Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > Amateur Radio How-To's

Inexpensive Vehicle Mount Option for Handheld Tranceivers

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iam4liberty:
It can be very useful to convert a handheld transceiver (aka handy talky or HT) into a semi-permanent mobile unit. For as little as $20 in parts and ten minutes of time an effective, safe install can be done.

Parts:

1. Magnetic mount antenna.  Decent units like those of the Nagoya series run from $8 - $12.  Reviews of different models can be found on http://www.eham.net/reviews/products/37



2. Battery eliminator.  This allows for the vehicle's 12 volt system to power the HT thus eliminating battery charging issues.  Removing the battery also makes the unit lighter, enabling more mount options.  Cost of a battery eliminator varies by make and model of HT, but oftentimes can be had for $5 to $8 on ebay.



3. Suction cup mount.  Universal grip mounts are generally more than adequate for securing an HT. If used on car glass generally no other adhesive is needed. Use on flat, plastic surfaces may require the use of suction cup tape or the installation of a disc like those used with GPS.  The unit used in this example install sells for $6 on ebay.



4. Speaker Mic.  This makes the HT's Push-To-Talk function easy to operate.  These often sell for $1 to $5.



Installation

To maximize radiated power, typically the best place for the antenna is centered on the top of the vehicle's roof.  This also allows for the cable to routed to the corner of the hood via the rain gutters.





Once at the corner, the cable can be routed around the door jamb and up on the dash. The corners of molding can be used to keep the cable slightly taunt.  This keeps the cords away from the feet which is a major safety concern.  Also, the turn allows for any rain which comes down the cable to drip off rather than come into the vehicle cab.



The suction cup mount can be placed in numerous locations to put the transceiver in easy reach for changing channels, changing volume, and initiating scans.  One option is to use the surfaces of the nooks and crannies in the dash console.




But I have found that the best location is hanging down from the windshield.  This keeps the antenna wire on top of the dash, allows the battery eliminator cord to hang down directly to the accessory (cigarette lighter) port, and puts the transceiver in the same visual plane of the road without interfering with seeing traffic.  The battery eliminator cord also makes for a good place to clip the speaker mic.




That's it for a safe, effective installation!  Even with the low power of an HT, a setup like this can be very effective for hitting repeaters and for vehicle-to-vehicle simplex communication.

Please note, if there is a desire to regularly remove the HT (e.g. for theft protection or to use when in pedestrian mode) it is good to do another modification, adapting the SMA connector common on today's HTs to BNC.  SMA connectors were not designed for constant plugging/unplugging of antennas and will wear out quickly.  They are also slow to remove and install as they requiring multiple rotations to seat properly.  Using BNC connectors on the antenna and HT is a much more robust and quicker option.  How to do this will be detailed in a later post.

73.

backwoods_engineer:
Good tutorial for new hams, and those that can't do a permanent installation.

Carl:
I ran a HT on a slightly reformed metal bookend (two for $3.19) and just slipped the belt clip over the metal bookend set in my console ...hand mic and through the glass antenna worked great around town on the repeaters. I like the mount he used here.

Greekman:
hmmmm isn't the wire a bit thin?

Carl:
Probably RG 174, it is thin and handles 50 watt or so well. Best use is to take weight off of small HT and connectors.

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