HF Bicycle Mobile

At this point (May 2007) I had jumped back into ham radio after a long hiatus. I was finally ready to use HF after upgrading my license, and a discussion on a ham forum got me thinking about whether the ATAS-120A antenna would properly tune when mounted on the back of a bike. It can be quite finicky even on a car if the grounding isn't good enough, so my first inclination was that it wouldn't work at all.

I was wrong!

The antenna mount was already on the bike. I've been carrying either a scanner or VHF/UHF radio with me for years. It is an SO239 mount bolted to the aluminum luggage rack that's under the bag you see. I put my FT-857D into the pannier bag, a 12AH AGM in the top bag, and ran control head and mic cables to the handlebars. The control head gets zip-tied to the brake/shifter cables, and the mic - well - is a problem. A bluetooth headset would be nicer! For now the cord gets wrapped around everything and the mic tucked behind the control head when not in use. A speaker finishes the setup, zip tied to the top tube of the seat frame. You can just see it on the right side beside the tail light.

What blew my mind is that the ATAS will actually tune properly on all bands, even 40M! I was then able to HEAR people on the various bands as well...

My first ride with this setup was early on a Sunday morning. As I headed for the lake, I very clearly heard almost all the early-bird checkins for the Navy Amateur Radio Net. Net control, KD1C, was particularly strong and clear. About 3/4 around the lake I finally tried to get in...

I first called at 10W, and he asked for "the mobile station" but couldn't pull me out. I upped to 20W and he heard me. He got a kick out of hearing I was bicycling around the lake - said that was probably a first for the net!

It was also my first HF contact!

The only issue with this setup is the WEIGHT! Oh, do I ever feel it when riding. I'm also concerned how well the FT-857D will hold up over time to the jostling. There are some pretty rough sections of road around here, and I can hear the relays in the rig chatter when hitting some of the bumps.

I don't use this setup very often, quite a bit of setup involved besides the weight, but it's fun to do from time to time!