OAUSA Net - May17, 2018 - Ham Radio (Installation, Use Tips, Pitfalls, and more)

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OAUSA Net - May17, 2018 - Ham Radio (Installation, Use Tips, Pitfalls, and more)


Post by DaveK » Wed May 16, 2018 3:43 pm

HAM RADIO Installation, Use Tips, Pitfalls, and more

Here's a topic that we all can appreciate. Whether you drive a 4WD, 2WD, or a motorcycle, proper installation means reliability, good looks and functionality. Every vehicle is different with unique installation requirements, and since there are no fixed or standard methods for mounting your radio, it means that there are a huge number of ways to do so.

With safety at the top of the list of priorities, we want to cover as many different options and techniques as possible. Let us know about your installations, tips, pitfalls and recommendations.

There are four parts to a successful, reliable and rugged Ham radio installation and we need to cover each:

Radio (proper radio for expected uses, and redundancy)
Electrical wiring ((including connectors, proper gauge wire, protection, and routing)
Antenna (connectors, spares, spare parts)
Co-ax (including spare runs, routing, protection, and noise rejection.)

Above all, safety and legal compliance need to be a first priority. Depending on your jurisdiction, there may be laws that regulate the use of handheld communication devices while driving as well as where certain equipment may be not mounted. Before you begin, it is wise to check to make sure of the law. Beyond the law, there still remain safety considerations. Here are my thoughts

Placement of the radio, installation and general antenna mounting thoughts
  • placement of control head or radio so as to minimize eye movement from driving
  • keep all controls (including mic)within easy reach or driver
  • keep radio out of reach of vehicle moving parts (shifter lever, AC, heater controls...)
  • if using detachable head, place body in area that has good air flow (to cool the unit)
  • keep body away from areas where h2o intrusion is likely
  • many vehicles have "secret compartments" - check with dealer or forums for mounting options
  • find a solid mounting location - avoid using screws into plastic - use bolts where possible
  • if using dash, make sure that it does not block drivers view, protect from direct sun
  • regardless of mounting location, keep as many wires as possible out of sight and neatly stowed
  • zip tie, tape or secure wires, cables and coax to avoid creating a rattling noise
  • avoid stringing wires,cables or coax around sharp angles, use grommets,
  • use high quality coax, and wire of a sufficiently large gauge, solder or crimp connections
  • fuse all lines, both pos and neg and place the fuses in an easy to reach location, preferable together
  • protect power wires from engine heat, secure well
  • use quality coax, and not the tiny weenie size
  • protect all external coax connections with coax seal
  • mount the antenna as high on the vehicle as possible
  • if plan is to use radio when the vehicle is off, have a good battery gauge to avoid killing battery
  • if plan is to use radio at night, have a good light in vehicle
  • if using radio in dusty environments, consider a sealed radio with an external heat sink and fan
  • theft deterrent - use bolts for mounting which have non traditional heads
  • for wilderness travel - redundancy, carry spare parts (antennas, connections, hardware, coax...)
  • to avoid killing battery, use time out timer

There are a lot of subjects to cover for this topic, but I will start off with one of our golden rules - it doesn't pay to buy cheap. As always, quality will pay dividends, the most important of which will be reliability and durability. Both being important considerati0ns when your travels take you far from home and when you may need to depend on your gear to get help. This may be a continuing list, but we will start here:


The parts of your radio set-up which are usually most vulnerable are the ones exposed to the elements. Taking the time to protect these parts and spending the money to buy equipment that will survive the worst that weather and use can dish out, are one big step to ensuring that your radio will work, and work well. All these precautions are especially important if you live in a wet climate or are near the beach. Make no mistake about it, however, protecting electrical connections, for example, are of utmost the importance no matter where you live or travel.

