Mobile Antenna Work and a Lesson Learned

6 Months ago when I bought the Kia and installed the mobile station in it I should have gone with my instincts.

Initially, I was going to put the HF antenna on the driver’s side of the rear hatch and the VHF/UHF antenna on the passenger side of the rear hatch.  The reasoning was to keep the shorter antenna on the shoulder side of the road to keep the taller HF antenna from striking tree limbs, etc.  Instead, when I realized the dual band mobile have to go on the driver’s side of the car I decided to put the VHF/UHF antenna on the driver’s side as well to reduce the feedline run.  Bad idea.  It seems that I’ve struck enough tree limbs and other things with the HVT-400B to put a bend in it and I think I’ve damaged it because the performance has gone down.

This morning, I took things partially apart and reversed the mounting with a new HVT-400B; things are now where I intended them to be in the first place.  Reducing the feedline run in the mobile installation shouldn’t have been a consideration because the additional piece I had to add this morning hasn’t made a difference.  It would, however have kept me from messing up an antenna.

80 Meters SET Disappointment – Lesson Learned

Location:  Brunswick, GA

After I woke up on Saturday afternoon and reached a coherent state, I made my way out to the car where I planned to check into the Georgia State ARES Net on 3.975 for the Simulated Emergency Test. I also planned to attempt contact with Chatham County stations on 80 Meters from here in Brunswick at the same time. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned. First, the tuner I’m using would not tune my mobile HF antenna for 80 Meters. Second, apparently all of the local SET activity was already over; I had the FT-8800 on scan and never heard anything.

I’ve checked in to the regular Sunday ARES nets on 3.975 previously (albeit with a different setup) so I wasn’t expecting problems. In the past, I had checked in with a Yaesu FT-897D and LDG AT-897 tuner into the Opek HVT-400B antenna. My HVT-400B doesn’t seem to have a resonant setting for 80 Meters, so I have to use a tuner in order to use it on 80. The AT-897 always got the job done. I have recently put a FT-897 with a Yaesu FC-30 tuner in the car; the FC-30 would not tune the HVT-400B for 80 Meters. In retrospect, this is something that I should have expected and tested for; I’ve chalked this down as a lesson learned.

I plan on remedying this situation by replacing the FC-30. I’ll probably get a good autotuner for the FT-897D at home and put the AT-897 in the car. It always worked good with the HVT-400B before and it is a lot more flexible than the FC-30 (it also allows connection with a computer, the FC-30 won’t).

Naturally, this also prevented me from contacting Chatham County on 80 Meters. I changed plans with Guy, K4GTM and we moved to 40 Meters where he and Kevin, KW4B tried calling me. Unfortunately, 40 Meters just wouldn’t support the contact at that time of the afternoon (between 1500-1600 local). I’m sure that 80 Meters would have supported it; after I replace the FC-30 we’ll have to try it again and find out.

It was a disappointing afternoon, but at least I took away a lesson learned from it.

First 6 Meter Contacts With the Mobile/Portable Station

This evening on the way home from Sunday dinner (Shrimp and Crab from Jinright’s in Brunswick, excellent as always!) I heard some activity on 6 Meters and had the first chance to try out the HVT400B mobile antenna on that band.  Band conditions weren’t great with a lot of QSB (fading) and some QRN (noise) in some areas of town, but I did hear two stations in Minnesota calling CQ.  Surprisingly the noise was not ignition noise from the car.  There was some minor ignition noise, but it was not problematic; the noise was coming from other sources, especially when I was around more industrial areas.   Getting to work some 6 from the car was fun; I just had to remind myself that when I’m here in Brunswick I have to use grid square EM91 as opposed to EM92 at home.

First I heard K0GUV in grid square EN26 working stations on 50.145, after a few attempts I was finally able to work him.  I gave him a 57 signal report and he returned a 52 signal report with QSB.  This was the first attempt on 6 with the HVT400B and band conditions didn’t seem to be the best, so I’m not going to complain. Second, I heard N2BEN in grid square EN25 calling CQ on 50.125 and followed him as he moved to 50.140.  Two attempts later, he answered my call.  I gave him a 54 signal report (right there with my noise floor at the time) and he returned a 55 signal report.  Once again, I saw nothing to complain about with the antenna performance.

