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Author Topic: Mobile installation - Out of Sight, Out of Mind  (Read 481 times)
KI6ARZ
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« on: September 18, 2005, 09:04:48 PM »

As a new Tech licensed ham, my install will be in a 89 Nissan pickup with extended cab (side mounted drop down seats in the back). Equipment will be the Yaesu FT-8800R with Diamond NR770 antenna and SPM35 mag mount.

One feature I liked for the 8800 was that it has a remote mount head (got the "remote kit" for it too).

For the reason that I sometimes carry lumber upon my pickup and I didn't want a permanent antenna, I chose the mag mount. Secondly I wanted the install to be fairly secure, figuring "Out of Sight, Out of Mind". If parked in a visiting city or unknown area or an area of questionable security, a potential theif walking by would not notice "fancy antenna" or "fancy equipment" inside.

The location for the remote head I have tentatively decided upon the lower left dash area (possibly mounted on the door to the fuse compartment). The main unit instead of mounting under the driver seat where it could become dirty and the fan could become obstructed, I chose to mount the main unit (tentatively) in the "concealed" compartment for the drop down seat in the back, behind the driver seat. The drop down seat normally occupies nearly all of that space, but if I remove the "seat back" from that drop down seat, there will be plenty of space and I believe it will have sufficient ventilation.

I plan to park the pickup in the sun with sunlight hitting that side of the pickup to see if any heat builds up there first. (Yaesu recommends mounting the radio where not exposed to direct/extended sunlight or close to heating vents. I believe my choice of location for the head and main unit will be good.)

The drop down seat location should also have ample room for other (future) items such as possibly a choke, terminal block, or other items, once I remove its seat back. (The actual seat will remain and could still be used in a pinch.... but without a cusion back.)

For the remote head (which I won't be removing and installing, off and on, for security reasons, it will be left in place to eliminate wear and tear on it's RJ connector... the Mic of course will be removed when not in use, that for security and to prevent others from using when I am not in the pickup) I may get someone to make a small (spandex or other cloth) "slip cover" that can cover the remote head, keeping it clean and making the install more secure (just a black thing visible instead of the "fancy" head unit). With the main unit in the back seat compartment, it too will be very secure.... persons who break into vehicles aside from "prying out" dash radios or CD's, will also look under seats in glove boxes, or will grab other convenient items left inside.

Normally the antenna and coax (when not in use) will be just laying upon the back seat (covered with a blanket) thus it too won't normally be seen and the back seat area will look like just a floor area.

Prior to my operation as mobile, I plan to bond the hood, doors, pickup bed, exhaust, and frame to ensure a good frame ground. I will also install split ferrites at the vehicle computer under passenger seat, at the wiper motor, the fuel pump, and for the wires coming from the intermittent wiper speed control, and other potential noise sources.

I would like to hear about how others may have made their mobile installations more secure or "Out of sight and Out of mind", especially those where the main unit can be under the seat (or elsewhere) and just the remote head can be mounted upon or near the dash. Do you use anything to conceal the unit? Do you constantly remove and reinstall the unit?

A vehicle alarm "helps" to deter theft, but only if you are within hearing range. Often neighbors or "other" people will ignore vehicle alarms. And of course if a theif has already broken into a vehicle setting off an alarm, they may continue with their theft else they will panic and may cause other damage (aside from any initial damage to gain access).

So, how about it? Do you mobile ops remove and reinstall your equipment, or do you have some special ways of concealing them?

Thanks for listening and I will watch for responses, which others may find of benefit too.

73, George, KI6ARZ
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KG4RUL
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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2005, 05:32:26 AM »

From my standpoint, I have a Yaesu FT-100D in my Saturn VUE with the control head in plain view on the dash.  For antennas I have a Comet Tri-band 6M/2M/70cm and a Little Tarheel II, on Comet Heavy Duty lip mounts, on the rear hatch.  I also have a call sign license plate and, I have never had any problems.

Dennis KG4RUL
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K0BG
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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2005, 06:34:49 AM »

There are too many questions to comment here on your installation. If you want more information, I suggest you visit my web site. Read the articles on Antennas, and VHF Options.

