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W6EZE USA flag USA

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Welcome to my qrz page.  I got my Extra license in November 2016, and have been building out my station since then.  

I live about 1400 feet from the KHAF airport and am limited by FCC/FAA rules to antennas no higher than 20 feet above the top of my roofline, so I have to be creative with the antennas.  I have alot of qrm due to the antenna limitations (close to all the electrical noise in my house and neighbors homes), but with a little creativity I can get around the noise most of the time.

Thanks for checking in, hope to see/hear you on the air.  

73

W6EZE

 

My Equipment:

Kenwood TM-V71A (connected to the ARPS Digipeater and Gateway)

Yaesu FTM-100D

FlexRadio 6500

Icom 7851

Standard Vertex VXR-7000 UHF Desktop Repeater

Standard Vertex VXR-7000 VHF Desktop Repeater

WX3In1 Plus 2.0 Digipeater / APRS Gateway

Yaesu G-450A Rotator

IC-PW1 Amplifier

DX Engineering NCC-2 Recieve array phasing unit

P4 Dragon DR-7800 Pactor 4 modem

Astron RS-50 Linear DC power supply

WaveNode WN-2 SWR Meter with 4 remote sensors (3 HF - fan dipole, hex, and 40m dipole, 1 VHF/UHF dual band vertical)

Heil PR781 on desk stand - icom 7851

 

 

 

My haphazard antenna farm:

  Diamond X510 2m/70cm (TM-V71a)

  Diamond X700HNA 2m/70cm (mounted on rotating mast above hexbeam - hosts UHF and VHF repeater)

  Diamond X50A 2m/70cm (FTM-100D local FM use)

  Diamond X300A 2m/70cm (also down for portable use)

  K4KIO Hexagonal Beam (20, 17, 15, 12, 10, and 6m) on a 4.5 ft. peak mounted tower with Yaesu Rotator

  EAntenna 30M Rotatable Dipole on rotating mast

  EAntenna 40M Rotatable Dipole on rotating mast - offset from 30m dipole by 90 degrees

  Alpha-Delta DX-CC (80/40/20/10 fan dipole orientated E/W)

  Diamond CP610 (6m / 10m vertical)

  Yaesu YA-30 (60 and 160m use)

  DX Engineering dual vertical active phased receive array (not visible)

 

Starting my Mobile HAM Shack Build

I started with a new 2018 Winnie Class A (~28 ft.)

I plan on running the following:

At the driver's position I'll have a Yaesu FTM-400XDR for 2m and 70cm and is APRS enabled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going to the left of the FTM base unit I'm adding a mobile GMRS rig (Midland MXT400 - 40w GMRS/FRS) because the wife doesn't have a ticket and has no plans for one, so we can communicate with her in the toad (to be acquired) or on handhelds.

Going to the left of that will is my Yaesu FT-991a for HF operations while driving (also connected to a kantronics KPC-3 for VHF packet use)  

I'll cover the antenna configs for these later when I get to installing them.

 

Next I determined a location where I wanted to host the remote radio gear which consists of:

An Elecraft KPA500 Amplifier with a KAT500 tuner and a Flex Radio 6700.  The KPA needs 120V AC - which is another day to figure that out.  The KAT500 and the Flex both need DC.

Luckily in the rear of the RV, there is a pair of cabinets above the bed with access to the ceiling that look perfect.  I cleared a hole for access to the roof.

The black cables are from a combination external LTE/WIFI/GPS antenna which I was mounting for connecting to a Cradlepoint LTE/WIFI router and the GPS to the Flex Radio for the GPSDO option installed in it.  This also has a pair of WIFI antenna connectors which I may use to receive WIFI when parked, but I haven't thought that through at this point.

