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Faceplate and radio mount build / HowTo

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#1
I just finished up a faceplate and mount build and thought I should share this for others. I know, it’s nothing special but maybe it will help or encourage somebody.

I was originally planning on using a Havis faceplate / radio mount but they seemed to be sold out everywhere and I wasn’t willing to wait over a week. Then I asked a local car audio place and they wanted $250. Needless to say I did it myself, for roughly $29.

My vehicle is a 2017 GMC Sierra 2500 and luckily the center console has ample of room. I decided to get rid of the cup holders and build my radio scanner into this slot. I never drink anything other than bottled water in my cars and for that I still have the cup holder in the door panel.

Here's what you will need for a comparable build:

Parts:
- 12" x 12" sheet metal, bought at HomeDepot ($10)
- 12" x 12" textured ABS sheet, bought on Amazon ($10)
- L shaped angle Aluminum, bought at HomeDepot ($4)
- Gorilla epoxy, bought at HomeDepot ($5)
- Set of screws, washer, nuts, bought at HomeDepot

Tools:
- Jig saw and a fine blade for metal
- Power drill and drill bits
- 80 grit sandpaper and sanding block
- Dremel and large metal cutting wheel
- Ruler, pencil, marker


First I removed the entire center console from my truck. It is much nicer and easier to work inside than having to deal with 95F and Florida humidity.

This is how the console looks like with the cup holder already removed:






I cut the metal sheet to the outer dimensions of the space in the console and drew the cutout for my scanner on it. This will be a H-cut and the inner panels will be bend down in order to function as the brackets for the scanner.






Here the cut and bent mount. I used a Dremel with larger metal cutting wheel to do the initial 3 cuts and finished them with a jigsaw. I also installed a piece of L shaped Angle Aluminum in help keep the entire mount in place inside the cup holder space. The 2 screws are countersunk and sanded to provide a level surface for the ABS plate.









Next I cut the ABS sheet to the same dimensions of the metal sheet.









The ABS cut-out for the scanner is about 1/16” smaller to prevent the metal sheet from scratching up the scanner.









Next step is to prepare both the metal and the ABS sheet for the 2 component epoxy glue. I used 80 grit sandpaper.






Gorilla epoxy needs to be mixed for 20 seconds, can be applied and adjusted for about 5 minutes, and needs 24 hours to completely cure. I put some weight on it to keep it straight because epoxy gets hot and can deform plastic.






Here the finished mount.






I had to drill 2 holes in the side panels for the scanner to be held in place with the OEM mounting screws that came with my Uniden scanner. Scanner installed:






Center console put back into my truck with the mount / faceplate installed. It is held in place by gravity and doesn’t move at all, not even under hard braking or on a bumpy road. No cuts or drilling in the center console were needed. I can put everything back to stock within minutes if I decide to sell my truck.





 
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#3
Very impressive.
I did something similar in one of my trucks, and it looked nowhere near as good as that. The textured ABS really is the key.

I've been in the industry for a long time, and good fabrication skills are something that many techs are lacking. Finding someone who's got the skills to do this, AND make it look good is a rare feat.
 
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#4
Brilliant... nice work!
Thank you very much.


Very impressive.
I did something similar in one of my trucks, and it looked nowhere near as good as that. The textured ABS really is the key.

I've been in the industry for a long time, and good fabrication skills are something that many techs are lacking. Finding someone who's got the skills to do this, AND make it look good is a rare feat.
Thanks.

By the way, here is the link to the ABS sheet: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0007WTF02/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

To be honest, I still consider this a "quick and dirty" job because I'm still missing several tools in my garage. When I came over from Europe I sold my entire setup and only now I'm finally getting to buy back what I used to own.

My issue these days is, that I literally hate consumer grade tools, especially those made in China. It's almost impossible to find power tools made in the US or Germany anymore. FEIN still has some power drills etc made in Germany, but not all of them are offered in the US. Many German tools won't work over here because of the 230 V / 50 Herz.

Even with this very basic project I realized that I still need at least a floor standing drill, a dedicated table saw for metal projects and a large disk sander.

When you look for disk sanders on Amazon, you will find that all the consumer grade models are Asian junk. The so called commercial sanders also have mixed and rather negative reviews.

