Amateur Radio (ham) install

Dusty1948

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Brand new to the forum, so hey guys! Just got a new 2019 Rebel and love it.

Looking to mount my Yaesu FTM 400XDR with a compactenna.

I put on a RetraxOne XR with a slot mount over the bed, so that's where I plan to put the antenna.

Has anyone run cables into the rear or bed? How did you do that? In my previous truck there was a rubber grommet underneath the rear passenger seat that allowed things to pass through, and then you sealed that up for waterproofing. That's what I'd like to do.

So far my plan is to put the head unit into a bracket that slides into the rubber upright cellphone holder so it doesn't block my view. That way it will sit right in front o the CD holder and won't take up any usable storage room, and it's wide enough that I'd still have room to put my cellphone in the other side right next to it.

Then run the power cables through the grommet, and run the antenna cables out into the bed to mount the antenna on the rails. You can see the rails here. I have a Compactenna that I can either mount to a crossrail, or I'd prefer to just mount it right into the track. I plan on removing the crossrails when I don't need them.

In my previous truck I did a mount by the hood, but I didn't like looking at the antenna all the time and having it take up space, particularly a stubby and fat compactenna.

View attachment 19189

Rhino-Rack has a bracket like this already, but it's expensive ($23 for the flat NMO mount, or $95 for the folding mount). I really like the idea of the folding mount because I could get it down and out of the way temporarily if I was carrying a flat load on the bars. But $95 is rich!

View attachment 19190View attachment 19191
As you know the best place for a uniform ground plane is right in the middle of the roof. But i'm guessing, just like me, that is not a desirable alternative. I did speculate once on a mag-mount solution for my first 4th gen (2010), but I thought the RG-58 feedline would look dorky draped down over the back window. I like your solution better.

I did discover that there was a grommet in the front of the bed floor on both sides, but I don't remember an access hole under the rear seat. I would've dressed the feedline across the inner side of the left frame rail and in through a large rubber seal that's next to the steering column shaft in the firewall. Of course, where ever you route the coax between the bed and the cab allow for some flexing.

As far as mounting the head I think you've picked the most logical place for a non-destructive install.

Bests & 73s,
Dusty
2019 Ram 1500 Billet Silver Laramie Quad Cab 2WD, 5.7 Hemi, 8HP75, 3.21 axle, 33 gallon fuel tank, factory dual exhaust, 18” wheels. Now at: 010831 miles.
 
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TBK

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As you know the best place for a uniform ground plane is right in the middle of the roof. But i'm guessing, just like me, that is not a desirable alternative. I did speculate once on a mag-mount solution for my first 4th gen (2010), but I thought the RG-58 feedline would look dorky draped down over the back window. I like your solution better.

I did discover that there was a grommet in the front of the bed floor on both sides, but I don't remember an access hole under the rear seat. I would've dressed the feedline across the inner side of the left frame rail and in through a large rubber seal that's next to the steering column shaft in the firewall. Of course, where ever you route the coax between the bed and the cab allow for some flexing.

As far as mounting the head I think you've picked the most logical place for a non-destructive install.

Bests & 73s,
Dusty
2019 Ram 1500 Billet Silver Laramie Quad Cab 2WD, 5.7 Hemi, 8HP75, 3.21 axle, 33 gallon fuel tank, factory dual exhaust, 18” wheels. Now at: 010831 miles.
For sure, middle of the roof would be great, but also would mean I couldn't fit in the garage. I hood mounted before and was able to get great connection to all the local repeaters here in Colorado. I'm also lucky that most of them are up high on the hill as well. The Compactenna has been working surprisingly well so I think with a few feet off the back window I can make it work. I was skeptical about that antenna at first but so far so good, and it doesn't cause any issues in getting into my relatively low garage.

That's a good idea to just route it under the truck from the front grommet, might be the easiest solution. Looking a few posts back it seems others have found a way to get it through the storage area. I'm going to wait until it gets just slightly warmer and then crawl around under the truck to see what I can find.
I think I'm going to need to fabricate a bracket to fit that cellphone holder spot, but I think it should be as easy as a slightly bent steel plate with a few holes in it.

