Mobile – Sort Of…

This past Saturday, I took a couple of hours to go and operate from my Jeep in a park parking lot. It was a bit of a last minute expedition, so I didn’t have any real objectives other than to try out something that I’ve wanted to play with for a while. That’s running the MP1 SuperAntenna on the mount I have on the back of my Jeep.

There was an incident a while back when I went to attach the MP1 to the cargo cage of my Jeep and it, well, fell and broke. Really broke. It wasn’t until later that evening that I found myself shaking my head over how I could have easily avoided all of that nonsense by simply using the mount that was already on the Jeep.

The mount itself is pretty cool. I would post a link if I could remember where I got it, but it mounts to the spare tire assembly and allows me to position a VHF/UHF antenna on the back which I run with my super inexpensive but totally adequate mobile rig. Look, I drive a Jeep that doesn’t have doors most of the spring and summer. I’m not going to put an ICOM in there. So yes, I have a rather disposable rig that does exactly what I need it to do and very little else. It was my first base station of sorts for getting to repeaters and maybe I will do a quick write up of it at some point because it is, as I say, adequate. Clunky and with a garbage UI, but adequate.

Anyway, the mount itself looks like this:

Jeep antenna mount with MP1 post and cable.

The post for the MP1 matches perfectly, as one would expect. The entire assembly sits nicely on the mount and even adds a bit of height to the party.

The rear of the Jeep with antenna and wire.
The rear of the Jeep with the full antenna captured.

With the antenna all setup, I was able to operate from inside of the Jeep in relative comfort.

The IC-705 on the dashboard and the Surface Go on my lap in the passenger seat.

One thing that did seem off on this trip was the drift of the clock on my Surface Go. I don’t know if there was an update to Windows that caused this or what, but the time drifted about a second over the course of 15 minutes of operation. That’s not great performance. So I put my little GPS puck on again and set my software to update the time every 5 minutes. That solved the problem, but it does add to battery drain in powering the GPS as well as running the software. It’s likely not noticeable, but on a longer trip it might be.

I also learned that the base of the GPS is magnetic which turned out to be a really neat feature!

The GPS puck stuck to the door of the Jeep via an internal magnet.

Again, I have that blue tape because my dad and I have so much of the same equipment that it’s almost inevitable that it will get mixed up when we’re out together. I’m not implying that he’s a thief who wants to wander off with my stuff, but I’m also not not implying it.

The observant will notice that I didn’t deploy any radials based on the pictures. You’d be right. My SWR was around 1.3:1 and I didn’t have a good way to attach them to the mount. That’s something that I will be considering and fabricating soon enough. A tab of metal on a washer should do the trick, but I actually have to get around to soldering it up. Maybe this winter? All in all, I was getting out just fine. showing stations that heard me from EN91.

If I were to zoom in on that map, it would be clear that I was being heard all over the US and at least in Puerto Rico and a spot or two in South America. Nothing in Europe, though I did hear Germany and England.

I didn’t net out with a ton of contacts, but I did prove out the setup. It takes very little time to deploy it and tear it down. And it’s possible to run it just about anywhere that I can park the Jeep. I’m kind of excited that it worked as well as I had hoped.

I doubt very much that this will be my favorite way to operate in the field. That said, it is definitely convenient and quick. It also seems to be fairly foolproof and comes with a built-in shelter in the case of weather. I’m thinking that it would come in really handy for those times where I’m waiting around at a Scouting event or killing some time between weekend activities. More radio is better radio, right?