Monday, September 12, 2016

HF Installation Nearly Complete

Radio Layout
I spent a large part of this past weekend installing HF radio equipment in my truck. I had already completed my Kenwood UHF/VHF install, so HF was all that was left. I pulled my trusty Yaesu FT-857D out of its case along with the accessories and went into install mode.

The biggest decision was where to locate the HF antenna. I did not want to put it at the front of the truck as it would be an obstruction. The top of the truck was out of the question (although the top of the cab would make the best ground plane) due to height. So that left the side or rear of the truck. I had no desire to put a large hole in my truck, so I opted for mounting the antenna on the bed rail. I will outline full details of my install in a later blog. But for now, I was looking to set up the interior. Even though I have a large truck, there is actually very little room in the cab for mounting ham stuff. I try to avoid airbag paths so that even narrows my availability even more. I also wanted a location as discrete as possible, too. 

Mount Side View
I mounted most of the equipment on the passenger front side of the truck. My wife is already used to the encroachment of my equipment on her side. The equipment is mounted in such a way (as seen in the photos) that it really does not bother her. As seen, our truck has four cupholders in the front so I took over two of them. I mounted the Yaesu FT-857D on a bracket that allows me to adjust it when the cupholders are in use. It also allows me to adjust it in such a way to make it comfortable operating from either front seat. The antenna controller sits just above the Rigrunner and is within reach of the driver seat. I would not classify this as a temporary location but if it works out here, they can stay or they can easily be moved. Since I have one power source coming into the cab feeding the Rigrunner, it makes short work of powering all that I'll be running. 

I'm pleased with the amount of noise that I have with my diesel but I feel that I can alleviate more with better grounding. The Noise Blanker takes out most but some bands are worse than others. In looking through my stash of ham stuff, it seems I haven't any ground straps. So, those should arrive later this week. I also ordered a smaller microphone adapter cable as the one that came with the separation kit was about as long as my truck. Apparently, most people must mount these in vehicles and in their trunks? But for now, I'm can operate mobile and the only things left to do is work on some grounding and make a new cable for my key. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day Rig Installation

Antenna Installed
Took advantage of the US Labor Day Holiday to finally install my Kenwood dual bander & APRS equipment. Since my old truck was similar to my new truck, the install was pretty much the same with only a few challenges and changes. I had less room in the engine compartment to wiggle my hands into but it all worked out in the end. Once in the cab, a bit of spousal assistance got the job done. It was not long before I had power to the radio and I was actually hearing stations. My last broadcast on APRS was in February, so it had been awhile. 

Copilot Side
I wanted to tuck as much as possible out of the way and the photo to the right shows how I chose to install my equipment. The power comes in from the battery and first runs into my APO3, which automatically powers down my equipment so I don't kill my battery. From there, it feeds into my RIGrunner 4005 fused distribution box. This is the main power feed for anything in the truck. Using Anderson Powerpoles makes quick connections of anything that I have in the cab. I have one 25 amp fused connection left for my HF rig.

From the Driver Seat
My internal layout is a bit different only because I have Upfitter switches and onboard navigation. I did not want to block either one. My sacrifice was two of the four cupholders in the front center console. No big deal as these just normally collect loose change and dust anyhow. I run an older Garmin GPS III as it feeds data to the Kenwood in NMEA format. I also like it as it does Maidenhead Grid Squares so it's pretty simple to know my grid if needed. This is also powered by the RIGrunner. Everything is in view and after passing the spouse test, it's here to stay. When it comes time to install my HF rig, that will be installed on the driver side of the center console similar to the Kenwood seen in these photos. Just not sure where I'll mount the remote head as of yet. 

One of the biggest things I try to keep in mind with any install is, of course, airbag deployment. I hope to never experience that in our truck, but any piece of equipment can become a deadly projectile if mounted in the path of any airbag.