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I just need someone to tell me what to buy/do!

Discussion in 'Mobile Radio Systems' started by KN4MKD, Jun 15, 2018.

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  1. KN4MKD

    KN4MKD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hey there! I just got my ticket in May 18 and obviously very new at all of this. I was interested in the hobby because of my dad but I'm not technically knowledgeable about the science of it. I've been pondering over my mobile install for weeks and seeing all sorts of contradicting information. I've changed my mind a few times about it and at this point I just really need someone to tell me what to buy and how to do it. Here's what I'm working with and what my plan was.

    2008 TOYOTA Highlander.
    Yaesu FTM3200DR
    Antenna mount

    I don't plan on having my vehicle much longer so I wanted a somewhat less permanent "permanent" install if that makes sense. I planned to install on the centerish lip of my rear lift gate or the side. My lift gate also has a rear window that opens, I'm hoping that this mount will allow me to swivel the antenna around so I can still use the glass portion. Being attached to the lift gate itself should give me no issues in opening the gate. I also planned on installing it here because I park in a low clearance concrete parking garage daily so I need the antenna to be lower profile. I have considered bend down antennas as well as true low profile antennas and even mag antennas but don't want to have to get out of my vehicle to remove etc for clearance.

    The Yaesu is also my Base station. I will be using at home as well as my vehicle so I need to be able to access and remove/unplug easily. Eventually I'll get something permanent for my vehicle that I can leave in there.

    My question is about the cables and supplies I need. I've been all over trying to figure out what exactly I need to purchase. It's overwhelming to me to say the least. I hear I should fuse the connection at the battery, other places I hear to leave the fuse off the negative lead. I've read a number of different things and I just want clear understanding on how this needs to be done to be safely and effectively. :confused:

    Thanks in advance!
  2. K8ERV

    K8ERV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Is there a ham club nearby? Maybe someone can visit, see your setup and give some suggestions.

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
  3. KN4MKD

    KN4MKD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yes, there are a few. My dad has been a good help but maybe doesn't want to make these decisions for me or perhaps unsure himself what the best route is. I have not yet ordered any of the wiring supplies, antenna or mount because I want a good game plan prior to spending money on it. I also am just really busy with life and family as well as we all are but my 2 year old requires my attention once I get home from work. Being a female HAM and not running into any other females HAMS in my area, I'm reluctant (in all honesty) to be super involved in a club.
  4. K6LPM

    K6LPM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Not too sure if that mount will work with you lift gate. I believe that the lip needs to be horizontal. I am not familiar with the Toyota Highlander. I had similar setup on a Ford Bronco but had the luxury of the spare tire rack to mount to and used the same style of Comet mount except the base was for tubular such as a roof rack. With that Comet mount You can swivel the antenna down when you have clearance issues such as a low hanging parking garage. but you must carry around a allen wrench in your console. However this gets fairly old if you must do this regularly and also causes problems because it is still attached at the base at its full length and now there are still clearance issues with it being in the way where it can become a trip hazard.
    Really for a semi permanent/semi temporary setup you can never really go too wrong with a classic and proven design such as the Larsen NMO magmount and one of their base loaded coil antennas. I used the Larsen Magmount on top of a lifted Toyota 4wd pickup throughout the 80's and 90's along with their linear co phased dualband 70cm/2mtr base loaded antenna and it worked much better than some of my experiences with the newer recent designs like Diamond or Comet.
    The Mag mount and baseloaded coil affords several advantages. A big advantage is that it alllows you to place it up top right in the center of the roof. Your up higher and out of the way of vertical metallic surfaces that may interact and not play well with your antenna and it gives you the greatest groundplane. It is also easy to just flip over your mag mount when you have issues of clearance such as your parking structure. It also can prevent damage if you suddenly whack an overhanging obstacle while driving, as the mag mount can give way. Of course there are trade offs too.... It is less permanent, you are somewhat limited on just how large an antenna you can install. Mag mounts can eventually scratch painted surfaces if care is not taken. They are easier to steal or vandalize. You may need to be more creative on how to route your coaxial cable, and take care not to pinch it in a door or window. However you would probably just rout it the same way as you would the lip mount and run it under the liftgate weatherstripping or something of the sort and once in the interior down under the pillar to the floorboard and under the carpet.
    As for power.... the Issue of a fuse on the negative lead? This is a matter of great debate. My opinion is that there is no need for a fused negative lead what so ever. I am not a engineer and didnt design the radio and equipped it with a power cable that includes fuses on both leads, so I have no idea why they do that. I can only make a few quesses pro and con. In my mind its better off to complete the negative lead unfused and to route that lead into the engine compartment to the main location where the the battery is bonded to the chassis. follow the main negative cable from the battery and you will find where it is bonded to some sort of distribution or lug direct to the body firewall or chassis. This is where you want to connect the negative lead of the radio. The positive lead connects straight to the battery. You nay want to wrap the leads in electrical tape or use some wireloom. Also dont forget to use a grommet to protect the wires where they enter or exit thru.
    I have not used Anderson Power Pole connectors, but I understand that these are the defacto standard these days for making removable power connections between radio and power supplied leads. So probably want to get a couple of sets of those to plug and unplug radio from the car and the home shack.
    WELCOME TO HAM RADIO! Dont stress all those little things or lose sleep and be too overwhelmed with perfection. This is in fact AMATEUR radio and not professional radio! Certainly some hams are more amateur than others,,,,, and often there are also many professional radiomen that have cut their teeth within the ranks of ham radio. It is best to seek the comradery of the purists and the pros. You can soar with eagles or waddle with turkeys. This is a social hobby just as nearly as much a technical one. The best operators are well balanced in both! We all must get started somewhere, the best advice is Just do it! Jump in get your feet wet and put your station together and get it on the air. Almost every one of the better hams that I have known have been rather dynamic in the creation of their stations. In other words its always a work in progress and never completed but usually improved and experimented upon.
    What I am getting at, is get that radio installed now and improve upon as you go.... You are doing the right thing asking and seeking help but in the end just have at it!!!!
  5. KF5LJW

