Tag Archives: mobile

I've had a mobile radio installed in my S-10 for years.  However, for the longest time, it was only half right.  I did the correct thing and not use my truck's accessory outlet wiring. I haven't figured out for the life of me how General Motors claims you can put 20A on a 20 gauge wire - 20A for any sustained period of time on such a small wire is a significant fire hazard.

This is the wrong way to do this.

Initially, I took the quick, easy, and cheap way out by sandwiching the radio power lead in the battery post. However, I ran into a problem a few times in the mornings where my truck wouldn't start.  I found that the positive power lead was not staying tight. I eventually removed the power lead because I like to be able to drive my truck. And besides, no power was getting to the radio, either!

Enter the correct solution.

Better Battery Bolts

The correct solution is $5 each (and two are needed). Not really expensive.

The correct solution

This works better for two ways - the first is that the new battery bolts are longer ensuring a more reliable connection between the battery and the cables.  The second is that the wires are not between the battery and the main vehicle power.  I might be over-stating that benefit, though, as I don't think the power lead lugs were causing any significant power drop.

73 de KE8P

Category: Equipment

For anyone that's been following me on Twitter, you've undoubtedly seen my tweets about getting some DX on 10m while mobile.  For whatever reason, 10m seems to be the sweet spot with my 706 and the hamstick.

The Setup

The current setup is here (old pic)

2013-07-28 17.29.22-2

This is the radio in the lower center console of my truck.

The Issues

One issue with this is that it is difficult to control the radio.  Part of it is that I need to use it more.  Part of it is that it is just over an arm's length away.  Solution: I have the head separation kit, I need to mount the radio somewhere easier to see and control.

The only other issue is logging.  I've tried using Google Keep and Evernote, but they haven't worked very well.  Keep tries to transcribe the speech, which it usually does poorly with callsigns and frequencies.  It will normally get the ubiquitous "five nine", though.  I've decided I need an "easy button".

Easy button block diagram

Easy button block diagram

So, an Easy Button.  Ultimately, this will become an Android App.  It'll probably be Arduino powered.  It'll likely be open source, too.

I figure when it is plugged in, it should start an app (maybe I'll have to do this manually).  It'll charge the Android device (hence the cigarette lighter adapter).  It may run the GPS to get location when the button is pressed (I can think of a few uses for that); it would definitely get the time and date (UTC, of course!) from the phone, and it would prompt the phone to record the callsign, signal reports, and any other notes.  It would also connect to my IC-706 to get the frequency and mode.

Stay tuned!


Category: Equipment

Last Friday while sitting in the parking lot of my building, I tried contacting NR4CB or AB4UG to wish them a happy wedding day.  It didn't happen.  I could barely hear Connie, could tell someone was there (but couldn't make out the words) when Eugene was on.  It didn't help that other stations were 2 kHz above and 2 kHz below.

I got to thinking about running mobile HF again.

This could work.

This could work.

It looks like I need to fashion a pair of brackets - one would be simple, and the other complex a little.  I do have the mobile bracket for my 706, so I can always use that as a guide for holes.

It seems far simpler when it is a sketch on a post-it note than when it is a piece of sheet metal that has to fit.

Another thought with the brackets is that I don't *have* to have the radio there.  I need the head there, but I do have the head separation kit, so I can always put the radio elsewhere and run power and antenna to it.

The other thing I looked at was the antenna.  Like every other self-respecting ham, I feel as if antennas should be big.  I was concerned about this 20m antenna and a quick look at K0BG's website confirmed my suspicions.

Someone gave this to me.  I'm considering giving it back once I have a better alternative.

Someone gave this to me. I'm considering giving it back once I have a better alternative.

The antenna is so small compared to 5 meters (roughly a 1/4λ for 20 meters) that it has to be basically a dummy load on a stick.  I'm not sure if the bridge above me helped or hurt; I had thought about driving up to Mt. Adams, but for various reasons I couldn't stray too far.  I'll have to try again.  I need to run the antenna wire (I'm not sure other vehicles would like the idea of me having that coax flapping around, and I can't have the tonneau cover open like it is when I'm stationary.

The last consideration is power, but it isn't a huge consideration.  I have a power line that is safe for 20 amps (as much as my 706 needs), but I don't want to have to unhook/rehook power connectors (those ARE live, after all).  I'm thinking I need a miniature power distribution center with two pair of fused power poles and a master switch, and maybe a battery shutoff.


Category: Operating

I bought a new-to-me radio. It is a used FT-7800R dual-band (2m/70cm) mobile. The price was right: $195 before taxes. Once I got it, I high-tailed it home and opened the box and....


It hit me. The stink of cigarette smoke.  Not enough to knock me over, but enough to potentially stink me out.

So I asked Twitter, Facebook, and a few locals how to get the smell out.  Their answers (all good ones) are in the Storify story below.

So I did with what I could with what I had.  The images below tell the story.

I took the rig apart and put it in a box.

I took the rig apart and put it in a box.

2013-04-27 20.05.08

I sprinkled lots of baking soda all over the parts. I left it like this overnight.

