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Author Topic: Need some mobile 2m / 70cm advise (new...)(long)  (Read 1326 times)
COUCHSACHRAGA
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« on: May 27, 2008, 07:09:12 PM »

Greetings...

   I just passed my technician exam on Saturday (and am hoping my call sign appears tomorrow or Thursday- I'm excited!), and seek a little guidance on what to purchase...or at least confirmation or rejection of my thoughts.

   I've spend a lot of time reading posts here, and a few EXCELLENT sites (K0BG's in particular) that have helped a lot...but sometimes you just need someone to "talk" to.  There are no clubs around here locally (I drove 100+ miles one way to take the exam...not complaining, just explaining), nor are there any local shops that sell radios.

   Initially I want a mobile unit to get an introduction to ham radio, as well as for keeping in touch with folks when I'm in the back country (as well as driving across the US, and off-roading in the western US for "emergency" purposes).  I hope to upgrade to General this fall, and may get a different unit then (mainly for shack use, rather than mobile) with greater capability.  Back in junior high I had a handed down RadioShack receiver and a wire strung out in the woods...I enjoyed listening to BBC and a few russian stations on occasion...but didn't really understand what I was doing.  

   After reading, and reading, and reading...I'm leaning towards a Yaesu 7800 or Icom 208H, coupled with the Larsen 2/70NMO .  The antenna will be mounted on the front bumper (a heavey metal ARB bullbar, with two holes pre-drilled for antennas), as the roof of this vehicle is not conducive to mounting an antenna, and it is my understanding that a flat surface on the front is better than a rear mount (which I want to stay away from for ground clearance issues when off-roading anyway).  As I'll be in mountainous areas a lot, I'm wondering if I'd be better off with a 1/4 wave?  Or something different?

   I was leaning towards the Icom 706MKIIG, but came to the conclusion that I'd be better served getting a cheaper, simple unit to start with, and if I get involved in Ham radio as I do with most things, upgrade to a second unit (likely an Icom IC-7000 ...which if I saved up for a bit might be doable).

   I have talked to one ham locally (General licensee) who sticks just  to 2m mostly, as we have plenty of repeaters locally (operated by a RACES group that has meetings "when necessary" and whose contact info states to not contact them if you're new.  I'm hoping to join them once I have a clue, as I am genuinely interested in helping out.)

Thank you all for your thoughts, especially those of you who operate mobile units in remote mountainous areas and / or off-road vehicles.  My apologies for being so long-winded, but I'm hoping some background information will help all understand where I'm coming from.
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K0BG
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« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2008, 05:48:47 AM »

I don't agree with you totally. FM radio gets tiresome really quickly unless you're a real VHF geek. If your budget can afford an IC-706MkIIg, then that's the one to buy. Not only do you get the VHF/UHF, you also get all of the HF frequencies, and 6 meters! What's more, you won't have to upgrade later.

There has been about 70,000 706s sold, so there are a lot of used ones too. Just watch out if you go the used route. Lots of folks get out their golden screwdrivers and make all manner of modifications which can't be seen from the outside. Most of the amateur radio dealers have warranty programs on used equipment, so you're usually safer buying from a dealer. No worry on a new one of course.

Now all you have to worry about is an HF antenna.

Alan, KØBG
www.k0bg.com
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N8EMR
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« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2008, 06:07:48 AM »

With the price of some dual band radio upwards of $500 why not go a few hundred more and get a full HF/VHF/UHF  radio.
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WV4L
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« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2008, 11:33:08 AM »

I concur with the above. Go ahead and take the plunge into a HF/UHF/VHF rig.
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COUCHSACHRAGA
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« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2008, 01:35:18 PM »

Thank you all for the comments.  You're not helping my wallet though!

Let me put it this way - if I purchase the 706mkIIG now, will I regret not having purchased the IC-7000?  I can't afford the IC-7000 right now (unless a few of the canoes I'm trying to sell this weekend actually sell...then it's a different story), as the 706 is a stretch.