I also punched a hole through the roof for a weboost LTE booster with an external omni-directional antenna.  This device boosts LTE signals in both directions via an amplifier that boosts by about 15dB.  I tested it with my cell phone, without the booster running I had a -110dB signal (crapola - 1 bar LTE), and with the booster on, I was seeing -89 dB (four bars!).  It's the hole with the cap on the coax connector and the two screws in the photo below.

On the roof both the combination lte/wifi/gps antenna and the lte booster antenna were secured and sealed using DAP Above water / Below waterline marine adhesive sealant.  Don't get this stuff on your hands, it's really sticky and takes special solvents to remove it.

I will be punching a couple more holes via the same access point for all the cables needed for the antennas I'll be mounting on the roof.  I'm using a nice little piece of plastic that I found to seal that penetration.  I've placed it in the position I think I'll be using for one in the photo below.

You can get a better view of the placement of these antennas and the roof penetrations from this photo.  I hope those Solar panels and the charge controller aren't crazy RF noisy.  That will suck.

Since I don't have my parts needed to finish the antenna installs on the roof, I went back to the radios in front and started working on the coax cabling.

I punched a couple holes through the firewall to bring four coax cables to the radio positions (two LMR-400 and two LMR-240).  These cables run along the underside of the chassis to the rear of the vehicle 30 feet back.

 

That took me a whole day to plan and execute that work.

 

The next weekend I had to decide how to get DC power to the rear location where I planned to operate the remote equipment. 

The Chassis has a primary DC circuit breaker on the side about 8 feet back from the front that was easily accessible and had feeds from both the chassis battery and house bank.  I added a 40 Amp fuse and connected it to the house bank with 2 AWG cable.  I then ran that cable back to the rear with the coax from the front.

Blurry, but you can see the 2 AWG cable.  I was concered about voltage drop over a long run.

Forty feet of 2 AWG ready to be run to the rear.

Luckily there is a nice bundle running the length, so I just stuck to the same path

Power cable (you can see the coax runs as well wrapped around the hitch so I could move the RV without dragging them) all the way out the back.  The cable pulling tool was a life saver!  It made the last 10 feet much easier than I had expected.

The entire back space is a storage area, so I need to pass through it to get to the cabinet where I plan to host the remote radio gear.  I punched some holes in the side of the inside panel and brought the cables into the storage area.

Just about this time, I noticed something missing...  A ground.  Rats!  Luckily right below where the cables are coming in is a chassis ground with a bunch of DC grounds already connected, so I prepped a dual DC / RF ground consisting of a 2 AWG cable for the DC and a 1/2 inch wide tinned copper shield and punched another hole and ran them both to the ground point on the frame. 

You can see the RF ground strap (wrapped in a sheath) and the 2 AWG DC ground connected to the frame.  Hopefully this is a solid ground connection, as it's going to also feed the grounds for the antennas.

 

I decided to go back to working the interior today (9/10/17) and wanted to get the power and antenna links done for the driver radios.  My goal was to be able to button up the driver's side area and not have any panels still open or wires hanging out.  I first tore into the  front breaker panel to add a 40 amp breaker for the radios.  Instead of installing three breakers for each of the radios, I decided to install a Rig Runner so I could easily swap out radios as needed, and even have a few extra DC drops if I need them for something.

I also decided to use some bulkhead N-Type female connectors for the antenna connections.  I'm not sure yet if it was the right idea, I'll have to see how well the jumpers look, but it's a fairly clean install.  The antenna connections and 40A breaker for the radios can be seen here.

 

It was simple then to add the Rig Runner right next to the fuse panel, but within fairly easy access of the driver side without too much yoga to get to it.

That was all I got done.  I had to run to the hardware store to pick up some #4 - 40 machine screws, lock washers, and nuts for the bulkhead N-Type connectors, as they didn't come with any screws for mounting them.  I didn't want to use any self tapping screws, as I didn't want sharp points on the inside where all the wires from the fuse panel are.

I was able to button up the drivers side cleanly as all the remaining work is exposed (radio mounting, power runs to the rigrunner, and antenna connections).

