Building the ultimate Amateur Radio daily driver! (Part 1 The Planning)
This could also be titled. “Why I shouldn’t live near GigaParts”
I recently got a new to me Suburban to replace my older Suburban that I had racked up the mileage on. I spend a lot of time behind the wheel, be it daily or on multi state trips or even to a hamfest. I like to travel. I love to see new places and really I like to drive! I love the outdoors too so I love to see the country side! I haven’t got my radios in the new ride yet and it’s time! I enjoy morning and evening drive times talking to all my friends and making new friends and checking into nets from time to time!
With that, I want to build a vehicle that I can monitor most of the active bands in the area and be frequency agile. I also want the ability to support emergency communications and other events like marathons and bike rides if the need arises.Right now I am focusing on VHF/UHF. I have a plan for HF but that is another post.
What do I want to achieve?
- Be able to cover most DV modes used (D-Star, DMR, C4FM)
- Cover most of the UHF/VHF spectrum (Repeaters in my area)(6m,2m,1.25m,70cm,23cm)
- Minimize the number of antennas needed to support everything
- Nicely integrated into the car without compromise to storage space and functionality
So after strolling through GigaParts for days on end. This is what I am currently thinking.
Antennas, Duplexers, and Triplexers
- Diamond CR627BNMO paired with MX62M Duplexer
- Diamond CR320ANMO paired with MX324 Triplexer
- Diamond NR2000M paired with MX37 Duplexer
Layout is shown in the diagram below
My thoughts are with the 3 Antennas I can NMO mount the 6m tri band and the 220 tri band. The 1.2Ghz tri band will go on the hatch via a diamond lip mount. I plan to mount the ID-5100 and the FTM-400DR control heads most likely via suction cup mounts to the windshield beside the drivers side pillar. I also plan to use a Havis C-VS-1000-TAH police console to mount the other radios. I will be 3D printing custom inserts to hold the radios in place. This makes the Hytera and Bridgecom radio nice as they are equipped with front facing speakers. I plan to fit the other radio bodies under the console and retain cup holders!
Lets talk data
I really want to be able to integrate data into the mix here in a couple of different ways. I really want the ability to use D-Star, DMR, and C4FM while not in the range of a repeater. Although D-Star repeaters are still popping up everywhere, Yaesu did a great job of pushing their system fusion repeaters out the door, and DMR seems to be the latest rage. You will still find areas where these are not available. Sure there may be some analog repeaters. Good luck trying to talk to someone at 1am when you are trying to stay awake and need someone to chat with. That’s what makes these digital modes so great. Normally you can ALWAYS find someone to talk to! There is a pretty simple solution to this. The oh so famous Raspberry Pi and the WONDERFUL DV Mega. GigaParts has these at a good price and a single band DV Mega is all you really need. I plan to put this somewhere in the car. Will automatically boot up with the flip of a switch and connect to my phone via Wifi for network access. Problem solved!
Now packet data I think I have a solution for that. I can use another Raspberry Pi to interface with one of the radios. Load it up with FLDIGI and other awesome Linux software and feed the video through my Pioneer AVH-4200NEX headunit via HDMI. Boom! Packet data! But wait! There will also be a ID-1 in the truck! I plan to take this out to a small wireless router that I can connect to via my Microsoft Surface Tablet or any other laptop. If I also connect the WIFI from the Pi to that wireless network I could then use VPN to control the packet radio AND have the high speed data access from the Digital Data side of D-Star!
I am getting pretty excited about this! I have some of the equipment already listed. The ID-5100A, FTM-400DR, ID-1, NR-2000M, and the MX37 Duplexer
It also should be noted that the truck will have dual batteries installed to isolate the starting battery from the accessories.
What are you thoughts? What am I missing? What am I not doing right?
I’ll hear you on the air or see you at a hamfest!