2011 GMC Sierra HAM radio install.

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KG5CAY

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Well it's about time I have done this. First off, I'd like to give a big shout out to WX4EMT (Keith). His setup inspired me, and honestly, he sparked my interest in HAM radio. Just recently got my HAM Tech license about a month or so ago, well what is a HAM license good for without a radio?

Bought a Kenwood 281-A model (recommended by Keith), nice price also. Then the good parts, antennas, oh so many selections. After baffling with my good friend on which to choose, which one will does this ect... I went and bought a Laird QWB144, nice 18 inch antenna. I didn't want nothing to0 tall because for the fact I love Mcdonald's drive through.

I went with a 3/8th NMO mount, mag mounts I have never been fond of (if someone wants your antenna, they can cut your wire and take it!), so perma-mount I went with.

The images attached show some of the work. After debating for a couple weeks whether to have an Audio Shop to install all this for me, or... try to bite the bullet and do it myself. After a few phone calls, the audio shop went out the bag, so... I decided to call one of the local ham members, one who gave me the test a month or so ago.

He didn't have a problem with it and rather was interested in doing it.

After taking the trim out on the passenger side, removing the seatbelt and various other parts, we figured it was time to dis-arm the battery. Airbags were located right next to the seatbelt making it somewhat hard getting the head-liner to lower just a tad. After doing this, drilled a hole in the roof, seems easy right?

Problems..

There was not 1 but 2 layers of metal to drill through the roof, making it very hard to put on the rest of the NMO (it was a 2 piece set) End the end, we had to turn the NMO screw ring upside down for it can screw into the rest of the set (no pictures show this).

Brass is easy to break.

Nearly busted the brass NMO with a pair of pliers, but good thing I didn't.

After finally getting the antenna on, I was satisfied.
Luckily, having a big time HAM brings good things, like voltage meters, SWR meters and such.

Wiring up the radio was fairly interesting, after ripping up the carpet (twice) never found a grommet, so... we had 3 options.
1) drill in the fire wall. We have no extra grommet's, or any silicone.
2) run the wires through the floor board.
3) Run the wires through door area grommet, to the engine compartment.

We went with option 3, he is an electrician, so he had plenty of tools for sure!

A fuse on the radio wire blew right when we hooked it up, but have no fear!! Had an extra mini-fuse. Never had any problems after that. No pictures of the radio itself "yet". Next thing to eventually install, Whelen LinZ6's grille lights, which shouldn't be to long.
 

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PACNWDude

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Very nice. Good to see a newer vehicle with a NMO mount punched into the roof. I had the same black Laird antennas on my 2008 Suburban. After a year, I replaced them with the cheap silver ones as the paint flaked off from weathering. But they looked good for a while. I get my antennas through Tessco these days.
Good job on the install.
 

KG5CAY

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A couple more pictures.

Thanks for the nice comments, took me long enough to pull the trigger on the install.

First picture:

The radio itself, nothing fancy, just wedged in that "cubby hole" in my console, it's not coming out anytime soon. Once when I get a few more goodies (more radios) I will start setting up for a custom console, but that doesn't look to be happening for a while. Wires run under the carpet to the passenger kick panel through the groummet that leads near the door-jam area.

Second picture.

Next thing to install on the truck will be a couple of Whelen LinZ6 grille lights (both amber). I have "most" of the pre-wiring done, already gone through 1 roll of black electric tape.. I have been putting this off for 2 good reasons.

1) I keep finding something I need that I haven't bought yet. (wire loom and more wires, electric tape)
2) The "perfect day" for the install.

I have been waiting for the "right" day for the install, when it's not raining. Either I'm working, or on my day off, it pours. For the past 3 weeks it has rained each day and the only reason how we got the HAM radio installed is because I got up bright and early to beat the rain. Will have to do this again it seems.

For those wondering, the wires for the lights will run to under the truck, through the floor-board/into the cab. Easy enough, just a good bit of feet of wire and tape, along with loom. $$$$$ Any questions, feel free to ask.
 

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KG5CAY

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The power wires have to get hidden,drill a hole and go under that carpet.

