What I Did on My Virus Vacation
The idea of combining amateur radio and bike riding is not original. It first came to me a couple of years ago. You can find several pictures on the internet, but I may have taken this to a much more over-the-top level.
This is definitely not a project for everyone. A purely tongue-in-cheek, not terribly practical, fun thing to do. Being in Environmental, Health and Safety for part of my career, it probably bends a few rules as well. But like I said, this is just for fun.
You see, I have this wonderful Yaesu FT-897D. It’s pretty much like the FT-857D all-band, all-mode transceiver I have had in my car for over ten years with the exception it’s in a slightly bigger box to accommodate a pair 4500 mAh NiMh batteries. The addition of built-in batteries makes it extremely portable as well as versatile. I’ve always thought it would be cool to do something special with this amazing radio.
Now, the mounting of a 12-pound transceiver on my bike was a challenge and even ridiculous if you’re a serious biker. Sure, it needed to be secure, but it also needed to be easily removed (by me) when I had to park the bike. It took some research, but I found the solution in the quick mount bracket sold with a particular bike basket. I married the basket bracket with the Yaesu mobile mount bracket and voilà, that problem was solved. On to the antennas. [Click on pictures to enlarge]
I had purchased a 20m, BNC, terminated, HF, telescoping antenna for a Yaesu FT-817 at Ham-Com a while back (you could use a hamstick as well). I “borrowed” the 2m/70cm BNC antenna from my daughter Rachel’s (W5WZX) Icom HT. Those antennas and a couple of truck mirror antenna mounts worked nicely. Some custom RG-8X cables, adapters and we were ready go.
I finished this installation on a Saturday afternoon. Now, the radio can run up to 20 watts on all bands while on the batteries. Hitting local 2m and 70cm repeaters from the bike was no problem. Later that evening, I extended the HF antenna all the way and tried to transmit. I hadn’t even put it on the analyzer. The transceiver’s PWR and SWR indicators looked good, so I started to run the 20m band.
On 14.200 MHz, there was this fellow calling CQ DX from Mexico City. He was about 20 over 9 and had a bit of a pile up going on. I went back at him a few times along with several other folks. And then it happened! “W5WZY mobile, I have you 5 by 9, QSL?”
OMG! I said “QSL the 5 by 9 from W5WZY bicycle mobile. I have you 20 over 9 here in Carrollton, Texas”
He acknowledged my reply but never mentioned the “bicycle.” He may not have even realized what I said. He probably had never worked or even thought about a bicycle mobile. My wife Melanie (W5WZZ) was within earshot in our backyard and was smiling and shaking her head.
I got so damn excited I forgot to write down the fellow’s call sign and spent the next 45 minutes on my cell phone bragging to Steve Darrah, KD5YPB, who provided the radio with an up-to-date download of repeater data the week before. We laughed and laughed. God, I love this hobby!
Disclaimer: If you decide you want to duplicate this project, do so at your own risk. I’m just a 71-year-old, possibly, not of sound mind and perhaps lacking in good judgement, overly enthusiastic, amateur radio operator.
Kindest regards and 73,
Randy Johnson, W5WZY