Lessons Learned, second in a series. Cars are not trucks.

When I last posted, I had a half-installed antenna, a box of parts, and a bald spot from scratching my head trying to figure out how to put it all together. I now had the stud I needed, but it didn’t fit my car. The one I got was made for a truck, probably an 18-wheeler. Petro is, after all, a truck stop, not a car stop. I searched around some more and ordered what I needed, and some other stuff because, as long as I was spending money, why not.

One of the more awesome things about this community is that chances are, if you’re trying to do something, someone else has already done it and has written a blog with photos, posted a YouTube video, or has commented somewhere about it. Alan Applegate, K0BG, has a very detailed website, K0BG.com , that has just about anything you would ever want to know about mobile operations. One of the things I learned about is a nifty box called a RigRunner that is nothing more than a power strip for ham radio equipment that uses Anderson Powerpoles for both input and output and has fuses for each of the sockets. This turned out to be a perfect solution for me for three reasons. The first is that I already had a wiring harness from the battery to the cabin that had powerpoles already on it, so that took care of the input. The second is that my car is notoriously difficult to run anything from the battery to the cabin, and I wasn’t about to do it for the antenna’s motor control switch, so I took K0BG’s suggestion and hooked it up to powerpoles and from there, to the RigRunner. Easy-peasy rice and cheesy! The third is that I can be truly mobile. I don’t have to disconnect and re-connect a bunch of things if I want to change cars or do a demonstration. I can simply pull the antenna off the mount, pull the cables and the radio, hook a single connection to a single power source, and go from there.

I spent a few days in between rain showers and snow and got the antenna and radio up and working. The radio has to be mounted to a permanent location in my car, and I’m thinking about installing the brackets to the back of the back seat so it’s in the trunk and out of the way but still easily accessible. But that’s a project for a day off.

Lessons Learned – First in (I hope) a series

Not long ago, I was able to purchase some equipment, and by “some equipment”, I mean enough for an actual shack, an HF mobile rig and antenna, and the accessories to go with them. You know – the first rig. Buying a rig is a lot like buying a car. You look at the pretty ads, you think about what you want, you figure out how much you can afford, and you (ideally) do your homework so you get the right rig at the right price. I did just that. Sort of.

When it came time to look for a mobile HF antenna, I asked around for recommendations. I settled on one and ordered it online. What I didn’t do is ask the one question I should have, and that was “Is there anything else I’m going to need with this?” Because of course there was, and I’ll get to that in a minute.

I set aside a nice Friday afternoon to install the antenna and radio because John, W3HMS had agreed to bring his antenna analyzer to the ham breakfast. I had the recommended (sort of) mount, antenna, and cables. I started with Step One and stopped. I couldn’t see a place to attach the coax. There was a four-pin cable that runs the motor, but no coax connector. Hm. I might not be the brightest or most technically proficient ham, but I’m also not an idiot and I know there’s supposed to be a coax running from the antenna to the radio. I looked at the printed instructions that came with the antenna, I looked at what had to be a million photos of installations, and I could not figure out how I was supposed to connect the coax to the antenna. Finally, I posted the question to an online ham radio community I belong to to see if anyone could tell me something, anything, that would help. Lots of responses with links to the instructions I had in my hand, links to the photos I’d already looked at, and other, equally unhelpful information.

The next morning, I showed John the instructions that came with the antenna and he told me to call the company. When the guy whose vehicle looks like an FBI surveillance van tells you to call the company, things are not looking good. I left the breakfast early to call the company. I was NOT going to let this… this THING win. I left a voice mail for the technical support guy and went inside to watch the Olympics. After some snowboarding and a round or two of women’s biathlon, my phone dinged. Someone had responded to my question online, and he had helpful information! What I didn’t know was that the antenna required a 3/8-inch stud attached to a SO-239 connector. Aha! I jumped in the car, drove to the CB shop at the local Petro truck stop, and miracle of miracles, they had the exact stud I needed! Hallelujah! Unfortunately, it started to rain, so the installation is on hold for another day, but it will happen.

Ham radio is a fun hobby, and there is always a lot to learn. Sometimes, it’s how to use a new piece of equipment. Other times, it’s a little more basic. Next time I order equipment, I’ll make sure I have a list of all the accessories I need.

Funny!

Smart kid – STUDENT WHO OBTAINED 0% ON AN EXAM

I would have given him 100! Each answer is absolutely grammatically correct, and funny too. The teacher had no sense of humor.

Q1.. In which battle did Napoleon die?
* his last battle

Q2.. Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?
* at the bottom of the page

Q3.. River Ravi flows in which state?
* liquid

Q4.. What is the main reason for divorce?
* marriage

Q5.. What is the main reason for failure?
* exams

Q6.. What can you never eat for breakfast?
* Lunch & dinner

Q7.. What looks like half an apple?
* The other half

Q8.. If you throw a red stone into the blue sea what it will become?
* Wet

Q9.. How can a man go eight days without sleeping ?
* No problem, he sleeps at night.

Q10. How can you lift an elephant with one hand?
* You will never find an elephant that has one hand.

Q11. If you had three apples and four oranges in one hand and four apples and three oranges in other hand, what would you have?
* Very large hands

Q12. If it took eight men ten hours to build a wall, how long would it take four men to build it?
*No time at all, the wall is already built.

Q13. How can u drop a raw egg onto a concrete floor without cracking it?
*Any way you want, concrete floors are very hard to crack.

You Might Be a Technician if…

You Might Be a Technician if…

– you have ever tried to repair a $45.00 radio.

– you think of the gadgets in your office as “friends.”

– you think your computer looks better without the cover.

– you have ever purchased an electronic appliance “as is.”

– you have ever saved the power cord from a broken appliance.

– you think jokes about being unable to program a VCR are stupid.

– the salespeople at Best Buy can’t answer any of your questions.

– the microphone at a meeting doesn’t work and you rush up to fix it.

– you have a neatly sorted collection of old bolts and nuts in your garage.

– you own a set of itty-bitty screwdrivers, and you actually know where they are.

– you just don’t have the heart to throw away the 100-in-1 electronics kit you got for your ninth birthday.

– you have never sat through an entire movie without having at least one device on your body beep or buzz.