Thus far I am really pleased with my Little Tarheel II antenna. It performs well for my mobile station. I recently purchased the 54″ whip for it so I have both 32″ and 54″ whips.
Today was the first day in which the weather was finally nice enough to do some testing across multiple bands. I’ve mainly been operating on 20M and a wee bit on 40M.
On 20M with the 54″ whip the antenna appears to be largely flat across the phone portion of the band. The SWR is around 1:1.1 and barely moves from 14.150 to 14.350. The tuned position on 20M looks like this:
On 40M with the 54″ whip it’s nowhere near a broad banded. Setting the SWR at the center of the 40M phone band (approx. 7.212) the SWR moves to 10:1 at 7.125 and at 7.298. The good news is that it only takes a minor tweak to tune the antenna. From band end to band end the antenna only moves about 3/16″. The tuned position on 40M looks like this:
On 10M from 28.300 through 29.7 it does pretty well with much less of an SWR swing than on 40M. To go from 1:1.4 at 28.300 to the same SWR at 29.700 is one blip of the antenna motor switch up or down depending upon which direction you are going on the band. How much is a blip? Literally just a momentary click of the switch is all it takes to move from one end of the band to the other. The tuned position on 10M looks like this:
On 6M I was unable to obtain an SWR less than 3:1 with the 54″ whip. I switched to the 32″ whip and was able to easily cover the SSB portions of the band without moving the antenna much if at all.
I’m pleased with these results and an starting to get a reasonable feel for tuning the antenna for optimal operation.
I’ve added the Tarheel quick disconnects to ease changing the whips. They are very nice and quite substantial. They are well worth the price.
Tarheel Quick Disconnects
I recently put together my first HF mobile station. It consists of the Yaesu FT-857D that I purchased two years ago and a Little Tarheel II antenna that I recently purchased.
My initial plan for a mobile antenna was to use a set of original Hamsticks that I obtained from various sources. These are very nice HF antennas but the primary drawback with them was that they are very long and I need to clear the parking garage at work and to do so requires the removal of the entire Hamstick assembly (base and whip) and then tucking this all away in my Corolla. This wasn’t the best setup given the parking constraint. A friend and fellow radio operator, Rick, AB9XI has used the same Tarheel for his mobile station for awhile with good results. So after a lot of consideration I purchased the Tarheel.
FT-857D in my Corolla
The radio, speaker, and mic clip are all mounted on a Plexiglass block which is in turn mounted on a gooseneck mount (AES MT-7) that I purchased from AES.
This makes it easy to remove the head and associated parts.
The Little Tarheel II is mounted on a Comet HD-5 mount:
The ground strap runs down to the main portion of the car body and is just a portion of the grounding\bonding that I’ve done for the installation.
I don’t have to tune the antenna anywhere near as much as I expected. For logging I simply use the Voice Memo app on my phone to record the particulars of each contact and then enter them into my log (N3FJP) when I get home. Rick, AB9XI runs a wireless network with his iPad for logging using the Piglet and Hamlog from Pignology. I’m not going to go that far yet.
In three weeks of operation this mobile station is performing quite well. In addition to a handful or more US stations I’ve contacted some DX stations as well:
KP4EML in Puerto Rico
VP9KD in Bermuda
OK2RZ in Czech Republic
WP2B in St. Thomas, VI
All on 20M and all with good signal reports. The distance to OK2RZ’s station is around 4600 miles though to be fair he has an antenna system that could likely hear a QRP station on Pluto! But still, 100W with a trunklid mount antenna on a Toyota Corolla motoring along in Wisconsin talking to people thousands of miles away is the amazing part of Amateur Radio.
With the purchase of a Yaesu FT-857D late last fall I had the main component for a portable station. I planned build a complete portable station that could be quickly deployed and operate on occasion from state parks and such on occasion. Then in the spring my wife and I decided to buy a camper and suddenly portable operation took on a whole new meaning. After 40 years of camping in tents, including over 10 years with my sons (and only occasionally my wife) we have a nice new camper. I can assure you that sleeping in a nice, dry bed in a camper beats a sleeping bag and a Therm-a-Rest in a tent.
FT-857D in the woods
My portable station for the first summer of camping in our camper consisted of my Yaesu FT-857D and a friend and fellow radio operator Mike, AB9ON ‘s BuddiPole. I used a trolling motor battery for power. The station worked well with the BuddiPole and it was fun to operate a portable station at our camps through the summer. I look forward to more next year. I’m going to build some portable wire antennas to have some more options for the next season of portable operations.
Portable operation on beach at Point Beach State Forest (Lake Michigan)
Operations at Point Beach State Forest (Wisconsin)
Portable station at camp
I purchased a brand new Yaesu FT-857D just in time to put it into operation over Thanksgiving. This is one rig with a bunch of firsts for my station:
- First brand new HF rig
- First 6m rig
- First Yaesu
Every other rig I have is a Kenwood with a couple of ICOMs sprinkled in with the vast majority of them from the late 70’s/early 80’s. I like old Kenwoods and while they are nice and largely functional for their age there’s nothing quite like a new radio.
I wanted to get an HF mobile with at least the capability of 2m all-mode. The choices for such a rig will largely result in you shopping at the Yaesu store especially since ICOM ceased production of the IC-703 and IC-706 radios a few years ago. I realize that ICOM has the IC-7100 but it is quite a bit more than I wanted to spend and the interface is rather odd for a mobile. That boiled the choice down to the FT-817ND or the FT-857D and since I wanted more than QRP capability the FT-857D was the choice.
This radio is amazing! I’ve been operating SSB on 10m, 20m, 40m, and 80m as well as some 2m FM. It’s cool to have a “shack in a box” rig. Yaesu has packed an immense amount of functionality into this small box. I’ve read mixed reviews on the menu system but I’ve had no problems with it. It’s actually rather intuitive with the three soft keys once you spend a bit of time with it. Thus far it’s been a pleasure to operate with good signal reports all around.
I also purchased the LDG YT-100 antenna tuner as well as the Yaesu MH-59 mic and found an LDG FT-Meter on eBay. The next addition are filters (CW and possibly SSB) but I’m still doing some research and frankly enjoying the rig in its current state.
The next band to operate on is 6m. Having no 6m capability to date I need to build an antenna. After a bit of research I’ve decide to build a Squalo.