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Dual Band / Ham / 2-Way / Amateur Radio Install (and FRS/GMRS mod)


This is a discussion on Dual Band / Ham / 2-Way / Amateur Radio Install (and FRS/GMRS mod) within the Ford Raptor Audio/Video/Electronics Forum forums, part of the Ford Raptor Forums - Modifications category!
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Old 11-06-2010, 09:51 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Dual Band / Ham / 2-Way / Amateur Radio Install (and FRS/GMRS mod)

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I bit the bullet and installed a mobile rig in my Raptor today. I'd been running with a handheld (HT) but ended up wanting more range, so I stepped up to a mobile rig; the ICOM IC-208h

I chose this for a handful of reasons, but the main one was its very small remote mountable faceplate / readout. This feature allowed me to mount the actual radio hidden away, and yet still have full access to all readouts and buttons. Pretty trick.

After digging around online to see what others have done (surprisingly very few seem to have installed a dual bander in an 09+ F150; I did see one very clean install where the guy installed the radio under the seat zipped tied to the coils. I looked into that, but I didn't see near enough room, especially for cooling or ventilation. I wonder if he didn't have power seats?). I looked at what options I had for power accessibility, speaker / fan / heatsync clearance, dataport access... I ended up deciding to install the radio on the rear of the center console, just under the 12v power adapter and AC vents.

I installed it backwards to allow for access to the power, antenna and dataports with little trouble (I left the speaker facing down).


For now, I'm using a cheepie cig adapter to power the radio. I might go hardwired at some point, but for now this works just fine.

(using the cig adapter for a radio like this is generally frowned upon since they rarely supply enough juice. I checked and ours are 20amp fused. This radio comes with 15amp fusing, so a circuit designed and wired to pop at 20 is plenty good. I replaced the stock 20amp with an OEM 15amp to keep things consistent.)

I chose to intall the head unit right above the upfitter switches and just below the sync ports. I have full access to everything this way, as does my passenger. Here's how I made it happen...

I started by lifting out the hill decent/Off Road mode/upfitter switch panel. Pulling straight up (gentle slight barely rock back and forth) on this will release the small clips and out it comes. There are three press-to-disconnect connectors; take a pic of them or make a note of which goes where, since two of them can fit in eachother's slot.

There's a plastic trim panel that will need to come out next. Its the small strip maybe 1.5in tall located just under Sync. It also just pulls out as its only held on by two clips. Here's a crappy pic of part of it:


I then pulled out the trim piece that covers the shifter box. This comes out surprising easily, just by lifting up on it and working around the shifter lever. If you need some extra space, you can fire the truck up, engage the parking brake, apply the brake, shift to drive and lift the panel straight up and out.


I popped a hole in the bottom of the trim piece for the head unit and mic wires. This hole is completely hidden if I ever decide to remove this stuff



(By the way, the ICOM uses an ethernet cable to connect to the mic. I was able to extend the included cable just by adding another ethernet cable and a coupler.)

For the head unit mount, I fabbed up a bracket out of some scrap metal. This took some tweaking to get right; I forgot to take a pic of the final product, but here it is mid way. (The final version ended up in a stick figure lightening bolt sort of shape, jutting toward the upfitters before going up vertically)






Here I cut a little channel for the mic and head unit wires


(Again both holes are totally out of sight if I ever decide to undo all this.)

And here's everything put back together




It really looks nice and clean in there. Almost like that area was designed for it.

The antenna install was completed last month, but here's those pics and notes again as well:



These two set screws and pressure plate are amazing. These are the only things holding the mount in place (no holes drilled anywhere). Once installed and cinched down, I was able to grab the base of the antenna and rock the truck back and forth a bit. That's how secure this mount is.










Here's the parts list for the antenna setup:

Antenna: Comet SBB-7NMO
Mount: Diamond K412SNMO

Note; The mount comes with a 13.5ft lead which turns out to be around 3 feet too short to reach the radio as installed in this location. You'll need a jumper / extension cable if you plan to install your radio in a similar location.

