Operating HF Mobile In a "Plug 'n Play" World

Discussion in 'Mobile Radio' started by K4KWH, Nov 6, 2016.

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  1. K4KWH

    K4KWH Ham Member QRZ Page

    As a long-time HF mobile operator, I am sometimes amused at the newer ops who come to the world of HF with a "plug 'n play" mentality. That is not really surprising, in that the newer operator's first exposure to radio is thru 2M/440 where one can often plug in a HT in a cig lighter, slap on a mag mount, and VIOLA! I are a ham. And that is certainly a good thing. Ya gots to start somewhere, and, in the absence of the old Novice with a homebrew (maybe) transmitter, a generic receiver and the venerable CW, 2 Meter rig is a logical place to start.
    And many begin with a handheld, and hopefully, this will begin an exciting journey into radio and an edu-ma-cation;) in itself. Then, they (we hope) upgrade to General and beyond.
    At first, I highly objected to the elimination of the CW requirement along with a prediction that, more or less, and in one sense, came true. The prediction was that the new hams would "overdrive" their headlights in their headlong plunge into new worlds and new heights since the new ham could now simply memorize the questions and take a 50-100 question test without knowing really HOW to apply their knowledge, or lack thereof to their hobby. But now I think its more a part of the new world we live in.

    First, let me clarify where I'm coming from. Far from knowing it all, I was just a kid in the 50's full of curiosity about EVERYTHING. Airplanes, radios, trains, clocks, music--I couldn't possibly get enough of it. It was overwhelming to me, mental and stimulant overload! I used to spend hours looking up at the sky, and also in the house tinkering. Mom had to keep a close eye on her son lest he have something he had no business bothering with all apart and in the floor. Pop had a 1940's Philco cabinet radio with the 'shortwave' bands on it. I would spend hours, if Mom didn't run me outside, tuning and listening to the fascinating sounds coming from that radio--from Glenn Miller to heterodynes, to hams & boats on the Mississippi on 5 kc. That was taboo to listen to them because their language was "salty", and Mom "curfew'ed" that part of my listening. She was trying to protect my "delicate" ears and save me from corruption!:cool: Another thing that would get me shoo'ed away from that radio was the heterodynes--the whirring sound made by clashing AM signals beating against each other, to simply describe the noise. In the hot summers of NC, our relief from the heat, and "poor man's air conditioning" was a Sears Hobart whole house fan in the window. To me, that sounded like--an airplane engine!:p So now I could combine two of my curiosities into one. Furthermore, I somehow discovered that I could press against the hub in the center of the fan cage, and it would make a "rat-a-tat, tat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat" sound like a machine gun. It was nothing but the cage rubbing against the belt pulley, but nonetheless, it reminded me of a machine gun. Fresh memories of WWII flooded my imagination, so I started standing in front of this fan, listening to the nearby Philco's heterodyne, shooting at the Luftwaffe. Now let me tell you--if you wanted to get Mom in the den FAST, ya starts wid DAT:D!!!!! WHO_WEEE! "NOW STOP THAT!!", she'd yell, zipping in from wherever she happened to be! It used to drive her KERRR_RAZY!!!:D "You're gonna tear up the fan, boy, so QUIT IT!":)

    Anyway it led to many things; a career (railroad), many hobbies like music, woodworking AND, of course, ham radio.

    I got off track so lets get back to where I was going. I have also been an HF mobile op since my teens, and I've watched people stumble and falter quite a bit trying to work HF mobile. Thankfully, I had some really good elmers like K4EDK and WB4LQS who taught me a lot about how to make HF work. And I try to pass along what I know, and also "steal" whatever I can from others in the hobby to advance that knowledge. Really, its just part of that curiosity that I was born with; I can't help it. Also, I watch people, time and again, dabble in HF mobile, unless their interest and curiosity is strong, come away disappointed. Of course, some aren't as interested as others, and that's fine. They come sometimes with great expectations, only to get disappointed when they don't achieve whatever goals they had. I get disappointed sometimes when something doesn't work. That's when I go lookin' for some one who has far better knowledge than I do. It is that group that comes expecting to plug in a "discreet" antenna, plug into the cig lighter, like they did with their 2M rig, then gets upset.

