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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Poor Positions

Alan Applegate (K0BG) on January 2, 2009
View comments about this article!

Poor Positions

Over the past several months, there have been several articles published within this very forum, describing subscriber's personal mobile installations. Too many of these have depicted mounting positions that are far from safe, or convenient. In addition, comments made in the Mobile Forum would further indicate a lack of understanding of the basic safety rules all of us should be following.

Part of the issue is finding a convenient place which doesn't require drilling holes, or at least ones which can't be easily seen when the vehicle is traded. As a result, amateurs get very clever and resourceful, but in the mean time they forget a few important prerequisites. The biggies here are, safety, distraction, and convenience; and each of these are intrinsically intertwined.

For all practical purposes, every installation is different albeit there are common threads. For example, we need to supply power to them, they need an antenna connected, and they need a microphone. Some are remotable, but that fact doesn't mean they always are. Rather than cover each of these necessities, I'll cover just one facet; mounting methodology.


On my web site is a Photo Gallery containing some 500 photos. The majority of these depict installs by amateurs other than my own. It is by no means complete, and for good reason. To date, I have received just over 1,400 photos (>500 MB) from all over the world. I have hosting space to display them all, but I have chosen not to do so because far too many violate even basic safety rules. One even shows an Icom IC-706 mounted in the center of the SRS-equipped steering wheel! Hopefully, once you read what's here, you'll have a better understanding of the dos and don'ts.


If there is one location to absolutely avoid, it is the top of the dash! Depending on the vehicle in question, and the seating arrangement, the passenger SRS (airbag) will almost touch the steering wheel. This fact virtually eliminates the dash top as a mounting location. Yet, you see all manner of amateur radios, cellphones, clip boards, and GPS units mounted within reach of the airbag.

Just for the record, these so-called airbags aren't full of air. Their contents include cornstarch, glass particles, nitrogen, potassium nitrate, silicon dioxide, sodium azide (a Class A explosive, and a dangerous, carcinogenic inhalant), sodium bicarbonate, sodium hydroxide, talcum powder, and several different oxides. Ranging from benign to hazardous, these chemicals are involved in exploding the air bag (typically made of nylon) in less than 200 milliseconds. That's about 200 mph! Anything mounted in their path will be torn away and cast asunder.

Digressing for a moment. In one of my previous articles, I mentioned that there had been one confirmed, and one suspected death caused by a flying mag mount which dislodged as a result of a crash. One poster actually said he thought this was pretty good odds. I bet the person who got hit wouldn't agree, and you might not agree about the airbag scenario either. If you don't, just remember the old cliche; forewarned is forearmed.


Almost every OTR truck you see has a CB radio mounted in or on an overhead console. Typically, the microphone cord dangles within the driver's field of vision which can be a major distraction. Some might justify the position by stating that truckers only use channel 19, so they don't have to look at the radio very often. However, this isn't the case with amateur radio, even if we're speaking about channelized FM frequencies. Yes, the microphone can be remoted, or perhaps Bluetooth® connectivity can be used, but the fact remains it is an inordinate, and distractive mounting position when compared with the lower dash area.


Probably just as important is the way we attach our radio gear. If you have to resort to double-sided sticky tape, magnets, Velcro®, wedged in blocks of wood, and similar antics, you haven't thought long enough.

I recently critiqued an install which used a shaped block of wood wedged into a cup holder hole. In the bottom of the hole was a rubber protector. Had he thought about it, he could have removed the rubber piece, and screwed the mount to the bottom of the hole. Come trade it time, the protector is replaced, and no one is the wiser! Or, he could have used one of the many gooseneck mounts which use one of the seat rail bolts. Either way, it's a lot more secure, and a lot harder to steal!


Here are a few other don'ts. If you use a remotable radio, don't mount the main unit under the rear package shelf, as this is one of the hottest places in a vehicle that's parked in the sun. This goes for the various storage areas and rear cubby holes found in most vans and SUVs. This is especially important with respect high powered radios. If there isn't constant air flow through the area, you should find a better spot.

Another poor mounting place is the extra DIN slot some vehicles have. What little air flow there is, typically comes from the floorboard heater ducts. Fact is, I've seen installations where the plastic trim around the slot has deformed due to excessive heat from a transceiver.

If you remove seats in an effort to mount radios under them, remember this: Most front seats contain side impact sensors, side SRS devices, and rear passenger frontal SRS devices. In some vehicles, disconnecting the requisite wiring will cause the SRS electronics to send an error code to the EOBDII (Extended, On-Board Diagnostics, Mandate 2), which may or may not turn on the Check Engine light. Most service manuals will explain how to R&R almost anything on a vehicle, and how to avoid the aforementioned problems. The manuals are usually less than $100, and a worthwhile investment any way you look at it. Remember too, it doesn't matter if you disconnect the battery, because all SRS controllers have their own back up power.

