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Old 11-04-2017, 7:55 PM
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Default NMO Antenna and a 2017 Super Duty

Hey all,

I'm looking to mount a NMO antenna on the roof of my 2017 F-350. Being that the truck is aluminum obviously grounding is an issue. I'm looking for a radio with a remote head as I also have a flow through console, and I will be doing the MARS/CAP mod as well so I can communicate with my fellow RVers who don't have a HAM license.

Can someone point me in some sort of direction that will allow me to run 1 antenna or be able to switch the "whips" if needed so I don't have to run 2 radios and 2 antennas.

I know this has probably been covered, I did a search and didn't find much on the 2 fold question. Thanks for the help. I'm told on a couple of forums this cant be done, but I find that hard to believe and I'm now determined to figure it out.

Sarge
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Old 11-04-2017, 8:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarge261 View Post
Being that the truck is aluminum obviously grounding is an issue.
Actually, no. Aluminum is a better conductor than steel. Just make sure you use sealant on any connection exposed to the weather to prevent corrosion, and you'll be fine. What bands are you using? UHF? VHF? CB?

Having one antenna that will do them all isn't going to work well. Dual-band UHF/VHF antennas are pretty common, but if you want to do CB that will need a separate antenna.
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Old 11-04-2017, 8:41 PM
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I was told I could use an antenna for 10m and it would be close enough, but I want to do the install properly. I will have this truck 10-15 years, I'm going to spend probably 500 on a decent radio plus whatever the mod and antenna cost, I don't want to do the job twice and I want the radio to last as well. To be honest if I will most likely use the CB portion of the radio most. If I could find a CB with a detachable face that's the route I would go, but they are non existent and I don't want to get a portable or all in 1 hand held type of unit.

I'm really hoping someone has done this on a 17 Super Duty or a 15-up F-150 since they share the same cab.

Thanks for the input,

Sarge
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Old 11-04-2017, 8:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonwienke View Post
Actually, no. Aluminum is a better conductor than steel. Just make sure you use sealant on any connection exposed to the weather to prevent corrosion, and you'll be fine. What bands are you using? UHF? VHF? CB?

Having one antenna that will do them all isn't going to work well. Dual-band UHF/VHF antennas are pretty common, but if you want to do CB that will need a separate antenna.
Oddly enough, my supervisor had the same view of aluminum bodied trucks...lack of ground (he went into management before aluminum became common on vehicles). This was literally 3 days ago we had this conversation too. He now know's we can mount on aluminum as easily as we can on steel...fiberglass is just the PITA.
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Old 11-04-2017, 9:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarge261 View Post
I'm looking to mount a NMO antenna on the roof of my 2017 F-350. Being that the truck is aluminum obviously grounding is an issue.
We've been mounting antennas with NMO mounts on the roofs of aluminum bodied ambulances and fire trucks since the 1970's. There is no grounding problem. Any problems with road salt and electrolysis issues are virtually non-existent since little or no road spray ever ends up on the roof. Aluminum is an excellent conductor and makes a great ground plane. It is softer than steel so it is easier to drill. Burrs are easier to remove, and any stray chips from the drilling won't cause rust spots like steel chips do.

Realistically, mounting a CB antenna on the roof is usually problematic because of the height of it. On my F-250, I use a 5' FireStik side mounted on the aluminum tool box in the bed of the truck. It works just fine.

We've discussed the "antenna on the roof of the pickup truck" many, many times here. Variables like the new aluminum bodies really don't alter the basic fact that a quarter wave antenna at 2M or higher frequencies on a drilled NMO mount in the center of the cab roof is almost always the best choice.
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Old 11-04-2017, 9:23 PM
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Getting a ten meter or 11 meter antenna mount on a aluminum roof will be tough. Aluminum is more easily to crack with flexing. A ten meter antenna will have to be a base loaded antenna with a 48 inch long whip at the least. I would look at a Breedlove Mount.
http://www.breedlovemounts.com/stake...-brackets.html
You could put one mount on the drivers side with a CB / ten meter antenna and a mount on the passenger side with a dual band such as a Tram dual band or a Larsen NMO 2/70. This will be a very strong no holes solution that works well.

Mike
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Old 11-04-2017, 9:30 PM
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Hi Steve,

I see that you are local to me sort of. I will be running a dual band UHF/VHF with the MARS/CAP mod, so I was hoping there would be a "good" all around antenna I could use. I suppose I could always run the CB antenna on the roof and possibly find a glass mount dual band if they exist as mostly I just listen to the VHF/UHF side of things. Combine that with just a technicians license I'm limited anyway.

If only the folks I travel with would get a license and these new trucks had more space my problems would be solved. I'm just trying to make some good choices here, and not scrap this hobby along the way.

Sarge
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Old 11-04-2017, 10:43 PM
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If you want to communicate with others who are on CB frequencies, you will need a CB radio and a CB antenna.