    I came just to say that HF is not "plug 'n play", and it boils down to 1) training and experience, 2) technical/equipment. There are NO shortcuts to HF, and if you try it, chances are you'll be disappointed.
    "I don't want that big, ugly thing on my car!":eek: "That little hamstick 'looks' nicer". "I'll just plug it in where the dual band rig was".:rolleyes: "Uh.................whut's that coil-lookin' thingy that was in the antenna package?" And a host of other issues surrounding the world of HF mobile. The world of HF mobile still fascinates me, and I'm willing to install that "big, ugly 'antanner" in order to satisfy curiosity and get those distant stations:D And I hope y'all who DO like HF, particularly mobile, achieve whatever you want to with HF.

    And I'm still bad about taking things apart, I have no business messin' with!!!!:p:eek::D
    AA5LS likes this.
  2. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Do you wear safety glasses and wear leather gloves when installing your mag mount antenna?
  3. K4KWH

    K4KWH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Actually, the gloves and glasses (safety) ARE part of my operating!. You see, the railroad (NS and, I assume, all companies) was BIG on safety, and required hard hats, ear protection, gloves, and safety boots anytime we were on the property. At first, I HATED it. The hat was hot, the boots hurt my feet, and we had to keep up with all this "stuff" everywhere we went. But, OH! Did those steel-toed boots ever hurt my feet!!! And make me soooo tired! When I retired, I *thought* I would chuck all that garb, but apparently all those safety meetings, slogans, and the constant hammering on safety became a habit. I discovered that I felt "nekkid" without the safety equipment, and vulnerable to injury. So, Dad-gum 'em, I found myself reaching for my safety glasses and gloves every time I started my saw, or drill press.:cool:;) It just didn't feel "right" without them! Now, them boots? They had to GO!!!!!! I never could find a pair of safety boots that didn't have me hobbling and waddling like a duck in short order!!!

    We both know HF radio doesn't involve mag mounts!
    AA5LS and KC8VWM like this.
  4. WA4SIX

    WA4SIX Ham Member QRZ Page

    The only footwear that is not steel or composite toe in my closet are my slippers. I found that after decades of using them, I hace come to depend on them.

    AA5LS likes this.
  5. K4KWH

    K4KWH Ham Member QRZ Page

    When I was forced to wear steel-toe'ed boots, I had callouses on my feet you could use for an anvil! My feet are wide (EEE+), and even those boots that claimed to be triple E, were too narrow. Consequently I developed some really thick callouses, or bunions on the sides of my toes. And did those shoes ever hurt. They were hot, heavy, clumsy, awkward, 6" boots that laced up to the ankles. Gotta protect them ankles they said! I once groused to a boss, who didn't like what I said, that in order to "protect" my feet, they had to to DESTROY them. At the end of each day, I was truly hobbling! And I swore that if I could ever get rid of those *&^$$%# boots, I'd never wear 'em again. I've got a pair now that must be 15 years old, still in the box.o_O I'll do the safety glasses and hearing protection, gloves, and face shield if needed. NO way for them shoes!!!!+
  6. VE3NLP

    VE3NLP Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't think many "cars" today still have enough metal to make a counterpose even on 10 meters.

    Good thing I do my HF Mobiling on 18 wheel and not 4. Still want to load my trailer with an antenna tuner and work a few countries on it. But after seeing a guy screaming about sueing a ham after he got burned by holding the whip of a screwdrive antenna, I am not sure about it.
  7. WU3I

    WU3I Ham Member QRZ Page

    why was he touching it in the first place. Wasn't his.
  8. VE3NLP

    VE3NLP Ham Member QRZ Page

    The antenna was in the only open space in the crowd that was standing around the car.. you have a crowd of people leaving a big space around a tall cylinder with a steel whip on it, so that would naturally be the first thing people with an IQ 72 or below would walk up to and grab....

    Guys laughing at him and calling him an idiot for threating to sue seems to have cooled him off.
  9. KR6AUL

    KR6AUL XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Mine is 73 thank you very much
  10. VE3NLP

    VE3NLP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Really how many trys or how long did it take you to learn enough to pass your tech and general? With an IQ of 73 they would have had serious talks with your parents about special needs school and you living in a home for most of your life. You can have a handicapped sticker for your car( if you learned to drive). So if your living anything that could be called a "Normal" life you are high functioning. I know of people with IQs higher then your's( 73 ) that struggle to perform at a very basic level in life.

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