Neh, I'm an extremely lazy person with limited time on my hands, I will eventually in the future ( like I said earlier when I get more goodies) then I will make it a nice clean install. Until then, I'm fine with it now.
 

N5TWB

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First, a thumbs up for the roof drill and permanent mount as your first choice as a new ham. You are among a very few who make that choice when entering the hobby. You will be rewarded with improved performance.

Second, a word of warning/advice on height: check it and know it for your beloved McD's and any parking garage. That particular mount will not like repeated strikes as it will stress the rubber, especially as it ages in the weather. There are other quarter-wave antennas that will put up with the occasional strike better but it's best to know your clearance and choose to avoid the strike entirely.
 

P25Radio

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Nice install now hide those power wires make it a cleaner install.
 

KG5CAY

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Jun 23, 2014
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Carriere, Ms.
First, a thumbs up for the roof drill and permanent mount as your first choice as a new ham. You are among a very few who make that choice when entering the hobby. You will be rewarded with improved performance.

Second, a word of warning/advice on height: check it and know it for your beloved McD's and any parking garage. That particular mount will not like repeated strikes as it will stress the rubber, especially as it ages in the weather. There are other quarter-wave antennas that will put up with the occasional strike better but it's best to know your clearance and choose to avoid the strike entirely.
Thanks for the good comments/advice! I went when an NMO mount because I always hear stories from the local HAM's of thieves cutting the coax from the mag mount on their roof and taking the entire antenna, I wouldn't want to risk that for me (I live in a bad enough area as it is) so I went with a safe plan. Also, NMO seems much more clean, I'm not a fan of seeing wires running from my roof into the cab.

Height:

I have yet to have any problems with going through my McD's drive through (went last night) have yet to hit anything, another good reason why my truck doesn't have a lift kit.
 

KG5CAY

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So I installed my Whelen LinZ6's late last evening, yes one of them is slightly "****-eyed" but not too noticeable. That's what pain pills and a full day of work does to you. Feel asleep under my truck not once, but twice as I ran the wires from the engine compartment under the cab through the floorboard. I heavily wrapped it in electric tape, but I eventually plan on covering the 1 foot section that runs under the cab with wire loom to add a slight bit of more protection (no pictures of this yet). I plan on taking pictures of the complete wiring of it all during daylight hours on my next day off.

After a good bit of consideration, I will eventually "fix" the lights, both are slightly pointing in an upwards position. Yes I drilled in the thick plastic grille, and I will have to do it again when I re-position the lights, remember silicone is your friend.

Most people go with a homemade mounting bracket for these kind of truck grilles and avoid drilling in the factory plastic grille, since I have limited work tools, I could not go with a homemade grille.

Problems:

Only slightly problem other than the way the lights face is I do not have the ground wire(s) connected directly to the ground battery, simply because the fact I was not able to get the nut off the negative side (seems like it was welded??) So.... I found a metal bolt, and hoped for the best. Took a deep breath before turning the switch on, prepared for the worst and what.. the lights came on???? I wasn't expecting this to work, but it did. After a day of driving, everything seems to work fine, so I take it the bolt did it's job. While I had silicone, decided to re-silicone parts of the HAM antenna just to be safe. Went ahead and used silicone around the grille light housing, also along some of the wires.

Next project:

I like the way this turned out, even for the fact this was my first "alone" install, and it seemed like it turned out well despite for a few slight problems.I think I might consider an LED stick install for the back windshield, not sure yet. Comments/suggestions are all welcomed!
 

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KG5CAY

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Carriere, Ms.
Got some more pictures before the sun went down. Just showing some of the wiring in the grille and.. one more of the antenna, sorry for the grainy pictures.

I added more electrical tape for the wiring along with more silicone ( after I took these pictures).

And I took a picture of the lights in action themselves, again, sorry for the grainy pictures.

I won't take any pictures of the inside the vehicle due to the fact it isn't a "clean" setup. I just have my switche taped next to the HAM radio. I have been fighting back and fourth for the past few days about a custom console, but... I have no idea where to even begin on this... what kind would you recommend, also.. trying to stay as cheap as possible here, glad I have Google to help me out.