Watch the cords! However you route the various cables, keep them clear of the controls, and other moving parts. If you do use an under the seat mounting position, make sure the wiring clears the seat mechanisms.

When routing any wiring, don't use stick on wire clips. Those things aren't very secure to begin with, and once the interior heats up on a summer day, they pop loose with predictable results. If you use TyRaps, use the UV protected ones.


Here's a few dos. Try to find a place where a downward glance will place the radio is full view. Any place lower than 30 degrees below horizontal might be too much, especially if you wear bifocals. This may require purchasing a ready-made mount, like the gooseneck one I mentioned above.

If you use an Icom IC-7000, and your vehicle has a Navi, think about one of these TVandNav2Go. They even have an input for a backup camera, or second video source.

Whatever mounting methodology you use, try to find one where your arm can rest on the console while your hand rests on the radio's controls. If you do as much mobile operation as I do, you'd already know why this is an important point.

Keep ancillary equipment to a minimum. There is no reason to have a wattmeter/SWR bridge permanently attached to an FM radio. However, you'd think it was a prerequisite especially if you've visited my Photo Gallery. If you have to have one, and you have multiple radios, then buy one with more than one remote sensor.

If your HF radio's SWR display is too small to read, then pull over to change bands. After all, keeping an eye on a SWR bridge and the road, (no matter how big the meter face is) can be difficult at best.

The biggest "do" of all? Take you time planning and installing your radio gear, no matter what it is. And, remember the seven Ps!

 

Alan Applegate, KØBG

www.k0bg.com

 

 

 

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Poor Positions  
by KC2TIR on January 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article Alan.
That's the way to post info that doesn't point a finger at any one installation. My hat is off to you. It makes a good reference guide to avoid some pitfalls that may arise during my next project. It will definitely be added to my favorites for a quick look at ways to solve a problem. Thanks again Alan.
73. Ted KC2TIR
 
Poor Positions  
by WB9UYK on January 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks Alan,
A very informative article. Months ago, I gave a presentation at our local radio club about mobile HF installations; wish I had your article for that presentation. Mobile HF is lots of fun, but please remember, your first responsibility is driving the vehicle. As Hams, we don't want to be thrown into the "cell phone" group. 73 and Happy New Year.
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by KG4RUL on January 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I am a student of the "block of wood" mounting school. However, mine provides a secure mount for my FT-100D control hear.

http://home.comcast.net/~dzabawa/VueDashBoard.jpg

The mounting bracket is screwed to a block of wood which has been padded with tape to provide a snug fit in the existing dashboard compartment. The control head is easily visible at this position. The mike mounting bracket has been bent to allow it to clip to the back edge of the center console, keeping the mike in easy reach. The radio chassis is mounted in the mobile bracket and is secured to the vehicle floor beneath the passenger side rear seat. Also secured to the console, and out of view in the photo, is an MFJ mobile speaker with the sound firing up towards my right ear.
 
Poor Positions  
by WW5AA on January 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Great article as usual!

My first mobile installation was a real nightmare waiting to happen. A Heath kit DX-60 transmitter set on the passenger floorboard and a Hammalund 129X receiver on the passenger seat. A dyna-motor in the trunk and none of it was strapped down. When keyed at night the headlights flashed the code! Ya just can’t fix stupid but your web-site sure has helped (:-)

Thanks Alan
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by WA3SKN on January 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
An excellent reminder to "think" before installing a radio! I have seen too many poor installations.

-Mike.
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by N4CQR on January 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
So what you are saying is that my 65W dual-bander
laying on the dash, plugged into the cigerette lighter with the mag-mount and coax draped out the drivers window is not an optimal installation?
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by W3LK on January 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
<< One even shows an Icom IC-706 mounted in the center of the SRS-equipped steering wheel!>>

Sounds like a finalist for the Darwin Award!

Happy New Year, Alan.

73,

Lon - W3LK
Naugatuck, Connecticut
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by K3AN on January 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Avoid radios that require accessing menus to make operational changes. The use of menus for set-and-forget functions is ok, but having to access a menu item to select a narrow filter or switch in the attenuator is as risky as texting on a Blackberry while driving down the road.
 
Poor Positions  
by WV4L on January 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article Alan. Thinking through and planning for mobile ops. can in many instances be a challenge, but as indicated in the article, DON'T make compromises that degrade the integrity of safe driving. Alan's site is a great resource for anyone researching and planning a mobile install.

73
Wayne C.
WV4L
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by K7PEH on January 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I am still looking for that perfect "rig" position in my Chevy Silverado pickup truck. Actually, my planning is now focused on the IC-7000 I intend to buy this month or next month.

