My new ham radio

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Smoky

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A few months ago I began the thread, "Ham radio for my motorhome".  Got lots of good advice and thanks.

Since then I have done a lot of research and finally made my purchase today.

Some of the rigs, like the IC7000 were just to darn expensive for me.

One of the rigs mentioned came in second on my list, and I liked it a lot for my intended purpose.  It was the ICOM 706 Mk2G coupled with the High Sierra vertical (electrically tuned).

Today I operated it side by side with the Yaesu FT-857D and the Yaesu walked out the door with me. 

Both of them are great rigs and it was a tough decision.  One thing I liked about the Yaesu is the way they matched it up with the Yaesu manufactured ATAS-125 electrically tuned vertical.  Instead of a separate control box, the vertical gets its power and signal directly via the antenna coax. The ATAS-125 only works with Yaesu radios because of that special configuration.  I give up 160/80  meters (because of the antenna but the radio is 160 capable) but in return I get a really compact and well integrated antenna.

The transceiver is a dream ...  100 watt (adjustable down to 5 watt) 160-10 meter bands (include the 60 m band: USA version) plus the 6 m, 2 m, and 70 cm bands, SSB, CW, AM, FM, and Digital modes.

Special features include:

Dual VFOs; Split-Frequency operation; Digital Signal
Processing (Bandpass Filtering, Noise Reduction, Auto-Notch, and Microphone Equalizer);
IF Shift; Clarifier (?R.I.T.?); IF Noise Blanker; AGC Fast/Slow/Auto/Off selection; RF Gain
and Squelch control; IPO (Intercept Point Optimization) and a receiver front-end Attenuator;
AM Aircraft reception; AM and FM Broadcast reception; U.S. Weather Band reception;
VOX; Built-in Electronic Keyer with Memories and a Beacon mode; Adjustable CW Pitch;
Automatic FM Repeater Shift (ARS); Built-in CTCSS Encoder/Decoders; ARTS? (Auto-
Range Transponder System); Smart Search? Automatic Memory Loading System; Spectrum
Scope; 200 Memories plus Home Channels and Band-limiting Memories; Alpha-Numeric
Labeling of Memories; Automatic Power-Off (APO) and Time-Out Timer (TOT) functions;
Computer Interface capability; and Cloning capability.

In addition to the electrically tunable antenna I picked up the detached control head (making the Admiral very happy that she only sees a tiny box, a combo mike boom headset (making the Admiral happy she can't hear the noise) and a bencher paddle (the Yaesu has a built in electronic keyer with memory.  Yes I am a CW nut.  I might even pick up a straight key for old time sake, but the damn things sell for about $100.  I remember when Radio shack used to cell a $5 keyer, but very few hams still pound out morse by hand.

Phil, maybe after I get set up, I can have a test sked with you before I go DXing? 

Looks like the next couple of days I will be back on the roof mounting the vertical.  Getting a good ground will be my biggest challenge.  Obvioulsy I will only be operating the rig while parked.  I have enough on my hands driving a big rig, operating CB and running the music media.  The antenna will fold down while underway.

Does anyone know how diplexers work?  The Yaesu has two coax antenna outputs, one for HF and one for VHF/UHF.  But the ATAS-125 antenna can handle both HF and UHF.  I could switch the outputs manually, but I am told if I install a diplexer, both antenna outputs would connect through the diplexer to the antenna without switching.  What is involved in a diplexer, is it a passive device?  How much do they cost?

If I could find out what software is available I might also pick up the computer interface cable.  Looking at the tone mike also in case I get hooked back into UHF/VHF repeater work.
 

Smoky

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LOL Steve!

If the Admiral will give me some free time I hope to get the antenna up tomorrow.  Then I gotta figure out where to tap into a good 12 volt line up in the cockpit.  I don't plan to operate while driving, but the cockpit is the only place left on the coach the Admiral will allow me to have any more electronic toys! :D

I think, since I have 6 cigarette 12 volt outputs up there I may set the output of the rig at 50 watts rather than 100, and run it initially that way.  But to get the full 100 output, I will have to find a 30 amp circuit to tap into, or else wire directly back to the battery compartment.  I have no idea how to run wires from the cockpit back to the batteries, though that would be the most professional way.  I might just have to break down and get a 25 amp power supply and run off AC.  Gads, I got rid of one of those when I went full time!

