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Discussion Starter #1
I finally got my radio pretty much installed. I have a General License for HAM (W6THO) and I do Search and Rescue. The radio will get used a lot more on SAR than HAM. Criteria for a radio for those interested: (1) dual band VHF, UHF; (2) 2 channel monitoring; (3) potential for cross-banding for relay work; (4) a small footprint; and (5) a good quality radio. The radio I installed is an ICom IC-2730A. This fits all of the criteria above.

Prior to doing the install I did the MARS mod on the radio to allow transmission on the full VHF / UHF range. This is necessary for Search and Rescue, which relies on commercial band frequencies.

For the install, I ran 10 gauge wire off the battery (fused at 15 amps) and in through the grommet hole that is on the driver's side next to the main wire loom that goes through the firewall.





The wiring goes to a relay that is bolted to a convenient bracket up under the dash. The relay is powered off the same line as the 12V outlet. This way the radio is only powered when the key is on to avoid the accidental dead battery from not turning the radio off.



The 10 gauge then goes under the driver's side door sill and under the driver's side seat. I have an LF-1 OEM noise filter installed just before the radio. The radio body is under the seat, now just in place with friction -- some feet affixed to the bottom to give a little space above the carpet and keep the radio from moving.

I'm not certain where I want the control panel long term. As a trial mount I had a small base 3D printed. This puts the panel at a 30 degree angle and accommodates the curve in the console. This is affixed to the console with two-sided body trim tape.







The mic comes up from under the seat. I will use a piece of velcro to allow the mic to be affixed to the side of the console -- I really don't like the hangers as it's more of a hassle to get the mic on and off.

The antenna is on a mount that I made that clamps on to the front of the bed and hovers above the tonneau cover.





The antenna runs through the rear cab vent, along the rear door sill and under the driver's seat to the radio body.

So far I'm happy with the install and the radio.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Nice work on the 3D printed bracket.

What antenna is that? How is your reception with it mounted where it is? I tried mounting a 1/2 wave Browning on the right rear bed lip and found it not great. I run a mag mount on the roof but that is not ideal as tree branches like to knock it off.
Thanks.

That's a Tram 1181. For everyday use in the Tahoe Basin it works fine. But it's not a good test here. Inside the basin anything works since you're basically in a bowl and the repeaters are on peaks around the edge. Over the next few weeks I'm going to try to hit some repeaters further away to see what it will do.

I also carry a Comet 2x4SAR antenna in the truck. It's a 5/8 wave wide band if I need more reception. I may actually get a mag mount so I can set it on the roof if I really need to. But roof mount doesn't work for daily use - garage doors and all.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G891A using Tapatalk
 

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Heh, this is the thread that got me to register for the forum.

I've got a Tech class license. Been looking at that little cubby underneath the HVAC controls to the right of the 4x4 controls, wondering if there's a small enough 2m or 2m/70cm dual bander that would fit in there and not overheat in the process, even if requiring removing the cubby itself from the inside of the center stack. All I have at the moment is a 5W HT and it would be nice to have something a little more permanent. Might even consider if I want the audio output hooked to the truck's stereo.

On the topic of the antenna, how about a mount that one pulls out the tail light and screws the bracket to the bed, then puts the tail light back in? Or a mount that bolts to the end of the rear bumper? Could even pull it forward and tie it to the front bumper like operators used to do with their CJs...
 

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I have a Kenwood790 in my Frontier and a Kenwood281a in my Dodge.
Everybody uses vhf radios in desert racing.
Totally illegal here without a ham license.
I doubt many have them. I don’t.
Of course, I use mine strictly in Mexico.
SCORE assigns you a frequency.
I run through roof antennaes on both.
Works ok but most run the 100+ watt radios.
Mine is 65 watt.
The radio is hooked into my helmet via a intercom system.
Just to add, I have no clue about radios. Our friend does all our radio work.
He worked for CBS all over the world doing satellite down link stuff. Whatever that is.
He is retired but still does work for CBS.
He just did this van for them.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I have a Kenwood790 in my Frontier and a Kenwood281a in my Dodge.
Everybody uses vhf radios in desert racing.
Totally illegal here without a ham license.
I doubt many have them. I don’t.
Of course, I use mine strictly in Mexico.
SCORE assigns you a frequency.
I run through roof antennaes on both.
Works ok but most run the 100+ watt radios.
Mine is 65 watt.
The radio is hooked into my helmet via a intercom system.
Just to add, I have no clue about radios. Our friend does all our radio work.
He worked for CBS all over the world doing satellite down link stuff. Whatever that is.
He is retired but still does work for CBS.
He just did this van for them.
Don't worry, you're legal. SCORE's rules say: "No radio equipment in any race vehicle or support vehicle is permitted to transmit on any frequency allotted to the amateur radio band, public service band, marine band, aircraft band, and any frequency that the FCC considers illegal." Looking at Mag 7 Race's info, all of the frequencies listed are outside the amateur band, so they are using frequencies that are licensed to them or someone who has given SCORE permission to use them (some are government frequencies such as the standard SAR frequency). They can permit anyone to use those frequencies. Businesses do this all the time -- they get a license for a frequency and permit employees to use radios on that frequency. No need for the users to be licensed.

