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Author Topic: Hamming in a Prius  (Read 26144 times)
K9RUF
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« on: February 26, 2012, 12:08:55 PM »

Hello everyone,

Well I'm on of those rare people that reads the entire owners manual after buying a new car.

Yesterday I brought home a new 2011 Prius.  I read in the manual that there's a potential to interfer with the systems of the car when using a 2 way transmitter in the Prius.  Normally I would say ya ya that this is a CYA from the car manufacture because I've installed many mobiles in many cars over my 35 year career in ham radio and have never had any issues.  However this is my first hybrid and all bets could be off with regards to potential RFI interference.  Initially all I want to install is my 50 watt Kenwood TM-D710 but later I may want to add a Kenwood TS-480 with up to 200 watts.  I have this fear as I travel down the road and key up my mike that the air bags go off or the anti-lock brakes kick in or whatever.  This car is a geeks dream and I've waited for a long time to get one.  Hope I don't have to pick between hamming or the Prius?   Cry

Has anyone had and bad experiences with a 2-way radio and their Prius?

Thanks for your help.

David

K9RUF
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K6LCS
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« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2012, 12:19:41 PM »

The car manufacturer has a division where commercial equipment / accessories are tested and designed. The local dealer's management will know who to contact. If not, get the district manager's contact info. There will be tech bulletins and the like covering the use of two-way radios in their vehicles.

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Clint Bradford, K6LCS
http://www.work-sat.com
K0ECW
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« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2012, 01:14:37 PM »

David,

I have a 2010 Prius and had the same questions you did. Toyota was most unhelpful when asked about 2-way radios and the Prius.

I installed a Yaesu FT-7900 in the Prius and haven't had a single RFI problem. The body of the radio is installed in the plastic tray above the spare tire. A slight modification to the tray was made to pass the wires through to the 12 volt battery on the inside of the right rear quarter panel. I used the Comet CP-5NMO antenna mount on the hatch back. The remote head is on a mount that has a goose neck that attaches to a bolt for the passenger seat.

I only run VHF/UHF mobile so I can't testify as to any RFI problems you may experience running HF.

The Prius has been the most ham radio friendly car I've owned.

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KB7FSC
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« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2012, 07:54:50 PM »

Hi David,

I've owned my 2011 Prius for almost one year.  I installed a Yaesu FT-7900 this past summer, and after much pondering and consternation, I mounted the entire radio under the "floating bridge" console.  I took out the felt carpet in the tray, and cut a 3/4 inch piece of plywood that fit into the tray to raise the radio just a little bit, and then put the felt on top of the plywood.  I screwed the radio directly to the plywood, so I have a nice solid mount, with no holes being put into the car interior.  I ran the power wires and coax down the right side of the car by removing the plastic entry panels below the doors.  They pull up easy, and there is plenty of room in that channel to run the wires.  Currently, I'm using a 1/4 wave dual band magmount set about 10 inches in front of the rear am/fm antenna.  I've had no problems with any noise from the prius getting into my radio, nor any problems with the car when transmitting at full power.

I'm getting closer to manning up and punching a hole in the roof for a permanent nmo mount, but I just haven't quite got to that point yet.  I'm neither satisfied nor totally dissatisfied with mounting the radio under the "floating bridge".  I originally bought a gooseneck mount like K0ECW, but it didn't pass inspection from the XYL.  We didn't use the area under the bridge for much of anything, so I was able to put the radio down there before it became the home of something else.  I just made a promise to myself when I put the radio down there that I wouldn't make any major changes to the radio while I was driving because you have to pull your eyes off the road to see the radio panel, and found that the hyper memories are a very nice feature of the 7900 for having it set up in different configurations without having to delve into 12 different menus, etc...

Good luck, and enjoy your new wheels!  It doesn't take to long to get used to not going to the gas station, and I still smile everytime I fill the car up for $30 and know I can go another 400-500 miles.

Wane - KB7FSC
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K9RUF
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« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2012, 08:00:15 PM »

Thanks for the responses.  As suggested I will ask Toyota for more specifics such as what frequencies to avoid and or max RF power.  Know the very litigious world we live in I'm not expecting much of a response.  I think after the out of control Toyota stories they're being over cautious.  I'll forge ahead with the VHF/UHF first crossing my fingers.  As mentioned in the thread This will be a piece of cake getting the power to the radio mounted in the back since the battery is in the back too.   Normally this would be a pain in the butt looking for a passage way through a very tight firewall on these small cars.  Mounting the antenna on the hatch will be easy too since there is a wide enough gap between the body and the hatch to accommodate the mount without scratching the paint when opening the hatch.  Finally since the hatch is almost flat it's almost like a roof mount so the radiation pattern should be "almost" omnidirectional.