Good point on the flexing, I might have gone too tight but that makes sense.

Thanks for the input!
 

edrclark

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In my previous truck I put the radio base in one of the underfloor storage bin. That worked ok, but I was always a bit worried about the heat.

I love tha compact antennas, mine is mounted on a mag mount, and yes the wire looks dorky

19208
 
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edrclark

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One other thing I have done in the past is to run the antenna wire through the third brake light to a mag mount. I did not do that this time because I was going to put a headache rack on and mount the antenna on that. Unfortunately the mopar headache rack doesn’t fit on my truck due to the rambox’s
 

Couchsachraga

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I went for dorky (and a good ground plane;) ) too.

As mentioned above there is a grommet you can go through to the rear of the underfloor storage bins.

I like the rack system! I fabricated something for fixed mounts to use with my Ram tonneau frame, but I wish someone made something specifically for those of us with Ramboxes.
 

TBK

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Okay, I decided on doing a trunk mount just to test it out. Not 100% sold, seems like it's very low on the truck. I'm either going to need a taller antenna, or move this one back to where I was originally planning.

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The faceplate of the FTM-400XDR is so light, I just ended up using velcro to put it in position. I can also take it off whenever I want and store it away. It allows for the center console to easily slide fully forward, but it does block the bottom buttons. Leaves plenty of space for me to use the right side of the compartment for my phone when I want to use it for CarPlay and plug it in. For now I'm just letting the hand mic sit in the side store compartment, I think that will be good enough.

20454

As for where I put the radio, I ended up making a custom mount under the driver seat to secure it. So much electronic stuff down there with the motors, heaters, amps, that it was hard to fit it in.

I do think I'm going to move the antenna to the rear of the truck. Maybe I will spend the cash on the folding antenna bracket.
 

Deango

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Okay, I decided on doing a trunk mount just to test it out. Not 100% sold, seems like it's very low on the truck. I'm either going to need a taller antenna, or move this one back to where I was originally planning.

View attachment 20453

The faceplate of the FTM-400XDR is so light, I just ended up using velcro to put it in position. I can also take it off whenever I want and store it away. It allows for the center console to easily slide fully forward, but it does block the bottom buttons. Leaves plenty of space for me to use the right side of the compartment for my phone when I want to use it for CarPlay and plug it in. For now I'm just letting the hand mic sit in the side store compartment, I think that will be good enough.

View attachment 20454

As for where I put the radio, I ended up making a custom mount under the driver seat to secure it. So much electronic stuff down there with the motors, heaters, amps, that it was hard to fit it in.

I do think I'm going to move the antenna to the rear of the truck. Maybe I will spend the cash on the folding antenna bracket.
I like the smaller antenna. What's the make and model? I have a an older 155mhz radio with no face plate so am going have enough of a challenge to to mount that let alone wire and mount a NMO on the roof.
 

TBK

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It’s called a Compactenna. They use them out here in the off-road community and they work really well. A bit pricey but I always get a clear strong signal read and full quieting when I ask for reports.

I like it because it doesn’t bang around on things, and it doesn’t cause issues in the garage.

Supposedly the way they are designed they also don’t need the same ground plane, which means you have more options to mount them. I thought it was BS but the performance so far has been excellent.


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Deango

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It’s called a Compactenna. They use them out here in the off-road community and they work really well. A bit pricey but I always get a clear strong signal read and full quieting when I ask for reports.

I like it because it doesn’t bang around on things, and it doesn’t cause issues in the garage.

Supposedly the way they are designed they also don’t need the same ground plane, which means you have more options to mount them. I thought it was BS but the performance so far has been excellent.


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Just checked and they don't cover the 150-160mhz range I need to work in with my radio. Any other suggestions? Looked like Laird has some sharkfin types but not rated well in the mhz range I need to work in.
 

ddrivers

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Since I've had the truck for a week I'm finally finding time to start a few "necessary" modifications... one of which is adding my IC2820.

Right now I'm planning on using mag mounts on the roof (not the best, but if the antennas are up there I need to be able to move them when I have canoes on the roof). Rather than use my favorite Larsen 2/70 I'm switching to 1/4 waves for VHF and UHF... in theory in access mode I can make it in to the garage without the antennas getting tweaked TOO much.

