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Drilling my 2019 F150

Carpdoctor

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I am not happy with my fender mount antenna. After reading the forum MMckenna has convinced me to drill. I assume drilling on top of the roof rib is preferred vs the valley. The top of the rib is dead center of my roof. I know I need to use a quality NMO mount. Which model exactly should I get?? Antennas, I have a 40" duel band on my fender 1/2 wave 2meter---- 5/8 wave70c. This seems to long for a roof. What duel band antenna would you suggest?
 

bharvey2

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I'm not sure that the top of the roof rib vs the valley would make much of a difference, weatherproofing-wise. Properly installed NMO mounts are pretty good in that regard. As the center of the roof is at the top of a rib, that seems the logical place to put it. Stick to Larsen/Laird NMO mounts and you can't go wrong. You will however want to make sure that you don't drill into a support rib/strut/wire harness, etc. underneath so make sure the roofliner in down enough during the installation that you can see and measure adequately. I recently did an installation and posted photos that show the cross rib mentioned above.
 

mmckenna

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I am not happy with my fender mount antenna. After reading the forum MMckenna has convinced me to drill.
You are going to be happier, it's going to work better, and it's going to look better.


I assume drilling on top of the roof rib is preferred vs the valley. The top of the rib is dead center of my roof.
Not sure which cab you have, but if it's one antenna, dead center. I agree about the waterproofing not making a difference. I've never had an NMO mount leak, ever. But then again, I'd not tempt fate and probably wouldn't put it down where water/snow/ice can collect. Given the choice I'd go on top of the rib, just for good measure.

Here's the roof of my personal 2018 F-350:




I know I need to use a quality NMO mount. Which model exactly should I get??
I've been using Larsen almost exclusively for 30 years now, never had one fail. Laird makes good stuff, too. Avoid Tram/Browning, any of the hobby/amateur grade brands.

Since I do a lot of this stuff, I've pretty much standardized on the Larsen NMOHF mounts. Overkill for 2 meter/70 centimeter use, but they'll work. They are rated up towards 6GHz, so useable for just about anything. They do cost a bit more than the non-HF mounts. I use them since I can have one mount for anything I need.

You can also use the standad NMOK mounts, they'll be fine for VHF and UHF work.

Note that the NMO-HF I linked to does not include the connector, so you'll need to supply a PL-259 and install it yourself. The NMOK mount I linked to does include a PL-259 plug, but it is NOT installed. Either way, that's good, cut the cable to length rather than coiling up excess. Much easier to install the cable without a connector on it.

Antennas, I have a 40" duel band on my fender 1/2 wave 2meter---- 5/8 wave70c. This seems to long for a roof. What duel band antenna would you suggest?
The Larsen Dual Band antennas will work on top of a full sized truck. My brother in law has one of those on top of his full size Chevy, no issues. If you want something shorter, you have a couple of good options:
This one is about 20" tall:

Or, you could use a simple 1/4 wave whip. It'll be 3/4 wave on 70 centimeters and will give you low SWR on both bands, and very wide bandwidth on VHF (good if you are listening to public safety stuff on your ham radio). I found the 1/4 wave VHF antennas work very well for my applications. The radiation pattern on 70cm is a bit funky and launches a bit high if you do this, but I rarely used 70cm and didn't have an issue with it.
 

Carpdoctor

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Thanks for the links. I ordered the NMO mount. I have a dark gray truck with black accents, so I wanted a black antenna. I ordered the 2/70 larsen. Its 35" I hope that isn't to much stress on the mount. I also want a short 20"ish spring antenna also. Larsen doesn't make their short antenna in black with a spring.
 

AI7PM

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Thanks for the links. I ordered the NMO mount. I have a dark gray truck with black accents, so I wanted a black antenna. I ordered the 2/70 larsen. Its 35" I hope that isn't to much stress on the mount. I also want a short 20"ish spring antenna also. Larsen doesn't make their short antenna in black with a spring.
The Larsen 2/70 puts much less strain on a mount than the Comet and Diamont ham grade equivilants, due to it's whip flexibility.
For your short black I'd suggest the Comtelco 1511B. I have used/use several of them.
 

mmckenna

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Thanks for the links. I ordered the NMO mount. I have a dark gray truck with black accents, so I wanted a black antenna. I ordered the 2/70 larsen. Its 35" I hope that isn't to much stress on the mount.
It won't be a problem. My brother in law has been running one of those for about 10 years, no issues.

