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Author Topic: Battery terminal question  (Read 9384 times)
AB4D
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« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2014, 08:36:29 AM »

Welp, I'm not installing a radio in my truck.

The simple fact is, after a day of googling, I can't find anything short of a new battery that looks remotely safe.  So, best case scenario, I die in a car fire.  But I'm nowhere near lucky enough for that.  Best I can honestly hope for is to be horribly disfigured in the car fire and left in severe chronic pain for the rest of my life, and a huge hospital copay from my shitty health insurance.  With all the contradictory advice out there (in this very thread I've been told to wire directly to the battery and to wire into the fuse box) and my beginner-grade wiring skills, I'm beginning to think mobile ham is a bad idea.

In fact, since I read that thread about antenna-based attic fires, I think I might take a hammer to my radios. If these radios are this damn dangerous, I don't feel okay selling them, I can't afford the lawsuit.

If you are that wigged out about it, just visit a local stereo or commercial radio installation shop that has the experience to do the job right.  It may cost you a hundred or two, but it will be well worth it to achieve a safe and reliable radio installation. 
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K3GM
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« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2014, 10:18:22 AM »

I don't tie directly to the battery terminals.  With all the corrosion that can happen there as well as occasional maintenance in that area, I place nothing directly on the battery terminals.  Instead I feed off the main power distribution block on the firewall.  The block is fed directly from the battery and is connected by an OEM lead connected directly to the B+ clamp.  This way, if the vehicle ever needs service, there's no one messing with the power connections to my gear.  I've attached a photo below showing the vehicle's main fuse with the cover removed.  The brass nut on the left is RAW B+.  The brass nut on the right is FUSED B+ which is the vehicle's supply to the engine bay and cabin fuse blocks.  I connect to the RAW B+ stud and use my own separate fuse block for the gear.  The wire loom leading off the left is my added line.

« Last Edit: January 30, 2014, 10:31:17 AM by K3GM » Logged
KK4LGR
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« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2014, 03:32:26 PM »

Talk to service people at Best Buy...

No.
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"Well I'm sure glad we've got these ham radios to talk on."
--Unidentified station heard on 2 meters
KK4LGR
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« Reply #18 on: January 30, 2014, 04:23:42 PM »

Seriously, here's what I'm going to do.  I'm going to get a mag mount antenna that can handle mobile-class power, and use it with my handheld for now.  When I feel more confident in my wiring skills/plan, I'll think about installing a mobile using that antenna.  I just can't afford to take chances, make mistakes and get messy with my truck's electrical system.  Sorry, Mrs. Frizzle.
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"Well I'm sure glad we've got these ham radios to talk on."
--Unidentified station heard on 2 meters
K1CJS
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« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2014, 03:02:05 PM »

On the other hand, the only way you're ever going to get any experience and confidence is to go ahead and do it.  In any event, good luck and 73!
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AA4PB
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« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2014, 03:16:37 PM »

A mag mount antenna is a poor choice, especially for a permanent mobile installation.
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KK4LGR
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« Reply #21 on: February 02, 2014, 07:16:29 AM »

K1CJS, allow me to explain the poverty event horizon.  The laws that protect employees from discrimination don't protect those without vehicles, so employers are free (I would almost say mandated) to ask if you have a reliable vehicle, and reject applicants without vehicles.  Lose your car, lose your job.  Lose your job, you can't pay for another vehicle.  And you're now permanently locked in a cycle of never earning a paycheck again.  Now, since I can't pay for another vehicle out of pocket, I'm not willing to risk damaging or destroying my truck for the sake of learning something or talking on the radio while driving. 

AA4PB, there will be no holes drilled in my roof.  I may someday install a camper shell, and I am willing to install an NMO mount in that, but not in the roof of the cab.  Final answer.

I understand that mag mounts aren't exactly kind to paint, but neither is a power drill.  I'm not worried about efficiency so much; my criteria is "better than a rubber duck inside the cab."

I don't want to permanently alter the bodywork or interior trim of the car in any way.  The truck comes first, the radio comes 278th. 
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"Well I'm sure glad we've got these ham radios to talk on."
--Unidentified station heard on 2 meters
KG4RUL
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« Reply #22 on: February 02, 2014, 10:12:45 AM »

Does he REALLY want help or are we just starting to get the odor of Troll in the air?  I can't decide.
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K1CJS
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« Reply #23 on: February 02, 2014, 01:43:42 PM »

I think you're right, Dennis.  Whatever the reply, he comes back, poo-poos the comment, and reinforces his views.

All I was saying was that experience doesn't come from sitting back and typing at a keyboard, one has to do what needs doing--most times with the help of someone who knows what he's doing.  And BTW friend, I know what your so called poverty event horizon in this case means.  I recently lost my vehicle in an accident that wasn't my fault and have no vehicle right now.

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K0BG
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« Reply #24 on: February 02, 2014, 03:06:15 PM »

Fear of messing up is common to those new to the hobby. If you're in doubt, then seek professional help.

As Mark has often said (sic): I like the smell of burning paint when I drill antenna holes in my new vehicles.
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KK4LGR
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« Reply #25 on: February 04, 2014, 07:52:56 AM »

K1CJS, you understand my point.  Not having a car sucks, and no one will be sympathetic if I broke mine with an intentional and unnecessary modification.

I started this thread seconds after opening my hood to see if a ring terminal I already had would fit under the clamp bolt on the battery terminal, and finding that my terminals don't work that way.  (Thank you, GM)  I then got to thinking about the job as a whole, and I saw a whole bunch of potential hazards, and those are just the ones I know enough about to spot.

