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.