CALLING All AMATEUR (HAM) RADIO NERDS

Joined
Oct 4, 2018
Messages
48
Age
24
#1
So roll back to August 2017. I was gearing up for an international trip and I needed a hard mounted 2m HAM radio.

Purchased a nice 50w quad band monitoring.

I can (could) listen to our two main group channels, the weather channel for the area and it was august in southern canada so we had the fire channel we were listening to as well.

It worked awesome! Never had any issues, I could hear/transmit about 30 miles consistently on roadways (paved and dirt) while moving without issue.

I purchased the antenna that the manufacturer recommended and it was awesome.


Now come summer/fall/now 2018 and I'm having issues.

My 5w handheld HAM transmits farther and can pick signals up better than my 50w... WTF What gives??

Is it an internal issue with the radio?

Did something shidded itself?

Is the antenna bad?

is the antenna wire bad?


I'm stuck at a stand still. I have another international trip coming up and would like my radio back up an running before then.


I have the wire routed from the back of the radio, zip tied the remaining 2' in a small bundle under the dash, ran the wire up the driver side door seal and then onto the roof then back underneath my roof rack to where the magnet antenna mounts.


Any pointers from people more knowledgeable than I would be greatly appreciated

Thanks in advance gents!
 

RPS1030

Solid Axles 4 Life
Joined
Oct 4, 2018
Messages
266
Age
37
Location
Phoenix
#2
Bundled Coax is generally considered a NoNo. Creates a shunt in the transmission. Route it longer to use up the length or get a new end at the correct length.

SWR also needs to be measured and adjusted for the frequency(s) that are going to be used. Also am indication of shorted/damaged coax.
 

4runner DOA

Hold my beer
Staff member
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
2,045
Age
39
Location
OC
#3
@WileECoyote is our resident radio expert, but be ready for the wall o Randy when he finally sees this.

It's funny because I was having the same issue on the last trip. I was getting @Airdog in perfectly from his 8watt handheld, but he wasn't hearing me at a couple points. Keep in mind I'm transmitting at 65w with a mag mount antenna.

I'm leaning towards too much grime and dirt under the mag mount as a starting point.
 

4runner DOA

Hold my beer
Staff member
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
2,045
Age
39
Location
OC
#4
Bundled Coax is generally considered a NoNo. Creates a shunt in the transmission. Route it longer to use up the length or get a new end at the correct length.

SWR also needs to be measured and adjusted for the frequency(s) that are going to be used. Also am indication of shorted/damaged coax.
I'll let Randy chime in, but I don't think you have to tune swr on a HAM radio. That's a CB thing.
 

RPS1030

Solid Axles 4 Life
Joined
Oct 4, 2018
Messages
266
Age
37
Location
Phoenix
#5
I'll let Randy chime in, but I don't think you have to tune swr on a HAM radio. That's a CB thing.
It may be different terminology and tool since it’s been a while since I studied up but ham antennas still need to be tuned as well as checking for issues with coax, shorts, and ground plane effectiveness.
 

4runner DOA

Hold my beer
Staff member
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
2,045
Age
39
Location
OC
#6
It may be different terminology and tool since it’s been a while since I studied up but ham antennas still need to be tuned as well as checking for issues with coax, shorts, and ground plane effectiveness.
Again I'll wait for Randy to chime in because he's the legit HAM guy here, but there's nothing to tune on a ham antenna like a cb antenna. There's literally nothing to adjust physically. So it would have to be a radio setting.
 

RPS1030

Solid Axles 4 Life
Joined
Oct 4, 2018
Messages
266
Age
37
Location
Phoenix
#7
http://www.hamuniverse.com/testingswr.html

The handful of antennas I’ve had have a mast/whip that is held in the base with set screws and can be moved in and out. Can also physically cut the whip if too long.

It’s less of an issue and I haven’t gone that far based on the efficiency and effectiveness of the radios, but it’s a thing.
 
Joined
Oct 23, 2018
Messages
35
Age
37
#10
Bundled Coax is generally considered a NoNo. Creates a shunt in the transmission. Route it longer to use up the length or get a new end at the correct length.