This is what I call a proper disk sander:



Hegner Scheibenschleifmaschine WSM 300

They cost about $800, made in Germany, and won't run on the US 110 V / 60 Herz. While some Hegner products are available in the US, demand is too low in order for Hegner to come out with a 110 v / 60 Herz motor. Reason being that too many US consumers rather buy this cheap crap made in China every 5 years or so when it fails instead of investing into tools that truly last a lifetime.

Anyways, maybe I should start another business and import high quality tools.

I used to work for Benz in R&D and it kills me not having access to proper tools.
 
Joined
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Messages
10,274
Location
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#5
I understand what you are saying. It's taken me decades to build up my shop, and obviously still not done. Hand tools I have pretty well covered, it's a bit easier to find quality stuff that's made (and backed up) by reputable companies.

As for the tools made in China, what I've found is that you can get good stuff, you just have to find a company that holds the Chinese factories to the quality expectations. China will build quality stuff, if they are paid to do so. While I do prefer the US made tools, I do have a few Milwaukee products that were made in China that are of high quality.
But, yes, it's difficult to find.

I do make a point to check garage sales and flea markets for some of my tools. I've got a pretty large retirement neighborhood adjacent to me and I can often fine good stuff at their sales. Sometimes for not much money.

The sander is nice, I've struggled to find a good one, although my next purchase will probably be a band saw with metal cutting capabilities. Right now I have to use portable power tools, and that's not working as well as I'd like.

I've got a welder, and have done a fair amount of custom fabricated brackets and mounts, and it makes life a bit easier.

My next project is to install a VHF mobile radio on my son's ATV. I've ordered a Motorola mobile with remote head kit. I've got a Pelican waterproof box to mount it in, a 1/2 wave VHF antenna that will require a custom mount, and I've still got to find a way to mount the control head in a way that allows it to be seen, but still protected from mud and water.

That sort of fabrication work is where my passion really resides. Unfortunately I don't get to do it as often as I'd like.
 

N9JIG

Sheriff
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#6
I like the idea of covering the metal with ABS, that gives it a professional look.

Have you tried using the hammered-style spray paint? It gives a textured look but I don't think it would look as good as yours.
 
Joined
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Messages
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#8
I like the idea of covering the metal with ABS, that gives it a professional look.

Have you tried using the hammered-style spray paint? It gives a textured look but I don't think it would look as good as yours.
I haven't used Hammered Spray Paint since my first car, many moons ago. The look might work but you will need thicker sheet metal. What I used only worked out because I "sandwiched" everything with epoxy and ABS. Thinner sheet metal will bend under the weight of the radio and you will see imperfections from cutting and drilling. The paint even might come off after a while from the flexing in the sheet metal.



You did a really nice job on that. Congats.
Thank you.



I understand what you are saying. It's taken me decades to build up my shop, and obviously still not done. Hand tools I have pretty well covered, it's a bit easier to find quality stuff that's made (and backed up) by reputable companies.

As for the tools made in China, what I've found is that you can get good stuff, you just have to find a company that holds the Chinese factories to the quality expectations. China will build quality stuff, if they are paid to do so. While I do prefer the US made tools, I do have a few Milwaukee products that were made in China that are of high quality.
But, yes, it's difficult to find.

I do make a point to check garage sales and flea markets for some of my tools. I've got a pretty large retirement neighborhood adjacent to me and I can often fine good stuff at their sales. Sometimes for not much money.

The sander is nice, I've struggled to find a good one, although my next purchase will probably be a band saw with metal cutting capabilities. Right now I have to use portable power tools, and that's not working as well as I'd like.

I've got a welder, and have done a fair amount of custom fabricated brackets and mounts, and it makes life a bit easier.

My next project is to install a VHF mobile radio on my son's ATV. I've ordered a Motorola mobile with remote head kit. I've got a Pelican waterproof box to mount it in, a 1/2 wave VHF antenna that will require a custom mount, and I've still got to find a way to mount the control head in a way that allows it to be seen, but still protected from mud and water.

That sort of fabrication work is where my passion really resides. Unfortunately I don't get to do it as often as I'd like.

A dedicated shop is actually what I need next. There is no way that I'm going to work in my garage longer than 15 minutes at a time. And that accounts for 9 out of 12 months each year. After a while you are getting tired of attending the wet t-shirt contest.

I'll be building a house either this or next year. I have to figure out if I want a dedicated building for the vehicles and a shop, with high ceilings, lift and AC, or just a huge attached 4 car garage, also insulated and with AC.

