Radio To Go

The Yaesu FTM-400XDR I have mounted in the Jeep for mobile ops is only a dual band 2M/70m radio, and I wanted to expand my comms capabilities to HF.   After passing my General Exam I started shopping around for a HF rig.  Since I was already familiar with Yaesu quality, menus and configs I decide on the FT-857d –  another small portable rig that I could take on our trips.

I started researching carry cases, packs, and rails.  There are several options out there, but none that quite suited my needs/wants so it was going to be up to me to customize something.  I wanted it as light as it could be, but with the versatility to use at home as a base unit, but also packable for trips or even hiking. I have seen several builds and designs so had an idea of what I wanted.

What I started with was a DIY Radio Transceiver Antenna Tuner Carrier Backpack Holder from Ebay.  Here how it arrived and put together in its stock form.


The stock measurements are 19 3/4 L x 12 5/8 W (Sorry forgot to measure the height, but its was about 6.5)


Here is the Yaesu FT-857D and LDG Z-100 Auto tuner in the rack with a 12v 10Ah Battery.  Pretty large for what I want/need.


Since this DIY kit is like a big Erector set, I started moving pieces around to make the entire unit a little smaller.


I decided to use the mounting plates as the battery enclosure and have one hinge open for easy access to the battery and cable/wiring connections.


Planning to use this flexible neck for the head unit.


It will have feet on the end to allow the unit to free stand up off the ground.


Here are the final cut pieces and assembly.  Final dimensions are 16 L x 5 H x 6 3/4 W




Total weight is about 20 lbs (9kg).


Now it’s time to head to the field to do a shake down with this setup.

For a portable HF antenna, I am using the Buddipole Deluxe Kit, a hf/vhf portable dipole antenna system which is designed to be modular, versatile, and efficient.


Yaesu Head Unit Custom Mount

A few months back I posted about my ham and GMRS radio setups in the Jeep.

A few people commented on the head unit setup, so I thought I would share a few more details.

I have a Yaesu FTM-400 XDR. The base unit is mounted under the drivers seat, and the head unit is mounted on a custom bracket on the dash. The bracket started life as an off-the-shelf piece that holds a CB mic and attaches to the passenger side dash grab bar. I cut a T shaped piece of sheet metal that would allow for mounting the FTM head unit and three mics. The T is mounted upside down and the end rounded where the FTM mounts. It was all painted black, and I used pop rivets to mount the mic holders.

Here are some pics of the mount. I hope this helps others build a custom bracket for their ham, GSRM, or CB setups.

I currently run this FTM-400, a Midland MXT400, and a Midland 75-822 CB.




Original Off-the-shelf bracket. 61tna6voGLL._SL1500_ copy

Eye of the Elephant

Eye of the Elephant

The setting sun shines through one of the arches in the formation known as Parade of Elephants.

As everyone one else was rushing to get into position to take photos of Double, Windows, and Turret Arches, I walked down the road just a little to wait for the sun to align itself perfectly behind the Parade of Elephants.   I never imagined I’d get a shot like this!

Cherokee National Forest

Explored another 80 miles of dirt roads over the weekend. The blue signify trails/roads already explored.  The yellow were new ones!!
We camped Friday night at Hickey Gap in the Cohutta Wilderness Area and then Saturday we headed north into the Cherokee National Forest.
We made our way across Baker Creek Road, then towards Lake Ocoee and north on Oswald Road/FSR 195.  Oswald Road has some awesome overlooks of the lake and surrounding areas.  I want to plan another trip back to shoot some timelapse and astrophotography there.
Lake Ocoee Dam
Sugarloaf and Lake Ocoee Marina Overlook on Oswald Road


Lake Ocoee Marina Overlook on Oswald Roadimg_9266img_9267
Gazebo Overlookimg_9268img_9269
We then traveled on Oswald Road, and then towards State Route 30 and then up to Reliance, TN. At Reliance, we checked out the Hiwassee Union Baptist Church, Hiwassee River, and Webb Brothers Float Service/Texaco.
Hiwassee River


Hiwassee Union Baptist Churchimg_9273img_9274img_9272
From Reliance, we backtracked to Lost Creek Road.  There we stopped for the night to setup camp at Lost Creek CG.  There were only three other campers in there, and we were able to get a prime site right on the creek.
Sunday Morning we were up bright and early.  After some eggs and bacon, we broke camp and started out again on Lost Creek Road.  After several miles, Lost Creek ended and turned in FSR 236. When we hit the intersection of McFarland Road, we turned south which would take us to Kimsey Mountain Hwy (which is not a paved Hwy)!!
At Kimsey Mountain Hwy, we started to head west and decided to take Smith Mountain Road/FSR 80 as it made a large loop and was less traveled and would hopefully provide some challenges.  Looking at the map, I also knew it would eventually bring us back to Kimsey Mountain.
As luck would have it, we got all the way to the end of Smith Mountain Road/FSR 80 and there was a large tree across the road.  Most vehicles could have made it under it fairly easy with room to clear, but not the Jeep.  That lowest branch was right at the Gobi Rack. With really no options to turn around and back track, I busted out the axe!!


Once the branches were cut the Jeep cleared it with ease. But due to the angle we entered, the trailer was going to hit.  Luckily, Michelle was able to give it just enough boost to raise the tree just the inch we needed.  I should have had her swinging the axe 🙂



With the tree clear we were on our way.  Once on Kimsey Mountain Hwy, it was smooth sailing (still dirt road though) back to State Route 30.  From there we headed south towards home.