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Thread: Getting a new tow rig, looking for ideas on setting up comms

  1. #1
    4x4 Ham Member KE0ITX's Avatar
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    Getting a new tow rig, looking for ideas on setting up comms

    So, I may be crazy but I ordered a brand new F150 with the new 3.0 diesel. Should be here in May or so. I'd like to be somewhat ready to install a 2m/70cm setup in the truck before it arrives.

    It will be a crew cab so I have plenty of acreage on the roof. I'm also going to get a camper shell and can rig up a ground plane in that if need be. It will also have the center console so there will be no room on the transmission hump to install anything. Unfortunately, I'll probably have to install a CB as well since a lot of people in my Jeep club only have that and I'll want to participate in conversations on the road trips to Moab and the like.

    I'll say I'm a relative newb when it comes to Ham gear, though I've done plenty of CB and car audio installs over the last 25 years. So I can install things, I'm just looking for advice on what direction to go on what gear to install.

    So I'm looking for advice on two fronts.

    First is the antenna. I'm going to want to clear garage doors so I don't want something sticking up too high. I also don't want to have to pull the antenna and put it back on all the time. I know that puts a lot of artificial limitations on what will work and what won't but that's the direction I want to go. I've seen some low profile antennas in my Google searches but they appear to have some serious limitations in frequency and power handling. The alternative, of course, is to install a more conventional antenna somewhere on the outside of the cab or camper shell. But that too has some limitations. What experience can you offer on that front?

    Second is the transceiver. I'm pretty sure I'm going to want a remote face connecting to a base hidden somewhere inside the cab. Does anyone have any experience mounting something in a current generation F150? What location works better than others?

    I am open to restricting myself to one band and/or possibly having two separate transceivers (one 2m and one 70cm) and two antennas if that's what it takes to make things easier, assuming the remote face(s) is(are) small enough to fit neatly somewhere convenient. Or, if there is one transceiver out there that has separate transmitters for the two bands so you run two antennas, I could do that as well.


    Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

  2. #2
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    What's the estimated distance between the highest point on the trucks roof to the lowest part of the garage door when open?

    Remember 1/4 wave is kind of a rule of thumb for shorter antennas (although up to some debate). For a 2m radio that is .5m and 70 cm is 17.5 cm.

    Me, personally, i would go with a dual band even if I am using just one or the other.

    Or, get a taller garage.

    On the newer F150, mag mounts are out of the question on the cab.

  3. #3
    4x4 Ham Member mcallahan's Avatar
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    I have a 2013 F-150 crew cab and I am planning on installing two antennas on my roof in the very near future - one for VHF and one for UHF. These will be placed somewhere in the rear of the roof area as I have a sunroof, one each on the driver and passenger side. Placing the antennas anywhere but the highest location on the vehicle and/or using low profile antennas will be a serious compromise and will likely limit your range. I just ordered all the coax, connectors, and NMO mounts today and I will definitely be posting some pics here about how I did it. Check back soon! Also, check out my post on the RadioReference forums about my install - I also used the center console:

    https://forums.radioreference.com/pi...0-install.html
    Last edited by mcallahan; 02-07-2018 at 05:07 PM. Reason: typo
    Matt Callahan | K7MFC.com

  4. #4
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    If the Roof height of the F150 is anything like my Ram Trucks you will be hard pressed to put anything more than a 1/4 wave dual bander on the roof and even then it better have a shock spring or it will be bent the first time you pull in. My XJ is slightly shorter than my Rams and I have 8' garage doors so I can get away with a Larsen 2/70 1/2 wave modified with a shock spring on it. Without the shock spring it wouldn't clear the garage.

    You could do the same modified Larsen Dual Bander I use on the jeep or I would consider using a fender or stake bed mount with a 1/2 (39") or 5/8 (60") wave on 2m dual bander. You will loose at small bit of pattern but won't really notice the loss due to the additional gain over the 1/4 wave. With the topper the fender mount would provide less pattern distortion; however, you will have more problem noise from the ECU and HID lights.

    If you want to see what you can do before you get the truck. Pull the height specs, measure your garage door height, add about 2" for safety and see where that puts you.
    Leonard Pennock (AD7AS)
    98 Cherokee 4x4 Yaesu FT857, 06 Ram 3500 4x4 Kenwood D700/Yaesu FT857
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  5. #5
    4x4 Ham Member KE0ITX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KI7LIK View Post
    What's the estimated distance between the highest point on the trucks roof to the lowest part of the garage door when open?

    Remember 1/4 wave is kind of a rule of thumb for shorter antennas (although up to some debate). For a 2m radio that is .5m and 70 cm is 17.5 cm.

    Me, personally, i would go with a dual band even if I am using just one or the other.

    Or, get a taller garage.

    On the newer F150, mag mounts are out of the question on the cab.
    Yeah, I wouldn't want to do a mag mount either way. The cab height is around 6'5". Couple that with the fact that I'm going to be moving later this year, the garage may or may not be an issue. I'll probably factor that into the house choice where I'm going. But with a 7' door opening I wouldn't have much room at all. An 8' opening would give me some breathing room.

