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Author Topic: Radio and antenna suggestion for bicycle tour?  (Read 7126 times)
AF7JA
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Posts: 254




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« on: January 21, 2017, 11:59:14 AM »

I have been looking at the ft-817nd, along with the ft-857d. I want these for a bicycle trip this spring and summer (about 5 days shakedown in spring, then about three weeks in the summer). As such, compact nature and low power draw, while on receive, are important.

I will have solar panels up while riding; however, I have other things going on and can’t devote more than about 30-45W to the radio (and that goes through a buck regulator taking the 48V, used elsewhere, to 12V, at about 80% efficiency [yes, in my calculations I always assume power generation is less than it really and loose are higher than they really are, this helps prevent the problems that arise when people are running at the ragged edge of what can work] ) .
 
Compact size and durable nature are important. I don’t want to be stopping and fiddling with the antenna all the time, this means an auto tuner or the Yeasu ATAS-120a antenna.

I like the lower standby power draw of the 817, yet all I read tells me that the 857 is a better radio. Further, I like the remote head mount.

Any suggestions?
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ONAIR
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« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2017, 01:33:57 PM »

I have been looking at the ft-817nd, along with the ft-857d. I want these for a bicycle trip this spring and summer (about 5 days shakedown in spring, then about three weeks in the summer). As such, compact nature and low power draw, while on receive, are important.

I will have solar panels up while riding; however, I have other things going on and can’t devote more than about 30-45W to the radio (and that goes through a buck regulator taking the 48V, used elsewhere, to 12V, at about 80% efficiency [yes, in my calculations I always assume power generation is less than it really and loose are higher than they really are, this helps prevent the problems that arise when people are running at the ragged edge of what can work] ) .
 
Compact size and durable nature are important. I don’t want to be stopping and fiddling with the antenna all the time, this means an auto tuner or the Yeasu ATAS-120a antenna.

I like the lower standby power draw of the 817, yet all I read tells me that the 857 is a better radio. Further, I like the remote head mount.

Any suggestions?

  What bands would you want to work?
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AF7JA
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Posts: 254




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« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2017, 01:58:51 PM »

What bands would you want to work?

As I see it, mostly 2 while moving, and 20 when stopped.

Frankly, there is another band that is not mentioned here that I will want to monitor and may sometimes use; as such I am looking at modifiable radios. I may never use it; but I want to be able to if I feel I need to. I don't want to carry a stack of radios in order to do what I want. Yes, I am aware that out of band operation is illegal.

In a perfect world the radio would also be able to receive broadcast bands. Ideally it would lower the volume of the broadcast band radio, but not cut it out, as there is something coming over the "communication" bands, cutting out the broadcast band audio only when I am transmitting.

As long as I am listing features of a great radio, it would have a built in GPS, not only for auto position reporting, but to also switch the frequencies on a built in public service scanner as I enter different service areas.

Okay, back to achievable, 2m, 20m, 40m, that other band.
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ONAIR
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« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2017, 12:14:01 AM »

I'd go for the 857, and I'd use a Larsen on 2m.  For the HF bands, Hamsticks or screwdrivers!  Smiley
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K5LXP
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« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2017, 08:05:01 AM »


What about the weight and bulk of what you're considering?  A friend of mine N5CUL has embarked on several cross country bike trips and his bike can sometimes weigh almost as much as he does.   He tried to economize in every way, and I'm pretty sure he left the ham radios at home in favor of a smartphone that served as a camera and communication device.  Since he's on the internet I can provide a link:

https://manbikeworld.wordpress.com/

Wondering too where you're going to put solar panels good for 35-45W on a bike, factoring that while underway they will never be angled for optimum generation.  And where that energy is going to go - storage battery?  More weight and bulk.  A 100W radio and multiband screwdriver?  Even more.  If you read back through Russ's archives he mentions on numerous occasions the hardship it was to carry enough water, and keep even a smartphone charged.

W5AOX is another friend that puts a lot of miles on a recumbent bike.  I recall he tried solar panels for a while but gave up on it, as they didn't provide enough power to be worth the trouble.  Last I talked with him he was using a 7Ah lithium powering his kenwood HT and APRS.

https://youtu.be/a820O-4ssjo

The overriding principle to working away from mains is the less you use the less you need.  A 5W radio with an efficient antenna will work just as well as a 100W radio and a poor antenna.  A radio made to run from AA batteries like an HT will operate longer and require less power resources than one made to operate off of a car battery and alternator. 

Maybe go into greater detail what your mission is - solely to move an HF station on a bike, or have an HF station along for fun.  The logistics of 3 weeks on the road kind of preclude taking along a lot of unnecessary stuff unless all you plan are 50 mile days and staying in a hotel every night.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM

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AF7JA
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« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2017, 08:27:42 AM »

This is the basic project build. My panel arrangement is slightly smaller than the picture at the bottom. I am using slightly more efficient panels.
Quote
I have mentioned my desire to build a solar trike. I thia point I have all the main parts. The motor is on a shelf in my classroom. All the others are in my basement, or sitting next to my desk.

I will be using:

Solar panels:

EVTV Motor Verks Store: Flexible Solar Panel 140w, Solar, Boat and Golf, 140wsolarpanel. This will provide  power for motor, power for ham radio, and the, all important, sunshade. So far I am going with two. If I add more I will need to do something with the charge controller, as it can only handle two panels.