I connected up the FTM-400XDR to power and a dummy load to test and was able to key up my repeater with the dummy load.  Everythink looks good!  

Next step is to mount the rest of the driver's side radios, this is a job for another day.

 

Instead of mounting the rest of the driver side radios, I started work on the radio cabinet the next weekend.  I needed to finish pulling the four coax cables from the driver position to the radio cabinet.  I also needed to pull the 12V DC cable and the DC and RF grounds as well as four lmr-400 cables which head to the rear of the RV for connecting rear mounted antennas.

I first had to create an entry into the living space from the rear storage, which I did by removing a small drawer assembly on the driver side that was blocking my access (I will restore the assembly after I get all the cable work done).  Once that was removed, I was able to access the plywood separating the storage area from the rear living area and punch a small 1 inch by 3 inch hole.

From there I was able to pull the cables up through the hole and into the living space.  I cleaned up the cables in the storage area and pulled four additional lmr-400 coax runs from the storage area into the living space.  I left these four additional cables loose in the storage area for now.  I also pulled control cable for the Yaesu mast mounted rotator that will be going on top of the pneumatic mast.  I left the full roll attached for now as I haven't completely decided how I want to get the control cable outside of the vehicle.  I don't want to leave the storage area door open if I'm operating in incliment weather.

I then punched a hole through the rear corner of the cabinet above where I brought the cables into the living space and ran the cabled up through that hole.

These cables will be covered by the drawer assembly that I had removed earlier and I will build a small corner cover to hide the cables for the foot or so that will remain visible above the drawer assembly.

I wrapped the cables in 1.5 inch split tubing for the run inside the hanging cabinet and punched a hole into the cabinets I have claimed for the radio center.  I then pulled the cabled through into the radio cabinet with a sense of satisfaction finally completing the longest cable run.

I then stepped out of the RV and set up shop to build the antenna and power mounting board for mounting my antenna connections as well as AC and DC power terminals.  A little time spend with saw, router, drill, and such and I had completed building the mount.  I chose a pair of high quality EATON GFCI sockets for the AC connections and mounted them in a surface mount box with metal cover.

The back wall is not very thick (1/8 inch ply with 3 inches of closed cell foam insulation), so I used eight 3/8 lag bolts to secure the mounting structure to the wall.  When I got done I tested by giving a pretty good pull on the ground bars, and it didn't flex or budge one bit.  A good solid mounting.

I attached the DC ground cable and RF ground strap to the antenna ground bar and secured them with zip ties to keep the RF ground strap from falling down into the AC plug area and cause all sorts of bad things to happen.

I then proceeded to start putting N-Type connectors on the ends of all the coax cables, but in the middle of the work, found out I was one connector short (I was missing a connector for one LMR-240 cable, which I ordered and will finish up next weekend).  I then connected them to the lightning arrestors.  Antenna connections on the bottom and radio connections on the top.  Where I could I left some extra cable to be able to move connectors around by adding in a short loop for each cable.

By this time it was getting dark, so I called it a weekend.  I still need to terminate the +12V DC cable and install the rigrunner box for breaking out the DC and wire the AC into the RV AC supply.  That will have to wait for next weekend.

 

This weekend, I wanted to finish up as much of the radio cabinet as I could.  I was going to be spending alot of time working on attaching ends on cables.  I wanted to cut my cables to lenght (usually with a loop for future moves, but no extra, so I won't be using pre-fabricated cables.

I attached the front cab area first, getting the rest of the radios mounted and running the coax and power cables.  I used LMR-400 Ultraflex for all internal patch cables.

You can't really see the cables all that well unless you are lying on the floor, from normal positions, this loks much nicer.  However I do think I might add some kind of cable management later to clean up the power cabled at least.

And yes, the FTM-400DR is slightly crooked, but you can't tell unless lying on the floor, so I'm not going to worry over it.

