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Sent: Tuesday, March 28, 2006 13:53
Subject: Articles For Frequently Asked Questions, Page #1
What make of ham radios do you install on the MARC members motorcycles when doing installations for them?
About 90% of us here in Southern CA are running the Kenwood TM-D700A or the new Kenwood TM-D710A. Both are dual band Base/Mobile radios. About half of the Southern CA MARC members are still using the Comet HP-32FHN antenna for local communications, because it was designed by the company that makes all the Comet antennas, specifically for use on motorcycles. While the owner of the manufacturing company was here in CA at NCG, they called me up and I took the, then, 1996 Gold Wing up to the warehouse and demonstrated why we were breaking so many antennas on motorcycle. Now that company and NCG have redesigned all there basic antennas to survive on a motorcycle. Every time NCG gets a new antenna, they give it to me, I test the SWR (Standing Wave Ratio), gain, Field test strength, Direction of signal from horizontal, Pattern,  etc.,  to run for a summer, always about 40,000 to 50,000 miles to test them before they put an order in for them. If it lasts the summer on the back of the rack and it meets their criteria for the other specs, they then order them.  Most recently many of our MARC members have switched from the Comet HP-32FHN to the Comet CA2x4SRB, B standing for black. The CA2x4SR is 4 1/4 inches taller then the HP-32, but will still go in & out of a garage without folding it over.  The Comet CA2x4SR is becoming more popular because it is black and it has much more dBi gain then the HP-32FHN. Also, the CA2x4SR has been manufactured for about 20 years and it was the first dual band antennas that Comet ever came out with. No one that puts the Comet CA2x4SR on a motorcycle has ever broken one.

That's probably the setup I'll go with unless you have some other recommendations. What kind of mount do you use for the Comet? We have the antenna brackets here at the house that clamp onto the 1/2 inch tubular trunk racks, see our MARC Web Site at <www.marc-hq.org> for pictures of all brackets we have available to our members. We also have the flat rack mounts.

I was thinking of using some kind of stock CB antenna base to mach the other two. Well we used to try that, but it didn't work out. First of all some of our members were putting then on a stock Honda bracket like the CB or AM/FM antenna brackets, but the output from that location was too directional and you could only transmit to one side of the motorcycle. Other tried to slant the antennas to match the rearward slant of the other 2 antennas, but they the signal was going up in the air to the front of the bike and bouncing off the pavement to the rear. Of course they both worked if they were close to a repeater site or another motorcycle, but once you got out into a gray area, they lost contact while the rest of us were still communicating. We didn't learn this stuff over night, we have been testing antennas with field strength meters and other devices and experience for over 12 years.

I also put a cover on my bike most of the time, so folding over and out of the way of the cover would be important. Not a problem, darn near all Comet antennas are fold over antennas. At least all the ones we use are fold over antennas for the same reason. However, Comet does have some of the cheaper antennas that do not fold over, but they are also the ones that are breaking after a few thousand miles. So we tested them, but found them unsuitable for use on a motorcycle.

So you say you'll be running two hams on the bike? Yes, one is the Kenwood TM742A that I have had on the 5 Gold Wings since we started MARC back in 1992. Now I am going to mount the Kenwood TM-D700A to work in conjunction with my Garmin Street Pilot lll Deluxe that is already on the bike, just for use with the APRS (Automatic Position Reporting System> so that I can be tracked all summer and for our many MARC Charity and community service events that we provide motorcycle mobile communications & traffic control for. We now have at least 8 MARC members here in the Southern CA area that have APRS. I also bought a Kenwood TH-D7A hand held for use at home for APRS. That was $850 that I spent for radios in January. Hope it all works, but I have some real experts on this stuff in our club, so I don't have to worry about learning how it all works.

Couldn't both aprs and voice be accomplished with the 700? Yes, the Kenwood TM-D700A could do both, but I also want the 220 module in the Kenwood TM-742A to be available to use on the free Condor System of repeaters hear in CA. So I am leaving the 742 on board and adding the D700A for APRS. The 742 will not work with the Garmin SP lll for APRS use.

I think that's the radio I'll end up with. Do you have separate ptt switches for each? Yes, see MARC Web Site for our Waterproof PTT buttons and the custom make brackets that fit right where your left thumb is when riding.

I've got an FRS radio integrated into the OEM ptt, and I'd like to use the oem switch for all three if its possible.  It may be possible, I don't know. Our BA-MARC members in the San Jose/San Francisco area all integrate their systems, but only few of us do it down here because we work some of our charity events with GWRRA members who only have CB, so we have to be able to hear both CB and Ham radio at the same time and send both at the same time without using a switch to go back and forth.

 I think I'll call Kennedy in the morning and see  what he has to say. Say hi to Jon at Kennedy for me. We actually visited him at his home back in KS when we were in his home town 2 summers ago, and MARC members have done a lot of business with him. THE END, RAY


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