Fellow amateur radio enthusiasts find this landmark very fascinating, featuring a two-way radio. It is located near the Daet-Basud boundary, along the Pan-Philippine Highway (do not confuse it with the new highway—Quirino Highway—which does not pass through Daet). The landmark was built by Kabalikat Civicom 139 Daet Chapter.
In case you wish to visit the landmark on your next DU4 visit, I’ve had it located in Google maps.
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It is always exciting to establish contact with fellow radio enthusiast especially if those contacts are from your home province. In a recent trip to Bicol, I was able to get in touch with a number of amateur radio enthusiasts in Camarines Norte, from the group CANORA (Dx4CN, 144.720 MHz, Camarines Norte Radio Amateurs, Inc.). Not only that I was given a warm-welcome-on-the-air, I was also given access to their repeater, which pretty much covers the whole of Bicol region!
I was also able to get in touch with the Kabalikat group in Camarines Norte.
In October 2018, I’ve performed a series of tests to determine if it is possible to get in touch with fellow amateur radio enthusiasts 200 km away, using only the equipment I installed in our EcoSport. Though the signal was very weak and almost unreadable, I was able to establish contact with stations in Baguio, while the vehicle is in a favorable location—cruising along the NAIA X elevated highway in Pasay! The straight-line distance covered, which is the radio’s effective range, is approximately 210 km. Baguio’s elevation of 1540 m coupled with good propagation, and my station’s vicinity to a body of water (Manila Bay) have likely contributed to the extended range of the radio.
Since I do not often use the AM/FM radio, I’ve decided to modify the stock antenna and replace it with an antenna that is tuned to amateur radio frequencies. This antenna shall allow me to use a hand-held transceiver (HT) for scanning and occasionally, for transmitting signals in the amateur band.
Recent tests showed that this antenna is capable of extending the range of my Motorola CP-1660 to about 30 km range, even with obstacles (I was in our garage in Bacoor Cavite, yet I can still use my HT to contact stations in QC, 30 km away, with just 5W!) .
AM/FM reception was not totally lost, as the stock antenna was relocated to the front left pillar of the vehicle.
In the video, I have drilled through the stock antenna mount, and hand-tapped a thread to make it compatible with several of my antennas. Proper coaxial cables and connectors were also made to bring the signal to the HT, located at the left side of the driver.
Any place with high elevation offers ideal conditions to test the range of a radio gear. I was in Tagaytay last week testing out the two-way radio equipment I have installed in my EcoSport. With multiple successful contacts from Tagaytay to other radio stations in Quezon City, I was able to determine that my current radio setup has an effective range of at least 70 km.
The two farthest-ever distances reached by my radio setup is (1) about 135 km, when I accidentally received a “CQ” (a call) from a station in Calapan, Mindoro, while driving along Roxas Blvd., in Manila and (2) about 210 km QSO with local stations in Baguio, while driving along NAIA X elevated highway in Pasay.
The equipment I used for these tests are as follows:
Yaesu 2900R VHF 75-watt base radio
Diamond SG7000 dual band mobile antenna (1/4-wave VHF, 6/8-wave UHF)
Diamond K33 antenna mount
Diamond SX200 SWR meter
4 meters of RG8 cable
As a licensed amateur radio enthusiast (call sign 4G1AWN), I definitely would want to install a radio in my EcoSport! With a mobile-type radio and a proper antenna installed, it is possible to communicate with fellow radio enthusiasts within 10 to 15 kilometer radius (in a city). The farthest contact I was able to get was from Manila to Calapan, with a distance of about 135 km (I had to relocate the antenna to the roof to improve signal propagation and reception).
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1. Replacing EcoSport’s Engine Air Filter
EcoSport’s service manual recommends engine air filter replacement every 40,000 km. Knowing how to replace the filter will not only save you on maintenance expenses, but also enables you to inspect (or clean) filters regularly.
To replace the engine filter:
1. Remove the engine air filter’s compartment cover secured in place by four screws.
2. Lift the cover to access the filter.
3. Remove the old filter and replace it with the new one.
4. Replace the compartment’s cover and secure it in place.
2. Dashboard Switch for Opening EcoSport’s Rear Doors
A dashboard switch for opening the rear door must be used with caution. Such a switch taps directly on to the wiring harness of the door-open button at the rear door. This modification is similar to the third button modification of the remote, which enables opening of the rear door, using the remote.
3. Repairing EcoSport’s Rear Door Actuator
This video demonstrates how to repair a damaged rear door lock actuator of an EcoSport,with a low-cost (250 pesos or 5 US dollars) generic actuator. In the video, I explained how to remove the stock actuator, mount the replacement generic actuator using cable ties, connect the wires for the power supply, and attach the lock-release cable to the arm of the actuator.
