet Lon wouldn't either.
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AD6KA
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« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2010, 11:09:34 PM »

Quote
and would need something that I could remove from my boss' car when I'm not driving it.

I assume you're going to ask your boss permission to operate from his car?
Or is it the "Better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission" deal?   Cheesy

With the cost of insuring vehicles and employees these days, as an employer I would say
"No, keep your eyes on the road and play radio on your own time".  Embarrassed
Even to a fellow ham! Grin

Ken, AD6KA
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KD7KGX
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« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2010, 03:22:17 PM »

I use the auxiliary cigarette lighter plug in my '04 Dakota's console to power my mobiles.

I also ONLY transmit on low power (5w). On my new radio (FTM-350) I've programmed all of my memory locations to default to 5w. I can't see myself ever needing more than 5w if the repeaters are up and running... and if they're not, 50w isn't going to make much of a difference (1 S-unit).

I've run a mobile as an unattended cross-band repeater, but in that case I had a 40AH 12v battery in a battery box hooked directly up to the radio. I'd hook it up through the lighter plug using a 3A charge controller when I was driving to and from the location, and the controller isolates the battery from the vehicle.

So, with a 1/4-wave external antenna, 5W is plentiful, and a fused cigarette lighter plug is safe. Keep it to 5w, though!
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