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eHam Forums => Mobile Ham => Topic started by: KK4LGR on January 28, 2014, 09:43:48 AM



Title: Battery terminal question
Post by: KK4LGR on January 28, 2014, 09:43:48 AM
Howdy all,
I've got a Chevrolet S10, and it's got the damnedest battery terminals.  Most car batteries I've encountered have posts that the cables clamp onto with a screw-based clamp system.  Want to attach something directly to the battery?  Get some ring terminals and attach them under the screw on the cable clamp.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Not my truck.  The clamps on the truck are basically big ring terminals themselves, each with a big, permanently attached bolt that screws directly into the battery.  I have no idea how to attach something directly to this battery other than using alligator clamps.  Any advice would be appreciated.

73,
Adam
KK4LGR


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: AA4PB on January 28, 2014, 10:02:11 AM
They make a variety dual cable adapters and post extenders for battery side terminals. Try looking as car part suppliers and sound equipment installers to find something that will work for you.

Also, does your vehicle have a + post located somewhere near the battery? If so, that's a good place to get your connection. Often there is only a few inches of heavy cable between the battery and the connection so it's essentially the same as connecting directly to the battery. It also keeps your radio wiring away from the corrosion of the battery.


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: K5LXP on January 28, 2014, 12:36:03 PM
Quote from:  link=topic=94750.msg732383#msg732383 date=1390931028
I've got a Chevrolet S10, and it's got the damnedest battery terminals.

Side terminal batteries were introduced in the 1970's.  I know for sure my '85 S-10 had one though my 2013 Impala has standard posts.

I would go for the remoted positive terminal, usually found as an input to the underhood fuseblock/relay box.  Batteries are nasty things to directly connect unsealed terminations to.

Not sure about the exact side terminal setup you have, but I've used a standard ring lug underneath the bolt of the battery cable ring terminal.  The bolt is held captive by the molded rubber around the ring.  Remove the bolt, cut a little notch in the molded rubber as a relief for the lug, put the lug onto the bolt and put the bolt back into the molded ring, then reconnect to the battery.

In my stash I still have some replacement side lug bolts that include a threaded stud you can put a regular lug onto.  I recall that they sometimes made the connection point stick out too far from the side of the battery in some installations.  By putting the lug under the existing bolt the stock profile is retained.


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: KK4LGR on January 28, 2014, 02:56:01 PM
Thank you for your replies.  I am currently tired and cranky because I've been awake too long, so please read nothing into the following bitchy language.

GM has the following guidelines published about installing 2 way radios in their cars:  http://service.gm.com/techlineinfo/radio.html (http://service.gm.com/techlineinfo/radio.html)  These guidelines seem to be designed to make installing a radio in an S10 difficult.  I'm not good enough with wires to route them across the front of the engine compartment from the (passenger side mounted) battery to the driver's side firewall without it getting abraded by the hood opening and closing, or falling into the radiator fan and causing massive damage.  There's also the fact that the S10's engine is actually bigger than the firewall, so to route the wires through a grommeted hole, the engine has to come out for access.  Add to that the worst battery terminal design in the universe, and I give up. 

I will buy a mag mount antenna with an SMA fitting, and I will use my handheld rather than go through the anus pain of running a wire from my battery to my dashboard. 


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: W5ARP on January 28, 2014, 05:16:08 PM
Just a suggestion--for running power wires to/from the battery.  There are likely bits of wiring harness already traversing much of the path your wires need to take.  Just look for those, and zip-tie the radio's power wires to the existing harness.

Geof


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: N9KTW on January 28, 2014, 08:31:48 PM
Adam:

Please contact me "off list" and I will give you some pointers on connecting to the battery in your S-10. I have a 1999 Blazer with both a dual band rig, and a tap for my Icom 706.


de Howard, N9KTW


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: K1CJS on January 29, 2014, 06:26:24 AM
Although I have to agree with you about side terminal battery design, there are aftermarket side terminal battery bolts that have extended posts and screws in the middle of them--for the purpose of attaching extra wires and for jump starting.  I believe you can still get them at AutoZone and similar auto product stores. 

