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Author Topic: Need HF mobile/antenna advice.  (Read 1107 times)
WB4M
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Posts: 120




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« on: November 09, 2001, 09:07:13 PM »

Hello.. I am thinking of installing a mobile HF station in my 1996 Honda Passport SUV.    Not being familiar at all with mobile setups, I have a few questions.    First of all, is there a reflector that deals with mobile antennas and XCVRs, or a similar site that is dedicated to this subject? ( I have much to learn!)
Any recommendations or warning about HF mobile rigs?   I am considering the Yaesu FT-100d, the Icom 706GII,  or the Kenwood TS50.   Any advice greatly appreciated!  73 de WB4M, Buddy..  PS you can email me direct if you wish.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2001, 04:44:47 PM »

Don't know of specific reflectors, although there probably are some; however, the "rig selection" issue has been dealt with (and re-dealt with, and re- and re- and re-, etc.) for months and months here on eham, and the consensus is definitely in favor of the IC706MkIIG over the FT100D or the now "old" TS50.  This consensus, from what I've seen, heard and read is that the Icom is easier to use and works better in a broader range of mobile environments, so its cost:performance ratio is extremely favorable.  I know I ditched the TS50 years ago as being much too difficult to use mobile.

Frankly, as an "old fashioned" operator, I really like having old-fashioned analog controls on the front panel for adjustments I tend to make frequently.  Those adjustments include output power, mike gain, and operating mode -- and possibly CW keyer speed, since I do work mobile CW.  On the TS50, IC706 family and FT100D those are "menu" items.  Making an adjustment as simple as "cranking up or down" the power output, or the mike gain, or the keyer speed, is a menu item that involves pressing buttons and definitely taking one's eyes off the road for a dangerous period of time while operating a motor vehicle -- it's a "pull over and stop" operation, which I find inconvenient.

So, my personal preference for an HF mobile rig is something more like the old Yaesu FT900, which has a detachable front panel for easy mobile operating, but retains the analog controls (knobs!) which are easy to adjust and can be adjusted while driving, without taking one's eyes off the road to scroll through menus.

Antenna options abound.  For the Passport, I'd seriously consider a roof-mounted 4-band HF whip from Comet, Diamond, et al, because it's a "tall" SUV type vehicle with a large rear door and a rear bumper or hitch-mounted antenna can be problematical for such vehicles.  A side-mounted (on a "ball mount") HF antenna would be okay, especially if the ball is mounted up high above the ground so not too much of the Passport's vertical sheet metal is blocking it.

73 de Steve WB2WIK/6
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WB4M
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Posts: 120




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« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2001, 12:27:23 AM »

Hello Steve,
Thanks for your response.   I have studied several of the most popular HF mobile rigs and like you, don't care for the menu-driven options.  I would like to keep my eyes on the road and prefer the same analog type of xcvr that you describe.   Matter of fact, I threw my FT-990 in the car and took it with me on a 3-hr trip this weekend, but the only antenna I had was an old CB mag-mount.   I didn't make any contacts but did tune around on 10 meters and heard several stations.
Since I also like the old analog types and knobs, I just might go with an older rig like the FT-900.  I want something that is pretty simple to use and don't need the confusing menus.
As for mounting an antenna, I have looked at my Passport and find that I can use a bumper clamp style or somehow clamp to my spare tire mount.  Of course a roof mount would be the easiest, maybe a mag mount of some sort.
Thanks again for input,
Buddy, WB4M
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W7KKK
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Posts: 374




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« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2001, 04:09:47 PM »

Yep, pick your radio so it will fit your needs for power and size. I used the IC-706 MK II but found that I liked  a bigger radio with more direct control.I loved the radio but it was a little difficult to operate running down the road (in my opinion) without distracting your driving. And, from what I see, the smaller the radio, the more buttons you have to press to change something such as mike gain, power out, etc.
I use my IC 746 now. But I have the room and you may well not.
Follow the manufacturer's directions for wiring. Most of these little 100 watt radios need to be wired direct to the battery with #10 wire and fused for safety. Make sure that harness will not rub on anything when that car is moving. Smoke is really distracting at 70 MPH! Been there, done that.
And stay away from other wiring and your engine's contol computer when at all possible.
Ground properly. Read articles on grounding your car, antenna and radio. If you don't, you are wasting your time going mobile.
Antennas?? Depends on what you want to do. I have an Outbacker. Yes, if I want to change bands I have to stop, get out and change the plug to the right point on the antenna. But, I don't have to worry about a motor or contacts burning out in a screwdriver type either. If you want just one band you could go with the Ham Stick. Change them out to change bands and very reliable.
I went with the Outbacker to KISS (keep it simple stupid). It works for me and gives me all the bands in one compact package.
Read the reviews on Eham about rigs you are considering and antennas. They really help.

