Ham radio on a motorcycle
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:
2. the radio
3. remote microphone, remote speaker connectivity
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?
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.
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.
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.
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...
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 $.
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.
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:
Kobiconn with molded pigtail:
Argent's raw cables (slightly cheaper than buying a CT-91 to cut up):
Tip - Mic/PTT
Ring - Data
Sleeve - GND
Tip - Speaker
Ring - NC
Sleeve - GND
Have a friend using this one. Says it works outstanding
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. :(
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