HAM Radio VHF/UHF opinions and suggestions for mobile comms

Discussion in 'VA/DC/MD- Capital Land Cruiser Club' started by StaleAle, Jan 29, 2018.

  1. StaleAle

    StaleAle MUD-aholic SILVER Star

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    With so many newly licensed Technician Class radio amateurs in the club, I thought it might be useful to post a discussion of what things to consider when selecting equipment for your tow vehicle, trailer queen, overland project vehicle or daily driver/weekend fun machines.

    1. Don't get carried away buying one or more radios until you have assessed your real needs
    2. The following points are made in the context that CLCC uses UHF frequencies in the GMRS band to communicate between vehicles and base camp while on the trail
      • If you drive your wheeling rig on the road on a regular basis, consider having both UHF and VHF capabilities, either with two separate radios or a single dual band radio; you never know when you'll need to reach out for help or to assist someone else
      • If your rig is a trailer queen, you probably don't need both UHF and VHF unless you are driving well off the beaten path out west, where you need the added range of VHF; that said, many event organizers use VHF frequencies if you tend to go to various Land Cruiser events and wheel with non-CLCC members
      • Tow vehicles should have both VHF and UHF, but if cost is a concern, VHF is probably more useful for most long distance travel situations; you can always use your CLCC HT for comms between convoy vehicles
        • consider the possibility of buying two mounting brackets, power harnesses, and co-axial cable/antenna mounts so you move the radio between the tow vehicle and the trailer queen; or take security measures
    • Dual band (VHF/UHF) radios are convenient, but significantly more expensive than a VHF and your club UHF HT or a used commercial UHF radio that is reprogrammed for the CLCC frequencies
      • I run 40 watt mobile UHF radios in both the FJ40 and the 4Runner; these radios cost me less than $50 each including the antennas.
      • I picked up an almost new used VHF radio at a Hamfest for half what a new one costs
    • If you are allowed to drill only one antenna hole into perfectly finished sheet metal :princess:, I suggest going with a dual band radio; easier to mount only one radio, reduces clutter in the cockpit of two mics and two controls, and most dual banders have removable control heads that greatly expand your installation options
    • I have both ICOM and Kenwood radios and I find the Kenwood radios to be much easier to program
    • take your time and do the radio install right the first time, making all connections as robust as possible; you don't want a flaky, unreliable radio
     
  2. Von Hayek

    Von Hayek

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    Great advice.
     
  3. fjdemon

    fjdemon SILVER Star

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    What about just getting a handheld if you plan to always be in a group or for hiking?
     
  4. emorth

    emorth

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    Perfect!
     
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  5. apinti

    apinti

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    Just picked up a new TYT9800 transceiver. It covers VHF/UHF and the GMRS freq the club is using. It is a Chinese knock off of a very popular Yaesu 8900, but it was cheep ($200) and at 50w should be plenty powerful for mobile comm. Just order a dual band antenna with extend GMRS freq cover and a NMO connector . All together with be less than $ 300 .
     
  6. emorth

    emorth

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    I have the 3/4 inch hole saw for anyone brave enough to properly install the NMO antenna mount. Patrick?
     
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  7. apinti

    apinti

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    Is it a dedicated NMO saw or a generic one. I have a set of Greenlee hole saws but I understand that is safer with a NMO saw .
    Btw, I'm getting ready to drill a hole in my perfectly leak proof roof.
     
  8. emorth

    emorth

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    Generic. The only difference is the official NMO hole saws only cut 1/8" deep so you don't drill thru the headliner and they cost $35 - $45.

    Hint: before you drill, slightly center punch where you want to drill, then you will be able to feel the dimple from the punch on the inside of the roof, just to identify where the hole is going to be and make sure there is nothing in the way on the inside.

    Hint #2 If you plan to put the antenna in the center of the roof, drop the interior dome light and see what's up there. If you put the antenna near the dome light you may be able to fish the coax cable using the dome light opening for access, that way you won't have to drop the headliner.

    Hint #3 If you plan to put the antenna on the back of the roof, make sure the back hatch, if you have one, won't hit the antenna when you lift the hatch.

    Hint #4 Don't put the connector on the end of the coax cable until you have fished it thru all the nooks and crannies to the radio.

    Ask me how I know all of this??? :bang:

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. apinti

    apinti

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    What i meant by dedicated NMO saw is what you have in the picture. Can I borough it? As I said, I have a whole kit but is for industrial application like EMT conduit and I think the size is a bit off.

    Thanks for the tips. I ordered the NMO kit without PL-259 connector, so it will be easier to run. Beside that, I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos on how to properly drill a hole in the roof of your truck without bursting in tears at the same time.:)
     
  10. emorth

    emorth

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    I have the generic hole saw from Home Depot, not the one in the picture. Works for me.
     
  11. apinti

    apinti

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    Got it. I'll check mine to see if it exactly the same size as the connector and let you know.
    Thank Ed.
     
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  12. ID Cowboy

    ID Cowboy

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    Thanks for the class last Saturday and all the great tips, Gents!
     
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  13. OTRAMM

    OTRAMM Supporting Vendor

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    Real men use a plasma cutter to put the hole in the roof!
     
  14. apinti

    apinti

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    I know...but I'm afraid I might have way too much fun with that plasma thing to stop after only one hole.
     
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  15. iptman

    iptman

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    Where's the Unlike button?!
     
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  16. Jakes40

    Jakes40 IH8MUD Poser

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    You can also use a step bit or a knock out kit. But they both require dropping the headliner.

    A hole saw does make the hole a little bigger than its size.
     
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  17. fjdemon

    fjdemon SILVER Star

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    These are the decisions I always hate to make. Nerve racking!
     
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  18. Jakes40

    Jakes40 IH8MUD Poser

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    I can see if I still have a knockout kit. Makes a nice clean hole.
     
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  19. emorth

    emorth

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    Yep!!! Measure at least 64 times before you drill. I like to use a wax pencil (china marker) to make marks on the roof - easy to remove afterwards. Also, drill gently and stop periodically to allow for cool down. You don't want to heat up the metal to the point where the paint blisters. Have a shop vac or air gun handy to remove the metal shards while drilling. They will be hot and can stick to and melt into the paint, especially if it is a new car or new paint job. :bang:

    Rx: When done, drink beer to relieve anxiety!
     
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  20. fjdemon

    fjdemon SILVER Star

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    This just arrived! First impressions are it seems well-made. I did a lot of research and bought from a legit vendor to avoid knock offs. I will be curious to see how it works. I’m guessing it’s going to need an antenna upgrade at a minimum.

    38FCD480-E2EE-4C37-A53B-CDE38BFF0E54.jpeg
     
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