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Author Topic: Mobile tips and tricks  (Read 2591 times)

Posts: 59

« on: November 15, 2011, 11:10:26 AM »

It's good to see from the current thread on longest mobile contacts that there are quite a few of us out there who like to chase DX from our cars or trucks (bicycles, motorbikes, airplanes, you name it!)

So, in the same spirit, are their any methods you use to bump up your success rate?
(a) How do you find the DX, (b) how do you get through to him, (c) any unusual equipment that you use, and (d) any unusual logging techniques that you use.
(e) Do you operate CW? SSB? digital ? (f)  Do you change bands when driving, or wait until you're parked ? (g) What do you use for tuning? (h) Do you use a shunt coil, or a matching cap box? (i) Do you change whips / cap hats? (j) QRO or QRP?  (K) Any directionality to your antenna? (l) Operate near salt water?

Here goes (not all questions are relevant for everyone):
a) I find the DX by tuning up, although I'll check the cluster on my iPhone if I can
b) If it's a pile-up and it's one I want I'll often park. Split helps because I'll listen for the calling frequency. Calling "/mobile" usually seems to help.
c) I'm planning to try W2IHY's boxes to see what difference they make
d) I keep a paper log if parked. If mobile, I'll sometimes use a voice recorder.
e) SSB, although I plan to do 160 CW this winter
f) I can change bands driving, although usually I just switch between 10/12/15 which require minimal changes to my HIQ plunger height.
g) Most of the time I use an antenna analyzer
h) A cap box in the truck cab beside the radio
i)  Most of the time I'll use a short (36") whip, even up to 80. For 160 I use a longer (102") whip and one or two cap hats - parked, obviously.
j) Sometimes QRO, especially if there's a pileup. Most of the time I stick to 100 watts.
k) No - except as an artefact of the dimensions of my truck. I'd like to try adding a reflector sometime...
l) Rarely, but it makes a killer signal. I operated from Labrador, and Cape Race in Newfoundland and got spectacular signal reports.

I'd welcome your comments and observations !   

Posts: 10248


« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2011, 01:04:21 PM »

Depends on what you call DX. For someone in San Diego, to work Maine, is about the same as someone in Maine working western Europe.

If we're taking stations other than FCC licensed ones, all you need is propagation, and it makes little difference what you're running. This said, once you get past the 250 mark or there about, new ones get really hard difficult if for no other reason than the masses of aluminum from base stations. It just takes a little patiences and perseverance.

The rest of the questions are moot.


Posts: 59

« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2011, 02:47:02 PM »

The rest of the questions are moot.
Actually no, they're not moot. That's why I asked them. I'm interested in others' operating conditions.

Posts: 10248


« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2011, 04:23:11 PM »


a). I don't check clusters, DX spotting sites, or any other means, but by listening. In my opinion, it's cheating! Most of the old timers worked DX without any Internet aid.
b). Working splits while driving is a dangerous practice. Pulled over maybe, or have the second op do the dialing, great!
c). Using compression, speech processing, and other enhancements while mobile in motion just trashes up the signal. Same goes for incorrect use of the microphone, and its gain control. Fact is, most mobile ops sound terrible!
d). Voice recorders are cheap nowadays, and they work great. If you're stationary, any Internet device if better than paper, because it is real time. I've actually gotten back confirmation of a contact while I'm still in the vehicle.
e). CW while in motion can be dangerous, unless you're one of those DITTY operators from the Vietnam era. If you're not, pull over!
f). I don't worry about retuning. I just switch bands using the microphone buttons on my IC-7000, and then push the Tune/Call, and the BetterRF TCSC does the rest. I never have to look at the radio!
g). Why would you use an antenna analyzer while mobile? If you properly match a mobile antenna with a shunt coil, you're done!
h). Capacitive matching requires that the value be changed from band to band, and in some cases, within the band. A shunt matching coil is the only, truly, real-world, correct method for matching a remotely-tuned, HF mobile antenna!
i). Length matters! Properly placed cap hats matter too, because they can double the efficiency. Again, they have to be mounted correctly, and that is at the very top of the antenna!
j). What do you consider QRO? For some, that's 100 watts PEP. For me, 500 watts PEP almost QRP, because I can run near legal limit mobile.
k). Most mobile operators would garner much more if they'd just mount and match their antennas correctly. Far too many shortcut the most important part of their installs. Oh! And a ground strap is not a substitute for proper mounting.
l). Operating from a rare location, always adds a few dB to the signal. Just ask Ken Muggli, KØHL, up in Glen Ullin, ND!

And I'll add one.

j). The most important mobile attribute, after proper antenna mounting and matching, is RFI suppression. Most mobile installations have inadequate bonding, inadequate choking of both the motor leads and coaxial cable, and not nearly enough bonding of the various bolted on pieces like the exhaust system.

And just one more.

k). Abbreviated antennas like the ATAS, hamsticks, little short, stubby ones, and ones with lots of metal around the coil assembly, will indeed garner you contacts, including DX ones. But.... If you really into chasing DX while mobile, you best concentrate on maximizing your antenna, as a system.


Posts: 683

« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2011, 05:20:00 PM »

Alan, agree with the rare location. In the early Eighties I went to the Isle of Man, took a 2 metre beam (OK I know this is a MOBILE forum) . It was like listening to a trout farm at feeding time!! all for me!
A "GD" call is worth a thousand CQs.
To quote VK3BJM "What makes a pleasant change to sitting in the shack waiting for rare DX? Going out to become rare DX!"

Cheers de Tony

73 de Tony
Windows 10:  Making me profane since March 2017

Posts: 7718

« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2011, 12:14:00 PM »

I work mobile CW and that provides DX contacts galore, especially now that 10 meters is hot.
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