Next I started bringing the radio equipment out to the rig and adding it to the radio cabinet and wiring it in.  

I first installed a couple alpha-delta coax switches to allow me to switch multiple radios into the amplifier and to allow me to run the FT-991a on either the amplifier or a seprate antenna.  I also mounted the rigrunner for the radio cabinet and connected it to DC power.

I then brought out  the KAT-500 and KPA-500 and wired them into the cabinet.

The wires were starting to get a little busy, but I kept trying to keep them as clean as possible.  They didn't get too bad (yet).

Next I brought out the Flex 6700 with it's 2m transverter (LPDA) and my 2m 170W RF Concepts amplifier.

Given the long run from the cab position to the rear cabinet (~45 feet of cable), I decided to install a 2m amplifier with pre-amp (the rf concepts amplifier) and a similar UHF amp/pre-amp (TE Systems) to deal with the losses over the run.  From the back of the amps to the antennas should be less than 15 feet of lmr-195 (which I have to use as the NMO mounts won't take 240 or larger).  This should give me decent ERP and the pre-amps should help with the losses on the run back to the cab.

I put some dummy loads on the system since my antenna gear still hasn't arrived (thats what you get when you have special items fabricated for you) so I could make sure everything was working.  I connected the flex to the amplifier switch and switched it with the amp in-line.  I connected the flex to the GPS antenna for my GPSDO and ran ethernet to the cradlepoint router on the far side of the cabinet..  I also connected up the 2m transverter.

I started powering everything up and it all came on cleanly, but my flex needed a firmware update, so I completed it, and came back and everything was up and running, the GPS had locked on 14 satellites, and nothing was amiss.  I ran everything through it's paces using the dummy loads, and all was good.

I went back and cleaned up the cab area a little more and grabbed some shots from more normal positions to better show the operating position.

Hopefully next weekend I will be able to mount all the roof antennas and get them wired in.

 

Well, I finally got my Hat channel as well as Hi-Q Antenna and associated parts in this week, so it was time to start the real work on the roof.

First I wired up the hat channel and got it ready to go with 6 NMO mounts (Larsen mid thickness mounts) with LMR-195 (I couldn't find any NMO mounts that supported better cable).  The maximum length of LMR-195 in use is about 10 feet, so I'm not too worried about loses.

 

I layed down two sheets of copper (25 inch x 72 inch) with about a two inch overlap for good connectivity.  These were layed down with Marine above/below water adhesive sealant.  This will act as the ground plane for all the NMO mount antennas.

As I was preparting to run the cables for the Hi-Q install, I figured I better finish up the copper section.  I had purchased some Eternabond Roof Seal Tape that I've seen a number of RV shops and ownsers use to seal roof installations.  This stuff is extremely sticky, and once you lay it down, you are done.  I used it to seal up the edgest of the copper to prevent any lifting.

I also drove some screwes through the overlaping portion to keep it down and enhance the connectivity between the two sheets.

I ran the antenna control cable, lift/lay control cable, and lmr-400 for the antenna run (I wanted more shield to better carry the RF ground back to the ground bars).  I used the hat channel to hide the cable runs along the copper covered area (you can see the cables running under the solar panel into the hat channel).

I installed the Hi-Q antenna on the tarheel lift and lay mount with a hand-made mount system (as nothing from either manufacturer worked).  Sorry, I forget to take photos while doing this work.  I then attached the antenna to the mount on the ground and transferred it to the roof with a little help (together it was both heavy and ungainly).  I then attached it to the roof with the sale marine adhesive / sealant and bolted it down.  I didn't have a short whip for testing the Hi-Q (still on the way), so I grabbed one of the 102" whips I have in my garage for testing.

 

The long whip was too droopy and I would have had to find some magical way to capture it as it's being layed down and I couldn't come up with anything so I decided to go with a shorter configuration, and I built a quick capacity hat antenna for the top of the Hi-Q.  

