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Thread: Fitting radios to Jeep Renegade and Nissan Frontier

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    Fitting radios to Jeep Renegade and Nissan Frontier

    I'm considering adding radios to my '15 Nissan Frontier and to my wife's '15 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk. The Frontier might be able to use a radio with attached faceplate but the Jeep would definitely need a remote mounting. After the radios themselves obviously both would require antennas.

    Considering having an aftermarket rear bumper made for the truck and having a tab welded to one end to mount the antenna, haven't really decided for sure if that's the best solution or not though. Truck has a cab-height camper shell. Would rather not put something on the roof since it's parked in the garage nightly.

    The Renegade doesn't have a lot of aftermarket support at the moment, so I'll probably have to make a mount that gets bolted to the body at one of the tail lights.

    Haven't decided on bands yet, have another post in the ham radio topics forum to ask about popular bands. No reason to set my sights on a particular radio until I know what bands are popular for out in the boonies.
    KD7RJC

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    You could put a mount in the crack between the fender and hood. Opposite side from the AM/FM antenna if you have one.
    Leonard Pennock (AD7AS)
    98 Cherokee 4x4 Yaesu FT857, 06 Ram 3500 4x4 Kenwood D700/Yaesu FT857
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    4x4 Ham Member prerunner1982's Avatar
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    I agree with AD7AS, I rear bumper mount for a 2m/70cm antenna is way too low and would be blocked by the body. If running an HF radio the antenna may be ok as long as it is long enough to get the majority of the antenna and any coils above the top of the bed.
    Jon KF5WUF www.xjtalk.com
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    It's been a decade since I really thought about this- wasn't there a hinge-mount back in the day, originally designed for sedan trunks, where one could open the trunk and hinge-down the antenna into the trunk, then close it? It mounted to the body rather than the trunk lid.

    Since at least on my wife's Jeep there would be no wish to operate within the city on a daily basis, even if that kind of mount would require the antenna to be unscrewed when not in-use, it might be acceptable to her since it wouldn't be obvious when not operating.

    Alternately for her Jeep I might be able to mount something that sits down in the cowl area between the windshield and the hood, it's a pretty big area. Painted black even if it's a fixed mounting flange it might not be too obvious when the antenna is removed.

    I'll have to think on it for my truck. I might be willing to drill a mount through the camper shell and install a flat piece of sheet metal to act as a ground plane either above or below the fiberglass, but probably not going to drill into the visible exterior sheet metal of the truck. A cowl-mount opposite the regular antenna isn't out of the question.

    Stupid question, if I replaced the factory fixed-mast FM antenna for the radio with a ham radio antenna, would the SWR be acceptable enough for conventional commercial 88-108MHz reception? I'm talking one of those quad-band antennas that the FT-8900 uses. That might work for the pickup truck, the Jeep uses one of those little rubber-duckie antennas.
    KD7RJC

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    4x4 Ham Member prerunner1982's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kd7rjc View Post
    Stupid question, if I replaced the factory fixed-mast FM antenna for the radio with a ham radio antenna, would the SWR be acceptable enough for conventional commercial 88-108MHz reception? I'm talking one of those quad-band antennas that the FT-8900 uses. That might work for the pickup truck, the Jeep uses one of those little rubber-duckie antennas.
    2m is close enough to the broadcast band that it should work fine, people use CB antennas for both. Any 2m or 2/70 dual band antenna should work fine unless you are just stuck on getting the FT 8900. Not that it is a bad radio, I use the FT 8800 and the 8900 isn't badly priced but you aren't likely to use 6m or 10m FM all that much and the quad band antenna isn't that great of a performer from what I hear.
    Last edited by prerunner1982; 01-05-2018 at 12:08 PM.
    Jon KF5WUF www.xjtalk.com
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    Good to know. I'm not dead-set on the FT-8900, it's more because for the number of bands it seems like a decent price in a good-sized package, but if the mode on a given band isn't especially well-used or of the band itself is essentially dead then it's an expense that doesn't provide a whole lot of return. There are a LOT of 2m/440MHz dual-banders on the market it looks like. If I go that way hopefully that'll make selection for the somewhat cramped dash in the Renegade a bit easier.

