Wrangler JK Overhead Console Build
I have been thinking about an overhead console for some time, so I have decided to take the initiative to build one for myself. I had thought about purchasing the Tuffy Single Overhead console, but to put in bluntly, from what I'm reading on this website and others, they suck! They shake and rattle and come open on rough trails so I decided I could build something that would be better in quality and custom suited to my needs. I realize my build is NOT a price driven build folks, so don't all jump on me and tell me how cheaper you can build it for. This build is designed around my needs, yours will be different I'm sure.
First, what to make it out of? Metal, Wood, Fiberboard or Fiberglass? Well, I'm no good at metal fabrication or Fiberglass and I felt Fiberboard didn't offer the waterproof capabilities I want for when the roof is down, so wood seemed the obvious choice.
Second, what did I want in it? I definitely wanted room for 2 radios, as I have a Yeasu Ham Radio as well as Uniden CB Radio. I then thought, if I'm going to take the time to custom build this, then I might as well build it out exactly how I wanted it, with all the bells and whistles.
Here is a short list of the requirements I wanted my console to meet:
-Must not shake or rattle, even in the roughest of trails
-Must accommodate (2) radios, a PA Amp
-Must be somewhat esthetically pleasing since it is being installed in a newer JK
-Must be modular with the inside accessible for maintenance and future upgrades
-Must be easily removed if Jeep is sold and future owner doesn't wish an overhead console
Here is the general list of materials needed. Keep in mind I'm only listing the major components. I'm not going to list out specific hardware, as the build is going to use basic common hardware found at your local hardware store.
-(1) 2'x4' Sheet of 1/2" Oak Plywood $13
-(1) 2'x4' Sheet of 1/4" Oak Plywood $11
-(1) 2'x2' Fiber Peg Board (the one with all the holes in it) $8
-(1) Yeasu FT-2900 Ham Radio $179
-(1) Uniden Bear Cat PC78XL CB Radio $68
-(1) Comet SBB Dual Band Antenna $49
-(1) Firestik 4' 5/8 Wave Adjustable Tuning CB Antenna $38
-(1) Ham Radio Antenna Mount $12
-(1) CB Radio Antenna Mount $9
-(2) Standard 50 ohm Coax Cable for radios $25
-(2) 12VDC 70mmx70mm PC Cooling Fans $18
-(1) PA Amplifier with Horn to be mounted under hood $90
-(1) Rigrunner 4005H 40A DC Fuse Block for all the goodies $69
-(1) Crimping tool for all the Anderson Splices I'll be making $35
-(1) Misc Anderson connectors for all the connections $20
-(1) Polaris Off Road 7" 36W LED Light Bar $89
-(3) Daystar Rocker LED backlit Switches $30
Rough Total of Build Materials: $763
I realize that this list can be a little long, but understand this is what works for me. Everyone will have their own requirements and desires. For me, I thought if I'm going to spend the time on this, I want to do it right the first time and build it with all the goodies I was looking for.
Some considerations to keep in mind while building this:
-For me, keeping all that equipment cool was a factor. I live in the desert area of Southern California. I've already measured the temp just inside the soft top at the top end of the Jeep and the temps can reach 140 Degrees. Even on the trail with air moving around, the heat sink on my 75W Ham Radio and the 35W LED Light Bar is going to produce a fair amount of heat! So, cooling fans was a must. This may not be an issue for you where you're at, so that is one thing to consider.
-I decided to go with a Fuse Block and a VERY good reputable name because I don't relish the idea of electrical fires down the road. When I was younger I would often jerry rig electrical things in my car, not anymore. It just isn't worth it. If you can afford it, buy yourself a fuse block to mount somewhere in your Jeep where you can tie in all your electrical gear.
More to come as soon as I obtain all the materials and start building it! I'll keep everyone posted as to any snags I run into as I go along.
Tagging along. Also, what is the deal with the LED light bar? For inside cabin use???
You need 75 W to transmit? I have the same radio and I haven't needed to use more than then lowest setting and I'm 20 miles from the repeater. I'm sure you'll be ok. The 2900 is a beast.
I used a simple bracket to mount my 8800 in the Jeep, I'll post some pics tomorrow. What's your call sign?
Just checking in before I head to Home Depot for a hardware run.
The LED light Bar I thought I would mount just on the inside of my windshield to be directed outside, but mounted within the console. There will not be any light emitting inside the cab of the Jeep. It will be shining forward out the windshield. I came up with the idea, because after designing my console on paper, I found there is this perfect spot that measures about 9 1/4" wide x 3" high where it could be mounted. You'll get a better idea when I post some pics.
Yeah Chipmonk, I agree. My radio never transmits on high, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't design your application to be able to handle the heat if you needed it. It's old habits from my HVAC design days....:)
Call sign: KJ6TRU
If you install the light inside, you may need to seal between the housing and the windshield to keep the reflection from blinding you.
Cool. I built on out of aluminum Very simple set up ... Will be looking for picturesput up as you get them.
Okay, so the morning didn't go too bad, but with a few snags.
First, cutting the cross pieces proved to be a little complex as I had to calculate how much of any angle I could get away with and not obstruct the view of the rear view mirror, but while giving me enough angle to have adequate access to the radio dials.
After getting the console frame built, I decided that I needed to build the console in a modular assembly, so that full access to the radios could be available for maintenance and future wiring changes, such as installation of an additional switch on the console panel. So, I decided to install a top piece between the center roll cage beam and the hard top windshield loop that is not used since I have a soft top. A simple clamp mechanism was best, as it makes this assembly very easy to remove as that was one of my prerequisites for the console.
I mounted the radios to the fixed overhead piece first, with spacers on the mounts, so that I could get that 12 Degrees I was looking for on the radios. I centered the radios to the desired locations and installed the radio mounts.