And installed it on the top of the Hi-Q antenna.

I then proceeded to test the antenna with the caphat using an antenna analyzer.  With the antenna at full length on the plunger, the cap hat is resonant at 2.064 MHz at 1.1:1 SWR.  So close ot 160M, if I add a 24" whip on top, I should be able to get resonant on 160m.  With the plunger moved all the way up (to the shortest antenna length), I had 1.3:1 resonance at 32.3 MHz.

Hopefully the additional 24" whip won't break 10m for me.  It will be nice to have 160 to 10m on a mobile install that actually works.

I tuned it up for ft8 on 40m and worked canada, mexico, and a bunch of states in the US on 20W.  My signal reports were huge for that power (-5 up to +5).  The antenna was really working nice.

It was time to pack up for the trip to florida to get the pneumatic mast installed.  I purchased the Hilomast NL-12 pneumatic mast from Hilomast (http://www.hilomast.com/).  These guys are awesome and they did a great installation job as well as making an excellent mast.  I brought my Yaesu G-800DXA rotor and they drilled out the mount pattern on their mast insert and mounted it for me as well.  We ran some tests, and I now had a 40 foot pneumatic mast hanging off the back of the RV.

 

Several weeks later I attended an emergency preparedness exercise at Half Moon Bay airport and provided HF and VHF communications between local EOC sites and remote aiports also participating in the exercise.  The organization leading the exercise was the Disaster Airlist Response Teams (https://calpilots.org/dart/).  We had a 40m rotatable dipole (and a bright oragne and white visibility flag) monted on top of the Yaesu rotator.  It performed like a dream.  There was no wind to speak of, so no guys were necessary.

One of the things we found out during this exercise is that it would have been helpful to support both VHF and HF digital modes to improve the quality and correctness of the messages being relatyed, so it was time to add support for digital operations.  

I could have just installed a laptop and run some long USB cables, but I didn't want to have to increase my setup and teardown times, and I didn't want to rely on some flakey software that might or might not decide to work when it was needed.

I added VHF digital support by installing a KPC-3+ TNC to the FT-991a.  I wall mounted a USB hub, and connected it into the hub, as well as connecting the 991a and the 400xdr so I could have direct access to the TNC's on both and the soundcard on the 991a.

I picked up an intel NUC6i7KYK mini PC (https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/nuc/nuc-kit-nuc6i7kyk-features-configurations.html) and mounted it on the wall above the RV flat screen display and connected it to the HDMI2 port for video.  I added a wireless keyboard and mouse and then ran a USB cable down to the USB hub below the 991a, giving me access to the kpc, 991a and 400dr.

I didn't want to run long cables through the RV to the back radio cabinet, so I went searching and found a USB to ethernet hub from USBGear (http://www.usbgear.com/USBG-4NET.html) and installed it in the back radio cabinet and connected it up to one of the cradlepoint wired ethernet ports.  I then plugged in the KAT500, KPA500, and my newly acquired Green Heron RT-21dc rotator controller.  This would give me remote access via ethernet to the usb ports on those devices.

Since the screed real estate on the HD tv is somewhat limited, I added a 23 inch 4k display (which I need to figure out how and where to mount or store) for additional screen space.

All this makes for a nice little workspace area at the dinette for digital activities.

Since this took up a good portion of the dinette (if you use the 4k monitor), I wanted to have another workspace.  I picked up a nice folding workstation table from amazon (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06Y55SK5P/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1) to allow someone to work from the driver or passenger seat with the seats rotated back towards the rear of the RV.  This turned out to be a little larger than I had thorugh from looking at the amazon photo, so it didn't fit in the under bed storage area I had planned to keep it.  However it turns out there was a perfect space under the flat screen display that was wide enough to store the table with the dinette slider retracted and extended.  While it fit, it banged back and forth because there was a little too much room, so I had to devise a way to lock it down during motion.  While walking through the local Ace hardware store, I noticed some screen door handles, and got a bright idea.  With a simple plastic spacer I was able to fashion up a quick release folding table release mechanism fully visible in the above photo!  It works GREAT!