Way back when those monstrosities came out, I made the original bolts into something similar except for the jump starting simply by drilling and tapping holes into the center of the 5/16 hex used to tighten them.  No, that doesn't weaken the hex appreciably as long as you don't make too big a hole (I believe I drilled and tapped for a number 8 SAE screw) and it works well.  73 and good luck!



Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: K5LXP on January 29, 2014, 06:50:20 AM

These guidelines seem to be designed to make installing a radio in an S10 difficult.

Uh, no.  They're guidelines to make the installation reliable.


Quote
Add to that the worst battery terminal design in the universe, and I give up. 

It's a 5 minute operation to put a lug under a side terminal bolt.  I've done it hundreds of times in my past life as a radio tech.

If you think that's a pain, I've been there and back with my S-10:

(http://www.qsl.net/k5lxp/mobile/QSTarticle/dash.jpg)

Not to mention it's a battery EV with 24 lead acid batteries, 600 amp controller and associated traction and control wiring.

(http://www.qsl.net/k5lxp/ev/evtruck/html/images/hood.jpg)

Your little battery terminal troubles are a walk in the park.  Understandably a lot of folks don't want to mess with it, in which case you can always take it to a 2-way radio shop or stereo installation place where they do this stuff all day long.


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM




Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: KK4LGR on January 29, 2014, 01:01:42 PM
Wow Mark, I was being sarcastic when I said you have to remove the engine to access the firewall, and you've actually done it.


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: KK4LGR on January 29, 2014, 01:04:34 PM
In other news, my battery bolts seem to be molded into the wire terminals somehow.  It would be ideal to replace them with some that are tapped for another bolt, but I don't think Chevrolet wants me to.


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: KB4QAA on January 29, 2014, 01:26:37 PM
'Get an adapter that has an extra bolt for 'stereo' accessories. You can pick them up in any auto store or stereo shop section.  About $10.  I've used them on my batteries for 14 years.


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: AA4PB on January 29, 2014, 01:47:15 PM
In other news, my battery bolts seem to be molded into the wire terminals somehow.  It would be ideal to replace them with some that are tapped for another bolt, but I don't think Chevrolet wants me to.

Are you sure that you can't open the molded part enough to get the bolts out?


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: KK4LGR on January 29, 2014, 04:09:36 PM
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.


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: AA4PB on January 29, 2014, 05:26:37 PM
Talk to service people at Best Buy or other place that installs high-power audio equipment in vehicles every day. They should be able to give you some hints and sell you the necessary terminals, or make the connections for you if you are unwilling to do it. It's not all that's difficult or dangerous if you have the correct equipment and know how to do it.


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: K1CJS on January 30, 2014, 07:35:24 AM
In other news, my battery bolts seem to be molded into the wire terminals somehow.  It would be ideal to replace them with some that are tapped for another bolt, but I don't think Chevrolet wants me to.

Yep, all GM OEM cables are like that--it's only a way to keep those bolts from falling out of the connector.  You can get them out easily enough.  Simply place the cable end with the threaded part of the bolt on a piece of wood and press down hard on the edges of the terminal.  If the bolt is still not coming out easily, just turn the bolt with a wrench while pressing down and it will.


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: AB4D 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. 


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: K3GM 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.

(http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a96/TwoSevenRight/P1020167.jpg)


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: KK4LGR on January 30, 2014, 03:32:26 PM
Talk to service people at Best Buy...

No.


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: KK4LGR 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.


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: K1CJS 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!


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: AA4PB on February 01, 2014, 03:16:37 PM
A mag mount antenna is a poor choice, especially for a permanent mobile installation.


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: KK4LGR 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. 


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: KG4RUL 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.


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: K1CJS 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.



Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: K0BG 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.


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: KK4LGR 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.


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: KE4DRN 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.

(http://tnblnx3.tnb.com/emAlbum/albums//Blackburn%20Mechanical/bb_1_g_hseries_0_ph.jpg)

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



Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: KA4NMA 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


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: K5LXP 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.


Quote
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.


Quote
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.


Quote
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.


Quote
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



Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: W0JRT 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.


Title: RE: Battery terminal question
Post by: K5EFJ on February 25, 2014, 09:49:44 AM

As Mark has often said (sic): I like the smell of burning paint when I drill antenna holes in my new vehicles.

Kind of like the smell of napalm in the morning.  It smells like victory.