HF mobile with $250 total budget

Discussion in 'On the Road' started by W8DVE, Feb 18, 2020.

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  1. W8DVE

    W8DVE Subscriber QRZ Page

    Given a limited total budget of $250, is it possible to build a basic HF 50w+ mobile system (HF mobile radio, mic, antenna with mount, 12v power cord, coax) operating on 40m & 80m bands or is the budget unrealistic? Would choose 40m if limited to one band only.

    If you think it is possible, please advise how you’d get there with buying gear and approach to setting it up. I drive an older model (2004) mini-van with limited budget.


    Dave W8DVE
  2. K7TRF

    K7TRF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    If you're starting from scratch and need to buy a rig for your HF mobile install then it's going to be a challenge but it can be done with some patience and luck. I'd suggest visiting some hamfests looking for an older mobile suitable HF rig in working condition at a reasonable price. I found a deal like that on a Kenwood TS-120S at a hamfest, homebrewed a Bugcatcher antenna and got my first HF mobile rig on the air for less than your budget but it was just luck to trip across the rig at such a low price.

    HF mobile works best if you pay attention to the details like power line connections, proper ground bonding, common mode choking, antenna installation position, choice of antennas and the like. It's generally a bit less forgiving than home installations as you've got more gremlins to deal with like nearby automotive noise sources, limited ground vehicle ground plane and the like but it can be done if you're willing to invest the effort.

    It's probably best to start by spending some time reading K0BG's site to get an idea of what kind of project you're getting into: https://www.k0bg.com/
    AE4LH, AC4RD, US7IGN and 2 others like this.
  3. N7WR

    N7WR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I agree with TRF's suggestion. Can it be done? Probably IF you are patient. Given the type of vehicle you drive you have room for a larger, older rig like the Kenwood TS 120. Decades ago I ran a TS 120 mobile and worked the world. I have seen them on QTH.COM for $175 (though that is rare). That is the radio, power cable and microphone. Add to that coax and a mount (which you can buy for $30 or so) and then buy a hamstick antenna for 40 and one more for whatever band you want. You can come in for just under $250
    AC4RD, KU3X and K0UO like this.
  4. K0UO

    K0UO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Is it possible to build a basic HF mobile,
    For $250???

    The short answer is yes as stated above.

    Nowadays you need the best noise limiting units you can buy, with all the noise that is developed by consumer devices, the vehicle itself. and ambient noise.
    Put your money in the antenna too. Especially if you're going to work 40 and 80 meters with any kind of efficiency in luck with band conditions like they are.
    I have over $250 worth 31 beads and copper straps on my vehicle alone!
    See K0BG.com site about antennas and RFI, I know you're installing in an older vehicle, but you still have fuel pump noise issues and service engine light coming on from the radio and inefficient antenna from RF.

    My first mobile was in a minivan using an Atlas 180 and a ham stick on 20meters, conditions were good and I was able to make contacts. I guess we could probably buy that set up for $250.

    My question is, are we talking about a basic mobile are a basic mobile that actually works!!

    No matter what you get, let us know we'll try to help,
    A good mobile especially on the lower frequencies, it is a labor of love.
  5. W8DVE

    W8DVE Subscriber QRZ Page

    thank you!
    Dave W8DVE
  6. W8DVE

    W8DVE Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thank you !
    Dave W8DVE
  7. W8DVE

    W8DVE Subscriber QRZ Page

    thank you!

    Dave W8DVE
  8. W8DVE

    W8DVE Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thank you!
    Dave W8DVE
  9. W8DVE

    W8DVE Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thank you!
    Dave W8DVE
  10. AE7XG

    AE7XG Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have built some mobile antennas before. Inexpensive, yes , but remember to seal everything properly. Some water wept into the coil and expanded and broke the wire.
    costing me A radio. That lesson cost me , so be carful.
    Alinco hf mobile rigs are A good choice also.
    Good luck 73

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