1. CO-AX Seal

It is not uncommon for a radio to be completely disabled due to corrosion on the co-ax connections. A great way to protect electrical and antenna connections comes in the form of a black tar-like material marketed under the name of Co-Ax seal. It works well and it lasts a long time. With just a little bit of patience, it comes off without leaving any trace of the material.

Coax Seal.jpg
Coax Seal.jpg (31.46 KiB) Viewed 671 times


This is one area that could take months worth of nets to cover, so we will mention just a few. The point here is to highlight the fact that high quality parts are not difficult to find as well as pointing out how easy it is to find just what you are looking for, with a little bit of research. In keeping with the section above, this section will deal with radio equipment that is exposed to the elements and includes:

Co-Ax cable
Mounts for antennas
connectors (e.g. NMO mounts)

We will discuss these in more detail on the net but here are a few examples of products that meet our criteria:

Breedlove Mounts. I discovered Breedlove Mounts some time ago while equipping the Ham radios in my vehicle, (https://www.breedlovemounts.com/home.html). If you are looking for heavy duty, solid, and well made mounts and related gear, you should consider Breedlove. If you don't find exactly what you want, he can make something to suit your needs.

I run a Scorpion HF antenna (6M-80M) when on the trail, and as the picture below demonstrates, the antenna is quite large. Given the brush and tree choked trails that we usually encounter, there is no way that I would be willing to run the antenna in the "up" position while traveling. The solution was to make or find a fold over mount that would allow me to run the antenna in the "down" position while traveling and make deployment easy, once we reached camp. Breedlove had the answer with their "fold-over" mount, made of solid 6061 aluminum, and it is about as heavy duty and solid as you can get. For the gadget minded traveler, Breedlove makes an electric (12V) fold-over mount.

Breedlove Antenna Fold Over.jpg
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Breedlove also makes a great selection of NMO's, ball mounts and quick disconnects, all of which are made from solid brass.

Breedlove NMO Mount.png
Breedlove NMO Mount.png (104.58 KiB) Viewed 671 times

Co-ax cable. This is sometimes is one of the most neglected parts of your radio set-up, and usually for good reason - once installed, the cable is usually out of sight and therefore, out of mind. If you installed the co-ax in your vehicle, chances are that it runs under the carpet or between the roof and headliner. There is no question about it - making a clean installation of co-ax cable is a PITA. Between the difficulty of installation and the benefits of buying quality co-ax, there is no good reason to go cheap. An additional benefit of running quality cable is the greater power that can be run and the improved frequency capabilities that it offers.

There are various types of co-ax on the market, and while I don't usually recommend against a particular brand, I will say that it is a very good idea to avoid the inexpensive very thin co-ax cables. We have been doing these nets for over 9 years and for most of these years, we have used a 25 foot RG-142 cable to connect the 8800 to the Elk Antenna. It gets installed and removed every week and has withstood everything we dish out. Cable Xperts sells this in pre-cut lengths or any length you specify, see: http://cablexperts.com/cfdocs/cat.cfm?I ... ship=1&c=0.

Here is some interesting information regarding RG-142, from Allied Wire and Cable : http://www.awcwire.com/productspec.aspx ... rg142specs

Use in the military

The RG142 cable was specifically built for the United States Military in the World War II era. It has a military equivalent part number of M17/60-RG142. This part number gives the United States Military an excellent option to use the highly reliable RG142 in their satellites, systems, and other tactical operations and equipment. Because of the obvious importance in these cables, the military requires them to have minimum and maximum dielectric adhesion values, specific shrink back allowance, eccentricity standardizations, stress crack resistance tests, and many more specifications that add to the durability and reliability of the RG142. All trusted manufacturers will produce the same high-quality RG142 because of its high QPL, which demands stability and rigidity in the testing and construction of specs and authenticity.
Benefits of the RG-142

