N3RO / mobile
With recent attention being given to driving safety and the overuse of cellphones, my current mobile setup has been completly redesigned from past installations. During the 90's I was known to have run as many as 7 or 8 rigs mobile with an equal number of antennas on the vehicle. Yeesh!
Today I have pared back to 1 rig, an 8900R quad bander. That's it. I debated with myself for months over putting an all mode HF rig in the vehicle. Two factors: low sunspot activity and a daily work commute of only 10 minutes coupled with the fact that the larger HF antennas don't easily go in and out of garages ( and I park indoors every day ) made my decision clear. ECHOLINK. Armed with 2 Yaesu 8900R quad band rigs for 10-6-2- and 440mhz, I setup a Echolink node operation that allows full mobile activity between work and home on a daily basis. Positive features of this system:
NO DEAD BANDS - there are over 500,000 registered nodes now on Echolink and growing every day. There is always someone to ragchew with, regardless of the time of day or day of the week.
EASE OF USE - no driving distraction for tuning in SSB stations, changing frequencies, QRM, QSB, etc. that is commonplace with HF. Signals using Echolink mobile are of the same quality as the local repeaters, whether I am ragchewing with a ham in Australia or Colorado.
The antenna system for the 8900R quad band rig consists of a COMET heavy-duty tailgate mount that has a female SO-239 connector. This allows several antennas to be installed on the single mount:
A Comet SB-15 triband antenna for 6, 2, and 440.
A Comet UHV-4 quad band antenna for 10, 6, 2, and 440.
Any antenna with a PL-259 connector. This allows me to run up a portable mast from the SUV bumper hitch with any antenna from a small beam to a larger base station VHF/UHF vertical and connect it directly to the 8900R mobile rig through the heavy-duty Comet SO-239 mount.
Good grounding is extremely important in being able to tune the antenna for a 1:1 SWR. Below you can see how I added a braided grounding strap under the 4 set screws to the Comet mount and then attached the grounding braid to several points of the vehicle. I used a continuity meter to verify ground continunity at each grounding point. Before the grounding strap was added I couldn't get much below 2:1, after the grounding strap was added I easily achieved a 1:1 match.
The dash of the 2007 Blazer doesn't leave much room for ham radio rigs:
I took advantage of the small "lip" above the console and attached the Yaesu 8900 faceplate under the air vents as seen below:
The rig does not block the air vents and is held tightly in place with Radio Shack's heat resistant extra strong velcro. The digital readout is at eye level for minimum eye travel during driving conditions.
The main unit is in the back seat area of the Blazer, attached to the rear console with a single velcro strip:
The main unit is in the center of the rear seat area and is clear of the floor area for any passengers seated to the right or left side. The cooling fins are facing upward for maximum cooling, although the 8900R barely gets warm even at high power.
Below is a picture of the new Maldol PRM-T heavy duty antenna mount as installed on the 2007 Blazer:
Rick's very first mobile, circa 1946.
Note the "bowtie" trunk mount antenna on the back! : )
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