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Author Topic: Ham Radio and RVing  (Read 4655 times)

N5PHT

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Ham Radio and RVing
« on: April 05, 2013, 05:33:16 PM »
Hello,

I just joined and thought I would talk a little about my adventures to get ham radio up and going. I have a Montana 5th and use an Icom 746PRO in the RV.

There is a link to an article on my qrz.com page for N5PHT but the gist: (HF only with Icom 746PRO)

1. Tarheel Screwdriver on my Truck. (I have a Montana 5th wheel).
2. I installed a PL259 barrel into the side of the RV near the operating area (a desk in the Montana)
3. A 50 foot coax connects to the screwdriver

However, the next improvement made a world of difference in terms of easy of sitting in the RV and operating! (NOTE: I have no financial or otherwise connection with KD7WJZ selling the gadget)

4. I purchased and installed a controller for the screwdriver from "Hobbygadgets.biz" (http:://www.hobbygadgets./biz) or search for KD7WJZ and find his gadget. It is a wireless controller that will send the antenna up or down and it works great from the RV. I have noted the basic times to move from band to band and the noise also alerts you that you are close and then just a tap or two and you are on the money!

5. I have an old 102 inch CB whip that I can use on the screwdriver when I am parked and that improves by about 1-2 S units over the smaller whip that came with the Tarheel.

So, when I want to leave the campground I do have to disconnect (forgot once and that resulted in some busted RG8X - but no other damage thank God). I would rather have something that is not connected to the Truck but have not found a good antenna that connects to the RV when stopped.

Well, hope you have fun and take a look at my QRZ page for the link to the article I wrote on RV'ing and ham radio. Take care and God Bless.

Gary Stone, N5PHT

Jim Godward

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Re: Ham Radio and RVing
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2013, 06:01:54 PM »
However, the next improvement made a world of difference in terms of easy of sitting in the RV and operating! (NOTE: I have no financial or otherwise
So, when I want to leave the campground I do have to disconnect (forgot once and that resulted in some busted RG8X - but no other damage thank God). I would rather have something that is not connected to the Truck but have not found a good antenna that connects to the RV when stopped.

Gary,

Tarheel used to sell a lift for the screwdriver that lowered it for travel and raised it for parked use.  It used a screwdrive electric, 12 VDC actuator and was quite effective.  If they no longer sell it, I can send you pictures of the one I built as Tarheel would not recommend theirs for a 23' Shakespeare all band marine antenna I got cheap.   :)  If you have access to a machine shop, I have most of the plans for it "somewhere"!    :(
Jim
Jim & Pat Godward
AC7PO & KD7ZDM
Hillsboro, Oregon

inscop

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  • Will patrol border for food!
Re: Ham Radio and RVing
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2013, 02:32:04 PM »
Judging by your call, you and I must have gotten into hamming about the same time (N5QPM).  Sadly, I have allowed my computer interest to overcome my ham interest and I let my license lapse.  Maybe this RV thing will rekindle my interest.  I still have all my gear (IC-751, all the 2M stuff).  Guess I need to break out the manuals and study up.
Rig: 2014 Forest River FR3
Furry non-verbal son:  Coqui, the Wonder Dog
Alpine, CA

SR-71

  • Posts: 2
Re: Ham Radio and RVing
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2013, 09:05:53 AM »
I use an ICOM IC-7000 in my Discovery, along with a SGC Smart Tuner which I have mounted inside a sealed box.  The sealed box and tuner are mounted to the top of my roof ladder.  Also on the sealed box I mounted a SGC hinge mount and SG-303 8 foot whip.  Of course the antenna has to be lowered when underway, but once parked it very easy to raise and lock the 8 foot whip into a vertical position.  And if there is a tree nearby my parking position I sometimes use a 50 to 100 foot length of wire in place of the 8 foot whip.  Tuning occurs extremely quickly, nearly seamless with the operation of the rig.  This arrangement has worked really well for me for the last several years.  The only tough part of the installation was running and securing a length of LMR-400 coax cable the length of my coach (along  the frame).

