PDA

View Full Version : Ham radio on a motorcycle


nakman
02-29-2012, 04:25 PM
Some of the elements have been mentioned in other threads, but I wanted to get this stuff all in one place. So let this be the official definitive ham radio on a motorcycle thread. As I see it there are four main areas of concern:

1. power
2. the radio
3. remote microphone, remote speaker connectivity
4. antenna

So with that, I will ask that anyone with knowledge or a somewhat knowledge-based opinion please post up your recommendations to any or all of the 4. Is there a 5?

And why would you even want to have a ham radio on a motorcycle? Well for starters all the same reasons you'd want one in a truck- main ones being communicate with others on the run, and reach out for help if there's an emergency and no cell coverage. Are there others?

DaveInDenver
02-29-2012, 09:47 PM
A mag mount antenna, couldn't be hard to rig something up. People figure out ways to put mobile antennas on bicycles so a moto should be easier having steel and internal combustion.

baja1d
02-29-2012, 10:05 PM
5. Satellite phone- looked into it a few years ago and a couple of companies rent them for a small fee. Didn't seem too outrageous if a few went in on it together
6. Find Me Spot- very limited and not that great of a choice IMO

A buddy system has always worked well. Seems like one "get-off" and your antenna is history provided a tree branch hasn't already taken it! However, I'd definately be interested in checking it out if someone could figure out an enduro setup that was shock proof and wasn't priced ridiculously high.

nakman
02-29-2012, 10:07 PM
if I could find mine, that longer Diamond HT antenna that we both have is actually pretty decent. But it makes for a long setup- my best so far has been put the radio outside a camel back, then let the antenna run up through all those bungee things.

I learned today from Motocomm that FGL-559 would be the correct system for your Yaesu VX-7R. The VX-3R would be the FGL-558 system. the difference is the plug that goes into the radio, one is waterproof for the VX-7, the other not so much. I went ahead and ordered the kit, with the plug for each HT... will do a little documenting once it all gets here.

Beater
03-01-2012, 06:05 AM
Handheld, long wire antenna in pack. You're gonna need all your faculties to ride. concentrating on the trail/road should take priority imho.

but I already yell at people to get off my lawn, so what do I know...


j

60wag
03-01-2012, 07:47 AM
If I was riding a 1000cc bike on the highway, I'd like a 50w mobile radio with a decent antenna wired into the bike. For offroad use, my goal is communication with those nearby. The HT suits that need. The Yaesu VX-7R has a good enough battery that I had good performance on the 12 hour Piute Pass ride last year. I wasn't transmitting the whole time but the radio was set to full 5 watt output and the battery held up just fine. I do have a 12V lighter socket mounted on the bike so charging the battery in an emergency is possible.

Getting ready to ride with the radio is a small hassle - plugging in the wires and feeding the wire to the finger mounted PTT button. You can go with a handlebar mounted PTT but I didn't want to be wired to the bike. I knew that a wire between me and the bike wouldn't last too long. With the self contained setup, getting off the bike, either planned or unplanned, allows you to focus on things other than the radio wires.

The motocomm FGL-559 works fine with the Yaesu VX-7R. The first PTT switch was flaky but motocomm took care of it quickly. The kit comes with a pigtail that matches the jack on the radio. If you wanted to be able to use the VX-3, you can just get a different pigtail and still use the same helmet kit. I don't know what the microphone in the helmet picks up but people tell me that I am easy to hear despite the motor and wind noise. I am using a full face helmet with the visor usually closed.

I'm using the Diamond antenna.

I carry the VX-7R in a pouch made by Nite-ize. There are several different sizes. I believe I'm using the wide one. The pouch is widely available at camping supply stores. The only mod needed to the pouch to fit the radio is to not use the stock flap. I fold it inside the pouch, insert the radio and then added another piece of velcro around the pouch to retain the radio. So far, so good.

Yes, offroad riding frequently demands focused attention that makes yakking on the radio a bad idea. There have been times where someone asked me a question while I was in the middle of a loose rocky climb. I just wait until its safe to reply. Sometimes, I'll just pull over, shut off the engine to cut the background noise and make it easy to chat.

I also recently added a Find Me Spot to my backpack. It might not save my *ss but then again, it might for not a lot of $.

nakman
03-01-2012, 08:00 AM
I definitely agree on not being hard wired to the bike..

