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  #1  
Old 02-22-2018
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theksmith theksmith is offline
(Kristoffer) (K1KRS)
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Radio custom antenna mounts & 3rd brake light for JK Unlimited
with the complete Teraflex tire carrier and 35" spare installed, my existing left and right EVO antenna mounts didn't work well. i also wasn't excited about either option from Teraflex for relocating the third brake light (option 1, option 2).

so i made a custom mounting solution for a ham dual-band antenna, cb antenna, and a new third brake light.



everything is made from 1/8" thick steel from my local Ace Hardware and attached with rivet nuts for easy disassembly when needed. the main uprights for the antennas are 2" x 1/8" C-channel that i cut and welded into "L" shapes.

the threaded inserts (rivnuts) were installed using my latest toy, an inexpensive Tacklife Rivet Nut Setter from Amazon. it works quite well, but you have to get a feel for when to stop or you can easily rip the threads right off the smaller inserts.




the brackets were positioned so a 2 foot antenna would rise above the roofline just a few inches. my previous 3' ones were always smacking parking garages and dragging on limbs. the new mounts also position 95% of the antennas above the spare wheel, which should help with efficiency and SWR.



the ham dual-bander is a Comet SS-680SB and about 26" long. the CB antenna is somewhat flexible fiberglass Accessories Unlimited AUFLEX2-B. it's only slightly taller than the Comet when paired with a Workman KDT quick disconnect.

i added 2 layers of heat shrink at the base of the CB antenna to act as somewhat of a strain relief. i've found that area will break the insulation and sometimes even the wire when not using a spring and relying just on the flexibility of the antenna.




i wanted to try something different for the third brake light and eventually settled on a Custom Dynamics TF20RS 3.35" Flexible LED Strip in the smoke color. though not very large, it's quite bright and has diffusion in the housing that helps it be visible from nearly any angle.



it's mounted to a 1/2" wide piece of steel i bent to press slightly against the spare tire so that it wouldn't wobble. i also left that piece long enough to raise up a few inches when i go to 37's.



i've not had a chance to test the whole setup with the new shorter antennas yet, so i'm hoping overall distance that i can transmit/receive hasn't taken to much of a hit. i could still run my 3' antennas if i'm going to be in the wide open desert and not worried about tree limbs.

for the final steps, i made sure to scrape off a bit of paint next to each bolt and on the mounting studs. then i used a meter to double check that there was a good low resistance ground connection. after tuning, the SWR on the new CB setup is about 1.2 - slightly better than i had before with the lower mount but longer antenna.
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  #2  
Old 02-22-2018
adriaanvn99 adriaanvn99 is offline
(Adriaan) (ZS1AVN)
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Default Re: custom antenna mounts & 3rd brake light for JK Unlimited
Real neat setup! My antenna's were mounted in the exact same spot on the TJ. I think its the most discrete and unobtrusive to mount an antenna on the Wrangler whilst still having a good SWR
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  #3  
Old 02-22-2018
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dzJeepChic dzJeepChic is online now
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Default Re: custom antenna mounts & 3rd brake light for JK Unlimited
LOL! Seems to be saying 'Hey, I have an idea! How 'bout you stop now!'

Originally Posted by theksmith View Post
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Old 02-22-2018
jgaz jgaz is offline
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Default Re: custom antenna mounts & 3rd brake light for JK Unlimited
Nicely done Kris.

Thanks for the link on the rivnut setter. What size fastener did you use?

The reason I ask is, my setter, that I’ve had since the dealership days (+30 years), isn’t happy with the steel or heavier duty inserts above 1/4-20. Mine also was purchased in the “pre metric era” so I have no metric capability.

Did you try this tool on an M8 inset? Would you be willing to test set an M8 insert for me before I buy this tool? I just set 12 inserts for the cargo rails on my pick up using the good old nut and bolt method and have thought about getting one of these tools.
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Old 02-22-2018
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theksmith theksmith is offline
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Default Re: custom antenna mounts & 3rd brake light for JK Unlimited
Originally Posted by jgaz View Post
Nicely done Kris.

Thanks for the link on the rivnut setter. What size fastener did you use?

The reason I ask is, my setter, that I’ve had since the dealership days (+30 years), isn’t happy with the steel or heavier duty inserts above 1/4-20. Mine also was purchased in the “pre metric era” so I have no metric capability.