    A buddy that's been licensed longer than I have and is still Technician brought up if we want to both go for General and study together, if we were to do that it might be a good reason to get a much higher-end radio like the FT-857 or an FT-817 with some kind of external amp so it could be pulled and hand-carried, I guess it'll depend on if the Nissan gets upfit first or not.
    KD7RJC

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    4x4 Ham Member prerunner1982's Avatar
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    Also something to consider, the 10m FM portion of the band is 29.500-29.700Mhz, a Technician only has Single Side Band access from 28.300-28.500Mhz.
    So the 10m of the FT 8900 would be of little use to you.
    Jon KF5WUF www.xjtalk.com
    1993 Jeep Cherokee 2 door 4x4

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    Quote Originally Posted by kd7rjc View Post
    Stupid question, if I replaced the factory fixed-mast FM antenna for the radio with a ham radio antenna, would the SWR be acceptable enough for conventional commercial 88-108MHz reception? I'm talking one of those quad-band antennas that the FT-8900 uses. That might work for the pickup truck, the Jeep uses one of those little rubber-duckie antennas.
    It would be close enough for FM receive; however, you would need to make a splitter circuit to spit it between the two devices. Even then you run the risk of frying the front end of the FM radio when you transmit.
    Leonard Pennock (AD7AS)
    98 Cherokee 4x4 Yaesu FT857, 06 Ram 3500 4x4 Kenwood D700/Yaesu FT857
    Morality is doing what is right regardless of what you are told.
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    Quote Originally Posted by prerunner1982 View Post
    Also something to consider, the 10m FM portion of the band is 29.500-29.700Mhz, a Technician only has Single Side Band access from 28.300-28.500Mhz.
    So the 10m of the FT 8900 would be of little use to you.
    Now that you've said that I am reminded why I stopped working on the Realistic HTX-100 that I got out of a scrap heap all those years ago. I had went as far as getting the wiring harness pigtail that plugs into the back for power and tested that it would power on, but never go so far as even getting a handmic working because so much of the 10m band was restricted to me that there wasn't a lot of point.

    Thanks for jogging my memory even if it wasn't your intention. That definitely makes the FT-8900 less valuable to me, and may even be why I didn't buy one back in the day.
    KD7RJC

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    Minor epiphany

    Might have had a minor epiphany, depends on if the OEM parts work the way I hope they do.

    The North American 2015 Frontier has two separate antennas on my trim-package. One mounted at the cowl is the traditional FM mast with AM capability. The other is a roof-mounted satellite radio receiver for the SiriusXM network. The latter is pointed-out with a green arrow on the picture:

    crewcabxmreceiver.jpg

    Some Nissan products of this era do not have a traditional mast antenna at all. I was able to determine that the Infiniti Q50 for this same model year uses a "sharkfin" roof-mount antenna that has both free OTA radio (presuming at least FM, not sure if AM is same but I would be surprised if it's different) and SiriusXM satellite radio in the same unit with very similar footprint. The Infiniti antenna is taller, but only marginally so. I have not yet looked how it hooks up to the radio in the car. On my truck there are two separate antenna inputs in the factory radio, one for commercial AM/FM, one for the satellite receiver. I might be able to use this Infiniti antenna to free-up space on the fender/cowl area for a ham radio antenna that would be in the stock position and depending on the band(s) and how much I'm willing to spend, might look reasonably stock.

    Alternately, the Frontier is sold internationally as the Navara. Going through pictures trying to find the Nissan roof antennas I found a picture of an antenna used in Australian Navaras of at least some years:

    navararoofantenna.jpg

    Looks like it comes out of the same spot as the North American satellite antenna, but is more like Euro/stubby style with a short flexible mast. Not sure if it has satellite capability or not, but since I do not subscribe to satellite radio, if the other option of the FM/Sat antenna doesn't work, this might suffice and might even have better reception, while still freeing-up the factory cowl/fender location for a ham radio antenna. It might even allow for a longer, better commercial FM antenna to be screwed on for road trips, to have reception when further away from cities than the little stubby antenna would provide, where the swoop angle wouldn't interfere as badly with overhead clearance.

    Or this could even serve as a mounting point for a ham radio antenna, but I have to admit that when I picture it don't like either how it would look or how I'd have to remember it's there and fold it down or remove it when it's not in use or when the truck is being parked in the garage. From the point of view of look I'd almost rather install something through the third brake light area, possibly adding a piece of sheet metal to the top of the camper and using some kind of grounding strap to ensure that the ground plane crosses from the cab to the shell.
    KD7RJC

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    4x4 Ham Member mcallahan's Avatar
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    Not exactly what you're looking to do but I'll add this here for reference anyway since there's not a whole lot of Frontiers out there! I had a 2011 Nissan Frontier a few years ago, here was my setup at the time. I had a Uniden BCN355N and a Midland 75-822 CB. The scanner had a RadioShack glass mount antenna on the top of the windshield (reception was OK, not great), and I used the CB infrequently so that had a Wilson Lil Wil mag mount I kept under the rear seat when it wasn't on the roof.



