11/21/12

Second Operating Positon

Following my experience from Field Day 2012 I’ve been thinking. What can I do? I did help as much as I could with setup and operating, but I did not really contribute anything. So between now and the ARRL 2013 Field Day I’m trying to get things together. Being I am now a General Class operator with plenty of operating privileges I will be acquiring a HF capable transceiver. I’ve also recently gotten a mobile dual band rig. As written about previously.

What I did today was wire in a second operating position in my SUV. Version one of what I did was to simply run 2 CAT6 cables from the radio mounted area to the back of the SUV and crimped on RJ-45 connectors. I then used f-f couplers to hook everything together. This worked just fine, but had 2 flopping cables in the back. You know, flopping around. Well that was version one.


Version 2 is a little more buttoned up. I’ve maintained the same cables running to the back from the radio. Now, instead of 2 RJ-45 connectors at

 

the end of these two cables, there are two keystone sockets. One to plug microphone and one for the control head. This way the look i cleaner and a little more flexible interface. To house all this I picked up a slim electrical box. I put some 3M Velcro strips to hold it in place. And finally I simply mounted my keystones in a 6 port face plate. See the keystones you buy with various sockets and plugs are a universal square snap in fit.

Why go through the trouble you ask? Well as I mentioned I’m doing this in preparation for Field Day. I imagine myself sitting in a chair working my radios from the car. This is so I can go flip the two cables and plug up to setup a station in the back. That simple. I don’t have to un-mount the radio, find power in the back, plug everything in and then be on the air. 1 minute and I’m going. I would love to find some switching device that would let me jump back and forth without having to go to the radio and switch cables.

What do I have left? Well not much if I’m honest. Directly for this project I need audio in the back. 2 speakers. Specifically the MFJ 281 ClearTone Speaker. What I’m planning on doing is fabbing up a bracket to mount the speaker right inside the SUV to the roof. I’ll setup an audio switch of some kind to send it to the back and I’ll have either 1/8 jack keystones or

10/8/12

Kenwood TM-V71A Dual Band: Installation in Dodge Nitro, Continued Part 3 – Mounting and Assembly

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What I decided to do. The remote control head would be velcro-ed the a ledge on the dash. This ledge is slightly angled so that the display is angled upward for best viewing. I also have it rotated ever so slightly to even further improve the viewing angle.(Figure 5 & 6)

Next, where to mount the body of the radio? What I came up with is under the front passenger seat, towards the back. With the contours in the floor pan and the rear bench seat the way it is, this is really, I think my best option. One day if I feel adventurous I may mount it under that bench, but not today.

IMG_20121005_155925IMG_20120920_172933The radio mounting bracket started life as a small piece of 22 gauge steel I found on the side of the road. 22 gauge, how do I know? The sticker was still on it. This was crudely bent by hand to mostly mate up with the curves and contours of the floor. It mostly does. To attach my bracket in a permanent manner I left enough metal to drill a hole and use a seat bolt to hold it down.(Figure 7, 8 & 9) The pressure of the seat holds it firmly.


Now running the wire out from the radio over to the center console, which can be seen in figure 7 & 8. I then ran it through the center console all the way to the front. Up behind the dash and out where the knee panel meets the speed cluster surround.(figure 5 & 6, at the top)Using the factory Kenwood radio mount as a guide, I drilled 4 holes in the sheet metal. Then I bolted it together.

Basically this is all to my mobile installation. There’s a few extra pictures I’ll share here at the bottom.

I’ll write up my external speaker setup later.

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10/5/12

Kenwood TM-V71A Dual Band: Installation in Dodge Nitro, Continued Part 2 – Disassembly

To continue with with my previous post about my mobile installation of my Kenwood TM-V71A dualband. So we are done figuring out the logistics of actually setup up the remote head. Now on to my method of mounting.

As mentioned I’m driving a Dodge Nitro SUV. I initially thought that this mobile install was going to be a pain. Actually it’s not remotely difficult. Getting power into the cabin from the battery is super easy, opening up the dash is super easy, as is the center console and mounting both parts is easy.
gauges

Looking at the image to the left, figure 2, you see a picture of a Dodge Nitro dash. With the battery of the SUV being on the left side, drivers side, that is where I focused my efforts in wiring.

Looking at the image to the left, figure 2, you see the speedo cluster, the knee panel, radio area and center console.
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1. I failed to snap a picture of the removal of the speed cluster dash area. But it is as follows. Lower the steering wheel all the way down. Firmly grasp the top most forward plastic and pull back towards yourself.

