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4x4tographer

Hard mounted HAM Radios?

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Hi guys! I’ll be the first to admit I know next to nothing about radios (took me years to troubleshoot my CB into submission).

I’ve tried to find a “definitive HAM in the Jeep” article, but there is a lot of confusing stuff out there.

 

Looking for suggestions on your favorite hard mounted radio options in your vehicle!

Easy to use and easy to install are my hopes!

 

Thank you!

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I have a yaesu 8800 in my TJ. I bought it because most of the people in the club I was in ran it.  It was great that they could give me tech help,etc.  I like that it has a removable face plate with remote mounting.  The actual radio is under my seat, the faceplate and Mike are above the sunvisor. I like the radio, but it has way more bells and whistles than I need.

My advice would be to go with a basic radio unless you expect to get an upper level ham radio license.  4x4ham.com is a sister club to this one.  You might want to ask your question over there.

Also, Dan, one of our members sells mike mounts and other goodies for radios.  I forget his user name, I'm sure someone will chime in with it.

Edit: JeepUnique is the name Dan uses on here.

 

 

Edited by Curly
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I would stick to a 2m radio (no dual band) to keep it less complex and less expensive.   I would  look at Kenwood, Yaesu, or ICOM radios and avoid the cheap Chinese junk.  https://www.eham.net/reviews/ is good for reviews, but you shoudl definitely go to Ham Radio Outlet on 43rd ave and Peoria......they are super friendly and helpful.  

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like gearhead said, the Kenwood, Yaesu, or ICOM are all top radios.

 

i went with a Kenwood V71A many years ago and haven't had any problems with it at all. I bought it for the remote-mountable faceplate and it was easy to hook up external GPS & TNC module to get it to do APRS. i accidentally fried my APRS module one time and never replaced it. since no-one else hardly ran APRS it was kind of useless (and since I have a SPOT messenger already). 

 

my Kenwood is a little long in the tooth though, i'd probably buy a newer Yaesu if i was starting over today (some have everything for APRS built-in and other modern fancy features), or i might would roll the dice on the off-brand TYT-9800...

 

...those cheap brands like Baofeng or TYT can usually also transmit on the GMRS frequencies (if they are dual band), which isn't strictly exactly legal. but, GMRS is becoming really popular since the changes to its regulations a year or 2 ago and having a CB, ham, and GMRS radios all mounted can be a PITA. the Kenwood i mentioned and some of the popular Yaesu dual-banders can have their circuit boards modified easily to transmit in the GMRS frequencies - again, grey area legally, but practically speaking no-one can really tell on the receiving end.

 

whatever you get, it'll probably have too many functions to ever remember them all - so i highly recommend one of the Nifty mini-manuals which they make for several of the most popular brands/models.

 

 

Edited by theksmith
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Make sure you buy a good antenna. There is a ham radio shop in Glendale with everything you need

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I just bought one of these a few months back:

 

Yaesu FTM-100DR

 

And I absolutely love it.  Still trying to learn all that it can do.  It's pricey, but worth it.  I have it mounted below the steering column.

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Thanks for all of the advice guys! Gonna try to go for a better antenna first and maybe upgrade when I get a little more into it. 
 

Thank You So Much GIF by chuber channel

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I did that for along time. They make an adapter which allows you to connect a quality antenna to your handheld

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Late to the party but here are some potentially useful (tested effective) ideas that can allow you to have a solid mount but graduate as you decide to commit to more screws and wires in your vehicle.

 

1) Handheld with external mag-mount antenna. Ham radios using FM transmission in the VHF (2m) and UHF (70cm) bands are highly effective at low powers. On my JK, I dropped a short mag-mount antenna (Diamond MR77S - SMA) on the cowl, ran the antenna wire through the firewall using a Jeep pre-made entry point under the cowl structure, and then let the antenna wire come out from under the dash to connect to a handheld radio (easily hidden if I take the radio with me. I then bought a JeepUniq dash mount that integrated into the passenger dash grab bar. That mount has a HT Radio clip and a microphone button holder. I started with a Kenwood D72a, have used a Yaesu FT2DR, and also a few cheep Baofengs. The antenna I bought terminated in an SMA connector compatible with the Kenwood and Yaesu HT radios. I used a SMA gender converter for the Baofengs as they just had to be different. I finished the setup with a microphone that is compatible with the handheld so the radio can stay attached to the JeepUniq base.