RG142 meets all MIL-C-17 specifications and utilizes standard connectors, so proprietary or exotic pieces are not required to build its infrastructure. RG142 also has good shielding effectiveness (between 40 and 60 db) and has Low Passive Intermod (PIM) degradation of signal quality which is kept to a minimum. Since the RG142 is made with a solid dielectric this allows a high rate of crush resistance, which makes it the coax of choice for tactical operations and applications. Even though the RG142 isn't your most phase stable wire, the phase stability can be enhanced through preconditioning in the specific temperature ranges of your project.
Here is what it looks like:

RG142-coax-cable_200.jpg (3.18 KiB) Viewed 671 times

Mounting suggestion

If your travels are entirely in the city or on paved roads, then you can ignore this. If you find yourself on rough dirt roads that see a lot of brush choked sections, then you should consider an antenna mount that will not suffer when the trees are close and the brush is thick. Time permitting, we will discuss this mount, which has been in the same location on the vehicle, on some of the roughest trails, for over ten years, without a single failure or loss...........

H2 Antenna  mounbt for 2M and 440 #2.jpg
H2 Antenna mounbt for 2M and 440 #2.jpg (833.74 KiB) Viewed 665 times

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Re: OAUSA Net - May17, 2018 - Ham Radio (Installation, Use Tips, Pitfalls, and more)


Post by KK6DYO » Thu May 17, 2018 8:00 am

Kenwood TH-D710A installation (separate base unit and control head)

Radio power cable directly connected to battery; radio can draw up to 13A
1 Battery.JPG
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Power cable enters cabin though previously unused firewall boot, taped with silicone self fusing tape
2 Entry.JPG
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Power cable zip tied to prevent movement behind brake pedal
3 Entry.JPG
3 Entry.JPG (313.06 KiB) Viewed 696 times

Power cable routed through fuses and behind accelerator pedals, then through Powerwerx DC Line Noise Filter (below)
Wire segments are all connected via Powerpole
4 Route.JPG
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4B NoiseFilter.jpg
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Kenwood TH-D710 radio base unit under dashboard with mic on dash
5 Mic.JPG
5 Mic.JPG (316.19 KiB) Viewed 696 times

Radio control panel mounted on top of dash
  • Repurposed old Garmin GPS to provide location information to radio APRS; current D710 models have internal GPS
  • Using Ram Mount components attached to dash with 3M Dual Lock Reclosable Fastener (below)
  • Small West Mountain Radio RIGrunner 4004 USB for power distribution
  • Old Android phone running APRSdroid accessing APRS information from Bluetooth Mobilinkd Terminal Node Controller (TNC) for map display when needed
  • Another RAM mount for larger tablet when needed
  • I should trim the additional wire and make this neater
6 Dash.JPG
6 Dash.JPG (271.49 KiB) Viewed 696 times

Mic attaches to dashboard with 3M Dual Lock Reclosable Fastener (below); has worked for five years
Occasionally falls off on bumpy roads
7 Mic Fastener.JPG
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7B MicFastener.jpg
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Comet CP-5M mount attached to back door near top edge
The mount is on the driver side in an attempt to avoid low hanging vegetation from the right side of the road
8 Mount.jpg
8 Mount.jpg (200.34 KiB) Viewed 678 times
Last edited by KK6DYO on Thu May 17, 2018 5:36 pm, edited 12 times in total.

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Re: OAUSA Net - May17, 2018 - Ham Radio (Installation, Use Tips, Pitfalls, and more)


Post by toms » Thu May 17, 2018 9:13 am

KA0AVB - Rhodes will not be able to make the net this week but he sent some pictures of his install on his Toyota Tacoma.
This is a very clean looking install and might give you some inspiration particular if you own a Tacoma.
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Tacoma Stereo & CB Fab 2.jpg
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Tacoma Stereo & CB Fab 1.jpg
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Tacoma Full Dash-s.jpg
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Taco Radio Speakers-s.jpg
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IMG_3771.JPG (1.35 MiB) Viewed 692 times
DSC_0487.JPG (181.21 KiB) Viewed 692 times
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Re: OAUSA Net - May17, 2018 - Ham Radio (Installation, Use Tips, Pitfalls, and more)


Post by Hmfigueroa » Thu May 17, 2018 10:08 am

Good clean power is essential for having a reliable high-quality signal second only to a great antenna installation.