I have looked at almost every retail product available that can be used to mount an IC-7000 or any similar rig and I don't like any of them. I have an idea of where to put a new IC-7000 (I have an IC-706 right now) but there are no mounts for this position so I think I might have to make one of my own. I am thinking now about how this might be designed and I am certain I will come up with something when the time is right.

How about a more perfect setup though such as an LCD screen sporting a nice SDR type interface using touch-screen controls. My wife's car has a nice navigation system that also includes all other setup and control features built in to the touch screen LCD display. This is how the AM, FM, radio stations are selected and preset and it also has soft keys for making station changes (there are no physical buttons for making station changes in the radio itself).

Alan pointed out that there was a nice product that allows some of these in-dash LCD screens to be interfaced to some external source, such as the video output of an IC-7000. I don't plan on doing that but it would be cool to create a little encapsulated computer system to be the SDR type interface to a rig such as an IC-7000. The bulk of the software of course would be to drive the LCD display and to accept input via touch screen features with soft keys, soft sliders, and so on.
 
Poor Positions  
by WA1RNE on January 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!

"If there is one location to absolutely avoid, it is the top of the dash! Depending on the vehicle in question, and the seating arrangement, the passenger SRS (airbag) will almost touch the steering wheel. This fact virtually eliminates the dash top as a mounting location. Yet, you see all manner of amateur radios, cellphones, clip boards, and GPS units mounted within reach of the airbag."


>>> In addition to the safety concerns - radio's being mounted close to the airbag and/or becoming projectiles in a crash, there's another good reason to avoid the dash: overheating.

I don't know of any amateur or commercial transceivers that are designed to withstand continuous operation while in direct sun light. Even the specifications for storage are pushing the limit depending on the outdoor ambient temperature range. Most quality manufacturers derate their designs with a safety margin, but operation in this environment is usually considered extreme – and they provide specific warnings against doing so in their operating manuals.

Think about how high the internal case temperature of a radio can get that's subjected to direct sunlight - especially during summer months - and inside a closed vehicle for several hours. You can be assured that most of the semiconductors and LCD displays are operating outside their maximum temperature specifications which could cause them to fail - or if operated frequently under these conditions, could significantly reduce their MTBF.

One example is popular IC-706 MkII. The manual starts off with about a dozen precautions, 2 of which specifically instruct the user to:

- Avoid dusty environments and direct sunlight

- Avoid using *or placing* the radio in temperatures above 60 degrees C (140F) and sighting the typical vehicle dashboard temperature can typically exceed 80 degrees C, or 176 F.

At the opposite extreme, operating in severe cold temperatures is another issue needs to be considered as well.


...WA1RNE

 
Poor Positions  
by KASSY on January 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Wow. Your descriptions of how complicated today's vehicles are, with the toxic chemicals employed in a not-yet-proven-to-be-better "safety device" (the airbags), and the seats full of sensors...

I am SO pleased that I drive an older car. About the peak of "good cars" was early to mid 1990s. By then, they were fuel injected with good efficient engines, and not burdened with the excess weight of today's "safety standards" (which are so dubious, that many of the US-required features are prohibited in Europe and Asia due to them being perceived as hazardous). My rigs don't interfere with anything on my non-SRS car, I get 45 miles per gallon and can seat five comfortably.

But it gets long in the tooth; at 240,000 miles it is starting to need a repair or two and I'm not a shade tree mechanic. So, the day will come when I have to replace it. I rue that day. I expect my present vehicle will be my last with a radio in it. I simply don't want to fight the complexities of an "advanced" automobile.

- k
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by K3GAU on January 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
From all the places we SHOULDN'T mount a rig in todays's cars it sounds like we should all give up amateur radio mobile and use cell phones.

I own several small to mid sized cars and trying to find a spot not in range of the SRS bags, etc. is almost impossible. They are mostly stick shift and / or have an 'Emergency Brake handle in the middle console area!! That means anything you mount on any kind of a mount has to be above those items or in front of them IF there is enough space. Once you get above the controls, then you are almost always in air bag range! So despite all the negatives of dash mount, that seems to be the only 'clear spot' that is somewhat close to eye level. I know it gets hot there but if you are going to park your vehicle for any length of time pull your equipment and put it in a more secure and hopefully cooler place. You don't want to leave your stuff in eye sight anyway. When I am in the vehicle and it is warm outside I almost always have the A/C on anyway helping to keep the interior cool. If you want more air on the rig, put the air on the windshield!

BTW, has any one felt the temperature of your cars floor on a hot day? Putting your rig under the seat may be a good consealment place but it's not cool there either. The heat comes up off the hot road and some can also come from the exhaust system if it happens to go underneath that part of the floor.