2. Two remove the knee panel that is below the steering wheel. The the top plastic edge of the knee panel exposed, firmly grasp and pull down with even force. Doesn’t take much at all. Only two clip hold up the hinged panel. Once it has hinged down as far as it will, slide the panel 3 inches to the left and it comes off.
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3. If you look at the shifter there in the front middle off the console.(Figure 3) You see the frame that looks like brushed metal. It is plastic so go easy. If you are in this truck looking down at it, you notice a gap between the shift base and this faux metal area. Insert  tips of your fingers and pull up gently. It helps to engage the ebreak.

4. Next if your sitting in the back seat looking a the rear of the center console near the floor you’ll see that the back cover is one piece. Very easy, just grasp it and pull slightly. I’ve included a picture with it removed as I don’t have one from before. (Figure 4)
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5. Lastly after popping the hood move to the drivers side, near the brake master cylinder. Look on the firewall under the brake master cylinder and to the right near the fender. In this area there are two pass troughs on the firewall. On my vehicle one is fully in use from the factory but the over merely looks like a rubber plug. Pull the out the plug. No tools needed, it just pulls out. Don’t those it.

Disassembly Complete.
To be continued…

Continued in Post 3: Mounting and Assembly

10/4/12

Kenwood TM-V71A Dual Band: Installation in a Dodge Nitro

This write up is on an installation of a Kenwood TM-V71A Dual Band VHF & UHF mobile amateur radio into a Dodge Nitro SUV. The Kenwood TM-V71A radio is a modern radio with remote control head capability. Technically a remote head kit available from Kenwood is required to take advantage of this feature, but in reality this isn’t true. The remote kit certainly will make your installation easier. The kit would include a adapter and bracket to attach the head to and the specialized cables to hook the head to the body. The basic remote kit only includes an extended cable for the head to radio, no extension for mic to radio. There is an extended remote kit available that I believe has the basics, plus a extended mic and power cable adapters.

With that said, here is how I did it. If you take a look at the small cable that hooks the remote head to the body when they are hooked together you will see that one end is a RJ-45connector(standard ethernet connection) and the other end is a slim RJ-12 connector. Similar to a telephone line(same wiring), but about 1/4 thinner. Then at the termination of the mic cable you’ll see that the connection is also a RJ-45 connector. These two RJ-45 connections are standard size. So to extend this to connections I acquired two RJ-45 male to male couplers, as scene in figure 1.

I should mention I looked for a couple days for this special RJ-12 cable with no luck. I could have fabricated something up, but my method is easier.

To complete all these extended connections here’s what you will need:

  1. 2x RJ-45 couplers
  2. 2x Ethernet Cables(for efficiency’s sake, short as possible)
  3. 2x Ferrite Choke(Optional)

Step 1. Plug a coupler onto each ethernet cable
Step 2. Plug an ethernet cable into the head and into the microphone plug
Step 3. Plug the appropriate end of the include head wire into your extension
Step 4. Make your mic connections

Now this is an optional step but in the kit you can see that cable has a ferrite choke to keep RF emissions traveling down your remote cable. I ordered two from Mouser. I’m going to do it.

***Found these specifically fitted for CAT5 cable***
http://www.iautomate.com/products/Ferrite-Chokes-for-RFID-CAT5-Installations.html

Continued in Post 2:Disassembly

07/21/12

Ham Radio Project-Tram Dual Band Antenna Rehab

It’s been a while since I’ve updated, which is unfortunate. I enjoy my forum here. For today though I’m stuck at work, so I’ve brought my newest toy with me. It’s a Tram dual band, 2 meter & 440, base station antenna. It was an eBay find I acquired for a grand total of $28USD.
So, with the help of a friend and fellow ham operator, NI4SR, I have made sure that my propagates well across both bands.

So here’s what I’ve done or am planning to do today.
1.) I’ve already, carefully, removed the sealant/glue applied by the previous owner. I then re-applied some white Stampede “hardcore” caulk/sealant around the none-moving joint. Taking special note to precisely caulk around the base.
2.) Then I let that dry for about two hours or at least tack up. It’s not fully dry yet.
3.) Then I very lightly scuff sanded, with fine grit paper, the fiberglass body of the antenna. Just to promote adhesion.
4.) After that I wiped it down with a damp cloth to clean and get the dust off.
5.) Then I applied my first coat of flat white spray.
5b.) The bottom half of the antenna has absolutely no moving parts, so it got a few coats.
5c.) The top half does slide into the bottom and has bushings so it only get two coats.
6.) Re-assemble!