SWR also needs to be measured and adjusted for the frequency(s) that are going to be used. Also am indication of shorted/damaged coax.
Expanding on the first part about the bundled coax. When I was setting up my CB a couple years ago, Right Channel Radios mentioned this in a product video. The stock antenna image in the OP’s post is exactly what you’re NOT supposed to do with the excess cable. It can be coiled in a loose circle and still be ok but the scrunched bundle was a big no-no and will mess with the SWR or ruin the coax cable altogether. Running at a high SWR also can fry your radio so it’s imperative that you don’t transmit more than you have to except during the initial setup to make sure it has a low SWR.

I would check for anything loose/ dirty/ rusted/ otherwise unclean on the antenna side since it’s easiest to inspect but it could ultimately be a bigger problem with the radio or the way it’s setup.

I don’t know shit about hard mounted Ham setups so not sure if the same rules of thumb transfer over to Ham gear but the above is a good start.
 

AssBurns

will wheel for beer
Staff member
Joined
Oct 1, 2018
Messages
1,226
Location
Yucaipa, CA
#11
Have you put a longer antenna on it yet? Those really help. I threw one on my 8w handheld before I upgraded to mobile.
Yeah I picked up an taller antenna that helped a bit, but it's still not all that great I feel like. Like I will be in a narrow canyon just wide enough for 1 rig to squeeze through and when I get around a turn or two, we lose signal sometimes. We had both HAM and CB and had the same issue.
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2018
Messages
20
#12
1)
Generally speaking, you can "coil" the wire, but hard angles is a no no. I'm always seeing tightly pulled wire ends and this isn't good for both the signal and the wire being tightly pulled. When it comes to cable length, especially CB, there is this rule of thumb/myth that your cable has to be exactly in 18ft increment lengths. I am finally going to put this to an actual test for myself. Now, it has most likely already been tested, but I'd rather see the experiment being done and looking at the numbers myself.

2)
Pretty rare that you have to "tune" a HAM antenna, but that is not to say that they don't need tuning. All antennas have to be tuned in some form or fashion to "vibrate" at whatever RF signal is being transmitted. For example and to keep things simple, if a radio is TX'ing at 5unit lengths, then the antenna has to be tuned to accept/TX at 5unit lengths. Anything more or less, that is where your SWR comes in and in essence, inefficient TX'ing of that radio/antenna system. Most of the time, the non-transmitted RF energy gets reflected back to the radios RF output and on back into the RF finals (i.e. RF amplifier) and burns the living SHIT out of your radios finals.

3)
Signals in canyon settings are just simply NOT going to work as efficiently. Some freq will work better than others in certain "environments" and others will just flat out fail. I don't give a flying shit if you have 100W radio, tuned, blah blah blah, if you're around 5x sharp bends, blah blah blah, that signal is starting to die off. Never said it wouldn't work, but I am saying that signal loss is to be expected at some point in time for sure. Nobody that I know of will ever be able to give you an exact example of a when, but will simply tell you to start to expect signal degradation for sure at some point

I hope I answered the more basic/simple questions? Pretty damned tired right now and it isn't even 8:30pm yet??? WTF??? :noidea:
 

4runner DOA

Hold my beer
Staff member
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
2,045
Age
39
Location
OC
#13
1)
Generally speaking, you can "coil" the wire, but hard angles is a no no. I'm always seeing tightly pulled wire ends and this isn't good for both the signal and the wire being tightly pulled. When it comes to cable length, especially CB, there is this rule of thumb/myth that your cable has to be exactly in 18ft increment lengths. I am finally going to put this to an actual test for myself. Now, it has most likely already been tested, but I'd rather see the experiment being done and looking at the numbers myself.

