Category Archives: mobile

Another good mobile cw day

This afternoon I was downstairs playing with the radios and noticed that 20 meters was wide open to Europe, with lots of stations coming in. I worked a couple, but then thought “I wonder how it would be from the mobile.

Last week was a busy week and I never drove the car to Rockford, so I never have had any operating time with the new control head setup. So I went out in the car, headed west on I 88 and tuned around 20 meters. I answered a DL (Germany) CQ, did a short contact, signed, and had a pileup calling me. In the next 20 minutes I probably worked 10 different stations, but I didn’t have scratch paper with me, so I have no log of it. After a while I turned around to come home, then realized I had the little logger on my iPhone. I made one more contact after that, with Guatamala, and managed to get it logged.

Oh well, it was a blast having all the EU stations calling me. I’m really, really impressed with the Little Tarheel antenna.


Mini Cooper ham radio install

Here’s more details on installing ham radios in Mini Coopers.
On my R56 I used the heavy-duty Comet lip mount on the edge of the back hatch and had an ATAS 120 antenna on it. It worked well, and I could get into parking garages. When I was looking at trading the R56 for my Clubman, I assumed I could use the same mount on the center of the back doors. But I’ve spent days messing with it, and it just doesn’t work well. The coax is just enough to bother the proper closing of the door.
So at the moment, I’m confined to 2 meters and 440. I used a small lip mount on the club door — I think that’s what it’s called, and it works OK. It isn’t real pretty, but it isn’t too obtrusive. Nobody has ever noticed it when looking at the car. Next summer I may try removing the AM antenna and putting a simple quarter-wave in its place. For the radio, I’m using a Yaesu 7900 with the radio mounted in the back cubbyhole under the false floor, and the control head attached to the CD changer with double-sided tape.
I can’t use the CD, but I never had used it since every CD I own is on the iPod. I had my doubts if the control head would stay there, but it’s been there for about 3 months with no problem, and looks good and is easy to use while driving. Forgive the dirty car in the photos, but it’s salt season in Chicago.

Mobile cw

I had a couple of good cw mobile contacts yesterday. Look for me on 40 cw all day today and Sunday.

Ham radio I phone apps

My resolution for the new year, be a better blogger.

I took some time off over the holidays and spent a lot of time playing with the radios. Mostly, it was nice rag chews on 40 and 80 meters, but I spent some time on the Stew Perry Distance Challenge — a 160 meter contest — and running mobile on 40 adn 20 meters over New Year’s while driving to Memphis.

I enjoyed getting back on CW mobile, but I’m afraid my trusty old Yaeseu FT 857 is seeing its last legs on HF. During a contact on the drive south, I unfortunately had stuffed a coat over the radio while packing the car, and the radio overheated and quit operating. It later cooled down and I got back on the air, but it died on me again part way through a contact. I should have known better, and broke one of the basic rules of mobile operation — watch the ventilation around your radio.

I’ve been discovering a bunch of IPhone apps for Ham radio. Some are very useful, some I wonder about. I can now practice sending CW with my IPod touch, which isn’t very useful, but I also found a very slick logging program called HamLog. It makes a nice little mobile log, and it can be exported to another logging program, which is very slick. More on that in the next post.

More mobile DX

I finished my road trip today, and worked more DX. I was working an East Coast station on 20 CW while driving through Des Moines, and SP5SA (Poland) broke in to see if he could get that county. I gave him that county, and we kept talking until I reached the next county line and he got Jasper County as well. He thanked me profusely. All this while I was driving 80 mph on I-8o.

Later I heard LZ50KA (Bulgaria) calling CQ and answered him. He came right back, and that was another good contact. Not bad for using an ATAS 120 antenna on the back of the Mini Cooper.

Mobile activity

This week I took a 900 mile drive to visit a friend in West Nebraska. That gave me a lot of mobile time. Here are some highlights.

Early on the trip Monday I had a long contact with someone (his call escapes me) who I’ve talked to a few times from Pennsylvania. While we were talking he viewed this blog, and commented on the photos of the mobile setup. That’s how it’s supposed to work.
Shortly after that I was calling CQ on 40 meters and W7AAZ/m came back to me. It turned out he was about 400 miles ahead of me on I-80, also heading west. We talked for about an hour, largely about mobile setups — his was in a Corvette — then both stopped for lunch at the same time. A half hour later I called him again, and we went for another half hour or so. Great mobile activity.
Today I started the eastbound trip. This morning I was having no luck on 40 meters, so listened to the I-pod instead. Then this afternoon I switched to 20, and was still having minimal luck. So I settled in on a frequency and started calling CQ.
After numerous calls, I had a faint station come back to me that I first copied as K7KAT. It took a couple rounds for me to realize it was IK7Kat, and I was working Italy, not the west coast. After he signed, I started calling CQ again, and this time was answered by KH6LC near Hilo, Hawaii. So back to back I worked Italy and Hawaii, with my compromise Yaesu ATAS 120 antenna. Not bad. After that, I figured my luck was running out so I went back to listening on my I-Pod. I’m stopped in Omaha for the night, so I have another day of mobile ahead tomorrow.

Fixing mobile problems

I was having problems with high SWR (standing wave ratio) on my ATAS 120 mobile antenna. My guess was the feedline, which was the standard tiny coax that comes with a Comet or Diamond trunk lip mount. I ordered the Coment 3D4M coax cable assemly, which has 13 feet of RG58 coax. All of a sudden my SWR on the ATAS goes down to 1:1 on 40 meters and some random RF problems are solved.

Lesson — use real coax on HF mobile, not the miniature type that’s designed to go through a gap easily, but may be so-so on transmitting and sheilding RF.

Mobile install finished

Last week I had the Icom 7000 in the Mini Cooper, but was running the power for the radio from an accessory jack in the boot (trunk.)  That worked, but we all know that’s not the best way to do it in the long term.

Sunday morning I was on a Mini Cooper web site  and did a search for running power lines through the firewall. It turns out it was incredibly simple, with Mini leaving a space to do exactly that, and right next to the battery. So I now have a fused power line running direct from the battery to the radio in the boot. This solved a couple of issues, and I can now crank the power up to 100 watts without fear.
Of course, I had to drive around a make a couple contacts. I am impressed with the 7000 as a mobile radio and am getting the hang of going to the right menu on the fly. I’m happy, and ready for the road trip to Dayton next month.

Going mobile

I was talking about getting active mobile again, that’s opertating cw HF from the car by my definition. I put the ATAS 120 back on the Chevy Equinox, and unfortunately, it seems to have died. I’ve run the Yaesu FT-857/ATAS 120 combo for a quite a few years and really like it, but the antennas don’t seem to last that long. This is my second one that has died, so I don’t think I’ll buy a third.
So I’m at a quandry — what do I use for an antenna. I ran Hamsticks for years, and may go back to that. They are simple, cheap, and you don’t feel bad when a $18 antenna fails. I’m also debating what radio and what car to do this in. I spend most of my road time in a Mini Cooper, but I spent a few hours trying to figure out how to shoehorn a HF rig into that car last weekend, an didn’t come up with a solution.
I presently have a Yaesu FTM-10 in the Mini, which is perfect for a limited-space installation of a 2 meter/440 radio. The microphone and speaker are housed in the control head, so the control head is the only thing in the front of the car — the rest is in the boot (Mini-speak for trunk.) But 2 meters and 440 are boring in my opinion — at least in the area I’m commuting. So there’s no news on my mobile installation.
The good news is the bands have been better, and been having nice contacts each weekend on 40 meter cw. Look for me there.

Here’s me and my Mini cooper