Wish me luck...

K9RUF
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N2RRA
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« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2012, 03:42:54 AM »

Love my Prius as well! I run an ICOM 7000 ,or my YAESU FT-817ND in it all the time. You can see my set up in a video I made located on my www.QRZ.com page. It's the second video out of three I have posted.

I ran the power cable from the rear 12v battery that's located at the right corner tail light. You can access it by pulling off the cover that's there. I did also pull out interior to run both antenna coax cables. I'm using the Diamond K-400 mounts at each top end corners of the hatch. Works great!

Only one thing!

Unless they refined a way to prevent so much EMI, or RFI being distributed by it's computers, coils and sensors your gonna get a lot of RF bombing your receiver. Depending on the receivers filtering this is gonna make HF a pain in the rear with up too s9+ noise levels. There is excessive grounding needed in certain locations you'll need to perform to make operating much more pleasant.

I've had the IC-706MK2G, IC-7000, YAESU FT-897 (on borrow) and YAESU FT817 and now FT-817 ND model. The best rig so far is my IC-7000 that helps tremendously with the noise best by far, but not completely. VHF and UHF bands are not as bad but that's mostly due to your squelch being high enough at those levels so your good in that department but doesn't mean there aren't any issues on those bands. If you wanna work simplex or SSB on 6m, 2m ,or 70cm you'll experience the same issue.

Never have had an issue with running 100 watts at all and having anything go wrong with the cars computers.

The thought of having this problem may sound like a pain but if you love your Prius and ham radio as I do then performing all the grounding issues possible will have you enjoy them both.

Good Luck and 73!
« Last Edit: February 27, 2012, 03:48:56 AM by N2RRA » Logged
WA8FOZ
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Posts: 192




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« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2012, 06:25:19 PM »

John Pavelich, VE3XKD, has prepared a Prius for HF operation, and written about it elsewhere. For a time his comments were on k0bg.com; but Alan's hybrid section is now more of a warning! In any case, it was a BIG job. Good luck!
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VE3XKD
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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2012, 04:14:55 AM »

Hi

I've installed both HF and VHF in my 2004 Prius and have been successful in operating both. First, neither will interfere with your Prius electronic systems. The Prius 12v battery is very small, you will need to add in a secondary battery if you operate with the Prius 'off'  for extended periods. save yourself some trouble and drill a hole in the roof for a VHF-UHF NMO mount. I tried the hatch mount route and ended up with scratched paint and a faulty coax.

HF is a bear. Unless you have a lot of time, money and significant skill, getting the noise to low levels (S3) on 80-40-20 is hard. Noise comes from two major sources and a whole bunch of minor ones. Source 1: the COP ignition. Follow the guidelines on Alan's site and you will be successful in reducing but not eliminating the noise from the COP. Source 2: the DC-DC inverter, also called the 'Synergy Drive'. This source transmits broadband noise from about 3MHz to 15 MHz. There are two broad noise peaks at about 4 and 10 MHz. This is for a 2004 Prius, your 2011 may be different. Curing this source was a major headache. It involves modifying the Synergy Drive by adding in home brew filters, plus, a whole lot of bonding and shielding. I did this, but I wouldn't recommend it again. I am experimenting with a second approach, involving copper screening of the engine compartment, but it is very much a work in progress.

Good luck. You should be able to successfully operate bands above 20 meters without too much work, but as your car is a2011 and mine is a 2004 I can't say for certain since the Synergy Drive has changed over th years.

Cheers

VE3XKD
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KG9H
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« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2012, 05:26:02 AM »

I have had Prius vehicles since my first Prius in 2006. The 2006 had a first class install (bug catcher, LDG antenna tuner, etc....) but in the end the radiated noise (from the Prius) when I was driving led me to just use 2 meters and 440Mhz.  Even then, 2 meters had squelch popping noise most of the time when the brake peddle was pressed and low bands had 20+ dB noise levels - everywhere!   So I removed the entire low band setup.  I still have that car, now with 215,000 miles on it.
I just purchased a new 2011 and have about 11,000 miles on it.  I have great usage of my 857D now with an ATAS antenna on it.  I see literally no signals coming from the vehicle on the receiver 40 through 10 meters.  My battery lead goes right to the tiny 12VDC battery and the radio has a solid ground about 6" away from the radio.  The radio is mounted under the drivers seat, I have yet to mount the control head but I have some ideas I want to try out shortly.   Here is a picture of the install of the antenna. http://electronicinstrument.com/images/prius.jpg  See you on low bands!  KG9H
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KG9H
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« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2012, 05:30:35 AM »

Hmmm, my URL has two characters behind it try this one http : // electronicinstrument.com / images / prius . jpg    Remove the spaces and try it again.  Frank KG9H
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VE3XKD
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« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2012, 06:28:08 PM »

Frank.