Charge controller:

One solar panel to Li-Po voltage regulator

Trike:

One Trike (A performer Trike-E, note, the "E" does not signify that it is already rigged for electric, it is not, that just happens to be the name)

Motor:

Bafang 750W BBS02 Mid Drive

Battery:

48V 17.5Ah Li-Po Battery

I decided to go with the Ba-Fang. Part of the reasoning is that it is reputed to be a simpler install. I am adding enough complication with the solar panels.

The other reason is that the Ba-Fang is a legal power kit. Even with the cyclone limited in power, by the Cycle-analyst, I feel that it would leave me constantly explaining myself and, if I ever were to be cited (I know that is on the extreme edge of unlikely) the Ba-Fang is clearly legally rated.

The Ba-Fang also comes with a built in Pedal Assist Sensor (PAS). It is also reported to be very reliable when run at, or below, legal power levels.

Stage one will just be to get the trike running under Electric power. I expect to put the battery between the rider's knees; any better places come to mind?


When done, I expect it will be similar to this:

His write-up is here.
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AF7JA
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« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2017, 08:32:55 AM »

To add, I have all the pieces in my basement right now; so this is well past the idle musing stage.

This Sunday I was in the process of transferring all of the trike parts over to the new frame. I cracked the first frame.

I am also adding a NuVinci, infinintly variable, bicycle transmission. The trouble with conventional derailleurs is that the BaFang motor does not cut the moment I stop pedaling, there is about a half second. As a result, there is a lot of banging and clanging as I shift gears. Further, the motor steed adjustment is hard to fine-trim. The result is that speed is largely controlled through the use of the gears.

I have tested it and I am pretty confident that I can keep the motor draw below 200W.
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WB6BYU
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« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2017, 04:18:33 PM »

I'd go with a 2m HT and a QRP HF rig with low battery drain on receive.  (I don't remember the exact
numbers, but the current draw on the FT-817 is somewhat higher than I'd like for an application
where that is important.  If you're only really planning to use 20m on HF, then something like a
BITX20 may be a better choice:  the finals can be run off of 24V separate from the rest of the
rig for more output power if needed.  My Elecraft K2 runs around 200mA on receive (depending
on the settings), and their newer rigs would be worth checking as well.

For an HF antenna, most mobile antennas are reasonably efficient on 20m.  While there are
lots of interesting types you could try if you wanted to, a simple Hamstick-type should be
adequate if you can come up with enough of a ground plane for it. (You might have to run some
wire radials around the solar panels.)  Depending on the height of the solar panels, you might
be able to use, say, a 17m Hamstick with an extended whip, or something with a larger
diameter coil, to improve efficiency somewhat.

Or, if you only plan to operate while fixed, you can pack along a Buddipole or similar portable
antenna and mast and set it up wherever you stop.
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W9IQ
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« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2017, 07:09:55 AM »

Robert,

It looks like a great project. If you haven't done so already, you may want to test the Genasun MPPT for RFI. MPPTs, due to their switching boost / buck circuits, are notorious for RFI - hopefully it will work OK for you.

- Glenn W9IQ
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- Glenn W9IQ

I never make a mistake. I thought I did once but I was wrong.
AB3MO
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« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2017, 06:49:38 AM »

Wonder if the "ground side" of the solar panels would serve as a counter poise/set of radials?Huh
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G7MRV
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« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2017, 07:31:58 AM »

Wonder if the "ground side" of the solar panels would serve as a counter poise/set of radials?Huh

I take it you ride underneath the panels, which act as a roof?

Leave a small gap in the middle between panels, and put an NMO mount on for the VHF antenna! Then line the underside of the panels with self adheasive metal foil to form a very good groundplane with minimal extra weight  Wink
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AF7JA
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Posts: 254




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« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2017, 02:07:13 PM »

I take it you ride underneath the panels, which act as a roof?

Leave a small gap in the middle between panels, and put an NMO mount on for the VHF antenna! Then line the underside of the panels with self adheasive metal foil to form a very good groundplane with minimal extra weight  Wink

Right, the panels will serve as a roof. I may try looking for some light weight metal foil. The only possible problem would be adding insulation to the underside. PV cells need to bottem side to stay cool. In all, it is a good idea that will be looked at closer.

Great to hear from another Arduino hacker. . . it's a bit of a shame that I can't think of anything useful that an Arduino could do on this project.
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G7MRV
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« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2017, 01:51:22 AM »


Great to hear from another Arduino hacker. . . it's a bit of a shame that I can't think of anything useful that an Arduino could do on this project.

WSPR or APRS beacon? Charge/Battery monitor and display?
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AF7JA
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Posts: 254




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« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2017, 07:12:06 AM »

Just showing the arrangement I eventually went with. I decided on the TM-281A. First, it is relatively inexpensive. Secondly, while most radios will hold up to a high vibration environment, it is rated to do just that.


Here is the antenna. I have used Larson before and it seemed suitable. It is attached to a sheet of aluminum, close to a square meter.


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W8JX
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« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2017, 07:51:36 AM »

Just showing the arrangement I eventually went with. I decided on the TM-281A. First, it is relatively inexpensive. Secondly, while most radios will hold up to a high vibration environment, it is rated to do just that.

Smart moved for two reasons, One the TM281 is indeed a rugged rig and well suited to this task and the second being that 2m is a practical band for this because of reliable local coverage and better long range repeater access than 440.
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Ham since 1969....  Old School 20wpm REAL Extra Class..
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