Skip to main content

Simple antennas for the Hawaii Island Amateur Radio Operator--a continuing series

Have you ever thought of installing a small, portable HF rig and collapsable antenna in your vehicle for impromptu or emergency operations?  During the past week, wet weather and sometimes marginal road conditions got me thinking about what HF radio system I would use should a traffic emergency arise where I couldn't get home or where cell phone coverage would be unusable.  Along the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii Island, cell phone coverage is spotty and there are many areas inadequately served by this handy communications device.  Geography plays a big role in limiting cell phone coverage, with mountain peaks and ridges often degrade the signal available.

So, last week I decided to make a small upgrade in my mobile capability with the creation of a small, easily portable HF system to complement my bare-bones 2-meter capability (HT with mag-mount antenna on the rood of my van).  I selected my old, trustworthy Yaesu FT-7 (10 watts output), a large marine, deep cycle battery in the garage, and a B & W window ledge apartment antenna for the HF system.  I acquired the B & W antenna back in the mid-80s and have used it a few times for impromptu operations at the qth or at the nearest public park bench.  MFJ markets a close relative of the old B & W known as the MFJ-1622, complete with an air wound loading coil, telescoping 5 1/2-foot radiator, choke balun, counterpoise wire, a length of RG-58 coax, and a safety rope.  All of these components take up little room in the van and can be stored in a large plastic tub behind the passenger seats.

This weekend I tried out my older version of the MFJ system and it worked well enough on 40 and 20 meters to make this part of my emergency mobile and qth standby station.  Other than the cost of the original B & W apartment antenna, I was out very little.  The MFJ -1622 costs $99.95 in the MFJ 2012 Ham Catalog.  MFJ has a few other portable antennas you may want to consider for standby use.  My emergency mobile HF works and will be kept in the van for general operating or for emergency use.

If you don't have a standby rig for emergency uses, you may want to consider the ICOM-703, SGC-2020, any rig from the Elecraft series, or even Yaesu and Kenwood rigs that were designed for qrp use.  Power can be supplied from a golf cart battery, a trowling fishing battery, or any other deep-cycle battery.  Vehicle batteries can be used, but they weren't designed for this purpose and performance may vary.  The only thing I'm lacking now is a compact solar cell array to keep the deep cycle battery charged.  Presently, I operate from the deep cycle battery about once a week and keep the system charged with a trickle charger.  My main station uses a deep cycle marine battery and I keep that charged on a trickle charger as well.  The old Swan 100 MX can run for a day or two at qrp levels (10 watts SSB or CW) before voltage drops below 13 volts.  Of course, your mileage may vary, depending on the type of rig and power level you use.  Some of the earlier Ten-Tec rigs, such as the 509, century 21, or even the Argosy I, II can be pressed into service.  There are several low power Heathkit transceivers such as the HW-7, HW-8, and HW-9 that can be used if cw is your preferred mode of operation.  For the do-it-yourself enthusiast, there are many good kits available in a variety of configurations.

The important thing is to have a backup rig in case your main rig is down or you lose power at your qth.  I've also stashed a 100-foot spool of #22 gauge wire, insulators, small tools, connectors, and 50-feet of RG-6 coax (with connectors) in the emergency tub containing the HF station.  All of these items fit neatly in the back of my van.

One never knows what will happen these days and an emergency HF/VHF station in your vehicle could save your life some day.

Have a good weekend!

Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM--BK29jx15


Popular posts from this blog

G5RV Multi Band HF Dipole Antenna. Post #1555.

If you can't see the video, please insert this title URL into your browser search box: This well-produced and richly illustrated tutorial on the classic G5RV HF Dipole Antenna was presented to the Brandon Amateur Radio Society in Brandon, Florida in 2017 by Bernie Huth (W4BGH).  Bernie does an excellent job of  explaining the pros and cons of this popular HF antenna from the late Louis Varney (G5RV).  Although Varney envisioned his design primarily as a 3/2 wavelength antenna for the 20 meter Amateur Radio band, radio amateurs have used the antenna for multiband use.  The G5RV is an excellent choice for the 20 meter band.  Performance on other HF Amateur Radio bands is good enough to qualify as stand alone HF antenna if you can only erect one HF antenna. For the latest Amateur/Ham Radio news and information, please visit these websites: (a wee

Amateur Radio Bicycle Mobile Setup. Post #1554.

If you can't see the video, please insert this title URL into your browser search box: Here's a way to use Amatuer/Ham Radio while you work on shedding a few pounds in useful exercise.  Why not equip your bicycle for 2 meter/70 cm mobile operation? In this short, well-made video, "taverned" shows us how he used a mag mount antenna, a simple C clamp, and a basic ground system to convert his mountain bike into a mobile station.  The project is straight forward, simple, and gives you emergency communications while you peddle down the road. For the latest Amateur/Ham Radio news and information, please visit these websites: (a weekly podcast which is updated each Friday afternoon). (Amateur Radio News & Information).

An 80-Meter Vertical Helix

Like many amateur radio operators, I live on a small lot surrounded by neighbors, utility lines, and civic-minded citizens concerned about the "attractiveness" of my community.  Whether by design or outright fear, I've adopted the "stealth" approach to ham radio antennas.  It's the old "out of sight, out of mind" idea applied to amateur radio antennas. The amateur radio press is full of articles describing the struggle of amateur radio operators to pursue their hobby under the burdensome regulations of CC & Rs, HOAs, and other civic minded citizens who object to antenna farms.  So far, my modest verticals, loops, and inverted vees have blended well with the vegetation and trees bordering my small backyard.  Vertical antennas have always been a problem because of the limited space for a radial system.  There are times, however, where a shortened vertical for the lower HF bands (such as 80/75 meters) is necessary where horizontal space is lack