That's great news on the 2011 Prius. I (and a lot of other hams) are greatly encoraged! I had it on my 'to do' list to take a portable spectrum analyzer to my Toyota dealer and measure he noise levels and compare them to he values from my 04. It gives me hope as my 2004 will go to my daughter next year and I will buy a new Prius. BTW....The older Prius had noise from the regenerative brake system when the brake pedal was pushed but it was easily resolved by bonding the rear brake hubs to the chassis. My Icom 7000 is mounted under the passenger seat, with the control panel mounted on a gooseneck holder bolted to the floor. The 7000 display is interfaced to the Navi unit, making for easy viewing. 73 VE3XKD
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K9RUF
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« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2012, 06:40:53 AM »

Hello everyone,

I'm back after having installed the radio.  I mounted the antenna on the hatchback, a Maldol EX-107B.  I liked this antenna because it covers 144/440, has no coils to worry about failing and unlike previous versions of this style antenna with a curly cue in the middle I've owned, was shorter.  This will allow my Prius to fit in the garage without the antenna hitting the door.  I like that, "My Prius".  I've wanted one of these cool techie cars ever since they came out and now there's one next to me in the garage as I type this.   Ahhhhh.

I installed the radio in the pocket on the left rear.  It looks like it was made for a radio.  While it's a covered compartment it's part of a larger compartment so I hope the heat won't be an issue.  I'll keep an eye on it after a few long transmissions on a hot day.  I can always move it.  The head unit was mounted up front to the passenger seat anchor with the goose neck boom.  Hope this isn't a deal breaker for the XYL but I really like it there.

Now the only problem I'm experiencing is a quiet rapid ticking noise on my transmissions not on my reception.  The radio's power is handily connected directly to the battery in the rear.  So my question to the group is there a quick easy fix for this noise?  BTW I'm not running HF, just my Kenwood TM-D710 VHF/UHF mobile.

Thanks everyone for their insightful and funny posts.  I've enjoyed them all.

K9RUF
Dave
"Ruffers"
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KB7FSC
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« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2012, 06:00:59 PM »

Hi Dave,

Good job on your installation.  Bummer on the tx noise.  It seems like its very seldom easy  Wink

I suppose you've tried this, but does the noise go away if you are transmitting the radio without the car powered up (no READY light)?  This could help eliminate whether the noise is being introduced from the electrical system in the Prius.  If the noise is still there with the car powered off, then I would say it must have something to do with your radio or antenna system.  Inside the inverter assembly, there is a dc-dc converter that is responsible for running all the 12 volt accessories and charging the 12 volt aux battery.  The inverter becomes active anytime you see the READY light illuminated on the dash.  By the way, it isn't a very good idea to transmit for long periods of time unless the system is charging.  That little auxilary battery doesn't have much capacity, and it can cause issues if it is discharged.

BTW, I really enjoyed your QRZ page and your writeups.  It made my day!  Hope you are enjoying your new wheels, and that you are able to get this problem ironed out.

Wane - KB7FSC

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K9RUF
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« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2012, 07:57:32 PM »

Hi Wane,

Well your right, I did try it with the power off and I still hear the noise.  Weird thing is I had this radio in another vehicle without the noise so I don't think it's the radio.  I think the next thing I'll try is attaching the radio to a separate battery other than the Prius battery tomorrow so I'll let you know the results.  Never seen anything like this with any other car but then again this isn't your garden variety car.  I'm glad I got when I did before the gas spike as the Prius's are getting scarce as hen's teeth around here.

Glad you enjoyed my QRZ page.  It was fun putting it together.  I hope in some small way I can help others looking to put up a tower.  Looks like one of your kids is about my son Ben's age who's turning 7 on March 22nd.  Maybe I'll get him in the hobby someday but right now he's too busy playing with his light sabers.

Take Care,

David
K9RUF
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N2RRA
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« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2012, 09:01:34 PM »

David,

Can I move in for a week? LOL!

Love the shack and inovative idea's. I see the 10el. Cubical Quad for 2m & 70cm. Had the same one and loved it. Meticulously thought out and executed well. Really nice neat job from tower base all the way to shack. A K9 lover myself so nice to see someone who cares just as much.

In my 2006 Prius I don't have a tick on TX or RX but all the censors reek havoc. I have the noise floor down to an s2 but when breaks engage it's an s5-s8. An improvement from the s9+20 I used too have. Radio is feed from the rear battery.

Have you tried placing various terroids on the DC line from battery to rear of radio power source?

Have you placed a terroid at the base of antenna feed point?

I don't mean the cheesy snap on ferrites. Ferrite terroids. Curious!

73!


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