Electronics

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Communications

Image of my eQSL template...
                    Click for larger view...I earned my FCC Amateur Radio license in 1995, callsign KE4WMF.  I started with a YAESU FT-11R handheld transceiver (HT)  for mobile use.  I eventually decided I wanted a radio that hides quickly without disconnecting wires and cables.  So I installed a YAESU FT-90R VHF/UHF transceiver in the ashtray in 2000.  After upgrading to a General license in 2007, I installed a YAESU FT-857D 100 watt "multi-multi" transceiver which is capable of operating in all modes and on all ten HF/6m ham bands plus VHF/UHF.  I use a Diamond K400 heavy duty mount to hold my YAESU ATAS-120A "Active Tuning Antenna System" for 7 MHz to 54 MHz (antenna length is changed remotely to match frequency),  a Diamond HRKS mount to hold a 1/2-wave antenna to the driver's door, and a reinforced hole-mounted Larsen NMOHFGPS mount on the trunk lid.  My FT-90R now serves as a hidden APRS transceiver.  I modified the NMOHFGPS to house my existing BYONICS GPS receiver which feeds my Byonics TinyTrack3+ APRS position encoder.  My most distant contact to date was from SE Virginia to Serbia (nearly 5000 miles)  on 100 watts SSB.  My contact from the Delaware Bay to Hawaii was just as far.  All radios are easily hidden when I'm not in the car. Click here to see overall photos.  Click here to see installation photos.  Interested in Ham Radio?  Visit my Ham Radio Page.


Stereo/Sound

Here's a snapshot of the stereo
                  stuff...Having the same car since 1998 and driving it over 450,000 miles, one can imagine I've been through a few stereos.  They don't last forever.  ;-)  My current stereo is a PIONEER DEH-P6900UB CD/MP3/WMA head unit with rear USB input.  My favorite music is stored on a hidden 16 MB flash drive.  I can easily drive for days without hearing the same song twice.  I've been on and off with my subwoofer.  New hobbies had leaned my priorities more in favor of trunk space than superior bass.  My Rockford Fosgate Prime R1653 rear speakers do an adequate job of producing bass, especially when parked.  However, my car is just so noisy that the help of a subwoofer really makes a difference when driving!  So I'm currently "on" with my DEI 10" subwoofer in its 0.44-cu/ft enclosure.  I use a Rockford Fosgate P200-2 200W amplifier for the sub.  All equipment, including the ham gear above, is connected to the battery via a 4 gauge StreetWires Hardware Kit with fuse and grounding blocks.  All periferal equipment is completely hidden.  The car looks BONE STOCK to a passing thief.  BTW, I usually shop at CRUTCHFIELD when it's time for a new stereo.  They supply everything needed for DIY stereo upgrades, including stereo removal keys, adapters to use factory wiring, and directions specific to your vehicle's year, make, model, and trim.  Use referral code p51fi-8u9y3-ui7qz to get $20 off your order.

Instrumentation

Image of ScanGaugeII Installation...I fabricated a custom gauge panel that mounts in the place of my cupholders.  The Exhaust Gas Temperature (EGT)  and Manifold Pressure ("boost")  gauges are commercial grade by ISSPRO.  The LEDs indicate lift pump and water injection status (on, injecting, empty).  The SCAN GAUGE II (SGII)  acts similarly to trip computers found on today's newer cars.  It can display Current MPGs, Fuel Rate, Voltage, Coolant Temp, Intake Air Temp, Engine RPM, Vehicle Speed, Manifold Pressure, Engine Load, Throttle Position, Max Speed, Avg Speed, Max Coolant Temp, Max RPM, Driving Time, Driving Distance, Fuel Used, Trip MPGs, Tank MPGs, Distance to Empty, Time to Empty, and Fuel to Empty.  The SGII can be calibrated for improved accuracy; plus, it has a scan tool which can display diagnostic trouble codes and clear the Check Engine Light.  

I used to feature the Garmin Nuvi 2597LMT with my stereo and/or ham radio equipment.  But I opted to relocate it for better security.  Yes, it's more visible to thieves if I leave it out in the open.  But, since I don't do that, what's left behind is much more discreet than a suction cup on the dash or glass.  I usually just remove the navi and stow it, leaving the mount in an unexpected position (I think most thieves are looking on windshields and dashboards).  But it takes just a few seconds to pull off the mount and hide the wire.  Check out THIS VIDEO.  This is especially beneficial if I find myself parking someplace where cars get broken into simply for having a "halo" on the windshield which indicates a suction cup mount was removed for storage (keep this in mind when visiting DC or other large cities).

Smartphone

Photo of my old Motorola Droid
                  X...These days it seem everyone has a cell phone; and many have smartphones.  So what's the big deal about mentioning one here?  Well, to be honest, it seems to be part of the car when it's on the road.  I don't normally talk on the phone while driving.  But, if I do, I only send/receive short calls with a hands-free Bluetooth device.  My current choice of phone is the MOTOROLA DROID RAZR MAXX HD (not pictured).   The phone does a bunch of stuff one should NEVER do while driving such as e-mail, web browsing, games, and a ton of other applications such as navigation and streaming music (okay, navigation and streaming music on the road is safe enough...).   It can also serve as a mobile hotspot, providing a broadband connection for up to five computers.  This is good for the sake of bored passengers on long trips.  It's amazing to see the fast downloads through a cell phone, especially when I recall the days of dial-up Internet access.  This phone can access Wi-Fi hotspots or act as its own mobile hotspot.  Compared to my previous phones, I've noticed the display is so large that I no longer feel the need to tether a laptop as frequently as before.  If my goal is simply web access, the Droid loads and displays webpages and videos quite well without straining the eyes.  It'll also connect to an HDMI device for a simply huge display.

I adapted a Motorola window mount to attach directly to my dash without suction cups.  I positioned the phone to route the wires through the dash for a clean look.  I had heard the Droid X can overheat and shut down when it's mounted in the sun and running lots of applications.  Oddly enough, my choice of mounting location avoids overheating by bringing the phone further from the window as well as positioning it where I can point the AC vent to provide extra cooling.  The phone is very easy to reach here.  This mounting position is also ideal for snapping a quick video of the road ahead.  Road-ragers beware!  ;-)  It'll likely shoot more videos of the autocross course than of the open road.  The phone automatically opens a carport program when docked, granting easy access to common programs used on the road.  Although I still prefer to navigate with my Garmin, I like to set the phone up to display traffic along my route.  The mount features a built-in USB port so connecting the phone to power is automatic; and the Razr will pair with newer car stereos for streaming music via Bluetooth.  Of course, the phone comes with me any time I leave the car.  There are no wires to disconnect.  Just grab it and go!   :-)

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