Putting an HF transceiver in a car is often viewed as a black art. People talk about the difficulty of getting a good RF ground, RFI from the engine and other car systems, and generally about how difficult it is to do a good job. The truth is that it doesn’t have to be that hard. With some care and a little effort, it’s actually easy to put together an effective mobile HF setup.
Chuck, AA8VS, stands as an impressive example of what can be done on a very simple basis. Chuck wanted to work HF in the car to and from work, but his special problem was that he used leased cars and could not damage the car in any way. Chuck used his existing SG-2020 (“ … a great little rig … “) and looked very carefully at tuning, deciding finally on an SGC Smartuner as well. The real problem was to find a mounting that wouldn’t cause harm to the vehicle. He experimented with magnetic mounts, but they kept falling off. Finally, a friend suggested a workable solution to “ … fasten the tuner to a board and clamp the board to the trunk lid …”.
Chuck worked to get the Smartuner as close to the antenna feed point as possible. He also moved the RF ground to the coupler RF ground connection and found that he had “ … much better stability on low bands for tuning.”
So how does it all work? Exceptionally well from Chuck’s report. “I like to work 75 SSB at 4:30 AM where there are some great guys in a net that runs there who do not mind lower power folks.” He’s tested his hamsticks on his car and found that “ … the 75-meter ham stick lets me check into my CW net on 80, SSB on 75 and I have worked some folks on 40, 30, 20, and 17. 20 and 17 load OK, but I suspect the efficiency could be better because I do not get 599s … But 80,75, and 40 is a good workable setup.” With his 40 meter hamstick, “ … it works 40, 30, 20, and 17 meter bands but the antenna [in a past life] has been damaged in a fall off vehicle.” His 20 meter hamstick “ … tunes 40, 30, 20, and 17 and I have gotten decent reports on this one. In fact on the way to Indianapolis I checked into the [GM] Firebird net at 7.277.5, which runs 6 days a week at 13:00 EST time. Got good solid 58 and 59 from down south and east coast.”
Gary Mitchelson, N3JPU sent us some pictures of his installation which varies somewhat from a standard QMS installation. Gary said that he, “ … elected to do away with the suction cup and straps and hard mount it directly to my roof rack. I used a set of Thule "Clamp-ons" that were made to mount Kayak and Baskets to existing roof-racks. The suction cup holes were used to attach the QMS to the roof rack.”
Gary did a great job of turning the QMS into a more permanent installation. The roof rack mounting looks good and is very flexible. Gary tells us that “For stationary use I can replace the SG-307 whip with a 100' of kink free wire attached to a 3/8x24 adapter which will turn the mobile into a much better performing portable station. I have additional ground wires with alligator clips to enhance the ground.”
All things considered, both of these installations were very well executed. Chuck may have saved some time and effort by using SGC’s QMS (Quick Mount System) and could then operate on all bands with only one antenna. However, these are both examples of how good mobile HF is not only possible, but fairly easy to acheive.
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