Suggestions/comments welcomed!!
 

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KG5CAY

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So.. tired of seeing wires eh? Well I worked a little bit on the mounting bracket finally on my day off. I'd say it looks just a tad bit better. The switch in the first picture.. it's in the works. I plan to order a switch plate that I can mount to the console (I will be needing more switches for future "goodies").

I "was" going to go the traditional way of drilling a hole to mount the bracket, but I squeezed my hand behind the plastic area and felt electronics... I wasn't going to take the chance of accidentally drilling into something I shouldn't so.............. I glued the bracket. Remember this is an odd-ball install. I used over 2 bottled of super glue, 1 tube of cement glue and put over 5 layers of silicone. I don't think the bracket is going anywhere, and I don't plan on changing this setup for a while. *If* the bracket falls, I will find some alternative.

I decided to not go with a custom console. I am just not into spending $400+ for something can mount my radios in. This is nowhere near "professional" and it will never intend to be so.

3rd picture.

Finally a clear picture of the antenna. I now plan on installing a second antenna (for scanner use) but the location on the roof is where... Installing the first antenna was hard enough as it is, and I barley "winged it". 2 layers of sheet metal to go through on this vehicle, making it very challenging. A learning process it is.

Questions/suggestions/opinions are welcomed!
 

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WX4EMT

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Well, I'm glad to see you finally did it! After all that squirming and it wasn't so bad now was it? I'm proud of you, may this be the beginning of a great hobby for you!
 

KG5CAY

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Carriere, Ms.
Re-organized the grille light switch today after pulling teeth.

First:

In my first post in this thread I mention that I went through 2 layers of sheet metal to install the NMO mount for the HAM antenna... well for those wondering, I actually went through one of my vehicle support ribs (woops). Was an honest mistake, but I shouldn't have any problems with the way it is (Thanks Keith.)

Now....

I ordered a switch plate mount for my grille lights and.. for future expansion. The switch plate came in, but the switches themselves had no markings of ground/acc/power so... a trip to the store I went. All in all, I ended up blowing over 4 fuses (I ran out) and this led me to a complete stop, and it gave me sometime to think.. every time I turned the new LED switch off, my fuse on them would blow...

After making again another trip into town for a new switch (and more fuses) I decided that my grounding for my grille lights AND my switch was not in a good position, and actually was very weak. So I moved my grounding to an actual metal surface, change out my switch and put in a new fuse, there was no more a problem. I did check all my wiring, but there were not any problems there. I took the older switch back to the store (Associate said it was faulty) *Did I break it?* So, what I learned from this... never be in a rush when installing something on your vehicle and ALWAYS make sure your ground is on metal.

Wires are under the carpet, drilled a half inch hole in the bottom of the console to run the wires. Not 100% clean, but this seems this is good as it gets for me. The second switch like I said is for future expansion, meaning, I plan to install LED's in the back windshield behind the seats, amber of course.

Questions/comments/suggestions are all welcomed!

-KG5CAY
 

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SCPD

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cool

Re-organized the grille light switch today after pulling teeth.

First:

In my first post in this thread I mention that I went through 2 layers of sheet metal to install the NMO mount for the HAM antenna... well for those wondering, I actually went through one of my vehicle support ribs (woops). Was an honest mistake, but I shouldn't have any problems with the way it is (Thanks Keith.)

Now....

I ordered a switch plate mount for my grille lights and.. for future expansion. The switch plate came in, but the switches themselves had no markings of ground/acc/power so... a trip to the store I went. All in all, I ended up blowing over 4 fuses (I ran out) and this led me to a complete stop, and it gave me sometime to think.. every time I turned the new LED switch off, my fuse on them would blow...

After making again another trip into town for a new switch (and more fuses) I decided that my grounding for my grille lights AND my switch was not in a good position, and actually was very weak. So I moved my grounding to an actual metal surface, change out my switch and put in a new fuse, there was no more a problem. I did check all my wiring, but there were not any problems there. I took the older switch back to the store (Associate said it was faulty) *Did I break it?* So, what I learned from this... never be in a rush when installing something on your vehicle and ALWAYS make sure your ground is on metal.