Right now I have 3 bed rooms converted into a tool room, reloading room and an electronics lab. Things you can do when no females are around.

I think I will keep an eye on our local garage sales. Maybe I'll find some quality tools in good shape.

I'd be the guy who would buy a CNC lathe at some point, just because. That would pay off for all my reloading presses alone. I could improve and automate so many things, don't get me started.

Is your shop AC'ed? Are you also battling summer heat and humidity?
 
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10,274
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#9
I'm in coastal central California, so A/C isn't needed but for 3 or 4 days a year. Usually the marine layer rolls in and keeps the summer weather in the 60's or low 70's. The few heat waves we do get last about 3 days, then the atmosphere corrects itself and sucks the fog back in and it all returns to normal.

Rain here is a winter thing. Our rainy season is usually November to May. Summers are dry, with the exception of some drizzle in the summer mornings, usually just enough to make the truck look like it needs a wash.

Some day, maybe when I retire or my son is out of school, I'll look at a smaller house, bigger plot of land and a separate shop.

As it is now, I've got enough to fabricate the stuff I need for my own installs and some work stuff. While we do farm out radio/light installs to outside vendors, I do my own service vehicle installs. I've got a new truck on the way to replace my old work truck, I'll bring it home and do the installs there as I'm set up better for it. Once that is done, I'll probably be replacing my own personal truck, but that's just a VHF mobile. Still, looking at these sorts of installs give me some great ideas. It's always good to see how others do their installs.
 

W9WSS

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Premium Subscriber
Joined
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Messages
546
Location
Westmont, DuPage County, IL USA
#12
What make and model is the iPhone holder? Where did you purchase it, and what is the retail price? I have a mount, but with some upcoming modifications on my mobile console, my current iPhone 7 mount won't be usable.
 
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Messages
2,988
#14
Thank you very much.




Thanks.

By the way, here is the link to the ABS sheet: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0007WTF02/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

To be honest, I still consider this a "quick and dirty" job because I'm still missing several tools in my garage. When I came over from Europe I sold my entire setup and only now I'm finally getting to buy back what I used to own.

My issue these days is, that I literally hate consumer grade tools, especially those made in China. It's almost impossible to find power tools made in the US or Germany anymore. FEIN still has some power drills etc made in Germany, but not all of them are offered in the US. Many German tools won't work over here because of the 230 V / 50 Herz.

Even with this very basic project I realized that I still need at least a floor standing drill, a dedicated table saw for metal projects and a large disk sander.

When you look for disk sanders on Amazon, you will find that all the consumer grade models are Asian junk. The so called commercial sanders also have mixed and rather negative reviews.

This is what I call a proper disk sander:



Hegner Scheibenschleifmaschine WSM 300

They cost about $800, made in Germany, and won't run on the US 110 V / 60 Herz. While some Hegner products are available in the US, demand is too low in order for Hegner to come out with a 110 v / 60 Herz motor. Reason being that too many US consumers rather buy this cheap crap made in China every 5 years or so when it fails instead of investing into tools that truly last a lifetime.

Anyways, maybe I should start another business and import high quality tools.

I used to work for Benz in R&D and it kills me not having access to proper tools.
Nice work,

I agree, you cannot find decent tools made in the US any longer. You are better off with vintage and give it a good rebuild.

Check out estate sales for decent machine tools. I just went to one, a retired Lockheed Martin Engineer. There was a nice mini lathe milling machine combo that had just sold as I arrived. Also the industrial age has ended in the US so the auction sites probably have tons to sell pennies on the dollar.

Regarding your faceplate. Make sure that it is very secure in the event you get T boned by one of the many terrible drivers here. You don't want to get cut by a corner or edge should it become dislodged.

Sent from my SM-T350 using Tapatalk
 
Joined
Dec 22, 2013
Messages
2,988
#15
"Is your shop AC'ed? Are you also battling summer heat and humidity?"

You must be in Florida.

I installed a window AC in my garage and a built a controller that turns it on when the humidity is above 55% or when I turn a 60 minute timer. I have a sensor on the garage door to kill it when the door is opened. Helped my power bill tremendously to have it work only on humidity.

Sent from my SM-T350 using Tapatalk
 
Joined
Jul 16, 2017
Messages
24
#16
I'm in coastal central California, so A/C isn't needed but for 3 or 4 days a year. Usually the marine layer rolls in and keeps the summer weather in the 60's or low 70's. The few heat waves we do get last about 3 days, then the atmosphere corrects itself and sucks the fog back in and it all returns to normal.

