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Using mobile radio at home Was: Questions re Yaesu FTM 400XDR at home (not in vehicle)

Joined
Oct 28, 2013
Messages
52
#1
I'm a technician class license holder and still a n00b, so far my only experience has been HT's. Eventually, I want to go General and get a larger base station HF capable unit however at this time space and $ do not make this an option for me. I'm considering getting a mobile unit (Yaesu FTM 400XDR) and setting it up at home for more power and the flexibility to possibly mount it in my vehicle later as well as taking it mobile with a battery set up and telescoping antenna mast (already have one I use with my HT).

My question is what kind of hardware will I need that does not come with the unit? I understand I'll need some kind of wiring harness/ AC to DC adapter and stand or mount to keep it neat on my desk. I like the idea of mounting the unit under my desk and having only the head unit and mic visible. I'm undecided on antenna thus far as I can't really install anything permanent at my apartment but I have a roll up jpole I use on my HT (limited to 30 watts). I've also heard good things about the glass mount Larsen Dual Band which can handle up to 100 watts.

I will be using both VHF/UHF analog and C4FM.

Final question, am I at risk of damaging computers other small electronics if they are fairly close to the antenna in this power range (50W max)? What kind of minimum clearance should I have from the antenna?

Any and all feedback is appreciated. Thanks!
 
Joined
Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,028
#2
I'm not familiar with your particular radio of interest but I think you'll be happy with a move to a mobile radio. If you are purchasing it new, it should have the appropriate power cable but you will need a power supply to provide about 13.8VDC at more than the rated current of your radio during transmit on high power. Something in the 20 amp range or higher is a good start especially if you intend to expand the number of radios you'll be using. I use one rated for 55A and it can run a number of radios simultaneously.
As far as antennas go, it would be best to get it outside of your immediate operating area. It will likely interfere with your computer during transmit (and perhaps the inverse during receive). Also, you don't really want to be blasting yourself or family members with RF needlessly. Depending upon your antenna setup, you'll likely need some decent coax as well. Your choice of coax would be governed mainly by the distance between your radio and antenna and of course, your budget.
 
Joined
Jul 12, 2008
Messages
2,756
Location
Cobb County, GA Stadium Crime Zone
#3
Antenna placement is paramount, for both performance and RF safety. Antennas should ideally be placed outdoors away from any sources of noise or interference. Proper grounding is essential as well. Switching power supplies can be affected by high levels of RF. Your antenna should be placed on a balcony or somewhere as far as possible from your equipment.

Glass mount antennas are garbage. Avoid them.
 

ladn

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Oct 25, 2008
Messages
252
Location
Southern California
#4
Your mileage will vary! But, generally, you should place the radio chassis well away from your computers. The separation cable should be more than adequate for this. Get a decent power supply NOW (I have a 30A Alinco switching supply that will run both my HF radio and VHF/UHF). I have never talked on both transmitters at the same time, so 30A is more than adequate.

Expect your computer / network to interfere with your VHF/UHF radio on some frequencies. A properly tuned antenna, mounted outside and away from windows will mitigate rf energy getting into your computer. Be mindful of rf energy traveling back down the coax.

You probably won't need high power on your VHF/UHF radio, depending on where you are talking. Antenna height + antenna gain will do the job, especially with repeaters.

As far as mounting, the control head bracket that comes with your radio should be adequate. You probably won't need to actually mount the radio chassis, just be sure it has adequate ventilation. You might consider Velcro (or 3M Command Strips) to keep equipment from sliding around. A plastic mat, like those used in kitchen shelves, can be cut to size and also works well to keep equipment from sliding around on tables. Steel "L" brackets from the hardware store can also be used for mounting/securing equipment. They are inexpensive and come in a variety of sizes.