2)
Pretty rare that you have to "tune" a HAM antenna, but that is not to say that they don't need tuning. All antennas have to be tuned in some form or fashion to "vibrate" at whatever RF signal is being transmitted. For example and to keep things simple, if a radio is TX'ing at 5unit lengths, then the antenna has to be tuned to accept/TX at 5unit lengths. Anything more or less, that is where your SWR comes in and in essence, inefficient TX'ing of that radio/antenna system. Most of the time, the non-transmitted RF energy gets reflected back to the radios RF output and on back into the RF finals (i.e. RF amplifier) and burns the living SHIT out of your radios finals.

3)
Signals in canyon settings are just simply NOT going to work as efficiently. Some freq will work better than others in certain "environments" and others will just flat out fail. I don't give a flying shit if you have 100W radio, tuned, blah blah blah, if you're around 5x sharp bends, blah blah blah, that signal is starting to die off. Never said it wouldn't work, but I am saying that signal loss is to be expected at some point in time for sure. Nobody that I know of will ever be able to give you an exact example of a when, but will simply tell you to start to expect signal degradation for sure at some point

I hope I answered the more basic/simple questions? Pretty damned tired right now and it isn't even 8:30pm yet??? WTF??? :noidea:
The only one you didn't answer is what may cause degraded tx. Especially with a mag mount.
 

AssBurns

will wheel for beer
Staff member
Joined
Oct 1, 2018
Messages
1,226
Location
Yucaipa, CA
#14
1)
Generally speaking, you can "coil" the wire, but hard angles is a no no. I'm always seeing tightly pulled wire ends and this isn't good for both the signal and the wire being tightly pulled. When it comes to cable length, especially CB, there is this rule of thumb/myth that your cable has to be exactly in 18ft increment lengths. I am finally going to put this to an actual test for myself. Now, it has most likely already been tested, but I'd rather see the experiment being done and looking at the numbers myself.

2)
Pretty rare that you have to "tune" a HAM antenna, but that is not to say that they don't need tuning. All antennas have to be tuned in some form or fashion to "vibrate" at whatever RF signal is being transmitted. For example and to keep things simple, if a radio is TX'ing at 5unit lengths, then the antenna has to be tuned to accept/TX at 5unit lengths. Anything more or less, that is where your SWR comes in and in essence, inefficient TX'ing of that radio/antenna system. Most of the time, the non-transmitted RF energy gets reflected back to the radios RF output and on back into the RF finals (i.e. RF amplifier) and burns the living SHIT out of your radios finals.

3)
Signals in canyon settings are just simply NOT going to work as efficiently. Some freq will work better than others in certain "environments" and others will just flat out fail. I don't give a flying shit if you have 100W radio, tuned, blah blah blah, if you're around 5x sharp bends, blah blah blah, that signal is starting to die off. Never said it wouldn't work, but I am saying that signal loss is to be expected at some point in time for sure. Nobody that I know of will ever be able to give you an exact example of a when, but will simply tell you to start to expect signal degradation for sure at some point

I hope I answered the more basic/simple questions? Pretty damned tired right now and it isn't even 8:30pm yet??? WTF??? :noidea:
Yeah I figured that going around a corner in a canyon would seriously lose signal, but it seems like as soon as you are out of line of sight, I lose signal almost instantly whereas my CB doesn’t seem quite as bad. I’m hoping that a better antenna and higher output will help out a little in these situations.
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2018
Messages
20
#15
The only one you didn't answer is what may cause degraded tx. Especially with a mag mount.
With mag mount, the only thing I can think of is not having a "good ground plane", which is what the magnet is responsible for creating/having when "coupled" to the shell/chassis, if you will, of your vehicle. That one is a good one though in this case?

It could also be attributed to bad cable as well and that would be where I would focus on first. A good test would be to get another mag mount and would be the obvious/easy move to do I realize that part, just saying. I believe someone had mentioned taking an SWR meter to the antenna system itself? This may or may not help, but better to do it anyways... either way. :thumbsup:
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2018
Messages
20
#16
Yeah I figured that going around a corner in a canyon would seriously lose signal, but it seems like as soon as you are out of line of sight, I lose signal almost instantly whereas my CB doesn’t seem quite as bad. I’m hoping that a better antenna and higher output will help out a little in these situations.
What is your squelch setting on?

