Sunday, July 31, 2016

Planning Resumes After All Hardware Has Been Delivered

My Comet antenna finally arrived from Ham Radio Outlet. Now I have no excuse to put off doing my mobile installation of my VHF / UHF rig any longer. I decided to open the hood of the truck and start my initial planning of how I was going to run the coax from the antenna and also the power into the cab of my truck. I really don't like a sloppy install and I prefer to think out all of my options before I jump. I believe taking my time with some careful planning will pay off in the end.

I know I'm going to almost mirror the install in my old truck, in my new one. There are a few obstacles, as things are a bit different on my new truck over my old. First, beginning with the interior, where I had my control head mounted for my rig will not work in this rig. This has forced me to decide on an alternate location. It's ironic that I have this full size, one ton truck, but there is not much room in the cab of the truck. It goes beyond just throwing a rig into the truck. I'm conscious of airbag deployment (as everyone should) and of course, I try to be as inconspicuous as possible with the install without sacrificing ease of operation. I also need to plan on my future HF installation as well. I do have plans of running HF in this truck, which I did not do in my last. So, I need to keep that in mind as well. I will be installing my VHF / UHF rig first and then I'll move onto the HF side of things.

Rig Runner Fuse Block
One of the things I will do, as I had done previously, is run power from the battery to the Rig Runner pictured at right. I will also install a cut off switch that will power down all of the equipment running to this block, after a designated amount of time. This assures I will not return to my truck to find a dead battery from leaving any equipment powered on. I also run in-line noise filters to aid in reducing any noise from the electronics of the truck. So, once I install these items, along with the rig and my GPS unit, it does not take long before you use up some valuable front seat real estate. 

Another challenge is dealing with the cramped conditions under the hood. Gone are the days that you can climb into the engine compartment and work on anything. There are many places I can barely fit my hand in between engine components. As you can see from the photo at left, my truck has little room to work once you lift the hood. With modern emissions controls, today's engine compartments are a nightmare to most. This makes me realize how important my dealership is when it comes to working on my truck. I have no personal desire to open the hood and dig into this motor, even though I have experience with older engines. I would hardly give much thought with drilling a hole in the roof of my previous trucks but now with curtain airbags, one has to be very careful where they drill. 

Entry Point
Even though I can just barely get my hand into the engine compartment, this is where I have planned my firewall access point (where circled). I used this same large grommet in my last truck, but it was much easier to access on the old truck. I will run both the power from my battery and the antenna for my VHF / UHF rig through this grommet. The future HF antenna will be mounted on the bed rail of the truck and the coax will enter through the floor, coming up into the truck through the floor. This first install will be the most challenging part of my radio installation (the part under the hood). I could take the easy way out and run everything down and then up into the cab from below, but this would be the most direct access to the cab. The antenna will be mounted on the passenger side alongside the hood and the feedline will run across the engine compartment to the driver side. 

I'm looking forward to running APRS once again, having the ability to get back on the radio from the truck. As time allows, I'll be plugging away at getting my equipment installed, now that I have all necessary hardware. I think patience and planning will pay off, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my truck is radio friendly (not spewing RF, making communications nearly impossible). I will hopefully find out soon enough. 

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