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bjmoose installs HAM Radio with NMO antenna mount

Discussion in 'Audio & Video' started by bjmoose, Mar 13, 2011.

  1. Mar 13, 2011 at 11:42 PM
    #1
    bjmoose

    bjmoose [OP] Bullwinkle J. Moose

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    Steve
    San Jose CA
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    OME suspension, ARB Air Lockers, CBI/Relentless/Pelfrey armor, HAM radio
    First off, I was heavily influenced by barlowrs Yaesu FT8800 install thread, here:

    http://www.tacomaworld.com/forum/audio-video/75220-yaesu-ft-8800r-install-05-tacoma.html

    My first purchase was an inexpensive but powerful Yaesu one piece 2m transciever. While I was impressed with the solidity of the unit, it quickly became clear that anywhere I installed it would intrude heavily into the interior space of my bench seat regular cab. So I returned it and got a detachable face unit. I chose the Yaesu FT 8900R quad bander on the theory that far off miles from nowhere, I'd like additional band choices such as operating on 10m FM as well as the more traditional mobile repeature bands of 2m and 70cm.

    (EDIT - earlier I made a mistake and wrote "10m AM" above. But the FT8900R is an FM only unit. It'll receive AM, but only transmits using FM.)

    Here was my first though on where I'd mount the detachable face:

    [​IMG]

    Made a cardboard template - plan was to make a plastic template that the face would mount to. But later I decided I'd put the face elsewhere, as you'll see below, and put the speaker there instead.

    [​IMG]

    Mounting the bracket for the unit itself on the rear wall of the cab. Plain old sheet metal screws here. (Pic shows adhesive squares holding it in place preparatory to drilling the mounting holes)

    [​IMG]

    and the unit itself in place

    [​IMG]

    The challenging part of the install is dropping the headliner to gain access to the roof to put in the NMO mount and run the antenna cable. It's helpful to have the Hayne's/Chilton's guide to describe all the steps that need to be covered. Though they overkill a little on removal, all the pillars either need to be removed or at least loosened.

    Here's the first step, removing the interior lamp and coat hangers.

    [​IMG]

    Hand grip, A pillar cover, and sun visor removed, driver side, revealing curtain air bag. You DID disconnect the negative battery terminal, like they told you to, right??

    [​IMG]

    and passenger side

    [​IMG]

    Loosening rear B pillar plastic to free the headliner not shown. But, once the headliner is free, watch out for this driver side wire (circled in red) - don't pull it loose and break it.

    [​IMG]

    Headliner drops away, giving access to the roof.

    [​IMG]

    Place a big paper catch basin under the roof to catch the cutout and shavings from the hole we're going to cut.

    [​IMG]

    On top of the roof, using two pieces of string to identify the exact center point to cut.

    [​IMG]

    And cutting the hole with a hole saw. This step isn't all that difficult, but is a psychological challenge for most folks.

    IMPORTANT: I didn't put down newspaper around the hole I was about to cut, and I have paint scratches on the roof as a result. Metal shavings are hard and sharp, paint is soft. So sweeping away the shavings scratches the paint!! Tape down newspaper around the area to be cut, so the shavings can be picked up by gathering the paper. You can't use a magnet - as the roof itself is metal and using a magnet actually magnetizes the shavings to the roof, making them HARDER to remove. (Doh!)

    [​IMG]

    The NMO as mounted, from the top. Don't forget to scrape away enough paint so it gets a good ground.

    [​IMG]

    And from below:

    [​IMG]

    Routing the cable and taping in place with duct tape:

    [​IMG]

    Time to route the power cables through the firewall.

    I chose to go straight to the battery for an "unswitched" install for a few reasons.

    1: I want to be able to operate the radio with the ignition off. I want to sit in the car operating the radio without anything else drawing current, and as a bonus I can operate with the door open without that annoying "door open, key in ignition" chime going off!

    2: The radio doesn't draw a lot of current when monitoring, and has a one hour "self shut off" feature, so even if I leave it on, it'll shut itself off before draining the battery.

    3: If the emergency call I need to make is "we fell in the lake and lost our keys to the bottom" I can still operate the radio (though I might have to break a window to do it.)

