Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mobile Command Post

I receive many enquires from hams asking how they may put together a similar radio stack assembly like the one in my mobile.
 This radio stack design came about after various other designs created by me over the years.
 The complete stack is adjustable in all directions, including allowing access from the passenger seat when I have a navigator/operator along while doing public service work.

 The complete radio stack assembly may be removed in minutes, if required, as the only cables required to be disconnected from the radio stack, are the three data cables, and the quick-disconnect at the bottom of the radio-stack, where the 3" stub-adapter is bolted to the center seat mount assembly.

 If desired, the upper part of the assembly which means all the devices, may seperated from the lower post-mount, allowing for service work in a jiffy when required, or for security reasons when away from my mobile.
Unfortunately the mount assembly cannot be purchased as shown, although some of the individual components that make up the mechanical assembly are available.

The assembly starting from the bottom, consists of a heavy-duty photography monopod, that I discarded the two bottom sections, and modified the top section to become the main base section of the radio stack.
I then utilized 4 flanged double-ended ball mounts that required some modification, and the addition of custom made brackets  from my shop to allow all the ham radio devices to be fastened in place.

Here is a more detailed description as to how I utilize the individual components that reside in my radio stack
 In order from the top down, is the Garmin Montana GPS bi-directional device in the center, and mounted to the driver's side is the Garmin Nuvi, with my Geosat 6 on the passenger side of the radio stack, and below them is the Kenwood TM-D710A control panel with a GPS 710 receiver attached to the back, and then the Kenwood TS-480HX control panel mounted at the bottom.

The Garmin Nuvi is a terrific device for city use, especially since it has capabilities in regards to controlled roadways, and with its built in FM receiver for traffic, it gives me a birds eye view as to the traffic around me, and this is done with voice. With a touch of the screen, I can see the various interchanges ahead of me, and what the traffic flow looks like, including how many lights I will sit through, before getting through the intersection ahead of me. It also shows the posted speed of the roadway that I am travelling on, and if I am exceeding the speed limit. It also gives warning chims as to any intersections with safety cameras, red-light cameras, and other devices that are in play.

 The Garmin Montana is my favorite aprs device, what with the superior mapping available as a free download from the Internet. I am running a full compliment of Canadian Topo maps, as well as the southern Alberta Backroad Topo Maps on the Montana, and the mapping is wonderful, no matter you're location, as the detail includes everything that you see out the window, and then some. The Montana may also be used away from the vehicle, and this includes as a aprs device when paired with my Kenwood D72.

 The Kenwood Geosat 6 has a place in my radio stack, as it provides me with not only more useful information, but it also may be used in portrait mode, and this in itself makes the Geosat 6 worth the price of admission. The Geosat 6 may also be used with the Kenwood D710A as a aprs device, with beaconing stations placed on the map of the Geosat 6.
 Now I have just scratched the surface, as to the capabilities of these 3 devices, and how I am utilizing them, but...well you get the jest of what I am saying...I don't leave home without them!

 Kenwood TM-710A
 Being that I spend a lot of time in my mobile, I wanted a radio with digital capabilities that included APRS. My Kenwood TM-710A which has its own dedicated gps receiver, is a two-way tactical real-time digital communications system that is linked in to a network, sharing information about everything going on in my local area. On my radio, this means if something is happening now, or there is information that could be valuable to me, then it will be shown on the display of my radio. APRS also supports global callsign-to-callsign messaging, bulletins, objects email and Voice, because every local area is seen by the internet system.
 Here are some of the cool features of MY TM-710A while running APRS:
 VOICE ALERT: While running APRS, I leave band A volume up but set CTCSS 100 to mute the speaker. This way, I don't hear any packets, but anyone can call me with voice on 144.39 to alert me by using PL 100. This allows anyone, anywhere, anytime (they are in simplex range)
 to call me by voice with PL100, because they know that I am listening on the APRS channel with CTCSS 100!
 PROXIMITY RADAR: The advantage of the Voice Alert Setting is that the speaker is 100% muted for all packets... EXCEPT simplex range packets from another Voice Alert TM-D710A or a Yaesu FTM-350 that is very close to me. His or her once a minute packets will act like a radar-ping, alerting me to their presence and the fact that someone is also monitroing voice alert for a simplex QSO.
 I may go a week without hearing anyone (simplex packet range is only 5 miles or so), but it is fun when someone comes in range. APRS is about *facilitating-communications*. With Voice Alert, I will never "pass- in-the-night" without knowing that someone is nearby, in simplex range of my mobile that can ALWAYS be contacted with a voice call... Its like a free radar for other mobile APRS operators that are in simplex range and listening.
 With the radio in my truck beaconing my location, you are able to see me on google-maps. If I am moving, you will see me laying down waypoints in real-time.

 Kenwood TS-480HX

 After owning the TS-480 for a number of years now, I am very pleased with the performance of this fine radio.
 The TS-480 is a basic solid-state, microprocessor-controlled transceiver, intended to provide only HF/60 meters/6 meters coverage. It is very well designed, although neither its price nor its performance qualify it to be included in the ranks of "ultimate" high-end contesting transceivers. Its major distinguishing characteristic is its highly flexible electrical/mechanical/packaging design, including the well-known separate control head. With this capability, there are a number of different physical/operational configurations that the TS-480 can support.

 Single-unit operation, with the RF deck and control head mounted together on a common bracket. Kenwood-manufactured dual-mounting brackets are reportedly sold in Europe but probably not in the US. A short interface cable will still be required between the two units.
 Separated control and RF units (the conventional configuration). The two separate units, either on the operating bench or in the mobile as I am using mine, are connected by the supplied RJ-25 serial cable. The RF deck and its large power and transmission line cables can be tucked away, out of sight.
 Remote operation of the RF deck from anywhere in the world via the Internet. Two downloadable Kenwood freeware applications, ARHP-10 and ARCP-480, provide host and client capabilities for doing exactly this.

 Contrary to a number of specific complaints, Kenwood's design decision to attach the local microphone directly to the RF deck rather than to the control head is operationally sound. At least for mobile usage, a visible control head will not show a microphone dangling from it. The supplied hand microphone can be tucked under a seat, out of sight, when not in use, although in my case I replaced the stock Kenwood mic with a Heil handi-mic. An external speaker plugs into the RF deck also.

So this post gives you a heads up as to what resides in the radio stack of my mobile

All photos expand.
For more info on my mobile ham radio ops.....

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