This is not a hard project and my $100 antenna that I got for $28 will look like, once again, a $100 antenna.
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06/20/12

2012 ARRL Field Day – (6/23/12 – 6/24/12)

Field Day is this weekend. If your a ham radio operator you probably have at least a little idea of what this means. But if your not do know this, Field Day is an event your everyone. It’s technically an event for hams to practice emergency communications but really Field Day is only half about that and half displaying our trade to the public. There’s a station called GOTA, Get on the Air. That’s all about getting newly licensed, unlicensed and formally licensed on the air. There’s normally a radio coach to help and instruct on the process.

If your in or near Near Hanover County, North Carolina come out to Ogden Park near the shelters. If you can find the shelters you can find us. We’ll be starting up at 2:30pm Saturday and going going solid through 2:30 pm Sunday.

03/7/12

What is Amateur Radio?

Amateur Radio (or “ham radio”) provides the broadest and most powerful wireless communications capability available to any private citizen anywhere in the world. This worldwide community of ham radio operators use their radios for emergencies, experimentation, and fun!

02/27/12

No Mic Included…

My radio came Thursday of last week but due to my excitement I missed the fact that it did not come with a mic. Of any kind. I tried to rig something together but it just didn’t work. So right now I’m in limbo. Ugh, its killing because I could at least work some of 10 meters, 6 meters and 2 meter cause it operates VHF as well as HF.
Good weekend at the Battleship, more to come about that. BB55 or NI4BK
***updated via Droid phone***

02/17/12

My Actual First HF Rig…ICOM IC-746 Pro

In the previous post I discussed about wanting to pass the General License exam and getting my first HF radio transceiver. In the article I talked heavily about the Yaesu FT-950, well I did not buy one. It’s a great great rig but I was about to get a little better deal for what I got. I got a ICOM IC-746 Pro. It’s like the predecessor to the ICOM IC-7100, that’s a beast of a rig. Basically what it came down to was the Yaesu was out of the budget. So after that I started looking into the ICOM IC-718 but I just wasn’t into that radio; there’s no 6 meter or VHF. Which the 746Pro has both plus, of course, the HF bands.The 746Pro also has IF digital filtering, so no need to fill up my radio with expensive filters. All I have to do is go through the bands, select the operating mode and adjust the bandwidth of the filter to my liking. Pretty cool. But listen I just bought the radio yesterday and haven’t even got it yet, so I do begin to know where to start explaining it. So I’m going to leave you with some pictures and links to reviews and info of my new cool radio!

eham.net Review – ICOM IC-746PRO

universal-radio.com – Icom IC-746 Pro

ICOM IC-746 Pro

ICOM IC-746 Pro

01/31/12

My HT and it’s new Case

So I have not really covered it yet, but I own a HT, handheld ham radio. And I’ve found a basic, good and useful storage case for it. First, let me tell you, briefly, about rig I have a Yaesu VX-8DR and I love it! It has multiple features; operates 6 & 2 meters and 440mhz, supports APRS with GPS dongle, tough as nails and compact. I run the stock battery just for slim-ness of it, I have the shoulder mic and a upgraded antenna. Normally when I carry, which with it’s size is a lot. Most of my backpacks are molle compatible, so I normally carry it in a 5.11 Tactical Radio Pouch. Some times when all I have is my side bag I’ll tuck it in a side pocket of that.

 

But on occasion I do pack it in something, it might be luggage or it just might be, actually, inside my backpack. And that’s what I’ve got today. A little back-story first. With this school semester I am transitioning back and forth between 3 bags. Well when I carry a bag, whether it’s one of my 2 backpacks or my messenger bag, there’s a certain set of tools and things I like to carry. No matter what. So after switching 3 times a week for 3 weeks now I’m tired of it and I have been researching smaller bags to keep the actual things in. So instead of moving 20 things, I move 5 to 6 pouches. Much better.

 

Well I picked up the Zeikos IR-NEO36 Black Neoprene Carrying Case. It’s a nice little case and when I ever pack my little HT in something I will use this little case for it’s protection. It’s got a nice padded feeling to it, the inside is lined with a nylon fabric, the outside is neoprene and it has a solid feeling zipper. The best part is that the total with tax and shipping, out there door to mine cost me $1.09. I will b buying more. I will probably buy several more for other radio parts, cables, and etc.

 

At a later date I’ll do a more detailed review of the radio and case but for now info can be found at the links above.