Since you indicated the possibility of moving equipment between base and mobile instillation, consider how you will terminate (connect) your power leads. Many hams (and professionals) use the Anderson Power Pole connectors. Also consider buying a second power cable for your vehicle. There has been lots of discussion here about how to connect up power in a mobile install,
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2013
Messages
52
#5
Thank you all for your expertise, this is a great community. Any recommendations on a very small form factor power supply? I'd like to keep cost down but I know you get what you pay for (buy once cry once). Would I be very disappointed with something like the TekPower TP350 or TekPower TP30SWII? Do mobile radios always come with one power cable? What is the name or designation of the plastic terminator/connector used on Yaesu radios?

Sounds like the antenna will be the biggest issue, I'm in a very small single story unit but can't drill any holes or mount anything. I've been using my roll up jpole hung vertically near a large window about 6' feet from my desk on the HT with good success (sounds like this will not work moving up to more power). Does glass reflect much of the RF? Would 12-13' of separation be enough if indoors at max 30W? I have an adjacent window that may work. If not I may have to talk to the landlord and get creative. Any recommendations for a very small UHF/VHF dual bander?

Is it 100% necessary to ground the antenna if it's indoors or on the roof w/o a mast ( max height prob 12' or so ), I've only seen lightning here once or twice in 10+ years and there are several other much taller buildings around me.

Would I be ok with something small like LMR195 50-ohm Coax terminating to SMA if I'm running a max of 20-25' or do I have to move up to big boy cable/terminators?

Again thanks for the help.
 
Joined
Apr 7, 2004
Messages
492
Location
Louisiana
#6
You may do much better on VHF/UHF if you can get an antenna mounted up in the attic, assuming your roof is not metal (done this many times myself). To run the coax down, without drilling holes, you can often easily unscrew a ceiling mounted light, to pass cables through (as always be careful with any mains/120v ac lines present).

JB
 
Joined
Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,028
#7
I've not used that brand of power supply but the reviews seem to favor it. Noise generation can be an issue (especially with HF) but many of the reviews are from hams and most seem to like it. Depending upon your house construction, attic mounting may work. A metal roof, metal backed insulation or stucco may all cause you trouble. Another option to get it outside would be a window filler panel. The window is opened up a few inches and a filler panel is installed in the opening. The window is then blocked to prevent it from moving. Holes can then be drilled in the filler panel. All can be DIY to keep your cost down. Just be sure it's weatherized.

LMR195 is pretty lossy at any distance. You'd be better off with LMR240 or better yet, LMR400 if you doing any 70cm work. Those wont be terminated with and SMA connector but rather a PL259 or N -connector depending upon your antenna and radio. Adapters or pigtails are available to convert between connector types.

I thought you had your heart set on the Yaesu mentioned above?
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2013
Messages
52
#8
I like that Yaesu but not married to it, I see its SO-239 out the back, I see it also only as 5,20,50 W output. I may be better off just spending the cash and getting something like an FT-991A and grow into it so I can dabble in monitoring HF (I know I won't pick up much of anything without a proper HF antenna) but it will get me used to understanding the usb/lsb/dsb modes. I also like that it can dial in exact power output and its essentially all band all mode shack in a box.

Unfortunately, we have no attic here only a 10' flat roof. With some convincing I may be able to talk my landlord into running a cable out the hole where our cable internet connection comes in and re-sealing it however would that potentially transfer energy into the internet coax via inductance if they are essentially touching when passing through the hole even with beefy low loss shielded cable?

Any other suggestions / creative solutions are greatly appreciated as well. Thanks all.
 
Joined
Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,028
#9
The only Yaesu I've used is my 450D which does HF and 6M. There aren't too many all in one radios so you might be sacrificing some to get it although just from the specs, it looks good. Keep in mind that you'll still be limited to 50W max on VHF/UHF and you still need multiple antennas. Techs have some privileges on 10M and 6M as well as CW on some of the lower bands so you wouldn't be wasting your money with this one.

