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How small can it be?

Discussion in 'Mobile Radio Systems' started by KX4QP, Apr 3, 2019.

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  1. KX4QP

    KX4QP Ham Member QRZ Page

    I drive a 2015 Ford Fiesta sedan. For those not familiar, I can just about park in the bed of a long-bed full size pickup. There's room inside for five adults, providing the ones in back have a healthy BMI and aren't above six feet in height, and the trunk is big enough to hold all the groceries I'm likely to buy at one time -- and with pass through by folding down the back seat, I can get a full length 2x4 stud in (3-4 of them, carefully stacked, running into the front passenger foot well).

    That said, there's not a bunch of extra space around the driver's seat, or in the dash.

    What can I get in the way of a small rig for 2m (multi-band to 1.25 or 70cm is a plus), preferably with an easily accessible output power adjustment (so I'm not blasting out 50W when I only need 4W to key the chosen repeater), and even more importantly, on a budget? I'd welcome going as low as 10m, but the antenna would be bigger than the car and I'd be able to see the difference at the gas pump; I drive 40 or so miles each way to work, five days a week and the thing I love most about my Fiesta is the 40 mpg.

    Bluetooth and compatibility with Ford's Sync system for hands-free operation would be a very welcome plus, but I don't expect it; that's built on smart phone capabilities.
  2. WR2E

    WR2E Ham Member QRZ Page

    You thinkin' mag mount on the antenna? or drilling and installing NMO?

    I don't have a Fiesta, but it's small too. I fear installing an NMO because of all the air bags in the way of routing the antenna cable.
  3. AG6QR

    AG6QR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yaesu FT-90 is tiny, but discontinued quite some time ago.

    Yaesu FT-1900 is small, and only recently discontinued.

    Yaesu FTM-3100 is in current production.

    There are also several radios that have a detachable faceplate, allowing you to put most of the bulk out of the way in the trunk or elsewhere, with only a small display and control unit near the driver. Consider this option.

    My first car was a '78 Ford Fiesta. I rented a newer one two years ago. Yours is a big roomy hulk loaded with luxury features, compared with the Fiesta I drove.
  4. KX4QP

    KX4QP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yep, I was dead set against a Fiesta when I went car shopping, I remembered them as ugly and cheaply built. Drove a Kia Rio, liked it a lot, then the dealer showed they were as dirty as their stereotype -- advertised price was about $1400 less than anything I could qualify for (who's both a student and military?) -- that's 10%. Went to four other dealers (Toyota, Chevy, Honda, Nissan) looking for a car in my price range that wasn't an eyesore. The Nissan had a CVT -- can't tell if those are working right by ear or feel. Didn't see a Yaris in a sedan (I hate hatchbacks). Honda pricing was out of sight. Chevy Cruise sucks in many ways. Nothing had better mileage than the Kia. Got to the Ford dealer, there was a nice little car sitting out front, and to my amazement, it said "Fiesta" on the back. Drove it, bought it. Fewer features and less warranty for a very little bit more money than the very similar Kia, but the dealer made me feel a lot less like he was trying to put one over on me.

    My next one probably will be a Kia -- Ford's dropping the Fiesta for 2020, along with the Focus, Fusion, and Taurus, and this one has 88,000 miles on it. I should get another couple years from it, at least, we'll see.

    I like the look of the FTM-3100R, but I'm not sure if it'll fit in the space I'm looking at (6.1x6.1x1.7 inches, plus bracket on top and wires in back). Price isn't bad, and 65/30/5 W power is a nice range. I might have to make up a "fit box" and see if there'll be room for both the radio and my knee.
  5. W4EAE

    W4EAE Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I drive a 1997 Corolla. Having ridden in a Fiesta, I can say with all certainty that interior space and overall footprint are similar. (Corollas are now much, much bigger).

    I have two radios installed in the car, both with detachable face-plates. This is the key to a small car installation. The FTm-400DR main unit is installed vertically on the passenger side of the dash console, about 6 inches above the floor. The FT-891 main unit is under the passenger seat. A passenger can still sit comfortably. The only thing that they have lost about 4 inches of left/right horizontal leg room.

    Where to mount the head can be a conundrum, but the head is so tiny in comparison of the entire radio that you have many more options. I sacrificed the AM/FM in-dash radio that has not worked for years. I left in in place and mounted the FTM-400 head in front of it using the bracket that came with the radio. The FT-891 head is mounted on a seat-bolt Lido mount from the front left of the passenger seat.

    Yaesu and Icom both offer 2m/70cm mobiles with detachable face-plates for less than $300. (The cheapest current Kenwood is $550).

    Antenna-wise, look at a Diamond or Comet lip mount. Installed properly, they can support most 2m/70cm antennas and provide a better ground than a mag mount without having to drill any holes in the body of your car. If you do not mind drilling the hole (and can figure out where to do it without hitting anything else), NMO mounts work very well. However, an antenna of significant size or weight will flex the sheet metal on which you place the NMO. The edges where a lip mount mount would be placed are typically enforced to a greater extent than the sheet metal in the center of the roof. Basically for a larger antenna, a lip mount is better.
  6. K8ERV

    K8ERV Ham Member QRZ Page

    How small? I'll never tell---

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
    KD4MOJ likes this.
  7. K3UJ

    K3UJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    he Chinese mobiles are small. The QYT KT-8900 fits in the palm of your hand. Dual band, 25W.
    I have no idea about quality and emissions. I've seen them on eBay under $40 - new.

    Driving a Jeep Renegade, not a whole lot of room in there. I'm using a Lido cup holder mount kludged to the radio bracket. It works, no holes drilled in the dash.
  8. KD8NGE

    KD8NGE Ham Member QRZ Page

    Right now I'm running my Yaesu talkie on a mag-mount antenna, can't get much more space efficient.
    Soon as possible I'll install the mobile and plan to put the detached head on the dash.
    Sounds easy when you say it fast!
  9. KD4UPL

    KD4UPL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yaesu FT-1500 is really small, haven't been made for a while. Why not just get one with a detacable face? Just about any dual band rig available has a remote mount option. My personal favorite is the Yaesu FT-7800/7900 if you don't need cross band repeat. Get an Icom IC-2730 if you do. Or, try out Yaesu Fusion digital or D-star. The IC-880's face is really small.

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