If anyone has any good ideas of where to mount the rig / control head in a small car with stick shift let me know.

73,
Dave K3GAU
 
Poor Positions  
by KE4DRN on January 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Hi,

my mobile and hf solution is to use a
laptop case, the radio mounts to plywood base
and that is attached in the laptop case
with bolts and wingnut for easy removal.

the handle of the laptop case is held to the
seat by the passenger side seat belt.

very secure and when I leave the car,
the case and radio leave with me.

my ts-50 and ts-742 are always ready to go mobile.

73 james
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by W3LK on January 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
<< If anyone has any good ideas of where to mount the rig / control head in a small car with stick shift let me know.>>

I would never make a recommendation without seeing the actual vehicle in person, but in 40 years of mounting various kinds of radios in various kind of vehicles, I haven't yet found one I couldn't safely mount a radio in.

Every installation is a compromise of some sort and what will fit where often takes some creativity as well as a big dose of common sense.

In my particular case, there is a shelf integral to the dash of my 03' Windstar that is below the top of the dash and clear of any SRS. The control heads of my DX-70 and FT-5100 are firmly mounted to this shelf with screws through the upholstery to the underlying frame. Considering that I normally put at least 100k miles on a vehicle before trading, screw holes are of no concern to me.

The chassis of the 5100 is under the passenger seat and the DX-70 is under the driver's seat. Heat buildup is not a problem/concern in either installation.

73,

Lon - W3LK
Naugatuck, Connecticut
 
Poor Positions  
by KJ4DLG on January 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I operate a large pickup truck and have mounted my 10 meter rig using the center seat belt through the mounting bracket. This lets the radio hang in a vertical position in front of the seat and slightly above it. It is not the best of mounting locations but it is below the airbag trajectory and does allow air to circulate arount the radio.
Automotive manufacturers need to get over this kick of all vehicles having consoles. Those of us who are over 5'8" or who wish to mount communications equipment don't want consoles. Whats wrong with steering wheel column shifters and emergency brake controls mounted below the dash on the left?
Law enforcement sedans either have bench seats or bucket seats with no center console when shipped. The location between the bucket seats is a primo location for mounting radios.
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by KB0NPW on January 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Which is exactly why one of my friends always buys a law enforcement type vehicle. He just got a new Impala and it has cutouts all over the place for running wires and such. He does do one thing with all of his vehicles that makes most people cringe. He gets out the power drill and smiles the whole time while drilling a hole through the roof to mount an antenna. I could never bring myself to do that, and I drive a '96 Blazer.
 
Poor Positions  
by AF6G on January 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
<< "Most service manuals will explain how to R&R almost anything on a vehicle, and how to avoid the aforementioned problems. The manuals are usually less than $100, and a worthwhile investment any way you look at it." >>

I am a former auto technician and agree that a factory service manual is worth the investment for anyone who plans to do a mobile installation. Alldata is a good online factory service manual subscription service. As I write this, a one year subscription for one vehicle is $26.95 with discounts for additional vehicles and/or multiple year subscriptions. Located at:

http://www.alldatadiy.com/

Joe, AF6G
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by WI7B on January 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!

Bottom line with some manufacturers is that any radio installation performed by the owner MAY invalidate all warranties. This is even documented on the ARRL website. As an owner of such a vehicle, I will not install radio equipment that cannot readily and invisibly be disengaged, nor that poses a safety hazard.

So, I take differance with your comment,

"Probably just as important is the way we attach our radio gear. If you have to resort to...Velcro®.., you haven't thought long enough."

I do resort to Velcro® for the remote head of my VHF/UHF transceiver . It is effectively wedged between the bottom of the dash and central console, aided by a strip of Velcro®. It effects no safety systems, is completely secure, and easily removed.

73,

---* Ken
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by K0BG on January 3, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Ted, I hope you read this as you haven't posted an e-mail address.

The passenger side SRS is designed to keep hold the passenger in his seat, and to keep his/her knees from hitting the loser portion of the dash. In most vehicles (not all), the bottom of the SRS will hit below the seat edge about 3 inches even with the seat all the way down (assuming it is adjustable). So you position is not all that safe.

Alan, KØBG
www.k0bg.com
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by W3LK on January 3, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
<< He gets out the power drill and smiles the whole time while drilling a hole through the roof to mount an antenna.>>

My kind of guy!!!

My vehicles have hold drilled in them and everything mounted within 24 hours of purchase. The only smell better than a new vehicle, is the smell of a new vehicle mixed with the smell of freshly drilled holes in metal. :)

73,

Lon - W3LK
Naugatuck, Connecticut
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by W3LK on January 3, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
WI7B:

<< Bottom line with some manufacturers is that any radio installation performed by the owner MAY invalidate all warranties. This is even documented on the ARRL website.>>

I cannot find anything on the ARRL website claiming this. Where is it?

