Home Forums Truck Camper Adventure Forum Ham Radio for Truck Camper thread

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    • #44347
      Joel
      Participant

      I wanted to start a ham radio thread to discuss what ham radio equipment people are using in their rig, how it’s installed and provide answers to ham radio related questions.

      I’m relatively new to the ham world. I’ve been licensed since July of 2019. I got into ham radio specifically to be able to communicate when camping in remote areas. Over the last year, I have installed 2 radios in the camper and built several portable antennas. My HF radio is a Yaesu FT-450, which covers 160 to 6 meters. I also have an LDG YT-1200 antenna tuner. For HF antennas, I have a vertical, center loaded multiband antenna that works on 80, 40 and 20 meters. I also have a 20 meter wire dipole that, with the antenna tuner, will tune up on 80, 40 and 20. I also have a Yaesu TM-V71 for 2 meters. I usually hang a Jpole antenna in a tree for 2 meters. I installed 2 coax feed throughs so I can operate HF and 2 meters from inside the camper (I usually operate outside however). For power, I installed a Rig Runner Power Pole distribution block. Power Poles are a great standard to use for 12 V power. The distribution blocks can get expensive, but the crimp on connectors are very affordable.

      I have only been out camping with this setup one time, but I made multiple contacts, the farthest being Canada (this was from Spruce Knob Lake, WV using the 20m dipole antenna). Based on the operating I’ve been doing from home (contacts as far as Australia using the same radio), I have high confidence that I will be able to communicate from anywhere in the US.

      Feel free to post any questions you have about my installation or ham radio in general. I’ll do my best to answer them.

      Joel

    • #44352
      Mello Mike
      Keymaster

      I need to get off my duff and get my license. Being a retired Navy Communications Officer, I have an extensive background in HF (Shortwave) comms. Seems like we have several hammy’s who read TCA.

      We might have to have a Ham Radio class at the next TCA rally in February.

    • #44407
      Joseph Reeves
      Participant

      I’ve been bringing my handheld 5 watt tri-band with us on our trips for the past few years. A Nagoya UT-72 mag mount antenna adds some distance for transceiving.

      Using 52 call each day of travel — probably 150 days in the past two years — has resulted in 1, yes 1 response. I can hit repeaters in a lot of places, but that’s not as much fun as old school analog.

      My experience in off grid communication started with a Sat phone for our long kayak trips in Baffin and our previous home in Southeast Alaska. That was replaced with a SPOT when the satellites were all moved to assist communication during the Iraq invasion — Alaska got 10 minutes of iffy reception per hour. VHF was more reliable.

      Over the years cell towers were being placed along the Inside Passage allowing us to be only a long days paddle — or a longer bushwack up a mountain — from a tower.

      A three-year road trip showed us that one cell provider isn’t going to cover everything from the NWT to Mexico, and since AT&T isn’t that great in the southwest, I got back into amateur radio. The SPOT is still my fall back to let our friends know where we are and we aren’t dead yet. I may explore DMR later this year.

    • #44703
      Joel
      Participant

      If anyone is on HF and would like to try to meet up on the air, let me know. We could pick a time and a frequency and give it a try.

      Joel

    • #45857
      Joel
      Participant

      I built a hamstick dipole during my trip to Road Atlanta last month. There were no trees in the paddock area where I was camping, so I needed something that was self-supporting. Fortunately, my route took me right by Ham Radio Outlet in Milwaukee. I picked up two 20 meter hamsticks and the mount that connected to the two hamsticks and provided a coax connector. I then went to Home Depot and picked up a 22 foot telescoping painters pole. It all went together easily and I extended it and lashed it to the camper jack. With the LDG tuner, I was able to make contacts on 20m and 40m. One of the contacts was to log in to the RV service net. The performance of the antenna was not as good as the wire antenna (as expected), but it did get out. The only thing I would change would be to get a different mast. The painters pole is 8 feet when fully collapsed which is to long to store conveniently in my rig. HRO has heavy duty fiberglass masts that extend farther and collapse to 4 or 6 feet depending on which model you choose.

      As for 2m operation, before I left for the trip, I programmed in a bunch of repeaters in cities that I would be driving through. This worked pretty well and I made several repeater contacts during the trip. I also ran the APRS so the YL could track my progress from her home QTH.

    • #46256
      Mello Mike
      Keymaster

      Very cool.

    • #57465
      Mello Mike
      Keymaster

      Forgot to mention that I finally got my Ham radio license (KK7FKQ). I am installing a mobile ICOM IC-2300H 65 watt radio in my rig as we speak. Look for an article on this install and using 2-meter ham radio comms soon.

    • #57497
      Joel
      Participant

      Way to go Mike! Welcome to the hobby! This is a great time to get into ham radio. The sunspot cycle is on the upswing and propagation is improving. In fact, I just talked to Austrailia on 20 meters. As a technician, you have privileges on 6 meters and 10 meters, so if you find an HF rig and build (or buy) an antenna, you could make some long distance contacts. And in an emergency, you could operate on any band to call for help.

      Do you plan on upgrading to general? That gets you on all the bands and almost guarantees your ability to make contacts from the boondocks (so far I have always been able to make contacts when I hang an antenna while camping).

      Again congrats!

      73,
      Joel KE8MJL

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