Alan, KØBG
www.k0bg.com
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K5LXP
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« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2005, 06:38:18 AM »

Antennas aren't quite the thief magnet they used to be, unless you have some kind of monster HF screwdriver antenna.  I'd put a permanent mount whip on the roof or cowl, mount the rig (where you propose sounds OK) and be done with it.  You will quickly tire of moving the antenna around, and after you've sratched the heck out of the paint and squashed the coax and door/window seals enough times, eventually you'll leave it in place all the time anyway.  All the extra grounding/bonding won't buy you anything on 2M/440.  And all the EMI measures are a waste of time unless you actually have a problem with it, doubtful on 2M/440.  As far as concealing rigs as an anti-theft measure, I've never really bothered.  Yes, there are those that will break in just to see what they can find, but those are the same people that will break in to take your sunglasses on the dash, or a CD on the seat.  I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.  If you're that concerned, buy insurance to cover it.


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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N3ZKP
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« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2005, 07:14:17 AM »

George,

The primary consideration for any installation needs to be (1) operator safety (2) operator convenience (3) system performance. Stealth and vandelism/theft are way down on the list.

In 1973 I had CB stolen out of a vehicle. The three business band / LE radios were left alone. Other than that, I have neved had a radio or antenna stolen in 40 years of radios in vehicles.

I currently have five antennas, including a Hi Sierra motorised, on my Windstar and travel all over the Mid-Atlantic, Ne and SE US with no peoblems. None of the control heads for the three radios and GPS are hidden in any way. Besides, if they are stolen, that's why I pay insurance premiums.

Lon
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KE5FUL
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« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2005, 02:09:27 PM »

Check out the installation of my FT8800. The body is bolted down under the driverside seat. I did not buy the mounting kit. I made my own as you will see. The cable was made out of a standard (wal-mart brand) 6 conductor telephone cord wired straight through(I had rewired one end so that the wires were the in the same position on both ends ). The total cost was less than $15 or $20.

http://www.radioreference.com/forums/showthread.php?t=20217
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KI6ARZ
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« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2005, 04:18:47 AM »

Thanks for the replies-- I'll have to take them all into consideration.

Yes, I have considered getting insurance for the equipment. I noticed that ARRL has a recommended insurer and I found elsewhere another company located in PA. Will enquire with them both about coverage of the antenna and its mag mount.

As for personal vehicle insurance, as a very low income person I just have the "basic" required coverage. Thus if my vehicle ever gets damaged or totalled, it is my own loss, likewise I don't have coverage on its contents or accessories. Most definitely I will look into the independent coverage by the ARRL recommended insurer and any others.

Jacob, KE5FUL, good job on the bracket!



Back in the 1980's I had been victim of theft even though I didn't have anything fancy, the stereo was stolen and the passenger window was broken. The alarm that I had was not a deterrent. For that incident at least the insurance covered the window and a bit of the cost of a replacement radio.

A couple years ago, while parked in my driveway (and this is a rural area) someone broke into the pickup and tried to steal a couple tool boxes, luckily I happened to step outside and it scared the theif away... they left the driver door open which I noticed and because they were nearly caught in the process, they had tossed the tool boxes in the ditch. They were luckily recovered, thus no loss to me.

Thus my concerns and my enquiry if other people had any ways of "concealing" the remote head? Of course I could always unplug it and remove it, but that could lead to wear on the RJ45 connector.

As for using the mag mount antenna. The thought was not only about it being a "thief magnet", but also because material is sometimes carried on the pickup and I didn't want a permanent install "in the way".
My local electronics shop told me today that the mag mounts do hold fairly strong... he expressed no problems up to about 80 mph speed. He also mentioned that an adaptor exists for NMO/SO239, thus if I later change my mind about mag mount versus permanent, the cost to make it permanent would be minimal. I am neither concerned about adding a hole to the pickup nor in the case of the mag mount any minor scratches that could result.

The bonding of the various parts of the pickup to establish a better ground (dc and rf) I will still consider. My electronics shop also said the 2m/70cm units are pretty well filtered.

I did go to Alan's site, K0BG, and found a wealth of information. If I read correctly it did mention an importance for both dc and rf ground for both HF and VHF. I would doubt if the vehicle computer module would generate any RFI (its cpu clock is probably not that fast to cause any problems for 2m or higher) but not knowing its "sensitivity" to external RF, I may still add some 43 or 61 mix beads to its leads to ensure that the vehicle computer never becomes affected.

Note: re a vehicle's computer, I had heard about possible development by law enforcement agencies or that they currently have devices that could "run up under" a vehicle and via RF cause the vehicle to shut down, thus my own thought of preventative medicine by adding beads to ensure no interference to its cpu.

As for any other potential noise sources, I may wait until after its installed to see if anything causes any noise via DC power.

