Stepping beyond the realm of standard CB radios, mobile ham radios emerge as powerhouses of on-the-go communication. These small yet mighty devices are tucked away under a vehicle’s dashboard. Catering well to both radio beginners and busy drivers, they offer user-friendly interfaces that are easy to navigate.
What sets mobile ham radios apart is their impressive range, significantly surpassing other common types of mobile radios. They make the most of the high-frequency band, transmitting at a powerful 200 watts. So, if you’re looking for a reliable communication companion on the road, mobile ham radios are the perfect choice.
Can Ham Radios Be Mobile?
Yes. Ham radios come in three primary modes: base stations, handhelds, and mobile. Base stations are the most well-known device in the amateur radio community. They’re popular, high-powered units, and most have full VHF/UHF/SSB capability.
Handheld transceivers, which look more like walkie-talkies, are common for outdoor activities like hunting, camping, and line-of-sight radio communication.
Favoring the 10-meter band, mobile ham radios are well-adapted for highway conversations. They come with handheld push-to-talk microphones, offering the simplicity that multitasking drivers need. Plus, their compatibility with a range of antennas via standard jacks makes them a great choice.
The Benefits of Owning a Dual Band Mobile Ham Radio
While mobile amateur radios have been around for a while, the idea of putting one in your car for everyday use is newer. It might seem outdated compared to a cell phone or unnecessary when compared to a CB radio, but there are real benefits to installing one. Here are a few you should consider.
Increased Communication Range
If your job or day-to-day life finds you on the road frequently, you might find that a CB radio doesn’t cut it anymore. While CBs are one of the most popular types of mobile two-way radios, they lack communication range due to their low power threshold. Cell phones might seem like an obvious choice for most drivers, but there are still plenty of areas where cell service is limited or non-existent.
A mobile ham radio, on the other hand, gives anyone the ability to communicate long distances with ease. Amateur radios like Stryker’s 10-meter radio can communicate across the state, country, and world in the right conditions. Unlike CB radios, amateur radios access repeaters, which act like signal boosters and allow for long-distance communication.
Expanded Frequency Range
When it comes to radio communication, distance matters, but so does access and availability. A ham radio can access far more frequencies than a CB radio or common walkie-talkie. Amateur radios can pick up weather alerts, news, FM/AM radio, and communicate all across the 10-meter band.
CB radios and GMRS/FRS radios are limited in what channels or frequencies they can legally access, which decreases communication options.
The increased communication range especially comes in handy during emergencies. If you find yourself stranded on a remote highway with a dead battery or no gas, a cell phone might not be of much help.
In natural disasters, ham radio operators play a huge role in keeping people updated and connecting law enforcement and first responders to those in need. A 10-meter mobile ham radio can be beneficial when highways are impacted and traffic jams ensue.
Ham Radios or CB Radios?
As discussed above, ham radios have benefits to them like increased frequency range, long-distance communication, and increased power compared to CB radios. While you’ll need a ham radio license to operate one, we highly recommend adding a ham radio to your CB setup. Many operators have found they like the licensed ham airwaves better than the unenforced CB airwaves.
How To Install a Ham Radio in Your Car
Once you’ve chosen your mobile ham radio, the next step is installing it in your vehicle. This guide is more for beginners to mobile radio. For exact installation steps, be sure to read your manufacturer’s guide and reach out to our support team with questions.
Choose Your Mounting Location
Larger trucks like Semis will have cab space that can accommodate most mounting brackets, but some modifications might be needed to secure the radio and make it easier to use.
Be sure to mount your antenna in an easy-to-access area so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road to use it.
Pick and Install the Antenna
Similar to a CB antenna, a ham radio antenna should be installed in an unobstructed high location. We recommend on top of the truck cab, the roof of the vehicle, or a mounted toolbox if necessary. We don’t recommend windows/mirrors or bed panels because the signal tends to get interfered with.
Some ham radios come with antennas, but others don’t. Fortunately, Stryker CB antennas are perfectly compatible with 10-meter ham radios. They have both a whip-style antenna and a magnet mount for easy installation.
Run the Coax Cable
With the antenna installed, run the coax cable to connect the antenna and the radio unit. Each vehicle make is different, but we recommend choosing a path with minimal heat so the cable coating stays intact. Also, not all coax cables are created equal; ensure your cable’s coating is strong enough to withstand rugged conditions.
Connect to the power supply
Most ham radios need more power than the average car or truck natively gives access to — you can’t use a cigarette lighter to power your ham radio!
Some mobile ham radio operators connect directly to the car’s battery or use the fuse box.
Tuning The Radio
Depending on your mobile antenna type, you won’t need much tuning. However, you may find adjusting the length of the antenna helps improve your signal.
Features of The Best Mobile Ham Radios
You know you have a good mobile ham radio if the manufacturer doesn’t skimp on the following features.
Dual Band Capability: Most mobile ham radios have at least dual band capability, which means they communicate on two frequency bands. Most dual-band radios work perfectly for truckers because they can access long-distance bands. The tri-bands and quad-bands have more frequency availability but are also more complex and expensive.
Simple User Interface: When you’re on the road, simple is better. Some mobile radios might have all the bells and whistles, but you just need enough to get the job done correctly — and safely too.
NR – Advanced Noise Reduction: This feature uses digital technology to lessen unnecessary sounds from the receiver. It’s beneficial for radio operators, especially when airwaves get busy. Stryker leads in tech developments, delivering top-notch performance.
RTON: This function lets you modify the receiver frequency response for optimal signal clarity. You have the same range of options as with TTON. Choose the setting that sounds clearest to you.
Heavy Duty – Because they’re most commonly used in trucks, the radio unit should be able to withstand rugged conditions with ease.
Programmable – Whether done via a programming cable or directly on the front panel touchscreen, make sure your ham radio can be customized to suit your needs
Bluetooth connectivity – The ability to pair Bluetooth headphones and headsets with your radio unit
COMP: This is a noise reduction feature that helps filter out any interference in the receiver.
Digital/Analog Capability: As a truck driver, you can’t go wrong with either one. Digital (DMR) ham radios have grown in popularity recently; they’re best used in urban environments. Digital radios can connect to the internet and transmit multimedia whereas analog ham radios transmit voice signals.
The transmission range is comparable for both models, but digital radio technology gives it a slight boost. However, digital radios can suddenly lose signal while analog radios slowly fade away. For a truck driver, analog radios are simple and more affordable while offering every feature you need.
If you’re in search of a high-quality 10-meter radio, look no further than the Stryker SR-955HPC. The newest version is a standout, boasting exceptional audio clarity, increased robustness, and innovative features that set it apart from the rest. With Stryker’s unwavering dedication to quality, the SR-955HPC will continue setting the benchmark for other 10-meter radios.
Stryker Radios offers other models, including the 655HPC and the SR-447HPC2, which sports a sleek design to fit perfectly inside your truck. Other popular manufacturers include Anytone, Kenwood, Baofeng, IcomIC, and Yaesu FT.
In short, mobile ham radios are a fantastic idea for anyone on the move! They’re great for keeping in touch over long distances and can work even in places where cell phones can’t. These radios offer clearer sound, use different frequency bands for flexibility, and can even handle extra data like GPS coordinates. Plus, they’re designed to be easy to use. Mobile ham radios are a great addition to any trucker’s communication arsenal.