FWIW, All three major makes provide installation instructions for installing two-way equipment in their vehicles. Nothing is said in those instructions that doing so will void any warranty. If you actually damage something, that's another matter, but doing a PROPER installation will have no effect upon a warranty. I've been putting radios in vehicles for close to 40 years and have never had a problem getting warranty service with any one of them.

73,

Lon - W3LK
Naugatuck, Connecticut
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by K0BG on January 3, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I'd like to know where it is too.

Recently, one poster stated that car companies deny warranty coverage to those folks with amateur radios in their vehicles. If one person can document that (with references) for an installation which followed the maker's installation instructions, I'll send them a certified check for $1,000! To date, no one's been able to do that. I have received a lot of e-mails, but every one has been anecdotal. Like, my brother-in-law's, next door neighbor's cousin.....


Alan, KØBG
www.k0bg.com
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by W6CAW on January 3, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I long for the 50's where government minded their own business and balanced their budgets. Rules and regulations making us safe have taken away our freedom. Now California wants me to mount my GPS on the right side of the window, right over the passenger air bag! We can only hope the current recession will be deep enougth to elimate the government agencies involved in our "safety" so you young people can see what freedom once looked like.
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by WI7B on January 3, 2009 Mail this to a friend!

W3LK,

Here is the URL to the ARRL webpage dealing with Manufacturer Warranties...

=> http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/carproblems.html

It lists the responses the ARRL Testing Lab personnel received from varous car manufacturers on their enquiry of radio installation procedures and policies.

73,

---* Ken

(Alan, I know you weren't referring to my install with a piece of Velcro. It is neat, tidy, away from all SRS, in a nook of the lower central console :-)
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by W3LK on January 3, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Ken,

Thanks for the information.

Despite what has been written on the site, there are literally thousands and thousands of land mobile and public safety radio installations in virtually every manufacturer's vehicles with no warranty problems. Same deal for PROPERLY INSTALLED amateur radios.

The key is properly installed following the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations. The idea that installing a ham rig will suddenly cause warranty problems simply isn't true.

I will pass on your use of Velcro. If you are comfortable with it, fine, but having seen many instances of supposedly "secure" objects become flying missiles in an accident, you'll forgive me if I don't ride with you. :)

73,

Lon - W3LK
Naugatuck, Connecticut
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by K5END on January 3, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Preface, I agree that velcro is only marginally better than having loose objects in the vehicle interior. Everything and anything more lethal than a throw pillow should be secured.

However, I suppose you may have heard of newer industrial velcro...actually hook and loop material. "Vel-Cro" is a trademark name.

Sorry, I don't recall where I read this, but they have developed mil-spec "velcro" (oops, dang, I did it too) material that binds sufficiently to even install exterior body panels on cars.

I know it sounds outlandish, and I share any skepticism you may have on the report. But in any case they are making it stronger. I doubt it is available on the consumer market.

And in fairness, it is very doubtful that this is the same material guys are using to mount stuff on dashboards.

Consider the soccer Mom in a minivan, with kids, unsecured in-line skates or skateboards, hockey sticks, at least one cell phone, ipod, and e-game per kid, video camera, plus the wall warts for all that gear..each of which will become a lethal projectile in even a 35 mph crash--all except the mcnuggets and fries. They are safe, even when loose (only dangerous to eat.)

Do the math. It's a classical mechanics physics problem. Google "impulse function," (or "Dirac") "conservation of momentum" and "kinetic energy." I do not want to do La Place convolution to get my cranium's response function. :-)

That is the Darwin scenario I want to avoid.

The only folks more foolhardy than the dangerous installers are the guys who get in the car and ride with them.



 
RE: Poor Positions  
by K6IHC on January 3, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"Another poor mounting place is the extra DIN slot some vehicles have. What little air flow there is, typically comes from the floorboard heater ducts. Fact is, I've seen installations where the plastic trim around the slot has deformed due to excessive heat from a transceiver".

This statement is subjective, as *some* cars DO have an ideal extra DIN slot (usually just below the stock stereo receiver) for an average size dual-band FM mobile radio. It depends on the space below and behind the slot. In my 1998 Honda Accord, I have mounted a Kenwood TM-G707A transceiver just below the stock stereo, and it has been in use for over six years, with no problems. I have allowed for adequate air space around the unit, and the heater ducts are far from the unit. The location of this radio is probably the safest possible, in being easy to see and operate, and well out of the way of any SRS devices.

 
RE: Poor Positions  
by G7MRV on January 4, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article, points out the simple but often missed basics.