I am really looking forward to being able to compare the performance of the HVT400B with the FT-897D in the car to the performance of the tri-band vertical with the FT-897D at home.  For now I’ll reserve judgment on the HVT400B’s 6 Meter performance until I get a bit more experience with it, but so far so good.

Beachside DX from Jekyll Island

Location: Jekyll Island, GA

What a great afternoon on the radio! I woke up around 3:30 PM this afternoon and headed out to get some early dinner: fried shrimp and clams from Jinrights in Brunswick. After eating, I headed out to Jekyll Island and took up a spot at one of the parking areas along North Beachview to operate the mobile/portable amateur radio station for awhile. I took advantage of the cooler weather today: the temperature was 74 F and the skies clear and blue.

I worked a few stations on 20 Meters before giving the station a test on 80 Meters by checking into the weekly Georgia ARES Net on 3.975:

  • 9A5BS, Felix in Zagreb, Croatia
  • OP2A, Ivo in Brussels, Belgium
  • GM3UEG, Dave on Orkney Island, Scotland

I got a good signal report from Charles, K4GK, net control for the ARES net when I checked in and I heard K4GTM – Guy, KD4PDX – Mark, KB4GNX – Bob, and KI4TYO – Ken from Chatham and Effingham Counties at good levels, I suspect we could have worked each other. I think the HVT400B would work OK for ARES use if the need be.

After the net, I worked some more DX on 15, 17, and 20 Meters. I used the LDG897 tuner to tune the HVT400B’s 15 Meter setting for 17 Meters and it worked good enough to make contacts with.

  • YV5ZV, Victor in Venzuela on 15 Meters
  • F6IGS, Gerry in France on 17 Meters
  • FM5DN, Leon in Martinique on 17 Meters
  • GS3PYE, Lawrence on Island of Harris in Scotland on 20 Meters
  • IS0R, a DXpedition on Sardinia (20 Meters)
  • ZW7R, a DXpedition on Restinga Island (Brazil) on 20 Meters

Mac McCormick III, KF4LMT

Opek HVT400B Mobile HF Antenna

Location: Brunswick, GA

Last week, I ordered an Opek HVT400B mobile HF antenna from R&L Electronics. The best way I could describe the HVT400B is that is a “poor man’s” Outbacker. It is a multiband antenna (80/40/20/15/10/6/2/70cm) that uses taps and whip length adjustments to tune. The antenna and a tri-mag mount arrived this afternoon via UPS and I put them on the car this evening to try it out.

Using my FT-897D and LDG tuner (I’ve yet to try the antenna without the tuner) I worked Europe and Africa on 20 and 15 Meters! The first thing I did was check 40 Meters. I didn’t hear anyone calling CQ, so I didn’t get a chance to see how it would transmit; it was receiving quite well and I don’t expect that there will be any problems transmitting. When I changed the tap for 20 Meters, I quickly came across DK1II, Franz from Germany working DX. I answered one of his QRZ calls and received a 59 report! That’s not bad for an inexpensive antenna and 100 watts! I tuned up the band a bit farther and found S58FA, Freddie from Slovenia working DX; Freddie gave me a 57 report. I decided to try 15 Meters next, changing the tap and extending the whip. Almost immediately I came across TL0A in the Central African Republic working stations; he gave me a 55 report, which was the same as the station he worked before me. Once again, not bad for a mobile installation!

I’m looking forward to giving the antenna a try on 80 Meters soon. I’m hoping that it will do well enough to allow me to check in to the weekly Georgia ARES net on 3.975 on Sundays.

So far, I’m quite pleased, this looks like it will be a nice antenna to use for the portable HF station here in Brunswick!

Mac McCormick III, KF4LMT