If I keep this sort of thing up I may end up back in a stick house.  That would be terrible!

Oh, my location is El Mirage, west side of Phoenix.
 

Phil

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Smoky said:
Phil, maybe after I get set up, I can have a test sked with you before I go DXing? 

Smoky,

The Utah Beehive Net is on 7272 KHz daily at 12:30 pm MST.  I try to get on a few minutes prior and a few minutes after the net.  It will be fun to hear the new rig.

Phil
 

Smoky

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Phil:

OK!  I will be on that freq at the appointed time.  If you are around tonight, I might try 40 and 20 meters.

Also what is a good Phoenix repeater or two for me to program in on 2 meters?

The antenna is up and works great on receive.  Have not tried transmit yet.  Listened to 20 meters all afternoon.  I will upload a picture of the antenna later.  It is mounted on the top of my Internet dish.  No obstructions whatsoever. 

When I try transmitting later tonight I will find out if I have a good ground and low SWR.  My wife could not find the antenna when I asked her to look for it.  Thus it passed the Admiralty test.  She was amazed when I finally pointed it out to her.  The small size of the "separated" control head also passed the Admiralty test.  It is no larger than a candy bar, and will easily mount with Velcro on the dash.  She is not happy, though, about the antenna coax and the 12 volt supply wires hanging out the driver side cockpit window.  I was lucky to find a heavy duty straight connection hub to the batteries right under that window in a bay.  Now I have to figure out a way to run the wire from that bay under the driver seat up to the cockpit area.  The coax cable is running along the roof and down to the window.  I am thinking it might be able to go the same access the Direct TV dome wiring has, which ultimately end up in the overhead cabinet over the helm seat.  Any wiring experts are welcome to stop by for a single malt and offer advice or help.

Say, does anyone know how to interface it with a PC?  The Yaesu is CAT capable.  I'd like to get a good and easy to understand logging program.  Are there any other programs worth looking into?  I was disappointed that Yaesu does not have any software, even though they sell the cables.  Kenwood has software on their web site.  Wonder why Yaesu doesn't.  I am also interested in packet and data, but do not know anything about it.  I expect to spend a lot of time on CW.  Bought a Bencher paddle which will take advantage of the built in Yaesu electronic keyer.  I am also in the market for an inexpensive straight key if anyone knows of one.  I'd also love to buy an old fashioned Vibraplex "bug".  I was shocked to see they are still in business, and even more shocked at the prices they go for these days.  My best CW years ago was done on a bug.
 

Phil

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Smoky said:
Also what is a good Phoenix repeater or two for me to program in on 2 meters?

does anyone know how to interface it with a PC?  The Yaesu is CAT capable.

Smoky,

The West Valley 2 meter net is Wednesday at 7pm on 146.700.  The web site is http://www.qsl.net/wvarc/

If you Google Yaesu software you will get lots of options.

Phil
 

Smoky

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Phil:

I had already googled it, but cannot find any company I can trust.? I am hoping some folks I know personally will put me on to software they know about or use.

I am having SWR problems with the antenna.? I believe it is do to poor grounding.? I am trying to decide whether to ground to the outdoor water pipe, or to the chassis frame.? I will tackle that issue in the morning.

What band is best for local work within Arizona?? I am thinking maybe 40 meters?
 

Phil

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Smoky said:
What band is best for local work within Arizona?  I am thinking maybe 40 meters?

40 is great for mid day contacts up to about 1000 miles.  75 is better after dark.
 

Smoky

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Phil:

I was unable to make the beehive net today.  I have been spending a lot of time dealing with the antenna, SWR, and learning how to use the ATAS 120 tuning circuits.  After several days of fooling with it, I am not sure I am going to be happy with the antenna, even though it is sort of a matched pair with the transceiver.  The Yaesu transceiver sends signals over the RF coax to control the length of the vertical. 

