Product Reviews

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Antenna Reviews

GS-4 Screwdriver Antenna by K6TEX:

I run an 18 wheeler, and after my "Predator" from N9JMX kept having problems with the vibration of my truck. (kept losing fingerstock, losing SWR, etc...) I asked the truckers on 14.3025 what they were running that never broke, and was a good performer. Many opinions there, but nobody disputed the quality of the GS, and I don't think that anybody has even heard of one being broke. This antenna covers 10m-160m.

I called Gary, and asked if he could build me one with larger wire and he did. The results were astounding. We did side by side tests between this antenna and the Predator, and this one beat it hands down. The Predator is a great radiator and has a great reputation, and Bob is a friend, but as Ham Radio is my hobby on the road, I must have an antenna that doesn't fail me. This is the toughest antenna I ever saw.

If you run mobile, and demand performance AND durability, I don't think this antenna has any competition.

K6TEX is running the Kenwood TS-480 HX and a Henry SS-750 mobile Amplifier.

Tarheel Screwdriver Antenna by N9GQR:

I run the Tarheel Screwdriver Antenna 200A.  It has operated flawlessly for the past 3 years that I have been running it.  It's a 2" but I believe it's quality built and trucker tough.  I use the Tarheel Digital Controller and it's working great as well. It probably won't outperform the GS 4" antenna that K6TEX has but I can work anybody I can hear.  Of course, my amp helps! This antenna covers 10m-80m.

N9GQR is running the Icom 706 MKIIG and a Ameritron ALS-500M mobile Amplifier.

Radio Reviews

Kenwood TS-480HX Radio by K6TEX

I've had the Kenwood TS-480HX for about a year now. I got mine the week they became available, and paid about $700 extra for that pleasure. I never dreamed that the price would drop the $1000 so quickly. 

The radio requires a proper installation, and the fan needs open air especially if you are going to be running it hard. I am mostly running only 60 to 70 watts of drive into my Henry SS-750 amp, so the radio never has to work hard anyway.

I only run it mobile, so don't have any complaints about the control head not being able to attach to the radio. The microphone does however have to attach the the main part of the radio, so this is a bit difficult as my radio is back in the sleeper of the truck, and the control head is mounted on the shelf above the driver's window in my truck. The mike cord is very long, so I was at least able to snake it thru the walls and have it drop down to me from just above where I sit while driving. I would hate to have to un-install it.

As for being on the air? I did install the narrow sideband filters, so I got rid of some of the noise that most hear, and the DSP filters are strong. I also use a Clear Speech speaker, so noise that isn't supposed to be heard gets suppressed. There are equalizers for both Transmit and Receive, so I can change the way that I sound. I left everything set pretty much the way it came from the factory. Between the noise suppression techniques that I have discussed on this website, and the filters that are built into the radio, I have no noise (zero, none, nada, zilch) coming from my truck. I hear as well going down the road as I do when sitting still with the motor off. There is no difference unless I am driving and get noise from power lines, other vehicles, etc... But the radio is completely silent to noises that may be coming from my truck. I hear the atmosphere, and I hear people talking. Not much else.

I have only had compliments on my audio, and have always had good reports from other stations. I do have a wonderful antenna system, great grounds, and run a Henry SS-750 amp. But without a good radio the rest wouldn't matter.

I get great reports from all over the world. I enjoy DX mobile, especially when somebody tells me that I am the loudest station that they have heard and that it is impossible for me to be mobile. I run nights on 75/80 and 160m, most people complain about noise, but I can hear even the weak stations that some of the fixed stations will miss. I particularly enjoyed running counties on 14.336 last Summer when night conditions were good. I was running relays from Australia and New Zealand to other mobile stations. We always have bases onboard when putting out counties, but I was the only one with clear copies on the DX, and I was East Bound on I-20 going thru Texas.

I had an Icom 706 MKIIG before this radio, noise suppression is much better on this radio, the Icom had louder audio, and also has 2m and 440. I won't go back to the Icom. The Kenwood for my application is the radio of choice. Would I pay $1700 again? Yes, the Kenwood is that good.

Elecraft K2/100 Radio by W4GNS

Just installed the Elecraft K2/100 watt version in my truck. I have only had it installed a few days and will update in a few months with more info and time using the radio. To start with this radio as is offered from Elecraft IS NOT PUT TOGETHER!!!! It is a kit and requires 40 plus hours to build or you must work out something with a builder. I had W3FPR build the rig for me, he and others will build the radio ,for hire, because as a trucker I did not have time to build it. But if one has time the directions are very simple and straight forward. The manuals are online and can be downloaded for free from the Elecraft web site at . Also for the official spec's of this rig QST and others have had reviews in past articles. I have already received compliments for my transmitted audio while using this radio, but where this rig shines is in the receiver. It is very sensitive and has brick wall filters, I run my filter wide ,but if there is QRM I and can tighten the filters and nothing is getting through unless its exactly on the same freq as you are using. The receiver is quiet and I do not have to listen to the static and other QRN as the DSP takes out all of that. Only QRN I hear is when traveling directly under the mega volt power lines and that quickly disappears. The only downfall I have found with this radio so far is the audio out of speakers is a little to low for mobile use. Your 2 options are use headphones or buy an amplified speaker, ONE OF THE TWO IS A MUST!! for mobile operations. If you want a $3,000 plus dollar rig for less than half that price you may want to consider this rig, It has a super sweet receiver and does not use SMT technology so is is repairable by people that do not have bionic eye's ,if the need ever arises. : )One other thing I have noticed is this rig will push my Henry SS750 amp to 1 KW on 20 meters, that's 200 watts more than the YaeComWood rigs would do, and I can not explain this and it may just be the meter, I don't know.( Your mileage may vary) If you want a world class competition rig you may want to research this rig to see if its for you, If you would like to hear this rig on the air, you can catch me on the County Hunters Net most days(14.366), I run counties 2 or 3 hours a day most days.

