February was a busy month for my car and mobile ham station! I mentioned last month that I did not complete my station overhaul and tower project in time to participate in the January VHF contest. The pressure to finish the job was eased, but only a little. I was invited to take my mobile station to HamCation in Orlando, FL to display it with Emergency Communications (EmComm) vehicles. With a plan to leave Virginia on the Tuesday before the show so that I could visit friends along the way, I still needed to finish the overhaul and make the car show-ready as weather allowed. Sure, HamCation is not a car show, but I still wanted everything to be ready for a good exhibition! Continue reading
Overhaul Phase 3: Amps, Feed Lines, and January VHF Contest
I had shared that the amplifiers I was shopping had been on perpetual back-order since 2020. The supplier continually moved the availability back another few months each time that their expected ship date approached. I found another brand of amps that is arguably better. However, I lack confidence in their follow-through since they haven’t responded to e-mails or catalog requests, seldomly answer their phone, and their website’s pricing info is sorely out of date. As luck would have it, I tripped over a deal on a used Mirage B-5018-G 160-watt 2m amplifier at HRO and made a new plan. Continue reading
Rooftop Antenna Tower w/Rotator!
If you’ve been watching my site, then you’re aware that I’ve been slowly building a VHF contest Rover. I’m documenting my process on my new “Rover” page. My coverage there is brief; so, this entry will share more details about the project. “What is a rotator?,” you ask. Most are familiar with vertical whip antennas, which have omnidirectional radiation patterns. Directional beams allow operators to focus their emissions in a specific direction. Some Rovers use a temporary mast that’s set up at each operating position and then pointed by hand; others mount a permanent mast and then steer their vehicle to point the beam. A more sophisticated approach that’s adapted from home equipment includes the use of a rotator, which is a motorized device which points the antenna array in the direction that’s chosen by the operator. They can even be used while the vehicle is in motion. Continue reading
I receive a lot of compliments regarding the level of detail and workmanship on my electronics panel. However, something interesting happens over the course of time as equipment is either added or changed, in this car as well as two previous cars: The addition of new power feeds, control cables, and coaxial feed lines often winds up detracting from my clean installation and can eventually contribute to a convoluted mess, especially in areas that are hidden from plain view. For example, the compartments under my “rear seat delete“ have become catch-all spaces for leftover cable that I didn’t take the time to organize. Over time, that area has become a bit of a rat’s nest. It’s long past-due for an overhaul. Continue reading
Eurofest Maggie Valley with Growing Comms Exhibit
A few weeks ago, I shared an update which shared recent amateur radio activity as well as my plan to attend more car shows with my communications exhibit. Eurofest at Maggie Valley, NC was easily the largest VW show on my schedule. Its distance from my home was far enough to warrant extending the trip to add other destinations along the way. I added a run on the Tail of the Dragon as well as three Parks on the Air (POTA) activations. My only concern about this trip was a weekend forecast with rain and thunderstorms. I decided to take a chance! Continue reading
Adapting the Factory Antenna Hole to NMO
When it comes to automobiles and ham radio, there are those who will do whatever it takes to make their radio station operate at its best and those who will compromise the radio’s performance for cosmetic reasons. With my Mk3, my line leaned a little more toward radio performance since the car was older and had more of a utilitarian look. Here’s a photo of my Mk3’s “antenna farm.” I didn’t want to cut a hole in my roof; but the trunk lid was fair game since it’s a replaceable part. My GTI does not have a horizontal trunk lid. That left the roof as my only option with a ground plane. I’m unwilling to cut holes in the roof. Instead, I chose to find a way to use the existing hole in the roof. Continue reading
Ham Radio Updates
I’ve been neglectful, but busy. I’ve enjoyed making YouTube videos and publishing every week. However, spending so much time making videos meant that the writing on my website had fallen behind; plus, the more time I spend creating, the less time I spend actually DOING the things that inspire content. So, I took a break from publishing so that I could actually DO some things. I’ve said it before: My content will follow my interests. Since 2020, I’ve taken a deeper dive into ham radio than I ever imagined for myself. I’ve shared some details on a dedicated page, but my subscribers are only informed when I publish “posts,” not “pages.” So, here’s an update… Continue reading
My First POTA Road Trip
I’ve been doing a lot of upgrades to my amateur radio setup. The year 2020 drove many social changes. In my case, I dove more deeply into ham radio. I’ve been enjoying my local club’s daily “Coffee and Radio Net,“ working a little HF, and building a contesting “Rover” setup for occasional VHF contesting. But one pursuit that I’ve been enjoying on a small scale is Parks on the Air, or POTA. Some hams love POTA, some hate it, and others are indifferent. POTA is not my lifeblood, but I do enjoy it. Continue reading
Orion-Tr Smart 12|12-30 360-Watt DC-DC Charger
A car’s alternator is NOT appropriate for charging LiFePo4 batteries. First, it’s output voltage is not quite correct; nor, is it intended to charge two batteries (starter and aux) with differing chemistries at the same time. Next, and perhaps more important, lithium batteries will charge at far higher currents than a standard alternator should supply. My particular LiFePo4 BMS will gladly take as much as 120 amps of charge current; others can take 200 amps or more. That can lead to overburdening the alternator and even starting a fire under the hood! My goal was to find a solution that would adjust the charge voltage, limit charging current, and isolate the lithium battery from my starter battery. Continue reading
100-Ah Lithium Iron Phosphate Secondary Battery
This year is the first time in many years that I spent a lot of time using my ham radios. As much as I like to drive, operating on the HF bands often requires log work, especially during contests or “Worked All States” network sessions. Logging while driving is unsafe, especially at night when most HF nets occur. Spending an hour or two on the radio while parked is taxing on the starter battery; plus, I don’t like to idle the engine for extended periods to maintain the battery charge. What’s worse is that I had wired-in a bypass switch to activate my electronics panel while parked. I’ve had a few occasions where I accidentally left that switch in its “bypass” position and drained the starter battery overnight. I needed a better solution! Continue reading
Scorpion SA-680 Black Widow 10-80m Antenna
I had a long weekend commute on quiet highways from 2006-2009. Surfing the HF bands was a great way to help the drive pass. I was using a Yaesu ATAS-120A at the time. Performance-wise, it can be described as “adequate, but not great.” With my Yaesu FT-857D, tuning the ATAS was as simple as pressing a “TUNE” button… or what could be called an “EASY” button. 😉 I made some distant contacts with that antenna, even toward the bottom of the solar cycle. I took a break from HF when I was stationed closer to home; my interest in ham radio comes and goes. Eventually, I decided I wanted a better antenna. Some say the Scorpion SA-680 is the best mobile HF antenna money can buy. I decided to find out. Continue reading
KE4WMF.com has long been a domain which points to a landing page on my main website at StealthGTI.com. I’ve had amateur radios (ham radio) in my cars since 1995. However, THE CARS have been the focus on my websites. Yes, my ham radios and other electronics projects are featured there, but amateur radio always took a back seat to the cars. The year 2020 brought about a lot of changes for everyone! For me, that led to a deeper dive into amateur radio… MUCH deeper!
I’m not sure how often I will blog or create videos about my ham radio pursuits. Still, I’m creating enough ham-related content for me to justify giving KE4WMF.com its own space. Although this entry is dated August 1, 2022, I’m typing this entry on January 17, 2023 and have backdated it so that it will appear first, chronologically. I’ve copied a few ham related posts from StealthGTI.com so that this site would have a logical start. This particular mobile station has progressed A LOT since 2020. I chose to launch this new website starting with the major overhaul that I undertook in December. I hope you enjoy following my journey!
Thanks for Visiting!