Sunday, December 06, 2015

Continuing on the communications theme

On the night of the all-nighter, I posted a little something on my work on upping my communications abilities.  An anonymous commenter had some questions and I wanted to share how some of the work had finally come out.

This is a picture I used in that original post of the headpiece of the Kenwood TM-D700A on its Lido mount.  As I mentioned in the original post, the coils of wire in the back, originally meant to connect it to the actual radio, well, those wound up not being used.  A combination of over-sized conductors as opposed to the connectors I purchased and some further research pointed out the potential of a $300 potential magic smoke release if I made a mistake--and from that research, a mistake seemed to be a bit easier to make than I was comfortable with.  So the young gentleman who was assisting me in this endeavor (Daughter's Boyfriend, who is a mean auto body guy) helped me redo the cabling using the original Kenwood extension cable and a pre-terminated Cat 6 Ethernet station cable.  When attached to the radio (seen below in it's natural habitat, under one of the back seats), we actually had maybe a foot of the original Kenwood cable to spare.

Of course, we had to remove both passenger side seats, the center console and peal back the carpet to make all this happen, but in terms of a professional appearance, it was worth the work.

Once this was accomplished, I was able to ask my next door neighbor, Fire Gu, the guy who helped reawaken the radio bug, to come help me test it all out.  The radio powered right up and we were able to hit the local 2 meter repeater as well as make a short (about 50 feet) simplex transmission.

Obviously, the tiny little speaker on the top of the radio wasn't going to provide proper sound in a big ol' Chevy Suburban, especially one that doesn't have the stock exhaust on it.  (What can I say?  It doesn't have the stock stereo either.)  Mountain Man had gifted me a Kenwood KES-5 speaker, and we ran the cable for it while running all the rest of the cables.  That speaker makes all the difference in the world.  Clear at any reasonable level of volume, it is the perfect addition to the radio.

The final remaining task is to program the radio.  As mentioned earlier, I have all the appropriate software--I just need to figure out how to make it do what I want it to do.  The ARRL Travel Plus software is great if you're taking a trip, but on my initial try last weekend I was unable to figure out how to get it to simply give me all the repeaters within x miles of a given location.  Probably simple, but I wasn't seeing it. I'll try again when I'm less tired.

Now to answer the questions from Anonymous.  APRS (Automatic Position Reporting System)?  Not on a bet.  I don't see anything good from allowing people to track me as I drive around.  Probably my inbuilt paranoia talking, but that is just a little TMI.

The main plan for the radios in the vehicles is just to be able to talk to people as I drive.  I normally listen to podcasts, but it's nice to have options.  Since terrestrial radio is pretty much made of suck and fail around here and I'm too cheap to pay for satellite, this seems like a reasonable option that also has uses in case things go poorly.

Home shack?  Oh yes, eventually.  I have my General ticket and 2 HF rigs.  Unfortunately, since we moved (10 freaking years ago) I have never put a permanent antenna system up.  When I've wanted to operate, I've pulled out my Field Day gear and set that up.  It doesn't take long (I designed it that way) and it works well (I've worked Germany with that setup), but it isn't something you do casually.

However, Having recently helped Mountain Man set his shack up, it's really eating at me--I want to get back on the air.  But I have allowed myself to do something I'm constantly guilty of, which to have too many projects going at once.  My work areas look like a bomb went off in the middle of a tornado during a yard sale.  So I'm holding the home shack hostage until I finish those projects off.  With luck, I'll get one if not two finished this weekend.  That will leave two really large ones to finish over the Christmas break, which for me should be 2 weeks this year.

Oh yeah, and there is that radio to put in the Subie....  It never stops, does it?  :-)


jed said...

That's a nice clean install. For my FT-2900, I cut a short section of PVC, glued a plug in it, and screwed a little platform to that. The PVC fits into a cup holder in the center console, and the radio bracket is attached to the platform. Works fine, but the speaker is on the bottom of the radio. I need to put an external speaker on it. I have multiple candidates sitting around here, but I keep thinking about one of those noise-cancelling jobs.

Of course, my worst enemy for copying while driving is noise from the car itself. I don't know of a fix for that, short of getting a different car. Maybe a single-side headphone?

Robert said...

My, your install looks better than mine which is "temporarily" sitting on the passenger seat and secure from theft by being sorta-covered by a baseball cap. That was, um, three years ago...

Jed: I like the cup holder idea.

APRS could be useful for locating your vehicle if were stolen. Maybe.

One headphone is legal in IL only with ham plates. Dunno about elsewhere.

73 de KA9VSZ