Mobile HF set up

Discussion in 'On the Road' started by K7OYZ, Jul 25, 2017.

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  1. K7OYZ

    K7OYZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am a new ham. Just got my Technicians license and am studying for the General test and expect to take it in about a month. I will be getting TYT TH9800 installed in my truck early next week. I will want to eventually install an HF unit in my truck also, so would like information on good models of radios and antennas at reasonable cost. I will need to save up money so would like to get an idea on how much I will have to spend. It would be nice if the HF transceiver could be taken out of the truck and used at home also as I am retired and don't have a great deal of extra cash. Any information would be very helpful.
  2. W6ELH

    W6ELH Ham Member QRZ Page

    You'll get other, more encouraging replies I'm sure, but I begin to wonder if mobile HF is worth the effort. About three years ago, when I added an FT-857 to my Jeep, I could count on talking to some interesting part of the U.S., let alone Japan and Central / South America every day. Now, I hear little if anything, and and "CQ" calls are never answered. The band conditions are just terribly limiting. I have even been wrestling with pulling out the mobile rig and letting it go.

    Don't like giving such a negative reply, but that's the state of it, at least as far as I'm seeing. Cheers... Jim W6ELH
    AK5B likes this.
  3. K1SZO

    K1SZO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Some people strap keyers to their leg and cw as they drive.
    DG8AE, N7UJU and KF4KUL like this.
  4. K0PIR

    K0PIR XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Welcome and congratulations Michael.

    I love operating HF mobile. On my way back from the hamvention in Ohio I drove approx 23 hrs straight thru and was on the radio the entire time. It kept me entertained and I rarely got tired.

    My setup: Icom 7000, Tarheel 200A. I also have a Signalink USB so when I'm pulled over I can operate digital modes.

    There are a few good mobile rigs out there. Check out Yaesu, Icom and Kenwood. If you want to use the rig inside you'll probably not want to use a separation kit to separate the control head from the body.

    Check out the Icom 7100, Kenwood TS-480 and Yaesu FT-857D.

    I like my Tarheel antenna and they make some good ones and the Tarheel 100a works good on pickup trucks. You could look at that one. There are less expensive antennas you can start with too.

    Best of luck and hope to hear you on the air soon.

    Best 73,
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2017
    N9UO, K9CPO, KD5TRI and 2 others like this.
  5. KK5JY

    KK5JY Ham Member QRZ Page

    It really depends on what you want to do while mobile. If you just want to do voice modes, the IC-7100 and the newer FT-857s are good entry-level mobile radios. They both do HF+VHF+UHF so one can be a single do-it-all radio. Stay away from the older FT-857s, which had hardware bugs. Some guys say that the 7100's transmit power level is low in SSB, but I have never had any trouble driving mine to the 100W rail with current firmware. The TS-480 can also be a good entry-level mobile HF radio.

    I have used all of these.

    If you want to do CW, the 857 with a proper crystal filter installed is probably my first choice, followed closely by the 480 and then the 7100. All are capable radios, but the 857+filter seems to have slightly better selectivity for CW than the 480+filter. I do this when "vehicle portable" from state parks, etc. Ditto for digimodes.

    The FT-817nd can also be a capable HF mobile radio, but you'll need a good amplifier to go with it. Elecraft makes an amplifier that will take an 817 to 100W, although it's a bit pricey. Used THP-45B amplifiers are still around, and can give you 50W from an 817.

    If you can make space in your mobile for a bigger box, the IC-7200 is a really good deal. It only does HF+6, but it has a very nice receiver, fully-customizable filters, and the front panel controls are very intuitive. It's probably my favorite all-around entry-level radio. I have only used mine in the house, but it would make a great mobile radio if I could find space in the truck for it. In fact, your question has encouraged me to take a second look at finding a mobile bracket for it when I go road-tripping this fall. :cool:

    Take a look at He has all kinds of information about selecting radios, selecting antennas, installing them, powering them, etc., for HF mobile.
    W1AST and (deleted member) like this.
  6. W9WB

    W9WB Ham Member QRZ Page

    HF mobile operations are more complex than VHF/UHF operations. Read through the site and then read it again. There's much information there to digest. While we are in a solar slump right, I've still had some good surprised while operating HF mobile. In fact, I worked Slovenia and France on 20M yesterday afternoon on the drive home. I'm running a TS-480SAT with mono band Shark "hamstick" style antennas. Those are on quick disconnects on a Breedlove front bed rail mount.

    Taking the transceiver in and out will be cumbersome, but doable. You'll likely either grow tired of mobile HF operations, or grow tired of moving it and buy another rig. In the longer term, the TS-480 is also available in the HX version, which is 200W of output. It's a little more grunt for compensating for a compromise mobile antenna, but does not include the internal tuner. This isn't a big deal if you are using resonant antennas.
    W1AST, AK5B and W0MUD like this.
  7. K7OYZ

    K7OYZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for all the information. I appreciate it. I assume that taking a receiver in and out would grow very tiresome, but I will need to start somewhere. Can't buy everything at once. We have a trailer now and use it for short trips so I thought the mobile transceiver might be useful at first. Thanks again!
  8. HB9FUH

    HB9FUH Ham Member QRZ Page

    My only shack is in my car, an IC-7000 with AH-4 tuner and a 2.7m whip. The airwaves are pretty busy around here, and I get a pretty good distance for 100W.
    K0PIR likes this.
  9. WU3I

    WU3I Ham Member QRZ Page

    Mobile op for more than 20 yr. Love it. Have been thru all of it. Started with Hustler resonators then hamsticks. Went to Screwdriver antennas with a Don Johnson made model then KJ7U now Hi-Q 10-80 with cap hat and whip. Installation is very important. I can send you a copy on disk of Don Johnson's books on mobile HF operation. They are my bible for Mobile HF operation. He invented the screwdriver style of antenna in the early 60's I think. Right now the bands are terrible for Mobile HF unless it's a good day for propagation. Current is Kenwood 480 HX no tuner as the screwdriver gives you perfect match. I opted for the extra 100 watts. It can be an investment. For the time being I would wait until the Propagation returns before installing an HF system in an Mobile. Let me know if you want me to mail the Disk.
    N5WIX, W2CSI, N9DXR and 1 other person like this.
  10. K7OYZ

    K7OYZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the help and information. This is exciting, although a little expensive!

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