Cool you did a 12v socket Bruce, was thinking of that last night. I have a few other things to sort out first before I get way mod crazy, but was talking with Baja Designs yesterday about a stator upgrade, if I do that I could run some 12v for sure. The story with my stator (per Baja) is I'm good to run blinkers and the stock headlight, but to upgrade anything beyond that I should upgrade the stator. They do a 2-day turn on a stator rewind, and guarantee 200 watts afterwards. That allows you to run some serious lighting, and definitely power some other accessories.

DaveInDenver
03-01-2012, 09:37 AM
I learned today from Motocomm that FGL-559 would be the correct system for your Yaesu VX-7R. The VX-3R would be the FGL-558 system. the difference is the plug that goes into the radio, one is waterproof for the VX-7, the other not so much. I went ahead and ordered the kit, with the plug for each HT... will do a little documenting once it all gets here.
The connector for the VX-1/2/5 has the same pin out as the VX-6 and VX-7, although the connectors are slightly different. The VX-7 has a screw-in base that retains the waterproofing which means its body is narrower. If you use an accessory designed for the VX-5, for example, you have to shave the connector body to make sure it sits down far enough into the VX-7 connector, otherwise the plug does not insert far enough and you can short VCC to the shield or mic.

I personally cut off the VX-5 type connector and solder on the correct one, you can get them from Mouser and other places, both with and without a pigtail. It's also possible to use 4-conductor phone connectors with molded bodies designed for iPhones.

FWIW, I didn't dink with the PTT and just used VOX on the VX-7, which is why ambient wind noise is a major concern for me.

Kobiconn 4-conductor 3.5mm plug:
http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Kobiconn/171-7435-EX/?qs=sGAEpiMZZMv0W4pxf2HiV7X8OZ%252bjzZHiSUEC9jNX59s%3d

Kobiconn with molded pigtail:
http://www.mouser.com/search/ProductDetail.aspx?R=172-7436virtualkey11180000virtualkey172-7436

Argent's raw cables (slightly cheaper than buying a CT-91 to cut up):
https://www.argentdata.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=21_30&products_id=67&osCsid=sjgp7eu45srcg5ko1empfq5e55

CT-91
4 pin:
Tip: Speaker
Ring1: Data/VCC
Ring2: Mic/PTT
Sleeve: GND

2.5mm:
Tip - Mic/PTT
Ring - Data
Sleeve - GND

3.5mm:
Tip - Speaker
Ring - NC
Sleeve - GND

baja1d
03-01-2012, 12:47 PM
Have a friend using this one. Says it works outstanding

http://www.google.com/gwt/x?q=Yaesu+VR7&ei=z9FPT8jKCYLkiwLl8QE&ved=0CAoQFjAA&hl=en&source=m&rd=1&u=http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/ht/0777.html

nakman
03-01-2012, 01:28 PM
Yeah Travis, that's the VX-7r... what a lot of us here run. It's a very capable hand-held (HT), probably has too many features to it honestly. But dang it, I didn't get the can koozie with mine. :(

farnhamstj
03-04-2012, 06:09 PM
I've though about a ht to carry in my pack, most of where I go I can hit repeaters. Seems like a good idea for emergencies. While Bruce's set up is cool, part of what I enjoy about riding is the peace and quiet. I don't need or want to talk while I'm riding.

nakman
03-06-2012, 10:47 PM
Well this mod took a step back, or forward this week.. depending on how you look at it. I installed the remote kit into my helmet, and it's super tight on my ears- I couldn't take it. so out they came, I'm hoping to return the kit am waiting to hear back from them... hey anyone want to buy it?

I can run ear buds inside the helmet, and aside from a little difficulty when taking the helmet off, don't even know they're in there. So that's the direction I'm going, a little simpler. I ordered this one for the VX7:

http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac206/happyhamshop/E1106/E1106-7R.jpg?t=1270024187
http://www.ebay.com/itm/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=180813209413&ssPageName=ADME:L:OC:US:3160


And I ordered this one for the VX-3
http://www.ebay.com/itm/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=360292984712&ssPageName=ADME:L:OC:US:3160#ht_1050wt_1309

Both will allow me to monitor all the time, probably with an HT in a camel back. I may need to stop to talk back.. but hey we'll try that for starters.

DaveInDenver
03-07-2012, 05:29 AM
That looks like the MFJ-283 I tried, although quite a bit cheaper. I was not impressed with the MFJ, the ear mic didn't sound good although the ear phone part was OK. In any case I had to put a piece of tape over it to keep it in my ear, the fit is sorta weird. To work they have to sit down in your ear canal fairly far. This is sorta blocky and the curve didn't follow my ear, but it was also not very supple and didn't conform and would pop out.

