80 Meter Mobile Recommendations Sought

Discussion in 'Mobile Radio' started by W8DVE, Jul 4, 2019.

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  1. W8DVE

    W8DVE Subscriber QRZ Page

    If you’ve found a combination of gear that has served you well operating 80 meters mobile, I could sure use advice. As you know, the 80 meter band has fluctuating RF wave propagation and yet I’d like to come up with a combination of rig, antenna, and components that perform in mobile operation even in unfavorable band conditions. All ideas welcome!
    Dave W8DVE
  2. W5LZ

    W5LZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    As with most mobile applications the antenna is probably the most important thing. The lower in frequency you go, th bigger the thing gets. So, while it's not exactly the best 'scientific' way of doing it, the bigger the antenna, the better. Another aspect of that 'bigger' part is cost. The more convenient an antenna is to use the more it costs. (Push a button or get out and walk around to the thing and change a tap on the coil. Or just let the radio do all that? $$$)
    Another part of a really nice 80 meter antenna is 'ugliness', it's gotta be ugly! Since beauty/ugliness is a subjective thingy, what is beautiful to me may not be to you. From the perspective of the average un-knowledgeable (generous description of most people as far as radio stuff is concerned) person, the bigger and uglier the better.
    And another aspect that most people don't think about is that the bigger the vehicle you mount that big-ugly thing on the better. It's that mysterious "groundplane" thingy you know. A low-rider, stretched '66 Cadillac makes for an almost ideal mobile! An look at all the room inside that you can mount stuff! And use steel-belted radials, naturally. Oh, and it needs to be candy-lemon-metalic yellow!
    (Drive that to a hamfest and watch the faces. Envy gets so thick it'll drown you. And lock the doors! Somebody will try to steal it!)

    Having said that.

    The most efficient antenna I've ever used on 80 meter mobiles is a 'Texas-Bug-Catcher' something like 12 - 13 feet tall. Also the most inconvenient. Next would be a 'screw-driver' antenna. Also tall and much more convenient to use. The radio? Various ones, just depended on what I had at the time. Tuning the whole mess is the biggy! Even with that screw-driver, count on it not being 'perfect'... just close. I think it's fun.
    YF8RQN, K0UO, W8DVE and 2 others like this.
  3. N5CM

    N5CM Ham Member QRZ Page

    My best experience, quite a while back, was also with a big, tall, ugly bug catcher. From the bumper mount up was a four-foot rod, the tapped coil, and a stainless steel CB whip. Later, I added a large aluminum disk just above the coil as a capacitance hat. The entire antenna was large enough that it need a single guy line tied off toward the front of the vehicle.

    I was ugly and cumbersome, but it worked well. I had the coil tapped for a number of bands including 75m and 80m.
    YF8RQN, W8DVE and WD5IKX like this.
  4. W8DVE

    W8DVE Subscriber QRZ Page

  5. W8DVE

    W8DVE Subscriber QRZ Page

    Awesome information, thank you!
    Dave W8DVE
  6. W6TAB

    W6TAB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I have a yeasu ft-891 and a high gain 4/160 screwdriver antenna that does very well on 80 meters mobile.
    W8DVE likes this.
  7. W8DVE

    W8DVE Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thank you!
  8. K0UO

    K0UO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Get a highly efficient antenna as everyone said above I currently use a scorpion screwdriver. I have used bug catchers over the years with good results other antenna has very poor results.
    Plan on grounding everything you can with big heavy straps I use 3/4 to 1 inch copper straps to bond everything together.

    Then go get you a ALS 500 watt amplifier, you really do need it 3 to 6 DB is a big help on 80.
    The other HF radio that works fair is a Kenwood 480 high power. I currently have 4 mobile/RV installs that operate on 80. Screenshot_20190623-142103_Chrome.jpg
    YF8RQN and W8DVE like this.
  9. G3YRO

    G3YRO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Dave the various posts are all good advice for you . . .

    But personally I would see what results you can get with a modest set-up first, before you go spending lots of money.

    As I mentioned, I have a very modest setup, yet get good results on 160m (which is obviously harder than 80m). The rig plus antenna has cost me less than £300 (about $400).

    To me, the most important thing is getting the antenna mounted properly on the roof, so it's away from the vehicle body. I'd rather have a small antenna on the roof, than a longer one mounted on the bumper, as there's bound to be lots of cancellation.

    The bottom line is just try it and see . . . if you bought a cheap secondhand rig and decided later to get a newer rig, you would easily get your money back! (so nothing wasted)

    Roger G3YRO
    N7UJU and W8DVE like this.
  10. W5LZ

    W5LZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I used to do a lot of 80 meter mobile stuff. The quick-n-dirty answer is the bigger and uglier the better. You can only reduce the size of an antenna so much before it's just nor worth doing, you know? Used to have the Kenwood HF mobile antenna(s). Sleek, not so conspicuous, etc. Also fiberglass so not that hard to break. At one time I had more money than I knew what to do with (don't count bill paying) and got one of the Scorpion
    antennas. If I had to do it again that would be my preferred antenna, it works well once set up correctly. NOT as hard to set up as that 'BugCatcher', and couldn't tell a difference in performance. YMMV!
    W8DVE and K0UO like this.

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