I earned my Technician Class Amateur Radio license in 1995 and then upgraded to a General Class license in 2007. I do not have a ham station in my home. I have always been a “mobile-only” operator. My VHF/UHF radios have a respectable range with the use of repeaters and even the Internet. Repeaters receive signals from distant or weak stations, amplify them, then retransmit the signal for greater range. Technologies such as D-STAR and System Fusion enable an amateur radio operator’s signal to be carried to distant locations via the Internet. I’ve made nearly effortless contact with stations in Europe with just five watts and a mobile hotspot using D-STAR. My HF radio provides the ability to communicate worldwide via “sky waves” enabled by the atmosphere. My car packs a lot of capability, which is my ongoing goal.
Related to the ID-5100A, I added a DV-Mega to give me private access to the D-STAR network. The DV-Mega is a mezzanine circuit board with a UHF transceiver that fits in a Raspberry Pi3 (RPi3) microcomputer. I run an older image called “D-STAR Commander” which allows me to use RF commands to execute various D-STAR and RPi3 functions. I use an Orbic Speed 5G mobile hotspot and a direct Ethernet connection to provide Internet access to the RPi3. With an Internet connection, the digital signal from my ID-5100A or handheld ID-51 is sent to other D-STAR stations worldwide via the D-STAR network.
Later, I became interested in VHF/UHF contesting. ARRL’s “Limited Rover” category works within the 6m, 2m, 1.25m, and 70cm bands, or 51, 144, 232, and 432 MHz. Bringing my old FT-857D out of the box was easily the least expensive way for me to get into VHF/UHF contesting. I still need a 222MHz transverter to maximize my success, but the FT-857D has my foot in the door! An additional benefit to having it reinstalled: It can serve as a back-up radio for either of the other two, with the exception of D-STAR capability.
Let’s face it: Most of our friends, family, and acquaintances are NOT into ham radio. When convoying in separate cars, it’s fairly convenient to just use cell phones for short discussions. But, for three or more cars, the ability to have group discussions or convey directions is fantastic. That’s where the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) band shines. GMRS shares some frequencies with the Family Radio Service (FRS) bands. However, GMRS allows the use of external antennas and more power, which greatly extends the range of communication. I have a Midland MXT275, which features an “all-in-handset” control head.
My “antenna farm” has become complex enough to warrant its own page. Feel free to learn more about my growing list of antennas on this page. There, you will see how I cover frequencies ranging from 3.5 MHz to 928 MHz using FM, SSB, and digital voice modes. Oh, I cannot forget about the cellular signal amplifier! That extends my cellular coverage and Internet connection while on long trips.
The photo album below may show installation details that were not evident above, namely the 100-Ah lithium battery that I built and its DC-DC charger, both of which enable me to run my transceivers for extended periods while parked. I’ve shared details about the battery on my 12V power distribution network page. I have addressed the physical attributes of the electronics panel on a separate page, too. All are complex enough to warrant their own pages. Feel free to ask any questions about my rather unusual setup. See a video presentation on my YouTube channel.
EQUIPMENT QUICK LIST:
Icom ID-5100A D-STAR VHF/UHF Transceiver
Yaesu FT-891 HF Transceiver
Yaesu FT-857D HF/VHF/UHF Transceiver
Midland MXT-275 MicroMobile 15W GMRS Transceiver
Mirage B-5018-G 160W Amplifier w/Remote Control for 2m
Topeak Communications PA-80U 80W Amplifier for 70cm
Orbic Speed 5G Mobile Hotspot
WeBoost Cellular Signal Booster
Raspberry Pi DV-Mega D-STAR Access Point w/D-STAR Commander Image
Electro-Magwave NMO Combination Mount w/GPS Antenna
Diamond NR770HBNMO or NR73BNMO Multi-band Antennas
Yaesu ATAS-120A Active Tuning Antenna System
M2Inc Horizontal Loop Antennas for 6m, 2m, and 70cm (SSB/FT8 Ops)
Directive Systems “Rover Special” Yagis for 2m and 70cm*
Par Electronics SM-50 Stressed Moxon for 6m*
Yaesu G-450ADC Rotator System w/22-inch “Micro-Tower”*
Scorpion SA-680BW Mobile HF Antenna w/W8UZZ Caphat*
MFJ-1924 Screwdriver Antenna Controller*
Comet Diplexers for Antenna Sharing
Heil Pro7 Headset (busy times while parked only)
*Occasional Mounting Only
X2Power SLI48AGMDP Premium Group 48/H6 AGM Battery
Stinger 4-gauge OFC Wiring to Trunk; 8-gauge afterwards
APRS World APO3 Voltage-Controlled Switch
100-Ah Fortune LiFePo4 Battery w/120-Amp BMS
Orion-Tr 360W DC-DC Charger by Victron Energy Systems
N8XJK Super Booster 40-amp Voltage Regulator
Wagan 400-watt Pure Sine Wave Voltage Inverter