It just MIGHT be channel interference and/or your antenna, both that is, are too close to one another??? I forget the term? Co-channel interference? I could be wrong with the term, but antenna systems do some weird shit sometimes when they're close together. Could be one stepping on the other, but that only typically happens when TX'ing??? Anyways, I would think about possible antenna placement.

Anyways, I had a test radio rack that I had built-up at my old place of work and my antennas ended-up being too close to one another and I had to seriously SPREAD them out so that I could do some testing of the alerting system.
 

4runner DOA

Hold my beer
Staff member
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
2,045
Age
39
Location
OC
#17
With mag mount, the only thing I can think of is not having a "good ground plane", which is what the magnet is responsible for creating/having when "coupled" to the shell/chassis, if you will, of your vehicle. That one is a good one though in this case?

It could also be attributed to bad cable as well and that would be where I would focus on first. A good test would be to get another mag mount and would be the obvious/easy move to do I realize that part, just saying. I believe someone had mentioned taking an SWR meter to the antenna system itself? This may or may not help, but better to do it anyways... either way. :thumbsup:
Pretty sure mine is just dirty underneath. I'll clean it up this weekend and see what happens on the next trip out.
 

AssBurns

will wheel for beer
Staff member
Joined
Oct 1, 2018
Messages
1,226
Location
Yucaipa, CA
#18
What is your squelch setting on?

It just MIGHT be channel interference and/or your antenna, both that is, are too close to one another??? I forget the term? Co-channel interference? I could be wrong with the term, but antenna systems do some weird shit sometimes when they're close together. Could be one stepping on the other, but that only typically happens when TX'ing??? Anyways, I would think about possible antenna placement.

Anyways, I had a test radio rack that I had built-up at my old place of work and my antennas ended-up being too close to one another and I had to seriously SPREAD them out so that I could do some testing of the alerting system.
Yeah you are speaking a new language to me. I’m just using a cheap baofeng handlend with an upgraded antenna
 

4runner DOA

Hold my beer
Staff member
Joined
Oct 2, 2018
Messages
2,045
Age
39
Location
OC
#19
Yeah you are speaking a new language to me. I’m just using a cheap baofeng handlend with an upgraded antenna
Squelch helps with interference. Too high and you may lose some receiving in canyons, too low and you may get a lot of static. Probably still at the stock setting which is 0. On the handhelds I've noticed the higher the antenna in the rig the better it works. I used to hang mine from my sunvisor.
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2018
Messages
20
#20
Yeah you are speaking a new language to me. I’m just using a cheap baofeng handlend with an upgraded antenna
If you have a handheld Baofeng do the following:
turn ON the unit and wait for it to say "frequency mode"
press "MENU" and it should say "menu"
press "UP/DOWN" arrows until you see the "SQL"
press "MENU" again and it should say "squelch"
press "UP/DOWN" arrows until you see "1"

NOTE: if you choose "0" then it is called an open squelch and you're receiving ALL weak signals and you should hear static
NOTE: if you choose "1" then you are receiving a signal that is weak, but yet your radio is just strong enough to quiet the noise
NOTE: think of a wall, a 0 is like there is no wall for someone (a signal) to walk on through. A 1, the person (a signal) has to step over. A 2, the person has to put a hand on top of the wall and one foot over the other. A 3, now the person has to put both hands on top and almost start a climbing like action. A 4, now a step ladder is involved. A 5................... you should now start to see a picture forming on what is going on. The higher the number, the stronger the signal has to be in order for your radio's RX (receiver) to receive it.

press "MENU" again and it should say "confirmed"

Now your radio is set on whatever number setting you chose. (see NOTES just above for number meaning)

Try setting it on "0" only when wanting your radio's RX (receiver) to receive as much weak signals as possible. BUT, that constant static noise is going to be pretty bothersome for sure. What squelch is actually doing is quieting the actual circuit noise, if you will, which in turn affects how sensitive it is when picking-up signals on the radio's RX (receiver).
 
Last edited:

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Top Bottom