Thursday, October 21, 2010

More Amateur Radio links and info

The basic Amateur Radio Licence level is Technician. It allows you 70CM (UHF), 2M (VHF), and 6M...and not much else.

The VHF and UHF radio/antenna install isn't too difficult of a deal, pretty straight forward.

However in the HF (shortwave, 6M on up) range, antenna design and installation becomes a large factor in your ability to get contacts.

I decided to move on up to the HF range, so I am working on getting my General licence to many more HF bands (not all but most).

I am also researching antenna design and installation.

For now I only plan on installing a Transceiver in my truck, so I need an antenna that can handle the mobile environment. The standard compromise antenna is a 'screwdriver'. Essentially an adjustable coil antenna. I said a compromise, because antenna design is based around the wavelength you are operating on...for example 10M means the wavelength is around 10 Meters long. So a full wavelength antenna is 32 feet long...a bit large for a vehicle...even a 1/4 wave antenna is 8' long. The 'screwdriver' antenna coil is tightly wound wire to give you that length in a small package.

Within the 'screwdriver' style, there are 4 big brands, High Sierra, Hi-Q, Tarheel, and Scorpion. There are fans of all the brands, I won't get into that.

I want a 'screwdriver' that is more compact, so I won't break it off if I drive my truck into a parking garage etc. That leaves the High Sierra Sidekick, and the Little Tarheel HP, and the Scorpion Shorty.

Now the screwdriver part of these antennas is the coil is motorized and that is what makes it adjustable for the different bands. So the hard part is how to adjust that coil to the best position to match the radio and frequency. So you need a controller.

There are 2 big brands (other than what the antenna companies include) Turbo Tuner, BetterRF. Both of those brands interface with the radio to correctly tune the antenna.

As far as radios go...I have narrowed it down to the Kenwood TS-480SAT, with the Icom IC-706MKIIG as a very close second (or the IC-7000 if I was rich).

For antenna I am looking at the High Sierra Sidekick, and the Turbo Tuner to control it.

So that is the equipment...but again, HF setups require some work to get the maximum operation out of that investment.

Alan R. Applegate (K0BG) has a ton of info on his website on antenna choosing, install, wiring, etc. If you are installing an HF system you MUST read through his site.

Hank Breedlove has a machine shop and makes some nice hardware that you might need in your antenna install. Personally I am looking at the EZ Over Antenna Mount & Quick Disconnect.

BTW, if you are planning to buy something Amateur Radio related...then visit the reviews at

Finally, a friend of mine is planning to launch a balloon to space (or near space) loaded with cameras and an amateur radio setup with an Arduino board running APRS.

That sparked my curiosity so I found a couple of web sites...BEAR and ARHAB. The ARHAB site has a list of all the future balloon releases and links to the project with tracking or video info. Both sites list the hardware they are launching. But a bunch of it is sold here Argent Data Systems.

...hours go by...

So I was trying to find info about using the D710 and the 480SAT together in a cross band repeater setup...

And I come across A site full of hardware mods to radios...
Like this one that extends the transmitter frequency bands of the TS-480.

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