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Old 06-10-2012, 08:41 PM   #1
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Ham radio antenna and mount recommendations?

Hello all, newbie jeep owner and licensed technician class ham radio operator here. I have searched through several threads but have not found a good answer to this question.

I would like recommendations about running a mobile rig on a wrangler, given the unique challenges afforded by the wrangler's removable plastic roof. From what I gather, people generally recommend an antenna that does not need a ground plane. but what antenna mount and antennas do you recommend that will give me good transmission distances with minimal interference from the vehicle's electrical system? Preferably something that blends well with the vehicle? (I live in san antonio, and a blatantly obvious rig will probably result in a busted window and a stolen rig)

Thanks!

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Old 06-11-2012, 10:27 AM   #2
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All vehicle mounted antenna's use the vehicles body as a ground plane. Unlike most applications we do not have a nice flat surface like a roof or trunk lid. (Using the center of the hood is not a good option.)

S0 we make do with body mounts, either a taillight mount, or attach right to the tub. There are mounts that fit under the lip of the hood.

Wire directly to the battery and watch how you route the power leads and you won't have any interference problem.

Nothing blends in, an extra antenna is obvious. You can use a mount the unscrews or disconnects quickly. For the radio, find one with a headunit. Mount the main body out of sight, and pull the head when you are out of the Jeep.

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Old 06-11-2012, 10:47 AM   #3
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I took a little different approach with my ham rig.

I mounted a Comet SBB2 dual band antenna on the INSIDE of our 2012 Wrangler Sport where it can not be seen nor knocked off by tree limbs. It is mounted using the right rear allen attach bolt for the hard top. I made a small mild steel flat "tab" for the mounting surface which is held in place by the hard top bolt. It extends inboard about 2 inches and the antenna is mounted to it. Ground is good (I scratched the paint off the under side of the tub rail) and swr/power output is very good (1.1-1). The radio signal does not see the fiberglass hard top so it thinks it is out in the open with the exception of the right rear roll bar down tube. Put a small piece of foam on the tip of the antenna to buffer it from the inside of the top on rough roads.

I use this set up with a Yaesu VX 8GR handheld at around 4 watts and it works very well. Yesterday I was talking through a repeater at 35 miles with a reported 90% full quieting.

Hope this helps,

Cheers,

db

ps. Spent many years in SAT--pretty place--just a little hot and humid for us in the summer.
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Old 06-11-2012, 01:10 PM   #4
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Hi Guys,

Here's what I did:

Got a license plate mount from HRO.

Installed mount. Also added one additional 1/4" sheet metal screw in center of mount, drilling hole through the mount and into the fender/body area. This provided additional grounding for electrical bonding.


All of my mobile antennas are NMO style. The license plate mount comes with a hole only big enough for a 3/8"-24 type antenna. Using a step bit and SLOW drill speed, I enlarged the existing hole to 3/4", which is necessary for the NMO mount.

Originally, I had a problem with the antenna swinging almost 90 deg to the left and almost 90 deg to the right when driving at highway speeds. I first installed a brace made out of plexiglass and mounted to the top of the turn signal light. That helped a little but still had major swinging. I fixed that by replacing the lower half of the whip with a slightly larger diameter whip. The original whip was something like 1/8" in diameter. I replaced it with one that is 5/32". That made all the difference. You can get that online or from most hobby stores. It's called "piano wire" and used with R/C airplanes for landing gear, push rods, etc. I covered the "new" lower half with green heat-shrink because it wasn't as shinny as the top half.


Attachment 130911

Attachment 130912

As far as antennas go, if you don't have a decent ground plane available, you should use a 1/2 wave antenna or something like a 1/4 over a 7/8 wave. A 1/2 wave antenna will have a lower take-off angle, more towards the horizon. If you use a 5/8 wave antenna without a ground plane or evenly spaced radials, most of your signal will be going up. This is fine if you are always in a deep valley and you want to talk to stations/repeaters located on the mountain tops, but no good for home or mobile QSOs. I'm using a 2M/440 antenna from High Sierra. It is a 1/2 wave for 2M and don't know what it is for 440. It just happens to be on sale for $22, per their web site.

I'm using a Kenwood TM-D710A for my mobile needs. It has a remotable control head. I mounted the control head up on top of the dash. When necessary, the control head can be easily removed from the mount and taken with you or locked up someplace else. I also use APRS occasionally and I mounted the GPS receiver on top of the sound bar using double back tape. Works great with and without the hard top on.