Getting power to your radio is usually accomplished by sending power wire through your firewall. Hazards from running power through the firewall are chafing and grounding out the wire. factory boots are more and more filled to capacity, your install should use its own firewall penetration a good boot makes that job simple. Daystar makes a great solution and if you have an automatic transmission often there will be a clutch cable hole that is usually the right size.
Daystar Firewall Boot
firewall_boot_daystar.PNG (512 KiB) Viewed 686 times
Insert the firewall grommet and then your wiring. It is a good idea to add loom as well then zip tie it off. More information at https://www.daystarweb.com/productdetai ... uctID=1130

A good, easy to use, power connection that offers flexibility is the Anderson Powerpole connector that has become a standard in the Amateur Radio community. by using the connector, you can swap out equipment as needed with minimal fuss.
ares configuration.PNG
ARES Configuration Powerpole
ares configuration.PNG (298.86 KiB) Viewed 689 times
one thing to remember with Powerpoles is that they are self-cleaning when the connection is made and broken, in a permanent install it is important to disconnect and reconnect periodically to keep the power running like it should.

There is confusion at times as to how to orient the connectors as they are genderless. if you look at the face of the connectors see the letter "A" on them. with the A's facing up, red is on the right. Easy! https://www.andersonpower.com/us/en/pro ... to-45.aspx There are many sources, and here is the manufacturers' information.

Do yourself a favor and get the right crimper for the job, although ask around and there is someone who will let you borrow them.

On the trail when stuff gets bouncy, finding your mic can be difficult. If you click it into the holder it can be impossible to get out in a hurry. using a mic retractor is a great solution.

It will hang tour mic where you can grab it and let it go when you are done no searching . . .see http://www.gearkeeper.com/communication ... eeper.html for information.
retractor.PNG (36.14 KiB) Viewed 689 times
Hector Figueroa
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Re: OAUSA Net - May17, 2018 - Ham Radio (Installation, Use Tips, Pitfalls, and more)


Post by toms » Thu May 17, 2018 2:26 pm

A bit more on Anderson Power Poles

Anderson power poles are an item you need to be aware as an option for your mobile radio installed.

Quote from the Manufacture
Anderson Power Products are becoming the new standard in DC power applications by the amateur radio community, radio control (cars, planes and boats), automotive winch installation and many other industrial DC power applications such as forklifts, wheelchairs and UPS battery backup systems.

Anderson Powerpoles have been adapted by most RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service) organizations and ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) units. Our
Please check our Help Center page for quick answers to Powerpole Frequently Asked Questions and other common customer support issues.

power poles
Power poles
20150211_075057Lm.jpg (590.56 KiB) Viewed 675 times
Read more: http://www.powerwerx.com/anderson-power ... z3RN1N8X9l

Power Pole Retention Clips - fits 15/30/45 Powerpole
Powerwerx Retention Clips for PP15/30/45 Powerpole Connectors
Secure Powerpole connections in the field, shack or mobile installations. Easy to use and ensures a positive connection if the chance of Powerpole separation exists. The wedge shape provides maximum grip for removal.

retention clips
20150317_101517.jpg (68.09 KiB) Viewed 675 times

Buy the crimper. It will make your life with the power poles a lot easier.
Designed by Powerwerx to provide a positive crimp for Anderson Power Products 15, 30 & 45 amp contacts in a single tool. The ratcheting mechanism guarantees a complete crimp every time. A built-in contact positioner holds the contact during crimping.
TRIcrimp_lrg.jpg (11.46 KiB) Viewed 675 times
https://powerwerx.com/tricrimp-powerpol ... mping-tool