So I'll be curious to see if you find the same things I did. If not and this one works better, $20 is MUCH easier to take.

FWIW, the bone conduction mic concept does seem to work, the signal reports I got weren't any worse while riding than while standing still. I was told I was unreadable, very narrow response. I wondered if I had the right PTT circuit, it must measure 2K between the mic line and ground with the PTT pressed to work. If this is built wrong it will cause bad audio, but I didn't want to throw away $40 opening the little box to see and I ended up sending it back to MFJ. :-(

The ones I've seen from Motorola, bone conducting mic ones I mean, work well. But they cost a couple of hundred to a few hundred dollars. These are typically used by first responders and military when they're wearing SCUBA gear or otherwise would have their faces covered. Plus they are waterproof.

nakman
03-08-2012, 09:50 PM
So I received a note back, there's another part I can buy, the earphones adapter (part number EA-1). That allows me to unplug the headphone portion, then plug in any type of ear phone. Putting that up here just to save the info, I think I'll hold off and see what the Chinese bring me, which may be good enough.

It's not like I need to rag chew or anything, just want to be able to hear someone calling me, and be able to call out when I need to.

DaveInDenver
03-19-2012, 09:46 AM
So I received a note back, there's another part I can buy, the earphones adapter (part number EA-1). That allows me to unplug the headphone portion, then plug in any type of ear phone. Putting that up here just to save the info, I think I'll hold off and see what the Chinese bring me, which may be good enough.

It's not like I need to rag chew or anything, just want to be able to hear someone calling me, and be able to call out when I need to.
Has this shown up? Just wondering if you've had a chance to give it a test.

nakman
03-19-2012, 09:51 AM
Nope, should be this week though.

nakman
03-21-2012, 01:09 PM
Ok, I got the earphone thing for the VX-7r today. Anyone up for a quick QSO tonight? name your repeater.. preferably one I can hit with an HT from the house, and better still one that's already programmed into it. ;)

DaveInDenver
03-21-2012, 01:19 PM
I ragchew on 449.450 during commutes. Should be ~5:30 tonight. I can also monitor whatever you want, 145.310, 147.225, you name it.

nakman
03-21-2012, 02:19 PM
How about later, like 8:30? I'll shout out on 145.310 if it's not busy, if it is then 145.460.

DaveInDenver
03-21-2012, 07:59 PM
OK, will be listening at 2030.

nakman
03-22-2012, 08:58 AM
So Dave, Marco said I sounded like a secret agent.... guessing because the mic is so different. I look forward to getting this on a group run on simplex, where the ht vs. mobile rig is less of a variable. I want to whisper to people as I spot them down wipeout hill this year.... :)

Edit: oh and thanks again for saying hi last night! I am certain that 70% of Colorado's area, and 90% of Colorado's population found our conversation absolutely riveting.

DaveInDenver
04-06-2012, 09:15 AM
I ended up getting one of those ear bone conducting mics, too. My audio report this morning with the VX-7R was muffled audio, readable but muffled. The comparison was that it sounds similar to the built-in mic on the VX-7R with the membrane still on.

The earphone sound is thin and tinny, but that's to be expected as well. Not really any worse than the internal speaker, which I've always found to be very poor at anything higher than ambient room volume. It allows a lower volume with more background noise, the ear plug does a good job at blocking out other sounds (almost too good, I only hear ambient noise with my other ear).

I do not get feedback and the PTT works fine. Not too bad for $19, but it's not super high fidelity.

Belghau
02-05-2013, 05:33 AM
Some of the elements have been mentioned in other threads, but I wanted to get this stuff all in one place. So let this be the official definitive ham radio on a motorcycle thread. As I see it there are four main areas of concern:

1. power
2. the radio
3. remote microphone, remote speaker connectivity
4. antenna

So with that, I will ask that anyone with knowledge or a somewhat knowledge-based opinion please post up car dvd players (http://www.robustbuy.com/car-accessories-car-indash-dvd-players-c-492_974.html) your recommendations to any or all of the 4. Is there a 5?

And why would you even want to have a ham radio on a motorcycle? Well for starters all the same reasons you'd want one in a truck- main ones being communicate with others on the run, and reach out for help if there's an emergency and no cell coverage. Are there others?

In my opinion it is best to use bluetooth speakers and enjoy music. It is risk free and you can have fun