A VHF/UHF amateur radio, even a modified one, is not going to work on CB frequencies. And, just about every VHF/UHF amateur radio sold for mobile use is FM only. CB is AM (though there is some SSB activity on CB frequencies). As for MARS/CAP mods, unless you are active with a MARS unit that uses VHF/UHF there's no real reason to have such a mod done. For CAP, the radio must be on CAP's list of allowable radios.

Bottom line: I think you are trying to put 10 pounds of radio into a 5 pound bag. You need two radios and two antennas to communicate on VHF/UHF amateur radio and on CB. As others have indicated, a proper CB antenna is going to be 102 inches long (for a whip antenna) or around 6-8 feet long (for a helical-wound fiberglass antenna). Putting that big of antenna on the roof of your truck is going to be a problem due to the overall height.

You also commented about your Technician privileges limiting what you can do. Technicians do have SSB phone privileges on a small portion of the 10m band (28.3 to 28.5 MHz). But, there isn't much activity on 10m these days due to band conditions.
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Old 11-04-2017, 10:49 PM
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One possible solution to the radio problem is a HF+VHF/UHF radio such as the Icom IC-7000 or Yaesu FT-897 (both out of production). They would be able to listen to CB frequencies in AM mode, though they would not (legally) be able to transmit on CB frequencies. You will still need two antennas: one for VHF/UHF and one for CB.
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Old 11-04-2017, 11:18 PM
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OK edited my post because I see where you mentioned what you were doing with the radios…

As for the CB radio, if you are pressed for space, take a look at one of these:
https://www.uniden.com/automotive/cb...mpact_CB_Radio
I needed a CB radio for a long road trip a while back and I didn't want to clutter up the cab with a big radio mounted under the dashboard. Since my other radios are remote head with the RF decks behind the rear seat, this worked well. The connection between the hand held control head and the RF deck uses a 4 pair cable with RJ-45 connectors. I took an old category 5 network cable and used that to extend it. I added an old Motorola remote speaker I had and it really sounds good. Not the best CB out there, but it works well enough for what I do. You can step up to the CMX760 if you want some more features. For highway driving, listening to the truckers and others, a normal AM CB radio will work just fine.

As for the antenna install...
I did a 2017 F350 regular cab a few weeks ago.

No issues with aluminum. Using the right mounts and right antennas, you won't need to worry about "flexing" or any sort of long term damage unless you forget the antennas are up there and drive through a low parking garage.

If you want this to work well and last a long time, don't do compromise installations. Antennas work best when they have a good ground plane underneath them. Mounting off the fender, glass mount, on the bed rail, etc. are all good ways to screw it up. If you want this to work well, then putting two NMO mounts on the cab roof is the way to go. Aluminum isn't an issue, avoid anyone who tells you otherwise, you don't need that sort of negativity….

If you are going to use CB, then I would -strongly- suggest the Larsen NMO-27 antenna. It's a commercial antenna that can be tuned to cover the CB bands. It's not some consumer grade antenna that you'll pick up at a truck stop, you'll need to purchase it from a proper dealer. I've been using them off and on for 25 years now, no issues. If fact, the one I occasionally use now is 20 years old. I've put mine on my antenna analyzer and I was able to tune it for 1.3:1 SWR on channels 1 & 40 with a 1.03:1 on Channel 19. You can order these antennas with a spring at the base of the whip, but I've never felt the need for one.
http://www.theantennafarm.com/catalo...mo27c-699.html

As for dual band, go with the lower gain antennas, they'll have more useable bandwidth. Personally I always used a simple 1/4 wave VHF whip since when I was running amateur gear, that's where I usually was. A 1/4 wave VHF antenna tuned for the 2 meter band will act as a 3/4 wave on the 70 centimeter band, so you can easily use it for both. They won't be quite as good as a dedicated UHF antenna, or a dual band, but where they really shine is the 1/4 wave antennas have a lot of useable bandwidth. I use them on my trucks. Very easy to use them across 144-170MHz with reasonable SWR.
If you do go with the dual band antenna, then the Larsen NMO-2/70SH is a good model. On the VHF side, it's 1/4 wave, so lots of usable bandwidth. Skip the gimmicky amateur grade antennas. Use the right stuff from the get go and you won't have to replace it later on.

As for the antenna mounts and other antennas, about the only other thing I can tell you is to not cut corners if you want it to last 15 years or more. There are a lot of Chinese made mounts and antennas on the market right now, and some of them are pretty crappy. Kind of pointless to save a few bucks by buying the junk, then having to replace it in a few years. Stay away from any name you cannot pronounce, and be aware that the Tram and Browning names are NOT the same companies that made CB radios back in the 60's and 70's. They are cheap Chinese antennas. Stick with the known good name brands, Larsen, Antennex, Laird, ComTelco, etc. Remember, do it once, do it right and you'll not regret it.


