I frequently post what I’m doing from the Mobile Monitoring Post/Amateur Radio Station so I thought I would put up a page about it. I split time between Brunswick, GA where I work and Savannah, GA where home is. When I stay in Brunswick it is at a location where I can’t set up a permanent station so I use the mobile station to enjoy the radio hobby. It isn’t high dollar and it isn’t to the same level as some folks go but it lets me hear what I want to hear and it lets me get on the air and have fun with amateur radio regardless of where I am.
My car is a 2012 Kia Sportage and I’ve installed the following radio/antenna combinations:
- Yaesu FT-8800 fed by a Comet CHL-72S 2 Meter/70cm antenna
- Uniden BC780XLT with remote head and HP-1 fed by a Antennex ABSCANC antenna
- Yaesu FT-897 with an LDG AT-897 tuner fed by an Opek HVT-400B antenna
I had a Uniden BCD996T scanner in the Saturn I had previously, but I decided against installing it in the Sportage. After using the BC780XLT and a handheld for awhile, I was unsatisfied with the range I was getting on the handheld from inside the car so I bought an installed a Uniden HP-1 Home Patrol. Using a splitter, I supply both the BC780XLT and the HP-1 with the same antenna. The ABSCANC is roof mounted on a permanent NMO mount that was installed by Hasty’s Communications in Brunswick, GA.
The FT-8800 has been mounted in the drivers side rear of the cargo area with the Comet CHL-72S mounted on the hatchback using a Diamond K400 NMO mount. Initially the plan was to roof mount the 2m/70cm antenna but when mounted on the roof the setup picked up too much RFI in the 2m band. I believe that the RFI is coming from the airbag sensor in the passenger seat (it senses whether or not there is someone in the passenger seat and turns the passenger side airbag off or on as needed). With the antenna mounted on the hatch, I’ve noticed much less of the RFI (although there is still a slight amount). The Opek HVT-400B is mounted on the hatchback as well using a Diamond K400 SO-239 mount. The K400 mount uses a thin aluminum strip between the set screws and the vehicle body but in order to get a good ground for the HF antenna, I left the aluminum strip out. Running 100 watts, the HF setup worked good enough to get a 58 signal report from Poland on the first contact from the Sportage.
The BC780XLT is mounted under the drivers seat with the remote head mounted on the top center of the dashboard. The remote head for the FT-8800 is mounted on top of it. So far the BC780XLT has received none of the RFI that the FT-8800 picks up from the airbag sensor. Next to the control heads on the dash is a Garmin Nuvi GPS. The middle photo below is more recent and shows the addition of the HP-1 using a RAM mount off of the center console. The BC780XLT is used for MilAir and air band scanning while the HP-1 handles any other scanning. The FT-8800 serves as both a 2m/70cm radio and extra receiver when needed; it has excellent extended receive coverage except in just a few small segments of the military UHF band.
The FT-897 remains a temporary install just like it was in the Saturn. With the Sportage, though, I’ve decided to power the FT-897 off of the car’s battery instead of the marine battery I was using in the Saturn. The FT-897 sits in the floorboard on a mount made from shelf board, a set of hinges, and a set of cup hooks. It is easy to take out and put back in whenever there is a front seat passenger. There is a bungee cord attached to the passenger seat that the cup hooks hook around to keep the mount from sliding around. All I have to do is disconnect the antenna and power cable, pull the bungee cord out from behind the hooks then the entire thing can be stowed in the trunk when not in use.
Overall, I’m happy with this setup and what it lets me do. The antennas actually look like they somewhat belong on the Sportage; the Saturn, to be honest, looked goofy with the antennas on it (the antennas were almost bigger than the car). Even mounted low, the CHL-72S is performing well on 2m/70cm. I’m already planning a future version of the FT-897 mount using a different type of shelf board that can be painted black or dark gray to match the interior of the vehicle. A future project may be to find a smaller HF radio, but let’s face it, a simple temporary mount is much less expensive than a new small radio! Given that I rarely have a passenger, it isn’t like the FT-897 is inconveniencing anyone.
Since I began operating mobile HF with this low budget station in April 2010, I’ve been able to make 390 contacts including 71 DXCC Entities (for my non-ham friends, a DXCC entity is a country, principality, or geographic entity) and 41 US states (Stats are current as of 04 April 2013):
- Asiatic Russia
- Balearic Islands
- Canary Islands
- Cape Verde
- Central Africa
- Coasta Rica
- Costa Rica
- Curacao Island
- Czech Republic
- Madeira Island
- Northern Ireland
- Puerto Rico
- Saint Eustacius
- St. Maarten
- Saint Vincent
- Sint Maarten
- Slovak Republic
- The Gambia
- United States