It would be best to keep your transmitting lines away from anything else, including cable. Any bad connections or leaks and you'l be sure to find them. With HF especially, noise is something you'll likely be fighting so no need to compound it by taking shortcuts in installation. Do consider the filler panel that I mentioned above. Done correctly, you won't be "in dutch" with the landlord.
 

ladn

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Oct 25, 2008
Messages
252
Location
Southern California
#10
Thank you all for your expertise, this is a great community. Any recommendations on a very small form factor power supply? I'd like to keep cost down but I know you get what you pay for (buy once cry once). Would I be very disappointed with something like the TekPower TP350 or TekPower TP30SWII? Do mobile radios always come with one power cable? What is the name or designation of the plastic terminator/connector used on Yaesu radios?
This is the power supply I use: ALINCO. It's about the size of your VHF/UHF radio. There is also a similar model with USB ports if you need 5vdc. As far as I know, radios only ship with one power cable. You can usually order another one from the usual vendors or a generic one from Amazon or e-bay (make sure it's fused and for your radio model). The Yaseu uses a Molex style connector, but I don't know the specific model number. You might call Yaesu support and ask. Like I mentioned in my original post, many (most?) hams use the Anderson PowerPole connectors to connect the power cable to feed lines: Adapter & Extension Cables | Powerwerx.
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2013
Messages
52
#11
The only Yaesu I've used is my 450D which does HF and 6M. There aren't too many all in one radios so you might be sacrificing some to get it although just from the specs, it looks good. Keep in mind that you'll still be limited to 50W max on VHF/UHF and you still need multiple antennas. Techs have some privileges on 10M and 6M as well as CW on some of the lower bands so you wouldn't be wasting your money with this one.

It would be best to keep your transmitting lines away from anything else, including cable. Any bad connections or leaks and you'l be sure to find them. With HF especially, noise is something you'll likely be fighting so no need to compound it by taking shortcuts in installation. Do consider the filler panel that I mentioned above. Done correctly, you won't be "in dutch" with the landlord.

Thanks for all the advice. I don't think the filler panel would work we don't have slider windows but a crank/pivot windows with a locking lever. If they allow me to mount a very small antenna on the roof w/o mast I could potentially open it a crack when I want to use it, run the feed line out and disconnect / close window when not in use (we're talking prob 30 sec - 1 min of work to connect or disconnect given the size and layout of my apt) Is there such a thing as a quick disconnect pigtail for the feedline on the antenna that would have a watertight seal for the portion that remains outside? Hopefully, that makes sense?
 
Joined
Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,028
#12
If there is a water tight fitting as you suggest, I'm not aware of it. many of the RF connectors used in the ham world offer no inherent weatherization on their own. (The PL259 comes to mind. That being said, you can kind of "roll your own". I've done so in the past but I had to terminate the cable on my own to get it done. This may be something you wish to learn as it is usually cheaper in the long run. Here goes:

You'll need the following:

A weather proof container will a flat bottom and a resealable lid. (A coffee can might work for a short time but would be prone to rust quickly.

An SO Cord connector for the proper diameter coax cable you'll be using. (Home Depot, Lowes, Menards, electrical supply house, etc.)

A step drill or punch for either 7/8" or 1 1/8" depending upon the SO Cord connector

Drill or punch a hole of the appropriate size for the SO cord connector in the bottom of the container.

Mount the SO cord connector into this hole and tighten.

Thread the coax through the SO cord connector into the can.

Terminate the cox with the appropriate fitting. (You may need an adapter to allow to allow it to connect to another cable.

Slide the cable back through the SO cord connector until you have a length that allows you to connect an extension to this end when in operation and will also allow you to place the lid on the container when not in use. Tighten the SO cord connector until it grips the coax and provides a seal. (You'll now have something that looks like a bell with a coax clapper.


It ain't pretty or perfect and your other ham friends will laugh but it'll get the job done for a while. Some coax types tend to suck in water like no ones business so if you live in a humid area, you're mileage may vary. some silica gel packets, kitty litter placed in the container when you're not using it may extend the life of this setup.
 

chief21

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Mar 2, 2004
Messages
822
Location
Summer - western NC; Winter - Tampa Bay FL
#13
I'm considering getting a mobile unit (Yaesu FTM 400XDR) and setting it up at home
The FTM400 is an excellent rig, and makes a very convenient base station. The large, colorful screen is easy to read - even at a distance - and the separate control head allows one to locate the head in a convenient spot and hide the main unit. The FTM400 is capable of Fusion C4FM digital, of course, but I would buy one just for all of its other attributes... wide-band VHF/UHF receive (including air band), fast scanning, touch screen, configurable soft buttons, SD card, etc.