 

  • This setup requires no antenna tuning and "just works". I was able to talk to the White Tanks repeaters using a measly 5w from all the war over in east Scottsdale.
  • I never bothered with hard power as I found as little as I transmitted the battery lasted for days.
    • There are car-power-wire options for most HTs.
  • JeepUniq makes mounts for newer JKs and JL/JTs also.
  • I also use this solution for my Jeep Renegade except I use a "cup holder" mount for the HT radio.
  • I'll put a write up of my current JK mobile setup in a separate post.  I moved to a Yaesu FTM-400DR and a hard mount antenna.

 

/Woody

 

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Edited by SonoranWanderer

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Continuing the above post, here is how I changed over to a "true" mobile radio with a fixed-mount antenna.

 

2)  I decided that the mobile on the dash as-shown above was while effective not to my usage satisfaction. I had a D72a, so I was able to broadcast APRS already, but I was limited in a few ways that matter to me:

  • Maximum 5w
    • APRS base stations were not hearing me as much as I wanted, lots of gaps in my travelogue on APRS.fi in the back country
    • Not a lot of power for remote uses like the AZ strip
  • The display was far away from me as a driver and hard to read
    • One upside of the D72a with the Kenwood mic is that you can switch between memory presets. This is not true of other HTs with mics. But even though I had "easy" to reach channel control on the mic, I could not see what channel/repeater I selected.
  • Advanced control required pulling the radio off the mount or stopping the jeep so I could move to see the display and reach the body buttons.
  • The mobile radio I selected had more advanced features
  • The mobile had a better aesthetic to me after full install and wires properly routed

 

I also switched up my antenna setup as I wanted

  • A bigger antenna to handle higher power
  • Use longer wavelength ratios to support better long range reception
  • Ability to "fast" swap antennas for different conditions and uses
  • Fixed mount to take the abuse of tight brush

 

The mobile I selected is the Yaesu FTM-400DR.

  • It could push 50w
  • Dual band
  • APRS support
  • The head and body are separate
  • Full color, easy-to-read compact display
  • Display can show a interesting radio transmission and GPS data
  • Head/display and mic based controls are fairly easy to use

 

For an antenna, I put together a solid fixed base mount close to the driver so that it was easy to reach out and fold down the antenna if need for tight brush and garages. I looked at different ways to mount considering

  • Location
    • Ease of driver reach
    • Exposure of wire between the body seam and the antenna base
  • Solidness of the mount (ability to withstand brush abuse) 
    • Solid for the antenna itself, prevent tear off or severe vibration
    • Solid to prevent damage to the vehicle body where the mount attaches
  • A base setup that support different antenna options without much effort/work

 

I started with my now "mid-sized" fold-able antenna, a Diamond NR770HB. You can grab the antenna near the base, pull up and fold it over (full 90 degrees). I eventually switched to a Comet SS-680SB spring base (self-flexing). It is shorter but for 90% of my use cases effective enough in range. It is rated to the mobile's full 50w. It also goes into most garages without issue.

 

Installation:

  • The base is under the drivers seat mounted to a tray that keeps the radios (also have a CD base there) off the jeep's floor.  I can take on a little water before risking electronics damage. The tray is an aluminum unit I found on eBay via old Jeep forums customer cut to bolt to the JK's seat frame.
  • I got creative with the head. I found a black RAM slide mount base with adjustable 1" mount balls. I use #10 black bolts to attach the slide to the trim piece above the rear-view mirror and between the visors  I crafted a RAM ball mount to and for the radio head and then attached that ball on the slide. Once everything is tightened down it is solid. But easy to adjust later
  • I originally used the old JeepUniq dash mount to hold the mic. But since I have two mics, this had its limits.
  • I eventually found a metal bracket that went into the radio tower trim seam and held in by the radio mount bolts. To that I attached a mic cradle.
    • Now the mic I am actively using is cradled on the car radio tower and the other rests in the JeepUniq cradle.
  • For the antenna base I settled on the KC A-Pillar light bracket for side mounted lights.
    • I drilled out the light bolt hole to handle a UHF base.
    • I then selected an antenna base with a very thin RG188 pigtail that runs/hides easily under the forward A-pillar light mount and slips right into the cowl seam where it converts to standard coax. The COMET-NCG CK-3M5 if I remember correctly.

 

/Woody

 

 

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