Attachment 130915

And lastly guys.........WHERE IS YOUR CALLSIGN in your signature????????? HI HI

73
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Old 06-11-2012, 03:21 PM   #5
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Great Info

Subscribed. Going to be doing this soon as sometimes I need more range than my Yaesu FT-270R provides. Nice setups!
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Old 06-11-2012, 07:37 PM   #6
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DB, would it be possible to post a photo of your antenna and mount? I'm very interested in your setup...very intrigued by the thought of mounting the antenna INSIDE the jeep!

N6HAL I like your idea too. I hadn't even thought about mounting it to the license plate holder. I really appreciate the explanation and photos. I do plan to use a radio with a remote head, primarily because I can't find any spot that a full size mobile radio can fit around the dash area that is convenient. I'm not sure its a good idea to put the head on top of the dash. Like DB said, it gets really hot here and I don't want to fry it. But I think I can make it fit somewhere under the vehicle's radio.

Oh, and I'm KF5QMN. Need to go update my footer hehe
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Old 06-11-2012, 08:20 PM   #7
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So far, I haven't found it a problem with the control head being on the dash.....so far. I like it better up high because I don't have to take my eyes off the road as much when changing freqs or whatever.
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Old 06-11-2012, 08:44 PM   #8
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Here ya go!

The first pic is looking in from the tail gate to the right rear of the hardtop attach. The second shows a closer view of the antenna base. The third is from the outside----you have to know where to look to see the antenna. BTW, the square block on the top of the antenna is a piece of Lowes water pipe insulation (open cell foam) which keeps the antenna from bouncing against the inside of the hardtop on wash board trails. This set up also keeps the entire antenna above the metal jeep tub---as mentioned, the vhf signal thinks the antenna is on the outside--the fiberglass top does not seem to attenuate the signal at all.

I believe the Comet SBB2 will handle up to 55 watts so a full power mobile ham rig will work--I am using a Yaesu VX8GR handheld and a speaker mic which I pull out of the Jeep when not in use. If you use an NMO mount simply make the base flare to the size you need. Be sure to scratch off some paint (under the tub rail)so you get a good ground. Hope this helps---it works great up here in repeater rich N. AZ.

Cheers,

db
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Old 06-11-2012, 09:04 PM   #9
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These look nice guys.....
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Old 06-12-2012, 10:18 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n6hal View Post
So far, I haven't found it a problem with the control head being on the dash.....so far. I like it better up high because I don't have to take my eyes off the road as much when changing freqs or whatever.
That's where mine is. Very easy to see at a glance. I tried it at the top of the winshield in the center. Difficult to see the display quickly and adjusting the small knobs was not easy. Now I can steady my hand on the dash and make adjustments.

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Old 06-12-2012, 08:14 PM   #11
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DB thank you for the pictures! How much would you charge me for an antenna bracket like yours? LOL

Sparky, thanks for the photo...still not sure I want to put me head unit on the dash...it gets really hot here but I'll think about it when I get to that point in the install.
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Old 06-12-2012, 08:30 PM   #12
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I hope to join you guys soon. I am studying for my technician license now with the ARRL manual.
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Old 06-12-2012, 08:48 PM   #13
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Outstanding Rob. Good Luck ! ! !
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Old 06-12-2012, 09:35 PM   #14
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I would highly recommend the below site for studying...its not free but it presents the information in a way that is very easy to understand.

HamTestOnline™ - Ham Radio Exam Courses and Ham Radio Practice Exams at HamRadioLicenseExam.com
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Old 06-12-2012, 10:55 PM   #15
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Thanks for that link, I think I am going to sign up for the Ham Op Canadian courses. I used the trial briefly and it seems like it would make things simple.
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Old 06-12-2012, 11:23 PM   #16
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Ordered ARRL Ham manual from amazon
This place is crazy, but I need to keep up!
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Old 06-13-2012, 10:56 AM   #17
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This is the manual I recommend: ARRL :: Licensing, Education & Training :: Ham Radio License Manual Revised 2nd Edition It comes with everything you need to know in order to obtain your FCC Technician Class license. The front part of the manual contains all the theory and the back has the latest question pool with answers. It also comes with a CD that includes a practice exam application.

Many new hams pass their license test by studying the question pool available for free online (or in the above manual). Some study by taking online tests. I would suggest that if this is the way you want to study, then study ALL 394 questions. If you use one of the online sample test sites, you'll only get 35 questions per test. If you take 5 of those tests, you might only get a total of 100 different questions. You might have to take hundreds of sample tests before you are exposed to all 394 questions.

