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VX6000 on ATV

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HKChad

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I have a VX6000 UHF that I'm trying to use in the 45x.000 range. It is mounted on an ATV. I have tried to keep the antenna small and not require a ground plane so currently I have a Larsen SB450FME12 installed. My issue is when transmitting the other radio can barely hear me. What comes through is clean sound no distortion or noise but very quiet. I have tested the mic/headset combo that I am using with another radio and that is working as expected. Could this just be a bad antanna? I do not have a SWR meter to test it. In addition I also have a Laird Tech ETRAB that I could try but being this is an ATV there is no ground plane. Can I just cut a 1 foot square piece of sheetmetal, mount the antenna to and try it to see if it improves? Then I would know if the antenna is my issue.

Any other suggestions for low profile antennas that do not require a ground?

Thanks,
Chad
 

mmckenna

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Unlikely the audio issue is related to the antenna.

I'd suspect the headset as the likely cause. Could be the microphone interface is not correct for that radio, not providing enough audio into the radio, or just a setting that needs to be adjusted.

Does it sound any better when the ATV is not running?
 

HKChad

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No there is not change when it's running/not running. I even hooked it directly to a 12V Deep Cycle that was fresh off the charger and there was no change. I really hope it's not the headset b/c I got it all from the same vendor. What setting would I look for? There's not much in the software. I have a Handheld Mic coming for the radio soon so that can rule out the headset for sure.
 

mmckenna

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Without knowing exactly what you have for a headset, it's difficult to say. Some specifics would help a lot.

How does the headset interface to the radio? Does it use the microphone jack on the front of the radio, or does it use an accessory port on the back of the radio?
My guess with what little info you've provided would suggest that a microphone gain setting might be off, but that's probably not going to be in the radio. If there is a headset interface box between the radio and the headset, I'd suggest looking there. Could be a gain setting that isn't correct for that radio. Different radios uses different types of microphones, so unless your headset is specific to that model/brand radio, then there is likely some way to adjust the interface for the microphone so it would be compatible with other radios. Things like microphone impedance, bias power, etc. would all come into play depending on exactly which radio you were interfacing it to. It isn't a one size fits all solution, each radio model may/will be different.

Have you tried contacting the dealer?
 

HKChad

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I'm using this headset connected via the 25pin Serial Connector on the radio itself. I have not connected the dealer yet because I wasn't totally satisfied the antenna was good. I have a new (different) antenna on order and should have the MIC soon. Those two should help rule out where the real issue is. That headset works great with my VX6/7/8 radios and as far as I know I can't adjust it.
 

mmckenna

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OK, not sure where to start here. I took a close look at the radio, the headset, the cable and the antenna, and there are a number of issues that pop up, some safety issues and quite concerning…

The Audio issue:
The DB-25 pin connector on the back of the radio allows for such things like headsets and different audio level inputs. In the programming software there should be settings somewhere for adjusting the levels. Since I don't work with Vertex radios, I'm not going to be much help. I know where the settings are on Motorola and Kenwood radios, but that isn't going to do you any good. You need to talk to someone with Vertex programming experience. The guys at Rugged Radios should be able to assist you.
Purchasing the hand mic isn't going to tell you much as it uses a different connector on the side of the radio, not the DB25 on the rear. The settings for the audio inputs are not radio wide, they are for specific inputs. The hand mic isn't going to do anything to prove the proper function of the DB25 connector, the headset or the interface cable. All it's going to tell you is that the microphone input on the side of the radio is working.

Antenna:
The problem you describe is an audio issue, not an RF issue, so the type of antenna isn't the issue. Changing out the antenna from the Larsen you have is probably a really good idea. The Vertex VX6000 runs 100 watts on UHF. The Larsen antenna you linked to is only rated for 35 watts. Even if you have the power turned down to 50 watts on the Vertex, you are still looking for some issues. Antennas can overheat if hit with too much power, causing damage. The Laird antenna you linked to is rated for 100 watts.

100 Watts:
Wow, this is an issue on many levels.
First of all, running 100 watts on an ATV is exposing your body to unhealthy levels of RF energy. To be safe, you'd need 6 feet of separation between your body and the antenna to be out of the danger zone. Even turning the power down to 50 watts likely is unsafe. RF energy at that level causes tissue heating, and that can lead to all kinds of issues. Seriously, not trying to bust your chops, but this is dangerous.
The other issue is that while you are pumping out 100 watts out of the radio, your antenna is really not doing you any favors. These low profile antennas are really poor performers. Getting a more efficient antenna up and in the clear is going to help things a lot. The antenna needs to be unobstructed, by you, the ATV, etc. for it to perform well. Mounting it down low on the rack is going to make performance suffer. Also, a 100 watt radio is going to tax your electrical system if you do a lot of transmitting with it.