Thank you!

Oh- and what might be a good HF antenna to match to the 706, should I go that route (durability is important...it WILL hit brush occasionally..this is an offroad rig remember)...Smiley
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NA0AA
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« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2008, 05:49:14 PM »

If you really go into the woods, you are going to appreciate HF.

WRT a rugged antenna for mobile HF, good luck.  

Probably the most durable is a long stainless whip - 108" or more, tuned at the feed point with an SGC antenna tuner [the expensive part] - this way the tuner stays out of damage area and the whips can take a lot of abuse before they fail and are cheap and easy to replace when the do finally succumb to abuse.

Nothing wrong with the 706.  You could also consider the Yaesu FT-857 which has the same band coverage and might be a bit less expensive.

The only objection I have to them [and it applies to both equally] is that you don't have dual watch - something I really like when I am running FM around home.

My opinion of the 7000 is that it is more radio than most people need for a mobile HF rig - unless you do a lot of operation mobile at rest when the car is not running - lowering the noise floor.

When I buy equipment experience is if I buy the right product the first time I end up saving money because I don't have to buy ANOTHER one to get the 'right' item.  Of course, that also makes sure I have plenty of radio gear what with all the seconds.

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K0BG
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« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2008, 05:55:39 AM »

Adam, the choice of antennas is a personal one. That said, some are obviously better than others. I can tell you the most popular ones, the best made ones, the worst performing ones, and you might be surprised that none of the attributes coincide. The most popular, single model, HF antenna sold, is the Yaesu ATAS 120. It is also a very poor performer, and only two antennas I know of are worse. The most popular brand is High Sierra, and the most rugged is HiQ with Scorpion a close second.

But before you plunk down your money for any antenna, start thinking about where you're going to mount it, and how.

Alan, KØBG
www.k0bg.com
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KA1OS
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« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2008, 08:53:34 AM »

It all depends on what you want to do and how you plan to operate. VHF/UHF rigs are cheaper, easier to install and less affected by the auto's electrical noise. For your first mobile installation they are easier to get right. Of course your range is often limited by available repeaters on those bands.

Learning to operate on HF in a mobile environment would not be my first choice for beginners. I think you're likely to have a lot more success starting in a home or base-camp setting with a wire dipole. If you want to hedge your bets, consider one of the smaller V/U/HF rigs that could be installed in an auto when the time comes.

If cost is an issue, another idea is to install an V/U/HF rig in the auto in such a way that you can readily remove it for double-duty (Use a secure mount in any case). Operate the rig in the car for V/UHF and in your shack for HF. Wire antennas are cheap; multiband, mobile HF whips can be pricey.

As for buyer's remorse with the 706mkIIG: Buy one used and sell it when you want another rig. You won't take too much of a loss.

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K5END
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« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2008, 08:43:43 PM »


quote, "Probably the most durable is a long stainless whip - 108" or more, tuned at the feed point with an SGC antenna tuner [the expensive part] - this way the tuner stays out of damage area and the whips can take a lot of abuse before they fail and are cheap and easy to replace when the do finally succumb to abuse."


Thanks for mentioning this. For several reasons, I was just considering a similar option, as opposed to a big screwdriver. I spoke with a local ham store about HF mobile and they suggested this. Supposedly it would perform as well as any screwdriver, I guess because of the long whip compared to the stingers on the others. The overall the cost would be lower, and the config would be more tolerant of wear, tear and abuse.

The only issue for me is location of the tuner. It should work better at the feedpoint, according to my armchair (reading) "experience" but how much am I sacrificing by locating the tuner nearer to the radio?

Thanks


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NA0AA
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« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2008, 09:09:12 PM »

First off, I doubt it will perform as well as a top quality screwdriver, but I'd have to test it.  It's virtue is the simplicity and durablity of the radiator under harsh conditions.