Wires are under the carpet, drilled a half inch hole in the bottom of the console to run the wires. Not 100% clean, but this seems this is good as it gets for me. The second switch like I said is for future expansion, meaning, I plan to install LED's in the back windshield behind the seats, amber of course.

Questions/comments/suggestions are all welcomed!

-KG5CAY


Good job,looks like you got it done
 

KG5CAY

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Carriere, Ms.
It isn't done yet.

It's been a while since I have posted anything on this thread. I have many reasons why but the most simple one is, I'm always busy working on something else.

This will be a bit to read, but it's worth it.

I decided a few months ago that I should consider a terminal strip for my vehicle, so I went and bought one off Amazon for 5 bucks. The car part stores here don't carry those sadly, so I was forced to wait a few days. My plan on this was the remove the wires that are currently going to the battery and install a terminal strip near my console and have just a big wire running to the strip from the battery.

I decided to go with 10 gauge wire to run from the battery to the terminal strip. The location of the strip itself will be under the center console. That way, when I add more products (radios, LED's) I could just hook it to the terminal then to the switch and be done. No more having to run wires all the way to the battery, back into the cab to a switch.

Wiring it all up was no problem, just time consuming. This time I decided to try something new to me, heat shrink tubing for my wires. I didn't have a heat gun, so I used a lighter, it actually worked really well.

I ran the 10 gauge wire from the battery (fused at 20 amps) through the door jam area on the passenger side into the cab. There were multiple pros and cons I'v noticed going through this route, but the old wiring that also ran through this was never had any problems. My pictures are not the best on this (phone camera) but there is a picture size limit so I was no able to upload the clear, crisp pictures from my DSLR.

Everything is grounded directly to the battery, again, I have read pros and cons about this, but yet, I myself have never had a problem. I like to explain as much detail as possible because there are people out there (like me) who like to know everything step by step.

With tax return comes great responsibility (said no one ever).
I highly considered a dual band HAM radio for a while. At this time, I will not be buying one this year due to the fact that I mainly only use my HAM radio for storm chasing, which, the common frequency we use is 146.55.

I managed to come across a great deal on a set of Whelen Vertex's a month ago. A buddy of mine was selling his for $40 a piece. I really wanted white but he only had amber, but a deal like that I could not resist. The Whelen Vertex's will go in the reverse tail light area. I believe I will install these when I finally get to the store to pick up more wiring.

I will be buying a grille guard whenever I get my tax return, thinking of a Westin Sportsman, then again I'm not sure on the exact one I want yet.

Questions/comments/suggestions are welcomed.
 

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KG5CAY

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Resurrecting an old thread.

It's been a good few months, and I have been putting off on posting the updates and changes I have been making because I feel there may/will be negative comments, here it goes anyway. I decided to post this because some may get some ideas like I did a year ago while browsing this forum.

The console of the truck looks allot different. I went and installed a Havis console and RAM laptop mount.
While shopping for consoles to accommodate my gadgets, I was trying to go with Troy. I didn't want to rip out my entire console (love that leather armrest) but rather just take out the console insert. I found out Havis makes one for the Tahoe and also has an extension plate for the Silverado/Sierra, perfect.

The name of the console is C-VS-1000-TAH, and the extension is C-VS-WP-SILV-1. No drilling or cutting was needed, it was pretty easy.

Installed a couple of Whelen Vertex's in the rear, synced with a pair of LinZ6's on the backrack. The Backrack has a pre-drilled out hole on each side, seems like a great spot to mount some spot/scene lights in the future.

I will go ahead and post a couple pictures of what's been done so far.

I'm starting to throw the idea around on a scanner again. Stuck between the Uniden BCD536HP and the BCD996XT, there is a decent price difference, but regardless, any thoughts?

Thinking of getting one of those lowering kits while I'm at it. The factory rake/slant annoys me. I did consider a front-end leveling kit, but my truck isn't 4x4, and I don't leave the pavement often. I hear some scary stories of balljoints going bad while doing one and many more problems when you mess with the front end, so forget that. I think a 2 inch lower in the rear seems suitable, I pretty much never haul anything, so I have no worries.
 

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