Discussion in 'On the Road' started by K7OYZ, Jul 25, 2017.
i have kenwood ts480hx in each of my trucks and one in the RV. excellent radios for mobile operation
Made my longest ever SSB Phone QSO via Mobile. Longer than my Base rig with a Yagi. Of course, conditions were optimal & It took almost 40minutes of being patient with 100W & mobile in a pileup. Proper RF grounding made the difference. Counterpoise is everything when your mobile.. Rig: Yaesu FT-857 & an ATAS-120. Read, re-read the aforementioned http://www.k0bg.com/ website & follow his wise instructions. You'll be glad you did.
John - W5MTB/M
I have operated HF from home and mobile for over 50 years. I currently use ONE Kenwood TS 480SAT both in the shack and in my SUV. To make it simpler to move it from one environment to the other I bought an extra power cord and an extra cable to connect the control head to the radio. So to move it is a matter of unplugging 2 cables, the antenna, and bringing the control head with mic and the radio itself into the shack and plugging in 2 cables and connecting the antenna.
My mobile HF antennas are just hamsticks though in the past I have used various screwdriver antennas. Given the current state of propagation the only hamsticks I carry with me are for 17, 20 and 40 meters. Lots of folks invest a LOT of money in their mobile stations. Mine is minimal but on a recent trip I had no problem at all making as many Q's as I wanted on 20 and 40 meters. Used TS 480SAT transceivers can be had for a little as $500 and you can buy hamsticks made by Workman for $25 apiece. Like someone else suggested spend some time on K0BG's website and put thought and effort into how and where to install the antenna mount.
Finally, depending on your vehicle, noise suppression could become a time consuming and somewhat expensive proposition. In previous vehicles I had to do a LOT of work to resolve the noise problem. My current vehicle is an older Ford Escape SUV and I have done nothing in the way of noise suppression. What little noise there is the noise blanker in the TS 480 takes care of it without distorting the received signals.
At this point, until you get experience and find whether mobile operating (I go hot and cold on it) is for you I think you are wise to go the dual purpose radio route. One reason I like the TS 480SAT by the way is that unlike most of the other "mobile" HF rigs it has an auto tuner. On some bands a hamstick will give you an SWR under 2:1 over the whole band but on other bands it won't. On those bands having the built in tuner makes it a lot easier to move from one end of the band to the other.
The hamsticks seem to do fine, as you say, above 40 meters. They are simple, quick to install, easily stored. Below 40, not so much.
That's because they are tightly/closely wound coils (almost all of it is "coil") of fine, thin wire. They don't require much matching (another
"good[?] thing for the newly minted HF op). Tiny coils produce resistance, and much of it is up in that skinny loading coil. Oh, there's more, but the bulk of the impedance/resistance is in that loading coil. And the total impedance of the antenna is often just enough to add up to about......................50 ohms or so, depending on some other factors as well. And the higher the frequency, the less matching is needed (usually). And it makes sense. In layman's terms, higher frequency, less coil, less resistance, less matching! It adds up to convenience and a compromise antenna for those who desire that. The larger antennas--Bugcatchers, screwdrivers, et al..........that's another matter, and it gets more involved in matching, grounding, mounting, wind loading and such. Nothing the experienced HF ops don't already know. But for the serious op, the rewards are great. For them, the extra work is worth it. For those who think there are shortcuts to serious HF, yer gonna be disappointed; you'll get exactly what you bargained for. Shortcut antenna? Shortcut results! But, again, one must make the decision. Amateur radio is learning process and one reaps satisfaction from his labors. If it satisfies YOU, then your goals have been met. If it suits you, then it is the right antenna!
Maybe you should put an eyeball on your antenna system.......even with poor conditions, you should be making contacts.......
When you DO go for HF mobile, I would go for the biggest antenna rather than the smallest. You may well be satisfied with less performance, of course, but IF you are REALLY into HF mobile, it might be that the lesser performance might make you think HF doesn't work well at all. Some things to remember are that, when its all said and done, it takes "a big, ugly antenna" to get real results out of a mobile. There are some reasons for that. Your base station has this big, long dipole, often a-way up in the air (elevation); you, OTH, have a smaller antenna that is "scrunched" down into 10 feet or so using loading coals of some sort. Also the mobile has to overcome its environment because it is usually moving thru changing conditions such as soil density, composition, moisture, obstacles such as buildings and other vehicles. And this is where the screwdriver excels! I.E. FLEXIBILITY! That is, it is basically resonant/can be adjusted either manually or automatically by the operator. IMHO, I wouldn't resort to "tuners". That's just MY take. If it suits YOU, then go with it. But a so-called "tuner" does NOT 'tune' an fixed-length antenna; it provides a 50 ohm match at the feedpoint and dissipates HEAT. You STILL have a mismatched antenna that's not going to provide the best performance. A "tuner" can work on a base because that set-up has a better chance (again, elevation, antenna nearer (perhaps) to actual resonance. I use a AT 100 autotuner into a Cobra Ultralite (by K1JEK) (160 thru 10M) at home, and I get really good results from it. (Apex of the Vee is at 60 feet) For me, a tuner just won't cut it on mobile.
To each his own; that's why there's so many configurations and products for the discerning ham. We're not here to compete with one another. It is all about what works for you economically and personally. Gud luck. I think you will enjoy HF.