What is the name or designation of the plastic terminator/connector used on Yaesu radios?
If you're asking about the plastic 2-pin power connector, I don't know the official designation but they are commonly known as "T" connectors. Replacement power cords of this type can be found on most two-way radio online stores (use the original in the house; another in the car).
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2013
Messages
52
#14
I decided to hold off on the mobile/base unit for a few months but wanted to share my antenna solution for now for anyone else in the same boat. I picked up a 5' UHF/VHF mobile mag mount antenna (7/8 Wave 5.0dB Gain on 2m 5/8 Wave 7.6dB Gain on 70cm) with RG58 feedline and a pigtail from PL259 to SMA male for my HT. I run the cord out the window and use the magmount to attach the antenna on the top of our 1 story apt to the steel framing material that runs where the roof and walls connect on the outside (not sure what this is called). This is a lower loss alternative and will handle up to 150 watts for when I get the mobile base unit and has a PL259 connector. Will be testing today but if it operates well I'll retire the jpole and fiberglass mast for field days/camping. Total cost for this was around $120 bucks, its not a permanent install but should take me no more than 2-3 mins to set up/ take down. I can also pop on other NMO antennas for monitoring specific bands (like airband) on the scanner. Hoping the steel framing acts as a nice ground plane. Will report back once I've had some time to test it out.
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2013
Messages
52
#15
Another update for anyone in the same boat. The roof lip was not magnetic enough as I had hoped so I used an iron weight plate (10 lb Goruck) as an anchor and base plate/ground plane. It's super stable even in high winds. Landlord had zero issues with the solution. I'm still experimenting with the HT at 5 watts but reaching repeaters 2-3 times as far as I was before with the jpole. In terms of pulling in signals, I'm getting copyable UHF/VHF signals from as far away as 300 miles up and down the coast on my scanner (sds100).

Pretty impressive considering the total height of the antenna is maybe ~17' this success has me itching to get the mobile/base station rig. I ordered some more expensive USA made RG8 as a feedline. Seems Ftm-400XDR are back ordered everywhere so I'm still trying to decide between that and the FT-991A. I'm leaning towards the ladder if my wallet will allow. I should have a good 25-30' from the unit as well as a metal roof to reflect the RF upward and operating as low power as necessary. Will report back with more info and possibly some photos for those interested. Thank you again for everyone who provided advice/help.
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2013
Messages
52
#16
Update as promised. I'm super happy with this setup and hope it helps someone in the same situation. I'll prob make a separate thread later with better pics.

I ended up taking the plunge and picking up an FT-991A, FP-1023 Power supply, 35' of high-quality American made RG8, and a TRAM So-239 to So-239 Antenna Mirror Mount. I attached the mirror mount to a 13' telescoping photography light stand (I had a few laying around as I'm a photographer). Pulled out the pressure fit threaded adapter from the light stand and capped it with one of the plastic caps that came with the TRAM mount (fit perfect).

Ran the RG8 directly into the rig, along the floor behind couch and shelves so it's not visible to a window about 12' away. Cable stays connected to rig at all times, extra cable stays coiled by the window behind the shelves again not visible when not in use.

When I want to get on the air I open the window, drop the cable coil out, connect the feed line and antenna, deploy the stand, run up the mast and drop 3 sandbags on the stand (had those too from photography). Takes about 1-2 mins max, stores away nicely. The same setup will also work in the field when I get a mobile power source.

The antenna is about 20' total now, great performance. No more climbing up and down off the roof.

Future plans - trim the bolts on the mirror mount to make attaching the feed line easier, build some kind of detachable ground plane that won't turn this thing into a wind sail.

Pics for reference.

73 all.
 

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