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Experiments Related to Using RAM Mounts Above the Radio

Discussion in '3rd Gen. Tacomas (2016+)' started by HalfWayThere, Feb 27, 2016.

  1. Feb 27, 2016 at 10:07 PM
    #1
    HalfWayThere

    HalfWayThere [OP] Well-Known Member

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    This is post shows my first attempt at using RAM Mounts in the area above the radio.

    Motivation: I like this mounting area because you can see and reach the screens easily without having to look any farther from the road than necessary. It also doesn't block any other displays, vents, or controls. I like RAM Mounts because they are versatile and robust. I don't have much of their equipment (yet), but I've been impressed with the few items I've used in the past.

    Method used for this attempt (assembly from top to bottom):

    1. 1/4-20 female threaded RAM Balls
    2. Flat washer (AN washer in left most location due to space constraints)
    3. 1/8" textured ABS top reinforcement
    4. Flat, non-colored portion of radio surround sandwiched in the middle
    5. 1/4" ABS backing plates (in between radio surround mounting tabs)
    6. Flat washer
    7. 1/4-20 SHCS

    Good:
    • The balls fit nicely and there's no problem articulating the RAM arms
    • Removing the setup would only leave three 1/4" holes in an area you won't normally see. They could be plugged with plastic plugs and almost nobody would ever notice.
    • 3 balls (only 2 mounted so far) on 4.25 centers allows good positioning using standard length RAM arms.
    • Strength seems adequate for light loads (cell phone)

    Less Good:
    • Not really strong enough to support heavy loads (like 8" tablet) over rough terrain. Actually, it would probably be OK, but it will flex the radio trim which causes movement of the arm. It might be OK, but I don't think it's "good".
    • Ball location is dictated at installation. It's a little hard to predict the optimal location beforehand.
    • The 1/8" ABS plate on top is not strong enough to spread the load and the 1/4" ABS backing plates don't work as well as I'd like because they must be separate pieces in between the radio surround mounting tabs.
    • Aluminum portion of RAM balls looks a bit ratty from production process.
    • When not in use, RAM balls sticking up from dash are a bit odd.
    [Break here since the editor is bogged down with all this text]

    IMG_1639.jpg
     
    Crom likes this.
  2. Feb 27, 2016 at 10:11 PM
    #2
    HalfWayThere

    HalfWayThere [OP] Well-Known Member

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    IMG_1631.jpg IMG_1638.jpg

    I can just get the 8" tablet located so it doesn't block any of the view out the window (that isn't already blocked by the high hood) or any of the radio screen. It doesn't look that way in the picture because I'm trying not to get my messy garage in the shot. My phone goes in the holder to the left, but I was using it to take the picture. Both of these mounts are sweet.

    I haven't really road tested this setup, so this is just my best guess as to how I will arrange things.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2016
  3. Feb 27, 2016 at 10:23 PM
    #3
    Gallowbraid

    Gallowbraid Well-Known Member

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    Did a very similar setup in my Jeep and it worked very well.

    [​IMG]

    There's just not enough room there in the Tacoma for me so I mounted mine on the left side of the dash just above the air vent. The trim there is easily removed and I mounted t-nuts just like in my Jeep here.

    I'll post pictures later since my truck is 2000 miles away right now.
     
  4. Feb 27, 2016 at 10:29 PM
    #4
    HalfWayThere

    HalfWayThere [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I'm hoping that other folks will give the idea a shot and come up with improved designs. Here's some of my thoughts:

    Improvements:
    1. Replace the 1/8" top plate with a 1/4" aluminum plate. It should be stiff enough to spread the load and reduce the amount of flex. It will be a lot harder to work than the ABS (and it has some curves, so it's not trivial to mill it). It would also need to be painted or anodized so you don't have a bright piece of aluminum grabbing your attention. Those with grey trim might not notice the metal color as much.
    2. Run multiple screws into the backing plates. Currently they are serving as large, funky-shaped washers and they don't take the loads to the trim mounting points as well as they could. This would mean drilling yet more holes in the trim piece.
    3. Mount a T-slot rail and use t-slot mount RAM balls. That would give a lot of flexibility on locating the balls and they could be easily removed when not in use. I have not found a suitable t-slot. Most of them are too tall or too wide for what I want. My ideal solution would be about 1/2" tall and less than 1" wide. The actual construction of the rail would determine how hard it would be to mount. The wide ones used on kayaks would be particularly problematic (for any ideas I have) but I like that they are low profile and available in short lengths.
    4. If it's still too flexible due to the dash parts moving, the next step would be to make a metal bracket that can take the load down to the radio mounting bolts, which appear to go into metal. This would be tricky, but may be the only way to make a solid mount for heavier loads (at least in this location).
    5. They method I used is not what I would call easy. A solution that required less work and fabrication would be an improvement.
     