73's W7WV Ken
kelly@eaznet.com
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KL7IPV
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Posts: 984




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« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2001, 06:56:10 PM »

My vote is for the IC-706. I am prejudiced though. I have had two and like enough to write about it. For more mobile info, you can try this site: http://www.k2bj.com
73
Frank
KL7IPV
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KB6RSY
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Posts: 3




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« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2001, 01:49:14 AM »

I have both the IC706MKIIG and the FT100D. For the Jeep Grand Cherokee I prefer the 706. The display was bigger, the green background is easier to look at and the buttons are easier to work. Having had the FT100D installed, I didn't like waiting for the ATAS-100 to retune when I changed frequencies even a little. The 706 has a companion AH4 tuner, which I mounted under the vehicle out of the way and out of site. It comes in a weather proof housing. It works really good. Changing freqs is easy just push the tuner button on the radio, and in less then a few seconds the antenna is tuned, plus I don't have to look at any meters to see if it tuned OK.

I don't like to drill holes in my sheet metal so I mounted the antenna on a receiver hitch. This arrangement lets me use a 102" SS whip and heavy duty spring. Works from 80 thru 6, but as you might expect 80 isn't so hot. 40 and up is pretty good though. When I need to open the hatch, I just bend the antenna back on the spring and no problem loading or unloading things.  If I have to load something large, or don't want the antenna on, I can remove it without any hassles.

I use the FT100D in the truck because of the ATAS-100. Mounting the antenna was much easier.

Both have detachable faceplates, and I mounted them at the dash to the right of the steering wheel so when I want to look at the display I can also see traffic ahead.

One point: The FT100D requires at least two cable runs if you detach the faceplate. One for the faceplate and one for the microphone. A third wire run is required if you want an extension speaker. The 706 only requires ONE wire run from the body to the faceplate because the microphone plugs INTO the faceplate. If you want an extension speaker, then you either have to run another wire or plug it into the headphone jack in the faceplate.

Good luck with your installation.

KB6RSY
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WB4M
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Posts: 120




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« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2001, 07:05:58 PM »

Thanks input.   You described the two setups that I have been considering - either an Icom 706/AH4/102-in whip combo, or the FT100d/ATAS combination.    I have also been interested in a FT-900, but I see the asking prices of used ones are too high, at least the ones I see in here.   I still have not made up my mind - it's a difficult choice!!
73, Buddy, WB4M
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KR4JA
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Posts: 37




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« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2001, 02:19:10 PM »

Either of the two setups you just listed will work fine if you plan to work mainly 20M and up, they'll work somewhat on 40M , but not too well at all on 75M (of course the ATAS does not work on 75M).  However, if you plan on working 40M and 75M, I strongly suggest a good quality screwdriver antenna (see my review on k2bj.com concerning the Stealth II).  Also, if you have a receiver hitch on your SUV, you can handle the larger and heavier screwdriver antennas like the Stealth II, HS1500, etc.  Something else to think about, is that Amcominc.com now makes the ASAC (Automatic Screwdriver Antenna Controller) which is "plug & play" with the IC706 and most screwdriver antennas.   Just input the freq on your radio, push the tune button and the screwdriver will go to the lowest SWR point. Pretty slick!! You might want to check it out, it's a new product but seems to work (I know of 3 guys who are using it, and I'll be setting my ASAC up this weekend).

Good luck your in your mobile setup decisions.  By the way, the FT900 is a great radio too, for home or mobile operations, but I just sold mine since I won't need the built in tuner any more :-)

73s

Dave
Norcross, GA
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K3MP
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Posts: 6




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« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2001, 08:31:47 AM »

Fred, I have an Icom 706 (the original) in my Delta 88 Olds.  Bought a Comet UHV-6 at Dayton this past May and it works like a charm.  It comes with the 10, 15 and 40 mtr add ons.  The antenna does 2mtrs, 440, 6mtrs without the resonators for HF.  I keep just the 40mtr resonator on and have it tuned to ECARS 7.255.  there is about a 30KC spread without the SWRS going to high.  Have used other antennas but this one has given me the best reports.  Definitely the best one on the market if you don't want a high profile antenna.  It is about 72 inches total.  Good luck in your choice. 73 de K3MP  Mark
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W5AX
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« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2001, 09:49:53 AM »