I'd really, strongly, suggest turning the RF power down as low as it will go. Get the antenna out and in the clear. High RF power isn't going to overcome antenna deficiencies, and it does nothing on the receive side. These sort of high power radios are intended to be installed in cars or trucks where there is sheet metal between the antenna and the occupants. Using this sort of set up on an ATV is not safe.

Even on my UTV, I'm running 25 watts to an antenna mounted on the roof, with a layer of metal between me and the antenna.
 

mgolden2

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I have a VX6000 UHF that I'm trying to use in the 45x.000 range. It is mounted on an ATV. I have tried to keep the antenna small and not require a ground plane so currently I have a Larsen SB450FME12 installed. My issue is when transmitting the other radio can barely hear me. What comes through is clean sound no distortion or noise but very quiet. I have tested the mic/headset combo that I am using with another radio and that is working as expected. Could this just be a bad antanna? I do not have a SWR meter to test it. In addition I also have a Laird Tech ETRAB that I could try but being this is an ATV there is no ground plane. Can I just cut a 1 foot square piece of sheetmetal, mount the antenna to and try it to see if it improves? Then I would know if the antenna is my issue.

Any other suggestions for low profile antennas that do not require a ground?

Thanks,
Chad
I'd love to see pictures of how your radio and antenna are mounted on the ATV. Thanks

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
 

HKChad

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OK, not sure where to start here. I took a close look at the radio, the headset, the cable and the antenna, and there are a number of issues that pop up, some safety issues and quite concerning…

The Audio issue:
The DB-25 pin connector on the back of the radio allows for such things like headsets and different audio level inputs. In the programming software there should be settings somewhere for adjusting the levels. Since I don't work with Vertex radios, I'm not going to be much help. I know where the settings are on Motorola and Kenwood radios, but that isn't going to do you any good. You need to talk to someone with Vertex programming experience. The guys at Rugged Radios should be able to assist you.
Purchasing the hand mic isn't going to tell you much as it uses a different connector on the side of the radio, not the DB25 on the rear. The settings for the audio inputs are not radio wide, they are for specific inputs. The hand mic isn't going to do anything to prove the proper function of the DB25 connector, the headset or the interface cable. All it's going to tell you is that the microphone input on the side of the radio is working.
I looked through the CE49 software last night and didn't see anything that stood out to me that would adjust the output levels from the DB25 port. I have some extra connectors lying around so if the Mic works I'll retrofit the Mic connector to my headset and see if that works too. The Mic will tell me if the radio has a transmit issue or if the issue is external. I also have emailed Rugged tech support.

Antenna:
The problem you describe is an audio issue, not an RF issue, so the type of antenna isn't the issue. Changing out the antenna from the Larsen you have is probably a really good idea. The Vertex VX6000 runs 100 watts on UHF. The Larsen antenna you linked to is only rated for 35 watts. Even if you have the power turned down to 50 watts on the Vertex, you are still looking for some issues. Antennas can overheat if hit with too much power, causing damage. The Laird antenna you linked to is rated for 100 watts.
Good catch, for some reason I thought it was rated to 100, regardless I'm not going to use that one, no good way to mount it as you suggested. I will either use the Larsen that I mentioned or a 12" whip that I have as well.

100 Watts:
Wow, this is an issue on many levels.
First of all, running 100 watts on an ATV is exposing your body to unhealthy levels of RF energy. To be safe, you'd need 6 feet of separation between your body and the antenna to be out of the danger zone. Even turning the power down to 50 watts likely is unsafe. RF energy at that level causes tissue heating, and that can lead to all kinds of issues. Seriously, not trying to bust your chops, but this is dangerous.
The other issue is that while you are pumping out 100 watts out of the radio, your antenna is really not doing you any favors. These low profile antennas are really poor performers. Getting a more efficient antenna up and in the clear is going to help things a lot. The antenna needs to be unobstructed, by you, the ATV, etc. for it to perform well. Mounting it down low on the rack is going to make performance suffer. Also, a 100 watt radio is going to tax your electrical system if you do a lot of transmitting with it.

I'd really, strongly, suggest turning the RF power down as low as it will go. Get the antenna out and in the clear. High RF power isn't going to overcome antenna deficiencies, and it does nothing on the receive side. These sort of high power radios are intended to be installed in cars or trucks where there is sheet metal between the antenna and the occupants. Using this sort of set up on an ATV is not safe.
Currently I have my 'normal' channels programming both 50 and 100 watts, plan to use 50 as much as I can. In addition I also have all the public safety channels programmed in the radio at full power. We work/ride in pretty remote areas, I already carry a SAT phone and a SPOT, this was an additional level of communication in the event we run into issues on the trails. My antenna isn't mounted to the 'rack' the NMO mount is already at about shoulder height on my rear box. The 12" whip should help get it in the clear. I'll keep the Larsen around for when we get in the thick stuff. Additional Vertex markets this radio combo at Motorcycles where there is no sheet metal roof or 6' of separate possible, so I can't see how it would be 'unsafe' on an ATV, when setup correctly, which I am attempting to do here.