Rain here is a winter thing. Our rainy season is usually November to May. Summers are dry, with the exception of some drizzle in the summer mornings, usually just enough to make the truck look like it needs a wash.

Some day, maybe when I retire or my son is out of school, I'll look at a smaller house, bigger plot of land and a separate shop.

As it is now, I've got enough to fabricate the stuff I need for my own installs and some work stuff. While we do farm out radio/light installs to outside vendors, I do my own service vehicle installs. I've got a new truck on the way to replace my old work truck, I'll bring it home and do the installs there as I'm set up better for it. Once that is done, I'll probably be replacing my own personal truck, but that's just a VHF mobile. Still, looking at these sorts of installs give me some great ideas. It's always good to see how others do their installs.
I’d take those 70F, also the mountains and a couple other things, but the state income tax and gun regulations make CA a no-go for me, sadly. A ranch just north of LA would be nice. I’ll probably end up with some 20 acres around central FL or around Panama City. Just enough that I won’t see my neighbors first thing I open the door and enough room for a decent 100 yard backyard range. I’ll be busy building stuff around the house for many years.



Thank you.


Great post! Lots of good info and a very professional looking final product. I really enjoy seeing DIY projects that come out great like yours. What are you using for an antenna?
Thanks, I also love reading and watching DIY jobs. I’m using a Laird WPD136M6C-001. I’m getting everything in from my county and most from the county North and South. Couldn’t be happier. I bought it on Jet.com, which is the eBay equivalent from Wal-Mart.

https://jet.com/product/Laird-Techn...-with-Spring/dbb2803d4be643ff9b2a458d2263c2f8

Arrived after 5 days.


What make and model is the iPhone holder? Where did you purchase it, and what is the retail price? I have a mount, but with some upcoming modifications on my mobile console, my current iPhone 7 mount won't be usable.
The brand name is called ProClip. They have several different mounts that attach to different interior parts of your vehicle without having to drill any holes. They also offer a version with charger / USB cable integration. Best cell phone mount I have ever used.

I placed my order right with them at: ProClip USA | Car Phone Holders and Dashboard Phone Mounts



That is very inspiring !! I think I will try that for my truck. Thanks for the detailed posting !
Thank you for your comment.


Nice work,

I agree, you cannot find decent tools made in the US any longer. You are better off with vintage and give it a good rebuild.

Check out estate sales for decent machine tools. I just went to one, a retired Lockheed Martin Engineer. There was a nice mini lathe milling machine combo that had just sold as I arrived. Also the industrial age has ended in the US so the auction sites probably have tons to sell pennies on the dollar.

Regarding your faceplate. Make sure that it is very secure in the event you get T boned by one of the many terrible drivers here. You don't want to get cut by a corner or edge should it become dislodged.
I’ll try some estate sales. Just pulled up a website that lists a few in my neck of the woods. A sale from a retired Lockheed Martin Engineer should be a great hit. I doubt I’ll find anything like that in my parts.

The mount has no sharp edges, the ABS is a tiny bit wider and longer. The sheet metal and the ABS plate make up almost 1/4". If this flies out of the center console I’ll have much bigger problems. That being said, I don’t cross intersections or left turning traffic without slowing down and locking into both directions. Old habbit from riding motorcycles. You can’t trust anybody in a car around here.



"Is your shop AC'ed? Are you also battling summer heat and humidity?"

You must be in Florida.

I installed a window AC in my garage and a built a controller that turns it on when the humidity is above 55% or when I turn a 60 minute timer. I have a sensor on the garage door to kill it when the door is opened. Helped my power bill tremendously to have it work only on humidity.

Yes, Tampa Bay.

That’s some good info. I currently don’t have a window in my garage, but I might drill a couple holes through the wall and install a unit with separate indoor / outdoor modules. I’d only turn it on when I plan on working in the garage. I don’t need it to be 70F, but less humid and 85F is fine.
 
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Messages
2,988
#17
If you buy a split a/c unit try to get one with humidity controls, be sure it actually has a humidity sensor. They all remove humidity, but ones with a humidity sensor will save you money and you will have less mold and rust going on in the garage.

Sent from my SM-T350 using Tapatalk
 
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