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Author Topic: Rigs in Harley touring bikes?  (Read 1636 times)
N0XAS
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« on: June 12, 2005, 05:58:55 PM »

Has anyone here mounted a mobile rig in a Harley touring bike?  I'm contemplating mounting something in the tour pack of my Electra Glide.  I'm leaning toward an HF/VHF/UHF rig, though I haven't decided for sure.  Of course the antenna will be a whole 'nuther can of worms.  

Getting it to work and play well with the factory BCB/WX/CD/CB/intercom & headsets would be ideal.  I'll probably spring for the service manual and wiring diagrams, but thought I'd ask here to see if anyone has been down this road, so to speak, before.

TU & 73,
Dale - N0XAS
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K0BG
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« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2005, 05:58:33 AM »

I've never done it, but I've seen several. It isn't the mounting that's difficult. And I'm sure you could integrate it with the existing head set. The BIG problem is the antenna. VHF/UHF antennas work okay if you select a good one. Remember, the vibration will bust up the cheap stuff.

However, on HF almost no matter what antenna you opt for won't be much more than a dummy load due to the very small groundplane under it. I've recently seen a Hustler mounted in the center of the lid on a Honda trailer, but I doubt that was much better.

Good luck with what ever you do.

Alan, KØBG
www.k0bg.com
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KE6GLW
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« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2005, 11:24:52 AM »

Motorcycle Amateur Radio Club:
http://www.marc-hq.org/
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K0BG
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« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2005, 06:14:33 AM »

Interesting site, Tim. However, the majority of the data is CB and 2 meter operation. Adding insult, most of the data concerns just one brand, Comet. It appears the authors are into the "gain game" in that the published gain figures are not only misrepresented (they're rounded up in some cases) they're listed in dBi rather than dBd (as they should be), and several of the models listed are no longer available. There are some references about service longevity, and any serious bike rider should pay attention to this very important requirement.

I spend some time looking over the site, and I didn't see one reference to HF operation. While few bike riders operate HF, a site dedicated to amateur radio bike riders shouldn't shun this facet.

Alan, KØBG
www.k0bg.com
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KE6GLW
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« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2005, 08:30:17 PM »

Sorry that there are two degrees of separation. I did try a search. If precisely zero of a club's members that run HF-mobile motorcycle are willing to publish or maintain web pages, that's what happens (I've found more HF-bicycle articles). I don't think it is an intentional oversight. And one can dig.

As you can tell from the MARC websites, a lot of the info is dated. The majority of members that I remember were definitely motorcycle enthusiasts first and radio nuts second. But it's a start for contacts and they are mostly likely able suggest someone to talk to. There are also active MARC Yahoo groups (BA-MARC, eastcostMARC).

FWIW - There are some considerations that are peculiar to motorcyclists, particulary those who tour. CB rigs are important because they are the primary bike-to-bike communication systems for non-hams (i.e. most touring cyclists). I think some higher end Goldwing packages come std. with CD/Radio, CB & intercoms. Interfacing to intercom systems also gets a lot of discussion for paired-up riders. 2m rigs are favored because of the abundance of repeaters. 2m is also the primary band for coordinating events where motorcyles provide public service support for bicycle and triathalon events. Alternators and batteries on bikes have much lower capacities than autos and this also influences radio operation. A 5-10W rig with a rugged antenna that doesn't require a ground plane is often the best compromise.

Googling the web, I did find one, barely useful page that mentioned someone using a screwdriver antenna with an Icom 706MKIIG in a Goldwing.

http://www.standpipe.com/w2bri/article5.htm

Editorial note:
Personally, I never felt particularly comfortable messing around with the radio while riding. Set up simple channels, use simple operations & keep the eyes on what's around. I could play with the radio while I was parked or camped for the night. The other day, I saw a motorcylist dialing his cell phone while riding in heavy traffic. Someday soon a lucky patient will get the new pair of kidneys or liver that they need.
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K0BG
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« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2005, 01:07:52 PM »

Thanks Tim, those are all valid points. Just as in operation from 4 wheeled vehicles, one has to be careful, mindful, and above all safe.

Two years ago, at a nearby hamfest, I spoke with an east Texas ham who had installed a 706 and a HiQ on his Gullwing. The antenna was mounted atop a genuine Honda trailer. Reports were usually good I was told.

