Not too long ago after an extended hiatus from Amateur Radio I found myself with plenty of time on my hands. The wife seeing that I was going stir crazy after several months of being cooped up in our apartment suggested that I get back on the Radio. I went on hiatus from my job at The House of Blues in Dallas due to Co-Vid 19. So I dug through my extensive store of old equipment and started to build a station. Since I currently live in a one bedroom ground floor apartment in Terrell Texas the real estate available for my radios is limited to the extra room I have on my computer desk. So I went to work.
As any good Ham would, I improvised. I found I was able to get a vhf / uhf station on the air. With the help of an inexpensive hotspot I purchased from Amazon I am now able to operate D-Star and DMR from anywhere in my home and at least 300 ft. outside. I will work on increasing that range. It has only been a month since I was able to get the station on the air and we are making great progress.
About two weeks ago my wife ended up in a hospital in Dallas about 35 miles from our home in Terrell. After a few days of driving back and forth to the hospital using only hand held I found that I needed something a little better. So I formulated a plan.
I never really throw away anything radio related unless it was completely useless ( I have recently resurrected my HTX-404 since I returned to Amateur Radio). So I started looking through my stuff.
Now those of you that have been my loyal fans for a while may remember that I did a segment on Resonant Frequency: The Amateur Radio Podcast a few years back where I purchased a Baofeng UV-5R and did a review of that fine little radio. Well it’s been sitting in the charger since then and the battery is still good. On top of that I purchased a high capacity battery and a usb charging cable for it recently from Amazon. With a massive 5 watts of RF output I had the centerpiece for a world class mobile installation.
Next we needed an antenna. The antenna I had at hand was a 15 year old Diamond dual band antenna I purchased from Henry Allen W5TYD at a hamfest in Irving years ago. It is the one that I was using when I started to contact local repeaters as I began to build my station in the apartment. It was just sitting on a piece of steel on my desk taking up space.
I also found I was in need of an adapter to interface the radio with the antenna. Enter Amazon. I was able to find a pair of SMA-F to SO-239 adapters very cheap and since we have a local Amazon distribution center and the adapters were listed as fulfillment by Amazon. I purchased them and I received the adapters in two days.
Since I didn’t want to have to hold the radio while I was going down the highway I located a cheap speaker mic and a really cheap headset that I had purchased months ago. I had everything I needed and it was time to go to work.
I am currently driving my wife’s car and there is a prohibition on radios in her vehicle. So I had to be very careful. I began by gently placing the mag mount on the roof of her vehicle. Since it is a temporary installation I ran the coax across the roof to the passenger rear door. I ran the coax about six inches below the door opening and folded a rain trap in the coax then ran it back up to the top of the door seal. The door was closed and the antenna installation was done.
Then the coax was pulled from the rear seat to the center console. I attached the SMA-F to SO-239 adapter to the end of the coax. Then The SMA-F adaptor was attached to the UV-5R.
We plugged the headset up to the Baofeng and we were off to the races.
When we were running between the hospital and the house and the hand held had the stock antenna attached we were only able to hit the WJ5J Repeater in Mesquite while within a 5 mile radius of the machine. With the new installation I am able to work the machine 20+ miles from the repeater with no issues except from my crappy little headset. This reminds me very much of when I was first licensed I was running a very similar type setup out of my car. I am very impressed at the range I am getting from this little radio. Most people think they are a total piece of crap. I assure you they are only partial pieces of crap. This is the reason I say get on the air. No matter what you do, get on the air.
So we started with the antenna. That was pretty easy. I already had that laying around. I took it apart and cleaned the contacts and put it on the car. Ordered some adapters and put one on the radio. Added a headset and boom I was on the air. No matter what you do, get on the air.