Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mobile Ham Radio

Last night, I decided to try proving out my mobile ham radio setup for the Lenexa Midnight Bike Ride. Since I was going to be coming by bike, the coordinators wanted me to provide support for the hiking part of the event on the Black Hoof Park trail. Duties included reporting when hikers first arrived at the turn-around point of the hiking trail, taking approximate count of them, and sweeping the trail both ways when the event was over. I didn't know how much talk time I was going to need, so I rigged up a 12AH gel cell and a 12V lighter outlet splitter in one pannier, and ran my Yaesu FT-90 as my primary radio, running the microphone cable under my top tube. The handheld mic snapped into a belt-clip rigged to my stem. I couldn't have asked for a nicer setup. It worked flawlessly, and although "too heavy" is subjective, at about 9 pounds total for the whole rig, I don't feel it's too bad.

Most of the radio operators were using some form of APRS to automatically map their locations for strategic purposes. I was running APRSDroid on my phone to fulfill this function and locate the other operators. I also used the gel-cell to keep my phone charged up for the event, as the application chews through phone batteries.

I couldn't get any really good photos last night. I have a bunch of video that I also suspect is similarly crappy. We'll just have to see. This morning, I rolled my bike onto our patio to show you how I've got it all rigged up. This setup might make an appearance at the Middle Creek bicycle camping trip, along with a solar panel to help keep the gel-cell topped off. I'm not a weight weenie, so it's mostly a question of how much room I have in my panniers and if rain is in the forecast, not how much extra weight this thing adds.

When I arrived home some 5 hours after firing the mobile rig up and after plenty of talking on the radio, the battery was at about 85% capacity. the radio itself can transmit at 50 Watts, but I was running it at the minimum power setting of 5 Watts. This setup could probably last a whole weekend without recharging, depending on conditions.

Photos follow. Enjoy.

s


5 comments:

Apertome said...

Looks like fun. What a great setup!

Rick Blaine said...

You are pretty brave. I can't remember the last time I had an endo, but I have seen enough of your crash posts to not want to risk trashing the radio. Haha. An HT would be nice in this situation. I don't know the route, so perhaps you weren't within repeater range. It's been awhile since I have had a radio installed, or an HT, but it seems 5W could hit just about any of the major repeaters around. Nice set up and post, though.

73

Rick Blaine said...

You are pretty brave. I can't remember the last time I had an endo, but I have seen enough of your crash posts to not want to risk trashing the radio. Haha. An HT would be nice in this situation. I don't know the route, so perhaps you weren't within repeater range. It's been awhile since I have had a radio installed, or an HT, but it seems 5W could hit just about any of the major repeaters around. Nice set up and post, though.

73

Noah said...

Well, I wasn't using the radio on the roadways. I was using it while sweeping the trail (slowly, due to darkness, curvy trails and not wanting to hit pedestrians). Most of the time, I was stationary, positioned on the Lake Lenexa dam, which was the turn-around point for the hikers. I leaned my bike up against the wall and lounged in one of the park benches. Plus, using a microphone like this while riding would yield so much wind noise you couldn't hear anything anyway.

Noah said...

Also, I did have my VX-2 handheld, which was hitting our repeater just fine on full-power. On battery, that's 1.5W. 5 watts coming out of this was a bit overkill, but it's the lowest the FT-90 goes.

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