I know just how hard it can be to do a good installation, i drive a Ford Fiesta, which has NO decent mounting places! My current install is not the best, it requires much too low a glance, is partly blocked by the stearing wheel, and too close to a leg!

result - i drive defensively and carefully to reduce the probability of any impact, i always leave a safe gap! and i let idiot tailgaters overtake. Above all, i use an old 2m mobile. No menus, only two functions per button, and ive memorized the functions and can locate the buttons by feel only. I dont have hundreds of memories programmed, only the essential local repeaters, and i know the allocations of each. I always start the radio on S20 calling channel, and count the up/down presses
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by W6EM on January 4, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Alan:

I once worked with a guy who helped design the interior of the F-16. His role was to determine, ergonomically, what was the best layout for pilot access. Admittedly, he isn't available to ask some questions re amateur radio mobile control head placement, but, suffice it to say, there must be information out there as to just where IS the best location and perhaps locations to avoid.

For example, is it best to locate a control head within the field of driver vision so as to not have to lose peripheral view of the windshield and traffic when looking at the controls momentarily? How wide, in degrees, is the typical driver field of vision?
If one places a control head such that the view through the windshield could still be visible peripherally, that would seem to be optimal.

A typical aircraft, where things happen much faster than in an auto, has instrumentation just above the windshield, below the windshield, and most control handles low and on a center console. Few, if any I've seen have much that requires turning sideways to view, much less operate. It would seem that that orientation would take even the peripheral vision too far from the windshield to maintain visibility out front.

Anyway, perhaps a tad of aircraft ergonomic research should be applied to the placement of amateur mobile gear.

73.

Lee
W6EM/4


 
Poor Positions  
by WN9DDV on January 4, 2009 Mail this to a friend!


[RE: Poor Positions Reply
by W6CAW on January 3, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I long for the 50's where government minded their own business and balanced their budgets. Rules and regulations making us safe have taken away our freedom. Now California wants me to mount my GPS on the right side of the window, right over the passenger air bag! We can only hope the current recession will be deep enougth to elimate the government agencies involved in our "safety" so you young people can see what freedom once looked like.]

I WOULD LOVE TO SEE THE CLOCK TURNED BACK TO 1955. FEW REGS, FREEDOM TAKEN SEROUSLY. WE ARE CHOKED BY REGULATIONS.
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by K7PEH on January 4, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
>>>I WOULD LOVE TO SEE THE CLOCK TURNED BACK TO 1955. FEW REGS, FREEDOM TAKEN SEROUSLY. WE ARE CHOKED BY REGULATIONS.


Wow, 1955. According to the information here, you would have been only about 8 years old -- same as me in fact. I think that is too young, no matter what the situation is. I would rather be 61.

Isaiah 43:18 -- "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past."
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by K5END on January 4, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
quote. "there must be information out there as to just where IS the best location and perhaps locations to avoid. "

1. Get one of those see-thru LCD screen monitors used in the old days to project a computer screen on the old-fashioned "over head projector"

2. Use a CAT application to control the rig

3. Mount the LCD see-through to the windshield.

Instant "Heads Up Display" (HUD,) just like the big boys play with.

Then you never have to take your eyes off the target...uh, <ahem> I mean, road.

:-)
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by K0BG on January 5, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Lee, W6EM, I suspect there are designers at the auto companies that do just this sort of thing. However, my observations are based on 35 plus years of mobile operation. I can almost avow that I don't agree with any of them! While they do a good job, they have to kowtow to the bean counters, and any time money gets in the way, the outcome suffers. One recent faux pas is the use of a separate key and starter button, mounted 8 inches apart. I wonder what idiot thought that one up?


To K5END. Most of those displays have very large bezels around them which would negate their use as a heads up. And here's another fact. Several GM cars, as you might recall, had HUDs as an option. The NHTSA has found that they are more of a distraction, than they are of help. This includes those vehicles with forward looking IR camera and HUD. People still run into deer, even when they have one.

The biggest problem with driving a vehicle is distraction, no matter where it comes from. As some know, the NHTSA has mandated the reporting of telemetric use when reporting accidents. Telemetrics include cellphone (the largest distraction ever), radios, navi systems, computers, texting, and even FAX machines! Distraction from cellphones has replaced drunk driving as the highest cause of accidents and fatalities. If the trend continues, the effect will be twice as deadly as drunk driving within 3 years! That should be double !!

If we aren't careful, and keep are eyes and ears open, out illustrious leaders are going to pass laws that will negate amateur radio use in vehicles in motion. Let's pray they don't.

Alan, KØBG
www.k0bg.com
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by QRZDXR2 on January 5, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
K0BG on January 3, 2009
I'd like to know where it is too.