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  5. Feb 27, 2016 at 10:34 PM
    #5
    HalfWayThere

    HalfWayThere [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the link, that was pretty clean on the Jeep. I'm looking forward to the pics of what you did on the Tacoma.
     
  6. Feb 27, 2016 at 10:49 PM
    #6
    sndtubes

    sndtubes Active Member

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    I would be concerned that the sun is going to cook your stuff up on the dash like that
     
  7. Feb 27, 2016 at 11:00 PM
    #7
    HalfWayThere

    HalfWayThere [OP] Well-Known Member

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    You bring up a point to consider. I suppose if you left a tablet there with the truck parked in the sun there would be some potential for damage. I wouldn't expect to leave either mounted while the truck was parked for a long period. The mounts are spring loaded, so the phone and the tablet pop out in 2 seconds (+ disconnecting the charging cable). My Garmin GPS lives in my Miata up at dash level. I'm sure it gets cooked, but it seems to be designed to take that sort of heat.
     
  8. Feb 27, 2016 at 11:04 PM
    #8
    sndtubes

    sndtubes Active Member

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    This is of interest to me because I want to install some ham radio gear. I cant put it at top of dash level due to the heat. Gee I hate the idea of drilling holes anywhere, though
     
  9. Feb 27, 2016 at 11:13 PM
    #9
    HalfWayThere

    HalfWayThere [OP] Well-Known Member

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    It's a ways out on the mod list, but I've been thinking about where I could mount a dual band mobile. My current thinking is to use the cubby with the Qi charger. I don't use the charger and that's one of the few locations I could mount a radio (or faceplate) without blocking something else.

    I'd probably make an ABS faceplate for the cubby and use that as the mounting surface.
     
  10. Feb 28, 2016 at 8:23 AM
    #10
    HalfWayThere

    HalfWayThere [OP] Well-Known Member

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    This thread is where I got the idea for T-slot rail:

    https://www.tacomaworld.com/threads/versitile-dash-mounting-options-for-all-your-electronics.409054/
     
  11. Feb 28, 2016 at 1:17 PM
    #11
    HalfWayThere

    HalfWayThere [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Tried it out on the road today and (while stopped) tried some different adjustments for the RAM arms. I'm now solidly convinced that a rail based setup is the way to go. I also noted that the cell phone mount setup was fine (no noticeable movement, even over normal road bumps) so if that's all you wanted to do, I think this setup would be adequate. The tablet is clearly too heavy for this setup, but I think by using an aluminum rail, in addition to the mounting flexibility, it would stiffen everything and might be enough to make it work.

    I also think that the rail could extend closer to the gauge cluster and allow better placement of the phone arm assembly than what I have now.

    This rail is close to what I'm looking for, and with economy shipping and tax, it would be just over $20 delivered. I don't like that it's blue, it could be thinner (lower height) if it wasn't "universal", and in my perfect world, the base would be thicker so I could mill it to fit instead of making a separate spacer piece. I'll keep looking.

    http://www.rockler.com/universal-t-track-universal-t-track

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. Mar 6, 2016 at 9:35 PM
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    krazyscot

    krazyscot Active Member

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    Thanks for posting such an in depth thread, you've taken the idea and ran with it doing a much more thorough job than I had thought through. I'm still a couple of months from digging into it myself, but will follow along. Thanks for your efforts.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2016
  13. Mar 6, 2016 at 11:13 PM
    #13
    qnyla

    qnyla Well-Known Member

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  14. Mar 7, 2016 at 12:14 AM
    #14
    HalfWayThere