OK, the SGC tuners are properly termed antenna couplers - as such, the terminal on the top of their box is the start of the antenna.  Therefore, it's best as short and as direct to the radiator as possible.  SGC makes a mount that holds their tuner right at the antenna mounting location.  They are weather resistant [at least most of them are].

You can get their manual on-line for free and they give you a plethora of good information on how to best use their products.

You CANNOT connect a coax to the output of any SGC tuners except the MAC-200 which is not anything like the SG-230 style of couplers.

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K0BG
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« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2008, 06:33:20 AM »

Actually, the "start" of the antenna is at the point where the coax attaches to the auto-coupler. This is one reason why installing them inside a vehicle is very problematic.

The ground side of the coupler has to be at least a magnitude lower in impedance than the radiator itself, and in some situations, this is very difficult to accomplish.

Lots of amateurs use couplers to drive all manner of antennas. However, using one essentially as a base loaded antenna results in less than stellar performance. Doubly so if the interconnections are suspect (coax use, under-sized wire, poor ground connection, etc.).

Alan, KØBG
www.k0bg.com
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COUCHSACHRAGA
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« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2008, 03:53:53 PM »

Ok...getting closer.  For one my call sign is KC2TLS (I've checked with the admins here to see if I can change my username).

Of all the items to purchase, at least I have the UHF/VHF antenna figured out...  Other than that I'm leaning towards the Icom 706 (new, so I have 70cm too) from AES.

Which leaves the HF antenna...which may push me back to purchasing a straight 2m  / 70cm dual bander.

Both antennas will be mounted to an ARB front winch bumper (the roof of  the vehicle is not metal), which actually come pre-drilled with 5/8" holes meant for installing antennas (typically CB, I suspect).  I realize this is not an ideal place, due to engine noise and a variety of other factors, but the roof is out, and as it's an SUV it has no trunk either....so it's either the front or rear bumper or hood.  The ARB bumper is big, flat, and metal...and bolts to the vehicle (I believe the winch grounds through it...so hopefully grounding will not be an issue).

So, what HF antenna?  A metal whip that gets tied back off to the roof rack along the windscreen?  Or perhaps something that is extendable when in use (if such a thing exists that is sturdy and not too expensive).  From my understanding I'll need a tuner as well...which adds to the cost, perhaps prohibitively so at this point.

FWIW IF I operate on 10m from this vehicle a range out to adjoining states (US) is all I'd be looking for.  I'll likely set up a more substantial antenna at home once I have my general.

Thank you!
Adam
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COUCHSACHRAGA
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« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2008, 06:41:57 PM »

FWIW in the end I went with a Yaesu 8900r.  When I looked at the Icom 706, plus antennas, plus tuners, it was too much.  For half the cost (literally) I have a quad band rig that is a start at least, and includes the cross band repeat capabilities at that.

Thank you all for your helpful posts...I'm still getting used to how hams offer up advice...it appears there are many, many, many options and it's confusing when you're new.

73

KC2TLS
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KE5OKT
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« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2008, 06:49:12 AM »

I think you will be very happy.  I have the 8800 and am very satisfied. I ran icom V8000's in both vehicles and my only complaint about the 8800 is the speaker volume.  I'm 1/2 deaf, and my diesel truck is LOUD.
I was just reading through your post and would have suggested the 8800, but the 8900 will probably serve you better.  The 6 meter will give you a bit more range as long as you can find someone to talk to.  Around here the 200mhz is useless.  With 2 meters, I can cover about a 60 mile radius, and if I streatch out and tag a repeater, I can cover a good chunck of Oklahoma.
Welcome to ham, and remember that it yours.  Everyone has an opinion, and it's wise to listen to them.  But the final decision is always yours.  Of course the concequences are too!
JimD
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KI4SDY
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« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2009, 08:09:20 AM »

K5END, you didn't have to go to the ham store for the advice on the 9 foot whip and auto antenna tuner, you could have just read my posts on the subject. This is the best overall, most rugged, least expensive, multi-band HF set-up!

The best part is, you don't have to drill a hole! I mount mine on the bumper.
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