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Installing A FireStik: Best Placement on F150

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prcguy

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A lot of people have brought me antennas mounted to roll bars and racks because they couldn't get the antenna to match. If the rack is very close to the roof and you don't mind drilling and grounding to the roof with a strap that can work. Otherwise if its very high above the roof sheet metal its a problem.

I know hams that mount them on high racks and roll bars and one guy that mounted his dual band antenna on a pipe sticking above the cab of his truck. It I warned him it would be trouble and didn't work very well but he did it anyway.
prcguy

Yup it will work fine on a rack.
Escort pickups with racks been using them like that for years.
Hams use the racks for dual band vhf/uhf all the time.
Best place sure center of roof but op already said he didn't want to use that.
 

jhooten

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A Firestick is a very stiff fiberglass antenna and well known to be durable and not prone to breakage. If I handed you a 4ft Firestick and offered you $100 cash to break it within 1hr by hitting it against anything you please and as hard as you can swing it, you would walk away empty handed.
prcguy
I'll take that bet. A ball mount, a firestick less spring, and a tree branch is a certain fail at the ferrule. A ball mount, a firestick with a spring, a tree branch to lay it down, a second branch to suddenly stop the return forward is a certain fail at the point of impact. This is more applicable to the 5,6,7 footers, less so but still likely with the 2,3,4 footers. The potential for damage is proportional to the length.

From the Firestick web site on the warranty page: "*** EXEMPTIONS ***

Damages caused by abuse, misuse, negligence (i.e. hitting overhead objects, improper installation) are considered to be avoidable circumstances and therefore, are not covered by this warranty. A written statement regarding non-warranty damage may be accessed by clicking here. "

Most of our off road group take the big one off and screw on a 2 footer when we go on the trail.

BTW, would you like to buy my collection of firesticks that are shattered just above the ferrule?

Oh, I have pretty much settled for the NMO-27 on the cab roof.
 
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prcguy

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I've told this story before, but in the mid 1970s I worked at a large CB/car stereo/two way radio shop and we happened to sell Firestick antennas along with every other brand at the time.

We used a 4ft firestick as a demo for customers and nearly every day, 6 days a week I or a customer would swing it as hard as we could and bash and slam it against the sharp edge of concrete pillar outside the shop. During most of this abuse the upper part of the antenna was easily exceeding 100mph when it struck the concrete. We would beat it over and over until the customer was satisfied it would not break and I would occasionally have to screw it onto the ball mount on my truck and prove the match was good. Because of our demo we sold a boat load of Firesticks.

Our first demo antenna lasted about 3 or so years of this constant abuse until you could say it was not usable as a functioning antenna any longer. 3yrs of beating against a sharp concrete edge, day after day, by people who really wanted to break it. Think about that for a minute.

I spent about 6yrs working at this place and I don't remember the second Firestick wearing out from the same abuse. So, if Firesticks are made the same way they were around 1980, I would have no problem betting $100 that you can't damage one by beating it against concrete for an hour.

If you had a rigidly mounted ball mount and a Firestick with no spring and you hit something solid right above the ball mount like a concrete overpass, you would probably rip the threaded part of the ferrule off way before the fiberglass to ferrule would fail or the body of the antenna failed. I've seen hundreds of Firesticks and don't recall one being broken for any reason.
prcguy

I'll take that bet. A ball mount, a firestick less spring, and a tree branch is a certain fail at the ferrule. A ball mount, a firestick with a spring, a tree branch to lay it down, a second branch to suddenly stop the return forward is a certain fail at the point of impact. This is more applicable to the 5,6,7 footers, less so but still likely with the 2,3,4 footers. The potential for damage is proportional to the length.

From the Firestick web site on the warranty page: "*** EXEMPTIONS ***

Damages caused by abuse, misuse, negligence (i.e. hitting overhead objects, improper installation) are considered to be avoidable circumstances and therefore, are not covered by this warranty. A written statement regarding non-warranty damage may be accessed by clicking here. "

Most of our off road group take the big one off and screw on a 2 footer when we go on the trail.

BTW, would you like to buy my collection of firesticks that are shattered just above the ferrule?

Oh, I have pretty much settled for the NMO-27 on the cab roof.
 
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jhooten

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First you said
by hitting it against anything you please
Now you are changing the conditions.

So, if Firesticks are made the same way they were around 1980, I would have no problem betting $100 that you can't damage one by beating it against concrete for an hour.


prcguy
Are you loosing confidence in the product? Oh and they aren't.
 

prcguy

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What, you want to hit it against a sharpened knife edge? I know you can't break one by beating it against steel poles, concrete walls or pillar edges or the edge of stucco buildings in an hour.
prcguy

First you said

Now you are changing the conditions.



Are you loosing confidence in the product? Oh and they aren't.
 
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jhooten

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(Note to self: Don't forget to us sarcasm tags in the future.)

Well, I don't drive into many concrete walls, pillars, or stucco buildings but the edge of the purlin in the parking canopy at the doctor's office will do it.
 

prcguy

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Smacking the Firestick against a concrete pillar for customers was supposed to simulate the top of the antenna hitting an overpass at high speed, which a few customers were concerned about back then. I think it proves the Firestick is very durable and is not going to be damaged easily if at all from hitting overhead objects.
prcguy


(Note to self: Don't forget to us sarcasm tags in the future.)

Well, I don't drive into many concrete walls, pillars, or stucco buildings but the edge of the purlin in the parking canopy at the doctor's office will do it.
 

JayMojave

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Hello All: Have to agree with prcguy there. Had a 5 Ft Firestick on top of my Tall Boy 4X4 F250 fire breathing truck and that Firestick Antenna hit every low lying Bridge, Cable TV Coax, Low inside parking areas and then some, and lasted for years of this abuse.

