Looking for Feedback
Question for the group. I have about $200 that I can spend on radio stuff and I'm considering 2 options.
1) Is to run hard power into the cab of my vehicle using the following parts: Powerwerx RGH-10, Powerwerx PD-4 distibution block and a Powerwerx Panelpole in the cab, I'd need some 10 gauge wire and some additional 45A power poles as well. This would set me up to have power directly from the battery to power my radios inside the vehicle plus I would also have easy access to the power via the distribution block to set them up outside as well.
2) I'm really enjoying doing portable ops, specifically Parks on the Air. However, my current antenna set-up leaves much to be desired. Its a pair of MFJ mini-hamsticks set-up as a dipole and I'm using a speaker tripod as a base. It works, but I have to have my antenna tuner along to get a good match. The best SWR I can get is about 1.8:1 and its very narrow banded. I'm considering a Wolf River Coils Take It Along Kit. I could go with either the 10-80m coil or the 10-40m coil. It would allow me to have a much better antenna set-up for portable ops and with a little care I could set it up for mobile HF as well.
Thoughts on which way I should go? I'm torn between which one makes the most sense and am looking for some additional input.
The first question is what radio are you using and how much power are you running. The Wolf River antenna is good for higher power(100w) but is a compromised antenna using coils to extend the length of the antenna. If you are using low power, say less than 10-20 watts, then an end fed half wave wire antenna is great for portable ops. These can be built or purchased at a place like QRPguys.com. Also the QRPguys vertical triband is an excellent option for 20/30/40m but is only rated for 10 watts. An EFHW wire will outperform the a coil antenna in most cases. Higher power EFHW antennas are also available from places like myantennas.com or LNR. Again, these work for PORTABLE deployments like POTA, can be done from within the vehicle if desired, and are all within your price range. I use a portable fiberglass mast ~20 ft that will attach to my vehicle or to a tripod. Actually you could get the Wolf River and for an extra $20 get a triband vertical or EFHW from QRPguys.
For higher power mobile HF antennas, I have heard the Tarheel antennas are the gold standard but they are quite expensive. So if you are going 100w and want a mobile option the Wolf River is a good option in your price range.
Relative to the frequency, I would go with the 10-40m. For mobile, portable ops those are the money bands. 80m is mostly a nighttime, winter band so would be less desirable at least for me. Summertime QRN is quite bad on 80m due to thunderstorms.
I really don't have any experience with running radios off my car battery but I would be somewhat wary of using it for portable ops. The radio can deplete your car battery pretty quickly. Most portable ops use LiFePo4 batteries from someone like Bioenno power.
In summary, if you want high power, mobile, the Wolf River is a good option at 10-40m. If you are running QRP power, an EFHW or a vertical wire on a fiberglass pole and a Bioenno battery is a good option for portable ops.
These are my opinions are are subject to immediate change and denial. There are others in the club with more experience than me. You might throw this question out on one of the nets to get more feedback.
I unfortunately ask my equipment to be multi-use. I don't have the money for dedicated radios for home, mobile or portable use.
My radio is an FT-891 because it puts out a 100W, but I can dial it back to as little as 5W for QRP. I can and have used it as a base station, portable or mobile on SSB, digital and CW (but struggle copying when someone responds).
I have a 6AH LiFePo4 battery for truly portable ops that I've used successfully at a park running about 25W for over an hour. But want to have better access to my vehicle battery for mobile ops or when I'm doing POTA and using my vehicle as my power source (ie. Why I need to improve how I'm accessing that power source.)
I wish I could afford the Yaesu ATAS 120 or the Tarheel, but those are just outside my budget. Sounds like a WRC mini (10-40M) would be my best option as an antenna since I could use it portable or mobile. I've got an EFHW (probably could stand to be tuned a little better) for use at home that I've had pretty good success with. Might bring it with me to Field Day and see if I can get it tuned a little better.
Given that radio, I would agree with the WRC 10-40m. It will be a good general purpose HF antenna for both mobile and portable use up to 100 watts. Also oh8stn.org has a good video on the power consumption of the ft-891 at various power levels. That should help determine you battery needs.