Recently, one poster stated that car companies deny warranty coverage to those folks with amateur radios in their vehicles. If one person can document that (with references) for an installation which followed the maker's installation instructions, I'll send them a certified check for $1,000! To date, no one's been able to do that. I have received a lot of e-mails, but every one has been anecdotal. Like, my brother-in-law's, next door neighbor's cousin.....


Alan, KØBG
www.k0bg.com

------------------------------------------------------

Alan...
I was told by the dealer.. on my 2007 ford PU which suddenly quit while using the HR.. that because I have ham radio installed that they would not warrent and replace the computer that was OB. (still under warrentee... and I had the extended one too..) I went to the manufactures web site and did exactly as they showed for radio install (0nly shows cars however).

Only the antenna (HS screwdriver) was placed on the left rear using the side of the trailer hitch for support) It seems that they said the ham radio (500 watts rf) -- determined by ford-- damaged it. I thought it was hooie.. but after the second one did the same thing during transmission--I believe 'em now. (Not only did I take the HR out of the truck but cancled the extended warn't)

It seems it was only certified to 25 watts CB or mobile radio)

I had to BUY the new computer's as even the ford rep would not budge. (and yes it cost big. I have the work order for the replacement and bill)

So now where can I pick up my certified $1,000 check from ya? I have the proof
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by K3GAU on January 5, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
To : Lon W3LK,

You said you can find a safe place in about any vehicle.

The following should be read while the 'Mission Impossible' theme is playing in the back ground. ;-) Your challenge, should your accept it, is to tell me where to put my radios. The vehicles in question are a Saturn SL-2 1999 vintage with 5 speed manual transmission and "emergency brake" on the floor (actually a console) between the seats. The second, A Sonata 2004 vintage with automatic shifter and "emergency brake" in console area between the seats. I have to have adequate space left for the XYL to sit comfortably in the right seat. I haven't given you my radios yet. My 2 meter box is an FT-290 and I don't have any HF boxes that are anywhere near as small as an IC-706. (If I had a 706 I wouldn't need the over 2 meter box.) Suggestions???

Dave K3GAU
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by W3LK on January 5, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Dave:

I have not been in either of those vehicles and only a fool (which I am not) would tell you where to put the radios without actually being in the vehicle for a little while. It often takes some creativity and a willingness to drill holes.

I never said I could put ANY radio in ANY vehicle, either. Sometimes you have to use what will actually fit, not what you really want. There's more than a little common sense at work in these things.

You are obviously not going to put a Collins KWM-2A in either of those vehicles unless you give the XYL the boot and put it in place of her seat, but there are several compact HF rigs on the market that WILL fit in compact cars.

As for your FT-290, I'd never attempt to put that rig in anything. Too old to mess with and no control head. :)

As I said previously, you have to use some common sense.

73,

Lon - W3LK
Naugatuck, Connecticut
 
VELCRO AND WHIPLASH  
by PLANKEYE on January 5, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
You guys are actually posting about Velcro in cars?

Right or Wrong?

Man Dudes, some of you look like you'd be scared at a pillow fight.

What are you guys so worried about?

Try Living!!


PLANKEYE

 
RE: VELCRO AND WHIPLASH  
by W3LK on January 5, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
<< Man Dudes, some of you look like you'd be scared at a pillow fight.

What are you guys so worried about? >>

You obviously have never worked high speed automobile crashes and seen the effects of flying objects on the human body.

73,

Lon - W3LK
Naugatuck, Connecticut
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by K3GAU on January 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
GA Lon,

Well the FT-290 may be an "old" rig but it is of about the same size as a lot of more 'modern' rigs many of which still DO NOT have remote heads or the capability to seperate the head from the rest of the rig so it is either find a place for something that size or maybe two of something that size or forget mobile ham radio.

Many including myself only operate mobile occasionally. We are not "hard core" mobileers and are not willing to sell everything we own to obtain the absolute smallest of everything or a rig with a remote head just because we 'might' operate mobile a few times a year or during an emergency situation and yet we would like to operate mobile safely! If I were planning extensive mobile operation then I would consider buying smaller or remote capable stuff. But, since 95%+ of my time is going to be base station operation, I can't justify spending $1K+ for a small rig or rigs for a comparatively few hours of operation a year. And besides that I'll take the easy of operation of my TS-2000 any day over any mobile sized rig I know of. My son has an IC-706 that he uses wherever he needs it and that's great for mobile but I wouldn't trade him for base operation. I have more features and flexibility and a lot less multilevel menus to deal with.

So it's back to trying to make do with what we have, not what would be ideal, and without the government to pay for it.

Suggestions?

