2015 MA-SD x 3

The Summer of 2015 I did 3 round trips to South Dakota from our Summer home in the Berkshires. 10,000 miles! All of them included ham radio at different levels.

Trip 1 Last weekend in April. Ham radio included the trusty IC2820 dual band radio, APRS and DMR via UHF. APRS via RF is spotty with some totally uncovered areas. DMR coverage was too spotty to do much good via repeaters. Analog was all but dead. Since the wife was with me radio noise is always “naturally” limited.
Trip 2  Last week in May. The trip was not not planned (sudden death in the family). Thus not many changes in the radio setup. Tried a MMDVM for DMR, but had problems with continuous mobile data coverage in the midwest.
Trip 3 Last week in June. HF added. The Ford Expedition EL looked ridiculous! A huge mono band 40m HF whip was mounted on a NMO mount on the fender (L bracket under the hood) and reached for the sky. It turned a lot of heads along the road. That the bracket survived is a miracle. Speed limit of 80mph + headwind put the wind load at 100mph +. A couple of HF contacts were made (RV Net) as I was passing Chicago. S9 noise floor made things a little more challenging. Other than the antenna, mobile HF seems to be a lot of fun.

 

CONCLUSION

Trans continental (ok 1/2 continental) travel with ham radio is not easy unless you simply monitor 146.52 and/or 446.0 for simplex. At 70+ mph simplex contacts are quickly moving in and out of range.

Repeater hamming is next to useless. HF was OK, but the car looks ridiculous.

CB is needed when the roads are closed due to accidents. I was delayed 3+ hours due to semi accident closing the interstate.