As for the routing, I took a pretty straight forward approach; I went down under the truck, up and over the gas tank, tied to the diff breather tube then came into the cab thru a pressure relief grommet hidden under the kick plate, back behind the driver seat. Then it was a simple matter of connecting my extension cable, hiding the extra under my WeatherTech floor mats, and bringing the lead up along side the center console.

The whole install for both antenna and radio took maybe 4 hours, with two of those hours tied up in just staring at things, trying to figure out how to do this cleanly and minimize holes.. Now to figure out how to use the damn thing... :doh: :spinning:

73s
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Old 11-06-2010, 10:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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:clap:

Great installation! I really like how you mounted the head unit and routed the wires! :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:

(I might have to borrow the ideas if I do a more permanent install of my CB... or step up to Ham.)
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Old 11-06-2010, 10:58 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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J, that is one great and detailed write-up. Thanks much as I am such a novice at these things. It is fantastic that you make this seem straightforward!!!


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Old 11-06-2010, 11:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Thanks guys! It was a fun project.

I've edited my post to clean up some of the details. Hopefully its even more clear now. Really you could replicate this whole install in 2 or 3 hours, with simple tools (a drill and multibit, a screw driver, and some wire strippers).
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Old 11-14-2010, 05:48 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Just a quick follow up to this.

The radio I chose happens to come in two flavors; a USA version and an international, aka "General" version. Turns out, to convert from the USA version to the general version is very easy. Its literally a matter of removing two teany tiny grain-of-sand sized resisters off a jumper board. A hot low wattage soldering iron with a needle tip on it, and a steady hand, gets the job done nicely:



http://www.kb2ljj.com/data/icom/ic-208h.htm

So what's the point? It bugs me that I have this spiffy nifty nice new radio beautifully installed... and I most likely wont be able to use it to communicate with my buddies in the desert who like their FRS radios.

After a little investigating, I discovered that FRS "channels" happen to be shorthand for frequencies in the 70cm band. Specifically:
Radio Service - Frequency Mhz - Channel - Notes
FRS,GMRS - 462.5625 - 1 - .5w max
FRS,GMRS - 462.5875 - 2 - .5w max
FRS,GMRS - 462.6125 - 3 - .5w max
FRS,GMRS - 462.6375 - 4 - .5w max
FRS,GMRS - 462.6625 - 5 - .5w max
FRS,GMRS - 462.6875 - 6 - .5w max
FRS,GMRS - 462.7125 - 7 - .5w max
FRS,GMRS - 467.5625 - 8 - .5w max
FRS,GMRS - 467.5875 - 9 - .5w max
FRS,GMRS - 467.6125 - 10 - .5w max
FRS,GMRS - 467.6375 - 11 - .5w max
FRS,GMRS - 467.6625 - 12 - .5w max
FRS,GMRS - 467.6875 - 13 - .5w max
FRS,GMRS - 467.7125 - 14 - .5w max
GMRS - 462.55 - 15 - 5w max
GMRS - 462.575 - 16 - 5w max
GMRS - 462.6 - 17 - 5w max
GMRS - 462.625 - 18 - 5w max
GMRS - 462.65 - 19 - 5w max
GMRS - 462.675 - 20 - 5w max
GMRS - 462.7 - 21 - 5w max
GMRS - 462.725 - 22 - 5w max

And, it also turns out that FRS "quiet" or "privacy" codes are nothing more than tone offsets. Specifically:



So, it looks like I can hear my buddies who are on FRS... I just can't talk with them :doh:

But waittaminute... whats the deal with that general version of my radio again?



Well well... lookie there... If I were to mod my radio like suggested above and turn it into a "General" version...

Now I need to point out that technically speaking its "illegal" to broadcast on FRS at a power over 500 miliwatts or on GMRS at a power over 5watts, and in both cases its "illegal" to use anything but a handheld (HT) unit to do it. And, of course, I would never think of doing something so heinous; my ICOM wont broadcast at anything less than 5watt... 10x the max power allowed in the US on FRS frequencies, and obviously its not a handheld, so I would never think of using for these purposes obviously. All this is just academic of course you understand.

Just sayin...