Amplifier Reviews

HLA-300v RMitaly HF Mobile Amplifier by K6AER

Mike Higgins, K6AER has put together a nice review on this transistorized amplifier that operates 10-160m, has auto or manual band switching, will run 500 watts on SSB, and has SWR protection.  It looks like a CB amplifier but is about 1 1/2 ft. in length.  George k9trq is running one mobile and loves it and Gary w4me is running one for his base amplifier.  They both sound excellent.  You can purchase this unit through and with the fan kit they list for $451.95.  Without the fan kit they list for $419.95.  Mike's entire review is available in PDF format and is a 2MB file and if you fill out the Contact Form and make a request, I will email you Mike's review.

SS-750 Henry Mobile Amplifier by K6TEX

I've had the Henry SS-750 for nearly a year. I installed it with 4 gauge wire going directly to the battery connections in front of the firewall on my Freightliner. (These are the jumping connections for starting a truck with dead batteries.) I then ran the power lines thru the walls and installed the Amp on the shelf above my head. It has been there for nearly a year without any problems.    

The Amp is pretty expensive. I believe it cost me about $1400 and I didn't buy anything else with it, there are auto band switches, a remote control head, etc., but since I would be able to reach it from where I sit, I didn't need anything else.

Performance has been flawless. There is overheat protection, so if you transmit with a high SWR or off band, you won't hurt the amp at all, it just will shut down. If I were to accidentally try to key it with 200 watts from my Kenwood TS-480hx, it would just shut off, no harm, no foul. I have only done that a couple of times, but I will certainly do it more. I just don't worry about it as I did with my last amp.

I reach up to feel the amp, and have yet to feel it getting warm. I know it is working well because I watch my meters. I don't know that I am getting as much out of mine as Gary W4GNS, but I am certainly getting 1000 on 75/80 and 160 meters. On 40 I get over 700, and around 600 or so everywhere else. I use a Diawa meter which probably isn't telling me the whole story. The proof is on the air. I constantly get matching signal reports from base units that are running power. Mobiles are at a disadvantage because of antenna size, grounding, etc. but the Henry has pretty much leveled the field. I no longer key the mike wondering if I will be heard. Now when I key the mike, I am hoping that I don't accidentally key down when somebody else is talking. I hate shutting somebody down by doubling up with them.

I feel that the money for the Amp was well spent. I have had only good things to say about the Henry, and bought it thru  Dan is the distributor for Henry Radio, and is a pleasure to speak with.

SS-750 Henry Mobile Amplifier by W4GNS

I have had the Henry SS750 amp now for about a year. I have had no problems with it and got to meet some FB people. While researching the purchase of the amp the salesman referred me to the world famous K6TEX as he already had one and I'm not a believer of salesman . Anyway after talking to K6TEX and his adventures with the amp I got one and agree with the company and K6TEX, its a durable amp that has a conservative rating, With my Elecraft K2 its showing 1 KW on 20 meters . (swr/power meters are not to be trusted) But anyway I'm happy with the amp and do not regret buying the amp, as I think its the best and strongest legal amp that is offered to those mobile. (its legal to my knowledge, I'm not a lawyer, nor do I work for the FCC) The people I talked to say the amp is or is near bullet proof, and I must agree, I have not blown any transistors with this amp as I did with a brand X amp I used to use . And that gets costly. :) The amp appears to be clean as I have yet to have any complaints about splatter or taking too much bandwidth. As with any mobile setup YOU MUST HAVE GOOD GROUNDING to all of your station ,that includes Radio, Amp, Antenna, and any and all accessories in your station. If you are not willing to ground everything you're for the most part wasting your time attempting to run mobile ,this issue is covered elsewhere on this site in detail.

Ameritron ALS-500M Amplifier by N9GQR

I bought my ALS-500M Solid State Mobile Amp used and I've been running it now for the past year.  I honestly believe that this Amp is the best buy for the dollar and does a superb job.  I've not had one problem with it.  As with any amp you should run heavy enough wire to get the full power out.  I'm running 2 - #10 wires directly from the battery 8ft. long, 1 ground wire from the battery and one chassis ground from inside the cab.  This amp has built-in protection default so you can't damage it.  If your on the wrong band, frequency or your swr is too high, it will not transmit.  All you have to do is select the band your going to operate on, no tuning is necessary.  New price is around $700, used price around $500.


Gap Hear It speaker by W4GNS

The Gap Hear It speaker is junk in my opinion, they seen me coming before I got there on this one. The DSP works ,but the speaker is too small ,therefore the audio is not loud enough for me in a mobile setup. And I'm not deaf, yet. Don't waste your money on this one!

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