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Dawn Patrol




 
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AJ1G
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« on: September 04, 2017, 09:11:40 AM »

Got up early and headed down to Stonington Point to play a little 40 meter QRP CW with my K1 in the Tacoma this morning.  Caught a pretty sunrise, and lit up the ZL4YL reversebeacon.net  CW skimmer with my CQs pretty well:
 
ZL4YL    AJ1G/M    7004.9   CW CQ    19 dB   24 wpm   1051z 04 Sep

That was the highest SNR received this morning from any skimmer, most were stateside.

Didn't hear any ZLs on the air, heard some VKs, worked WH6R on Oahu. Have notioced that propagation to the Pacific always seems to do well as we approach the fall and spring equinoxes.

Don't know why the thumbnail below is showing upside down.  Never had that happen before...looks correct in preview and when selected.  Well that's how it would look from ZL I guess!  That's just a little solar lens flare to the right of the truck over Watch Hill, RI, not anything real astronomically.





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Chris, AJ1G
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Rick & "Roosevelt"


« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2017, 11:57:02 AM »

Well the pix auto-rightened on my iPad.

Nice natural ground-plane in front of your truck.
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RICK  *W3RSW*
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« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2017, 08:55:51 PM »

Great shot! And a good RF location too.
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AJ1G
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« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2017, 10:16:25 PM »

A few other good seaside locations  for mobile DXing around here are:

Point Judith,RI - parking lot on high bluff just north of the PJ light house.  About 50 feet above the West Passage of Narragansett Bay, great spot to work the Pacific on long path to the east/south east in the late afternoon.

Beaver Tail Point, Jamestown, RI - parking lots on east and west sides of the point, just south of Brown, W1NZR's QTH at the old WW2 Narragansett Bay Harbor Entrance Control Point compound.

Hazard Rocks, Weekapaug (Westerly), RI - parking just above a rocky beach with great shots to the east through west.

Avery Point, Groton CT - Spectacular location with parking along about  a half mile of shoreline about 40 feet above a rocky beach.  Can see from Block Island to Montauk, Gardiner's Island,and Orient Point, NY.  On the UCONN Avery Point campus, open to the public. When I was out there a couple of weeks ago, the Candlewood ARA from the other end of CT was running a FD style special event station on the lawn adjacent to the shoreline for  the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend operating event.
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Chris, AJ1G
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« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2017, 02:32:24 PM »

  I have a 2016 Tacoma, how are you mounting your antenna?? Looks like you are using the channels that run along the each side of your bed and I also wonder what you are doing for a ground plane as your truck like mine has a composite bed.

 I have a lock box on my truck, I made a mount that I attached to the box on the passenger side so I could use a 10 meter or 6 meter vertical. I also bonded to the tuck's cab and bed with 1" braid. I could not get a 40 meter or 20 meter ham sticks to tune but a Outbacker Outreach 500 would tune. It is very heavy and a little wind will cause it to fold over, I've had to put stays on it. I can tune the Outbacker to an acceptable SWR on 20, 40 and 75. Putting a 66 foot radial off the antenna mount really improves the tuning on 75.

 Pictures are my setup in Death Valley last March, worked South Africa on 40, that was a real hoot!!! Also checked into several 75 meter nets


* Radio Setup Pamamint Valley.JPG (302.64 KB, 1024x768 - viewed 27 times.)

* Antenna Mount.JPG (283.23 KB, 1024x734 - viewed 26 times.)

* Bonding Strap.JPG (360.59 KB, 1024x768 - viewed 31 times.)
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AJ1G
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« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2017, 10:27:19 PM »

 I have a 2016 Tacoma, how are you mounting your antenna?? Looks like you are using the channels that run along the each side of your bed and I also wonder what you are doing for a ground plane as your truck like mine has a composite bed.


The hamstick clones are mounted on one of the OEM composite cleats that can be installed in the channel rails.  There is enough "meat" on them to drill them out to take a 3/8" X24 bolt or threaded rod that is topped with a double female 3/8"X24 coupling that the sticks can bolt into.  I have used couplers that I have picked up at Nearfest, and am currently using one that Glenn, N1SNG made up for me from stainless round bar stock that he put a nice set of flats on to take a wrench for applying counter-torque when removing and installing a stick.  I terminated the shield of the coax feed at one of the two bolts in the bed frame just in front of the tailgate below the top of the fender.   The coax feed goes out of the cab through the rubber plugged hole in the floor pan under the drivers seat.  Toyota probably put that hole and a like one under the passenger seat for people adding sub-woofers and other audio equipment.  At the antenna end I installed a small plastic box that houses a transmitter type capacitor that is shunted shunted across the feed point to ground as recommended in the hamstick installation instructions to provide the best match. I use 500 pf on 40 and 80/75 and 150 pf or no  shunt cap at all on 20 meters, and no cap on higher bands. See the attached picture below. BTW, the spacing of those two bolts on the frame just forward of the tailgate are a perfect match with the hole spacing on the old Master Mobile L bracket antenna mounts.  I picked up a pair of those at Nearfest  a few months after I got the truck and put one on each side of the bed to mount sticks.  Eventually though, the original Master Mobile hard plastic base insulators cracked from UV embrittlement, and I switched back to the cleat mounting schemes.