KF4HR       
'99 Discovery 37V

Bill N

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Re: Ham Radio and RVing
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2014, 02:07:06 PM »
Talk about feeling like a kid on his first day of kindergarten.  I hold an Advanced ham license and have since 1976.  The wife also got her General in 1978.  We had a great old time HFing the world while living in North Dakota - talk about an 'in-demand' place.  But along about 1994, things changed and we downsized and I changed jobs and hamming went by the wayside.  So for the last 20 years we have just kept our licenses current but not had any equipment.  So a couple of weeks ago I decided it might be nice to get a little 2 meter handi-talkie to carry along in the RV.  The little BaoFeng UV5R fit the bill price wise and I ordered it along with a programming cable, speaker mike and 12 volt charger.  Now for the kindergarten part.  Even with the help of John Canfield, this little radio has bumfuzzled me to the max.  I have installed Chirp to help and found it informative in many areas but not enough for my 20 year absence.  Never got the programmer cable to work (keeps saying the radio is not talking to it), so I dived into manually programming the thing.  Looked up what I could find for local repeaters and manually programmed in a few of them and the weather channel.  Some how or other the local police channel came already programmed.  So, like a good beginner, I listened few days and noticed that I was really only hearing one 70cm repeater but it is evidently a linkup of several repeaters because I am hearing transmissions from over 400 miles away.  Yesterday, got up my nerve and put out a call on that repeater and............nothing - no repeater tail and no response.  Tried the other ham repeaters I had programmed with the same results.  Figured it was a weak signal - handi-talkie with short antenna inside a house using 4 watts.  So, on my visit to the doctor, I brought the HT along and tried it within a block or two of a known repeater for the one that is linked to several states.  Same result - NADA.  Back to the drawing board and look at all the YouTube videos, read the Chirp site again, try reprogramming and then ....box it up and sell it.  Thankfully less than $50 invested in the whole setup.  I built a Heathkit 2 meter rig back in the 70s and it was simple to operate - had offset but none of this tone (CTCSS) or other acronyms that I do not understand and I think some of that is what is muddling my mind.  Not asking for help - just know that 20 years on the wagon is about 15 too many.
Bill & Joan N in Missouri
USAF (Ret)
2002 Winnebago Adventurer 35U
Workhorse W22, 8.1L Chevy V8
2013 Chevy Sonic Toad
Furbearers:  Heidi-17(Forever), Grace-10 & Squeak-4, Winnie - 6 months

Lowell

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  • Posts: 1950
Re: Ham Radio and RVing
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2014, 02:45:18 PM »
Wow Bill, that's a lot of radio problems.  I'm still new to Ham.  I have a Yaesu FT-60 HT and it works well on both 2 meter and 70 cm.  I also have a Kenwood  tm-281 mobile on 2 meter.  I recently built a J-pole antenna from 1/2 copper pipe and put that up on the roof of my house on the old TV antenna mast.  Happily, I can hit quite a few repeaters and with the repeater links in Arizona, can talk and listen to people all across the state.  Hope you have better luck with your radio.
Lowell

2005 Cherokee28A TT
pulled by 2009 Dodge 1500 Crew Cab 4X4
KF7YET

Tempe, Arizona

Bill N

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Re: Ham Radio and RVing
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2014, 03:03:18 PM »
Thanks Lowell but it's really not problems with the radio - at least not any that any up-to-date ham could not overcome.  It  all starts with that loose screw behind the PTT button.  But while it's a Chinese radio, a lot of the English lingo I am reading about how to program it and how the system works in general are what muddies the waters for me.  I will get it figured out I am sure.  One thing I have not done yet is contact any local hams to see what the layout is in this area.  We moved here a few years ago but never got into the local ham scene.  I will look up some online and make a call or two to see if I can get some hands on help.  Good luck in your hamming.  73.
 