I use the Icom 706MKIIG and the Yaseu ATAS100 antenna with a homebrew interface. This is installed in a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I find this to be an excellent combination. I am routinely on the highway throughout the Southwest and have worked many new countries and am closing in on DXCC mobile.
The 706 makes installation very easy with it's one wire installation. I have mounted the antenna on a homebrew mount that bolts to the inside area of the rear hatch about 1/2 way up from the bumper. this allows the antenna to be at a good heigth while still allowing minimum interference while pulling under drive thrus at banks, oil change bays and other locations.
Keep in mind that no matter which set up you decide on, GROUNDING, especially the antenna, is the one most inportant factor for a successful mobile installation.
Good luck on your installation. I KNOW that you will find HF mobiling to be a rewarding experience and will start looking for the "longer" route to places instead of the "shorter" one.
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PA3DUV
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« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2001, 06:30:47 AM »

I would vote for the 706MKII (G), the StealthII-3 (www.hiqantennas.com) and the ASAC from Am-Com Inc (www.amcominc.com). I use this set-up daily with good results. My main interest is long haul HF mobile communications, mainly into ZL and VK. With 100 watts and the StealthII-3 I work from the Europan highways into ZL2 daily on the long path (approx 14 000 miles) for an early morning chat with my brother ZL2BSJ. Only with total blackout on HF during severe geomagnetic disturbances I cannot work him. His antenna is a wire Vee antenna with a IC 725 on 80 watts.
The ASAC makes QSY very easy, just push the tune button on the 706 and you're in business. I do not have much experience on 80 meters with the antenna, but on 40 and 30 it works great. On the higher bands any decent antenna will work properly but on 30, 40 and 80 the efficiency of your antenna system plays a decisive role in the performance of your station.
I use the separation cable to put the remote head of the 706MKII at the dash and the black box is in the trunkvery close to the antenna and the ASAC.
Check the HF Mobile Antenna and Accesoiries section on the E-Ham review pages for more info.
Dick Knol PA3DUV
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KE4SKY
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« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2001, 08:33:27 AM »

I really love my Yaesu FT900CAT and sold my other HF rigs to standardize on a pair of these for both mobile and base operation.

The rig I use in the shack runs on batteries all the time and I can switch readily between a dual-band 160/75 meter dipole and a G5RV which handles the other bands.  I use the Gregoire boom-mike headset with hand PTT switch. I also have a Pelican case for the base radio and can grab it quickly for RACES field deployments, contests and mountain topping expeditions.  For a field portable ops I use hamstick dipoles.

In the mobile set-up I use the hand mic and have the control head set in the dash of my 1984 Jeep Cherokee. The main unit is in a quick-detachable mobile bracket bolted to 1/2" plywood which is anchored between the two bucket seats.

The controls on the rig are intuitive, VERY simple to use, even if you don't have the manual.  It has plenty of speaker audio, the noise blkanker is effective and the few controls not on the control head can be reached easily if I need to change power level, etc.

For mobile antennas I have a Huster professional ball mounbt installed through the roof, about 3/4 of the way back on the vehicle, within easy reach standing beside the vehicle on the driver's side.  I carry Valor / ProAm brand hamsticks for all the bands, with quick disconnects.  I change change antennas based on time of day.  75m for early evening NTS nets and late night ragchew into early morning, 40m from about 8 am through the day, mostly on ECARS, 20m for daytime during hurricane season for the HWN and MMSN, and perhaps 17, 15 and 10 as the urge hits mne for something different.

I like the idea of a simple system which works.  I would like to thank "Motorcycle Bob" KC3VO for steering me to the FT900, it works for me, great rig.
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N4ZYV
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« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2002, 10:07:54 PM »

Interesting thread here as I am contemplating a mobile installation in my old IH ScoutII. I currently have just a 10 meter radio with a ball mount on the right rear sail panel just behind the rear side window.
 I am wondering about how to improve operation on 20, 40 and 80. Would mounting another whip on the other side of the truck and feeding them in phase help at the lower frequencies?
 I really don't know much about antennas (couldn't you tell?).
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PA3DUV
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« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2002, 04:30:09 AM »

To improve your signal on 40 and 80  the way to go is to use a center loaded vertical with a large diameter loading coil, 3" or larger if possible.
Compared to the small diameter loading coils, that will give you an instant advantage of 10 dB or more on the low bands. Also use the longest radiator length you can accomodate. 13.5 ft is the legal limit in the US as I recall.  To further improve use capacitive loading. Using phased arrays on 40 or 80 on a automobile seems difficult to me because of the relatively small size of an automobile compared to the wavelength. If you want a good perfoming remote controlled multiband system, including 40 and 80 check out:

http://www.hiqantennas.com.

For a single band system the bugcatchers with 4" loading coil are a good alternative.

http://www.texasbugcatcher.com/cata/tbc.htm

For more info on my mobile set up check:

http://home.planet.nl/~pa3duv

When selecting a motorized center loaded vertical (screwdriver antenna) pay attention to the loading coil specifications. That will give an indication of the expected performance of the antenna.

Happy Mobiling, Dick PA3DUV
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