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Mobile Station

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.

KF4LMT Mobile, Antennas: ABSCANC on top, CHL-72S on left rear, HVT-400B on right rear

KF4LMT Mobile, Antennas: ABSCANC on top, CHL-72S on left rear, HVT-400B on right rear

My car is a 2012 Kia Sportage and I’ve installed the following radio/antenna combinations:

  • Yaesu FT-857D with an LDG Z-11 Pro II tuner fed by an Opek HVT-400B antenna and a Comet CHL-72S 2 Meter/70cm antenna
  • Uniden BC780XLT with remote head and Uniden HP-2 Home Patrol fed by a Antennex ABSCANC antenna
img_20160508_091308.jpg

The Mobile Station. Top to Bottom, Left to Right: Garmin Nuvi GPS, Uniden BC780XLT, Yaesu FT-857D, Uniden HP-2

The FT-857D and Z-11 Pro II are mounted underneath the passenger’s seat with the 857D’s control head mounted on the dashboard underneath the air conditioner controls. The Opek HVT-400B  and Comet CHL-72S are mounted on the hatchback using Diamond K400 mounts (SO-239 and NMO respectively).  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 on the one for the HVT-400B. I used to have a Yaesu FT-8800 in the car for VHF/UHF and only used the FT-857D for HF, but I recently took the FT-8800 out and now use the FT-857D for both. Note the gear shift in the photo – I drive a manual; if I tell you on the air I have to put down the mic to shift gears, I’m telling the truth!

The two scanners are used for different kinds of monitoring. The BC780XLT is used for aviation and military aviation monitoring. The Home Patrol 2 is used for conventional public safety, federal, and military land mobile monitoring. The BC780XLT is mounted under the drivers seat with the remote head mounted on the top center of the dashboard.  Next to the control heads on the dash is a Garmin Nuvi GPS. The HP-2 is mounted off of the side of the center console using a RAM mount.   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.

Bands are switched on the HVT-400B by changing taps and adjusting the length of the whip

Overall, I’m happy with this setup and what it lets me do.  Even mounted low, the CHL-72S performs well on 2m/70cm.  The FT-857D and HVT-400B are inexpensive but have provided a lot of radio fun.  I know there are those who haven’t been able to get the HVT-400B to work for them, but I’ve been able to work Japan and Central Africa with it so I can’t complain at all. 

Radio Programming Files

  • FT-857D for RT Systems software – Southeast Georgia repeaters, repeaters for Savannah to Beaufort/Charleston and Savannah to Warner Robins/Macon/Forsyth areas, HF net frequencies, and Programmable Memory Scan settings for the General Class HF bands
  • Home Patrol 2 for the Savannah/Brunswick/Southeast Georgia area

Since I began operating mobile HF with this low budget station in April 2010, I’ve been able to make over 700 contacts including 85 DXCC Entities (for my non-ham friends, a DXCC entity is a country, principality, or geographic entity) and all of the US states except for North Dakota.

DXCC Entities contacted with the Mobile Station:

  • Alaska
  • Algeria
  • Anguilla
  • Argentina
  • Aruba
  • Ascension Island
  • Asiatic Russia
  • Austria
  • Azores
  • Balearic Islands
  • Barbados
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Bonaire
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Canary Islands
  • Cape Verde
  • Central Africa
  • Ceuta-Melilla
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Corsica
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Cuba
  • Curacao Island
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • England
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • French Guiana
  • Germany
  • Gibraltar
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Hawaii
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Isle of Man
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Madeira Island
  • Martinique
  • Mexico
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • Netherlands
  • Nicaragua
  • Northern Ireland
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Puerto Rico
  • Saint Eustacius
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Vincent
  • Sardinia
  • Scotland
  • Serbia
  • Sint Maarten
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • The Gambia
  • Togo
  • Ukraine
  • United States
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
  • Virgin Islands
  • Wales

 


18 Comments

  1. Greg Ricker says:

    Thanks for posting this information Mac! I just bought a 2012 Kia Sportage and was trying to figure out how I was going to install my scanner in the vehicle. I ran across your blog post and I ended up getting the Diamond K400 mount and a 48 inch all band scanner antenna for the mount. I then bought a Uniden BCT996XT and mounted it to a piece of wood and located it in the storage compartments under the truck floor. The radio is controlled by a BC96 remote head on a goose-neck adjustable arm. Everything is powered from the rear data power port and can be easily removed to make modifications to the radio’s programming. I also have a BC-GPS attached to the radio to manage the banks programmed in the scanner. I’m probably not going to install my ICOM-8000 and use a handheld for that instead. I thank you for your great photos and information on how to mount antennas on the Sportage!

    73’s – Greg Ricker, W8YFD, Youngstown, Ohio

  2. KF4LMT says:

    Glad you found it useful Greg! I like the idea of using the storage compartment too. The main limitation of putting the BC780 under the drivers seat was that I didn’t have a long enough head cable to go any farther at the time. I’m thinking about putting a Uniden Home Patrol in soon (but will probably leave the 780 in for milair use only) and it will mount on a Ram mount which currently holds a BCD396T.

  3. Loren McCullough says:

    Just picked up a 2013 Kia Sportage and want to put a mobile station in it using an FT-857D. How are you getting the power from the vehicle battery?