    KF5LJW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sad you can get a license and not know anything.Says something about the process and Ham Radio.
    AI3V and KD9KSO like this.
  6. KE5PPH

    KE5PPH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Something like this, either this connector or NMO and put it on the lip of the hood. Add antenna and go!
  7. KJ4ADN

    KJ4ADN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Would a simple (cheap) mag mount work, since you're not planning on keeping the vehicle long? Also assuming you're just talking to repeaters.

    I'm limited what can go on my work truck, this is working OK for hitting the local repeaters - and it's CHEAP.

    All 5 of my daughters are HAMS, including my wife, (5 Generals & 1 Extra). They didn't start out knowing much technical stuff, but given one of them is majoring in Mechanical Engineering .... and another, eh, the little girl in the picture is 19 yrs, and has been licensed since she was 9, turned into a geek and plans on a career in A & P (airplane stuff). I doubt the Amateur Radio hobby was wasted, or they should have become RF Engineers before they operated - all my girls have run special event stations, built antennas and contested. Don't allow yourself to get discouraged, a girl's voice is like a Kilowatt on the air!

    Check out the local HAMfests for a PL259 quick disconnect like this:
    screw your coax on to it, then it just slides onto the back of your radio.

    Change the radio connection to Anderson Power pole connectors:

    put a lighter plug on the other end, so you just plug into the vehicle's lighter socket.
    Skip all the other stuff - you're not keeping the vehicle, right? so this is temporary and besides, if you hop into another vehicle, just move it with you.

    In your "shack" where stuff is going to be somewhat permanent, you'll have the same connectors waiting - from the car, uplug the antenna, power connector, walk into the house, plug it back in at the shack, and you're good to go. For the house antenna, the simple solution, -IF- you don't have a metal roof, is an OSJ pole, mounted inside the attic, as high as possible.

    Good luck! Welcome to the hobby!
  8. K6LPM

    K6LPM Ham Member QRZ Page

    GOOD POINT!!!!!!
    KE5ES likes this.
  9. KN4MKD

    KN4MKD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yes, I suppose we can say the same thing about getting a license to drive as well. Or for that matter some of the Engineers I work with have a lot of technical knowledge but no common sense....I think it could go both ways. I'm interested and I'm learning. You always have to start somewhere.
    KD9LZU, KC1JUT, WE4E and 6 others like this.
  10. KN4MKD

    KN4MKD Ham Member QRZ Page

    First of all, thank you for the encouragement! I've never let my lack of knowledge about a subject discourage me from learning more or from trying! I'm also trying to get my youngest daughter into radio because she has a memory to die for. I doubt she would get all the technical stuff at first either but being in a male dominant field myself I always encourage my girls to shoot for things even if it's male dominated.

    I've been in the construction industry as a drafter/designer for about 6 years prior to my career at an electric utility company (ironically enough). It's amazing what software can do! You can practically know nothing about Transmission Lines design and the software will do it for you! That comes directly from some of those Engineers~! I'm not an Engineer but I'm not an idiot either! I know basic electric theory but no, I'm not knowledgeable about radio installation etc so I thought coming here would be the best practice for practical and working knowledge on the subject.

    I have considered the Mag mount but because of my low parking clearance at the garage at work I was discouraged from using that. My radio is a little too powerful for the cig adapter but found I can turn it down on medium power and it works fine as a temporary fix. I do think I would feel better about connecting to the battery eventually. My dad did install his mag mount this weekend for me temporarily since I'm taking a vacation next week and wanted to talk on my way. His is a 5/8 wave and we discussed me just getting a 1/4 wave and using on the top instead of the mount I listed on this post. I may actually consider that option now. I think for ease of use it may just be my best option.

    I have been primarily chatting on the repeaters but plan to chat simplex when we go on our trip. I am also primarily chatting mobile at the moment. We have the antenna and coax ready for the install for my base station and just haven't gotten to it. I spend a lot of time commuting to and from work so really I'm doing most of my talking then. I also have a two year old to attend to at home and he doesn't leave me much time for chatting once I get there. I should have thought about this before and maybe just invested in a mobile system to start out. I guess that something that the books don't teach you and you just have to figure out what works best for your life.

    We do have a HAMFest coming up close to me and I'll probably attend that with dad for some good ol father daughter bonding! This has really revived our relationship and even if I know nothing about the hobby I am having fun finding a common interest with him and enjoying the time we've spent together. I guess at the very least I'm satisfied with that. MOST everyone I have spoken to has been kind and helpful in that regard. Again thanks for the encouragement and suggestions!

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