Updated 21 MAR 08


MOBILE OPERATIONS
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Mobile ops have been a favorite over the years, aided in no small part by a commute in Houston that ranged up to an hour each way.  Most of my mobiling time is spent on 17 and 20 meter SSB although I can operate most bands between 40 meters and 70 centimeters from the car using an Icom IC-7000 (or IC-703) and Icom IC-2820H (old Kenwood TM-742a shown at left).  I'll occasionally switch over to CW on HF, sometimes using the up/down buttons on the microphone, and, at other times, using a real paddle to activate the keyer.  If you hear really bad CW on 17 or 20 meters there's a good chance it'll be me.  Logging is accomplished using a handheld digital recorder.

Removing the seat cushion from the unused, hideaway, third row kiddie seat in the primary vehicle made room for the radios' RF decks along with excess cabling and tri/duplexers (below right).  There's plenty of room left over for other stuff as well.  Recent additions (not shown) include a Wi-Sys APRS tracker box and IC-207 dual-band radio for position reporting.  The APRS station uses a separate 2m 5/8-wave whip when needed.

 

The big mobile antenna (below right) is one of those weird-looking Diamond things that resonates in the 2 meter, 6 meter and two HF bands.  The antenna was resonant at about 53 mHz in the 6 meter band so I added a 6-inch length of wire (call it a tuning nub) just below the HF resonators to make it work at 50.1 mHz (not shown in the photo).  I don't know why, but the little nub doesn't seem to affect 2 meter or HF tuning of the antenna.  That's probably because it's attached to the mast with a 19-cent alligator clip from Radio Shack.  Go figure.  Occasionally a tree or fast-food drive-through roof will eat the nub, but I've got a drawer full of 'gator clips and have actually learned to solder a piece of wire to them without setting anything on fire most of the time.

PORTABLE OPERATIONS

Portable ops are fun again using Yaesu's new FT-817 160m-70cm, all-mode, 5-watt radio or an Icom IC-703, 10 watt rig; an LDG Electronics Z-11 autotuner;  a light, handcrafted, 6 through 20m 'rat's nest' dipole (below and bottom, respectively); a roll of nylon string; and something cooperative for an antenna support.   The dipole is also usable on 30 and 40m via the tuner.

A cute little Padlette paddle with a magnetic base for CW completes the portable station.  The '817 runs on internal NiMH batteries so the entire station fits in a small map case that weighs about 6 pounds with everything in it. Several different gell-cells are available for extended operation when weight is not a big concern.  Most portable operation so far has been CW due to its efficiency at QRP power levels; however, portable digital operation is also possible using the laptop and a Rascal soundcard interface.