I did purchase the 25 amp AC power supply today but have not had a chance to hook it up.  So I am still directly wired to the chassis batteries.

By improving the antenna ground connection today I was able to get a low SWR on 40 and 20, the main bands I am interested in.  But I was not able to raise anyone on SSB.  I have not tried CW yet, because I didn't realize that the Bencher paddle I purchased did not come with wiring and jack.  I will try to pick those up tomorrow.  I have the feeling I am not getting out to well with the ATAS 120 antenna. 

I love the transceiver though, and it will take me years to learn all the features.  I was used to the Kenwood 930s which had a knob for every feature.  The new Yaesu takes some getting used to in order to operate a tiny little box that has just a few knobs and buttons, and does thousands of things with a menu driven screen.

What kind of antenna are you using?  Do you do anything special for grounding?  Do you have to provide any kind of counterpoise?

The other area I forgot all about is RFI.  In an RV park, with closely parked "homes" I could get real unpopular real fast if I don't have a clean signal.  How do you deal with RFI in your park?  Do you use any kind of filtering?

I would find it helpful if any hams here on the forum would list what kind of antennas they are using on their motorhomes for HF, and how they are mounted and grounded.
 

rovinsteve

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Smoky,
I don't know the configuration of your Newmar but the factory told me to connect my radio to the generator cables up front behind the firewall in my 1999 DSDP.  13.4 Volts and big fat cables going back to the batteries--nice!  Anyway, Newmar is familiar with ham radio so give them a call for radio installation questions.

I mounted my IC706-2 on the left side of the driver's footwell and stuck the remote head to the dash with velcro.  Coax and power cables go through an existing hole in the firewall.

Regards,

  --Steve, NO7V
 

Smoky

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Good idea Steve.  My power cables are currently going out the window and into the bay directly under the driver seat.  Big fat cable hub there, but not very elegant looking.  I did go out and buy the power supply.  Since I will only be stationary while operating, I might not do any 12 volt hookup at all.

What kind of antenna are you using and did you ground it and did you construct any kind of counterpoise?  How did you mount it?
 

Phil

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Smoky said:
What kind of antenna are you using?  Do you do anything special for grounding?  Do you have to provide any kind of counterpoise?

Smoky,

I have a 40 meter dipole attached to a pole about 30 feet up.  A heavy copper braid connects the chassis of the MH to an extensive ground system on my lot.  The aluminum awning over my patio is also connected to the ground system.

If you are plugged into park power, the ground wire in the power cord connects your MH chassis to the park ground system.

I have an end fed wire about 80 feet long for 80 and 20.

Phil
 

Phil

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Smoky said:
The other area I forgot all about is RFI.  In an RV park, with closely parked "homes" I could get real unpopular real fast if I don't have a clean signal.  How do you deal with RFI in your park?  Do you use any kind of filtering?

Smoky,

It's impossible to keep all your RF out of close neighbors equipment.  Keep plenty of beer in your fridge and invite the neighbors over often.

Don't operate your radio on ANY freq during prime time TV.  :)

Phil
 

Smoky

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Good advice about prime time TV.  I wonder if I would be OK operating 10 watts QRP CW during prime time?

I got the 110 power supply today, so the power lead out the window is gone.

I don't think I have room for the kind of antennas you have Phil.  But I would be interested to know how you bring your coax into the coach?

I think I am another day away from being on the air, as I want to improve my ground further, and also add some counterpoise.

Also, am wondering if you ground the chassis of your rig, and if so what did you ground it to?
 

Phil

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Smoky said:
I wonder if I would be OK operating 10 watts QRP CW during prime time?
I don't think I have room for the kind of antennas you have Phil.  But I would be interested to know how you bring your coax into the coach?
Also, am wondering if you ground the chassis of your rig, and if so what did you ground it to?

QRP should not be a problem.

A telescoping pole will hold up a 40 meter dipole easily.  Run the ends to a near by cactus.  A flag pole that many RV Forum people use will work just fine as an antenna support.

I have a coax run to the front electrical bay in the MH.  I just open the bay door and plug the external coax in.

