HAM JAM - Ham Radio Setup & Training
Time & Location
About the Event
NOTE: Pull all panels (or seats) that will be in the way of wire/cable routing or mounting prior to arriving. Be sure to purchase and bring your radio, programming cable, and software. The programming stuff is normally sold separately from the radio
We will assist with installation of your radio, speaker, and antenna. Be sure to check out our getting started thread on mud and pickup the items you want for your vehicle. This is basic installation. If you want to do custom mounts, or switched power installation, then you should do that yourself. We will run the wires, mount the antennas, and test connectivity. Be sure you have a mounting solution worked out and all the additional hardware/brackets you will need to complete the installation.
We will show you how to program your radio. You need to ensure that you have the programming cable and software for your particular radio. We will load a standard channel list for NW Nevada, and Eastern NorCal repeaters found at www.repeaterbook.com. You will learn how to upload or change your programming before you leave so you manage this yourself in the future.
- Hampton Inn & Suites South Reno - 10599 Professional Cir, Reno, NV 89511
- My Place Hotel Carson City - 17 Hospitality Way, Carson City, NV 89706
- Gold Dust West-Carson City - 2171 E William St, Carson City, NV 89701
Radios & Antennas
Everyone has their preference on brand and setup options. This small list is meant as a "getting started" list for folks who haven't yet found their ideal setup. Scroll through the entire thread to see other member's setups and recommendations. Items #1 are standalone and no additional things are needed to start using them. OR Pick anything from items 2 or 3. Then choose the antenna that matches the radio features (single band or dual band). Finally choose the appropriate connector (NMO or PL-259) from item 7 to complete your radio kit.
- Entry Level dual band radio (handheld): BAOFENG BF-F8HP (8 Watt) or Baofeng UV-5R (5 Watt). We recommend either on of these radios even if you do not (yet) have your ham license. You cannot transmit (except in emergencies) but you can listen to the trail boss and other members of the group so you know what's going on.
- Single band (2M - the main band the club uses) radio (mobile): YAESU FT-2980R (80 Watts!). Several of us have this radio. It is extremely well built and used in Baja and other competitive applications for its ruggedness and power. Pay the extra money for the "MARS Mod" which will allow you to hear emergency and government band traffic.
- Dual band (2M and 70cm): YAESU FTM-300DR (50 Watts) or YAESU FTM-400XDR (50 Watts). These are advanced radios capable of dual band transmit and receive on 2M and 70cm as well as digital radio. They also have GPS and APRS capabilities. 70cm is handy because several areas in the region have repeaters in this part of the spectrum. Both of these radios have remote heads or control panels with hideaway casings for more versatile mounting options in vehicles with limited space. Pay the extra money for the "MARS Mod" which will allow you to hear emergency and government band traffic.
- Single Band Antennas for 2M mobile: COMET-NCG SBB-25 (1/2 length 57-inches with PL-259 connector) or COMET-NCG SBB-25NMO (1/2 length 57-inches with NMO connector). I use the SBB-25 on my 80 Series connected to my FT-2980R transceiver and I love the combo! These are two-piece antennas with a folding feature that will allow you to collapse the antenna when not in use or going through low hanging branches.
- Dual band (2M/70cm) 1/4 length (18-inches) antenna: COMET-NCG SBB-2 or COMET-NCG SBB-2NMO. Same features as item 4 but will support dual band radios like item 3 above.
- Dual band (2M/70cm) 1/2 length (42-inches) antenna: COMET-NCG CSB-750A. This is larger antenna with a PL-259 connector.
- Connectors: You need to match the mount to the connector type of your antenna (PL-259 or NMO) and you choose your mount based on the location you choose on your vehicle. The taller/higher the better for good transmit/receive. However, you have to balance your mounting location with the ability to clear obstacles on the trail or setup you antenna with a spring or fold over feature. I would either go with a longer 1/2 length antenna and mount it lower to allow for the whip to compensate for obstacles or get a 1/4 with a spring mount and mount it higher. There a bumper mounts (like mine in the pic below), trunk/hatch mounts, lip mounts, luggage rack, magnetic (I don't recommend for offroad) and bolt thru sheet metal mounts. This really comes down to preference and what your antenna needs. NMO is probably more versatile but I have never used one. This is a good universal lip mount NMO connector with cable and radio connector. This would work with any of the NMO antennas listed above and with any of the radios in items 2 and 3. I used a bulkhead mount PL-259 to mount my antenna to the bumper of my 80. Note the option on that page for a PL-259 lip mount as well. You can use that if you choose a PL-259 antenna.
- Antenna coax cable. The clean, but more difficult way is to by unterminated cable, new connectors (that match your radio and antenna) and terminate the cables to the length you need. The easier way is to purchase a cable that is already terminated on both ends with the apropriate connectors. The drawback to this is that routing is more challenging since the connectors are so large. Most radios I have seen use PL-259 type-m connectors and the antenna end will be determined by your antenna type (NMO or PL-259), and your mount. If you want down and dirty, then ignore my commencts about mag mount antennas and order one with the coax installed. You are effectively done with cable worries at that point. You are good to go as long as the cable is rated at 50-ohm (or whatever your radio manual specifies for the antenna connector). Amazon also has some antenna cables that are pre-terminated, but you will have to deal with excess cable somehow if it ends up being too long and too short is a problem too of course. Best way to get it right is to run some 14 or 16 gauge wire from the desired radio mount point to where you want to mount your radio. Then cut the guide wire and measure the length. Give yourself 1-2 feet of extra wire as a buffer.
- External Speaker (highly recommended for offroad and Land Cruisers). There are lot of expensive options out there and I decided a mono speaker for voice modulation only was not worth the cost. So I opted for a Radioddity external speaker for $16.00 and it works great! I have it stuffed under the parking brake in my 80.
Programming Your Radio