Sat, Nov 18|
HAM 101 - Mobile Amateur Radio Setup & Configuration
Part 1 of our Ham Radio training series. Bring your mobile ham radio, antenna, and other gear and we will help you set it up and configure it for trail coms.
Time & Location
Nov 18, 2023, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Eklund Engineering, 2852 Conte Dr, Carson City, NV 89701, USA
About the Event
We are charging $20 per participant to help the club pay for food, drinks, and extra installation gear in case someone needs things they did not purchase.
This is the first event in a three-part series spanning the winter season. The goal is to get as many club members set up for ham radio communications as possible. You will need to pick a radio that works best for your vehicle and your purposes and have the radio in your possession in time for the class. Make sure you also buy the programming software and the programming cable.
Sign up now for the SNARS HAMCRAM event on Feb 18 to do a study cram session right before taking the technician's exam. It is inexpensive and fairly easy to pass. Sign-up at https://snars.org/oneday
The first three radios in this section have detachable control units. This means the bulky "body" of the radio can be mounted just about anywhere in your vehicle. In contrast, the control unit can be mounted on a RAM mount, surface mounted with velcro, or other creative means just about anywhere. This is handy in vehicles that have limited space available around the driver area. The ideal mounting position is key for ease of use, easy access, and visibility while driving. You'll note that all of the recommended radios are Yaesu brand. You are welcome to get another brand, but most of us own and run Yaesu radios and prefer them over other brands. The 300DR is the oldest radio while the 500DR is the newest.
- Yaesu FTM-300DR. You can purchase the programming accessories here.
- Yaesu FTM-200DR. You can purchase the programming accessories here.
- Yaesu FTM-500DR. You can purchase the programming accessories here.
Properly installed, these radios will allow you to achieve crystal-clear voice communication for miles. It also has GPS functions that will allow you to see other club members while on the trail, send/receive text and email messages, and set up private group monitor (GM) coms. Note the 200DR does not have GM features. The 200 and the 500 have snappier interfaces and a more intuitive and easy-to-read layout.
- The Yaesu FT-2980R is a full-body radio (no detachable control panel). It is built into a giant heat sync and transmits at 80 watts. Several of us have used this radio and it works great. This is a very powerful "one trick pony" radio that will give you strong voice communications on the trail. There are very few bells and whistles. The upside is that it is cheap. the downside is that it is HUGE and has limited functions. If all you care about is voice communications while on the trail and you have the room to install this, it is the one we would recommend. This is a single-band radio so you only need a single 2-meter (2M) antenna. You can get the programming accessories here.
- The Yaesu FTM-6000R is slightly cheaper than the three recommended radios and has many of the same features. The control panel is the smallest of the bunch. Like the 200DR it lacks the GM features. This is a good radio if you have extremely limited space and every mm matters. You can get the programming accessories here.
Everyone has their preferred antennas. This guide is what I (Tony) prefer. NMO mounts (rather than PL-259) are the most popular antenna styles. We will focus on that style for this guide.
All but the FT-2980R require dual-band antennas. A good single-band antenna for the 2980 is the Comet SBB-25NMO. This antenna is 57 inches long and will optimize your transmit and receive performance. Rugged Radios sells the VHF-1/2W-SPR which is 35-inches long. There are shorter antennas, but they limit performance and range. You can find these at Ham Radio Outlet, DX Engineering, Gigaparts, and even Amazon.
- B-10NMO (10")
- CA-2x4SRNMO (16")
- SBB-2NMO (18")
- SS-680SBNMO (27") Has spring base included
- SBB-5NMO (38")
- CA-2x4SRNMO (40")
Mounts need to be specific to the antenna style (NMO) and also suit your ideal location. Several folks like them on the back of their vehicle or off to the side over their front fenders... Most of them have lost an antenna (or three) due to trail carnage. I like mine front and center on my front bumper so I can see it as I traverse the trail. My ARB bumper has two light mount holes and I adapted them to house my antenna. All you need for this is a hole saw and some elbow grease to get the antenna mounted. This isn't for everyone, though. If you decide to do this, you need a bar-style mount if you don't have light tabs you can adapt for antenna mounts. You can use one of these Coxial NMO adapters if you use the light mounts.
Buy cable with a PL-259 connector (all radios listed use this connector on the back) on one end and a bare connector on the other. Or the other way around. It is ideal to cut the cable to the length required instead of coiling it up and stuffing it under the carpet or behind a panel. One open end also makes it easier to route in tight spaces. Larsen makes some good kits for this.
Radio Control Panel Mounts
Probably the best option for this is a Ram ball mount. You will need to decide where you want the control panel and then figure out the best combo from RamMounts to make it work for you. I believe all the remote mount control panels have a threaded hole that will accommodate a ball mount. Choose your radio, then choose your mount config.
Ham Radio 101 Training
This ticket grants you access to the training event and the fee will help cover the costs of additional installation equipment in the event someone comes unprepared.$20.00+$0.50 service fee