Another issue I noted from the DART exercise was that using the inside of the RV to store broken down antenna pieces (especially for the 40m dipole) wasn't the most optimum solution and would severely impact using the RV for anything other than communication exercises not much fun, so I needed a better way to store them.  I ran through all sorts of ideas, but none of them were any good.  Then driving to work one day I noticed the PVC tubes with end-caps on top of vans for storing conduit pieces and it looked perfect.  I found some 8 inch inner diameter ends and ordered a 10 foot section of schedule 40 8 inch ID PVC pipe (okay, this is heavy!) and found a tight but workable spot on the roof for the conduit (antenna) carrier.

It also works percfectly, the whole 40m dipole broken down into 5 pieces fits well, along with a Diamond X300NA antenna, and a couple 8 foot 1.5inch diameter fiberglass masts.  

Finally I wante to bring some AC and DC power to the rear storage area so I could power the compressor from inside that space as well as power my 2m and 70cm repeaters from inside the rear storage area (the 2m duplexer cans won't fit anywhere else).  I plan to be able to quickly transfer the two repeaters from their location at my house into the rear storage area for event and emergency communication coverage as needed.  Since I had already run DC up through the rear compartment to the back radio cabinet, I had access to those runs directly.  And there was a nice AC drop just inside the living space where the cable runs from the rear storage area entered, so I tapped into that and dropped a run back into the rear area.  I share a single 20 Amp AC feed for the rear radio cabinet and  rear storage area, so I will need to be careful what I use or I'll end up tripping the breaker.  However, given the two major loads that will be on AC are the mast compressor and the KAT500, I don't expect I'll be using both at the exact same time.  For the DC feed, I upgraded the main breaker I installed earlier from 40A to 70A to make sure I would have enough power running back to the rear given that I now had three rigrunners connected to that feed.

I added a rig runner for radios and amplifiers (VHF / UHF for the repeaters) as well as any other DC powered needs.  And since I might be needing to access this area at night, I used the rigrunner to add a quick and easy LED strip light for night use.

I don't have a picture of it, but I also added a little trap door in the floor of the rear storage area than I can open to drop cables through so I don't need any of the doors open to pass cables, protecting the space from inclement weather during operation.

This pretty much completes the RV build out as I had planned.  I'm sure I will be adding some more as I find additional needs, but for now I can take a break and take the RV out for play.  I've added a few images of the rear radio cabinet showing better detail on the layout and gear installed. 

The device at the bottom of this last image is the controller for the Hi-Q antenna.  At 385 turns it's set up for the JT/FT range of the 40m band.  (It's full range is 0 to 500 turns) which covers 160M to 20M with a 24inch extension, capacity hat and a 24 inch whip on top.

8567537 Last modified: 2018-01-08 07:21:53, 34888 bytes

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DX World Award#6819
Granted: 2018-02-15 00:32:55   (W6EZE)

United States Award#3245
Granted: 2017-07-08 17:21:08   (W6EZE)

United States Counties Award#6294
Granted: 2017-03-30 02:29:25   (W6EZE)

Endorsements:
  • 100 Counties Digital
  • 100 Counties Mixed
  • 250 Counties Mixed
Grid Squared Award#15341
Granted: 2017-02-28 17:36:38   (W6EZE)

Endorsements:
  • 20 Meters Digital
  • 40 Meters Digital
  • Mixed Digital
  • 20 Meters Mixed
  • 30 Meters Mixed
  • 40 Meters Mixed
World Continents Award#16646
Granted: 2017-02-12 21:13:51   (W6EZE)

Endorsements:
  • 20M Digital
  • 40M Digital
  • 20M Mixed
  • 30 Meters Mixed
  • 40M Mixed
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