I then lined up the side member pieces next to the radios and did a rough sketch of lengths needed for the cutaways on the side member pieces.
I then completed the framework of the modular piece. I used fiber peg board for speaker grilles and just drilled more holes directly where the speakers are located under the radio for the most effectiveness. I do have space on the panel for external spkrs should I find that the internal ones are not loud enough.
I then took a break from the more tedious work and mounted the CB and Ham Radio Antenna mounts on the Jeep. I know some of you probably would freak to drill holes in the body of your Jeep, but for me it was not a problem. I used rubber gasket material underneath the mounts and sealed it with RTV Silicon so it should keep things from rusting.
That is it for today. My family is barking at me and needs some attention for the rest of the day... :)):wavey:
Here are first set of pics...
BTW, thanks for the tip on the LED mount Onetraveler. Yes, I've accounted for that pesky light reflection. The console is angled to butt up against the windshield, leaving just about 1/8" for insulation that will be glued on the edge of the console to provide that tight seal it needs to keep the light out.
:dance:Okay, so today was a productive day, although it sometimes appears as hardly anything was done, but that was far from it.
First, progress continued on the chassis of the overhead console. Frames were cut out for the faceplates of the radios and I mounted the two PC fans inside the console. I had some minor design conflicts with the placement of the fan closest to the LED light bar, but just took a few adjustments.
I began wiring up the console, but I discovered a certain electrical clip I didn't have, so work stopped so I could go to Fry's and pick some up.
More to come tomorrow. I'm hoping to have the roughed in chassis installed up into the console frame and wired in to the Jeep's electrical system. That part I'm NOT looking forward to...&%@!
If anyone knows the best place to penetrate the firewall into the interior of the Jeep, by all means post your ideas here... :) I know of the place on the passenger side where the car audio installers ran my 2 AWG cable for my amp, but it appears as though once they punched through the firewall, it runs up and just appears out from behind the battery. I have no access to it, unless I pulled the battery and the battery tray. Seriously? Is that what I have to do? :((
Update on Completion of Overhead Console Build
Sorry folks for the delay in the finished pictures of the completed project for the Overhead Console. Life just seems to get in the way sometimes!
I have completed the Overhead Console, but not without problems. I had several minor setbacks, but overall the single largest problem has been electrical in nature. I have the most frustrating electrical gremlin that still haunts my console, but I'll get it sorted out soon hopefully.
Overall, I would grade this project successful. Here are the top things I'm happy with as far as how it turned out:
-The console is SOLID! It doesn't make a squeak, or rattle at ALL!
-The light switches are attractive, solid and add that professional touch
-The position of the console directly overhead has made "external speakers" not necessary. I can hear both 2 Meter Ham and CB VERY WELL!
-I like the position of the mics. They are very accessible and make operation of radios "non-distracting".
-I am VERY happy with how the LED lighting turned out in the project! It was really an after thought, but after it was done, I was very pleased with it
-The console "shell" turned out to be exactly what I'd hoped for with respect to ease of removal and accessibility
Things that didn't turn out so well:
-Electrical switches! :banghead: There has been trouble from the "Daystar" power switches from the day 1! :banghead: I regret using these switches, because there is no way to change to a different design without redesigning
the entire facade and resurfacing with material! Overall, the switches get a failure rating. After probably 7-8 hours of troubleshooting, it was determined the switch posts are failing due to removal and insertion of wires during the installation process
-Getting the radios face to meet flush and centered in console proved to be rather difficult even after careful measuring. They are come out okay, but tight tolerances made working rather difficult
-Anytime console "shell" needs to be removed from the chassis for additional work, soft top has to be slid back. This is not a major deal, but an annoyance as it means removal of soft window sides.
So, that's that! I would say total time spent in this installation was too long overall. I spent probably 45 hours total, but keep in mind I had several projects going on at the same time. Here are the total mod's made during this project phase:
-Fabricated and build Overhead Console
-Installed (2) Radios
-Installed (2) Radio Antennas and ran wiring
-Installed (2) KC Driving Lights on windshield mounts
-Installed A Beam Switch Pod and ran all electrical wiring
-Installed Dome Lights in Console\
-Modified all interior lighting to change out to Red LED Interior lighting
-Installed PA Speaker System under hood and ran all wiring
Hope you enjoyed the project and I welcome your comments!
More Pictures of Completed Project
A few More pictures of Completed Overhead Console
Final Pictures of Overhead Console Build
The last of the pics....
Thanks for watching!
Nice job! thats sweet man!
Any pics of the light from the outside? I'm not following how it is positioned. Very nice setup.
Refine the process and you would have a nice side business there.
But x2 on the outside light?!?
Given that it does what you want, what purpose does it serve and when does it serve it (e.g. night wheeling, shines on?!?)
Again, well done.
This is pretty sweet
More Final Build Pics
Here's a few more pics that some of you requested. Sorry, you can't see the LED light bar very well because that is the one circuit I'm having trouble with electrically. I'm hoping to have that working tomorrow and I'll post a few night shots with the lights on.
The LED Light bar will take care of basic broader needed light around the Jeep for off-roading, while the KC Driving lights will punch through the night for more focused distance objects. That's why the 2 different lighting applications.
Thanks for the comments everyone.
Great Job... Oxnard huh? R U an X-Bee, UT/CE type? looks like a lot of BU cross-training too.
Nice job ....!
Thanks guys! No...not a SeaBee...but I respect the hell out of them. No, I'm retired Air Force Flight Engineer. I just love the coastal weather here in Ventura County...:)
I run a Survival group and run tactical exercises out the local mountains. The Jeep is my mobile command post.
:appl:Looks Great! And it looks like it does everything you need it to. :thumb:
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