Going Ham Mobile On A Bicycle

It’s said that “Golf is a good walk spoiled,” so is attaching an amateur radio to a bike a formula for spoiling a nice ride?

Not according to [Wesley Pidhaychuk (VA5MUD)], a Canadian ham who tricked out his bike with a transceiver and all the accessories needed to work the HF bands while peddling along. The radio is a Yaesu FT-891, a workhorse mobile rig covering everything from the 160-meter band to 6 meters. [Wes] used some specialized brackets to mount the radio’s remote control head to the handlebars, along with an iPad for logging and a phone holder for streaming. The radio plus a LiFePO4 battery live in a bag on the parcel rack in back. The antenna is a Ham Stick mounted to a mirror bracket attached to the parcel rack; we’d have thought the relatively small bike frame would make a poor counterpoise for the antenna, but it seems to work fine — well enough for [Wes] to work some pretty long contacts while pedaling around Saskatoon, including hams in California and Iowa.

The prize contact, though, was with [WA7FLY], another mobile operator whose ride is even more unique: a 737 flying over Yuma, Arizona. We always knew commercial jets have HF rigs, but it never occurred to us that a pilot who’s also a ham might while away the autopilot hours working the bands from 30,000 feet. It makes sense, though; after all, if truckers do it, why not pilots?

19 thoughts on “Going Ham Mobile On A Bicycle

  1. I had a coworker who is a devout ham and enjoyed bicycling. He’d already set up an ARPS transmitter on his bike and had the great idea to add a mic/speaker to the radio so he could have conversations on his rides.

    It ended abruptly when the mic cord caught in his front wheel and he went over the handlebars.

    This is a much more practical setup.

    1. Hah! That reminds me of someone who had his VOX (voice operated transmit) enabled by accident when he started to ride his bike.
      Everytime he did take breath it could be heard on local FM repeater.
      When he arrived home, an operator did respond “are you finished, you swine?!”
      It was a misunderstanding, of course.

    1. To be fair, the 3-speed IGH is tough, reliable, and relatively low maintenance. Once you dial in your preferred gear ratio (chainring and rear sprocket), the first and third gears are only needed when riding uphill / downhill.

      1. I went straight to the comments to see who would be the first to bring up Steven K. Roberts.
        I was on his mailing list in the 1990’s, living vicariously, even bought a recumbent of my own….then he went on the whole boat tangent.

        1. Thank you for your comment. That’s interesting, I didn’t know all of this.
          The reason I remember about him and his bike was because he had been featured in ham magazines.

          I’ve found them very interesting, because I was into Packet Radio and the idea of a whole mobile PR station with monitor and keyboard seemed fascinating to me.

          I mean, the typical PR user of the day would have used a TNC and a handheld computer. Say an Epson HX-20 or an Sharp PC-1500.
          But using a whole PC or Macintosh? That’s awesome! He could have done APRS with that equipment! :D

          Also, he’s the very essence of amateur radio. To my understanding, at least.
          The equipment was being modified/homebrewed, the use of solar cells, independency, him being unconventional and optimistic etc.
          These are all positive aspects of ham spirit, I think. :D

          About the boat thing.. Yeah, I can imagine this change was a bit of an disappointment. :(

          On the other hand, amateur radio on the boat or ship is something that most hams found to be fascinating or romantic for a long time.

          Maritime radio is some sort of birthplace to wireless telegraphy, I suppose.
          My dad has a similar fascination for it and has a small library of books about these things.
          These radio operators of old must have been some sort of role models to Morse code lovers.

          Here in my region of Europe, Norddeich Radio had been very popular before Morse telegraphy had been phased out in late 90s.
          It also had watched the 500 KHz emergency frequency for SOS, among other frequencies.

          Speaking of amateur radio at the sea.
          There are programs like WinLink/Airmail to have e-mail access on the ocean, via Pactor and other digital modes on shortwave.
          In one of the books, the author describes using a laptop, a Kenwood mobile HF rig, a PTC (Pactor TNC), a metal guy rope and an external autotuner.
          It’s very interesting to read.

          Having a complete amateur station below deck must be cool, I guess.
          Being alone on the vast ocean as far as the eye can see must be very peaceful and give a great feeling about freedom (and loneliness).
          The ultimate challenge, so to say.

          Anyway, I hope that wasn’t too much written text here.
          Thank you again for your reply!

    1. I’m guessing it “is” fairly rare, Bicycle Mobile to Aeronautical Mobile, and on HF. How many others do you know that can show that gem in their logbook? 🤘😀 👂: 🦗🦗🦗

  2. Just one more thing–and a VERY MAJOR DISTRACTION, at that–for a bicyclist who is already having to deal with, and dodge, angry motorists…

    It’s been said VERY many times before–sometimes even here:

    Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

  3. 50 years ago, and long before he was a licensed ham, my buddy Harry (KD6NHN) put a mobile CB radio on his bike, complete with battery and generator power. His CB handle was “Kid Trucker.”

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