    Quote Originally Posted by mcallahan View Post
    I have a 2013 F-150 crew cab and I am planning on installing two antennas on my roof in the very near future - one for VHF and one for UHF. These will be placed somewhere in the rear of the roof area as I have a sunroof, one each on the driver and passenger side. Placing the antennas anywhere but the highest location on the vehicle and/or using low profile antennas will be a serious compromise and will likely limit your range. I just ordered all the coax, connectors, and NMO mounts today and I will definitely be posting some pics here about how I did it. Check back soon! Also, check out my post on the RadioReference forums about my install - I also used the center console:

    https://forums.radioreference.com/pi...0-install.html
    Thanks. I'll check out the link.

    Quote Originally Posted by AD7AS View Post
    If the Roof height of the F150 is anything like my Ram Trucks you will be hard pressed to put anything more than a 1/4 wave dual bander on the roof and even then it better have a shock spring or it will be bent the first time you pull in. My XJ is slightly shorter than my Rams and I have 8' garage doors so I can get away with a Larsen 2/70 1/2 wave modified with a shock spring on it. Without the shock spring it wouldn't clear the garage.

    You could do the same modified Larsen Dual Bander I use on the jeep or I would consider using a fender or stake bed mount with a 1/2 (39") or 5/8 (60") wave on 2m dual bander. You will loose at small bit of pattern but won't really notice the loss due to the additional gain over the 1/4 wave. With the topper the fender mount would provide less pattern distortion; however, you will have more problem noise from the ECU and HID lights.

    If you want to see what you can do before you get the truck. Pull the height specs, measure your garage door height, add about 2" for safety and see where that puts you.
    All good ideas. I have an XJ on 31's with a 3" lift with a fixed short 1/4 wave antenna on it now that just barely touches the rubber seal on the door when I pull into the garage I'm in now. But, like I say, I'll be moving so we'll see what the destination house has to offer. I think the fender mount may be the go-to option.

  6. #6
    4x4 Ham Member KE0ITX's Avatar
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    Side thought.

    What about mounting an antenna to the inside of the bed rail under the camper shell?

  7. #7
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    Get an antenna analyzer or digital SWR meter. Lots of good cheap units for 2m/70cm from anywhere between $60-300.

    Then play with a bunch of locations on your truck and use your SWR Meter or Antenna Analyzer to do your own comprehensive analysis. That is the only way.

    There's no way for us to determine what location works best for you. An impossible task. If anyone on here can tell you the SWR of your antenna over the internet, might as well have them become your investment advisor!

  8. #8
    4x4 Ham Member KE0ITX's Avatar
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    This looks promising:

    https://www.theantennafarm.com/catal...tion-2018-8094

    Front fender install wouldn't be the worst thing to do. I just have to find an antenna that's about the right height.

  9. #9
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    What do you tow?

  10. #10
    4x4 Ham Member KE0ITX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KI7LIK View Post
    What do you tow?
    2 door Wrangler on a car hauler.

  11. #11
    4x4 Ham Member Supporting Member N1BAY's Avatar
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    I had a Yaesu FT-8800 control head mounted in my sunglasses holder of my 2010 Raptor. Not sure if the newer F150's have these in the overhead console. When I changed over to a Kenwood TM-D710GA, the head unit would not fit the sunglasses holder. I have a Proclip angled dash mount clipped on the dash with the 710 head fitted to it's face, it has held up for many hard landings for several years.

    Looks like Proclip has several option for your truck....https://www.proclipusa.com/vehicle/d...ord-f-150/2018
    Sarcasm warning indicator: ON

  12. #12
    4x4 Ham Member KE0ITX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by N1BAY View Post
    I had a Yaesu FT-8800 control head mounted in my sunglasses holder of my 2010 Raptor. Not sure if the newer F150's have these in the overhead console. When I changed over to a Kenwood TM-D710GA, the head unit would not fit the sunglasses holder. I have a Proclip angled dash mount clipped on the dash with the 710 head fitted to it's face, it has held up for many hard landings for several years.

    Looks like Proclip has several option for your truck....https://www.proclipusa.com/vehicle/d...ord-f-150/2018
    I'll have to see if there is an overhead console position to use. I have the TM-D710G in my Cherokee and I'm going to be installing a TM-71A in my Wrangler as soon as the antenna mount shows up. Assuming I like it, I'll probably get another for the truck. The smaller face plate of the 71 means it might fit in a sunglasses cubby if it's there. But I do like those proclip mounts. Having the face plate right there near line of sight is appealing.

  13. #13
    4x4 Ham Member mcallahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KE0ITX View Post
    I just ordered one of these for my F150, paired with a Larsen tri-band antenna from Antenna Farm for my scanner. A quick test fit was good, and I'm going to be hitting this with some black spray to match the truck and antenna.
    Matt Callahan | K7MFC.com

  14. #14
    4x4 Ham Member KE0ITX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcallahan View Post
    I just ordered one of these for my F150, paired with a Larsen tri-band antenna from Antenna Farm for my scanner. A quick test fit was good, and I'm going to be hitting this with some black spray to match the truck and antenna.
    Awesome to hear. Since it's cheap I went ahead and added it to the list of other stuff I was getting from them for my Wrangler install. I'll be interested in hearing how well it does once you're up and running.

    Though I'm also curious if you were able to find anything for the Canyonero in your pic.

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