Dave K3GAU
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by W3LK on January 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
With what you have just posted - nope, no suggestions.

73,

Lon - W3LK
Naugatuck, Connecticut
 
Poor Positions  
by KC0TAS on January 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Vehicle: 2003 Ford focus (4 DR)
Radio: FT-8800 (remoted)
Antenna: Comet dual bander on roadside trunk lid

Remote head mounted on the lip of the lower rail below the speedometer. Mounted with the issued braket and screws. It is behind the steering wheel and below all lights and meters from the dash. Mic feed is on the right hanging down. Mic is mounted on the left side of the middle dash area (below the factory radio). All cables are mounted behind the dash running down along the "hump" to under the drivers seat to the main part of the radio. Antenna cable is run under the "hump" and under the rear seat to the trunk where it is feeding the antenna. Vision for the dash or the roadway not obscured, can't see the radio from the outside. (theft deterent). XYL doesn't drive the car so no problem there!!

Haven't had any problems with the install or operation.

Joe
NJ0E
ex/KC0TAS
 
PILLOWS AND PURSES  
by PLANKEYE on January 6, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
<< Man Dudes, some of you look like you'd be scared at a pillow fight.

What are you guys so worried about? >>

You obviously have never worked high speed automobile crashes and seen the effects of flying objects on the human body.

73,

Lon - W3LK
Naugatuck, Connecticut

______________________________

THIS IS PLANKEYE:

I imagine riding a Motorcycle without a helmet would REALLY peg the danger needle in Naugatuck.

Joining the Military would definitely get the Gramas Thumbs Down, right?

Lets make a list of things not to do, and worry about the things we do do!!

I love it.

Naugatuck here I come!!

DUDE?



PLANKEYE

 
Poor Positions  
by AD7WN on January 8, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Excellent article, Alan. You succeeded in imparting a wealth of important information without resorting to personal attacks, which are always offensive to some.

If there is one thing I might add, it would be this: visit professional shops that do installation work for police and fire departments, as well as taxis and forestry departments. See how the pros do it. They all profit from the mistakes they've made in their pasts.

Thanks again for a great article.

73 de John
 
RE: Poor Positions  
by RFSOAKED on January 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I will disagree with one thing however.. The comment about not mounting the control head of a remote radio up rather than down.

I find it much more distracting to look down than to look up. There was a study, just this past year actually, by car and driver magazine about distractions in the vehicle. They commented that while observing drivers when told to complete a task, such as change the radio station, check your mpg, that those looking down were much more distracted and had a long reaction time when the person administering the test would yell "look ahead!". Also that many would wander, steer one way or another while looking down.

However those looking up didn't suffer these problems as badly, when checking the temp or mpg on the overhead console display. Any distractions while driving is not good, up, down, left, right. But i can tell you that i am more comfortable quickly glancing up to my right to check the signal strength or to peek at which frequency the scan stopped on, then i am looking down. For one when i glance up to look at the overhead console to which my control head is mounted i still have my peripheral vision on the road. When i look down at the only location where i would be able to mount the control head i'm totally blind to the road.

Also a comment on mounting to the top of the dash.. If you have a control head and mount it on the dash do yourself a quick favor and ask a dealer or look in the service manual for your vehicle for info on the airbag deployment zone. I found this information quickly when installing a radio in my XYL's car. I have a perfectly safe location for a low profile control head mount on the dash. The really nice part about that install is i can look at the control head while still looking forward at the road.

I agree safety is important, but common sense can take care of most problems. Its also a matter of convenience and how you feel safety wise, i feel its much safer to glance up then to be looking down for my mobile. No sun glare on the control head making it harder for me to see it, i'm only taking my eyes off the road for a split second, etc..

 
Poor Positions  
by KB2OXR on January 15, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
The "velcro that was mentioned in this thread is available at any home depot. I only suggest that if you are going to use this stuff, and you plan on mounting your rig on YOUR DASH ... make sure you clean the area before applying the strips. #2 if your dash is made of a soft material be sure that you are ok with ripping it when you remove the Velco or radio , this stuff IS VERY VERY TUFF I highly recomend it .
As for Airbags and dash mounting . you can believe me or not I do not care but. if any RF device is causing your airbag to deploy, there is a MAJOR MAJOR problem with your car. Airbags are deployed by sensors in your bumpers and the same goes for side panel air bags. Food for thought, i dont know if any of you have ever heard of CB shoot outs or not , but you can actually see them on YouTube . Some of those brain dead guys are running 5k and more from the mobile and if you look close enough , you will see that alot of those vehicals have airbags.
I promised myself I would not BASH anyone so I will end this here. Dash mounting can be done safely just be sure to remove it when you go through inspection .
Oh
Did K0BG make good on his offer . INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW
 
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