2013-04-26 15.38.09

I attached a fan to the side of the box.

2013-04-26 15.49.46

I let the fan run for a while, maybe 12 hours. Yes, I ran it with an expensive linear power supply!

2013-04-26 15.49.36

After running it (with this as a small exhaust), I did a smell test over this, and viola! No noticeable smell.

So the exciting conclusion is that this was mounted in my truck on Saturday night, and I got into the truck on Sunday night to actually test the radio (after having it mounted for nearly 24 hours in an enclosed truck in my garage).  I detected no smell of smoke in my truck.  While nobody was on the local repeater to assist in my test, I had handed one of my HTs to my wife and she gave me a thumbs-up indicating that indeed, the sound was good.  Also, I've had good sound reports on the morning drive, too.

At any rate, this is one of those "your mileage may vary" situations.  I may be right, or I may be lucky.  But I'm not smelling smoke!


Category: Equipment

Winter and it's crummy weather has been in the air here in southwest Ohio (unless there was a heatwave when this went to post, I scheduled this one in advance).

I'm doing everything wrong, but I know I'm doing everything wrong so I know what to fix.

The first thing I'm doing wrong is a magnet mount.  Mine's damaging the paint below the magnet.  While my truck is 10 years old, it is damn nice for being 10 years old, and I want it to last at least another 10.  So the first thing I want to do is permanently mount an antenna to the truck.

The second thing I'm doing wrong isn't really wrong.  I have an FT-1900.  I like it, but it is 2m only.  I really could use 2m+70cm because some of the public service events I do use a 70cm "suitcase" repeater.  Being able to hit that while driving can really help make my life easier.  In addition, my main repeater has a cross-link on 70cm, so being able to monitor the cross-link frequency can be pretty useful to help fix problems.  Having true dual receive would be great if the Skywarn net activates and I want to listen in on it while talking on my 'normal' repeater.  Finally, having crossband repeat may sometimes be useful.

A third thing I want to do is start running APRS in my truck.  I don't know what solution I'm going to do, but I'm not going to do something with a lot of power - I'll probably re-purpose an old HT to do this.  But when I do that, I will still want an external antenna.  That will also be something I turn on and off (yeah, sometimes I want to make sure I disappear!)

A fourth thing I want to do is run a permanent line for the antenna receptacle in the back of my truck.  That receptacle is for hamsticks.  I may also install my HTX-100 in my truck,


Category: Equipment

Last March, I purchased an Icom IC-706mk2g.  Since I didn't have a power supply (and modifying my old Ten-Tec power supply is a project that is taking too long), it sat.  For too long for my liking.  So I put it in my truck, temporarily, to make sure it works.  I had some good comments about the sound quality.

During my afternoon drive, however, I hit a few particularly nasty bumps in the road and the rig, which I had sitting on the transmission hump, slid to the side, pulling on the power and antenna connectors.  After that, the comments about the sound quality dwindled to it "sounding staticy, like you're off frequency".  I took the covers off, did some quick visual checks and didn't see anything amiss, so I kinda passed it off.

Fast forward a few very busy months with the HF rig off, and to this past week where the 13 Colonies were on the air.  Try as I might, I had a lot of trouble getting any of them.  In fact, there were times I stuck it out through a pileup (trying every time they said "QRZed?") to when they were asking "QRZed" twice and even calling CQ.  I was calling out, but they weren't hearing me.

After being heartwarmed by hearing one of the stations clear a frequency to allow a mobile station through, I thought I'd operate mobile.  So I attached an antenna mount and a 20m mobile antenna to my truck.  The next morning wasn't particularly good on 20.  In the afternoon, I tried hitting up the local repeater first (it had been dead in the morning, and I do like talking with my repeater friends).  However, I couldn't get through.  So I tried again in a few miles.  And again, a few miles after that.  Finally, I could get through when I was pretty close to home.  The return ID was staticy, too.

So anyway, I'm concerned for my HF rig.


Category: Equipment

I installed a Yaesu FT-1900R in my truck yesterday.  It was quite the experience.


The first part was figuring out where the transceiver would go.  After much looking and taking apart half the interior of the truck, I figured I would remove the ashtray (since I don't smoke, it was a coin tray).  I had to modify the ash tray holder and the radio mount to hold the radio mount from the sides.

Radio Mount in Ashtray Frame

The second part was actually installing the rig.  Getting the antenna wire and the power leads through the firewall sucked - I ultimately pulled the grommet for the radio antenna, cut it a little (from the edge and a + in the center), got the leads through it, got it back in, and caulked the heck out of it with silicone caulk.  Fortunately, with its location, I would have to be driving through a monsoon before it would leak even if I didn't caulk it.

After all this, I placed the antenna on the hood (its a magnet mount for now, but my next change is going to be a hood mount), and went to a local park to test things out.  I did hear a little bit of engine noise (I'll have to put a filter in the power line), but I was able to hear quite well and even (somehow) picked up some guys talking about locations in California on 146.5 Mhz... it was S9.

View of the radio installed in my truck

Category: General Stuff
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