I have a chassis ground point on the frame that is accessible when the generator is out.  I connect a heavy copper braid to the external ground system and slide the generator back in.  I also carry a length of braid that can be used as a counterpoise when no other ground connection is available.

I have a small sealed lead acid battery in the front electrical bay that is connected to the large power buss in the MH.  That serves as a power point for the radio equipment.  I use 100 amp breakers to protect the addidional battery and the equipment.

Phil
 

Smoky

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Phil:

Not sure I have room for a 40 meter dipole.  That would be 66 feet 6 inches stretched out.  I fear the Admiral would object considering it ugly.  I'd like to see yours at some point.

At your bay, how do you get the coax into the coach?
 

rovinsteve

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Smoky,

What kind of antenna are you using and did you ground it and did you construct any kind of counterpoise? How did you mount it?

It's nice to have that clean 12V power directly from the batteries to the radio.  I seldom operate HF mobile either but do use the 2 Meter rig (Kenwood TM D700A with aprs) on the road.

My antenna is a BB3 I bought about 1995 and still works very well.  It is the classic screwdriver design, 10-80 Meters and 160 with the add on coil.  I mounted it on the real ladder so that the top of the main tube is at the top of the ladder.  I  have a 10" brass rod on top and run a wire forward to the top of an air conditioner if I want to run mobile but normally I just use it when parked with a 102" whip.

I checked with Newmar and was told the the aluminum strip holding the rubber roof in place is directly connected to the metal superstructure in the coach so I made sure the ladder is grounded to it with an 1" wide aluminum strip and also to the luggage rack rail around the rear of the roof.  In my experience, if your ground reference is big enough, you don't need radials and on-the-air reports seem to tell me that is true.

So far, I have no RFI reports from those parked near me so I think I'm in good stead that way too.  Although, some years ago we stayed in an RV park in Brenda, east of Quartzsite and the park and neighbors were all over me for trashing their TVs--even after I disconnected my antennas to prove them wrong.  After I left, they finally figured out that the park TV cable system was bad (grin).  Hams sure are easy scapegoats.

Regards,

  --Steve, NO7V
  Far Horizons RV park, Tucson, AZ
 

Lou Schneider

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The Yaesu has two coax antenna outputs, one for HF and one for VHF/UHF.  But the ATAS-125 antenna can handle both HF and UHF.  I could switch the outputs manually, but I am told if I install a diplexer, both antenna outputs would connect through the diplexer to the antenna without switching.  What is involved in a diplexer, is it a passive device?  How much do they cost?
A diplexer passes power from each radio to the antenna while keeping it out of the opposite input.  In other words it's a low pass filter on the HF input (to reject the VHF/UHF power) and a high pass filter on the VHF/UHF input (to keep the HF energy out).

Take a look at http://home.datacomm.ch/hb9abx/diplhf6m-vuhf.html for a schematic.

Or, since you won't be using both bands at the same time, just get an A/B selector switch.
 

Phil

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Smoky said:
At your bay, how do you get the coax into the coach?

There are cables running from the front electrical bay up through the floor into the space below the left side console.  I just pushed the coax through next to an exisiting cable.  Also pushed through the power feed wires.

A 40 meter dipole can be considered as 15 feet, make a turn, 15 more feet and make another turn, connect to the center feedpoint, then do 2 more 15 foot runs.  Getting 66 feet of wire in a straight line is difficult in an RV park.  Putting up a zig/zag wire is much easier.

Man is the master, radio is the servant.

Phil
 

Smoky

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Well I added the duplexer (it was labeled duplexer as opposed to diplexer) and it works fine.

Steve:

I have a fiberglass one piece roof, so no aluminum there.  There is an aluminum rain gutter, so I guess I need to call Newmar and see if that is grounded.

What does the wire going to the top of the air conditioner do?

At the moment, I am grounding to the negative battery terminal, since it is in turn attached to the chassis.  anyone see a flaw in that?

I finally did get on 20 meters transmit today and received an S9 report from California.  Nothing fancy, but the S9 indicates I am getting out fine on 20.  I have one 40 meter radial attached running the length of the roof.

I still can;t get a low SWR on 40.  I would VERY much like to get on 40.

 
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