Looking at where to route the antenna wires, there is a plug just to the rear of the floor storage boxes that looks promising. From there under the floor (likely along the box for protection). At the moment I'm planning on the radio being under the passenger seat or hopefully under the center seat (bench seat Laramie).

Another option would be to run the coax through the rubber plug along with the eTorque battery cables, but I'd like to stay away from those if I can.

Hopefully this post will be helpful to others.
I just installed a stake hole mount from breedlove. Ran coax down stake hole and up through cab. Have a 102" whip on it. Breedlove has the most heavy duty mounts. Guess that why they are expensive but worth it.
 

TBK

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My dithering continues... quick pictures and then a question for you.

The hood mount worked, but I don't love having it in view and felt with the compactenna it sat a little low. Went ahead and ordered the folding antenna mount - a bit of a splurge for a mount but I like the idea that I can move it around as needed, and I can fold it down out of the way for things like going through the carwash. I might even leave it folded down whenever I'm not on a longer trip, as I don't really use my radio on short trips around town.

Playing around with the placement now. I can basically put it anywhere along the side of the bed. I think in the rear would give the best possible signal, but I like it tucked a little closer to the truck. I wonder how much it will affect signal being closer to the cab. I can't put it on the roof or I won't fit in the garage.

Here's the setup so far.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_8fd3.jpg

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The mount is a lot bigger than I was expecting, but it's very solid, so I can also choose to go for a bigger antenna if I want, and fold it down as needed, but not sure I want to do that.

Here's my question:

Next I need to run the cable. I was thinking of going in by the storage bin in the floor, but I also noticed this plastic piece under the truck - has anybody gone up through this by drilling a small hole and then sealing it? Either way I can then run the cable under my seat which is where the radio body is located.

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I'll probably end up running the cable through the stake hole then under the truck and up.
 

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Okay, the dithering is over! I think I've got it right where I want it.

I ended up ditching the bracket all together and sending that back. What I noticed was that I could slide the coax and mount right into the track and fit it flush to the tonneau cover, which looks much better and saves me $100. I made a plastic washer to keep it from damaging the tonneau when I crank the antenna down tight, which seems to work nicely.

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I was going to run it down the stake post, but didn't want to drill, so just ran it down the back. I didn't realize from the back there is a spot to reach that same channel, so if I did it again, I'd use that, but as of now the coax just runs between the bed and the bottom of the truck where it meets the always reliable zip ties, and then goes up through the rear passenger floor to the main radio body located under the driver's seat. I simply drilled through that plastic plate on the bottom, and it came up in a super convenient spot. Pics below for anybody interested.

Here's where I made the hole under the driver's side passenger seat.

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Here's where it comes out (I run it right under the rubber mats to the driver's seat):

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Then I hit the hole with Flexi Seal and called it a day. Running the cable was actually super easy this way.

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TBK

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Last change! Also sorry for hogging up this thread lately!

I didn’t like the Velcro. Couldn’t see it at an angle and it wasn’t sticking well. Also was getting blocked with the center tray forward.

I was looking at moving it in front of the CD player at a slight up angle for easier access and better visibility. I was able to BEND the stock mount into a unique position I can’t really describe, turn it upside down, and then mount it perfectly with no screws or drilling and it’s solid as a rock. Basically hooked it up under on the ridge that runs under the switches. Hard to explain but it’s freaking perfect and solid. Sits exactly where I wanted it and the exact angle. So it’s in and I’m done. If it works it’s way over time I’d just fashion a mount to put it in the same spot. This is a great location.




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ajrsiu

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New to this forum.. just wanted to say thanks to everyone posting ideas and/or photos. I have a new Ram 1500 as well and I've been racking my brain with ideas for mounting the antenna. I was considering the Compactenna, again because of the garage issue but also for aesthetics. Read a lot of negative reviews but glad to see some of you have had success with it! I'm in Tampa, Florida so I'm not sure what the results are going to be but it's that or maybe a longer antenna and just have to take it down all the time. I was considering that plastic tab under the seat as an entry point as well. Glad that worked for you. Now I know what I'm going to do!
 