Roof antenna is the best -- the roof acts as a ground plane so your antenna that is probably a 1/2 (or really 5/8) wave antenna acts like a full wave antenna with the ground plane reflection (really, really simplified). They just aren't really friendly with garage door heights.

Would love to have some exposure to the Baja race world, some envy for what you get to do/see (except for the ending up upside down part).
 

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Thanks for the info.
I really am pretty ignorant of radio stuff. One reason the 790 is in the race truck. A lot simpler than the 281. I kept hitting buttons I should not have and got completely confused. I am a radio idiot.
I used Mag7 in 2014. They handled my pit services.
Besides our frequency, we had Mag7, “weatherman”, and a few others.
The Frontier antennae pretty much stays on.
The Dodge I have to remove because it interferes with some electrical wires where it sits in the backyard.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Heh, this is the thread that got me to register for the forum.

I've got a Tech class license. Been looking at that little cubby underneath the HVAC controls to the right of the 4x4 controls, wondering if there's a small enough 2m or 2m/70cm dual bander that would fit in there and not overheat in the process, even if requiring removing the cubby itself from the inside of the center stack. All I have at the moment is a 5W HT and it would be nice to have something a little more permanent. Might even consider if I want the audio output hooked to the truck's stereo.

On the topic of the antenna, how about a mount that one pulls out the tail light and screws the bracket to the bed, then puts the tail light back in? Or a mount that bolts to the end of the rear bumper? Could even pull it forward and tie it to the front bumper like operators used to do with their CJs...
My truck doesn't have the cubby you're talking about, so can't say if something would fit in there. But it's probably too small for most radios. You might look at some of the Chinese radios on eBay like the TYT TH9000D. They are pretty small. Or get a radio with a remote face plate so space isn't as much of an issue.

On the antenna, best location (center of the roof) versus practical issues (not hitting the garage door) is a constant trade-off. If you never use a garage, a NMO mount through the roof is the best. Anything else is a compromise and there's no right answer. Where mine is has bad (being right next to the cab is weakening any signal that is coming from the front of the truck) and good (the aluminum hard tonneau cover provides some ground plane effect like the roof does).

One comment, worry about the antenna before the radio. Remember, for reception the radio doesn't really matter, the antenna does. The radio only matters for sound quality and transmission (wattage dependent). You can get pretty far on a handheld with a good external antenna. You can upgrade from the handheld to a mobile radio later -- or you may find you don't need one at all depending on your usage and the terrain where you are.
 

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My truck doesn't have the cubby you're talking about, so can't say if something would fit in there. But it's probably too small for most radios. You might look at some of the Chinese radios on eBay like the TYT TH9000D. They are pretty small. Or get a radio with a remote face plate so space isn't as much of an issue.

On the antenna, best location (center of the roof) versus practical issues (not hitting the garage door) is a constant trade-off. If you never use a garage, a NMO mount through the roof is the best. Anything else is a compromise and there's no right answer. Where mine is has bad (being right next to the cab is weakening any signal that is coming from the front of the truck) and good (the aluminum hard tonneau cover provides some ground plane effect like the roof does).

One comment, worry about the antenna before the radio. Remember, for reception the radio doesn't really matter, the antenna does. The radio only matters for sound quality and transmission (wattage dependent). You can get pretty far on a handheld with a good external antenna. You can upgrade from the handheld to a mobile radio later -- or you may find you don't need one at all depending on your usage and the terrain where you are.
I get quite a distance with my handheld and my mag mount tram antenna on the middle of the roof.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Been struggling with placement / attachment for the mic on my radio. I don't like the mic hangers as they are a pain to use when driving without accidentally keying the mic. And where I like the mic -- down next to the seat -- it is sideways, so can't hang it anyway. Finally settled on a $3 magnetic phone mount off eBay. Works well, can grab and replace the mic while driving without having to look down, and seems very secure. The back of the mic has a slight curve so the metal disk is a little tough to stick to the back of the mic, but works okay.

