By K5PO, on the scene
LARPO SPRINGS, Tenn. – A local man has become quite infamous on the streets of Larpo for his elaborately adorned vehicle. Blartonville, Tenn., resident Jimmy Smart, 54, makes his daily hour-long commute to Larpo Springs.
Smart, a licensed amateur radio operator since 2004, says his favorite part of the hobby is mobile operation. “When I was first licensed, I thought that getting on two meters would be fun on the cruise to and from work. It was fun getting on the repeaters and making friends. And then someone installed a new 70 centimeter repeater in town.
Smart says this new repeater spawned a set of actions that ultimately changed the look of his car significantly. “I’ve always liked to use single band antennas and radios, so when I added something for 70 centimeters, that meant two radios and two antennas on my 1997 Toyota Camry. It kinda got carried away from there,” says Smart.
By 2006, Smart had installed a retractable seven element beam for six meters, a dish for 23 centimeters, a single section of Rohn 25 welded to his trunk to support a small tribander covering 10, 15, and 20, a two meter four square array, a retractable full size 80 meter vertical, and a 40 meter loop wound around the car’s frame.
“In 2010 I had to remove the seats for my new 12-radio, fully digital, all-band scanning setup. That meant I really didn’t have a spot for my wife anymore. Didn’t matter much, though. She’d already told me she’d never ride with me again. When she left me in 2011, I moved further out of town so I could have a longer commute. Gives me more time to operate, you know?” said Smart.
He says he now has 114 antennas and “at least 74 radios.”
“I think I lost a couple when installed new ones over the old ones,” he added.
When asked if there is a downside to driving a vehicle with such a crazy amount of antennas and gear, Smart said, “I get pulled over every now and again just so cops can look around inside, and I sure can’t pick up a date in the car! But the worst was when I got a flat tire on Interstate 50 a few weeks back. I’d removed the spare to install an Ameritron 500 watt mobile amp so I was stuck out there for a while, but I was able to check into the ECARS net to keep me company!”