I also want a short 20"ish spring antenna also. Larsen doesn't make their short antenna in black with a spring.
Black heat shrink tubing is a good solution. You can get a Larsen NMO-2/70SH antenna, they are about 20 inches tall. They are chrome with chrome springs. You can purchase black replacement springs. For the whip, just slide some black heat shrink tubing over them and shrink it. Periodically hit it with some Armor-All and a rag to keep it shiny.

Many years ago Larsen made an all black dual band short (20" tall) antenna. It had an open coil in the center, as opposed to the current NMO-2/70SH which has the closed coil. I haven't seen one advertised in many years. I have one at work in my office I use connected to a scanner to listen to some of my systems.

Other option is to just get an all black quarter wave VHF antenna. It will work as a 3/4 wave UHF antenna with pretty good results.
 

jim202

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If you pull off the rear bed light on the cab, you can look inside the roof without pulling down the roof liner. Plus it provides you the ability to snake down the driver's side rear post. I pull open the side plastic at the bottom and connect a wire at the floor level to the snake. Then you can pull the wire up to the opening where the rear bed light is.

Tie the coax to it and pull the coax down to the floor. When I say tie, I mean to wrap your pull wire to the coax and tape it down.

Take the coax out at the floor level and run it to where your going to mount the radio. If the radio is at the dash in the center, then pull the floor step plate and run the coax along the floor to the front in the door channel. Then go under the rug at the front under the top of the drivers feet. Put the connector on that matches the radio. If you have a split radio remote mount, then run the coax to the radio and the remote mount cable to the control head.
 
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Carpdoctor

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Thanks for the replies. I removed the door seal and the clothes hanger on the drivers side rear. Also snapped out the top of the rear drivers side pillar plastic. That gave me good access under the roof liner. The center rib has a U channel running under it. The u channel has room to run the coax in. I plan on drilling on top of the center rib, which is inside the U channel below it. Then run the coax down the rear pillar. I don't have a fancy bit so a 3/4 hole saw will have to work. Probably slip a piece of cardboard to catch the extra. My NMO mount should be here Wednesday.

Do I need to rough up the paint on the inside of the hole?? Or will the NMO bite in well enough to make good contact? And if things go poorly there is always silicone and duck tape. Oh, how far forward should I make the hole? I figured long as I was a 1/4 wave from the rear I should be good.
 

mmckenna

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Thanks for the replies. I removed the door seal and the clothes hanger on the drivers side rear. Also snapped out the top of the rear drivers side pillar plastic. That gave me good access under the roof liner. The center rib has a U channel running under it. The u channel has room to run the coax in. I plan on drilling on top of the center rib, which is inside the U channel below it. Then run the coax down the rear pillar. I don't have a fancy bit so a 3/4 hole saw will have to work. Probably slip a piece of cardboard to catch the extra. My NMO mount should be here Wednesday.
Home Depot sells a DeWalt brand 3/4" hole saw that works perfectly. I was in a jamb and couldn't find my Laird hole saw and grabbed on of those. Worked just fine and is a lot cheaper.

Do I need to rough up the paint on the inside of the hole?? Or will the NMO bite in well enough to make good contact? And if things go poorly there is always silicone and duck tape. Oh, how far forward should I make the hole? I figured long as I was a 1/4 wave from the rear I should be good.
No, no need to rough up the hole or the metal. The NMO mounts have some teeth on the underside that will bite in when you tighten it down.

Location should be at minimum 1/4 wavelength from the edge of the roof. If you only plan to ever install one antenna, then put it in the center. If you plan on installing more down the road, give some thought to what that'll be and install accordingly. I have a regular cab F-350 at work and put the antennas side by side. VHF 1/4 wave in about 20 inches in form the drivers side roof edge, 800MHz antenna is 20 inches in from the passenger side roof edge.