    Last edited by mcallahan; 01-06-2018 at 06:30 PM. Reason: added image
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcallahan View Post
    Not exactly what you're looking to do but I'll add this here for reference anyway since there's not a whole lot of Frontiers out there! I had a 2011 Nissan Frontier a few years ago, here was my setup at the time. I had a Uniden BCN355N and a Midland 75-822 CB. The scanner had a RadioShack glass mount antenna on the top of the windshield (reception was OK, not great), and I used the CB infrequently so that had a Wilson Lil Wil mag mount I kept under the rear seat when it wasn't on the roof.
    A friend of mine has a 2m/70cm Alinco mounted like that in his '95 F150 and he suggested much the same thing. It's on the table possibly as a full radio mount, possibly as just a remote face mount.

    I'm also thinking about these two locations (not my actual truck but close enough):

    SV-dash-radio.jpg

    The green arrow points to a panel that is apparently a blank-off. There's ears from the brackets on either side of the factory radio but most of the middle is open. This area could accommodate switches or indicator lamps for something for the truck not ham related, or a bracket to accept a small tablet for navigation, or a bracket for the remote faceplate could mount there.

    The red box is a cavity that my lower-option truck has. Currently I put my cell phone there when driving but I don't do that very often so losing it would not be an especially hard loss. I've been considering if some kind of communications radio would fit there, but mostly I expect it would fit one of those small CB radios that might be good for communicating with unlicensed 4x4s. There may be a ham radio that would fit but I haven't measured the cavity yet either. Probably should take a measurement. The inside of the cavity past the opening doesn't matter, and there's a fair amount of empty space behind that radio panel (admittedly this opinion is based on watching several stereo-replacement videos on Youtube rather than firsthand) so I could possibly remove the black plastic liner and have enough room for a small radio to ventilate well enough.

    I'm also debating some kind of locker for the rear end. The Nissan corporate axle can take a couple of locker options but they're pricey. There's a Dana-sourced axle with an electric-controlled locker that might also be a nice option, I'd have to add a circuit to control it and would probably put the switch above the hazard light switch, or I might move the hazard light switch over to where the passenger airbag yay/nay light is and put the locker switch where the current hazard switch is.

    Lots of possibilities.
    KD7RJC

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    4x4 Ham Member mcallahan's Avatar
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    I also considered putting a radio on top of the dash - wiring and install would have been easy but it would have been very ugly and maybe a theft magnet. The area in the red box of your picture doesn't have a whole lot of depth behind the panel, a few wiring harnesses for the climate controls take of some of the extra room beyond the little cell phone cavity, but a remote face plate mounted directly over the cavity would work well. The wiring can easily be run straight back into the dash panel and the up the transmission hump to under the seat or wherever the unit is mounted. If you want to get creative, you may even be able to build a custom panel right in front of the shiftier. The area here in red has a little empty space underneath it. A little trimming to remove the coin tray might allow for two radios to be tucked in there, angled up slightly like I had the scanner in my post above:



    Kinda like this F-150:



    btw I would avoid trying to use the third brake light assembly to run cable, that's asking to let water in. I looked into a locker for my Frontier but never did anything, eventually selling it for a GMC K1500. My Fronty 4x4 in stock form took me all over AZ, it's a tough little truck!
    Last edited by mcallahan; 01-06-2018 at 08:33 PM. Reason: typo
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    Interesting, will have to do some more investigating.

    Found a build thread on another forum http://www.clubfrontier.org/forums/f...ml#post2725018 where the owner built a replacement mount to put a CB antenna in place of his factory antenna.

    Also found a video on Youtube about the replacement of the antenna and cable:



    It looks like near the end of his video that there's a junction over at the A-pillar on the passenger's side. Makes me wonder if this where the divergence for the roof-mount mast for the Aussie trucks would split and go up, compared to this truck's cowl antenna.

    Will have to keep researching.
    KD7RJC

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    I went ahead and measured the cavity in my SV's dash. It's just under 3-15/16" wide, 2-1/8" tall, and 4-3/4" deep to where the black plastic gives way to the normal interior color plastic.

    The blankout plate above the factory radio is somewhere between 7/8" and 15/16" tall, 7-7/8" wide.

    Hmmm. Thought I submitted this post when I typed it yesterday. Guess I didn't.

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    I'm partial to front bumper mounts with base-loaded antennas.

    I have height restrictions (my truck barely fits in my parking garage as it is. Any antenna on the roof would be torn off.)

    I get sub 1.4 SWR's on both CB, 2m and 70cm. Did the measurements via antenna analyzer and realized most of the heuristics that people go by for antenna location are at best generalizations, at worst total lies.

    A ham can/will make anything work.

    I highly recommend purchasing an antenna analyzer, even a cheap one so you can do your own SWR analysis. There's no way for any of us to know ahead of time what your SWR will be, or if a specific location is "good" or "bad".

    20170722_132615 copy.jpg
    Last edited by sonoronos; Yesterday at 11:08 AM.

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    I have mine mounted there. Dont have an analyzer.

    radioantenna.jpg

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