Last edited by BigJ; 11-30-2011 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 11-14-2010, 06:18 PM   #6 (permalink)
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So if someone had your radio and they made that mod they could talk to FRS radio users on channels 1-14 and all the sub-channels? (I assume the "quiet codes" = sub-channels)

I like this radio stuff but I'm not interested in the technology enough to figure this out myself nor do I have the time. Now if a forum poster were to share this information with me I'd be very interested!

Since you've almost hit a grand slam I may as well as the question that'll be a walk-off homer if it's an affirmative response: Can this radio also communicate with a CB radio?

By the way, I'm not at all sure how I missed your original post on your installation... Great work on the antenna and radio install and thanks for sharing the details with us :thumbsup:

When do you think you will be able to give me the Cliff's Notes on ham radio operation so I can pass the test without studying? :mrgreen:


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Old 11-14-2010, 06:43 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Originally Posted by MagicMtnDan View Post
So if someone had your radio and they made that mod they could talk to FRS radio users on channels 1-14 and all the sub-channels? (I assume the "quiet codes" = sub-channels)
Correct. Exactly right.

Since you've almost hit a grand slam I may as well as the question that'll be a walk-off homer if it's an affirmative response: Can this radio also communicate with a CB radio?
Unfortunately we'll need to settle with a base clearing triple. This radio won't do CB.

"CB" or citizen band frequencies fall within the "11 meter" band, and are FCC limited to 4 watts. I don't fully understand the details, but to the best of my knowledge the frequencies are different enough that a separate antenna, tuned very differently, is required to receive CB frequencies. I'm not aware of any mobile radio that supports the typical 2m, 70cm AND 11m bands. The cool thing about 2m and 70cm is that there are single antennas made that receive both (my antenna is one). FRS falls within the 70cm band, so I can use the antenna I already have to receive and transmit FRS. I would need a third stage to my antenna, or a separate antenna all together (and a radio that has a 2nd antenna input jack) to receive and transmit CB. And I don't know of any commercially available mobile radio designed to support that. I'm almost positive truckers have two or more separate radios mounted in the cabs, complete with separate antennas around the rig, to get this done.

When do you think you will be able to give me the Cliff's Notes on ham radio operation so I can pass the test without studying? :mrgreen:
Hah I dunno about that. JoyJoy and I took a Saturday morning, paid $20 each and attended a "HamCram" course that got us prepped and ready. We took the test (fees included in the $20) and passed first time that afternoon. Wasn't a big deal :)
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Old 11-15-2010, 10:52 PM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Dan a bit more followup on your CB question.

Yaseu makes an $800 "mobile" (non detachable face) radio that supports HF as well as the other bands (CB freqs fall within the HF range). Some quick googling says this radio can be modded to Tx on the FRS freqs as well (although it looks more involved than the ICOM).

http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/hamhf/1857.html

It does require two different antennas to operate correctly.

So that there would get you your homerun.
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Old 11-16-2010, 12:47 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks again BigJ. I'll "settle" with the bases-clearing triple!

(BTW, congrats on the Giants WS victory! You must've been very happy. Now about those Sharks...)

How can I find a class like the one you and JJ took?


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Old 11-16-2010, 10:57 AM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Originally Posted by MagicMtnDan View Post
Thanks again BigJ. I'll "settle" with the bases-clearing triple!

(BTW, congrats on the Giants WS victory! You must've been very happy. Now about those Sharks...)
No doubt! Was incredible. Whodathunk it? A band of misfits and rejects win the Series... too cool!

How can I find a class like the one you and JJ took?
Do you have a local "Ham Radio Outlet" store? Its worth stopping in and chatting with the guys behind the counter. That's where I found out about our particular class. At least in our case, we found everyone in the store very knowledgeable, and excited to help newbies like us. I'd be surprised if you didn't have a similar experience at your local store.

By the way I've also bought all my hardware from my local store. I've found their prices to be exactly inline with what I could otherwise find online. And I like supporting the local guys...

If you don't have a close store, you can try the ARRL's website: http://www.arrl.org/exam_sessions/search

I found that almost always the "exam session" was preceded by a club giving a "how to pass" type educational session and study materials. Maybe use that link and contact a couple organizers local to you to make sure they do that, or maybe can recommend those who do.

Good luck! Seriously, its just not that big of a deal.
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