Good luck and if you have any questions about ham radio or getting your license, feel free to email me directly at n6hal@arrl.net.

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Old 06-13-2012, 04:11 PM   #18
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Anyone have a roof rack and a ham radio antenna? What do you recommend for placement? I was thinking that maybe a windshield light style bracket to put the antenna on the windshield frame might work okay. Or maybe at the front bumper via custom bracket? That way it is away from the rack? or could the rack be beneficial say by ensuring it is grounded and maybe serve as a ground plane? In this case, maybe use one of the light tabs for an antenna mount (using a shorter antenna) and keep it all above the rack?
Any input would be appreciated!
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Old 06-18-2012, 08:46 PM   #19
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Sorry lbrito I have no idea about most this stuff. I know a lot of people find mounts at hro.com...I think?
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Old 06-19-2012, 04:03 PM   #20
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Old 06-24-2012, 02:36 AM   #21
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That is an excellent setup. Here are some of my recommendations:
Ham radios (large supplier w/ coupons)
Motorola radio batteries (great batteries)
Mobile antenna mounts (excellent choices)
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Old 07-08-2012, 01:53 PM   #22
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Can any of you tell me where you passed the power wires through the firewall? I took a quick look and couldn't find anything, but I haven't tried to take the dash apart yet.
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Old 07-08-2012, 03:35 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akjayintx
Can any of you tell me where you passed the power wires through the firewall? I took a quick look and couldn't find anything, but I haven't tried to take the dash apart yet.
There's a black foam plug on the upper left part of the drivers foot well through the firewall on my 12', just used a screw driver to poke a hole in it.
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Old 07-08-2012, 04:35 PM   #24
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Nice, I found it. Do you guys connect directly to the battery like the manual recommends or do you have an alternative that powers the radio down when the vehicle is turned off?
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Old 07-08-2012, 04:59 PM   #25
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I ALWAYS connect direcly to the battery. Always. Also, fuse both the POS and NEG wires AT the battery. You should use 10G wire whenever possible for 10' or longer runs. You can probably get away with 12G, but use 10G if you have it. You end up loosing too much power in 12G and smaller dia wires. Your rig wants 13.8 VDC for optimum output and operation. Although it will operate down to 11.8 VDC (13.8 V +/- 15%), you won't have MAX power out and you'll be stressing the rest of the components.

By going directly to the battery, you don't have to worry about finding a usable power tap, won't have to mess with the JK's BUS system, and, the battery acts as a sort of filter, keeping a lot of alternator/generator whine and other extraneous noises off of your signal.
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Old 07-08-2012, 05:46 PM   #26
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Totally agree with Hal about powering from battery. Also wanted to show the rig runner distribution panel I use in my set up. Makes it easy to power CB, GPS, 2 meter, and other toys from one source just don't exceed rated amperage.
Finally shot of my Comet lip/trunk mount antenna install - using a Diamond NR 770 antenna not shown.
See my install shots below.
KG6JRO

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Powerwerx 45 amp fused 10 gauge wire.

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Anderson Power Pole Rig Runner. 45 amp capacity.

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Lip/trunk mount on drivers side hood.

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Icom V8000 2 meter
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Old 07-08-2012, 05:48 PM   #27
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perfect n6hal thats what I will do. I am going to mount the detachable head to a spot below the toggle switches above the little net thing and change holder. It's going to require some drilling but its going to look really nice, and it will not be in the direct sunlight. I am afraid with the heat here I will fry it if I put it on the dash. I'm going to mount an external speaker on the front of the center console above the parking brake lever. I think this setup is gonna be sweet....I'm using db's idea for the antenna and mount..waiting for the antenna to get in!!
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Old 07-08-2012, 05:55 PM   #28
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Gary that rig runner is sweet! Right now the 2 meter is the only extra device I need to power, but if I need more later I am definitely getting that. and that antenna mount is NICE! Do you have any issues with noise caused by your antenna wire running through the engine compartment?
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Old 07-08-2012, 05:58 PM   #29
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also n6 I am using the wire that came with the radio, it should be long enough, so no worries there.
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Old 07-08-2012, 06:19 PM   #30
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The coax goes through the drivers side firewall. So it really is never in the engine compartment? There is a small access by removing the dash panel ends. If you poke a coat hanger through the foam it will come out between the hood and fender. Just fish the wires through. Protect the power wires with 5/8" wire loom.
The power supply comes through the passenger side firewall.


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Finger pointing to panel that you need to pry off to access poke through to firewall.

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