Did you try this tool on an M8 inset? Would you be willing to test set an M8 insert for me before I buy this tool? I just set 12 inserts for the cargo rails on my pick up using the good old nut and bolt method and have thought about getting one of these tools.

on this project, i used 1/4-20 for the main bolts into the tire carrier and then 10-24 for the screws holding my brake light stalk. it easily sets the 1/4". the 10-24 are a little small for the 1/8" thick steel i was using, but they did grab.


i've used the bolt & nut method many times on aluminum rivnuts with pretty inconsistent results, so when i saw the price on this i figured i add it to my toolbox. i'm expecting to eventually use it for installing aftermarket fender flares.

when i first got this thing, i didn't know anything about it and easily ripped the threads right out of the 10-24 insert i tested! fortunately it didn't damage the threads on that mandrel.

i've found it's good to test out the particular size insert and thickness of material that you are going to use it on somewhere that you can see the insert deform - just to get an idea of how much pressure is needed for that particular scenario. nicer versions have an adjustable stop you set for each job, but the "get a feel for it" method is working for me considering the cost.

one thing to note if you get this one - it comes bone dry everywhere and needs to be lubricated to work smoothly. i used some PTFE lubricant, but air tool oil or similar would be fine.

it did come with an M8 mandrel and a some sample inserts (zinc coated steel). is there a particular thickness material you'd like me to double check it on? reviewers on Amazon said it could also handle stainless steel inserts, but i haven't got any of those.
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Old 02-22-2018
jgaz jgaz is offline
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Default Re: custom antenna mounts & 3rd brake light for JK Unlimited
I’ll check on the insert type and metal thickness and send you a PM. Thanks!
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Old 02-23-2018
ob1jeeper ob1jeeper is offline
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Default Re: custom antenna mounts & 3rd brake light for JK Unlimited
Originally Posted by theksmith View Post

it did come with an M8 mandrel and a some sample inserts (zinc coated steel). is there a particular thickness material you'd like me to double check it on? reviewers on Amazon said it could also handle stainless steel inserts, but i haven't got any of those.
FWIW: I believe you will discover that "most" common stainless inserts will have similar tendencies of thread deformation to the 10-24's you discovered were easily damaged, as most common stainless is significantly "softer" (more malleable) than typically available common carbon steels...

Also, stainless fasteners used in direct contact with common carbon steels, will create a galvanic cell, with the carbon steel becoming the sacrificial anode to the stainless. (i.e.: it will corrode)

Typically does not create a huge issue for uses in our arid (and unsalted roadways) environment. However, it was a common high corrosion rate issue for damp climate located vehicles in the 1950's & 60's, when stainless was used copiously for trim.

As an example, the carbon steel clips that GM used for securing the stainless trim to the fiberglass front fenders of the 1959 corvette had rotted to a pile of rusty dust, leaving the trim loose and dangling by the time I purchased the car in Toledo, OH in the early '70's.

In later years, before the large use of stainless trim became no longer used in the auto industry, any clips used to secure stainless trim was made of either a non-metallic material, or were isolated from the metal of the clip AND the vehicle's steel body, with some sort of non-conducting material.

PS: Nice work on the antenna mounting. Am VERY interested in hearing how the closeness of the antenna placement works out for you ...
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  #8  
Old 02-25-2018
Zeep Zeep is offline
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Default Re: custom antenna mounts & 3rd brake light for JK Unlimited
Nice looking tool, I may need to pick one of those up soon.
Thanks for the link.
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  #9  
Old 03-16-2018
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theksmith theksmith is offline
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Default Re: custom antenna mounts & 3rd brake light for JK Unlimited
Originally Posted by ob1jeeper View Post
FWIW: I believe you will discover that "most" common stainless inserts will have similar tendencies of thread deformation to the 10-24's you discovered were easily damaged, as most common stainless is significantly "softer" (more malleable) than typically available common carbon steels...

Also, stainless fasteners used in direct contact with common carbon steels, will create a galvanic cell, with the carbon steel becoming the sacrificial anode to the stainless. (i.e.: it will corrode)

Typically does not create a huge issue for uses in our arid (and unsalted roadways) environment. However, it was a common high corrosion rate issue for damp climate located vehicles in the 1950's & 60's, when stainless was used copiously for trim.

As an example, the carbon steel clips that GM used for securing the stainless trim to the fiberglass front fenders of the 1959 corvette had rotted to a pile of rusty dust, leaving the trim loose and dangling by the time I purchased the car in Toledo, OH in the early '70's.

In later years, before the large use of stainless trim became no longer used in the auto industry, any clips used to secure stainless trim was made of either a non-metallic material, or were isolated from the metal of the clip AND the vehicle's steel body, with some sort of non-conducting material.

PS: Nice work on the antenna mounting. Am VERY interested in hearing how the closeness of the antenna placement works out for you ...
thanks ob1! i knew about the galvanic issue with dissimilar metals, but didn't realize it was such a large problem between stainless & regular steel. i guess i'll keep using the zinc coated inserts i bought in bulk instead of worrying about getting a pack of stainless.


Originally Posted by karrlos View Post
Nice idea! The 3rd brake light looks tiny yet bright.
thanks! i had tried an even smaller set of very bright red LED's at first and everyone agreed they weren't noticeable. the diffusion pattern in the Custom Dynamics strip makes all the difference in visibility.
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