New mobile installation

Discussion in 'On the Road' started by N2SUB, Jun 6, 2017.

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  1. N2SUB

    N2SUB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    For the first time in nearly 20 years, I'm thinking about a mobile installation. I searched the forum for recommendations on radios, and a lot of people are raving about the IC7100. It looks like a nice rig. I have been looking at a Kenwood TS-480HX for a few reasons
    • Ease of use (according to some reviews)
    • 200 Watts output power
    • Built-in antenna tuner
    While receiver performance is certainly a factor, I wouldn't make that a deal-breaker due to ambient and transient noise experienced operating mobile. VHF/UHF is not an issue either because I can always install a 2/440 rig in addition. I have a bunch of old LDG auto tuners laying around that I can use, and I plan to start with the collection of hamsticks I've accumulated over the years for antennas.

    So, I think the TS-480HX allows me to go without needing power and cabling to an external tuner, and gives me twice the output power while needing very little menu reminds me of a Yaesu FT-900 I used to run. The IC-7100 gives me VHF/UHF, and possibly a superior receiver but cuts the power in half and requires the insertion of a tuner or matching device of some kind.

    I've never owned a Kenwood, but maybe it's time. What am I missing guys?
  2. AC0GV

    AC0GV Ham Member QRZ Page

    • 200 Watts output power OR
    • Built-in antenna tuner Not both.
  3. N2SUB

    N2SUB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Wow.....they almost slipped that by me! Here's the HRO description of the TS-480HX. After reading your comment, I can see where I went astray:

    "Tailor-made for DX'ing, the new TS-480HX HF transceiver raises the bar on portable performance. Despite its compact dimensions, it delivers an astonishing punch: 200W with a DC 13.8V supply. Yet its separate control panel is perfect for base station use. Sharing virtually all the same powerful features is the 100W TS-480SAT, except that it boasts a built-in antenna tuner. Whichever model you choose, you can be sure of enjoying the best of both worlds with first-rate communications at home and on the trail."

    Now change the word IS to the word AS. Given that it's the description of the HX model, I wasn't expecting a plug for the SAT version. Lesson learned.

    Thanks for setting the record straight. :)
  4. AC0GV

    AC0GV Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am also looking at the 480, for me 200 watts is too much power to supply in my RV.
    N2SUB likes this.
  5. K0PIR

    K0PIR XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I know a couple of Hams who have the Kenwood 200 watts rig and they love it, but both have a Tarheel antenna with automatic controller. No need for the tuner. I don't think you can go wrong with either rig.
    N2SUB likes this.
  6. N2SUB

    N2SUB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm still very much on the fence. I might just go with whatever fits best in the vehicle.

    I appreciate the help.
  7. KW4EK

    KW4EK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Keep in mind that 200W is quite a lot for a mobile HF radio install.

    With such comes a very power hungry radio if it is running off 12VDC (likely around 35-45A peak or when using CW/FM/Digital, or around 25-30A average power on SSB/AM, so not something to be running off the regular vehicle battery without the engine running and which may still require a dedicated battery to help buffer the load it will place on your vehicle's electrical system and alternator (depending upon how much spare capacity exists and your vehicle electronics tolerance to sudden voltage sags and surges on transmit), and such becomes a necessity if trying to run the radio with the engine off (either a very large flooded deep cycle bank, say 400+Ah, or a fairly large AGM battery bank, 150-200Ah if you want any decent runtime while engine is off) and possibly a separate alternator to handle recharging the large house "buffer" bank (especially if AGM) since the charging demands can be considerable. A typical automotive SLI (starter ignition lights) battery would not be suitable for more than a few minutes of total transmit time with the engine off since they should not be depleted by more than 10-20% of their rated Ah/reserve capacity (and at up to 40+A peak loads their effective capacity drops fast thanks to the Peukert Effect) -- AGM type vehicle batteries, which are in some modern vehicles, can be pushed much further, but you still need for it to be able to start your vehicle afterwards. Most vehicle batteries are somewhere between 40-120Ah in capacity (however, digging too deep into that causes irreversible damage), but at such high draw rates flooded lead acid batteries will loose half or more of their rated Ah capacity due to the Peukert Effect, and since flooded SLI batteries should never be depleted by more than 10-20% that leaves very little functional reserve capacity for your load without a running engine -- again AGM type batteries, if equipped, fair much better as they can be discharged much deeper and have less loss of capacity due to the Peukert Effect, but, again, must still have enough remaining capacity to start the engine reliably.

    Additionally, many mobile antennas are not rated for 200W, though some can handle such just fine, but something to be aware of. Most importantly, though, 200W is a heck of a lot of RF to have in a vehicle and as such you may encounter some very challenging issues with RFI getting into vehicle electronics (worst case strong enough RFI to damage electronics, or at best momentarily disrupting their normal functioning in unpredictable ways) -- the more power you run the greater the risk of RFI issues being encountered. Grounding the chassis very well will likely become a necessity as the entire vehicle will ordinarily become one half of your antenna (the ground plane/counterpoise portion) and you will want no significant gradients to develop between different sections of the chassis (and related electronics).

    But these are just some quick concerns that come to mind for myself. What you want to do is by no means impossible but doing such right means a much greater investment than just the radio itself and a good deal of time invested as well. Personally, unless my plan was to run off generator power I would consider 100W more than adequate for HF and focus instead on a good deployable antenna for my HF setup (which can more than make up for the 3dB difference between 100W and 200W while simultaneously improving your ability to receive).

    Good luck and please let us know how things go if you decide to pursue things as I am certain many will be interested.
    KM4BDH, K0PIR and N2SUB like this.
  8. K0PIR

    K0PIR XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    FWIW, if you get the 200 watt rig, you don't have to run it at full power. My guess would be that Hams run it full power only when the engine is running anyway. That's how I would do it.
    KK6USY likes this.
  9. N2SUB

    N2SUB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Honestly, I do not see myself running it when the engine is off. I want to use it to get on nets while I'm commuting. There are a lot of good reasons to NOT go with a 200w rig here. Being a virtual newbie, I'll probably start small.

    I started thinking about my old FT-900. They go up for sale and usually only cost $350-$450. 100w with an antenna tuner option. Maybe I'll take the cheap route to start, and then upgrade as I go. For all I know I might not even be able to check in to the net with 100w. Happy happy. :)
    K0PIR likes this.
  10. K0PIR

    K0PIR XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Good idea. I used to do very good with my old Kenwood TS-570 sitting either on the passengers seat or in the middle on the hump in my Olds. That and a hamstick mounted on the trunk. I was able to check in to my favorite nets while traveling. It was a lot of fun. Band conditions were probably better back then though. Hope to hear you on mobile sometime.
    N2SUB likes this.

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