    HalfWayThere [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I made some progress today and got it installed (but not "finished"), I'll road test tomorrow and see how it goes. It looks like it may be a useable design, but it was a ton of work. The t-track wasn't strong enough on its own, so I made a spacer/stiffener using good aluminum 1x3/8" bar-stock. Because of the irregular shape of the top surface of the radio surround, I milled the bottom to fit the contour of mounting surface (not a pretty picture, I had to do some filing to make the curves, but it's not a visible surface).
    IMG_1647.jpg


    Here's the t-track I used that's even cheaper. It does not appear that this rail will work with some rail attachments. This one uses 1/4" bolts (the head goes in the rail) and it has a channel at the bottom to clear the heads of #8 pan-head screws (so you don't have to counter-sink for flatheads inside the rail, but it makes the bottom section thinner): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00YQ8DOIC?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s02


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Some nighttime shots of the install (because it was after dark when I finished). If it works, I'll do some more finish work on the components and make some other tweaks. I sure hope it works because the next step would be coming up with brackets that tie into the radio mounts.
    IMG_1652.jpg IMG_1649.jpg IMG_1651.jpg IMG_1648.jpg



    It doesn't look like it in the picture, but the tablet mount can be adjusted so it doesn't block the view of the radio out the window (that isn't already blocked by the hood).
    IMG_1650.jpg



    If this works out, I'll do a better job of documenting what I've done. Though I doubt many (any?) folks would do it the same way, since I had to do a lot of milling for the spacer/stiffener and drill a lot of holes in the surround. It's a good place for mounting, so I'm still hoping that someone will take what I've done and come up with a better way.
     
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  15. Mar 7, 2016 at 8:19 PM
    #15
    HalfWayThere

    HalfWayThere [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I was only able to try it out for a short trip today, but it worked really well and is a lot more solid than my first attempt.
     
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  16. Mar 7, 2016 at 8:34 PM
    #16
    HalfWayThere

    HalfWayThere [OP] Well-Known Member

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    @Gallowbraid Have you reunited with your truck? I'm looking forward to seeing your left-side mounting setup.
     
  17. Mar 8, 2016 at 7:07 AM
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    Gallowbraid

    Gallowbraid Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately she's still thousands of miles away. I'm on a month long project in San Diego and it's at home in Georgia. I'll be back home late this month and will make sure to get some photos up here then.
     
  18. Mar 10, 2016 at 10:22 PM
    #18
    HalfWayThere

    HalfWayThere [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. Whenever you get the chance is fine.
     
  19. Mar 10, 2016 at 10:30 PM
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    Nirvana

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    In memory of Mitch Hedberg, "You have a lot of dashboard accessories". What are you doing with a double din head unit, tablet, and phone/ipod mount? Not trying to shit on your parade I just feel busy with a double din and a cobra 75 hand set.
     
  20. Mar 10, 2016 at 10:40 PM
    #20
    HalfWayThere

    HalfWayThere [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Small update:

    I bought a short arm and it works much better for me than the medium length RAM arm. I'm going to get another short arm so I have them for both the tablet and phone mounts.

    http://www.amazon.com/Mounts-SOCKET...002L9LW00/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

    Further testing with the short arm looks very promising. I think it's going to be good enough for off-road, though I haven't had a chance to try that yet.

    I've been having some problems with the tablet mount because the spring-loaded mechanism to insert and release the tablet puts a very high load to the side which applies torque to the ball mount. Since the mounts I have been using fasten with a single axial bolt, that torque sometimes loosens the ball off the bolt. The threads on the ball are aluminum and I don't want to compensate by cranking down on it any harder than I am already. So my solution was to drill out the mouting holes in a diamond plate mount to clearance for 1/4"-20 threads. Then I used two bolts to mount it to the rail: loosening problems gone and stronger base to boot. (excuse the mix & match hardware, I'm using what I have until I prove out the design, then I'll get real/consistent hardware)
    IMG_1657.jpg



    I'm going to the dealer for my 5k tomorrow so I pulled the arms off. Here's the current state of affairs for the prototype.

    IMG_1656.jpg
     
    0210, samiam, Crom and 1 other person like this.

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