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taco40

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Drove my 2019 Ram 1500 home two days ago. Spent some time looking around the bottom of the cab for plastic pieces and holes. Then found this discussion and found some pictures of Beaverton (where I purchased it) so it looks like I may be able to see an installation personally. Thank you for posting the picture of the plastic plug behind the storage bin. I won't be able to install an antenna on the cab as I have the panoramic sun roof. Doubtful the ground plane off glass would be sufficient. Comments on that would be appreciated.
 

edrclark

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Drove my 2019 Ram 1500 home two days ago. Spent some time looking around the bottom of the cab for plastic pieces and holes. Then found this discussion and found some pictures of Beaverton (where I purchased it) so it looks like I may be able to see an installation personally. Thank you for posting the picture of the plastic plug behind the storage bin. I won't be able to install an antenna on the cab as I have the panoramic sun roof. Doubtful the ground plane off glass would be sufficient. Comments on that would be appreciated.
Sorry I didn’t respond sooner, but I was in Australia for a month, most of it out out of visual range of land and cell service.

Car toys did my ham radio install
 

Sarge

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My truck is a 2019 Ram 1500 Classic Quad cab, have had it 3 weeks now - LOVE it so far but here is my solution:
Eventually I'll post pictures but here was my solution, for now! Mount is a MFJ-349 bracket (MFJ FINALLY made something useful and won't break) that fits in any corner of the bed, mines on the passenger front, run the coax thru the plug at the lower front of the bed, then into the cab as previously described.
Inside the cab the radio body is under the driver front seat with power run to the battery, again as previously discussed here.
Now the radio head - this is a ICOM 5100 - I used a Lido Mount 18" goose neck seat bolt mount fastened to the seat bolt at the front of the drivers seat on the right of the seat. Bend, move, twist until you get the mount where you want it run all the cabling under the console/center seat to reach the radio body and talk away.
As I said this is for now - the head does vibrate when in motion and I'm ok with it, again for now, but am very seriously looking to have a custom console built to go from the dash to the front seat just for the radios. Also my FT-857D with a High Sierra Sidekick screwdriver antenna will also be installed.
Hope this helped or at least gives ideas!
73's
Sarge

OK Now with pictures!!! Sorry forgot, it's a bench seat.
 

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Dusty1948

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My truck is a 2019 Ram 1500 Classic Quad cab, have had it 3 weeks now - LOVE it so far but here is my solution:
Eventually I'll post pictures but here was my solution, for now! Mount is a MFJ-349 bracket (MFJ FINALLY made something useful and won't break) that fits in any corner of the bed, mines on the passenger front, run the coax thru the plug at the lower front of the bed, then into the cab as previously described.
Inside the cab the radio body is under the driver front seat with power run to the battery, again as previously discussed here.
Now the radio head - this is a ICOM 5100 - I used a Lido Mount 18" goose neck seat bolt mount fastened to the seat bolt at the front of the drivers seat on the right of the seat. Bend, move, twist until you get the mount where you want it run all the cabling under the console/center seat to reach the radio body and talk away.
As I said this is for now - the head does vibrate when in motion and I'm ok with it, again for now, but am very seriously looking to have a custom console built to go from the dash to the front seat just for the radios. Also my FT-857D with a High Sierra Sidekick screwdriver antenna will also be installed.
Hope this helped or at least gives ideas!
73's
Sarge
You don't say which interior you have (bucket seats vs. bench seat), but I imagine with the bucket seats the choices are pretty limited. My '19 5th gen has the bench seat and by removing the lower storage drawer I could mount my FT-3200 making a custom bracket.

As much as I'd like to have a 2m mobile again I'm having a very hard time destroying the appearance of the beautiful Laramie interior.

Keep us informed and when you finish, if you can, sent us some pics.

73s,
Dusty
2019 Ram 1500 Silver Billet Laramie, Quad Cab, 2WD, 5.7 Hemi, 8HP75, 3.21 axle, 33 gallon fuel tank, 18 inch wheels. Build date: 17 April 2018. Now at 018966 miles.
 

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