I don't really want to take it to a shop to have it done for two reasons.  First, Best Buy is out because I know and don't trust the guys who work at my local Best Buy car stereo department.  Second, I want to learn how to do this kind of thing.  But before I try anything myself, I ask myself "how bad can it go?"  In this case, it can destroy my vehicle if done wrong, so I'd rather just not do it.

I'm more comfortable with the idea of getting a deep cycle battery and wiring up a solar panel and charge controller.  If I break any of that, I'll have wasted a little money, but not destroyed anything vital.
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"Well I'm sure glad we've got these ham radios to talk on."
--Unidentified station heard on 2 meters
KE4DRN
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« Reply #26 on: February 04, 2014, 07:10:39 PM »

Hi,

I use split bolt connectors about six inches from the battery connectors,
easy to install and remove if you ever get rid of the car.



Then I run them to a MaxiFuse block and pass the cable into the car
using existing grommet or put a new one in if there is room to do so.

Once tight I wrap each with #33 electrical tape.

73 james ke4drn

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KA4NMA
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« Reply #27 on: February 04, 2014, 09:24:54 PM »

Before you give up, go read Allan's website, k0bg.com.  His website is the best on mobile installations. 

Randy ka4nma
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K5LXP
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« Reply #28 on: February 05, 2014, 08:17:59 AM »

Not having a car sucks, and no one will be sympathetic if I broke mine with an intentional and unnecessary modification.

Done right, you risk very little.  I've put radios in my own cars my whole life starting with my mom's before I could drive, plus many hundreds of installations I did when I was a radio tech.  You're the first person I've heard that could turn a radio installation into being jobless and destitute.


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see if a ring terminal I already had would fit under the clamp bolt on the battery terminal,

What about the positive demark point myself and others suggested?  You don't need to be messing around with the battery terminals if you don't want to.  Personally I'm not fond of the split bolt method because they're tough to get sealed up well, but even that is an option.


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I saw a whole bunch of potential hazards,

It comes down to routing the wire in a place it won't get pinched or abraded.  Except for unusual situations, simply tie wrapping it to an existing loom works perfect.  For extra credit you can put the wiring inside a separate loom but the trick is to secure the wiring with tie wraps so it can't move.


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I want to learn how to do this kind of thing.  But before I try anything myself, I ask myself "how bad can it go?"

Instead of giving up you should sit down and work out the details.  A bit of research on the net and in books, and asking questions on forums like this will mitigate all that risk.  This is just a DC connection, and not a terribly high power one at that.  You'd use the same techniques to install a set of fog lights.  Seriously, it's not that complicated.


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it can destroy my vehicle if done wrong,

For that to happen you would have to do it completely wrong to the point of sabotage.  I've serviced some pretty bad installations in my day and the usual consequence is they just stop working.


Quote
I'm more comfortable with the idea of getting a deep cycle battery and wiring up a solar panel and charge controller.

So that doesn't involve any risk?  You're going to properly secure that battery, and run fused and secured wiring for the battery and a panel?  There's a reason no one uses a separate power source in a vehicle.  It's a PITA and adds no value to your installation.  A well done radio installation lasts the life of the vehicle.  So far I'm averaging 15 years and 200K miles on my cars, and they all start off with a fresh install before they lose that new car smell.  As K0BG has quoted me here, there's nothing like that burning paint smell coming out of a fresh-cut antenna hole.  Do it once, do it right.

You didn't say what year your S-10 was but if it's anything like mine the battery is on the passenger side and there's a cable loom that runs down the passenger wheel well and through the firewall via a foam rubber donut.  You can squeeze your DC cable alongside the existing wires through that donut without even using any tools.  The wire ends up under the top edge of the carpet inside and you can route it right to your radio from there.  There's plenty of room in the passenger A pillar for several runs of RG-58 from the roof, with an easy access hole next to the glove box.  It is very easy to do a professional and reliable installation in these vehicles.  Don't say you can't, because I have already proven you can. 

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM

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W0JRT
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« Reply #29 on: February 05, 2014, 11:02:51 AM »

KK4LGR,

I had a 1996 S-10 for 17 years and had the same amount of frustration any time I tried to do anything with it.

The S-10 pickup shares a lot with the S-10 blazer / Jimmy, and it turns out there are some unused spots in the fuse block that are already wired since they used the same wiring harness.  I looked at the service manual for my truck and found an unused slot that would have had a 30 Amp fuse in it had I had the blazer instead of the pickup (rear window defroster, maybe?  I don't remember).  I hooked into that using a large spade lug (same basic size as one of the fuses).  For the ground, I found a bolt under the center console (which I had temporarily removed in order to run the wires since I decided to put the radio body under the seat).  Using the fuse box meant I didn't have to find a way through that impossible-to-reach firewall, either.

The purists wouldn't like it since it wasn't wired directly to the battery, but it was safe (fused everywhere as necessary) and it worked problem-free for well over a decade and was still working when I removed it when I sold the vehicle.

You'll be fine with a mag-mount, but I'll share how I installed my antenna anyway:  I made a small L-bracket to mount it on a front fender.  I ran the coax through the same grommet as the FM broadcast antenna, then underneath the center console to the radio, being sure to use some split-loom tubing to keep it safe from the heat (well, I used the split-loom tubing the second time!)  That didn't work so well because it picked up too much noise from the engine, so I later re-routed it so that the coax was much shorter and took a more direct route to the radio -- That solved my alternator whine issue.  I don't remember how I routed it, other than I know it went under the vehicle and up through a hole in the cab somewhere.
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