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Author Topic: best vehicle for the commuting ham?  (Read 878 times)
KC8LOP
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Posts: 4




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« on: March 29, 2003, 08:31:00 PM »

Hello!
I'm in the market for a used vehicle for commuting and wanted recommendations for best HF rolling platform.  I can always use my old camry but don't think it would accomodate a screwdriver or hamsticks very well.  So I was contemplating an SUV or Pickup.  I commute 18 miles in traffice each way typically taking 35 to 45 min.  Wanted to work 10 through 20m if possible SSB.  I've been doing vhf and uhf already.  Any preferences, make or model would be appreciated?  Any thing to avoid?
KC8LOP
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AA8RF
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Posts: 67




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« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2003, 10:14:03 AM »

The physically larger the vehicle, the better ground plane it provides. Mounting the antenna higher reduces ground losses, but too high and a big antenna hits things and breaks.

All things being equal I think a lower (usually 2wd) full sized pickup would be near ideal. Even better might be a metal flat bed on it with an antenna in the middle.  A very large sedan with trunk mounted antennae would also be good if you got all the metal parts well ground strapped together. An SUV with side ball mount would probably also do well.

There is no reason you could not work thru 40 or or even 80M with a setup like this. I think it gets problematic to get onto 160 with any kind of efficiency at all.

-Jim
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KD7EVS
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« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2003, 08:06:47 PM »

I'd suggest either a FORD Explorer.  in my opinion it's the best all around vehicle for a ham type. you can put a lot in, and on it. plus it's good for weekend outings as it'll haul quite a bit of antenna supplies to your campsite. All in all it's my favorite.

if your using it for only yourself a ranger or F150 would be as good for commuting.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2003, 02:47:36 PM »

With the current cost of gasoline ($2.25/gallon here in California) and the forecast that gasoline may never again be as inexpensive as it was a year ago, I'd think "mileage" might be a consideration, too.  I think the high cost of gas may spell the downfall of SUV popularity.  Or, at least I selfishly hope so, since I personally detest SUVs.

An economical, lightweight pickup might be ideal!  Then again, there are some great minivan platforms for mobiling -- ideal because they can get very good gas mileage; have tons of room in the "cabin" for equipment; and have a large, metal surface area for mounting antennas (the roof!).  My neighbor Neil, K6SMF, has a walloping HF-mobile signal from his minivan, using a TS-50S and Outbacker whip installed right in the center of his minivan roof.  I'm sure he can never pull into a parking garage with that, but he says other than garage parking, there is no inconvenience to the rather tall antenna and all I can say is "wow" about his mobile signal on HF.  

He has called me from Seattle to Texas to Florida to Delaware to Boston (he's retired and mobiles a LOT), and is often as strong as the local "base stations" from those areas, when he's operating from his minivan.  That says something.

WB2WIK/6



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KG4NEL
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Posts: 373




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« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2003, 10:53:16 PM »

I drive a Ford E-150 cargo van, and it's the perfect ham/camping/whatever vehicle for me. There's plenty of room in the cab for installing radios. No seats in the back, so I've got all that space for hauling gear. Makes the perfect Field Day vehicle - I bring an air mattress and sleep quite comfortably in it. It's basically a metal box on wheels, so it makes a great ground plane.

Of course, I can only carry one passenger, and the cost of keeping this beast full of gas may cause some 'sticker shock' if you've never driven a vehicle like this before - my last fill up was around $50...and gas here in NC is a whole lot cheaper than in some parts of the country (like around 1.75 per gallon, 89 oct. stuff)...

73,

Jim
KG4NEL


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N8EMR
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Posts: 234




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« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2003, 08:02:51 AM »

2.25 gal for gas. CA you need to talk to someone. Here in the midwest prices have been dropping since the war. I paid 1.31 the other day.It hasnt got above about $1.60.
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KD5VHF
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« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2003, 08:26:40 AM »

Check with your local school dist. for the next auction and grab ya a 72 pass school bus. Sits plenty high to watch traffic ahead of you,Gets about the same fuel mileage as the larger SUVs (maybe better),it will provide plenty of ground plane and area to mount many antennas,lots of room for a generator to run all the equipment and if your co-workers live along the route you could make a couple bucks hauling them back and forth to work. All you need is a few gallons of different color paint and you can paint the outside as you wish. I'm sure the neighbors would love to see it parked out in the street with all the pretty flowers,peace signs etc. painted on it.:-)
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KB9YNB
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« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2003, 08:01:26 PM »

Just wait a few months for the Jeep Liberty Diesel.  It will get about 30 miles to the gallon, you won't have to worry about ignition noise, and it's small enough to get through traffic OK, but large enough to accomodate a fair amount of junk, er, stuff.

