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Maggie and the Amateur Radio Contest
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kourt
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 9:50 am    Post subject: Maggie and the Amateur Radio Contest Reply with quote

Maggie, my 91 Westy with Bostig conversion, was admittedly bought to become a rolling ham radio shack.

Having finally tackled the torque converter problem with the van, my brother and I loaded our radios and set off for the contest.

http://www.arrl.org/june-vhf

The goal is to accumulate points by making contacts with people. We entered the "rover" class which adds technical challenges but makes contacts with us (and contacts we make) more valuable for everyone. We are the big fish everyone is looking for. When someone hears your call sign followed by "rover" you tend to rise to the top of the pileups.

The world is divided into grid squares, and whenever you enter a new grid square, your affinity for contacts renews, and many of the same hams will follow you through the grids and accumulate points, which helps both us and them.

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Our plan was to go to the HamCom convention in Plano and then work our way down through central Texas and through as many grid squares as possible over the Saturday and Sunday of the contest.

The van was equipped with two antenna systems: one for "run and gun" (maximum antenna efficiency while driving) and one for "stop and shoot" (maximum height and directability while stationary).

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The run-and-gun antenna is shown here. Its foundation is a cross of steel square tubing clamped to a set of Thule racks. The antenna is guyed on all sides and double guyed fore and aft for safety. This is all omnidirectional stuff for 50MHz, 144MHz and 440MHz sideband (AM) work. We were careful to assemble this antenna with consideration for wind loads and to fail gracefully. It didn't budge once during our trip, and we traveled 70+MPH on the interstates with strong crosswinds. Notice the hitch basket behind the van, holding the stop-and-shoot antenna system.

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This is the stop-and-shoot antenna, mounted in a custom-made drive-on antenna tilt mounting base. We find a location that is open and has high elevation, stop the van, pull the base out of the hitch basket, drive onto it, shut off the van, and lay the sections out on the ground. We attach the antennas, attach the coaxial feed lines, and then tilt the antenna up Mount Suribachi style, inserting a cotter pin into the tilt base to keep it locked up. We work quickly on assigned tasks to keep the setup/takedown times short.

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Here we are at the rest stop on FM32, known as the Devil's Backbone, near Fischer, TX. The 6 meter band opened up here and we accumulated a massive amount of points.

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My brother and his son, during run-and-gun operations. The radio is mounted to the aft bulkhead of the galley, with integrated mic and speaker. Amps are on the deck to my brother's left.

On these trips I am the driver and my brother does most of the operating, but we have a good system and we both enjoy our roles and the work.

This trip was 572 miles of trouble free van operation--no torque converter leaks! The Bostig performed admirably.

12 total antennas:

VW-Hirschmann FM radio antenna, OEM front fender location
Diamond VHF/UHF for repeater ops, driver side rear engine vent mount
Comet VHF slim gainer for APRS transmitter, passenger side rear engine vent mount
102" whip with Tram NMO base for HF sideband ops, driver side rear bumper
GPS antenna for recovery tracker, behind closet curtain
GSM antenna for recovery tracker, behind closet curtain
GPS antenna for APRS transmitter, behind closet curtain
GPS antenna for laptop receiver, behind closet curtain
Square halo for 6 meters, run-and-gun, on roof rack
Omni for VHF/UHF, run-and-gun, on roof rack
Elk handheld antenna modified for mast mount, stop-and-shoot, on 20' mast
Homemade 6m dipole, stop-and-shoot, on 20' mast

Everything except laptops runs on DC power.

kourt
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geo_tonz
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome! Glad you overcame your previous hiccups for a trouble free cruise!
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LandSailor
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sweeeet!

cq cq cq!
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kc8tpr
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 4:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

you need to roadtrip that thing up here to hamvention.


steve
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BillWYellowstone
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How about Field DaY?
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shadetreetim
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I admittedly know nothing about ham radios, but can appreciate the coolness of your setup. Laughing
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kourt
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BillWYellowstone wrote:
How about Field DaY?


Yes, Maggie is one of the anchors of our Field Day operation, which will occur this weekend. We are a QRP station (5 watts or less transmitted power) with no shore power (all power from batteries or solar). That gives us more points.

Maggie has 100 watts of solar and 165ah of battery bank. We are all set.

kourt
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kourt
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kc8tpr wrote:
you need to roadtrip that thing up here to hamvention.


steve


I agree, and it will happen someday. I was born in Dayton, so there's something in that, too.

kourt
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JudoJeff
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 4:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kourt,

I think you could be one of the attractions at Dayton! Let me know you're going, and I'll drive out and park next to you. Went to that for years.

73,
Jeff
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Big Bill
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 6:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congrats, looks like you and your brother had a blast. Nice, well thought out system.
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HoustonPhotog
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 7:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wow VERY cool!
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kourt
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Maggie and the Amateur Radio Contest Reply with quote

More photos of my setup, for reference:

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Rear radio operator's position, with Yaesu FT-857D head. The PEX tube on the left is used as a flower vase, and can be removed to snake antenna feed lines and power cables through the hole.

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Another shot of how the rear operator's position has good ergonomics: hand resting on the table and dialing the radio. USB and cigarette lighter ports are under the black round covers.

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Forward storage well, looking down. The cables and switch are neatly mounted, for easy reconfiguration for contesting or adding amplifiers.

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Floor of the storage well removed, showing the radio mount, inverter head, GPS trackers, and the A/B switch that changes the radio control forward/aft.

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Looking into the small cabinet aft of the refrigerator, where the radio is mounted. Access to Anderson power pole distribution center, inverter head, radio connections reference on cabinet door.

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Vertex speaker dedicated to radio audio mounted near the operator's head, above the Propex heater controls.

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Forward operator's position, with the radio head mounted on a flexible mount.

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Forward operator's radio dedicated speaker, mounted in the headliner--excellent audio fidelity in this location.

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Short 144MHz APRS antenna mounted on passenger vent.

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Dual band 144MHz/440MHz antenna mounted on driver vent; height can be reduced easily.

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102" whip mounted on RMW steel bumper for HF frequencies. We've hit Italy on this thing on 40 meters before--many great contacts.

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Yeas FC-40 HF antenna transmatch. This tunes the 102" whip to almost anything between 7MHz and 28MHz. When we don't want to use the 102" whip, we remove it and attach a long wire feed line to the bumper mount. This keeps the RF out of the van.

kourt
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tjet
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 1:39 pm    Post subject: Re: Maggie and the Amateur Radio Contest Reply with quote

On that Yaesu 857d, you can put the actual radio anywhere & just mount the front panel?

I also want to use a 102" whip, but I want to tie in a c/b radio & a Realistic DX-302 into the same antenna. How well to those RF switches work?

I almost bought a used Kenwood TS-50 with the MARS mod, but I'd need an HF coupler / tuner to work with the whip antenna.
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kourt
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 1:49 pm    Post subject: Re: Maggie and the Amateur Radio Contest Reply with quote

Howdy Tjet,

Yes, the radio is designed to have the RF unit (the main body) mounted anywhere, and have the control head mounted conveniently. Really great radio.

The Alpha Delta antenna switches are excellent, and you could easily use those to do what you want...

If you have an amateur radio license, you could buy the 857D and, uh, "modify" it to work on the CB/MARS/FRS/GMRS frequencies, but that would be illegal. Not that I would ever do something like that...

kourt
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