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Drilling antenna holes

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jehm1212

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Feb 12, 2005
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Hanover County, VA
I've looked at a lot of photos of mobile installs and see a lot of antennas mounted on the top of vehicles. Right now, I am using a cheap through the glass antenna from radio shack and want to upgrade to an NMO hole mount or lip mount. My question is, what did most of you use to drill your holes? Or did you go to a shop and have them do it for you? Thanks in advance.
 

I_10_92

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Feb 29, 2004
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392
Location
Toronto
Use a metal hole saw. They sell them at Home Depot. Attach the hole saw thing to the proper drill and you should be good to go.

I don't have the heart to drill a hole in my truck yet, so someone might be able to fill you in on another way of doing so.

Remember... MEASURE thrice, mark twice, drill once ;)
 

rcvmo

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Aug 11, 2004
Messages
433
Location
Romulus, Mi.
The best way to get a perfect hole is the Blue-point Rota-broach. It is a full kit with interchangeable sizes from 7/16" to 3/4". I made the additional purchas of a 1" for a few bucks more. Can't ask for anything else better.
rcvmo
 

Mstrfxit12

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Jan 8, 2005
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Location
Woburn MA.
Just a couple of comments.
I have been using the antennex antenna hole saws for the last few years. They work great, and most importantly, if your working over a headliner or other material that doesn't work and play well with drill bits its great as they can't pass through the hole you just drilled. Just put a piece of painters tape on the sheet metal before drilling and drill right through the tape into the sheet metal. This helps keep the scratching down from shavings.
I use the greenlee K/O punchs almost daily but have never used them to do an antenna install. They work great on sheet metal as long as you can get to both side of the sheet to assemble it. This is sometimes difficult depending on where you are mounting the antenna. This is where the hole saw comes in handy again.
The antenna cable threads in from the outside in. Thread the cable through the hole you drilled all the way down to the nmo mount and just slip in into the hole and pull it back up again and put on the ring. I usually put a touch of silicone lube on the o-ring on the bottom of the ring so it seats nice as you tighten it.... Chris
 

tonsoffun

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Central Ontario
I would not use the Greenlee to put the holes in car or truck sheet metal. I puts to much pressure on the sheet metal around the hole and you WILL notice the stress created by the cutter.
Like I_10_92 said, go to Home Depot and purchase a standard 3/4" hole saw and it will be perfect. I just installed after so much thought a NMO connection on my brand new Uplander. I killed me drilling into the van but after it was done a was happier then poo.
Take care
 

prcguy

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So Cal - Richardson, TX - Tewksbury, MA
Hole saw is definitely the way to go and I forgot about the Antennex saw that has teeth that protrude only slightly so it doesn’t fall through the hole. Great idea, especially for beginners, wish they had those 25yrs ago. You can also shove a piece of thin sheet metal or hard plastic between the roof and headliner to protect from snagging the headliner. I used to keep about a 1ft wide by 3ft long chunk of thin plastic for this and it also allowed the shavings to be removed easily.
prcguy
 

Signal3and2

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Iowa
I will 2nd, or 3rd the Antennex antenna holesaw. Definately makes things easy with no worries of f'ing up your headliner, which I have done once. I then bought the antennex holesaw and it's ease of use ALMOST covered up my feelings of retardedness from drilling through the headliner! :)
 

JohnWayne

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Apr 15, 2004
Messages
242
Location
Lynchburg, VA
The only tool I would ever use is an NMO hole saw. On newer vehicles with rigid single piece headliners, it is often difficult to get the headliner out of the way of the hole, so the depth limit of the special NMO hole saws is a necessity. Antenex, Motorola, and a couple other companies make them. The Antenex is part number HS34, and it should run you about $25.

A few tips: Measure, measure, and measure again. Make sure you are not drilling through any braces or wiring. Use some 3M blue painter's tape over the hole area and around it to prevent scratches in case you walk the pilot bit. Put a pie tin underneath the hole to catch the very hot shavings that will fall down; these can melt right through the headliner otherwise.

Jeff
 

n7lxi

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Jun 8, 2006
Messages
163
Location
Lancaster PA
Agreed on catching the shavings! Those puppies do get hot! I use a 3/4 hole saw from Rigid, and it simply works great. I've drilled 3 NMO mounts in my Jeep, and done a couple for some friends. After the first one, it gets easier to start plonking holes into shiny new cars.

A shop vac does a nice job of sucking the shavings out after you drill, and a fish tape is vital to snaking the coax through the headliner.

And I also second the advice on multiple measurements! Make sure you know where that hole is going before you even put the hole saw in your drill!
 