Plus, when gas prices rise and fall with supply and demand issues, diesel stays *mostly* the same.  If the price of diesel does happen to shoot up, you can usually wait long enough for it to go back down, because you can go so much farther on a tank.

Plus, you can run a modern diesel on BIOdiesel, which is derived from plant products, a completely renewable resource. (ok, it is about 10% methanol which can be plant derived, but usually isn't)  The best part about biodiesel is that it is largely made from recycled frying oil, it smells like popcorn when you run your vehicle on it, and it is part of a CLOSED CARBON CYCLE, which means all of the CO2 emitted from combustion was already in the atmosphere before.

And, you can make it at home.

ymmv,
  KB9YNB
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KR4JA
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Posts: 37




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« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2003, 09:12:12 AM »

Check out the Hyundai Santa Fe SUV.  All the radio equipment is hidden in a rear floor storage compartment (Icom 706 and ASAC) and I use a Hi-Q 3" coil screwdriver with a quick disconnect on a trailer hitch mount.  It gets good mileage (19/27), good power (V6, 174 hp), unibody construction (i.e. good RF ground plane, no RFI problems) GREAT warranty (5yr/60K bumper-bumper), Good NHTSA crash test safety ratings, Reasonably priced ($19-20K) Consumer Reports Recomended Buy List.  It works for me!

73, Dave
Norcross, GA
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KH6TX
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Posts: 13




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« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2003, 06:56:25 PM »

Dave -- can you share details on your installs in the Santa Fe?  I've got a 2002 SF, and getting set to install my ICOM 2340H VHF/UHF, with an eye towards HF later on -- especially interested in how you powered your rig AND antenna cable routing from the hitch to the tuner/rig.

Many thanks in advance,

Frank
KH6TX/7
Tucson AZ
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KR4JA
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Posts: 37




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« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2003, 10:35:37 AM »

An email was sent to Frank to answer his questions about running a power cable in the Sant Fe.

Dave,
KR4JA
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N2HBZ
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Posts: 7




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« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2003, 12:05:33 AM »

KR4JA Dave: Can you send me the info too about the Hyundai wiring?  Thanks!

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N2HBZ
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Posts: 7




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« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2003, 12:07:04 AM »


There was an eHam.net "spotlight" about KD4SAI's "Virginia Ham Cruiser".  Interesting and cheap way into mobile radio!

Here the picture:

http://www.eham.net/data/spotlight/images/deea6093bb8475f44b81b0256a074c10.jpg


Text reproduced below:

----------

 I had exclusively purchased this police car for my own personal ham shack on wheels. Has all the wiring for 2-way communications devices, loaded with 4 antennas, one for each band, up in the GHz also UHF,VHF HF bands. My mobile shack consist of a Uniden 25 Watt VHF 2-way, Kenwood tw-4000A Dualbander VHF/UHF Mobile, Yaesu VX-5R Tri-bander HT and Alinco DJ-V5T Dualbander HT, RS HTX 245 Dualbander HT. I sure have plenty of adaptors for all these radios and it looks really neat at night time when all the radios are lighting up. This car sure gets attention with it being a highly radio active cruiser. I can make real long distant contacts on VHF 2-meters in this mobile exceeding 150 miles thanks to my high elevation. Take care 73 de Roland KD4SAI in Virginia

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KA5S
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Posts: 229




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« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2003, 01:32:28 AM »

You need a small car for good mileage, with comfortable seats for the drive, room for mounting radios (look for a steel bar all the way across under the dash) and a roof large and flat enough to put your antennas on, but LOW enough so you _can_ put them there.  Be sure the alternator and battery are large enough. A/C equipped cars seem to carry larger alternators.

I used to have a Chevy Sprint 5-door and had plenty of room on its roof for antennas (plus rear-quarter panel ball mounts and a frame mount) but the IC735 ended up in the glove compartment where I could see it better.  

The Sprint got 50 mpg even with the drag of 80 and 40 meter Texas Bug Catchers, AH-2 for the upper bands, homebrew roof-mounted 160 meter base loaded whip, dualbander for VHF and whatever else I felt like running.  

Nowadays I drive a Hyundai, and pay more attention to convenience with antennas, too. Screwdrivers do work on the roof; you should see the mag mounts they're on!

Cortland


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N0QHZ
Member

Posts: 1




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« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2003, 02:52:04 PM »

Hi Dave could you stand to send out the wiring info one more time.  I just purchased a 2003 Santa Fe and will have the trailer hitch installed on Monday.  Am working on getting the rig (FT-100)wired up today (Sunday).  Purchase was Saturday so trying to get it all done in one weekend just isn't going to work.  Oh Well.
Thanks

Len
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