4. Opening the Rear Door with the Remote
EcoSport owners are quick to notice that the third button in its remote is left unused. A simple modification, however, will activate this unused button. This modification will enable the remote key to open the boot door.
The hack is pretty simple—just put an eraser on the hollow space under the button! The whole process will only take a few minutes, and does not require any special equipment.
5. Installing a Dash Camera
This tutorial video shows how to connect wires on to an EcoSport’s fuse box, such that the dash camera turns on only when the engine is running, i.e., the dash camera turns off as the engine is switched off. If done improperly, this could likely void your warranty, so be very careful in following this modification.
This modification requires basic knowledge of electronics and must be carried out only by those familiar with it. Please do it at your own risk.
6. Cleaning EcoSport’s Cabin Filter
Like in any other air-conditioning system, the air filter in an EcoSport needs to be replaced every once in a while. My local dealership recommends replacing or cleaning the cabin filter every 20,000 to 30,000 km, or 1 to 2 years, depending on how often the vehicle is used and the environment it is exposed to. Cleaning of the filter is included in EcoSport’s Periodic Maintenance Schedule (PMS). A technician usually replaces the filter when it is due for replacement, but you may also opt to perform the procedure yourself.
7. Shifter Knob Button
If you’ve been following this blog for a while now, you would know that I am also a licensed amateur radio enthusiast (Class A: DU1AU). A number of modifications done in this EcoSport are geared towards improving my mobile radio setup. In this video, I have shown how I placed a press-to-talk button in the shifter knob for a hands-free operation of the radio.
8. Installing License Plates in an EcoSport
After 2 years of waiting, the license plates (or more accurately, the registration plates) of our EcoSport have finally arrived (you can check availability of plates in the LTO website).
In this video, I have discussed how I installed the front and rear license plates using a theft-deterrent type of screw called security screws. Security screws are no longer supplied with the plates, thus, must be purchased separately (you can buy 4 stainless-steel security screws complete with nut and washer for 100 pesos or 2 US dollars). Installing the plates with security screws requires some effort since you need to drill through the plastic material then place and tighten a nut on the other side.
9. Installing LTO’s RFID Sticker
We have finally received the registration plate of our EcoSport. LTO-issued plates come with a pair of stickers, one of which has an embedded RFID tag. The stickers must be installed on the windshield, behind the rear view mirror (installing one sticker on top of the other). In this video, I have shown how I installed the sticker set (one transparent and one with the RFID tag) in an EcoSport.
10. Auto Power-Off 12V Port
EcoSport’s 12V port remains on (powered) even when the engine is off. While this could be an advantage as there is no need to turn the engine on in order to charge a phone, some would prefer a 12V port that turns off automatically. In this video, I have modified the 12V port of my EcoSport (Trend MT) to disconnect power when the ignition key is in off position.
This modification requires the use of a DIY jumper.
11. Emergency Rear Door Opener
EcoSport’s rear door (boot door) does not have a manual override. If the door’s actuator fails, the rear door won’t open until repairs are made. In this video, I have demonstrated how I installed an emergency rear door open knob that you can simply pull to open the rear door.
The DIY manual override knob features the following:
1. When the vehicle is locked, the knob will be automatically disabled. If a child pulls this knob, it will not open the rear door for as long as the vehicle is locked.
2. When the engine is running and the knob is pulled, a notification ‘door open’ appears on the dashboard’s console. The rear door will open only when the vehicle is unlocked.
3. It integrates fully with the alarm system, i.e., if someone pulls this knob when the alarm is active, it will trip the alarm. But then again, with the vehicle locked, the alarm sounds off but the door will not open!
12. Removing EcoSport’s Head Unit
EcoSport’s dashboard may be upgraded with compatible head unit replacement kits, some of which offer full integration to the car’s computer system (via compatible ports) as well as viewing monitors with touch screen functionality.
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In June 2019, I had a chance to visit the Philippine Naval Base Pascual Ledesma in Cavite. I was invited to demonstrate to members and officers of the Philippine Navy how to bounce a signal off a satellite to greatly improve a radio’s range, far enough to reach nearby countries such as China, Malaysia, Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and Japan.
For details about this event, head directly to my blog on amateur radio.
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I’ve used the two-way radio installed in our EcoSport to receive a transmission from the International Space Station (ISS), a satellite orbiting the Earth at a height of about 400 km. Tracking satellites is part of my hobby as an amateur radio enthusiast. Installing a powerful receiver in an EcoSport allows me to move around easily and find optimal places to conduct radio-related experiments.
There may be several valid reasons why you would need to remove the stock antenna of an EcoSport: (1) the antenna has been damaged and needs replacement, (2) you plan on replacing it with a fancy non-stock antenna, (3) you have no need for it and plans on installing a shark’s fin instead (antennas can damage car covers, and car covers can damage antennas).