Surprised that you could not get a good match with your sticks on some bands.  I have always been able to, provided that the length of the conductor from the feedpoint to the vehicle ground plane was kept to an absolute minimum. On my earlier attempts at mobile antenna mounting on my old Volvo XC-70 (still have pictures of this on QRZ),  I mounted the antenna on top of a Thule bike carrier pedestal where the nominal 2 feet of the pedestal between the feed point and the body of the car really threw off the matching, especially at higher frequencies. I eventually changed over the XC-70 to use an L bracket attached to the rear roof rack a few inches forward of the left top corner of the rear cargo door.  The feed line coax shield was terminated at a screw on the cargo door frame  just below the feed point, and I had at most 6 inches of coax center conductor up to the stick.  With that installation, I had no trouble matching sticks on any band, including 6 meters.  With the cargo door closed, the ground lead termination was hidden from view.  I also had the plastic  box for the shunt cap in that installation, with the box attached to the roof rack rail at the feed point.  That big Volvo roof made for a great ground plane.  The only problem with the roof rack mounting scheme was that the overall antenna height often resulted in bonking low overhanging tree branches.  I have never needed any guys to keep a hamstick from moving around excessively at any road speed on either the truck or the Volvo, and only broke one stick when I absent-mindedly backed the truck up under a pretty dense apple tree.  For use on the low end of 40 and 80 meters for CW operation, I use extended length stingers, the as-supplied ones generally do not resonate below the bottom of the phone portions of the bands. 

I have not noted any real difference in operating performance between the Volvo with the big roof ground plane and the Tacoma where I am just connected to the left rear fender.  I have not made any attempt to put any additional electrical bonding between the fender and frame/tailgate/cab etc.

I also used the aforementioned floor pan plugged hole to run heavy positive and negative  power supply cables from the battery (fused there on both conductors) for powering my AN/GRC-9 when I run it in the truck, and for eventual  use with a 100W level all mode transceiver.  The little K1 is simply powered at one of the two 12 outlets on the dash.



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Chris, AJ1G
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« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2017, 10:50:01 PM »

  Thanks for the info!! Your truck is a bit different from mine but that gives me a few ideas.

  I was able to find a place on the firewall just right of the master cylinder where I was able to drill a 3/8 hole, install a grommet and run two #8 wires into the back of the cab and put a 45 amp Anderson Powerpole Connector at the end, fused for 30 amps. The positive is on the positive lug off the battery and the negative to convenient unused 12mm threaded hole in the frame right by where the battery ground is.

 I run a coax out the passenger window but need to try and figure how to get a coax through the back of the cab, that may not be easy.


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* Firewall Penetration-1.JPG (311.62 KB, 768x1024 - viewed 23 times.)
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AJ1G
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« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2017, 03:43:59 AM »

Tom, did you look for those two big rubber plugs in the floor under the carpet under each seat?  I first found them from below, they are about an inch in diameter.  I just made a hole in the plug to pass both the power leads to the battery and the antenna coax through and ran them along the frame rails with black tie wraps.  The only hole I had to drill was on the wall of the bedliner behind the small black box at the antenna feed point to bring the coax into the back side of the box.  As far as I know Toyota has put those plugged holes in the floor panfor many years now.  I always have avoided drilling the firewall since my first attempt at that in our 97 Taurus wagon end up in me drilling through the back side of the power brake vacuum canister, which then had to be replaced.
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Chris, AJ1G
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« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2017, 04:53:23 PM »

  Back in the day I was on a team that would go into a utility company service center and on a weekend replace/install a 100 radios in vehicles. I also spent a few years servicing mobile radios for utility crews from SF down to Santa Barbara County.

  I spent a lot of time looking for a good place to penetrate the firewall then drilled a SMALL hole just enough to penetrate the sheet metal, then I took an antenna whip and gently pushed it into the hole. The cab side of the firewall has a thick felt like liner, about a 1/4 inch thick, I could feel the end of the antenna whip. I then cut a  slit in the felt insulation and pushed the antenna whip through. Now the hole was located on the cab side of the firewall, away from anything I might harm. If you find that this is not a good location, you hit an obstruction with your antenna whip probe it is easy to put a dab of RTV over the hole. The trick is to spend the time to locate the place you want to drill and to be VERY cautious drilling the pilot hole and then locate on the other side.

  Looks like if there are plugs in the floor under the seat I will need to remove the seat, I would rather not crawl under the vehicle. I have a history of pulling my back and crawling under the truck is just what can do that.


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* Anderson Power Pole.JPG (179.36 KB, 996x768 - viewed 9 times.)
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AJ1G
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« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2017, 06:43:52 PM »

You should not have to take the seats out, just move them all the way forward.  The plugged holes should be towards the rear under the carpet.  You will have to pull the carpet up but that was very easy where it meets the trim at the door.

Or you could send the coax feed out the same hole in the dashboard that the power leads come in through.  If your back is not up for going under the truck to route the feed line aft you probably get a car electronics installer to do it for very little money.  Or hire the kid next door.

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Chris, AJ1G
Stonington, CT
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