Installing an Antenna in a Pickup with Sunroof Question

Status
Not open for further replies.

peq387ab

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Dec 16, 2010
Messages
166
Location
Central Minnesota
#1
So I have just purchased a Ford F-150 FX4 with a sunroof within the past couple weeks, and I’m looking to see what others have done for this with installing an antenna. My old truck didn’t have a sunroof so I was able to drill an NMO mount in the middle of the rooftop. Just looking for ideas from maybe someone that has done a similar project like this.
 
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
9,726
Location
WTVLCA01DS0
#2
There's a few variables you'd need to clue us in on…
-Crew cab or extended cab?
-Year?
-What frequencies?
-Just one antenna?

I've done installs on sun-roof'd vehicles before. It can be done, but it takes some extra work. Important part is to visualize the underside of the roof. That's kind of hard to do without dropping the headliner, and for most hobbyists, that can be a substantial task.
On some vehicle/frequency combinations, you can move the antenna pretty far back on the roof and be out of the way of the sun roof. On others, you can still sneak the NMO mount above the sun roof travel area, but you have to make sure the cable is routed out of the way.
If you are looking at VHF, VH/UHF, you probably won't have much issues. I imagine your concern is about getting enough ground plane under the antenna for it to really work well. You may have to compromise a bit. I've mounted antennas at the back edge of the cab, above the third brake light, and had good results. They can be tuned up OK, but I imagine the pattern is a bit skewed.

Either way, it really comes down to either how much work you want to do, or if you can find someone who's done an install on a similar vehicle.
 
Joined
Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,009
#3
With regard to getting a handle on what lies behind you headliner, you could consider dropping the dome light and using an inspection camera to take a peek. They aren't too expensive any more and you can even get USB models that attach to your cell phone. I've found that they come in handy on a lot of auto repair and install jobs.

Although I'm not familiar with this particular one, I've added a link to one sold on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Depstech-Sem...-1-spons&keywords=usb+inspection+camera&psc=1
 

peq387ab

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Dec 16, 2010
Messages
166
Location
Central Minnesota
#4
It’s a F150 2012 FX4 crew cab. It’s going to be a vhf antenna. Radio will be vhf. I have a comet nmo antenna for it that in 12 inches long. Would like to re use this but willing to buy something different.
 
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
9,726
Location
WTVLCA01DS0
#5
OK, I have a 2011 XLT crew cab, but no sun roof.

Install should be similar, but it'll be up to you to figure that "should" part out.

If you look at the roof of the truck, there should be an indented section that runs down the front/rear centerline of the truck. Not sure about the sun roof'd trucks, but there should be a point near the center where the crease stops. That's where my VHF whip is mounted.
Not sure if your truck will have that.
If it does, the install is pretty easy. Make sure your sun roof is closed…
You can drill down through the top. Fish the coaxial cable towards the rear of the cab. There's a channel under the center that runs from near the front of the cab (on the non-sun roof models) to the rear. My coax is in there and it works just fine.
Remove the dome light then the dome light bulb holder part. Above that, you'll see a hole (about 1/2 inch in diameter). Bring the coaxial cable down through that hole. I installed a grommet to protect the cable where it feeds through.
From there, I was able to fish the cable to the "C" pillar (behind the rear seat) and down to the floor.
My RF decks are mounted behind the seat, so that's where I stopped.
You can release the rear seat back by folding the rear seat pan/lower part all the way up. This will move the back of the seat away from the rear of the cab. If you reach down behind there, there's a release. It's really hard to figure out if you haven't done it before, so do a web search on how to do it.
I did have to remove the trim on the C pillar. That allowed me to route it properly around the rear side airbag and the seat belt. I held the coax in place with some gaffers tape (think duct tape on steroids).

If your radio is up under the dashboard, you can route the cable forward under the sill plate under the door. The sill plates just pull straight up and snap back in place. There's a trough under there where existing cable runs. Follow that up to the "B" pillar (behind the front seats). Route it under there and through the space under the front door sill. From there you can get up under the dashboard.

Other option is to go above the third brake light. While you won't have as good a ground plane, it will work "good enough".
 
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
9,726
Location
WTVLCA01DS0
#6
I had a write up on how to do it on BatLabs, but when Photobucket went and got all stupid, the pictures no longer work. Pretty sure I've got the photos somewhere but I'd need to find a new/free hosting service.
 
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
65,128
Location
Virginia
#8
Hi Peq.... :)
.
I'm not sure if what you plan on doing is trying to mount the antenna on the glass sun roof or on a metallic area that surrounds it...... that said ;
.
Others have given you some good suggestions, though it sound to me you are well versed in NMO mounts and have no fear of a circle cutter... ;)
.
If it is on the glass you wish to mount the antenna-- you may be in for some challenges. You CAN get that glass drilled- if you have the intestinal fortitude :)... I won't comment further there.
.
You may be thinking of a Thru-the-Glass mount... if so, be careful-- modern automotive glasses often opaque them with colloidal metallic particles embedd'd in the glass- they effectively will be putting a Faraday shield between the feedline and that antenna.
.
.
........................CF
 

peq387ab

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Dec 16, 2010
Messages
166
Location
Central Minnesota
#9
Thanks for the insight guys and ideas! Did this weekend get a chance to look behind the back part of the sunroof and I will be able to safely make a cut for an nmo mount. Hopefully can tackle this project tomorrow with The unseasonable warmer Minnesota weather we have been having.
 
Joined
Nov 18, 2017
Messages
354
Location
Phx, AZ
#11
I have a 2013 F-150 crew cab and am also planning on installing some antenna mounts in the near future. I took some rough measurements, the sunroof is 18" long and it retracts about that same distance. That leaves me with about 22" of roof space from back to front to fit antennas. I think I will be putting 2 NMO mounts, one each on the driver and passenger sides, about 12" from the edge of the roof in the rear. One will be for my Motorola CDM1250 UHF rig, and the other will be for a to-be-installed Kenwood 2M rig. I will run the coax above the headliner, behind the pillar trim on the driver or passenger side, and underneath the floor liner straight to the center console where the radios are. At some point I will eventually be installing a third antenna on the front fender/hood lip for a scanner.

Another option I considered was installing a headache rack on the truck, and that would provide lots of flexibility for antenna mounts, but no ground plane. I also considered a Yakima-type of rack which would also provide a good amount of flexibility in antenna mounting, but the roof is pretty high as it is and the rack would be difficult to use practically.
 
Joined
Jul 27, 2005
Messages
9,726
Location
WTVLCA01DS0
#12
Another option I considered was installing a headache rack on the truck, and that would provide lots of flexibility for antenna mounts, but no ground plane. I also considered a Yakima-type of rack which would also provide a good amount of flexibility in antenna mounting, but the roof is pretty high as it is and the rack would be difficult to use practically.
I think you'll do fine with your current plan.

Headache racks do have the ground plane issue for antennas that need it. They also can require running more cable to make it work. Yakima racks create the issue with getting the cable inside the vehicle.

I've got a 2011 F150, no sun roof, and it's worked out just fine. 95,000 miles on the truck and no issues with the NMO mounts.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top