 

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Looking at your setup and thinking about the ergonomics of my own truck, have you looked at the Pathfinder parking brake? It's a foot-operated brake on the left of the footwell, and would free-up center console space, so the handmic could go where the current handbrake lever sits.

Granted it's a lot of work to re-engineer the parking brake for a handmic, but at least it would be off-the-shelf parts.
 

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Looking at your setup and thinking about the ergonomics of my own truck, have you looked at the Pathfinder parking brake? It's a foot-operated brake on the left of the footwell, and would free-up center console space, so the handmic could go where the current handbrake lever sits.

Granted it's a lot of work to re-engineer the parking brake for a handmic, but at least it would be off-the-shelf parts.
Hum, interesting. Never looked at a Pathfinder. Would be nice, but probably more work than I'd want to do for the benefit. I actually prefer the foot operated parking brake -- not like I'm going to be using the hand brake to power slide my truck -- so I'd rather have the useful real estate.
 

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Just the thread I am looking for (and the one that brought me here in the first place.) Going to be installing a Kenwood TM-D700.

Looking at a different way of mounting antennas. I am thinking some sort of brush guard and using the light tabs for antenna mounts.
 

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Just the thread I am looking for (and the one that brought me here in the first place.) Going to be installing a Kenwood TM-D700.

Looking at a different way of mounting antennas. I am thinking some sort of brush guard and using the light tabs for antenna mounts.
That appears to be what the Australians do with their Navaras, usually on their passenger front corner.
 

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I am going to be using a Comet SBB-15 antenna (6m/2m/70cm) and it is over 5 feet tall so while I like JamesInTahoe mount on the bed, I don't think it will be substantial enough for this antenna and roof mounting is out for now.

Now to find which forum is right for asking about brush guards. ;)
 

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I am going to be using a Comet SBB-15 antenna (6m/2m/70cm) and it is over 5 feet tall so while I like JamesInTahoe mount on the bed, I don't think it will be substantial enough for this antenna and roof mounting is out for now.

Now to find which forum is right for asking about brush guards. ;)
Do you have prior experience with folding antennas? I ask because the only experience I've had with them was a buddy's that would fold-over while he was driving. He had it installed on a base that attached to the leading edge of the trunk of his sedan. He originally bought it so that it could be folded prior to opening the trunk lid but didn't expect it to spontaneously fold while driving.

Admittedly my sample-size is literally one unit, for what that's worth.
 

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Do you have prior experience with folding antennas? I ask because the only experience I've had with them was a buddy's that would fold-over while he was driving. He had it installed on a base that attached to the leading edge of the trunk of his sedan. He originally bought it so that it could be folded prior to opening the trunk lid but didn't expect it to spontaneously fold while driving.

Admittedly my sample-size is literally one unit, for what that's worth.
The SBB14 is a folding antenna but being of short stature, getting up to the top of the truck is not something I want to do on a daily basis. This one is pretty secure in its upright state.

Sent from my SM-T357T using Tapatalk
 

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Had some of the same issues trying to find a place to mount my amateur radio equipment. The Pro4X doesn't leave a lot of options to mount additional equipment, so I needed to get creative.

I use APRS for weather spotting, so having the displays "in the field of vision" was a necessity. I opted to build a bracket in the tray above the radio.



I wanted a decent antenna, but needed to lower it for parking garages (and the McDonald's drive thru). Diamond makes a motorized mount that can be mounted to the roof rack.



Power is supplied through a custom distribution block mounted on top of the fuse box (under the hood). 4 ga wire to the battery, a dual fuse box, and splits to two 8 ga wires. One provided battery power inside the cab. The other is relay switched to provide power when the ignition is on.

 

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My plan at present is an aftermarket from bumper, then run dual antenna one for 2/70 and one for 6m once I get my general license. The 6m antenna I looked at is almost 5' tall, but using a tab on the front bumper would all it clear things, and fold over if needed. Currently I have my handheld with a mag mount antenna, it works, but not the ideal setup. I do like that motorized mount idea though.
 
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