Bill & Joan N in Missouri
USAF (Ret)
2002 Winnebago Adventurer 35U
Workhorse W22, 8.1L Chevy V8
2013 Chevy Sonic Toad
Furbearers:  Heidi-17(Forever), Grace-10 & Squeak-4, Winnie - 6 months

inscop

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  • Will patrol border for food!
Re: Ham Radio and RVing
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2014, 04:10:38 PM »
Well, you're smarter than I was.  I let my license lapse and I was a code-type general class (former N5QPM).  My downfall was getting interested in computers.  Methinks that the sub-audible code to key up the repeater is your problem.  I thought I saw something about Missouri at the bottom of your post.  I found a page on a repeater website that has email contacts on it, and those guys might be able to help:

http://www.missourirepeater.org/mrc-officers/

I also found a BUNCH of programming stuff, including videos for your handheld:  https://www.google.com/#q=baofeng+uv5r+programming
Rig: 2014 Forest River FR3
Furry non-verbal son:  Coqui, the Wonder Dog
Alpine, CA

Lou Schneider

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Re: Ham Radio and RVing
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2014, 05:16:35 PM »
The thing you're missing is the CTCSS (Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System), the subaudible tone that unlocks the repeater's receiver.

Commercial repeaters use CTCSS to allow different groups to use the repeater without one group being heard by the others.  Each group has it's own CTCSS frequency which is used both on transmit and receive, and the receivers only respond when they hear the proper CTCSS tone from the repeater.

Hams use CTCSS only on the repeater's receive side, so you have to program the correct frequency into your transmitter.  It's purpose is to keep the repeater from keying on miscellaneous noise, accidental transmissions, etc.  You can find the CTCSS frequency from the repeater owner, or it's included as part of the repeater's listing in the ARRL Repeater Handbook and most online sources.

You can enter the Transmit CTCSS tone in CHIRP, or you can do it manually from the Baofeng's keypad.

To enter it manually, press the MENU button and the radio will say "Menu" with the display arrow pointing to the top line of the display.  Advance to Menu #13 using the up and down arrow keys or by pressing 1-3.

The top line of the display will say T-CTCS (Transmit CTCSS).
The bottom line of the display will show the current CTCSS frequency or OFF if none is programmed.

To change the CTCSS, press MENU to move the arrow to the bottom row of the display.  The radio will say "CTCSS". Use the arrow keys to scroll through the CTCSS frequencies until you find the one the repeater needs.

Press MENU again, the arrow will move to the top row and the radio will say "Confirm"  This is actually "Confirmed", the radio has accepted the change.  Press EXIT to leave the menu and you should be good to go.

Confirm your Receive CTCSS is off by going to Menu #11 - it should say R-CTCS and OFF.  If not, change it in the same way as the T-CTCS.

After you're done, you can LOCK all of the front panel buttons including the keypad by pressing the # key for 3 seconds.   A little key will appear in the display next to the Battery icon and the radio will say "Lock".  The side buttons (FM (Call), PTT, Flashlight) still work normally.  Press # again for 3 seconds to unlock the radio.

More information about CTCSS can be found here:  http://wiki.radioreference.com/index.php/Continuous_Tone-Coded_Squelch_System

« Last Edit: March 06, 2014, 05:54:18 PM by Lou Schneider »

Bill N

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Re: Ham Radio and RVing
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2014, 08:05:13 PM »
Lou, with that post you have solved my problems.  I knew it had to be something with those CTCSS tones.  The problem was I have been programming the tone on the Receive frequency (Menu #11) instead of Transmit (Menu #13).  What I did not know is the the tone should be set on the transmit frequency.  It appears all else is correct as everything else I programmed is correct and I am now hitting a nearby repeater but since it has a member net going, I will wait until it clears to make my first voice contact in 20 years.  Thanks again Lou.  Finally, something has gone right this week.
Bill & Joan N in Missouri
USAF (Ret)
2002 Winnebago Adventurer 35U
Workhorse W22, 8.1L Chevy V8
2013 Chevy Sonic Toad
Furbearers:  Heidi-17(Forever), Grace-10 & Squeak-4, Winnie - 6 months

Lou Schneider

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Re: Ham Radio and RVing
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2014, 09:17:24 PM »
Fantastic!  Glad I could help.

