Ham Radio - What kind of Antenna are you using?

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KD7WCD

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Hi there, I am new to the forum.

I was having a conversation with Txterra and thought it would be a good one too though out the Ham Radio guys in the group.  He was asking me what kind of antenna I use on my Xterra. Below is the long winded response to his question and I thought it would be interesting to see what some of you are doing for your off-road antenna set up?

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For UHF/VHF I run a 1/2 wave dual band antenna. I would have to go out and take a look, but I am sure it is a Dimond. It performs great and in theory you are not as dependent on a good RF ground to get it to put out with the 1/2 wave antenna. It is hard mounted to the rear inside the rear hatch door jam. I use to just go with the Mag mount but I got tired of stopping and picking it up every time I looked at a low hanging tree.

For my APRS I use a little 1/4 wave antenna that I have sitting inside of the roof rack just behind the air dam. It works just find for APRS is packet data. You don’t need near as much to get the message though with Packet Data like this as compared to voice on FM.

For HF, I played around with tuner and a 8’ whip. I really did not have much luck with that. I have been thinking of giving this another go some day soon.

The auto tuning antennas with the worm drives seem fragile to me and for what they cost I have steered way from them. Too many moving parts to break.

I've ended up running a cheap little CB antenna whip to listen on. As long as you are not transmitting this will not hurt the radio. I use this because it can take a beating and if I break it I am not out hundreds of dollars. I then carry on my tied up to my roof rack  a few HAM Stick antennas tuned the frequencies I use. Mostly 20M and 40M but I usually will also carry a 10M and 6M if I am out on an expedition. If I hear some activity I can just out and put up the right antenna for the job. I have always gotten good signal reports with this setup and have reached out to places I would never think I would be able to like Austraila, Africa, Aia, Central and Eastern Europ. But you have to keep in mind that working Mobile HF is more like working QRP in that it is a much more challenging game than it is for the guy sitting at home with the 150’ tower a big Yagi antenna and 1000s of watts behind him.

None of it is all that fancy compared to what I have seen and even tried myself. This system takes a little more hands on when switching frequency and you can not do it on the fly but if has proven it self to be very robust.  In fact I have probably made compromises finding the balance between off-roading and Ham radio, but I have found this works the best for me with the fact that I spend as much time out on the trail as I can.
 
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Ric_0171

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Welcome,

What I`am using is a Comet SBB-1 with a lid mount attached to my 2003 LX 470 rear upper hatch. It works great in the thick brush and low tree limbs.

SBB-1

For APRS I have a temp set up with a 2m mag mount with a 5 watt HT.

Future plans will be mobile HF, and build or buy field deployable NVIS

W3 Mobile NVIS
 
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expeditionnorth

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center loaded 5/8 for 2M/440 on a diamond superKNMO mount

& for HF its a 12.5' vertical off the frame, need all that ground I can get
 

KD7WCD

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18098 said:
 Future plans will be mobile HF, and build or buy field deployable NVIS W3 Mobile NVIS
I have been wanting to try out the NVIS stuff but no one around here seems to interested.  I think it would be really useful in doing some of radio support stuff we do for ultra endurance races like the Mogollon Monster where we are are spread out across two repeater systems because of the topography.

Looks you are a little far way for it to work out with me in the Phoenix area. Maybe once you get the HF rig going we can give that a go with the HF Mobiles.

73
 

Ric_0171

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Yes I think it would be to far away, around 650 miles. But yes when I get it all working we can try. On September 26th another Ham and I are going to test out NVIS from northern California (Pinecrest) to southern California (Death Valley area) (200 +- miles). He is getting set up to do NVIS also.

For the endurance race it would be perfect.

KJ6SCF

73
 
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KD7WCD

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Nice,

That weekend I'll be out in the woods up on the Mogollon Rim doing radio support for the Mogollon Moster 100 ( http://www.mogollonmonster100.com/ ).

We have not been given assignments yet but the last two years we have been at Buck Springs up on the rim. We are usually not on duty until Saturday late afternoon and then do an all nighter.  Because we on the back side of the course the runners are usually spread out by about 10hrs or so.  This leaves us with lots of .... twiddling our thumb time.