A few other things I can add based off the recent install I did:
As always, run power directly off the battery. Do not tap into existing wiring. You can connect at the passenger side battery and route it to the fire wall. My work truck has the 6.2 gas motor, so I was able to remove the air box, route the cable under there up to the fire wall. I mounted a 60 amp circuit breaker to the fire wall, just above the fuse box. From there, the wire (6 gauge) feeds through the firewall at an existing cable feed through. Down low below the fuse box is a large grommet. On that grommet is a bulb that sticks up. If you use a sharp razor blade, you can cut that bulb off and it exposes a hole in the grommet. I was able to get the #6 wire through there. It comes out behind the fuse box. From there I was able to route it over to the sill plate that runs under the door. If you pull the plate straight up, there is a wiring trough under there that will allow you to get the wiring all the way to the rear of the cab. I mounted the RF decks for my radios behind the seats. The control heads are under the dash. I mounted speakers to the panel behind the seats, one on each side. Makes it easier for my ears to tell which radio it is. VHF is behind the drivers seat, 800MHz is behind the passenger seat.
Ground your radios locally. Do not rely on the long negative power lead back to the battery, or the coaxial shield. Run a short jumper from the radio body to the truck body sheet metal. That can prevent a lot of issues, noise, interference, etc.

Last edited by mmckenna; 11-04-2017 at 11:52 PM..
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Old 11-05-2017, 8:52 AM
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As mmckenna stated, a proper mount will make a world of difference. There are some differences though between CB grade, ham grade and commercial grade antennas.

CB grade antennas tend to have a lot of snek oil behind them. For example, Firestik likes to list their antenna gain figures in reference to an isentropic radiator (but you really have to dig to find the reference) but they also claim their 5/8 wave antennas have a gain of 6 dB as they round their measurements up but they also make sure to let you know how many watts each antenna can be driven by. CB antenna manufacturers main focus however, will typically always be antennas designed for OTR tractors and not cars/SUVs/pickups.

Amateur grade antennas also like to sell you on claims of gain, wide bandwidth, etc. The high gain antennas tend to be stiff and heavy. Those are the antennas the Breedlove mounts are made for as amateurs are notorious for doing simple things the hard way (like dropping the headliner to install an antenna mount that can be drilled and installed without doing that.

Commercial grade antennas are just that. Commercial grade. These are the antennas you will see on plumbers vans, tow trucks, police cars, firetrucks, ambulances. There's no snek oil to them, they are designed to spec, they test to spec. The companies manufacturing them have typically been in business for 40+ years. They are proven antenna designs and are cost effective.

Typically, I like to recommend the Larsen NMO2/70 to hams who want a high quality dual band antenna. There is a shorter version called the NMO2/70SH if clearance is a perceived issue. For CB many of us who work in the two way industry will consistently recommend the Larsen NMO27 (or Laird equivalent) for cars/SUVs/pickups due to the fact it was built for the rigors of commercial service and will serve reliably for decades. It's also a low stress design and suited extremely well to roof mounting on the sheet metal of modern vehicles.

I will typically roof mount my VHF/UHF/7/800 antennas. A low band antenna, I generally will throw onto a fender mount. Just the priority I typically give to antenna systems though.
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Old 11-05-2017, 11:02 AM
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"Snek"? Do you mean "snake"?

Firestick claims they are selling a 5/8 wave CB antenna? If that antenna was full size, it would be about 21.6 feet long. Since it's not that long, they are electrically shortening the antenna with a coil that also turns some of the transmitter power to heat.

Most 5/8 wave whip antennas from reputable manufacturers are rated at 3 dB referenced to a dipole (dBd). Not sure how Firestick is coming up with 6 dB of gain unless they are referencing an isotropic radiator.

FWIW, the Larsen NMO27 that mmckenna suggested also has a coil to electrically shorten the antenna. But, they don't try to mislead you about the gain. Larsen rates it at 2 dBi (referenced to an isotropic radiator).
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Old 11-05-2017, 3:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W9BU View Post
"Snek"? Do you mean "snake"?

Firestick claims they are selling a 5/8 wave CB antenna? If that antenna was full size, it would be about 21.6 feet long. Since it's not that long, they are electrically shortening the antenna with a coil that also turns some of the transmitter power to heat.

Most 5/8 wave whip antennas from reputable manufacturers are rated at 3 dB referenced to a dipole (dBd). Not sure how Firestick is coming up with 6 dB of gain unless they are referencing an isotropic radiator.

FWIW, the Larsen NMO27 that mmckenna suggested also has a coil to electrically shorten the antenna. But, they don't try to mislead you about the gain. Larsen rates it at 2 dBi (referenced to an isotropic radiator).
Guess you've missed out on all the snek meme's lately but yes, Firestik claims their antennas are 5/8 wave designs (top loaded). The best I can get is they are rounding 2.2 dBi + 3 dB to 6 dB of gain. But most of the fiberglass CB antennas are advertised as 5/8 wave.
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