N7LOU

Bill N

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Re: Ham Radio and RVing
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2014, 09:54:13 PM »
Just one more note Lou.  I watched a couple of YouTube videos on setting the frequencies and both of them showed setting both the receive and transmit CTCSS with the same tones.  Minor thing I guess because the one frequency I set does now work.  Funny thing was the lady on one of the videos gave a very clear explanation but did not seem to know how to program her BaoFeng to speak English so the thing responded in Chinese to her every command.  Menu 14 is handy to make that Chinaman learn English quickly. ;D
Bill & Joan N in Missouri
USAF (Ret)
2002 Winnebago Adventurer 35U
Workhorse W22, 8.1L Chevy V8
2013 Chevy Sonic Toad
Furbearers:  Heidi-17(Forever), Grace-10 & Squeak-4, Winnie - 6 months

Lou Schneider

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Re: Ham Radio and RVing
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2014, 10:14:57 PM »
The only time you need CTCSS on receive is if the repeater is carrying multiple groups that don't want to hear each other's conversations.   That's true in the commercial world where several companies may rent space on the same repeater - the receive CTCSS keeps the other group's traffic out of their radios.

The Baofeng looks to be a commercial radio that's been slightly modified for the ham market.  In fact, in the US it's also Part 90 certified for use on commercial frequencies.

The only tricky part to manually programming the Baofeng is using the memory channels.  Most HTs save transmit and receive frequencies together.   Baofeng requires you to enter the transmit and receive frequencies separately when programming a memory channel.

Here's a couple of points to remember.  You program the memories by entering the frequency into the TOP row, then going to Menu 27 to save frequency to a memory channel.  The first pass into an empty Memory Channel sets that memory to Simplex (same transmit and receive frequencies).  The radio will respond "Receive Frequency".  Enter the transmitting frequency and save again to the same channel (Menu 27), the radio responds "Transmitting Frequency" and you've entered the transmit frequency.

Make sure the CTCSS frequencies are correct first (Menu 11 and 13) as they will be saved in the memory.

Then go to Menu 28 (Del-Ch) and make sure the destination memory is empty.  If that memory channel is empty, you won't get a voice response when you confirm the Delete. 

Now do the two passes on Menu 27 to set the Receive and Transmit memories.

It's a bit of a pain, but even so the UV5R has to be about the best bang for the buck out there.

Amazon has a wide range of reasonably priced accessories for the Baofeng.   One of the best things you can do is change out the antenna - there's one that's about 7" long that makes a marked improvement over the stock antenna.  Or you can get a mag mount antenna for your car, etc.

Or get a Reverse-SMA to BNC adapter and connect the Baofeng to any conventional ham antenna.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2014, 10:52:02 PM by Lou Schneider »

Lowell

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Re: Ham Radio and RVing
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2014, 10:42:57 PM »
While I understand what you are saying Lou, I found it best for me to purchase the programing software and do the programing on my PC.  I was making too many errors programing my radios using the buttons.
Lowell

2005 Cherokee28A TT
pulled by 2009 Dodge 1500 Crew Cab 4X4
KF7YET

Tempe, Arizona

Lou Schneider

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Re: Ham Radio and RVing
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2014, 10:47:35 PM »
True, but Bill said he couldn't get the programming cable to work.   Neither could I, so I learned how to program the radio manually.  It's not that hard, especially if you aren't already used to programming other HTs.

 

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