HF in 18-wheeler....suggestions wanted for rig and antenna

Discussion in 'Mobile Radio Systems' started by WB5YIW, Aug 24, 2012.

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  1. WB5YIW

    WB5YIW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Howdy folks.

    I recently took up driving an 18 wheeler and am looking for suggestions from those of you who've done this in the past as to what works and what don't. I've been eyeballing an IC-706, but would be very willing to use something else. Don't need vhf/uhf, really will only be running hf. Don't really have a clue which antenna to go with though. What ever I get is either gonna have to mount on the mirror or back behind the cab of the tractor, and can't be taller than the top of the trailer, be able to stand the pounding a big rig will give it.

    So how 'bout it guys?

  2. AK4MP

    AK4MP QRZ Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I would suggest you contact AA4ZU and AK4ML as both are truck drivers and have the same situation you are inquiring about. ZU is using the IC-706 MKGII and ML just got himself a new rig. If you have trouble contact these guys let me know and I'll get you connected with them. Both are very good friends of mine and live close to me.
  3. K0BG

    K0BG Ham Member QRZ Page

  4. N5MOA

    N5MOA Subscriber QRZ Page

    The TS-480HX is the best bang for your buck HF mobile radio, imo.

    As for the antenna, I've never operated from a tractor, I'd contact the drivers Tim mentioned above and see what they have had success with.

    If you are looking at screwdriver type antennas, I am very pleased with my HI-Q, Alan likes his Scorpion, others prefer Tarheel's. Hamsticks, bugcatchers or whips w/tuners will "work". Clear as mud, right? :p It all depends on how much you want to invest, and what your expectations are.

    They all need a proper installation (bonding, chocking, etc..) to function as best they can, no matter which you choose to go with.
  5. WB5YIW

    WB5YIW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for all the info guys. I'll take a look when I get back at all the info and see if I can get hold of those guys. Heading out in the morning for a week long run. I have an old ic 725 that is going with me this time with a 20 meter hamstick. I've had it for many years, run it mobile, portable, used it on field day, and it's never failed me. Hamstick isn't the best antenna, but I mainly just want to listen in on the hurricane watch net on this trip anyway.
  6. WB5YIW

    WB5YIW Ham Member QRZ Page

    You have an interesting and informative website there Alan, but the link you gave me comes up as "unavailable". Lots of great info on there though.
  7. WD5GWY

    WD5GWY Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have been running HF mobile in an 18 wheeler on and off for over 30 years. Lately, I have been using
    a Kenwood TS-480SAT (got a good deal on the radio, didn't really need the auto tuner). And for an antenna,
    I use a Little Tarheel II. Before the 480SAT & the Little Tarheel, I used a Kenwood TS-50s and a 102" whip
    with an LDG Z-11 PRO auto tuner. While that setup worked fairly good 20-10 meters, (and worthless on 40 meters), the 480SAT and Little Tarheel II work much better. (good on 20-10 meters and fair on 40 meters)
    I have the Little Tarheel II mounted on the driver's side mirror. I rarely ever hit anything with it.
    The truck I am currently driving is a 2007 Kenworth Day Cab. Pulling a belly dump trailer. When I used the 102" whip and auto tuner, I had the whip mounted behind the cab, between the cab and trailer. (about 4' from
    each) The biggest problem I had, was/is noise generated by the fuel injectors (pulsing just like old fashioned spark plugs) on the Caterpillar engine. I have bonded about everything I can find. The only solution I have found for that problem is to wrap the wiring from the computer to the injectors with copper foil and ground that to the frame. The one thing the owner of the truck will not allow me to do!! He's worried that that might somehow damage the computer and void the warranty. So, even with the different filtering that the 480 is able to do, I still have to put up with the pulsing noise to some degree. But, it's not near as bad as it could be.
    There are a lot of good mobile rigs out there. The main reason I like the Kenwood TS-480SAT is because of the display. It is large and very easy to read. Even with uneven lighting conditions. The older TS-50s display would wash out and be very difficult to see. My ICOM 706 MKIIG that I currently use in my pickup, is easy to see as well. As is my ICOM 7000. (which also has a great noise blanker. But, it's much too expensive of a radio to be used in a truck that works mainly in the oilfield. It would be destroyed in no time with all the off road work we do )
    When I was into long haul, I had several different rigs. But, in that situation, they took less of a beating than the type of work I do now. I have tried many different radios over the years, and other than the ICOM 7000, the TS-480 (SAT or HX) are the best of them all for mobile use in a big rig.
    Good luck on whatever you decide to get. Mobile HF in a big rig is fun. (just be safe) There are a lot of trucker
    hams that show up daily on 7.195 (not a formal net) and you can get a lot of useful advice there as well.
    Alan's website , as you have found, is a great resource for all mobile HF op's.
  8. K0BG

    K0BG Ham Member QRZ Page

  9. K9ZMD

    K9ZMD Subscriber QRZ Page

    Look at the bio for AB9QT. Gil has a photo there of his big rig mobile antenna, an unusual loaded vertical with clover leaf top hat. He was on the road when I worked him a few years ago, and the signal was tremendous; I was quite surprised when he told me he was mobile in motion.
  10. WB5YIW

    WB5YIW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well, I'm back. As it happened, they moved my load up on me by several hours, so I didn't have time to install my antenna and rig before the trip to Maine. Oh well, maybe this time, though it's in doubt this time too due to the fact that the remnants of Isaac are dumping large amounts of rain at my house today and I really don't want to get soaked to the bone while doing the install. May take it all with me and see if I can get it done during an overnight stop somewhere.

    Alan, the second link worked...thanks. Lots of good info there. Even though it's an older design, I'm giving some serious thought to getting an IC706. Second choice would be An FT857d. I like things about both radios. Gonna have to liquidate a few other toys to fund this project though. We are moving soon, so this will be a good time to thin out the collection anyway. Thanks for all the help guys, have a good day.
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