    Loren – WA3WZR

    • KF4LMT says:

      Thanks for posting the question! I run the wires under the hood to a hole in the door frame then along the side of the dashboard. I’ll be posting a blog on Monday or Tuesday about my weekend mobile activity and I’ll go into more detail and include a photo or two. That will be easier than trying to do it from this phone!

  4. jim says:

    I have had nothing but RFI issues when attempting to run my HF or VHF euipment on my 2011 kia Sportage. Any good suggestions besides chokes and ferrits. Help from KB2RSK.

    • KF4LMT says:

      I have RFI problems on 2 meters that stem from what I believe is the sensor under the front passenger seat that senses whether the passenger is heavy enough to activate the passenger side airbag. It isn’t bad enough that I can’t squelch it out, though. On the HF side, I had RF problems when the antenna mount setscrews worked themselves loose once but other than that I haven’t had much problem there. I do have my power leads run straight from the battery instead of grounding somewhere in the cabin of the car. If noise the through the power leads is an issue perhaps a capacitor of some sort in line?

      • vk3yy says:

        I have a 2013 Diesel Sportage and the noise from the injectors on HF is real bad. The HVT400B is mounted on a nudge bar at the front. DC power is direct from the battery. Would be interested to hear if anyone else had similar problems and how they addressed them.

      • KF4LMT says:

        I was doing a Google search on diesel injector noise and most of what I saw was coming from Ford Super Duty trucks and I wasn’t seeing very many fixes for it. One solution that seemed to work a bit was moving the antenna away from the engine bay to the rear of the vehicle. It sounds like a most frustrating problem.

      • vk3yy says:

        Hi Mac, I might have to try moving the antenna to the back of the Sportage like your setup. Its a pity because it does mount nicely on the nudge bar. I don’t think that you have diesel Shortages over there, only had search hits in Australia Asia and Europe. 73, Glenn.

  5. Roberto says:

    Good morning Mac,

    My name is Roberto, I’m an Italian sailor now with my 33′ sailing boat in Brunswick, Ga.
    Sorry to contact trough your blog … I’m a little desperate!

    I have a Icom 706 MGKII and a SEA 1612 auto tuner and I have some problem with them.
    Looks like the tuner is not working properly.
    I contacted the tuner manufacture and they sent me some troubleshooting procedures that are beyond what I’m able to do.
    I have an amateur radio license and a gmdss goc certificate but I’m not proficient in electronic.
    I’m looking for somebody to take a look at the system.
    Being the radio my only mean to relay my position ashore and have weather forecast it is something I really need.
    I tried to contact the radio amateur club in st simon without luck…
    Do you know anybody can help me with the tuner and /or setting an antenna that will work ???

    I thank you in advance for your help and time.

    Sincerely
    Roberto Cavallo

    • KF4LMT says:

      Roberto, unfortunately I’m back in Savannah tonight and leave for Pensacola, FL in the morning. I’ll be gone all week so I’ll get the word out to the amateur radio community in Savannah, Brunswick, and Kingsland/St. Marys to see if anyone can help you.

      Good Luck!

  6. Roberto says:

    Thank you Mac!
    I will be here for couple of weeks more.
    If you can point me in the right direction towards a technician or somebody to better set up the system I really appreciate.
    If you stop by on your way back from Florida… Italian food is always on the menu!

  7. Ralph Quinn says:

    Roberto, This message is from Ralph Quinn W4REQ@yahoo.com. I contacted KA4KOE the only fellow ham i know who used a SAE1612 antenna tuner. He suggested you contact Yahoo group “MILPACK”. There are several users there that use the SAE tuner. They can probably give you a hand. Philip also said that tuner needed 30 watt of power to get the tuner to operate. Is your radio putting out good power?
    Ralph

  8. Roberto says:

    I appreciate your help Mac !
    Thankk you Ralph, I sent you an email.

  9. I just baught a 2014 Sportage very nice
    Love all the features esp sat radio and a doc for my MP3. I read your post Word for Word my goal is to install a doul band 2/440 antenna and my old FT-90 it’s a real small radio. My problem is I need to find a way to get the wire outside the car for the antenna I’m looking for plugs wire harnesses or any way of getting the antenna wire outside without messing up any of the trim I really do not want to drill holes but I would be OK with a with like corner mount with with screws I don’t want to mess up the cars interior mess around with the computer electronics of the car or scratch or cause Rust problems in the future do you have any ideas ???! 216-337-2971

  10. KF4LMT says:

    Edward, I apologize for being so late with my reply – I approved your comment from my phone and meant to reply from the computer when I was next on it and ended up forgetting. The Diamond K400 mounts I use come with about 6ft of a very thin coax that is thin enough to shut the hatch on with no problem. Even with the thin coax, I haven’t had any loss problems on VHF/UHF with the FT-8800 and I haven’t had any problems with loss on HF with the 857 either. Using the lip mounts on the side of the rear hatch I’ve had no need to drill holes for them. For the roof mount antenna I’m using, I took my vehicle to the local Motorola shop and had them do the work since they the tools and experience to do it right.

    Here’s a link to the K400 mounts: http://www.diamondantenna.net/k400.html

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