    Taped red and black to a piece of plain 12 ga. steel wire that's pushed through the firewall grommet/gasket. You can go engine to interior, or interior to engine. I've done it both ways now and strongly prefer the interior-to-engine route (shown) because the other way, the steel wire ends up poking many of the tiny wires in your wiring harness under the dash after it goes through. Don't want to poke through any of their insulation causing a short!!

    [​IMG]

    Steel wire emerged through on the engine side of the firewall

    [​IMG]

    And the red and black power wires, having been pulled through by grabbing and pulling the steel wire.

    [​IMG]

    NOT SHOWN: The fuses on the ends of the power wires were cut off to facilitate drawing the wires through the firewall grommet. The fuses are reattached back to the wires with butt-crimps and the wires are ring-crimped to the battery terminals.

    Running the power wires under the door jamb.

    [​IMG]

    And to the unit:

    [​IMG]

    Once I had the radio temporarily working, I quickly realized I needed an external speaker for two reasons:

    1. The mounted speaker isn't loud enough

    2. Having a 2 way radio speaker mounted *behind* you in a car will absolutely drive you ape-shit. Unexpected human voices right behind you while you're driving are maddening. Boo! Ahhh! :eek:

    So, I wanted to mount my speaker wher barlowrs did in his thread. But the 4 banger 5 speed center console isn't as big, and didn't provide room to mount a speaker there. The console plastic is too small. So I decided to put the speaker right where I'd originally intended to put the face itself. That worked out great, but meant the face had to go in a new spot.

    To mount the detachable face, Ham-Radio-Outlet has a huge variety of plastic mounts of all kinds of shapes and sizes. A catalog won't help you here, you need to go into the store and look at what they've got. I saw this one and knew it was what I needed.

    [​IMG]

    This location will put the (tiny) knobs and controls ready to hand, and the hand can be steadied on the seat bench while turning the knobs: The mount is attached using supplied adhesive.

    [​IMG]

    And, as completed. The detachable face and the entire top half of the HRO mount is easily removed in a few seconds by removing a thumb screw and unplugging the RJ11 control wire if I'm worried about theft, or need to put a person in the middle seat for a short trip.

    [​IMG]


    I mounted an RJ 11 jack next to the mount, and plug the face into it there using a short 6 wire RJ 11 jumper cable. That makes it cleaner and easier to take the face out of the cab.

    [​IMG]

    From the back -- it's attached with L brackets and epoxy. No fasteners.

    [​IMG]

    You can see how the extension wire from the FT8900 can be plugged and unplugged - this keeps it easy to fully remove that center console plastic piece. You can also see the extension jack for teh speaker. Neither of them are permanently wired into place.

    [​IMG]

    This has actually been a great mod for a commuter rig as well as an off-road rig. The K6LRG http://www.largeradio.org/ is very active during the commute hours and I'm developing HAM radio as a hobby entirely aside from using it as a means for off-road mobile communications.
     
    Crom likes this.
  2. Mar 13, 2011 at 11:44 PM
    #2
    S.B.

    S.B. Well-Known Member

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    Dang dude, you are just modding the hell outta that truck. Nice work BTW.
     
  3. Mar 13, 2011 at 11:46 PM
    #3
    bjmoose

    bjmoose [OP] Bullwinkle J. Moose

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    OME suspension, ARB Air Lockers, CBI/Relentless/Pelfrey armor, HAM radio
    Thanks. I did this radio install a couple months ago, but only just now got around to posting up the pics.
     
  4. Mar 13, 2011 at 11:48 PM
    #4
    S.B.

    S.B. Well-Known Member

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    I remember trying to help you and getting the susp lift. lol.
     
  5. Mar 13, 2011 at 11:54 PM
    #5
    bjmoose

    bjmoose [OP] Bullwinkle J. Moose

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    Yeah. I always over-think everything. :eek:
     
  6. Mar 13, 2011 at 11:55 PM
    #6
    S.B.

    S.B. Well-Known Member

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    lol. Same here. Hows the lift btw?
     
  7. Mar 22, 2011 at 8:28 PM
    #7
    671taco

    671taco Well-Known Member

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    nice work, your truck is pretty sick
     
  8. Mar 22, 2011 at 10:09 PM
    #8
    bjmoose

    bjmoose [OP] Bullwinkle J. Moose

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    Thanks!
     
