No man, I don't think the Hi-Q or Butternut are bad antennas, far from it. But in the Hi-Q example, it's not 20 times better than a Hamstick to justify their price solely on performance. Is it 2 or 5 or maybe 10 times better? Probably somewhere in there. But in electrons excited per dollar, the Hamsticks are clear winners over the expensive stuff. It's the law of diminishing returns. Your rig is about as good as it gets from a mobile standpoint.
Caveat emptor: My ATAS-120A was $250 and is mostly universally hailed as a pile of crap. I don't disagree. I know it'll never win me exotic mobile call signs. It does the job I ask of it and is much better than anything I could build similar to it. Works seamlessly with a minimum of hassle with my radio, for example. All I had to do is run a coax to get wall-to-wall 40m to 6m. In the tight confines of my truck that outweighed a lot of other variables.
You also know anecdotes are not proofs... :-) Someone else with the same conditions that you had to make a 100W contact might have done the same with 2W into a highly efficient dipole. Just hypothetical, but you get the line of reasoning.
I don't think bonding is a waste of time, it's something that you must do if you want any chance of mobile HF. BTW, I forgot to ask about the connection between the battery, 12VDC return, antenna and radio grounds. How are they done? I assume you ran the power supply return all the way to the battery, same routing and length as the 12VDC supply. Then the ground connection between the battery and frame (the frame is your common bonding point, right?). Just the stock battery negative to the engine block? If that's the case, you need to run a decent RF ground, a wire braid for example, to the frame from the battery negative.
Also the radio itself should be connected to the same common point as all the bonding. I ran a short braid from my radio ground lug to the cab floor (my radio body is mounted under the passenger seat). The cab itself is grounded to the frame and exhaust, so any secondary bonding I do, like the bumper, is done to the frame and does not need to run all the way back to the radio. Imagine the truck frame as your earth when comparing it to a stationary QTH. It's good enough electrically to consider it that way, as are large sheet metal panels. Never assume RF can make it past bolted connection, so if you are using a fender or door as a bond point, then that bond must be extended to the common 'earth'. RF can flow over a fender very well, but it will get stymied at the painted, bolted or isolated (like body mounts) connections and become a fantastic capacitor even if it looks like a DC connection.
'91 Pickup - Imelda
'08 Tacoma TRD - Donna
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Last edited by DaveInDenver; 03-01-2011 at 10:21 AM.