Even on my UTV, I'm running 25 watts to an antenna mounted on the roof, with a layer of metal between me and the antenna.
Sounds great! Glad that's working for ya. Appreciate the input.

I'd love to see pictures of how your radio and antenna are mounted on the ATV. Thanks

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
I have the main unit in a Pelican on the front rack, the remote motorcycle head unit is mounted to the outside of that, still working on the Antenna, once I have it all working I'll be glad to post some pictures.
 

mmckenna

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Additional Vertex markets this radio combo at Motorcycles where there is no sheet metal roof or 6' of separate possible, so I can't see how it would be 'unsafe' on an ATV, when setup correctly, which I am attempting to do here.
The older Motorola Spectra motorcycle radios we used to run were limited to 15 watts on VHF to protect the rider. They were a specific RF deck, not just a different control head on a standard radio. Not sure how Vertex does it, as I said, I haven't worked with Vertex radios in quite a while. I have seen the motorcycle head set up, and I like it, nice looking unit.

100 watts, or even 50 watts being radiated that close to your head is a safety issue. Sounds like you are aware of the risks, so I'll leave it at that.
 

unlisted

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Photos of your.current setup please. also the rear box... Is it plastic or metal?


To beat a dead horse... 15 watts is all you should be pumping out of the radio.. Boost the output only with a high gain.whip antenna. You may also have (lack of) ground plane issues. Some antenna companies sell ground plane kits to add to a whip antenna.

Sent from my C6906 using Tapatalk
 

jeatock

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mmckenna is right on all counts. A VX6000 on a ATV is like a nuc hand grenade: The result is impressive, but you can't run fast enough to get safe distance before it goes off.

What's the battery voltage at the power connector during TX? That may be part of your audio problem. 6000's don't like low DC, and the ATV charging system will have a hard time keeping up.

I'd recommend going an entirely different route with a different radio. A simple $325 25/40w radio will do all you are going to get done. I normally mount standard radios to the underside of the roof. No need for remote cable (a PITA) or remote RF deck containers (another PITA) taking up valuable space.

While the VX6000's are fine radios, it takes a FIF8 and SVC49 to make them run right, and setup is a royal pain. You'll spend more than $325 in time, cables and software.

We talked to the Moon on 10 watts. An effective antenna with a 20w ERP is going to do everything you can practically reailze on UHF. Move the 6000 to a vehicle that can utilize the high RF and has the battery and antenna location to make it run right. If you always have a support vehicle in a reasonable radius, consider a vehicular repeater in the mothership. Talk two miles from the ATV to the MR and fourty miles from an apparatus with a big battery and real good antenna. In-band works dandy with a 15MHz separation and appropriate filtering.

As far as ATV antennas go, KISS applies. For ATV's like the Polaris 800 or Kubotas, I use a 6" unity spike and standard mount centered on a metal roof. If a tree bends it over, bend it back. If it gets broken off, they're what, 8 bucks? Keep a spare in the glove box.
 
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kb2ztx

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I have put a couple VX6000 radios on gators. All were lowband and we set the power on low (10 watts). Antenna was mounted to a pole in the bed of the box above the drivers head. We used the motorcycle head and mike system and never had issues. I would not use a highpower radio on any ATV as was mentioned you cannot get the RF far enough away from the riders.

I also have a Artic Cat ATV that has a VHF radio. I used a low power M1225 (set to low power) with 1/4 wave on the rear rack. Its not the best but I mainly use it to hear as I cannot hear the HT going down the trails. For $50 on ebay if it gets soaked and quites I throw it out and buy another.
 

HKChad

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So I have the new antenna mounted up and the new microphone. I am able to transmit via the microphone but I cannot hear anything on the microphone, if I plug in a set of headphones on the rear I can hear it just fine, shouldn't I be able to get audio out of the microphone as well?

On the Headset I have on the D25 connector I am able to hear a transmission but I still cannot transmit well, the RX light on the receiver lights up but I get a very faint output. So it appears the radio is working, but not all the pieces are in place. Is there something in CE49 I need to turn on to get the microphone's speaker to work?

Again, able to TX from the Microphone but cannot hear anything in RX
able to Hear on the headset but get very faint audio on transmit. I have plenty of power going into the radio, I have a very large Odyssey battery installed.

Thanks,
Chad
 

kb2ztx

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Think you need to pull the radio and have a shop look at it that works on those radios. Put it on a real monitor and look thru the programming software.
 
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