We will have an HF station setup just to use to pass the time during the event so maybe we can try for a quick QSO.  I might even try to set up a NVIS just to play around on.  Depending on where your buddy is in Death Valley that could be around 400 miles so if the Ionosphere and all are cooperating that may be in range.

We should talk more as we get closer to the end of September.
 

Ric_0171

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400 miles might just make it, would be a good test for sure. OK great with will talk more end of Sept.
 

KD7WCD

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center loaded 5/8 for 2M/440 on a diamond superKNMO mount

& for HF its a 12.5' vertical off the frame, need all that ground I can get
Are you running a Tunner to the Whip or is that for a particular band?
 

KD7WCD

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400 miles might just make it, would be a good test for sure. OK great with will talk more end of Sept.
It is almost the end of September. I was going to pick up one of the W3 Antennas but they have been unresponsive. I did a lot of looking at theirs and a little more googling and put together my own. I think with the hardware all tuned up but could not raise anyone at 1am when I was doing all this.

So if you and your buddy are still trying for a NVIS contact out of Death Vally I am still going to be doing some race support up on the Mogollon Rim this weekend and would love to give it a try. Just let me know what time and maybe a target frequency and who I should be listening for. I also will have my normal HF set up for 5m - 40m if you want to try for a direct contact. We are on station for the event from 4pm Saturday though around 7am Sunday morning but I am heading up Saturday around 6am so I am open all day to give it a try.
 
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NØMAD

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Hi Folks - I did some mobile antenna work today. Installed a new lip mount on the rear of my rig. Have 3 antenna for various scenarios. All are dual band UHF/VHF for ham & GMRS (I'm licensed for both)...
  1. Stealth / Low-profile - everyday around town use, in and out of garage without removal.
  2. Flexible / Med-profile - on the trail use to get through the trees and such.
  3. Tall / High-profile - long-distance comms, or for use with handhelds while the mobile radio is in cross-repeat mode for hiking or other regional use, good for when parking at top of hill and hiking down into valley.
Connected to one of my handheld units for now. Next step is to get the ICOM 2730A mobile installed.

Comments and suggestions welcome.
 

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M Rose

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@n0mad clean looking install on those antennas. I would like a review of the IC-2730a as it is high up on my radar for my next mobile radio.

I have yet to buy an antenna for UHF/VHF operations... I make my own... for only a couple of bucks. I go to the junk yard quite often and any time I see an NMO Mount I grab it (usually $1.00 with 6-18’ of coax). Every once in a while I will find the NMO antenna base as well. Then I pick up an old stainless AM/FM whip, trim it down to 1/4 wave for the frequencies I will be running, tune it and done.
 
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@n0mad clean looking install on those antennas. I would like a review of the IC-2730a as it is high up on my radar for my next mobile radio.

I have yet to buy an antenna for UHF/VHF operations... I make my own... for only a couple of bucks. I go to the junk yard quite often and any time I see an NMO Mount I grab it (usually $1.00 with 6-18’ of coax). Every once in a while I will find the NMO antenna base as well. Then I pick up an old stainless AM/FM whip, trim it down to 1/4 wave for the frequencies I will be running, tune it and done.
That’s a slick way to get antenna supplies.

I have a 2730 and a 2200 I run. Together I have the ability to listen or transmit on three separate frequencies.
 
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Shokgoblr

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Timely thread. I am currently running a 2m/70cm Tram 2.5db gain on an NMO mag mount.
I need to devise something that when mobile, will sit above my roof top tent. The tent has a thick PVC cover over aluminum so mag mount up there isnt gonna work.
 

M Rose

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Timely thread. I am currently running a 2m/70cm Tram 2.5db gain on an NMO mag mount.
I need to devise something that when mobile, will sit above my roof top tent. The tent has a thick PVC cover over aluminum so mag mount up there isnt gonna work.
Check out Let’s Go Digital On The Move. It talks about 2M/70cm portable operations with a section on portable antennas for 2M/70CM.