Funny you should mention the smaller alternator. Fact is (at least on the Gullwing), the alternator is a 60 amp unit. When I ask him about this, his comment was that everything worked okay as long as he wasn't using the air conditioner at the same time! I never knew they had air conditioning as an option. Heated handle bars, seats, and foot rests I'll buy. But air conditioning?

Alan, KØBG
www.k0bg.com
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KE6GLW
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« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2005, 04:46:10 PM »

Goldwings are monsters. Some even have a reverse "gear" (electric). My BMW R80RT's electrical system was not quite as powerful (It only had to support the engine and the lights, not the 6-channel home theater systems and lumbar back-scratchers that come standard on the 2005 Goldwing ;^).

I found the following link from a post in the Bicycle Mobile Hams of America yahoo group (BMHA):

http://oak.cats.ohiou.edu/~mcfadden/amateur_radio_links.htm

Scroll down to the "Bicycles Combined with Amateur Radio" section for more antenna ideas. I don't know why it is so much easier to find articles about HF on bicycles than on motorcycles.
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N0XAS
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« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2005, 08:28:38 PM »

We have friends with Gold Wings.  I tease them that next year, Honda is replacing the handlebars with a steering wheel.

The Harley Electra Glide Ultra Classic is a little different.  We do have built-in AM/FM/WX/CD/CB/intercom, all integrated into the factory stereo mounted in the fairing.  I haven't decided whether I would want to go with V/UHF only or an all-band, all-mode rig (FT857 or some such); right now I'm just trying to figure out if it's practical to try to tie into the onboard audio stuff.  2M might occasionally be marginally useful on the road, but honestly I don't even bother when we're in the truck any more.  I monitor 146.52 and occasionally announce my call, but never only hear other hams every couple of years.  We went 2000 miles through 6 or 7 states on one trip and I never heard another living soul on 146.52, and in most places if I punch up the local repeaters I hear nothing and get no response.  So for travel purposes, it's pretty much useless.

I think it would be occasionally fun to work some 20, 15 or 10 meter SSB while mobile - but since my wife and I will be 2-up most of the time and we have intercoms, it's not a big deal.  Communicating with other bikers would still be all CB, since there are apparently fewer bikers with ham gear on board in this country than there are kids in our house most nights.  

I'll probably end up throwing the FT-817 and PAC-12 in a saddle bag and operating when we make an overnight stop.  Still, though, I'd like to figure out if there is a way to use the onboard audio system without ripping up the wiring harness.  It's just the challenge of figuring out how to do it at this point.
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WILLY
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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2005, 07:50:47 AM »

Read this ham's bio:  http://www.qrz.com/detail/KC3VO
Maybe he could provide some advice.

Go here:  http://www.qrz.com/i/biosearch.html
and search for "motorcycle".  You'll find 303 hits.  
Searching for "harley" returns 159 hits.  Some of these hams should have experience with what you want to do.  The hard part is finding the right one(s).
 

While not a direct answer for you, maybe this will help you get there.
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KC7IKN
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« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2006, 10:51:18 PM »

Looking for help as well. I have a 2006 Harley Electra Ultra Clasic. I do not want to modify the existing sounds system. So hoepfully that removes some issues. Ok here are my questions:

1. I have a Kenwood TM733 - yes it is old but the face is detachable and can be mounted away from the unit. So unit in the rear trunk and controls on a ram mount on the handle bars. That was easy.

2. Now comes the antenna - Looks like most people say 1/2 wave makes the best choice. But mounting it?
    a. I noticed that under the tour pack lining the manufacture put a sizable ground plane for the CB radio (a good 16 inches square and sizeable thickness). Could this be used for a ground plane for my antenna.
    b. But where to mount. My first thought was to replace the CB radio antenna. Mounting bracket already there and would look natural. Haven't used a CB in 25 years not going to start again. Next thought was to just add a bracket to the CB mount and put 2 next to each other - might look wierd. Then the final though use the mount that marc shows on their site that mounts on the tour pack rack. Don't know if that would be to much for the rack and tour pack connection.
    c. And finally what antenna - I have heard a lot of people say that most mobile antenna won't take the vibrations.

Ideas - thoughts
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