Mobile Station

I frequently post what I’m doing with 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.  I also enjoy visiting wildlife areas and historic sites, so the mobile station lets me enjoy radio while on trips. It isn’t a high dollar station and it isn’t to the same level as some folks go to 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.

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KF4LMT Mobile at the Donnelley WMA in Green Pond, SC

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

  • Yaesu FT-8800 with a Comet CA-2x4SR dual band antenna for VHF/UHF
  • Yaesu FT-857D with a Yaesu ATAS-120A antenna for HF/6 Meters
  • Uniden Home Patrol-2 (HP-2) with a Laird ABSCANC antenna
  • BNC/SMA pigtail for connecting a handheld scanner
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Yaesu ATAS-120A on the left, Comet CA-2x4SR on the right, Laird ABSCANC in the center of the roof

The FT-8800 is mounted in the cargo compartment of the Sportage with the control head remote mounted on the dashboard. The FT-857D is mounted underneath the passenger’s seat with the 857D’s control head mounted on the side of the center console with a RAM mount. The Comet CA-2x4SR and ATAS-120A are mounted on the hatchback using Diamond K400 mounts (NMO and SO-239 respectively).   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 HP-2 is mounted off of the side of the center console using a RAM mount. The ABSCANC is roof mounted on a permanent NMO mount that was installed by Hasty’s Communications in Brunswick, GA. I use a splitter to use the ABSCANC to supply the HP-2 and a BNC pigtail with an SMA adapter for connecting a handheld scanner (usually a Uniden BCD436HP or a Whistler TRX-1). The HP-2 scans VHF and UHF air traffic control, military communications, and conventional and trunked public safety and federal communications.

Radio Programming Files (to be available soon)

  • 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
  • BCD436HP/BCD536HP for the Savannah/Brunswick/Coastal 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 Eustatius
  • 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 thoughts on “Mobile Station

  1. 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. 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. 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

    1. 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. 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.

    1. 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?

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

      3. 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. 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

    1. 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. 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. 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. 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

  9. 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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