On my 2011 F150, it had the same set up with the center channel/roof ribs. I ran the coax straight back to the rear dome light. Under/above the dome light was a ~1/2" hole where I was able to fish the coaxial cable out and run it down the back corner of the cab to the RF deck. Just pay attention to where the side curtain air bags are and make sure you run the coax between the air bag and the roof.
 

mmckenna

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My F-150 had a 1/4 wave vhf antenna installed in the center of the roof (crew cab) and I had a second NMO mount closer to the rear of the cab. The few times I used CB I'd use the rear mount. Not a sufficient amount of ground plane for a CB antenna, but no pickup will ever be big enough to supply that anyway. Most of the time I used it for an 800MHz antenna, and the amount of ground plane was sufficient for that.
 

Carpdoctor

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This is my personal vehicle, so I don't see any reason for more antenna's. I have an old CB that has been the the closet for 20 years. If for some reason I need it for a weekend I will just throw it on the fender mount I have now. I didn't study for all those ham tests to use a CB again. Besides all the local coyote hunters are currently using the marine band, illegally I might add.

I can hear the Mississippi river Coast Guard reports at full scale from my living room. I am sure the coyote hunters are going to pick the wrong frequency one of these days.
 
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ResQguy

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How are you guys accounting for the aluminum roof composition on the new F150s? Are you adding any plate or tape on the underside for a better ground plane?
 

mmckenna

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How are you guys accounting for the aluminum roof composition on the new F150s? Are you adding any plate or tape on the underside for a better ground plane?
Nothing additional is needed. Aluminum is a conductor and works just fine as a ground plane. Nothing new with these Fords, fire truck and ambulance bodies have been aluminum for years.
 

ResQguy

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Nothing additional is needed. Aluminum is a conductor and works just fine as a ground plane. Nothing new with these Fords, fire truck and ambulance bodies have been aluminum for years.
Beer can E-Ones don't count, real fire trucks are galvanneal or stainless! And our ambulances always had plates installed in the module roof to accommodate antennas per our spec. I do see now that you've mentioned success with this before now that I searched the forum. Hey, if it works for you and has <1:1.5 SWR go for it. My fleet doesn't have any new F150s yet so I'll have to test one out when they arrive.
 

SteveC0625

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The roofs of every modular ambulance I’ve worked on ( going all the way back to 1975) had approximately 1/8” Aluminum plate throughout. There was no reason to add steel plates for NMO antenna mounts. It’s a totally unnecessary item and only adds extra cost and installation difficulty.
 

mmckenna

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Hey, if it works for you and has <1:1.5 SWR go for it. My fleet doesn't have any new F150s yet so I'll have to test one out when they arrive.
I'm not clear why you think aluminum wouldn't work as a ground plane? Maybe if you explain your reasoning, we can answer your question in more detail.

The ground plane just needs to be a conductive surface. Doesn't matter if it's steel, aluminum or stainless steel. They'll all work.
If your concern was that the aluminum body on the Fords is too thin, that's not been my experience. It took me much longer to drill the Fords than it did to drill similar Chevy with steel bodies. The type of aluminum they use is really tough, nothing at all like a beer can.

As for SWR, here's the sweep of a Larsen NMOQ on top of my old F150 that had an aluminum body. 1.02:1 is pretty good in my book.
 

kb2ztx

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Only issue i have seen to date on the F150 is on my lowband and CB antenna. They are mounted closer to the back of the cab and the metal is a bit week and both have some bends in the metal from tree branches and stuff pushing the antenna back. On my NMO27 I did recently add a small "plate (4x4 outlet cover) under the mount to see if that helps. All other antenna mounts are fine.
 

mmckenna

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Drilling that first hole on the vehicle's roof is always the hardest!
Except when it's not your truck.

My brother in law just bought a 2020 Chevy Silverado with the 6cyl Diesel. Waiting for him to bring it over so we can pop a hole in the roof.
 
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