15 Amp Permanently Bonded Red/Black Anderson Powerpole Connectors
Recommended for use with 16-20 gauge wire. Ultrasonically welded sets save assembly time, guarantee correct configuration, eliminate the need for a roll pin and enable the use of Powerpole accessories such as retaining clips.
15-amp-permanently-bonded-redblack-anderson-powerpole-connectors_580.jpg (37.39 KiB) Viewed 675 times
Powerpole Connector Weather Resistant Dust Cap Cover

Keep dust and dirt out of the ends of your Powerpole connectors with this unique weather resistant end cap. Compatible with PP15/30/45. Reusable. Dust Cover. Dimensions: 1 1/8" X 3/4" X 7/16".
Dust Caps
powerpole-connector-weather-resistant-dust-cap-cover_580.jpg (28.09 KiB) Viewed 675 times
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Re: OAUSA Net - May17, 2018 - Ham Radio (Installation, Use Tips, Pitfalls, and more)


Post by Voodoo Blue 57 » Thu May 17, 2018 4:44 pm

Early checkin please!
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Re: OAUSA Net - May17, 2018 - Ham Radio (Installation, Use Tips, Pitfalls, and more)


Post by lrsrngr » Thu May 17, 2018 5:26 pm

KK6CTT for the early check-in please. Looking forward to the net; this coming from a guy who binder clips mini radios to the center console, uses a 12v cigarette lighter plug and a mag-mount antenna. It ain't pretty but it works. Definitely not on par with some of the examples I have seen out on the trail.

These have become "go boxes on wheels." The need for a traditional go box has evolved, for some, to this setup and why not?

170101, Mojave River 640 01.JPG
Yet another example of "P" for plenty of electronics.
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170101, Mojave River 640 02.jpg
Details, details, details...
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170101, Mojave River 640 03_Detail.jpg
For those moments you need to have your drain plugs in and sealed along with your remote box high in the cab in case of water intrusion.
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160213, Savahia Peak 03.JPG
Ham radio, GPS, APRS, FRS and CB...
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160213, Savahia Peak 04.JPG
Bluetooth, tablet and more gadgets...
160213, Savahia Peak 04.JPG (108.07 KiB) Viewed 637 times
Last edited by lrsrngr on Thu May 17, 2018 6:10 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: OAUSA Net - May17, 2018 - Ham Radio (Installation, Use Tips, Pitfalls, and more)


Post by toms » Thu May 17, 2018 5:39 pm

Rig Runner

Another Tool to help with the power side of our install

I am a big fan of incorporating a RIGrunner distribution block from West Mountain Radio http://www.westmountainradio.com/rigrunner.php in my mobile radio vehicle installs. The model 4005 with 5 outlets is small enough to fit easily into the vehicle (6x3 inches x 1.4 thick) and give me one more outlet in the same space as the 4004 model (unless you need a USB port). I like the idea that that as I discover the need for more radios I didn’t know I couldn’t live without, I already have a clean power source to plug into. The use of30 amp power poles makes it easy for others to tap into the power if they need to.
This model will handle up to 40 amps and each outlet is separately fused. While they expected you will use the power pole on the end for power in, any of the power poles can be used for power in or out.

4005 RigRunner
4005-bigZoom.jpg (40.18 KiB) Viewed 645 times

4004U-bigZoom.jpg (54.68 KiB) Viewed 645 times

Don’t forget to order a bag of Anderson power poles. And get the crimper – it will save you a lot of grief.
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Re: OAUSA Net - May17, 2018 - Ham Radio (Installation, Use Tips, Pitfalls, and more)


Post by k9atk » Thu May 17, 2018 6:07 pm

Please check in

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Re: OAUSA Net - May17, 2018 - Ham Radio (Installation, Use Tips, Pitfalls, and more)


Post by KAP » Thu May 17, 2018 6:08 pm

Dave and Tom
Please check me in.

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