I'll keep watching this topic, the more sources of information the better it is for making a final decision. Again, thanks to all.

73, George, KI6ARZ
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K5LXP
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« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2005, 07:10:03 AM »

Hi George;

I too have been a victim of vehicle, but not radio theft.  Not sure what their motivation was but they ignored the radio completely.  When they break glass it can easily exceed the value of most VHF FM gear, so the radio is actually the least of your worries.

When you buy insurance you're betting that your radio is going to get stolen, and they're betting that it won't.  Odds are the radio will fail, or you will get tired of it and replace it before that happens.  Insurance companies stay in business, at a profit, because they're usually right.  I've been 'self insured' for decades on all of my stuff, and statistically the odds are in my favor.  I would rather take the money going to premiums and instead periodically buy new gear.  The downside (as I see it) to the ARRL insurance is you have to insure *all*, not just selected pieces of your equipment.  It's "cheap" at $1.50 per $100 of value but there are minimums, deductibles and "administration" fees.  If I were to buy this insurance I could buy a new 8800 every couple of years on what the premium alone would cost.  Given that I've gone many years between losses, it's cheaper to have my radios stolen or hit by lightning than to insure them.

As far as antennas go, I would recommend a standard rooftop installation.  I know you said you occasionally carry cargo, but having a permanent mount doesn't mean you can't ever remove the antenna.  If you used an NMO mount, you can just unscrew the antenna for the duration required, and put it back on when you're done, just as you'd do with a mag mount.  I've got six antennas on the roof of my pickup and do this all the time.  If you tend to haul stuff more than not, consider putting the antenna on the front fender.  Performance is still decent and clearance is no longer an issue.

You may have been quoted that a mag mount can stay on a vehicle at 80mph, and I would bet it's even more than that.  But coming loose is not the problem with mag mounts.  They cause more damage to a vehicle than just drilling a hole does.  They scratch the heck out of the paint, cause rust stains, ding the metal, and the coax rubbing on the paint from the wind does it's own special damage.  Then there's the door or window seal that gets damaged from having the coax squashed in it all the time, not to mention it makes wind noise and allows water to leak in.  Eventually the coax will fail at this point too.  Mag mounts are great antennas for temporary installations but I would never consider one for continuous use.  Plus there's the small, but certainly present chance that if you're in a wreck the mag mount will go flying off and hurt someone.  It's happened.

I used to install and service commercial 2-way stuff for a living and never once did I have any issue with EMI/RFI either from or to the computer on any vehicle.  Maybe the worst you may have to deal with is some alternator whine, but I would install the radio first and try it out before going nuts putting beads, chokes and braid on everything.  It won't make any noticeable improvement for a V/U FM rig.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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K0BG
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« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2005, 07:28:34 AM »

George, it isn't the fact that a mag mount will stay on the vehicle at 80 mph, or even a 100 mph. The real problem is, when your vehicle comes to a sudden stop as a result of a crash!

Newton's laws of motion are irrefutable, and if for no other reason I can assure you that no mag mount will stay put in a crash. Just over two years ago, a crash occurred in Ohio where a mag mount antenna broke loose and struck a pedestrian just above the left ear. The person died two weeks later of a stroke assumingly brought on by the injury. The fact the mag mount was on an undercover police car, who was chasing a suspected drug dealer it a moot point, but it does prove it can happen to anyone.

As for the insurance, I'd check with my automobile insurance agent first. In my case with State Farm here in New Mexico, if you notify them that you have amateur gear in your vehicle, you are covered, and at no additional cost. This coverage varies with the state you live in. Even if you must purchase additional coverage, I have always found it cheaper than specialized coverage like that sponsored by the ARRL. BY the way, State Farm will not cover any item not permanently attached to your vehicle. The only exception is properly hitched and restrained trailers.

Alan, KØBG
www.k0bg.com
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KI6ARZ
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« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2005, 02:03:53 AM »

All the comments and info much appreciated!

Earlier today I called the store where I purchased all equipment. Told them of the comments about the mags going airborne and asked about exchanging. (It hadn't came to his mind the day I picked up everything.) Said no problem, that I would also be getting a refund of the difference in price.

The antenna and mag mount went back today via USPS, they'll get it tomorrow and probably in a few days I should get the NMO antenna and cable. Then in the next week (or two) I can do the install as time allows.

Once installed I will do a follow up post if I encounter any noise problems and where I find them to originate from. Am usually pretty good at troubleshooting.

Again, thanks.
73, George
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