Archive

Archive for the ‘Ham Radio’ Category

Covert Antenna Installation – 2013 RAM 1500 Laramie

September 2nd, 2017 No comments

About a year ago, I purchased a custom dual band antenna from US Communications. It replaces the stock fender mount antenna on the truck, and is tuned for AM/FM frequencies as well as 144.39MHz, which is the frequency used by amateur radio operators for APRS transmissions. I finally got around to installing it today. This article documents the process I used to install the antenna in a ‘HowTo’ format. Hopefully my experience can help someone else out.

First, unscrew and remove the existing antenna from the stock mount using an 8mm wrench.

Next, you’ll need to remove the silver nut with the three slots. On some vehicles it may have only two slots.

You can mess with channel lock pliers or vice grips or other wrong tools, but I highly recommend buying the correct tool for the job, which in my case cost $8 at Amazon. Well worth the money, IMO.

Carefully remove the silver nut and the plastic shroud, without dropping the antenna mount into the fender. Or you can let it fall in, if you’re confident that you won’t have any trouble with the rest of the process. I took off the black plastic and replaced the nut to hold the mount in place, just in case I ran into a problem and had to cancel the project for any reason. I didn’t want the mount assembly freely floating around in the fender.

Using an 8mm socket or equivalent tool, remove the screws holding the plastic lining of the wheel well, to expose the area between the engine compartment and body panel where the antenna mount is located. In my case, there was a piece of body trim that also had to be removed.

Now, reach up into the wheel well and locate (by feel) the antenna mount. Unscrew the nut and remove the mount from the fender. Keep the nut and the plastic shroud, as you’ll need them to install the new antenna mount.

Once you have the antenna mount physically disconnected from the truck, you’ll need to disconnect the other end of the cable and remove the whole assembly from the vehicle. The photo below shows the plug that the antenna cable plugs into. The antenna side looks just like the connector in the photo. This on the inside of the truck, behind the plastic cover on the right side of the passenger’s foot well. Shouldn’t be too hard to spot, once you get the cover off and get the carpet out of the way.

The cable may also be connected to the body with a plastic friction plug (forget what they’re called, same thing that interior panels are often held by), and the grommet it passes through to get from the outside of the truck to the inside of the truck is part of this cable assembly, so you’ll be pulling that grommet out, too.

The screwdriver is pointing to the hole where the grommet used to be.

The stock cable assembly, fully uninstalled.

To install the replacement mount from US Communications, you’ll pretty much do everything in reverse order. The one big difference is that the pigtail on the US Communications mount is much shorter than the stock antenna mount cable, so you’ll need to fish the patch cable your new mount came with through the same holes and in the same direction as the cable you just removed. I’d have suggested using some string or something in an earlier step, but it really isn’t necessary with this. Everything can be pretty easily reached by hand. Connect that cable to the tail of the mount, and finish installing it into the fender and replacing your wheel well liner and trim, and then screw in and tighten the new antenna with the 8mm wrench.

That’s it! On the interior, how you handle the cabling and installation of your particular device is up to you. In my case, I’m installing an APRS tracker from Byonics.

KF7TZO

February 16th, 2012 No comments

It’s official – I’m a ham. I’ve been accused of it for years, and now you’ve all been proven right.

I took the technician class amateur radio exam on February 4th, and aced it. 100%! My call sign (KF7TZO) was granted on February 13th. You will probably find me on the 2 meter band most of the time. Watch for me on aprs.fi, too.

Sometime in the nearish future, we’re going to be launching a weather balloon, and tracking it via APRS, which is a packet technology that uses amateur radio frequencies. There will definitely be more to come on that project.

Categories: Ham Radio, Life in General Tags: ,