I replaced the 5 Ft Firestick with a 96 inch Francis Amazer Fiberglass Antenna, and it took even more abuse, but finally started to come apart at the top, were it was the thinnest. Since they don't make the 96 inch fiberglass whip antennas anymore, I made my own. Using a much thicker piece of Fiberglass and a 8 gauge silver plated wire and a custom steel base mount I am back in business.

Yeah the 96 inch plus base and a spring antenna does hit everything, but as stated before CB Radio performance comes first. When out on a date and the 96 inch antenna hits something, and the cab goes Kerrr kong I tell her its just desert lightening and to drink heavily.

Jay in the Great Mojave Desert
 

prcguy

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Shakespeare still makes 8ft fiberglass whips, I bought a couple within the last year. Look for the original model 10-3 and they have some newer model #s like 4208 and 5220. I have a couple of rare Shakespeare all fiberglass Yagi's and I had to replace a couple of whips on those when I cut them down for 10m.
prcguy


Hello All: Have to agree with prcguy there. Had a 5 Ft Firestick on top of my Tall Boy 4X4 F250 fire breathing truck and that Firestick Antenna hit every low lying Bridge, Cable TV Coax, Low inside parking areas and then some, and lasted for years of this abuse.

I replaced the 5 Ft Firestick with a 96 inch Francis Amazer Fiberglass Antenna, and it took even more abuse, but finally started to come apart at the top, were it was the thinnest. Since they don't make the 96 inch fiberglass whip antennas anymore, I made my own. Using a much thicker piece of Fiberglass and a 8 gauge silver plated wire and a custom steel base mount I am back in business.

Yeah the 96 inch plus base and a spring antenna does hit everything, but as stated before CB Radio performance comes first. When out on a date and the 96 inch antenna hits something, and the cab goes Kerrr kong I tell her its just desert lightening and to drink heavily.

Jay in the Great Mojave Desert
 

cmdrwill

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Problem... they do NOT make the FireStick antenna the same way as back in 'those days'. The antennas we see today are piss poor quality, all about making large profits from unknowing customers. Some are cca knock offs.
 

jhooten

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Problem... they do NOT make the FireStick antenna the same way as back in 'those days'. The antennas we see today are piss poor quality, all about making large profits from unknowing customers. Some are cca knock offs.
This maybe the reason pcrguy refuses to believe me. He still remembers the old days and hasn't experienced the new crap. The last on we broke did not have a solid fiberglass rod, it was a hollow fiberglass tube.

I'll stick to the NMO-27. Haven't been able to break one yet. If the rod does get mangled it is cheap and easy to replace.
 

prcguy

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That's not the Firestick I know. They were a solid fiberglass rod about 1/2" dia with a very thick heat shrink wrap over the wiring and a very long ferrule that would not come off for anything.
prcguy

This maybe the reason pcrguy refuses to believe me. He still remembers the old days and hasn't experienced the new crap. The last on we broke did not have a solid fiberglass rod, it was a hollow fiberglass tube.

I'll stick to the NMO-27. Haven't been able to break one yet. If the rod does get mangled it is cheap and easy to replace.
 
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As others have chimed in, it's hard to beat a NMO-27 on a roof mount. The concerns about a through hole mount on the roof are not an issue with NMO (there is a reason they have been the defacto mounting solution in the public safety industry for nearly 50 years).

That being said, can a proper match be obtained on a headache rack? Yes it can. Can it be done on every headache rack? No it can not. My last headache rack provides a SWR of 1.3:1 on CB (top mounted antenna). Of course, that headache rack was custom built (by me) specifically for a 97-04 bodied F150 and only cleared the cab by 1/2" at the point the antenna was mounted. I digress…


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jhooten

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That's not the Firestick I know. They were a solid fiberglass rod about 1/2" dia with a very thick heat shrink wrap over the wiring and a very long ferrule that would not come off for anything.
prcguy
10 mm actually which is closer to 3/8. And yes, they were solid in the "old days".
 

Blenderite

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Alright guys I installed the system yesterday and tuned it last night. I got the SWR down to 1.5 on channel 1 and 1 on channel 40, using an Astatic PDC7.

But I have one problem. I get a lot of static, unless I turn the squelch up really high. I get it when the truck is fully off and the key is out of the ignition as well as when the truck is running. When I drive, the static gets slightly louder when I accelerate, but not too much louder, just noticeable.

If I have the squelch all the way up, it can eliminate the static, but I don't hear anything at that point. I got the antenna mounted on the stake hold, and the mount is well grounded.

Any ideas what could cause this? I had read that electrical interference can cause it, but it is there when the truck is fully off so I am a but sceptical that is the problem.

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jonwienke

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Local RFI?

Have you tried relocating the vehicle?
 

Blenderite

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Local RFI?

Have you tried relocating the vehicle?
Yes. I tried a wide open and empty Home Depot parking lot (at least 50' with nothing other than a few low bushes) and also my driveway, with not noticeable difference between the two.

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jonwienke

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It sounds like a local noise source of some sort, or else a problem with your radio. I assume you checked to see if the noise disappears when you disconnect the antenna? How far is Home Depot from your house? Is the noise still there if you drive a few miles from your house?
 

jonwienke

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Also try disconnecting your vehicle battery and powering the radio via an alternate power source to see if something in the vehicle is generating RFI even when the ignition is off. It's somewhat unlikely, but possible.
 

Blenderite

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The Home Depot is a couple miles from my house. I'll try driving farther and see what happens.

When I disconnect the antenna, I still get the static, which is why I assumed it was caused by electrical interference.

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