My mobile ham station is installed in my 1998 Saturn SL2. It consists of a remote mounted, in the trunk, ICOM IC-706 and AH-4 auto-tuner. The control head has been adapted to an old cellphone universal swivel. The swivels can be bought at most swapfests these days for less than $5 each. I made a dash mounting plate that is attached to an area that once held a simple coin-junk cubby hole insert. The antenna was made from an old Hustler mobile antenna that used the interchangeable band coils. The base spring coil is a safety precaution. You'll only need to drive into a garage with the antenna extended once to understand why such a coil is needed! The base of this antenna is a simple 3/8" brass bolt and I have had one of these break before, leaving my antenna on the side of the highway as a donation to future hams. You will notice in the picture that I added two support guys, made from thick weed-wacker line, to stabilize the antenna while in motion. I have not had a base bolt break since I added the guy lines! Under the trunk is a 2 X 2" piece of aluminum angle iron about three foot long that provides the structural support for the antenna mounting bolt and coax connector. The Hustler antenna still retains the lower MO-2 style tilt over. So I can simple fold the antenna over when I need to park the car in a garage or when entering commercial parking lots. Don't forget those Fast-Food and Bank driveups either.
The AH-4 can load just about any old Hustler coil I attach to the top of the antenna. Right now I have a 20 meter mono-stick adapted to the top section. It loads fine on all HF ham band through 80 meters. The mono-bander stick was choosen as it offers very little wind resistance.
In the trunk:
The IC-706 is mounted under the rear window deck.
The AH-4 is attached under the trunk hood to the support angle bracket near to the antenna feed point.
I've worked all over the world with this current setup. The IC-706 is a fine radio. I also have the 2 meter quarter wave whip attached above the rear window to take advantage of the 2 meter band on the 706.
The primary reason for choosing the IC-706 was it has the easiest control head to remove from the car. It only takes a few seconds for me to slide the head off the mount and place it in my pocket for safe keeping. I checked out several other makers and it seems like they designed their control heads simply to provide for space saving. I wanted space savings and ease of removal.
Acutally the Saturn is a great radio car. The dash board is low and offers a great deal of space for bigger radios. Being a small car with a BIG vertical antenna on the back it does resemble the car from "Back To The Future", hi. At first I ran a Kenwood TS-120S that got Velcro strapped to the dash. It worked great. I could remove the rig in about a minute. However, the TS-120S used an older capacitor VFO and it drifted all over the place, especially during our cold midwest Winters. I was driving one hour to and from work. You would start off with a car sitting in single digit Winter temps and then it would heat up to 70-80 degrees inside during the drive. My hand would be adjusting the VFO dial throughout the entire drive. So the TS-120S was sold to someone who wanted it as a backup rig in their shack. That's the best place for it!
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