  9. Mar 22, 2011 at 10:15 PM
    #9
    bjmoose

    bjmoose [OP] Bullwinkle J. Moose

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    That last bump made me realize I left an unanswered question on this thread. A little off-topic for a HAM radio install thread but that's OK. SB helped me out a lot when I was investigating my lift options.

    Anyhow, I've been very pleased with how it's worked out for my usage of the truck which is "A nice daily driver which I also take recreationally on some fairly challenging trails." When lifting a regular cab, I do recommend reserving some of your money to install the ARB rear locker. The extra clearance of the tires and wheels makes it easy to get onto terrain that sticks the regular cab's open/open differentials.

    This pic doesn't particularly illustrate that - but does show the truck out having fun a couple weeks ago at the Hollister Hills meet: (photo credit to black cx)
    [​IMG]

    And back on topic - this pic also illustrates the 2m/70cm 1/4 wave NMO mount roof antenna.
     
    incogneato likes this.
  10. Mar 22, 2011 at 10:32 PM
    #10
    bjmoose

    bjmoose [OP] Bullwinkle J. Moose

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  11. Mar 26, 2011 at 6:02 PM
    #11
    navysealboy93

    navysealboy93 Well-Known Member

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    That looks excellent. Where would you advise to buy a HAM radio?
     
  12. Mar 26, 2011 at 7:14 PM
    #12
    MrFastLayne

    MrFastLayne Mr SGA

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    Looks good. Nice job!:)
     
  13. Mar 27, 2011 at 6:25 PM
    #13
    bjmoose

    bjmoose [OP] Bullwinkle J. Moose

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    Thanks for the compliments.

    I bought mine at the local "Ham Radio Outlet" store which, despite the name is more of a "retailer" than an outlet.

    http://www.hamradio.com/contact.cfm

    Not sure how close those stores in Woodbridge and New Castle are to you.

    But they also do a big mail order sales business - though their website isn't real great for browsing product - you probably want to have them mail you their paper catalog.
     
  14. Mar 27, 2011 at 6:34 PM
    #14
    bjmoose

    bjmoose [OP] Bullwinkle J. Moose

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    One other thought: I used a larsen NMO mount. One of our local hams on the repeater bought one of those and was comparing it with an actual Motorola NMO that he got from another ham - he said the Larsen seemed cheap by comparison. Given how tough it is to access the roof area, and that you only want to go through this hassle once, it might be worthwhile to try and track down an actual Motorola NMO mount. But I don't have any idea who you could buy one from.
     
  15. Mar 27, 2011 at 6:42 PM
    #15
    navysealboy93

    navysealboy93 Well-Known Member

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    Awesome I'll have to check 'em out. Thanks.
     
  16. Apr 5, 2011 at 10:05 PM
    #16
    bjmoose

    bjmoose [OP] Bullwinkle J. Moose

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    Added three pics of the RJ11 connector that connects the remote face plate with the main unit and allows the face to be easily unplugged and removed.
     
  17. Feb 10, 2013 at 7:46 AM
    #17
    clcoyle

    clcoyle Well-Known Member

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    Great setup
     
  18. Jun 24, 2013 at 8:14 AM
    #18
    HBMurphy

    HBMurphy Ban Pending

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    Having 2 NMO mounts on our paper-thin roof, I found that I had to put a doubler after a few years (in the form of a thin yet large diameter washer). If you have your ceiling panel out, I would suggest tacking a doubler to extend the life of this type of mounting.
     
  19. Jun 24, 2013 at 12:25 PM
    #19
    MY50cal

    MY50cal I think I'm getting the Fear.

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    Yes.
    Like this :D I was half way done, the aft hole has an reinforcement as well.

    [​IMG]
     
    Crom likes this.
  20. Jun 24, 2013 at 12:35 PM
    #20
    bjmoose

    bjmoose [OP] Bullwinkle J. Moose

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    As my antenna has now borne the brunt of a number of tree-branch-whacks, I can definitely see the benefit in doing this. Just make sure your doubler doesn't interfere with the grounding of your NMO mount to the complete body.
     
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