RayK

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Joined
Mar 6, 2006
Messages
251
Location
Bradenton,fl
I have used hole saws,but be aware thier are hole saws made for wood, and usually cost
more are those made for metal. Make sure you use a saw made to cut metal.Recomend the
Antenex hole saw.
Ray
 

garys

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Eastern MA
I'll add my vote to the others recommending an antenna hole saw. I've used regular hole saws and unless you are very careful, you can do a lot of damage to the vehicle. In another forum far away someone suggested that it might be worth it to pay a two way radio shop to do the hole for you. That depends on how skilled you are, if you think it's worth your while to buy a hole saw, and other factors.

I bought a hole saw sevaral years ago and it has paid for itself several times. Since I do installs for other people, it's definitely worth it.

Gary
 

jehm1212

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Feb 12, 2005
Messages
264
Location
Hanover County, VA
Thank you all very much for you recommendations. Due to the amount of support for it, I am pretty sure that I will go with the Antenex hole saw.
 

HOLEBILLY

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Jan 22, 2006
Messages
196
I used a unibit to drill my 3/8 hole on my 2003 chevy truck.It worked great and took about 10 minutes to do the whole job. I took out the dome light and drilled right there, its perfect right were I wanted it.I had the maxrad antenna mounted on the bed with a L bracket befor and decided to drill the hole. WOW what a great inprovement in reception.
 

radio10-8

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Apr 28, 2005
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Location
West Coast
If your unsure about where to drill, visit a junkyard and look for your vehicle, chances are you can pull back a headliner and see whats underneath.
 

WA8NPR

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Oct 5, 2004
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31
Location
Jackson Twp., Massillon, Ohio 44646
As everyone has already stated the Antennex and Maxrad hole saws are the best to use. I always begin by taping the outside surface with 3M blue tape and then measure and re-measure to assure the hole is where I want it to be. I use a center punch to lightly mark the location and help the hole saw get started and to prevent it from walking.

Ideas such as the tin pie plate beneath the hole are excellent to collect the hot shavings. Once you drill a hole and use a NMO mount through the body you will never go back to magnetic mounts, trunk lip mounts and such other temporary mounts. I have drilled for NMO mounts on my last five vehicles and have enjoyed the professional appearance & perforamce of such an installation.

Good luck drilling!

Regards, Rich
 

ke5lvt

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Dec 30, 2003
Messages
84
Location
plaquemine la
i have installed thousands of roof mounts over the last 18 years. one thing being said here is measure and re-measure , then measure again. i like the antenex hole saws the best.
there is nothing more fun than drilling a 3/4" in a brand new car or truck. all i can suggest is think the job all the way though. when you are done you will be happy with the work you did.
 

SCPD

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Feb 24, 2001
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65,126
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Virginia
I recently purchased an Antennex hole saw for NMO's. I like the suggestions about the blue tape, which has been an ingrediant in my shop for a long time anyway. Someone mentioned giving a light tap with a center punch and it partially addressed my biggest concern. I've always given more than a light tap with a center punch when drilling into any metal so the pilot hole drill does not walk all over the surface of the metal. The roof of a car is not just any metal though.

In contemplating the installation of three NMO's on my Subaru wagon the thing that concerns me the most is keeping the pilot drill of the hole saw from scooting around and the center punch conjures up images of large dents in the roof. The roof is quite large for a small car and the metal in newer cars is not like it was on the pickups I mounted some antennas on 25 years ago (thick and heavy just like the truck). Some advice on this would be appreciated.
 

buffalogoat

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Jan 30, 2005
Messages
21
Location
Simpsonville, SC
The sheet metal of newer cars & trucks is not very thick and it normally is not truly flat. So, when drilling, do not use alot of pressure on the drill! And I agree with the other posts... DO NOT use a Greenlee or any other type of hole "punch" on a vehicle! It can ripple, warp & even tear the metal!
 

wyldman

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May 25, 2006
Messages
170
Location
Center of the RF Universe
Use a sharp pointed awl,or scribe,to scratch a small round mark in the paint.This will have the same effect as a center punch,and stop the bit from walking.

If the pilot bit on your holesaw is pretty large,you can use a smaller bit first,which is easier to control.

If you don't have the fancy holesaw with a depth stop,you can wrap the holesaw with tape just slightly above the teeth.This will help prevent it from dropping through and catching the headliner.

One other tip,is to set and double check the depth of the pilot bit on the holesaw BEFORE you start drilling.Make sure it only sticks out about 3/8" past the teeth,or it will go through the headliner.Once the holesaw is almost through the metal,I usually stop,and retract the pilot bit until it is flush with the teeth.Starting a smaller pilot hole helps here too.
 
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